How To Choose Yoast Focus Keywords: A Guide To Keyword Research And Learning The Competition In Google Search Results

Need help finding better Yoast focus keywords?

Researching Yoast focus keywords is done by selecting specific, long-tail keywords in tools like Google Autocomplete which have a nice balance of monthly searches and low competition. Google the keyword and review the top results to see the content you’re competing with. After that, it’s all about creating a strong, optimized piece of content around that keyword and topic.

These should not be guessed. You don’t want to create content for a keyword you’ll never rank for, or rank for a keyword with no search volume. We need to know WHAT people are searching (keyword research) and whether your site is capable of ranking for it (keyword competition). A little research can easily get you on page 1, and should be done before writing content. Writing about how to get out of debt vs. how to get out of debt on one income can make the difference.

I wrote a definitive Yoast tutorial that shows you how to configure the ideal settings, verify Google Search Console and fix crawl errors, optimize content (there’s more to it than green lights), and add accelerated mobile pages (AMP). Be sure to check it out when you’re done.

At the end of the day, keywords are just topics. If the topic is being searched a lot and already has strong content in search results, it’s probably competitive (especially if your site has low authority without many backlinks). If two topics are different enough, create a page for each.

Yoast-Focus-Keywords

 

1. Keyword Research Tools

  • Answer The Public – visual keyword map broken down into questions, prepositions, and comparisons. Keywords are pulled from Google Autocomplete. The greener the circle, the more searches the keyword has.
  • Keywords Everywhere – Chrome Extension that shows you the monthly volume, CPC, and organic competition when searching keywords in Google, Google Autocomplete, YouTube, Amazon, Moz, and other popular websites.
  • MozBar – Google any keyword and see each result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority) which are core indicators of how competitive a keyword is. Try competing with websites who have similar domain authority.
  • Google Autocomplete – cool tricks like using the underline character _ to have Google fill-in-the-blank. If you search Chicago _ Photographer, you will see wedding, newborn, photography, and other types of photography services.
  • Moz Keyword Explorer – similar to Google Keyword Planner (only better) as it’s designed specifically for SEO while Keyword Planner is designed for AdWords. Moz Keyword Planner shows you the competition for organic results based on each result’s links, domain authority, etc. While Keyword Planner mainly uses CPC (cost per click) based on their advertising data.
  • HubShout WebGrader – see all keywords you (and competitors) rank for. Includes other metrics like each website’s domain authority and # of backlinks.
  • Google Trends – shows history of keyword volume for Google, YouTube, other mediums. See trends for specific geographies, and questions people are asking.

 

1.1. Answer The Public

The coolest keyword research tool is definitely Answer The Public. Search a keyword and it generates a map of keywords being searched in Google Autocomplete. The greener the circle, the more searches that keyword has. It also breaks keywords down into specific categories (questions, prepositions, comparisons). Then it breaks them down even further (below is an example of “question keywords” about “Yoast” and I can see all the whats, hows, wheres, etc).

Question keywords (great way to make sure your content answers people’s questions)…

Yoast-Keywords-AnswerThePublic

Preposition keywords…

Preposition Keywords – Answer The Public

Comparison keywords…

Comparison Keywords – Answer The Public

 

1.2. Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere lets you Google any keyword (in Google, YouTube, Amazon, Etsy and other search engines), while showing each keyword’s monthly searches, cost-per-click (CPC) and competition. Combine this with MozBar (the next tool I cover) and it’s a killer combination.

Keywords Everywhere Autocomplete

YouTube Keyword Competition

Amazon Keywords

Etsy Keywords

 

1.3. MozBar

MozBar’s Chrome Extension lets you Google any keyword and see each result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). Higher numbers = higher competition, and you want to try to compete with websites that have similar domain authority – check yours here. You can increase domain authority by getting more quality links (eg. by creating awesome content).

Mozbar Keyword Competition

MozBar Tips

  • Learn your DA using Link Explorer and compete for keywords in your range
  • Broad phrases usually have high DA + PA, long-tail phrases have low DA + PA
  • Build your DA by getting more links to your site (through awesome content)
  • Websites (especially new ones) will have low DA, so target very specific phrases
  • You can build PA by improving the content and pointing internal links to the page

Combine Keywords Everywhere with MozBar to see a nice glimpse of your competition…

Keyword Competition

Avoid Keywords That Show Strong Content
The best opportunities are when you Google a keyword, weak or irrelevant content appears in the top results. Just Google the keyword and skim through the top results to see if people cover the topic extensively. If not, that means it’s the perfect opportunity for you to rank high.

Weak Search Results

Avoid Competing With Authority Websites

  • amazon.com
  • wikipedia.com
  • yelp.com
  • credit.com
  • and so forth…

 

1.4. Google Autocomplete

Go to google.com and start typing in a keyword to have Google complete the phrase (remember, you’re looking for long-tail phrases usually with 3+ words since those are much less competitive). You can also use an underscore character _ anywhere in the phrase and Google will fill in the blank. You will need to END on the underscore character for that method. If you don’t see the full dropdown menu with all the keywords, try using an Incognito tab.

Google-Autocomplete-Fill-In-The-Blank-1

Try using different variations, like plurals

Google-Autocomplete-Plural-Keywords

Or different word ordering

Google Autocomplete Keyword Ordering

Autocomplete works with most search engines including YouTube for video SEO

Video Keywords

Autocomplete Tips

  • Choose specific (long-tail) phrases which are less competitive
  • No need to include “best” and other non-descriptive adjectives
  • Synonyms can be targeted on the same page (as secondary keywords)
  • Most businesses have multiple keywords per service (I have WordPress SEO Services, WordPress SEO Consulting, WordPress SEO Audit… all of which are different enough that I have a separate page for each and I’m ranked in the top 3 for all them… it works)
  • Being more specific can mean choosing Chicago WordPress Designer (instead of Chicago Web Designer) or WordPress SEO Consultant (instead of SEO Consultant)… targeting a geography or a specific type of ‘web design’ is one way to get more specific

 

1.5. Moz Keyword Explorer

To make sure you don’t miss keywords, use Moz Keyword Explorer. This is similar to Keyword Planner only it’s completely free (you don’t have to sign up for AdWords) plus you can group related keywords so you’re not browsing through the same ones. Start with a broad keyword.

Moz Keyword Explorer

Click on keyword suggestions –> see all suggestions.

Moz Keyword Suggestions

Moz Keyword Explorer Tips

  • Group related keywords with low lexical similarity (use filter)
  • Start with a broad phrase, then look for specific, long-tail phrases

How Many Searches Should My Keywords Have?

Step 1: Check your domain authority in Moz Link Explorer.
Domain Authority

Step 2: Use this handy chart by Orbit Media.
Keyword Research Shortcut

But Can I Target More?
If you plan on creating strong content (ideally with 3,000+ words and lots of graphics/videos), you can target keywords with more monthly searches (my WordPress SEO tutorial will help as it has over 100 tips including 20 on content optimization). Use the chart as a general guideline.

 

1.6. HubShout WebGrader (Competitor Keywords)

HubShout WebGrader shows you:

  • All keywords you (and competitors) rank for
  • Each website’s estimated traffic value based on CPC
  • Top ranked content, domain authority, backlinks, and referring domains

HubShout WebGrader Report

See a full list of keywords you (and competitors rank for)…

My Keywords

 

Google Trends tells you whether a keyword is on the rise, or declining. It also filters for finding local keywords and YouTube keywords. This is especially helpful for finding what seasons are busiest, whether your market is declining, and where people are searching these keywords.

Ramen is on the rise!

Google Trends Keywords

Better publish that YouTube tutorial on gift wrapping before December :)

YouTube Keywords – Google Trends

 

1.8. Search Analytics

The Search Analytics feature in Google Search Console (which you can verify with Yoast) tells you your keywords, ranking position, CTR (click-through rate), top ranked pages, and the countries + devices of visitors. I hardly use Google Analytics for SEO – I use Search Analytics.

Cool Trick: find queries (keywords) where you already rank in the first 5 spots in Google, then improve those pages so you can get in the top 1-3 where all the traffic is.

Google Search Console Queries

 

1.9. Avoid Google Keyword Planner

Google Keyword Planner is designed specifically for AdWords – don’t use it for SEO! The competition is not for organic results. Google Autocomplete, or keyword tools that pull keywords from Autocomplete (like Answer The Public) are better at categorizing keywords and showing you the organic competition. And for the record, no keyword tool is better at estimating a keyword’s competition than Googling the keyword yourself, and analyzing the top results to see what content is already out there – so you know what/who you’re up against.

Google Keyword Planner

 

2. Types Of Keywords

The following sections break down keywords into specific types.

 

2.1. Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are easier to rank for and usually have 3-7+ words in the phrase. They also attract a more targeted visitor. You can even target Chicago WordPress Design instead of Chicago Web Design since that is a more specific type of web design. As you saw in the chart by Orbit Media in section 1.5, websites with low domain authority (DA) should almost always target longer-tail keywords. As you build your DA, you can start targeting broader keywords.

Long-Tail Keywords

Examples Of When To Get More Specific

  • Chicago Painter is competitive, Chicago Interior Painter is better
  • Chicago Real Estate is competitive, Chicago Commercial Real Estate is better
  • Chicago Computer Repair is competitive, Chicago Macbook Pro Repair is better
  • Yoast SEO Plugin is competitive, Yoast SEO Plugin Settings is better
  • SEO Consultant is competitive, WordPress SEO Consultant is better
  • SiteGround Review is competitive, SiteGround WordPress Hosting Review is better

 

2.2. Date Keywords

Drive even more traffic by targeting date keywords (mainly for time sensitive content)…

Time Sensitive Keywords

When optimizing content, you should include the date (year) in your page title, SEO title, and meta description. Of course this requires me to keep the tutorial up to date, but this has already driven quite a bit of extra traffic during 2017 as I’m included as a featured snippet.

Dates In SEO Titles

 

2.3. Local Keywords (Small Town vs. Large City vs. National)

The larger the area, the more specific your keywords will be, and the more you will have. Smaller towns will have broad keywords while larger cities will have more specific phrases…

Local Keywords

Unless you’re targeting a small town and have 1 primary keyword like “Lake Forest Divorce Lawyer” you probably have other keywords you can target (find them using keyword tools).

Small towns have a small number of broad keywords…

Small Town Keywords

Large cities tend to have multiple specific keywords…

Large City Keywords

National keywords are even more specific, and there’s more of them…

National Keywords

Don’t forget to use Google Trends to see local keywords and their popularity…

Local Keywords – Google Trends

Multiple Locationseach location should have it’s own page (sometimes multiple pages) depending on whether multiple keywords are being searched in each area. Each location should also have it’s own citations (online directories like Google My Business, Facebook Page, Yelp, Bing Places…) which is exactly what my WordPress local SEO guide walks you through.

 

3.4. Blog Post Keywords

Post-Focus-Keywords

Getting traffic to your blog is fine and dandy, but how does this get you clients?

Here’s what I did…

I offer WordPress speed optimization as part of my SEO services. I wanted more of these projects so I learned what phrases people Google when they have a slow WordPress site. I looked at Google Autocomplete for “slow WordPress…” and saw some results. Then I really put myself in my searcher’s position when I Googled “why is wordpress” and saw it completed the phrase with “why is wordpress so slow” with that keyword on top. There are plenty of variations below it in Autocomplete, indicating that keyword has a good amount of searches. It’s also within my competition if you Google the keyword using MozBar. We have a winner!

And so my blog post was born: Why Is WordPress Slow (And 7 Ways To Fix It)

People read my guide, realize they don’t have the technical skill to do everything, and some inquire. Completely coincidental that this happened while I was writing this post (seriously, I haven’t gotten one of these for weeks) but I literally just got this comment 3 hours ago:

Inquiry

Update (2018): That guide is now one of the most popular tutorials on my website!

 

2.5. Multiple Keywords (Synonyms)

All you have to do is research a synonym of your primary keyword then incorporate both of these in your page title, SEO title, and meta description. This is by FAR the most important part but you can also sprinkle your secondary keyword 1-2 times in your content. You do NOT have to incorporate both as full keywords (exact matches) otherwise your headline will look spammy. Crafting a headline that sounds nice AND includes partial matches is the way to go.

Here’s an example:

Step 1: Research your primary keyword…

Secondary Keywords

Step 2: Research your secondary keyword…

Secondary Focus Keyword
Step 3: Write a headline that incorporates both and still sounds nice…

Headline

Step 4: Rank for both keywords…

focus-keyword-1

focus-keyword-2

You can use the same strategy in your meta description and (sparingly) in the content body.

 

3. Content Optimization

Now that you have your Yoast focus keywords, you can start optimizing content! Including your keyword in “all the right places” is just 1 small part of it, you should really read the content optimization section of my WordPress SEO guide. I promise you will learn a lot.

 

Remember: Only Target 1 Keyword Per Page (Unless Synonyms)

Only synonyms can be targeted on the same page. This is because Google wants to show the most relevant results so keywords that mean 2 different things should have their own page.

Single Keywords

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🚦 How do you find good focus keywords?

The best keywords have a balance between monthly searches, low competition, and high profitability. You can usually only pick two. For example, if a highly profitable keyword doesn't have a lot of searches but has low competition, go for it.

🚦 How do I learn how competitive a keyword is?

Google the keyword and look at the top results. Do they do a good job at covering the topic? Is it from an authority website? Do they have high domain + page authority (you can check this in MozBar's Chrome Extension)? If yes, that keyword may be too competitive.

🚦 What are the best keyword research tools?

My top 4 keyword research tools are Google Autocomplete, MozBar Chrome extension (for checking competition using each search result's domain and page authority), HubShout WebGrader (for finding competitor keywords), and Keywords Everywhere to learn a keyword's monthly searches and estimated competition.

🚦 How do I learn how many searches a keyword has?

Keywords Everywhere and Ahrefs tell you how many monthly searches a keyword has.

🚦 Should I target broad or specific (long-tail) keywords?

I recommended targeting specific, long-tail keywords 95% of the time. They are much less competitive and bring a more targeted visitor to your site. New websites, or those having trouble with SEO, should always start by targeting specific, long-tail keywords.

🚦 How do I target multiple keywords (synonyms)?

Find 2 keywords that are very similar. These can be synonyms or even date keywords that include the current year if it's a time-sensitive topic. Use the primary keyword in your page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content. The secondary keyword should be sprinkled in these areas as a partial match - it does not have to be an exact match!

🚦 What about Google Keyword Planner?

Do not use Google Keyword Planner to research SEO keywords. It's designed specifically for AdWords and the competition is also reflected in Adwords, not organic search results.

See also: My Definitive Guide To Yoast SEO

If you found this post helpful, please share – I would appreciate it. And if you have any questions about Yoast focus keywords or Yoast in general, drop me a line in the comments.

Cheers,
Tom

Connecting And Optimizing Your WordPress Website With Google Search Console (With Help From Yoast’s SEO Plugin)

Google Search Console Yoast WordPress SEO

Ready to optimize your WordPress site with Google Search Console and Yoast?

Steps 1, 5, 6, and 20 have to do with Yoast’s SEO plugin so I suggest using it, but it’s not mandatory if you’re using a different SEO plugin (does help though). If you haven’t verified your site with Search Console yet it can take several days for some data to populate, often several weeks if you want to effectively use some of these tools (eg. crawl errors and search analytics). But you can still optimize your site in many ways regardless if you just set this up.

*Asterisk items involve Yoast

Google Search Console

 

1. Verification

  • Sign up for Google Search Console and get to the verification process
  • Use the HTML Tag verification option
  • Copy the code
  • Paste code into Yoast (SEO → General → Webmaster Tools)
  • Delete everything outside the quotations (including the quotations)
  • Save changes in Yoast
  • Click ‘verify’ in Google Search Console
  • It will take a few days for some data to populate in Search Console
  • Same HTML Tag verification process can be used for Bing + Yandex

HTML Tag Google Search Console Verification

Yoast Google Search Console Verification

If you’re not using Yoast they have plenty of alternative methods to verify your site.

 

2. Structured Data

The most common form of structured data are rich snippets which add “extra information” to your snippets in the form of review stars, recipe information, event information, and other data types. Here’s a gallery showcasing a few different types of rich snippets and rich cards.

Structured Data Review Stars

Popular Rich Snippet Plugins:

Checking For Errors
When you’re done adding rich snippets to content you can use the structured data section of Google Search Console to keep track of pages you markup, check for errors, and see ratings. You can also use Google’s structured data tool to test a single page, but this shows all pages…

Structured Data in Google Search Console

 

3. Rich Cards

Rich cards are an updated form of rich snippets. They are a left-to-right carousel display and can only be done with  recipes and movies in US English mobile search results. I don’t think there are any WordPress plugins that support rich cards as these are relatively new, so you would need to follow the markup from the gallery, but I’m hoping a plugin will come out soon.

Mobile Rich Cards

 

4. Data Highlighter

Data highlighter is an alternative to using a rich snippet plugin. It’s a “point and click” tool you can use to highlight page titles, dates, and other required fields needed to show rich snippets in search results. Once you do this with a couple pages or posts, Google will apply these patterns to your entire site… so you should only need to do this with a few pieces of content.

5. HTML Improvements

Tells you whether your snippets (SEO titles + meta descriptions) are too short, long, or contain duplicates. In Yoast there is “progress bar” that should turn orange (bad) or green (good) depending on the length so as long as you’re writing these long enough to be green you should be fine. If you haven’t been, the HTML improvements will tell you which pages need to be fixed.

HTML Improvements

To prevent errors in the future, make sure your ‘length progress bar’ in Yoast is green…

Yoast Snippet Editor

Use Yoast’s Bulk Editor To Fix These
You can bulk edit your SEO titles + meta descriptions in Yoast under SEO → Tools → Bulk Editor. Keep in mind the bulk editor doesn’t have the “length progress bar” or show you that page’s focus keyword like the content analysis… but you will still need to incorporate both.

Bulk Editor Yoast

 

6. Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMP Pages are a Google project that make your mobile pages load faster while adding the AMP stamp to your mobile snippets. The AMP Plugin adds the AMP pages, the Glue For Yoast & AMP Plugin lets you make basic customizations to the design since it will alter the way your content looks on mobile. Try it out and if you don’t like it, you can always delete the plugins.

amp-pages

Adding AMP Pages To WordPress

  • Install the AMP plugin by Automattic (adds the AMP pages)
  • Install the Glue For Yoast SEO AMP plugin if using Yoast (customizes the design)
  • Add /amp/ to any page on your website to see how it looks and make sure it works
  • Go to Yoast’s Settings → AMP to change your design and enable custom post types
  • Wait for Google to recrawl your site and add the AMP sign in mobile search results

The final step is to check Search Console’s accelerated mobile pages section for errors…

Accelerated Mobile Pages Google Search Console

 

7. Search Analytics

This will make you rethink how you measure SEO if you haven’t used it. You can measure rankings (position), keywords (queries), CTR (click-through rates) and more. There’s ton of cross referencing you can do but I listed 5 examples below which I found the most useful.

Navigate to search analytics and tweak the filters to what you see in each dashboard

Search Analytics Filter

1. See keywords (queries) you rank for…

Google Search Console Queries

2. Queries for specific products, services, or topics you blog about. Simply adjust the query filter to include all queries containing “SiteGround” (or whatever keyword you want to see)…

Search Analytics Query Filter

3. Queries used to find content in Google Images…

Search Analytics Google Image Queries

4. Learn which pages rank high but have a low CTR. This can mean you need to rewrite your snippet (SEO title + meta description) to be more enticing to click on, but sometimes it’s because your content isn’t as relevant as other results (in which case there is little you can do).

Search Analytics CTR vs Position

5. Compare your SEO (rankings, CTR, clicks) to a previous time period…

Date Comparison

 

From my experience, this is the easiest way to find low quality and irrelevant sites that link to you so you can remove them. This results in a cleaner link profile and will minimize risk of any Google penalty, and can even improve your rankings especially long-term. Go through your links and identify low quality or irrelevant sites who link to you. This may require a little research and judgement on determining which links are “authentic” and which ones are not. Moz has a great article on performing a link audit and removal if you want to read up on this.

Who Links To Your Most

Disavowing Bad Links
Once you have your list of URLs, contact the webmasters and ask them to remove it (definitely the preferred method). If for some reason you can’t get it removed, use the disavow tool. Even if you haven’t been hit with a penalty Matt Cutts recommends disavowing questionable links as a preventative measure. I try to go through my links about once every year to clean them up. Of course you only need to do this if you have a decent sized site with a good amount of links.

Disavow Links

 

See which pages you are linking to the most…

Internal Links Google Search Console

The more internal links a page has, the more likely it will show up as a sitelink…

Sitelinks

 

10. Manual Actions

A manual action is type of Google penalty. These are the 2 most common ones…

Manual Actions Google Search Console

Unnatural Links To Your Site – if you hired a link builder and they built a bunch of spammy links, this is probably the reason. Stop doing this right now and go through all links to your site (step 8) and try to get them removed by contacting the webmasters or using the disavow tool.

Thin Content With Little Or No Added Value – means you need to beef up your content. Short, non-useful, and duplicate content are all big no no’s in SEO. Notice how long this tutorial is? That’s why some of my articles get over 150 visitors a day. Go through your content (both pages and posts) and spruce them up. I remember when I spent 2 solid days revamping my Yoast tutorial and it went from 10 visitors/day to 100 visitors/day overnight (yes, true story).

More info about manual action penalties from Matt Cutts…


 

11. International Targeting

Target your website to a specific country. This does NOT completely exclude it from all other countries (it’s just a signal). If you are international, you should leave this option unchecked.

International Targeting Google Search Console

 

12. Mobile Usability

If you have ever used Google’s mobile testing tool this does the same thing only it shows mobile errors for your ENTIRE website. Just because you’re using a mobile responsive WordPress theme doesn’t mean you can’t have errors! Here’s how to fix your mobile errors.

Mobile Usability Errors Google Search Console

But ideally you would see this message…

Mobile Issues - Google Webmaster Tools

 

13. Index Status

Shows how many pages are being indexed by Google. Be sure to select the advanced option and enable “blocked by robots” and “removed” to see blocked resources and removed URLs.

Index Status

What To Look Out For

  • Graph should be a steady increase, which means you are consistently adding new content to your site that Google can index
  • Sudden drops should be investigated and can mean your server is down or overloaded (in which case you should upgrade your hosting or reduce CPU consumption)
  • Sudden spikes can be caused by duplicate content or even hacks

 

14. Blocked Resources

Tells you whether your robots.txt blocks Google from crawling certain resources. Also guides you in the unblocking process, however you may want to keep some resources blocked if you don’t want Google to crawl them. You can only unblock resources you host, own, or have access to the file’s robots.text (since this will need to be edited to unblock it). Otherwise you will need to contact the owner of the resource and see if they will edit the robots.txt for you.

Blocked URLs

After you have found the blocked resource you can use Fetch and Render to view the page as Google and decide whether this impacts your SEO. If you decide you want to change it, you will need to verify the host then update the robots.txt file to unblock it. Remember, if it’s a third party resource you will need to contact the owner of the resource and have them do it for you.

Blocked Resources

 

15. Removed URLs

The removed URLs tool temporarily blocks URL for 90 days… if you want to permanently block URLs from Google you should see that article. You can only remove URLs you own…

Removed URLs

 

16. Crawl Errors

Crawls errors are broken pages on your site and can happen if you:

  • Changed URLs
  • Redesigned your site
  • Failed to setup redirects
  • Deleted content from your site

If you just setup Search Console it can take at least 1 week to populate all crawl errors. When you see them, you’ll want to go through each tab (desktop, smartphone, server error, soft 404, not found, other). Each one will have different URLs that will need to be fixed with redirects…

Search Console Crawl Errors

Click each one to see the full URL of the broken page, which should be redirected to the correct page on your site. Of course this will take time to go through all of them, but it will make sure any links pointing to these old URLs are passing their “link juice” to your new pages.

Fixing these is basically like getting free links to your site.

Search Console Not Found URL

Redirect Crawl Errors To Their Appropriate Pages
You can use a free plugin like Quick Page/Post RedirectYoast SEO Premium, or do this through .htaccess. The method I will show you is Quick Page/Post Redirect. You want to redirect each URL to the new (correct) page on your site. Yes, you should do EACH one.

  • Install the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin
  • Go to Quick Redirects → Quick Redirects
  • Add the broken URL in the left column and the new correct URL in the right column
  • Click “Add New Redirects” (can do 3 at a time)
  • Click “mark as fixed” in Search Console, or wait a few days for it to update

301 Redirect WordPress

View Crawl Errors Directly In Yoast
To see crawl errors in Yoast without having to login to Search Console, go to Yoast → SEO → Search Console then click “Get Google Authorization Code” and follow the instructions…

yoast-search-console-authentication

When you’re done authenticating Yoast with Search Console, it can take about 1 week to populate crawl errors. But this is where you would see them under SEO → Search Console.

yoast-search-console-crawl-errors

 

17. Crawl Stats

You ideally want a steady increase as you add content to your site…

Crawl Stats Google Search Console

Why Did My Crawl Rate Drop?

 

18. Fetch As Google

Fetch as Google tests whether Google can access a page, how it renders it, and any resources (eg. images or scripts) that are blocked from Googlebot. It can help debug crawl issues and make sure your page’s URLs are accessible to Googlebot. This Yoast tutorial does a great job of explaining the different errors including not founds, unreachable, redirected, and others.

Fetch As Google

 

19. Robots.txt Tester

Check if a URL is being blocked from Google and whether there are errors. The most common error is a crawl delay which may occurs if you limited your crawl rate in your site settings (should only be done if Googlebot is slowing down your server and causing CPU/bandwidth limits on your hosting account). But this rule is ignored by Googlebot, so no action is needed.

Robots.txt Tester

 

20. Sitemaps

Here’s how to submit your Yoast XML sitemap to Google…

  • In Yoast’s settings go to SEO → XML Sitemaps
  • Configure your sitemap to exclude tags, affiliate links, etc (see photo below)
  • Click the XML Sitemap button
  • Copy the last part of the URL: sitemap_index.xml
  • In Google Search Console go to Crawl → Sitemaps
  • Click Add/Test Sitemap
  • Paste the URL into Google Search Console
  • Test and submit
  • View common sitemap errors if you have any
  • Same sitemap submission process is be used for Bing + Yandex

Here are a few screenshots if you need them…

Yoast XML Sitemap Settings

xml-sitemap-post-types

Yoast Sitemap

Yoast Sitemap URL

Search Console Sitemap Submission

Sitemap Errors

 

21. URL Parameters

The high majority of you will not have issues with URL parameters and will see this message, but if Google shows a different message, you will need to follow their instructions. Here’s a Youtube tutorial by Google Webmasters that shows you what to do. Just be extra careful because improper actions can result in pages no longer appearing in Google’s search results.

URL Parameters

 

22. Security Issues

Bottom line… if you have issues here you should contact Sucuri who can help you fix these. But you should do this NOW since security issues can jeopardize your entire website and SEO. Often this means identifying malware that has been added to your site and deleting these files.

Security Issues Search Console

Strengthening Security In WordPress

  • Change generic “Admin” username
  • Use a strong password with numbers
  • Use the 2-factor authentication for login
  • Install a plugin like Wordfence, iThemes, or Sucuri
  • Keep your WordPress core, theme, and plugins updated
  • Make sure your site is on secure WordPress hosting (I use SiteGround)

 

23. Other Resources

Search Console Resources

Use PageSpeed Insights To Check If Your Hosting Is Slow
Here’s a cool trick. Run your website through Google PageSpeed Insights and check to see if reduce server response time is in your report. If yes, this means your server (hosting) is slow. You will see this a lot with Bluehost, Godaddy, HostGator, and other lower quality hosts…

Slow WordPress Hosting Bluehost

If you see this in your report want to fix it, you will either need to upgrade your hosting or switch to a faster host like SiteGround who was rated the #1 host in multiple Facebook polls…

You can read my full SiteGround review if you want to learn about them, but my site loads in <1s in GTmetrix, <1s in Pingdom, I have 100% uptimes, and they’ll even migrate you for free.

 

24. Site Settings

Site settings are in the gearbox option in the top right of your Search Console dashboard…

Search Console Main Options

Preferred Domain – it’s a preference whether you want to include www in your domain (there’s no ‘right’ way for SEO). Whichever one you chose in the site settings should be the same in WordPress (Settings → General → WordPress Address + Site Address). I would avoid changing this if you already have an established domain as this changes ALL links on your site.

WordPress WWW Non WWW

Crawl Rate – the most common use for this is if your website constantly goes down due to capacity, bandwidth, or CPU limitations on your hosting account. This means your hosting plan does not include enough resources to run your site so you either need to reduce these (eg. by deleting plugins that consume a lot of resources or enabling WordPress heartbeat control), or upgrade your hosting. Limiting the crawl rate will tell Googlebot not to crawl your site so fast which helps reduce the server resources it consumes. This is the only time you should do this.

Service Temporarily Unavailable

 

25. Change Of Address

If you ever decided to change domain names, this will help maintain rankings…

Change Of Address Search Console

 

26. Google Analytics Property

Enabling your Google Analytics property allows you to see Search Console data in your Google Analytics reports. Just select the analytics web property and save changes…

Google Analytics Property

Now login to Google Analytics and go to Acquisition → Search Console…

Google Analytics Search Console Integration

Here is the “landing pages” dashboard which shows similar data as Google Search Console’s search analytics, only you can cross reference even more metrics from Google Analytics…

Landing Pages Google Analytics

 

Get Help Fixing Errors In Search Console

Pronaya is a WordPress developer I found on freelancer.com who I’ve been working with for over 5 years. He’s helped me (and clients) fix errors related to virtually everything in Google Search Console (mobile, security, www, sitemaps, crawl errors). If you have a question about the SEO side of things you can leave me a comment and I’ll be glad to help you, but if you need help actually fixing errors, Pronaya is the man for that. He’s $40/hour and his email is bdkamol@gmail.com. You can also join freelancer and search his profile (username bdkamol).

BDkamol-Speed-Optimizer

 

Have Questions? Need Help? Drop Me A Line!

Check out the Search Console Help Center if you haven’t already – they have tons of documentation and troubleshooting articles on each of these topics. Or just leave me a comment below as I’m glad to help anyone who takes the time to read up on this stuff.

If you found this useful, a share is always appreciated :)

See Also: WordPress Speed Optimization Guide

Cheers,
Tom

SEO For Artists – Get Your Art In Google, Google Images, And An Intro To Getting In Wikipedia (This Is, If You Have Enough Sources)

For artists, SEO isn’t too complex.

SEO for artists usually means populating Google and Google Images when people search your artist name or the type of artwork you make. This means optimizing your website, YouTube channel, and social media profiles to rank high for keywords around your work. For galleries, they usually want to rank for “art gallery” in their city as well as their represented artist names.

Artist Rene Schuler

I will show you how to do all these (and how to get into Wikipedia if you have enough sources). We’ll use René Romero Schuler as an example, an artist I’ve been working with for 5+ years. I spent over 2 days on this tutorial. It’s a bit lengthy, but follow these steps and you should get very good results (and if for some reason you don’t, leave me a comment and I will help you).

How Google Populates Their Results – Google pulls content from different parts of the web. Your website is one, social profiles are another, YouTube videos and thumbnails, Wikipedia, and so forth. Put it all together and that’s what you see in Google. This just means we need to create content in the right places, label images before uploading them, and tweak a few things. This will help you populate Google with YOUR content. That’s what SEO for artists is all about.

If You’re Using WordPress – I recommend installing the Yoast SEO Plugin which I reference throughout this tutorial. To do this, log into your WordPress dashboard, go to your Plugins menu (on the left), then search for Yoast SEO. Install and activate it – we’ll get into it later. It won’t affect your design, and you can always delete the plugin and revert back if you choose.

My Background – I’m the #1 ranked WordPress SEO Consultant in Google, have 3,000 visitors/day, started my career designing WordPress sites for artists, and am Google Analytics certified. Not trying to sell you anything, just assuring you this guide is actually going to work.

 

1. Dissecting Google

In this article I will use René Romero Schuler as an example.
René was the first artist I did work for, is still a client, and a great friend.

Rene Schuler

Search her name in Google and this is what you’ll see…

SEO-For-Artists

Search her name in Google Images and she also dominates…

google-image-seo-for-artists

 

2. Ranking Your Website #1

Use Your Name In The Domain – using an exact match domain (www.yourname.com) is the easiest way to rank #1 for your name. As long as you build out your website with your portfolio, bio, statement, events, and other important pages – you should eventually rank in the top result. If you just created your website it will take some time, but don’t wait around. You’ll want to give Google other “signals” by following additional steps listed in this tutorial.

exact-match-domain

Use Your Name In The Homepage Snippet – each page on your website has a snippet that appears in search results (see below). This consists of your SEO title (the link) and your meta description (the longer summary). Instead of using the default snippet generated by WordPress (or whatever website builder you’re using) you should write these yourself.

Here’s what the snippet looks like…

Homepage-Search-Engine-Snippet

To edit these in WordPress, make sure you have the Yoast Plugin installed (Plugins → Add New → Yoast). Then in your WordPress dashboard, go to SEO → Search Appearance → General.

Search-Appearance-Yoast-SEO

Now go to the “General” tab and you will see fields where you can edit these…

Search-Appearance-Settings-Yoast

Or (in my case), you will see a link to your homepage. Click it to go to your homepage, then scroll down to the Yoast section and click on the “snippet preview” (see below). Here’s where you write them. When you’re done, update the page, then give Google 1-5 days to crawl your site and show these. Other website builders will have a similar process of writing snippets.

seo-for-artists-with-yoast

No Text / Unreadable Text – if there’s no text on the page, all Google sees are your images (which I’ll cover in step 3). However even without text, you SHOULD still be able to rank #1 for your name. But art galleries wanting to rank for “art gallery chicago” (a more competitive keyword) should probably have some text on the page. If you do use it, avoid embedding text into images or using flash as these are unreadable to Google. If you open your website and try to copy some text, but can’t, this means it’s unreadable to Google and won’t benefit your SEO.

 

3. Google Image Optimization

If you go to René’s Google Images you can see she dominates the results (a project I did for her). But it’s actually very easy since the majority of images only come from a few sources.

Before uploading your images ANYWHERE online, always label the file name with the title of your artwork. An example would be: Alpana – 5×5 Oil On Canvas by René Romero Schuler. If your main goal is to populate Google Images when people search your name, include this in the file name. If you goal is to populate Google with a keyword related to your art, leave it out. This goes for images on your website, social media profiles, Wikipedia, and basically everywhere.

google-image-seo-for-artists

Main Social Media Profile Photo + Cover Photo Are The Ones That Rank
Your main profile picture is the one most likely to appear in Google Images, so make sure you include your name in the file name before uploading your main photo AND any covers photos.

Create A Pinboard
Rene’s pinboard is around 20% of her Google Image results . Pinterest is a high authority website so images you upload here are likely to rank high. Create an awesome pinboard with your art and maybe a few photos of you, and you’ll be dominating Google Images in no time.

artist-pinboard

Use this tutorial video which shows you how…

Optimize Images On Your Website
The images on your homepage, bio, and the FIRST image you see when you open up a portfolio page are the ones most likely to appear in Google Images. Each of these images can be “optimized” by using your artist name in the image file name and alternative text…

Image File Name. This is what the image is labeled on your computer before you upload it. Anytime you upload an image to the web, the file name will be associated with that image. To help search engines associate an image with your artist name, I recommend this format:

Artwork Description – Your Name

Alternative Text. Alternative text is also used to describe images to search engines. WordPress does not do this automatically, so you will need to use a plugin like Automatic Alt Attributes (however, this only adds alt text to new images in the visual editor, so you will need to add it to all other images manually). If not using WordPress, look for a field to fill out an image’s alt text, or you will have to edit the HTML to do this (send this guide to your developer if need be):

<img alt=”alternative text” src=”https://onlinemediamasters.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/image-file-name.png” width=”300″ height=”300″ />

Image Speed. There are over 20 ways to optimize images to load faster, many of which you can find in GTmetrix. Many artists don’t like to resize or compress images, but you can still cache images, remove EXIF data, lazy load images, specify the widget/height of each image, use a CDN (content delivery network) like Cloudflare/StackPath, and make sure images are served from the correct URL version (www vs. non-www and http vs. https). Images are usually the heaviest element of an artist’s website! Give my tutorial a try – it should make your site faster.

Image-Optimizations-In-GTmetrix

Upload Images To Wikimedia Commons
About 30% of Rene’s Google Images are from Wikimedia. Just sign up for Wikimedia and upload photos to Wikimedia Commons (here are full instructions). When you get to the uploading process, include your keyword (eg. your name) in each photo’s description. There is a catch; people who click the photo in Google Images will be view this image (not an actual Wikipedia page). If you have enough sources, I’ll show you how to get an actual page in step 6.

If you want to rank higher in Google Images for a keyword other than your name, go to images.google.com. Now start typing in your keyword using the underline character _ to find a specific type of flower in the dropdown menu. Generally, the more specific the keyword, the easier it will be to rank. Once you find your keyword, upload your image to the sources above (social profiles, pinboard, website…). Give it some time and ideally it will rank high. Images that are uploaded to a high authority website (like Pinterest) have a better chance of ranking high.

google-image-keywords

If you are having trouble and an image doesn’t rank high, try selecting an even more specific keyword. Generally the more specific the keyword is, the less competitive it will be. And if a keyword shows up in Google’s dropdown menu, that means people are indeed searching for it.

long-tail-artist-keywords

 

4. Social Media Profile Optimization

Why social media is important for artist SEO:

  • Social media profiles rank high in Google
  • Profile photos are usually shown in Google Images

social-media-image-optimization

The most important social networks are…

Use Your Social Media Profiles Makes Them Rank Higher
Make sure all media profiles are 100% complete and include your artwork (which can usually be categorized into albums, pinboards, etcs). Adding connections and posting ongoing updates send good signals to Google that you’re a legit person/business. If you want to populate Google with your content, using social media profiles is probably the easiest way to do that.

 

5. YouTube Video SEO

YouTube videos can also appear in Google. This is called video seo and looks like this:

YouTube SEO

  • Create your video
  • Label your video file as the keyword, then upload to Youtube
  • Design a custom thumbnail, label it with your keyword, then upload it
  • Write a nice title which should also include your keyword
  • Write a long (preferably 400+ word) description using your keyword 2-3 times
  • Don’t overdo it on the tags, but add a few
  • Get more likes, views, comments by promoting it
  • Embed it on your website (# of embeds is a ranking factor)
  • ALWAYS respond to comments as these will help it rank higher

FYI here’s an updated video of René if you want to hear her story…

 

6. Get An Artist Wikipedia Page

I’ve done quite a few of these, unfortunately Wikipedia doesn’t want the writer to have any connection to the artist, so I probably shouldn’t publicize them. But here’s how to get one.

Step 1: Gather Sources – gather links from ALL online articles you’re mentioned in. These should not be published by you (eg. your website) since that would be considered biased and against their guidelines, which I recommend skimming through. There is no perfect number of sources, but ideally it should be over 15. To find these, Google your name, scroll through the results, then start building your list. You can setup a Google Alert for when someone publishes something about you in the future. Once you have a list of sources, it’s time to write a draft.

Step 2: Write A Factual, Non-Biased Draft – look at the format of RenéLaura, and other artist Wikipedia pages. Follow a similar format: early life and background, works of art, exhibitions, collections, references, etc. It should be similar. Also notice nearly EVERY sentence is cited. You don’t have to copy/paste exact sentences from your sources, but the article should be derived from them, NOT your own words. So just do the best you can to write the article while citing your sources. Also leave out any promotional or exaggerating tone.

Step 3: Hire A Wikipedia Article Writer – it is against Wikipedia’s guidelines to publish an article about yourself (since it’s biased). You will need someone to review your draft, make sure it follows Wikipedia guidelines, and write the first draft in Wikipedia code. You can hire a Wikipedia article writer by signing up for a freelancer account then posting a job for a “Wikipedia Article Writer” (there are plenty out there). Either wait for people to apply, or search for a writer and ask high-rated people if they’re interested. Most of them are overseas, but all the ones I hired worked well for me. Just make sure they have very good reviews.

Step 4: Work With Your Wikipedia Writer To Get It Published – they will tell you if anything needs to be fixed. Just send them your draft, list of sources, and a few images if you’re including a “works” section. Thy will also need your main picture and information that shows on the right side of the page. From here, it’s just a matter of working with your writer. I am not a writer so I can’t answer too many questions about this, but your writer should be able to.

There are plenty of Wikipedia article writers out there:

Wikipedia Artile Writers

 

7. SEO For Art Galleries

If you run an art gallery I assume you want to rank high in Google for your represented artist names as well as “Art Gallery Chicago” or whatever city you’re in. Here’s how to do that…

seo-for-art-galleries

Create A Page For Each Artist – if you search “René Schuler” do you think Google will serve a page showing 20 different artists? No, you need a separate page on your site for each artist.

Optimize Your Artist Pages

  • Use the artist name as the page title
  • Ideally their portfolio should include a lot of their work
  • Label images before uploading them (as the title of the artwork)
  • Use as much unique content as possible, duplicate content isn’t good
  • Use some text on the page if possible, otherwise all Google has are images
  • Write your snippet to sound nice and include their name (as described in step 1)
  • Include unique information, why should Google show your page and not other galleries? This is a huge factor since ‘valuable’ content usually outranks the competition. Google measures how much time people spend on a page and uses it to determine a page’s rankings, so investing time in content is the #1 thing you can do.

Spruce Up Your Google My Business Page

*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.

Google My Business Logo

Get Reviews (Especially On Google My Business) – all you need is 1 review to get the stars.

Google-My-Business-For-Art-Galleries

Enhance Online Profiles With Moz Local – run your website through Moz Local which helps you fix incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate profiles. Get your score up as much as you can… these profiles (called citations) are an important part of Google’s local search ranking factors.

Outsource Less Important Profiles To Whitespark – since these profiles are so important, you need more of them. You can either outsource this to Whitespark’s citation service for $4-5 per profile, or use their list of top citations by city. But you should at LEAST have 50 other profiles other than the ones in Moz Local. If you do this yourself, be sure to keep track of your logins.

Follow Google’s Local Search Ranking Factors – I covered the majority of it, but if you’re ever in doubt of how to rank higher in Google Maps and local search results, check Google’ local search ranking factors. This is reported every 2 years by Moz and is the most accurate study.

 

8. Make Your Website Load Faster

You don’t need a developer to do this…

  • Run your website through GTmetrix to see if it’s slow
  • If yes, fast hosting is the #1 factor in the WordPress optimization guide
  • View these Facebook polls of the top rated hosts to see if yours is at the bottom
  • I use SiteGround, the #1 rated host and recommended by WordPress
  • If you have a WordPress website, sign up through their WordPress hosting page
  • If you only need to host 1 website, use SiteGround’s StartUp plan which is $6.99/month
  • If you need to host multiple websites, use their GrowBig which is $9.99/month
  • SiteGround will migrate you for free (no down time, and you don’t need to do anything)
  • When done, retest your site in GTmetrix and click through pages to see the difference
  • It gets technical, but my WordPress speed guide has many other recommendations
  • If using WordPress, you can hire my developer to fix your GTmetrix report ($40/hour)

I use SiteGround and have 200ms response times with 100% GTmetrix scores and .4s Pingdom load times. Do a hosting check, run your own tests, or click through my pages to see how fast they load. They were rated the #1 host in 26 Facebook polls and are worlds better than EIG (Bluehost, HostGator), Godaddy, and bad hosts who pack too many people on the same server. They’re recommended by WordPress, do free migrations, and I use their semi-dedicated plan.

Switching To SiteGround

SiteGround Load Time Migration

Bluehost to SiteGround GTmetrix

HostGator To SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix

SiteGround Google PageSpeed Insights

100 Perfect Score On SiteGround

SiteGround Genesis

Speed Delivered By SiteGround

SiteGround GTmetrix Report

Reduced Load Times With SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Times

HostGator To SiteGround Migration

SiteGround Response Times On Joomla

Switched To SiteGround Hosting

SiteGround Rocket Imagify Combo

Joomla GTmetrix On SiteGround

SiteGround PageSpeed Insights

SiteGround On Joomla

SiteGround Reduced Load Times

SiteGround Speedy Hosting

New Pingdom Results On SiteGround

New SiteGround Response Time

SiteGround Response Time Improvement

2019 Hosting Poll

2017-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Elementor Hosting Recommendations

July 2019 Hosting Recommendation

WordPress-Host-Poll-Aug-2018

Shared-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosting-Poll

Go-To-Hosting-Company

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

Managed-Hosting-Poll

WooCommerce-Hosting-FB-Poll

2016-Web-Hosting-Poll

Best-WordPress-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-2019-Poll

WP Friendly Hosting Poll

2016-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Favorite Hosting For Elementor

2018 Hosting Recommendations

WordPress Hosting Poll Sept 2018.png

Managed-WordPress-Hosting-Poll-2017

2019-Hosts-Poll-1

Hosting-Poll-For-Speed

WordPress-Hosting-Poll-June-1

SiteGround-Recommendation

2014-Managed-WordPress-Hosting-FB-Poll

Best-Web-Hosting-Provider-Poll

Hosting-Poll-Feb-2019

Hosting-Recommendations-Poll

Bluehost vs SiteGround

WordPress Web Host Poll

They give me great load times (view my GTmetrix report)…

2019-GTmetrix-Report

One of many threads

Best-Host-Conversation

Here are their plans:

SiteGround-Plans

 

Frequently Asked Questions

🎨 How do I get my art in Google Images?

Label your image file names before uploading them to your website (or anywhere else online). They should accurately describe the image and include a descriptive keyword. Each image should have a description unique to that image. Also try using Wikimedia.

🎨 How do I rank #1 for my name?

Make sure your website and social media profiles are built to establish credibility to Google. Using the Yoast SEO plugin to customize how your homepage snippet appears in Google. Getting links to your website (eg. from press releases) helps. It can take several months for new websites to rank #1 for your name, but keep creating signals for Google.

🎨 How how I get an artist Wikipedia page?

You need sources, whether they are online sources or print. Next, you need a Wikipedia article writer (not you or anyone connected with you) to write the article. That writer should be knowledgable with Wikipedia's guidelines and code. Wikipedia will flag the page if you or someone you know writes it.

🎨 How do social media profiles come into play?

Social media profiles are very important to your SEO since Google pulls images, descriptions, and other information from your social media profiles and displays them in their search results. Make sure you have a Facebook Page, Twitter, YouTube Channel, Instagram, and any other social networks you plan to post on. Even if you don't post much, just a few posts can improve your search engine branding when people Google your name.

🎨 What about SEO for art galleries?

Google has it's own set of ranking factors for Google Maps and Local SEO. To rank high for artist names, create a page for each artist with a unique description and portfolio. Use the artist name in the page title, URL, Yoast snippet, and content body. Make sure you create online profiles on Google My Business and other online directories and social profiles.

If you found my article helpful and have a friend who would also benefit from reading it, please consider sharing it with him or her. I’m glad to answer any questions you have about artist SEO, Wikipedia, and SEO in general. Just drop me a line in the comments below. Good luck!

Cheers,
Tom

How To Improve SEO Through Sitewide Optimizations (Things That Affect The Performance Of Your Entire Site)

Sitewide Optimizations SEO

Sitewide optimizations are factors that improve SEO for every page/post on your website.

They can be especially helpful for large websites, for example, improving your page load time by 3 seconds (for 100 pages) can cause a noticeable traffic increase in your Google Analytics. These are basically scalable ways you can improve your website and search engine rankings.

I listed helpful links and resources for each item but if you have any questions, I’m glad to answer them in the comments. I hope you find my list helpful and please share if you did!

 

1. Website Speed
Website speed is both a ranking factor in Google and it improves conversions. It’s a great way to hit 2 birds with 1 stone. Some speed optimizations are sitewide, some only help individual pages load faster. Below are the speed optimizations that are sitewide. For full instructions on making your WordPress site load faster, see my speed optimization guide.

  • Upgrade to faster hosting (I use SiteGround)
  • Configure the W3 Total Cache plugin with Cloudflare + MaxCDN
  • Bulk image optimization
  • Optimize images that appear on multiple pages
  • Clean up database using WP-Optimize
  • Delete unused plugins
  • Find and delete largest plugins using P3 Plugin Performance Profiler

 

2. Mobile Responsiveness
If your theme isn’t responsive, it’s probably time to find a new one since Google’s recent Mobilegeddon update now uses responsiveness as a ranking factor. Your site can still have mobile issues even IF you’re using a responsive theme. That’s why it’s a good idea to run your site through Google’s mobile test as well as check your website on major devices.

Google Mobile Test

 

3. Security Issues
If you’re signed up for Google Search Console they would have already sent you a message informing you of security issues. You can double check this by running your site through Sucuri. WordPress sites have become a major target for malware so it’s a good idea to at least get the basics down. Change the generic “Admin” username, use a strong password, and install the iThemes Security Plugin to run the one-click security optimization button.

Sucuri Website Security Checker

 

4. Google Search Console Optimizations
When you first sign up for Google Search Console they provide you with a list of sitewide optimizations (numbers 1, 2, 3, 5). Find instructions for each Search Console item below…

Google Search Console Recommendations

Add all your website versions – you’ll want to verify both your www and non-www version, as well as the HTTPs version if applicable. You’ll want to do numbers 2-5 for each version.

Select your preferred version – choose whether you want the www to appear in your domain, or not. This is preference and it doesn’t matter for SEO, just make sure the version you set in Google Search Console is the same version as the one set in WordPress (find this under Settings –> General –> “WordPress Address URL” and “Site Address URL”).

Select target country – if your website is targeted to a specific country, set that here.

Submit a sitemap file – Yoast automatically generates a sitemap for you, but you’ll still need to submit it to Google. In WordPress go to SEO –> XML Sitemaps. Click the XML Sitemap button and copy the last part of the URL (https://x7r6b9v3.rocketcdn.me/sitemap_index.xml). Paste into Google Search Console, test, and submit. If you see errors, check Yoast’s post on common sitemap errors.

 

5. SEO Plugin Settings
I assume you’re using the Yoast SEO Plugin since it’s the best out there, but have you gone through it’s different SEO tabs on the left of your dashboard? These are where you configure sitewide SEO settings by filling out information about your website. There’s a lot to it, but you can use my Yoast tutorial to download the same settings I use and import them to your Yoast plugin, or use the instructions from my tutorial to learn how each field affects SEO.

Yoast SEO Settings

 

6. HTTPS + SSL
HTTPS should be used for all websites (I’m currently in the middle of doing this for my site) which makes the communication between a website and a browser secure through encryption. SSL should be used for all eCommerce websites. Both HTTPS and SSL are used as ranking factors in Google, and you can use this tutorial by WP Beginner to setup each one.

 

7. Permalink Structure
Permalinks (URLs) should be used to organize content. Here are some common ways to setup a “pretty” permalink structure which not only helps people navigate your content, but helps search engines learn the architecture of your website (site architecture affects SEO)…

  • website.com/services/web-design/
  • website.com/products/skateboards/
  • website.com/locations/chicago/
  • website.com/team/tom-dupuis/
  • website.com/reviews/macbook-pro/

 

8. Keyword List
The content on your website (and blog) should align with keywords people are searching in Google. While keyword research isn’t an “optimization” it does help you build out your site with those phrases in mind – making keyword research a critical part of sitewide SEO.

I like to start by writing down each product, service, and topic I want to rank for. Use Google Autocomplete to learn what people are actually searching. If you’re a Chicago Photographer you might have Chicago wedding photography, Chicago newborn photography, etc. You would simply research a keyword and create a page for each photography service you offer.

Google Autocomplete Keywords

 

Other “Kind Of” Sitewide Optimizations
Rich snippets – this is what gets videos, review stars, and other “extra information” appearing in search results. This can make you stand out in Google and get more click-throughs and traffic. You can add rich snippets with All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets (free) or WP Rich Snippets (premium plugin but has more customization and design options). View my tutorial on adding rich snippets to WordPress for the premium method.

Internal links – when writing your content, it’s a good idea to link to related pages/posts you have already written. This is a natural way to build links while at the same time, providing helpful resources for readers who want more information about a specific topic. Just remember to use descriptive anchor text for your link text… never use “click here.”

 

That’s all I got for now! If you have questions about sitewide SEO or SEO in general, leave me a comment – I’m here to help. And if you thought this was useful, please share.

Cheers,

Tom Signature

WordPress SEO For Photographers: How To Optimize Your Images, Citations, And WordPress Website For Higher Google Map Rankings

WordPress SEO For Photographers

If you’re a photographer, have a WordPress site, and you want to use local SEO to rank higher in Google Maps + localized results for photography-related keywords, this tutorial is for you.

I’ll show you how to use Google’s local search ranking factors to improve rankings by optimizing your Google My Business Page, citations, photos, and how to use Yoast’s SEO plugin for content optimization. No matter what kind of photography you do, it’s actually easy to do WordPress SEO for photographers (local SEO is usually much easier than national SEO). It can take 3-6 weeks to see results (Google takes time to update) but you can use Google Search Console’s search analytics to track your rankings, clicks, and overall traffic from SEO.

SEO For Photographers

Now let’s jump into it…

 

Understanding Google’s Local SEO Ranking Factors

No matter what industry you’re in, if you’re doing local SEO these are the ranking factors associated with Google. They are taken from Moz who does a survey of Google’s ranking factors every 2 years. This tells us which core ranking factors we should be focusing on.

Local-Search-Ranking-Factors

 

These are from 2015’s local search ranking factors, but most of them have not changed…

Top-20-Local-Search-Ranking-Factors

I go over these in my tutorial (drop me a comment if you need clarification on anything), but here is a translation with more practical tips:

  • Complete Your Google My Business Page (complete and verify your profile)
  • Sign up for generic citations (Yelp), local (COC), and photography directories
  • Get reviews on your Google My Business Page, Yelp, others
  • Use a mobile responsive and SEO-friendly WordPress photography theme
  • Use your primary keyword on your homepage (using Yoast’s SEO Plugin)
  • Get links from customers, directories, local websites, relevant photography websites
  • Complete your social media profiles, get followers, post updates

 

Complete Your Google My Business Page

This is the easiest way to improve your Google Maps rankings. In fact you HAVE to have a Google My Business Page to even show up in Google Maps. Make your profile 100% complete.

Add your website, hours, and list “photographers” as the category. If you’re a wedding photographer, list this as your primary category then list “photographer” as the secondary category. Now write a thorough introduction, verify your page, and complete your profile. If you already have a Google My Business page, do not create a duplicate listing.

Google My Business Page

 

Improve Directory Listings With Moz Local

Moz Local Dashboard

Run your website and zip code through Moz Local to get a report on your directories. You will get a score and recommendations to improve some of the most important directories…

Moz Local

Click on the different tabs, view the red notifications to see what items need fixing, then use the “update listing” links to improve those directories. Notice how consistency of information (business name, address, phone, categories) and not having duplicates are important. If you don’t want to do this, you can pay Moz $84/year. However, it’s usually a matter of adding photos and making sure your profile is consistent and 100% complete.

Moz Local Incomplete Listings

 

Build More Directories With Whitespark

Now that you have your core directories down, let’s build more. This will further improve your rankings so please don’t think this is a waste of time – it most certainly is not. These are the kind of extra steps that will help you outrank competitors. Notice “citation volume” is a direct ranking factor in the local SEO pie chart (yellow section) – so the more the merrier.

Top Online Directories

Do It Yourselfuse Whitespark’s list of top 50 directories
Hire Whitesparkpay Whitespark one-time fee of $4-5 per directory (worth it)

 

Ask Customers For Reviews

Online Reviews On Google My Business

Google My Business and Yelp are most important. Simply follow-up with customers after the work and ask for a review (leave them instructions with a link to your Google My Business and Yelp page). Make this a priority since reviews are good for both branding and SEO. Sometimes legitimate Yelp reviews get filtered out, so read this post to learn how to avoid it.

 

Use An SEO-Friendly Photography Theme

Let’s talk about optimizing your website – which starts with your WordPress theme. You want a theme that is SEO-friendly, responsive, secure, and loads fast. At the same time your theme should be built by a reliable developer so it won’t crap out on you down the road.

Djazz WordPress Photographer Theme

My list of photography themes is a good place to start. They all have the SEO-friendly features listed above, and they’re all built in the Genesis Framework which is recommended by Yoast, Google’s Matt Cutts, and the founder of WordPress – Matt Mullenweg. If you don’t know what Genesis is then you can read about it on StudioPress’ website. But it is the best way to build a WordPress photography website that is SEO-friendly.

 

Learn Your Keywords

If you haven’t learned your photography-related keywords, here’s how to do that…

Photography SEO Keywords

Just go to google.com and type in your keywords using this format. Google Autocomplete will fill-in-the-blank with the most common phrases people are searching, with higher phrases having more searches than the lower ones. Just be sure the last character you type is an underscore “_” so Google will fill-in-the-blank. You can try other combinations too.

Keep in mind your 1 primary keyword (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer) should be targeted on the homepage. If you have multiple keywords (baby, nanny, maternity, etc) you will need to create a new page for each of those for better keyword-targeting.

This leads me to the next step…

 

Target Keywords Using Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast WordPress SEOf Plugin

You will use Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin to target keyword(s) on your website. This is where a lot of photographers get overwhelmed. Don’t though, because I made this very easy.

Step 1 – Configure The Yoast Settings
Once you install Yoast, go ahead and download this zip file below which includes the Yoast settings I use. Upload this to your WordPress site using the SEO tab on the left side of your dashboard. You will go to Tools –> Import And Export –> Import. Upload the zip file.

DOWNLOAD MY YOAST SETTINGS (ZIP FILE)

You will need to navigate through the Yoast settings and change a few things…

  • General –> Company Info (fill this out with your info, and upload a default logo which should be at least 200 x 200 pixels)
  • General –> Webmaster Tools (see video below)
  • Social Settings –> fill this out with your own social media links
  • Advanced –> Breadcrumbs –> use your own company name

 

Step 2 – Target Keyword(s) On Your Website
As I mentioned earlier, you want to target your 1 primary keyword on your homepage. To do this, go to Yoast’s SEO tab on the left of your dashboard –> Titles & Metas –> Homepage. You should be able to fill out your SEO title and meta description here (this is the text that appears in Google’s search results), or click the link to view the page where you can edit this.

Targeting Keywords With Yoast

Use the same format in the photo. Write a unique meta description summarizing what you offer while including your keyword in a way that sounds natural. This is very important as it’s the forefront of your SEO. Also make sure you don’t go over the character limit of 156.

This might be all you need to do. You can’t include the keyword in the URL (this applies to any website’s homepage) so that’s OK. Most photographers prefer to have no text on the homepage (in the photo the article heading and content is red with “no”). I understand most photographers prefer let the photos do the talking, but it WILL benefit your SEO if you include text on your homepage. Otherwise Google will only have your photos to go by.

I suggest adding “Chicago Wedding Photographer” (or whatever your primary keyword is) as your title. Then include a short paragraph of what you want to tell your audience, while also including the keyword here. With all the different typography and layouts, you should be able to make this look nice. Here’s a good example of a website that uses text in the design.

How To Target Multiple Keywords
If you have multiple keywords (baby, nanny, maternity, etc) then target the main keyword (eg. Chicago Photographer) on your homepage. Now create a new page for each different type of photography. This gives you a better chance of ranking high for those specific types of photography since searchers will find THAT page in Google – not your homepage. Make sure each page contains unique content since duplicate content is an SEO no-no.

To optimize those pages for their keywords, use the same strategies described above only set “Chicago Baby Photographer” (or whatever type of photography it is) as your focus keyword. Then optimize that page using Yoast’s SEO Plugin. If you need help using Yoast to optimize your content for green lights, here’s a video…

 

Optimize Images For Keywords

Before uploading an image to your WordPress site, make sure it has a descriptive file name. Instead of using “DSC27272” a better file name would be “willow trees blowing in the wind.”

Willow trees blowing in the wind

 

Optimize Images To Load Faster

A common issue with photography websites is that the images are so large, they take forever to load. Since website speed is a ranking factor in Google, you don’t want this.

Luckily there are a few ways to prevent this…

Serve Scaled Images
If a featured image calls for 150 x 150 dimensions but you use an image that is 300 x 300, you are not using the correct featured image dimensions. This will cause slower like times by 200%. To solve this, learn the correct dimensions of your featured images (or even images in your slider) and resize them in the media section with the correct dimensions.

Another example of not serving scaled images, is when you drag to resize an image in the visual editor. This resizes the displayed image but not the actual image file (this is what “serve scaled images” means). The correct way to resize images is in the media library:

Serve Scaled Images

Optimize Images
Install the WP Smush.it plugin and go to Media –> Bulk Smush.it –> Run all my images through WP Smush.it right now (screenshot below). That’s it! You can automatically smush images once uploaded under Settings –> Media. I like to also run EWWW Image Optimizer which can catch images missed by WP Smush.it.

Bulk Image Smushit

If you don’t want to mess with images or you just want more tips on making your site load faster, see my WordPress speed optimization guide. There’s tons of good tips there.

 

Use Your Business Name, Address, And Phone # In Your Footer

I know, I love easy tips too… and this one doesn’t get easier. This helps with the whole consistency of information thing that Google looks for. In WordPress, you usually find this under Theme Options (look for the copyright area) or in the Editor –> Footer.

Here’s how I list mine:
Online Media Masters | 1324 West Byron Street, Chicago IL 60613 | 847-271-2422

 

Get Links To Your Website

Looking good so far! You’ve got your directories in place, your website optimized for your keyword(s), and you’ve make some other optimizations to improve your photography SEO. But let’s not forget about links to your website since they are essential! When people link to you, it’s a strong signal that tells Google your website is important and to rank it higher.

So how do you get links?

  • Asking customers to link to you
  • Asking partners to link to you (eg. you’re someone’s preferred photographer)
  • Local directories like the ones from Moz Local and Whitespark
  • Chamber Of Commerce
  • BBB
  • Getting published in articles (eg. in the Huffington Post)
  • Creating useful content on your blog (videos are good for this)
  • Making sure you have a nice website design
  • Sharing your photography on social media
  • Sharing your photography through an email list
  • Add social media sharing buttons to your website
  • Other publicity/marketing to get your website “out there”

 

Kick Your Social Media Into Gear

You know that awesome picture you took the other week? Did you post it on your Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Instagram account? You SHOULD! Spend some time creating nice social media profiles and cover images. Add your pictures, write an introduction, and so forth. Now keep updating those profiles with new photos. Then you’re golden.

 

Ongoing SEO Maintenance

The main “maintenance” involves asking more customers to leave reviews on your Google My Business and Yelp page. It can also mean creating more directories, adding useful content to your blog, and posting on social media. But once you’re setup with all the WordPress SEO tools and tweaks, local SEO should be pretty low maintenance.

I hope you found this helpful! If you did, please share :) or if you have a question about your photography’s WordPress SEO, drop me a line in the comments. Glad to help you out.

Cheers,

Tom Signature

9 Easy Ways To Make Your WordPress Site SEO-Friendly

Make Your WordPress Site SEO-Friendly

Want some quick and easy tips to make your WordPress site SEO-friendly?

I’ll show you how to do this using different tools/strategies including Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin, Google Webmaster Tools, and keyword optimization. There is more to SEO than 9 items (there’s over 200 factors in Google) but my tips will get you on the right track – and I’m sure you will learn something new especially with the resources I mention in this guide.

Here’s what to do…

 

1. Get Your SEO Foundation Down

Domain – having keywords in the domain helps SEO, but according to Matt Cutts it’s better to choose something brandable. More people will remember your site, trust it, link to it, etc.

Hosting – site speed, uptimes, and security all affect SEO – and hosting is the best place to start. I use SiteGround’s semi-dedicated GoGeek plan ($14.95/month) but they also have other shared hosting for as low as $6.99/month as well as Cloud hosting for $54/month. You don’t want hosting issues affecting your SEO because trust me, it can. Choose a good host!

Theme – some WordPress themes are more SEO-friendly than others, since your theme affects site speed, security, support for rich snippets and other SEO factors. Here’s my list of 25 themes which are SEO-friendly and built in the Genesis Framework (Genesis is SEO-friendly in itself and recommended by the Founder of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg.

 

2. Leverage The Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast is the most robust SEO Plugin, but it must be setup and utilized properly if you want the best results for your WordPress SEO. To do this, I broke Yoast down into 3 steps:

Configuring The Settings – see my tutorial which includes a zip file of the Yoast settings I use (you can upload it directly to your WordPress site). There are some fields you will need to change in the Yoast settings for YOUR website – which I’ve listed in that tutorial.

Researching Keywords – see the video…

 

Optimizing Content For Keywords – see the video…

 

3. Use Yoast’s Other WordPress SEO Plugins

 

4. Organize Your Permalinks

Structuring your permalinks around your different product/service/location keywords is part of “site structure” and making your site user-friendly. Below are some common examples of ways to do this, which you would do in WordPress using parent pages.

Common Permalink Structures

To do this, create the parent page (eg. /services) then create the other page (eg. /web-design). When editing the web design page you will see an option on the right of your dashboard to set the parent page which in this case would be “services” (photo below). This will make the web design page’s permalink read: website.com/services/web-design/

WordPress Parent Pages

 

5. Make Your WordPress Site Load Faster

 

6. Interlink Related Content

In step #2 I talked about configuring the Yoast settings. I already wrote an extensive article on how to do that, so I simply linked to that article. This helps you, my readers, find additional information about Yoast. At the same time it creates a link to that article which improve it’s SEO. Interlinking pages/posts like this is the easiest way to build natural links!

 

7. Create Videos

Videos improve engagement, reduce bounce rates, increase conversions, and the videos themselves can even appear in search results (photo below). You can also use Yoast’s Video SEO Plugin to better optimize your videos. Just make sure you follow the same basic SEO strategies as you do your pages/posts (research a keyword, then use it in the file name before you upload it, video tile, description, then promote it to get views/likes/comments.

Video Search Results

 

8. Check For Google Webmaster Tools Errors

Fixing mobile issues, security issues, bad meta descriptions, and other errors will improve SEO. Once you’ve verified Google Webmaster with Yoast, go through my list…

HTML Improvements
Find this in your Google Webmaster Tools account under search appearance –> HTML Improvements. This tells you which SEO titles and meta descriptions are too long, short, are missing, or where it’s a duplicates. Click the links in GWT to go to each page and fix it.

HTML Improvements - Google Webmaster Tools

 

Mobile Issues
Find under search traffic –> mobile usability (or check here).

Mobile Issues - Google Webmaster Tools

 

Security Issues
Find under security issues (a main tab on the left).

Google Webmaster Tools Security

 

9. Yes, Content Is Still King

You know content is king, but what have you done about it? Other than checking for typos and making sure your copy reads well, what else can you do?

Well I’ll tell you – you should spruce it up! Use videos, columns, add an HTML table of contents, embed Twitter statuses and make your content shine! I wrote a nice list on how to spruce up your WordPress content which includes 21 ideas – it’s worth checking out.

TinyMCE-Spellcheck

That’s all I got for now! I have tons of resources on my sidebar widgets/footer if you want more tips on making your WordPress site SEO-friendly. Other than that, please share this article if you found it helpful! Or drop me a line if you need help with anything SEO-related.

Cheers,

Tom Signature

10 Essential WordPress Plugins (For SEO, Analytics, Security, Speed Optimization, Backups, And Web Design)

Essential WordPress Plugins

These WordPress plugins will help you design, optimize, and add functionality to your site.

I included links to helpful tutorials and resources for each plugin. All are free but #4 (Gravity Forms) which is $49 but worth it if you want an advanced contact form. I’ve gone through a lot of plugins through my 5 years of WordPress design, SEO, and blogging, and these are the essential WordPress plugins I use most – hopefully they can help you too. Check them out and leave me a comment below if you have any questions or need help with setting them up.

Here they are…

top-10-wordpress-plugins-infographic

 

1. Yoast SEO

Category: SEO
Rating: 4.1/5

Yoast SEO Plugin Settings

Yoast is the most robust SEO Plugin for WordPress. You can break it down into 3 steps – configuring the settings, researching keywords, and optimizing content for green lights. Those links lead to tutorials for each step (leave a comment if you have questions). Yoast constantly updates the plugin so be prepared to update it frequently and learn new features. They also have a plugin for Local SEOVideo SEOWooCommerce SEO, and Google News.

  • Free
  • Extensive SEO Settings
  • Ability to assign focus keywords
  • Content optimization checklist
  • Social media optimization options
  • XML sitemap
  • Google Search Console verification
  • Other Webmaster Tools verification
  • Title tag / meta description structure
  • SEO plugin migration options

 

2. Google Analytics

Category: Analytics
Rating: 4.0/5

General Analytics Dashboard

Use Yoasts’s Google Analytics Plugin to verify the UA code (or just add the tracking code to your footer without a plugin). Google Analytics is a big program and I recommend filtering your IP address so your data doesn’t get polluted when you visit your website (same with employees). I would also download these Google Analytics dashboards to segment data into specific metrics, then use those metrics to make improvements to your website and SEO.

  • Free
  • Use universal or asynchronous tracking
  • Demographic and interest reports
  • Tracks search results + 404 pages
  • See (imited) metrics in WP dashboard
  • Link tracking abilities

 

3. W3 Total Cache

Category: Speed Optimization
Rating: 4.3/5

W3 Total Cache Plugin

If your page load time is bad in GTmetrix (look to see if the caching, minify, and gzip item is not 100%), you need to install a speed optimization plugin. Install it then see my best W3 Total Cache settings to configure the performance tabs on the left menu of your dashboard. Improving load times is one of the best things you can do to improve your site’s performance.

  • Free
  • Caching
  • Minify
  • Gzip
  • CDN integration
  • Cloudflare integration

 

4. Gravity Forms

Category: Form
Rating: N/A

Gravity Forms

Not your average contact form plugin. Gravity Forms can create everything from a simple contact form to a pizza ordering menu with conditional logic (certain fields show up if you select a specific option). Think “if this then that.” There’s a lot of form examples on the Gravity Forms website but my favorite is the pizza demo which shows the advanced add-ons.

  • $49 – $199
  • Highly customizable forms
  • Spam protection (captcha)
  • Adapts to your font/colors/CSS
  • Customizable fonts/colors/CSS
  • Optional autoresponders

 

5. Widget Logic

Category: Widget Control
Rating: 4.9/5

Widget Logic

Free plugin that controls where widgets appear (specific pages, posts, categories, tags, etc). Once installed, go to your widgets and in each one you will see a “widget logic” field. Here you will enter one of the following conditional tags to control where that widget appears.

 

6. iThemes Security

Category: Security
Rating: 4.7/5

iThemes Security Plugin

WordPress is not secure by itself! You need to change the generic Admin username, but I would also install a security plugin – iThemes Security and Wordfence are both very good.

  • Free
  • 30+ features to defend website
  • Brute force protection
  • Password reinforcement
  • Hide login and admin
  • File change detection
  • Lock out bad users
  • Database backups
  • 404 detection
  • Email notifications

 

7. Fancier Author Box

Category: Blog Design
Rating: 4.8/5

Fancier Author Box Plugin

One thing many people forget on their blog is to show the face of the person writing articles. This plugin adds an author profile box below each post. I used this before I switched to the Genesis Framework and now I use the Genesis eNews Extended Plugin instead, which is the first sidebar widget you see on the top right of this article. It combines a newsletter box with an HTML space where I added my photo/bio, but the eNews Extended Plugin is only for Genesis Themes only. Regardless of which theme you’re using, show your face on your blog!

  • $49 – $199
  • High customizable forms
  • Spam protection (captcha)
  • Adapts to your font/colors
  • Customizable fonts/colors
  • Autoresponders

 

8. Quick Page/Post Redirect

Category: SEO
Rating: 4.6/5

Quick Page Post Redirect Plugin

If you changed your permalink structure, individual permalinks, or a website migration caused your permalinks to change, you need to setup 301 redirects to direct visitors (and search engines) from the old URLs to the new URLs. Install this free plugin then go to “quick redirects” where you can add old URLs and new URLs. The plugin will create the redirects. You can find many broken pages in the crawl section of Google Search Console – do this!

 

9. Broken Link Checker

Category: SEO
Rating: 4.2/5

Broken Link Checker Plugin

This free plugin detects broken links so you can view and correct them. It is blocked by some hosting companies like WP Engine but I’ve never had trouble with it (though I delete it once I’m done using it). Install it, scan for broken links, correct them, then delete this plugin.

 

10. Updraft Plus Backup And Restoration

Category: Backups
Rating: 4.9/5

UpdraftPlus Backup and Restoration

If you’re on a cheap shared hosting plan, chances they won’t take automatic backups – I would check with your hosting to find out. If they don’t, you can use this free plugin to schedule an automatic backup to be taken once a month, once a week, or whatever you choose. Please don’t be the person who lost their website because they didn’t have a backup.

 

Related Articles

Hope you found my list of essential WordPress plugins helpful in designing/optimizing your WordPress site! Have questions? Leave a comment. Enjoyed my article? Please share it.

Cheers,

Tom Signature