How to Quickly Set Up Google Search Console on WordPress

By | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

How to Set Up Google Search Console on Your WordPress Website | Liza Wilde Co. - Monitor and grow your website and blog traffic using Google Search ConsoleWhenever I launch a new website, I have a very specific launch checklist I work through to make sure the website is optimized for search engines and social media. The biggest item on that list: making sure Google has the site indexed.

What is “indexing”?

The term “indexing” refers to when Google’s search bots scan every single page and blog post on your site (everything that’s public anyway) and grab the meta data to make sure it shows up properly in search results.

This process eventually happens on its own, but you can put your site on Google’s radar a bit faster by connecting your sitemap to Google Search Console.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console is a free service provided through Google’s Webmaster Tools that allows you to monitor how people are finding your site, track performance, see clicks and terms people are using to find your site.

On its own, Google Search Console is an extremely powerful tool. If you connect Google Analytics to your website and pair it with Search Console, you’re setting yourself up for some serious insight into how visitors are finding you and how to better optimize your site to keep them there.

Connecting Your Site to Google Search Console

Head over to Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools to sign in. You’ll need a @gmail.com email address or Google Business Apps to get started.

Once signed in, find the red “Add a Property” button.

Adding a property to Google Search ConsoleEnter your website address in the field provided.

You’ll have to verify that you own the website. You can do this using a few different methods. Google recommends uploading an HTML file to your web hosting account, but I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Click on the “Alternative Methods” tab and copy the HTML tag in the first option.

Verifying your website in Google Search ConsoleJump over to your WordPress website and go down to SEO > Dashboard on your sidebar, and then head to the Webmaster Tools section.

Paste the meta tag you copied into the Google Search Console box and click “Save Changes”.

Verify your website for Google Search Console in the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.

Now hop back to Google Search Engine and click the red “Verify” button.

If you pasted the meta tag properly, you should see a success message. You can click “continue” and jump down to submitting your sitemap below.

If you don’t see the successful message, double check the meta tag, or try one of the other methods of verification. If you’re still having trouble, hop over to my Virtual Office Hours and let’s sort it out together!

Submit Your Sitemap for Indexing

Now we’re going to tell Google to start indexing your site. We want to make sure it catches all of the pages and not just the ones it happens to find.

In Search Console, click on “Crawl” and then “Sitemaps”.

Click the red “Add/Test Sitemap” button in the upper right-handcorner.

Add a new sitemap to your website in Google Search Console

Jump back to your website and down to the Yoast SEO plugin settings again. Go to SEO > XML Sitemaps. If you don’t see this, you may need to turn on the Advanced Features setting within SEO > Dashboard > Features tab.

Copy your XML Sitemap link in Yoast SEO plugin.

Copy the link to your XML sitemap and paste it into the field that popped up on Google Search Console. You’ll probably need to take out the beginning of your domain name, since Search Console already has that. It only needs whatever comes after the .com/ in your domain.

Submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console

Save and click “Refresh the page”.

You should now see your sitemap pending for Google’s crawlers. This can take a few days, so come back later and you’ll see it has started to collect data about your website!

Now bring the pieces together by connecting your Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account.

If you haven’t set up Google Analytics, you can see how to do that in this video tutorial: How to Install Google Analytics on Your WordPress Website.

Connecting Google Search Console to Google Analytics

Sign into Google Analytics.

Go to the “Acquisition” tab then click on Search Console > Landing Pages.

You’ll be prompted to connect to Search Console. Click the grey button near the top.

Connect Google Search Console with your Google Analytics Account

It will redirect you to your property setting. Scroll down to Search Console and click “Adjust Search Console”.

Add Google Search Console to your Google Analytics account

Within this new view, click “Add”.

Add your site's Google Search Console to Google Analytics

This will redirect you back to Search Console where you can select your website’s connection. Select your site and click “Save”.

It’ll prompt you that you’re saving a new association, so click “Ok”.

You’re all set! Now you’ll be able to see detailed reports of your search information within Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

I recommend coming back weekly or monthly to check on the information. You can see three of the Google Analytics reports I run most frequently for myself and my clients. These reports and insights can help you better plan content and improve your search engine optimization in the future.

Having trouble connecting to Search Console or Google Analytics? Let’s chat about it during my Virtual Office Hours.

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3 Google Analytics Reports to Improve Your SEO Strategy | Liza Wilde Co.

3 Google Analytics Reports to Improve Your SEO Strategy

By | Search Engine Optimization | No Comments

I’ve been running a lot of SEO and Google Analytics reports lately, both for myself and for my clients.

At the end of 2017, I ran a promotion for my current clients to do an SEO review of their site, and I was surprised by how many of them hadn’t given SEO a thought since their website launched.

In order to start on the right foot in 2018, most of them took me up on this promotion, so we ran through their technical search engine optimization and made sure their sites were all compliant with the latest algorithm change.

Only minor changes had to be made, and most of them were good changes. But it got me thinking about how to communicate the importance of Google Analytics reports and its role in SEO for creative entrepreneurs. That’s why this week’s post is the most common reports I run in Google Analytics and how they apply to online entrepreneurs, such as yourself.

Where are my website visitors coming from?

One of my favorite reports to run is the Visitor Acquisition report in Google Analytics.

Go to the Acquisition tab > Channels

You’ll be able to tell how many visitors are coming from social networks, referrals, organic searches, or by going to your URL directly.

When it comes to SEO, it’s the organic search that we’re worried about. If you start to see a decline in this, it could mean adjustments need to be made to your site. This isn’t always the case, but I like to keep an eye on these stats to tell whether or not the adjustments I made are working well or if more work needs to be done.

What are my visitors searching when they find me?

If you’ve connected your Google Analytics and site to Google Search Console (which you should) you’ll be able to see the various terms that people are searching when they find your site.

Go to Acquisition tab > Search Console > Queries

This tab is probably the most helpful because you’ll see what you’re starting to be known for. However, there is one downside – most searches are private, which is where you’ll see the term “other” coming in.

Either way, you can start to use this report to guide future content and headlines.

What pages are attracting the most search traffic?

Sticking within the Acquisition and Search Console categories, I like to take a look at my top landing pages in Search Console next.

This report gives you an idea of what pages or blog posts people are actually clicking on and entering your site through. You’ll also be able to analyze how long they spent on your site, if they dove deeper or immediately left your site (bounce rate).

You can use this report to guide your content creation, by finding the patterns within your most successful pages.

So how do I make this information work for me?

While Google Analytics is a trove of helpful data, you’ll notice that most of the reports I run are content based. This is because as an online entrepreneur, your biggest asset is the valuable content you produce for your visitors. The more helpful, optimized content you create, the better your site will appear in search engines.

These reports can help guide the technical best practices for search engine optimization – page titles (headlines), descriptions, keywords, etc. But where’s it’s truly beneficial is when it comes to content strategy.

Learn what your visitors like and write more of that. Learn what they’re searching for and tap into those keywords in your blog posts and offerings.

I’m not a content expert nor a Google Analytics expert by any means, but there is a lot to be said for exploring the GA dashboard and knowing your numbers.

If you are looking for more help diving into this information and setting up a better content strategy, I highly recommend my girl Claire Paniccia, where she helps people conquer their content strategy.

The Ultimate Website Planning Guide from Liza Wilde Co.

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5 Crazy Easy Things You Can Tweak Now for Better SEO

By | Search Engine Optimization, Web Development, Wordpress | No Comments

There’s a lot of components to search engine optimization, frequently referred to as SEO. It’s understandable why SEO consultants get paid the big bucks because they have to be aware of so many variables. And it’s easy for us, as creative entrepreneurs, to get overwhelmed by all of the tedious tasks that go along with correct SEO.

However, there are a few things you can do as a blogger or business owner, that will set yourself up for success with search engines that require little to no maintenance in the future if you make sure they’re done correctly from the beginning.

So here it is, my list of five things you can tweak right now for better SEO.

1. Proper usage of heading levels

When writing content for a page or a blog post, most people use the Heading 1 and Heading 2 options to break their content up into chunks. This is good practice! It improves readability and guides search engines and visitors on what information is on the page. However, there is a right way to do this and a wrong way.

There should only ever be one Heading 1 per page or post. Using multiple h1 tags confuses the robots (aka search engines) about what your site is actually about.

The best way to use heading tags is to think of them as a book with a table of contents.

An h1 is your book title, h2’s are the chapter titles, and then h3’s, h4’s, and h5’s are further subheadings you can use to break content up further.

Yoast SEO has a great post on the importance of headings for your blog SEO; they also give some excellent examples of to how your blog posts and pages could look.

Don’t use headings for aesthetic reasons

If you’re using an h1 for aesthetic reasons, such as size or color, then you need to take a look at your design and adjust the way your headings look. For example, create a CSS class selector and apply that to the heading so that regardless of the level, it can look however the class rules are applied. (More on CSS classes in another post.)

For the most part, your WordPress page/post template includes h1’s, which means you should only really be using h2’s and smaller throughout your content. There are exceptions, but this is a good rule of thumb.

2. Meta tags

What the hell are meta tags? Glad you asked. They are the behind-the-scenes magic that feeds search engines and social media networks information about your website.

Out-of-the-box WordPress and Squarespace sites try to do a good job of this, by using the title of the page/post and the excerpt of the page for the search result. However, these are not optimized, and it’s a damn shame because it’s so easy to do!

My favorite is the free Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. Just install this bad boy, and you’ll have a new meta box at the bottom of each post/page where you can adjust the meta information. You should always modify the page title and meta description in my opinion, because you don’t just want your search result to say “Home” you want it to say something like “Unique websites for creative entrepreneurs” or something that draws visitors into your site.

3. ALT text

Again, what?!

ALT text or alternative text is another piece of hidden magic that is important for SEO. It’s the hidden caption behind your photo that search engines index as more content. Kind of amazing right?

ALT text is primarily used by visitors with screen-readers or who have image loading turned off. It’s descriptive text that displays in place of the photo if it doesn’t load, or in the case of a screen-reader, it will read it to the listener.

You can edit the ALT text of each photo in WordPress from within the media library, and while this might seem tedious, I promise this will help tremendously by basically doubling the amount of content on your site that search engines see.

Since this is something that might be read aloud to a visitor, it’s super important that you write these as if they were a typical sentence. ALT text should be brief but informative. And bonus, the more you write for humans with your ALT text, the more search engines approve of it. Robots just want to be human after all.

4. Page Load Time

Have you ever been on a website that took more than a few seconds to load and you were already bored and clicked the back button? Well, search engines do the same thing. The longer your site takes to load, the more they will penalize you in search results.

For this reason, it’s super important to keep an eye on how quickly your page loads. You can use tools like Pingdom’s Website Speed Test to see how fast various pages load. The goal is to keep things at 2-3 seconds and definitely below 7 seconds. Anything higher than that and marketers can tell you about the exponential drop off in people visiting your site.

How do you fix a site that loads slowly?

The easiest way is to start with images. You can use an image editing program like Photoshop to export and compress them down, or an online tool like Compressor.io, to make sure that your images are already in a good place when you upload them.

I also recommend installing WP Smush or another image compression plugin on WordPress to help further save on space and load times.

Another aspect of page speed is going to be the number of plugins you have running on your site.

I’ve already mentioned two or three that I think you should have, but if you have a plugin for share tools and a slider and an Instagram feed and Leadpages and MailChimp, and all of this other stuff, you’re slowing your site down really badly.

The better way to handle this is to use only the plugins you need and then find other means of achieving the other stuff, like embedding an HTML Mailchimp form instead of using a plugin.

Finally, use a caching tool like W3 Cache and a CDN like Cloudflare to speed things up further. These resources keep a copy of the site loaded at all times so that visitors don’t have to reload items every time they come to your site.

5. All the links!

Inbound, outbound, internal… these are all different kinds of links that you need to utilize throughout your site.

Outbound links are when you link to external sites, like Amazon or someone else’s blog post. These links help Google legitimize your content, like citing sources in a term paper. If you’re linking to correct, credible sources, Google and visitors on your site are going to think you know what you’re talking about, so you move up in search results.

The same goes for internal links, which is linking to your content, like an old blog post that talks about something similar. Internal links draw the search robots deeper into your site and make searches more relevant.

Inbound links are the hardest to cultivate, but also the most important. These are when other people link to you. Inbound links are a huge indicator to Google that you’re a good result to show people and not a spam site that they want to push down.

You can force inbound links by commenting on other people’s blog posts and including your website URL (called back-linking) or doing this in a service directory. But this treads a dangerous line of lousy SEO habits that search engines frown upon.

My suggestion for cultivating inbound links is two-fold:

1. Use Pinterest to share your blog posts and content. Pinterest might advertise as a social media network, but it’s really a search engine, a visual one. Although their links are technically “no follow,” meaning it shouldn’t influence search rankings, Google and other search engines do index pins which can show up in search results. Ergo, Pinterest pins to your site can show up and lead traffic to your site.

2. Pitch yourself as a guest author on other blogs. Ask your business besties to collaborate on a blog post series with you and take turns writing for each other’s sites. Or pitch yourself to people who resonate with you. You don’t have to have anything special to do this; a few well-written articles are usually enough to do the trick. Or cross-post your content to sites like Medium, and link back to the original article on your website.

If video/audio is your thing, pitch yourself as a guest on a podcast. Usually, they’ll include a link to your site and social networks in the description or show notes, and that counts as an inbound link!

SEO can be overwhelming, and it’s a constantly evolving beast, so we’ve just scraped the surface here. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from being an entrepreneur, it’s that you have to start somewhere. And with these tips, you don’t even have to hire a marketing team or copywriter to do it!

And if you’re not sure where to start, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. You can download my free website planning guide, which can walk you through each of these steps to optimize your new or existing website for improved search engine optimization.

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