Why Does SEO Matter? Recap from Joost de Valk’s WCUS talk

Why does SEO matter? CEO and Founder of Yoast, Joost de Valk gave a presentation on SEO at WordCamp US. Here’s our recap.

Recently at WordCamp US, Joost de Valk, CEO and Founder of Yoast, gave a presentation on SEO. Why does it matter? How do you optimize it? Are there shortcuts?

There is a lot more to SEO than just the technical. SEO is way more than keywords.

“Optimization is really the last step of a really long process.” Joost de Valk

Some people think search engine optimization (SEO) only matters for big box companies or for e-commerce sites. But Joost believes that SEO is for everyone. In fact, that’s their new mission.

Organic Search is Not Dead

Optimizing your text for search is still important and it’s important to note that organic search is still a major factor.

“22.6% of all e-commerce in the US came from organic search.” Joost de Valk

Make sure that Google has access to titles, robots.txt, and JavaScript. There is a lot more to SEO than just optimizing that exact post or page. Your whole site should be able to be crawled by a search engine.

Take Advantage of Google Search Console

Joost believes that the better source of data, rather than Google Analytics, comes from Google Search Console.

“Every single one of you should have a Google Search Console account.” Joost de Valk

By the way, there is a beginner’s guide to Google Search Console from Moz.

Utilize Proper URL Structure

One of the things Joost brought up is the URL structure in WordPress. It’s important that the words in your link (URL) contain your keyword and relate to your page or post’s content. Your URL (permalink) should say something about your content.

Currently, the default in WordPress for permalinks is plain. That looks like domainname.com/?p=123. That’s not optimized for SEO.

“Make [your URL] as simple as possible and that they make sense. If it doesn’t say anything about your content, it’s probably not a good URL.” Joost de Valk

In the settings of your WordPress dashboard go to Permalink Settings to change your URL structure. Since Google counts the words in your permalink as part of a ranking signal, that’s going to be good choice. High volume sites can use time-related permalinks. For most businesses, post name is perfect.

Write About Your Product, Simply

Keyword research is still an important part of optimizing your site. But think of parallel searches, think of how your customers find you, and do some sample searches.

“Because you can’t really install a plugin to do this for you, you need to do keyword research.” Joost de Valk

Joost also emphasizes that your product’s name is not what people are searching for, as much as you think they are. So find out how people are searching for you.

This means writing about each topic separately. Don’t try to rank for several keywords on the same post or page.

“You simply cannot be found for words that you never use. Each topic needs its own post or page.” Joost de Valk

Your Site Should Be Mobile Responsive

One in four (28%) of WordPress websites are not mobile friendly. This is not good. Even though Google rolled out ranking factors for mobile-responsive sites in 2015 (do you remember Mobilegeddon?), Joost says, “we need to get better and we need to get better soon.” When he says “we,” he’s referring to us as a community of WordPress developers.

It may be surprising, but not every theme in the WordPress repository is mobile-friendly. Not just that but not every theme contains mobile responsive elements (like images and embedded content). You’ll need to test as you develop your custom themes.

“Not having a mobile friendly theme like taking a knife to a gunfight.” Joost de Valk

Watch the the whole presentation here: