SEO is not the new black anymore. At this point, we rather see it as the new rainbow because of the diversification the related practices keep going through. As our ambient world is getting more digitized day by day, the scope of SEO becomes broader as well. Today we will focus on only one of its particular fields, WordPress SEO. Our article will be a foundational guide for those who consider entering this field. Because let’s admit that the right order to follow for the related procedures is not always clear enough. That’s why we opt for a step-by-step approach here, but without any superfluous or advanced details. You will have plenty of time to discover those over time.
So, for now, we will sketch a sort of skeleton for your WordPress site and related SEO features. We will naturally start by examining the URL requirements. Then we will take a look at WordPress’s essential toolboxes, also known as plugins. Those will be present again in our subsections dedicated to internal links, speed, and security. We will also propose an alternative to those of you who do not wish to take the entire responsibility of their website and SEO plans.
What Exactly Is WordPress SEO?
A very legitimate question that we will try to clarify by breaking down the two main components we notice here.
The first one is WordPress, an open-source content management system (CMS) accessible for free. We assume that at least some of you reading this article are already familiar with it. Indeed, the platform is one of the most frequently used ones worldwide when it comes to website creation and design.
The second component is SEO or Search Engine Optimization. This term refers to a set of techniques that mainly aim at improving a given website’s ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
So the combination of the two is mostly about understanding and applying efficient SEO tactics via WordPress. If things still seem a little confusing to you right now, don’t worry. The clouds will hopefully dissipate thanks to our WordPress SEO tutorial. Just stay tuned.
Fundamentals No. 1: Your Website Address
Your primary task is to set up your core structure. This naturally includes your website address or URL since that’s how people will be able to identify you on the internet. Remember that we are talking about SEO here, so make it a part of your page identifiers. Visitors should be capable of guessing what any of your pages is about by only reading the related URL. For instance, are you using keywords within your URL? If not yet, we recommend you start right away. Compare the following examples:
Can you see the difference? The first URL example provides a somewhat clear idea of the page content, whereas the second one remains vaguer. We can thus conclude that establishing URLs that are compatible with SEO is the right move to begin with. It will be highly useful for both visitors and search engines.
Another important aspect is the protocol you decide to adopt for your site identification. Are you going to use the World Wide Web (www) protocol or not? This is an important question because the following addresses will be treated separately by search engines:
In other words, you’d better not use both. Otherwise, search engines will think that you own two different websites. And once you have made up your mind, refrain from changing it over time. Indeed, any modification brought to your website’s name can harm your ranking, all the more if your site has been running for a long time.
Now let’s see the technical arrangements regarding your URLs:
Setting Your URL Structure
1. To create keyword-based URLs as we have recommended, open your Dashboard on WordPress.
Select respectively Settings -> Permalink Settings -> Post name.
After typing your desired URL, don’t forget to click on Save Changes to confirm.
2. Then, you also have to enter the protocol of your choice, as we have discussed above. Here again, open the Dashboard.
Select respectively Settings -> General.
You will see two main areas dedicated to URLs: WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL). Enter the same URL in both of them. So if you have decided to use ‘https://inflatablemugs.com’ as an URL, you must type it in both areas.
Verifying Your Site Visibility
Here’s another primordial yet often overlooked aspect. As long as you’re still working on your site development, WordPress allows you to hide it from search engines. This is because there’s no use in submitting unfinished business to web crawlers. However, things do change once you have the definitive version of your site. Visibility is one of the golden rules of SEO in general and WordPress SEO in particular. So when your site is ready, you must make it visible to the public as well as search engines.
To do so, go to your Dashboard.
Select respectively Settings -> Reading -> Search Engine Visibility.
Uncheck the box next to Discourage search engines from indexing this site.
Fundamentals no. 2: Your Plugins
It’s impossible to talk about SEO WordPress without mentioning plugins. These are undoubtedly the heart of WordPress and deserve your attention. Why? It’s above all because they are handy add-ons that significantly improve your web designer experience. For example, to organize your WordPress gallery, you can benefit from the best WordPress gallery plugins. The stake is not only about rendering your site cooler but also being able to manipulate it with more ease. So let’s get an idea of some of the best WordPress SEO plugins that you should try out.
This one is a must-have for anyone willing to build a new website through WordPress SEO. Crafter in a beginner-friendly fashion, it helps you deal with the most essential technical requirements. It makes you optimize your pages quickly by setting up your URLs, titles, and descriptions. The automated XML sitemap that it offers is priceless. Indeed, whenever you add new content to your site, the sitemap gets updated by itself, thanks to Yoast SEO. The same goes for robots.txt files: The plugin takes care of them on your behalf while also protecting them against common SEO mistakes (overwrites, etc.). Last but not least, it grants you a safe configuration on Google Search Console, a much-needed detail for every SEO practitioner.
Don’t miss even a crumble of your metrics, thanks to MonsterInsights. This plugin keeps you updated on your site’s analytics and performance in an easily readable way. In fact, it acts as a simplified version of Google Analytics. You get all the information you need about your own web activities and results without having to deal with complicated investigations.
All in One SEO for WordPress (AIOSEO)
Even the name is pretty convincing in itself, isn’t it? This one is certainly one of the most comprehensive and popular WordPress SEO plugins available on the current market. Spoil yourself with the built-in setup wizard that selects the most useful SEO settings for your website. Too good to be true? Take a look at the sample of its promises:
– On-page analysis with a meticulous control over SEO basic (e.g., titles, meta descriptions) through an advanced tag generator
– Smart and automated XML sitemap configurations
– Social media integration via Open Graph metadata, which lets you choose the visuals you want to display when you share your content on various platforms
– WooCommerce SEO options to enhance your eCommerce
And so much more. Note that some of those features are accessible with the paid pro version only. However, the free version is already more than enough for beginners.
Now that we have checked some of the foundational WordPress SEO acquisitions you must aim for; we are going to explore some additional strategies.
Collaborate with a WordPress SEO Agency
We will shake up old habits a little bit and make this suggestion straight away. Generally speaking, we tend to recommend external help when there’s nothing else to add. This might not be the wisest approach, though. Why? Well, let’s just admit that beginners do actually need assistance right from the start. Better be safe than sorry, meaning that you may want to contact a WordPress SEO company before things get too serious and tiring.
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So how do you choose the right agency? One of the first things to do is to read online reviews from other clients. This would shed a realistic light on some real-life experiences. You should also compare the fees for the WordPress SEO services that you intend to solicit. WPTangerine, Single Grain, OuterBox, and Coalition Technologies are some of the highly rated companies. Some of them are working with world-renowned brands (Amazon, Scott Byron & Co., etc.). They offer (among others):
– Customized SEO plans
– Useful directions for content marketing
– Assistance for link building
– Copywriting services
– URL structure optimization
– Page load speed improvement
Pay Attention to Internal Linking
Properly managed links are key to successful SEO. Among those, your priority should be your internal links. Even if it doesn’t make sense at first sight and looks somewhat egocentric, you should link as much as possible to your own content. This means you must sort of redirect your visitors to your other articles, blog posts, etc., within your own WordPress website. That’s how you will gradually increase its authority. Indeed, linking makes people spend more time on your site and thus boosts your page view counter. Yoast SEO, as mentioned above, is an efficient plugin for internal linking, but there are many others you can use.
Don’t Forget That Speed Is Everything
Or almost. You’re probably aware that nowadays, people don’t like to waste time on anything slow when it comes to technology. Thus one of the most obvious WordPress SEO tips we can give is improving your page load speed. As a rule of thumb, people should be able to access the entirety of the content on any of your pages within seconds only. This is a capital requirement for increasing your engagement rate while keeping your bouncing rate at bay. Furthermore, search engines tend to favor speedy websites that run smoothly.
Several factors are at play here. One of them is about image optimization. You should indeed select and use visuals that don’t take too much time to load. One way to achieve that is to go for up-to-date formats. If you are hesitant as a beginner, good old JPEG (Joint Photographic Expert Groups) and PNG (Portable Network Graphics) are still quite safe bets. Either way, take the time to examine the different available file types carefully. Choose the ones that seem the most ergonomic and adapted to your content.
Another important aspect is mobile-friendliness by all means. Keep in mind that more and more internet users are on the mobile side these days. Offer them a website that can be easily displayed on any device.
Be Diligent about Security
Speculating about the best SEO for WordPress becomes totally pointless if one neglects security matters. We venture to assume that you are aiming for 100% audience satisfaction. In that case, you ought to take the necessary precautions against potential hacks, malware, and phishing. Otherwise, you run the risk of ending up with a dysfunctional website that can be blacklisted by search engines. Needless to say, this can be a disaster for all your WordPress SEO efforts.
The first good strategy for tackling such problems is to use appropriate WordPress SEO tools, namely plugins (yes, them again). Backup plugins (e.g., BackupBuddy, WP Time Capsule) and security plugins (e.g., SecuPress, Wordfence Security) are your new besties in that context. The good news is that you don’t necessarily need any coding while dealing with the security of your website. A basic installation will be enough in most cases.
You will also need additional protection, such as an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. This well-known safety technology enables encrypted links between servers and clients. Simply put, it ensures reliable interactions for both parties (you and your site visitors).
Are You Done Here?
Of course not. WordPress SEO components are numerous and quite complex. You will also want to optimize some micro (yet essential) elements) such as descriptions, tags, comments, and external links, to name only a few. But remember our skeleton analogy in the introduction. You first need to set it up through the directions given throughout our article so far. Once you’ve got it, you can start filling the skeleton with finer details.
Ready to More Further with WordPress SEO
In this article, we have established a baseline from which you can launch your SEO for WordPress. We could confirm that the first thing any WordPress website owner should do is to offer an easily identifiable and readable address. Being visible enough is a logical necessity if you want both the public and search engines to find you. We have also underlined the importance of plugins several times. Those form undoubtedly your primary equipment, from ensuring your site’s security to choosing the best SEO WordPress theme. In fact, the right combination of plugins is your pass for successful SEO in WordPress. So make them always a part of your web development and search engine adjustments.