WordPress SEO Ranking Factors You MAY Not Know About

Today I wanted to discuss a couple of SEO Ranking Factors that I know a lot of people do not understand. Many of the major ranking factors have been around for years, like keyword optimized title tags, the number and quality of backlinks to your site, and keyword-rich domain names.

But these two factors are fairly new in importance, and most people are not aware of them.

Bounce Rate

According to Google Analytics, “Bounce Rate is the percentage of single-page visits or visits in which the person left your site from the entrance (landing) page. Use this metric to measure visit quality – a high bounce rate generally indicates that site entrance pages aren’t relevant to your visitors.”

Google (the search engine) is not omniscient, so there is no way for them to know your actual bounce rate – the one that is seen in Google Analytics or other analytics programs. But they do know your search engine bounce rate – how many people click your site from their search engine results and then come right back.

So it is important that you watch this metric and try to figure out what is going on if you have a high bounce rate.

TIP: If you have new site without much traffic, BE CAREFUL when you go to Google and click your own site from the results page. Some people will do this several times a day to check their site, or even to login to WordPress.

But if you do this, make sure you visit a few pages on your site and don’t go back to Google using your back button. During this critical time before Google is sending you much traffic, you can affect your rankings by the ‘bouncing’ you do unintentionally.

Site Speed

Matt Cutts from Google has been talking about this for years, but now the speed of your site is starting to become a more significant factor in their ranking algorithm.

You can read some of the studies that Google, Amazon, Yahoo and others have done which show significant increases in traffic, page views, conversion and revenue when the speed of the site was improved.

Google Analytics has even added ‘speed’ as a metric that can be reported in their newest version. You need to make a simple change to the Google Analytics code on your site (or use the latest version of the free “Google Analytics for WordPress” plugin). Then you can click “New Version” in your Google Analytics dashboard and you can get the option to see “Site Speed” in your “Content” reports.

If you want more information on how to optimize a WordPress blog, this is an excellent report that will guide you through the entire process. The information in the sales letter alone is worth more than the cost of the full report.

Free WordPress Themes

When we think about WordPress we usually think about the versatility website owners have in creating websites that are fully customized to their needs.
By that we mean the use Web-masters have in changing themes, plug-ins and any other feature we wish to add to WordPress.

Straight out of the box WordPress is a fantastic product however its appearance can be somewhat boring. This is where free themes widely available on the Internet open at the possibilities to many WordPress administrators.

With literally thousands upon thousands of free WordPress themes available, it doesn’t matter if you want a website that has a blue background with pink dots, somewhere on the Internet, somebody has created that style of theme already and usually publishes it for the rest of the world to use.

Obviously we are unable to review every theme ever created for WordPress here in this article however we can point you to places where you can get fantastic, high quality themes completely free or locations where you can download themes at a very reasonable price.

This said, you may not want to take hours in searching for themes others may be using after all, the beauty of WordPress is the ability to completely customise it and make it a site which is truly unique. So there are a few other options available to WordPress Web-masters. The ability to create your own theme appeals to many, however finding the right software to do this can be tricky and to be honest with you there isn’t a lot out there to choose from.

Artisteer is a tall I have used in the past and find it a great alternative to using others who offer free themes or even themes you may be charged for.

So how easy is it to actually create a theme in Artisteer for WordPress?

Without beating around the bush the answer is very simple. From installation Artisteer can create not only WordPress themes but themes for other platforms which we will not deal with at the moment.
Artisteer allows the WordPress theme design to fully customize the appearance of WordPress in its entirety. It does take some time however and this puts many people off, but if you spend the time studying Artisteer you can create a good-looking theme within minutes and not ours as was the case for me when I first began to use it. But this is not an article about Artisteer, it is an article about free themes and where you can obtain them off the Internet.

So before we start downloading themes and installing them without a care in the world, there are a few things we need to consider. Firstly, how popular is the free theme we are about to install after all we do not want to use the same thing everybody else is using, it really doesn’t make our site look unique and stand out from the rest.
Thankfully, many of the new style WordPress themes that are free and give you the ability to also do further customization to their themes. Changing header graphics, text size and colour, page widths and page styles are a few of the options I’d like to see when installing a free WordPress theme.
Other features may also be interesting to us such as already inbuilt search engine optimization tools to help better rank in the search engines. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than spending hours in making a site look good as well is the time it takes to add excellent content if we do not score well in the search engines result pages. For me, CEO is one of my main priorities when considering a theme to install in WordPress.

I also would like to add that I do not just simply install free themes and test them on life sites, I much prefer to test them in a test environment I have off-line which I courage you all to do. If you would like to know more about this then please look for our article about using W a MP to run a off-line web server at home or in the office.

The reason for this is simple, and while my site is live on the Internet it is available for all to see at any time of the day or night. I do not want people viewing my changes alive as I test various aspects of the free theme.
I test off-line, ensure I am satisfied with the themes capabilities before I then installed the theme on my live site. This gives me time to understand the themes capabilities and options before committing to using them on a live website.

Below is a list of websites that offer free WordPress themes:

More help with WordPress Theme problems can be found at the sites listed below:

How to improve your WordPress Security

WordPress on it’s own has a relatively high level of security when left on it’s own, however, a persistent hacker can easily gain access to the site and once in, can have full control over the site. This is where WordPress Security falls down.

This has become more and more frequent over the past few years with thousands of WordPress Sites and blogs being attacked by hackers. Simply because their WordPress Security was not up to the mark.

Some common hackers are:

  • Turkish Hacker ET-06
  • Badi
  • Dark Knight Sparda
  • Fear720
  • Hmei7
  • H4xOr3D
  • d03i
  • and more…

These hackers usually do nothing more than configure WordPress sites to display images on the landing page showing the site has been attacked and hacked.

This said, it doesn’t please any administrator to have to go and undo the changes or modifications the hackers have put in-place.

WordPress Security Measures

Before we even consider installing plugins to help protect our sites, we must first of all understand how the hacker may have found our site in the first place.

Hackers are usually very lazy and use search engines to find potential WordPress sites to attack.

Using search terms specifically to identify potential sites to attack is actually very easy and straight forward, however, I am not going to post these terms in this article as I am not here to help promote hacking.

As I said using a search term will show the hacker those sites that are sitting on the WordPress platform, so we need away to hide tell-tail giveaways search engines can find on our sites.

Remove unnecessary files to improve WordPress Security

By default, WordPress leaves some easy to find indications from the installation. Let’s remove those now.

Using “cPanel” or “FTP” go to your site and remove the “readme.html” file. It tells everyone the version of WordPress currently installed.

We can also remove the file “wp-config-sample.php” file as this is only an example of how the sites actual configuration file should look like.

We can also navigate to the “wp-admin” folder and remove the “install.php” file as this is also no needed.

So to recap. We delete:

  • readme.html
  • wp-config-sample.php
  • install.php (in the wp-admin folder)

We have now made it difficult for hackers using search engines to identify our site is on the WordPress platform.

Now we need to do some maintenance inside WordPress itself.

WordPress Control Panel

Log in to your WordPress control panel (http://www.yoursite.com/wp-admin)

Go to the “Setting” section found in the left hand side menu and then click on the “Permalinks” link.

I hope you are not using the Default setting as this is just plain nasty.

Personally, I set this to use the “Custom Structure” and in the text box fill out “/%postname%/”. Hackers can search for pages/posts that end in “?p=123″ and again this is a big giveaway that the site is using WordPress. Change it!!

Problem Plugins

Plugins can affect WordPress Security in a major way.
Plugin can be a sites safer but at the same time can open your site up for attacks.

Be fore we go any further make a note. ONLY USE APPROVED PLUGINS.

I only download and install plugins via the WordPress control panel. Doing it this way allows be to browser plugins and see if other website owners recommend them.

As you can see from the image above, just by looking at the “Rating” tells me if the plugin is recommended or not.

Also, do press the “Details” link for the plugins to get more information about them, the history and any known problems. 5 minutes investigation could save you hours of recovery if a plugin is poor or has security loopholes.