I just launched the biggest refresh I’ve ever done, ThemeBeans 6.0. Along with the beautiful bells and whistles you’ve come to love on the new site, I’ve worked really hard to apply the latest SEO techniques to put ThemeBeans in the forefront of the portfolio WordPress theme market.
So here’s a round-up post of the latest search engine optimization techniques I’ve learned — and actually deployed — here on ThemeBeans.
1. Optimizing URL slugs
URL slugs are the exact location where web pages are accessed from. Optimizing these slugs is not a very difficult task, though is one of the most rewarding tactics for improving your site’s SEO.
Maintaining short, but descriptive, URL slugs encourages discoverability as these slugs appear on search engine results pages (SERPs) – one of the first identifiers for which page visitors may visit. To encourage potential visitors to navigate to your site, the SERP result need to be trustworthy, highly readable, and increasingly relevant.
Do note that if you change any slugs, you’ll want to ensure old slugs have appropriate redirects added… which leads us to our next tip.
2. Cleaning up “holes” throughout the site
When you’re changing a post URL, you should always redirect the old URL to the new one. And when you’ve deleted a post, in most cases you should redirect the URL somewhere else. This prevents the the degradation of your site’s integrity. The last thing you want to do is try to build trust with visitors, only to hit them in the face with a 404 missing page error.
So how did I tackle this? I installed the premium version of Yoast, my SEO WordPress Plugin of choice, hooked up the site to Google’s Search Console, and started adding redirects in Yoast for all the holes it found.
3. Speeding up your website
Not only is your site penalized if it takes a considerable time to load, you’ll likely see a high percentage of visitors bouncing away. Remember, you’re trying to rank above your competition, not below.
So how do you improve your site’s speed?
It typically requires a high level of commitment to really drill down and deliver a fast loading website. The first step to improving anything, is to find out what’s wrong. To do just that, simply analyze your site using Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Too easy.
Once you run your website’s page URL, it’ll spit out a PageSpeed “score” and suggest a few optimizations that will improve your site. Add those to your growing todo list to improve your site’s loading time.
4. Maintain a relevant sitemap
Site maps are easy to create. Providing search engines with your website’s sitemap helps it better understand the various elements of the site in context and content hierarchy.
Thankfull, Yoast has a built-in XML Sitemap option — simply enable the option and you’re good to go. You can even disable site maps for specific post types, like I’ve chosen to do here on ThemeBeans by removing the ‘downloads’ post type from my sitemap, as I use the custom ‘theme’ post type to display the digital downloads.
5. Optimizing all your images
Tools like ImageOptin, JPEGMini and PunyPNG can help you optimize your images without much degradation. I prefer using ImageOptin and I always use it before placing any images, anywhere online.
It was a breeze to download the images I’ve used on ThemeBeans over the years, run them through ImageOptin, then re-upload. You can also use the popular image optimization plugin WP Smush to “smush” your image sizes on the fly, as you add each image to your website.
6. Use ALT tags everywhere
Every image on your website should have meaningful, descriptive and, contextual ALT tags. ALT tags are hidentical image descriptions which are read aloud to blind users using a screen reader. While there is no official max length, ALT tags should consist of less than 125 characters.
Not only are ALT tags critical for on-page SEO, they are an essential aspect of accessibility that must be maintained. Adding ALT text allows you to include images, but still provide the content in an alternative text format as a fallback.
Whether you are a freelancer, small business owner, or running a big time website, SEO is a critical facet of your website’s ability to gather an audience. Implementing these quick tips, you will definitely help your website get found.