Is your website integral to your business or publishing venture? If so, and you are using WordPress, this might be the best $19 you could spend to improve it. Optimize Your WordPress Site by Yoast is jam packed with explanations, resource links and specific actionable advice on 7 key topics.
Before continuing (or you decide to click away), read these 3 notes:
- Non-technical folks or non-WordPress users: I suggest you read the 7 key topics and make an effort to understand each one in the context of your current web presence. Google has made a number of changes to the criteria they use to rank websites and these concepts apply to any web presence. Even if this guide isn't for you it is important to understand these 7 topics.
- SEO and optimizing books, especially on Amazon: optimizing your book’s metadata for online book stores is an increasingly important marketing task. The same holds true for optimizing ISBN records. SEO for books improves the chances of your book being displayed when people go looking for similar books, and your book specifically.
- Much of the book applies to any website, not just WordPress: Yoast makes a number of tools for WordPress sites (plugins) but as you see below, topics like navigation, revenue, Google Analytics, conversion improvement, social media and site speed apply to any web presence.
Here are the 7 topics (you can see the full table of contents here).
- Understanding and applying SEO or Search Engine Optimization best practices for your website.
- Website navigation design best practices.
- Improving the revenue-generating ability of your website.
- How to use Google Analytics to understand and improve your website’s ability to engage and retain visitors.
- How to conduct conversion research using A/B testing and surveys.
- Why and how to use social media to increase website traffic.
- How to monitor and improve the speed of your website.
A few things I liked…
I used the Kindle (and EPUB) files where were far better than using a PDF. It allowed me to organize my reading by highlighting passages with colors to represent priority*. (I was also able to add a copy to my mobile phone for anytime-reading.)
- Pink for priority tips. I saved tips like “A quick way of checking whether a page on your site can be spidered is by doing a quix SEO check.”
- Blue for future study. “Both the ‘far future expire time’ as well as combining of files can be done by plugins, for instance by W3 Total Cache. Another solution is to deal with it within your theme, by your developer.” This passage relates to improving the speed of your website which is an important factor in your Google rankings. I have no clue how or if this applies to my website but I intend to study this and other blue links when I have time.
- Green for good reminders. We can't remember everything and the book was sprinkled with reminders like this: use Google Trends for vetting important keyword decisions.
I have two dozen of these highlights that I’ll be revisiting over the next few months as I systematically study each one and apply it to one of my websites.
A couple things that could be improved…
I’d still buy the book again but I’ll make these comments in the spirit of suggesting improvements for the future. These certainly don’t impact the overall value, which is excellent.
Landing Pages. I thought there should have been a better setup for this important concept. More importantly, the advice to “make a landing page for every search term you come up with” is a daunting prospect for beginners and average WordPress site owners.
In a previous passage the authors reference yoast.com/suggest/ and Übersuggest to find keywords, and these can produce hundreds, if not thousands of options. Do we really need to build thousands of pages? Perhaps there some criterial we could apply? Where do we draw the line? What are some best practices?
Oh no! I took comfort reading these two sentences about understanding and dealing with canonical links, which I admitted don’t understand: “If you don’t know which one is the ‘canonical’ one: pick one. Not doing anything is more hurtful than just picking one.”
Until I read the next sentence: “The problem comes when you’re setting the canonical wrong.” I guess I shouldn’t “just pick one” after all?
Buy the book
It is to be expected that one book cannot cover every topic as deeply as necessary for all audiences, especially given the complexity of this topic. But this handy guide book by proven experts in WordPress SEO comes close.
Another thing to keep in mind is that you don’t have to spend more money to take advantage of the advice. Most of the links are to free tools that will get the average website owner a good part of the way to where they need to be.
I highly recommend it. You can learn more here. (Sorry, there is no print edition, nor can you buy it from Amazon.)
* I downloaded all three formats: PDF, Kindle (Mobi) and EPUB. I used EPUB in Apple to read the book but I used Kindle for PC to write this post because I can easily copy and paste passages. By the way, the EPUB looks nicer on the iPad using iBooks but I discovered it is less functional than using Kindle for iPad. I grabbed the PDF because I thought I might print it for a binder although I think that is doubtful now that I’m used to using colors for highlighting.
- Manage Your Published eBook Using Apple iTunes Connect-Sales, Payments, Promotions, Price and Metadata
- Amazon CreateSpace: 10 Essential Things to Know
- How Businesses Can Create Their Own eBook Libraries
- Copyright, Fair Use, and the Publishing of The Lost Chapters by Leslie Schwartz
- Color vs. Black and White Printing Using CreateSpace