DIY SEO: Step 5 – Make Navigating Your Site Easy

This is the seventh post in our DIY SEO for WordPress series.

This step really has more to do with your site overall rather than individual content. Though you do want to have a site navigation plan in place from day one, some of what I discuss here will only make sense when you’ve been adding content for a while.

Great site navigation is extremely important because it helps you keep your visitors on your site longer. Remember, all the great content in the world won’t help if your visitors can’t find it. So, let’s make sure visitors can easily find all that great content you’ve got! They’ll hang around longer, and the work you’ve put into your site has a better chance of paying off.

Create Permanent Links to Important Posts

Tom Volkar of Delightful Work does a great job of this with his sidebar section, Best of Delightful Work. Nancy Boyd of Dances With Flowers went a step further and created an Are You New Here? page at her site. These are great examples of highlighting important posts that either show off your best work or bring new visitors up to speed.

Show Off Your Categories

Hopefully, you’ve created your Categories using your most important keywords or keyword phrases. Make sure your Categories are plainly visible on your site. Here at VAssistant Services, I have my Categories featured prominently across the middle of my front page (see Browse Categories.) At the very least, put your list of Categories in your sidebar. This allows visitors to see at a glance what your site is about and easily drill down into your content. Christa at Giggle On! does a great job of highlighting her categories, both in her sidebar and on her Stories page.

Put a Tag Cloud in Your Sidebar

I strongly advise you to include a tag cloud in your sidebar. This gives visitors another way to quickly and easily drill down into your content. Tags give a more granular view of your content and can cross Category boundaries. Again, use your keywords and keyword phrases as tags. An advantage of your tag cloud is that the more often a tag is used, the bigger the font in the tag cloud. This gives a visual ‘summary’ of what you mostly write about on your site. Very handy for your visitors to use in exploring your site.

Use the Related Posts or Similar Posts Plugin

Another way to keep visitors engaged at your site is to employ a plugin that inserts a list of related or similar posts at the end of each post. If your visitor likes the post they just read, then odds are they’ll click on related or similar posts and read them, too, if you give them an easy way to do so. I use the Related Posts plugin because I had some conflict with my theme and the Similar Posts plugin. (Another reason I’m glad there are so many plugin options with WordPress.)

Create a Google Sitemap

A sitemap helps the search engines index your site properly. I use the Google XML Sitemap plugin. It supports all the pages WordPress generates, plus any custom ones I’ve created outside of WordPress. Then, every time I edit or create a post, my sitemap is updated and all the major search engines that support the sitemap protocol, like ASK.com, Google, MSN Search, and YAHOO, are notified of the update. Cool, huh? Yeah!

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