WordPress SEO Guide for Beginners
Getting more traffic to your website is a very crucial part of improving your WordPress SEO; however, most WordPress SEO guides are a bit technical for users to grasp and get started. WordPress is SEO friendly and the standard for bloggers that is why most people choose it to start a blog.
WordPress being the most popular CMS on the internet, it powers everything. From personal blogs to online stores, to corporate portals and many more. An important reason as to why most users prefer WordPress is because it is easy to optimize for better rankings and with minimum effort. Its administrators and developers could get a good position in Google and many other search engines present.
What Is SEO?
This is the methodology of increasing visibility and ranking of a website on search engine results pages. It helps us create sites that are reliable and deliver a great user experience. It also creates sites that are more user friendly. A lot of things influence the visibility of a website. These include design, links, and keywords. However, most SEO elements are not known by most people.
Below are guides on how to work with WordPress SEO to achieve great results.
1. Check your website’s visibility settings
Check beforehand that your website is visible to search engines. In the settings menu, there is a checkbox determining whether search engines can see and index your site. This check helps in ensuring that websites that are still under construction are not accidentally indexed in the search engines’ results.
After you are done with the web site's construction, you must uncheck it so that search engines can properly index your website. This is because in most instances, even after going live, the check remains in place.
2. Use SEO friendly URL structures
Your SEO friendly URLs should have words that clearly explain the content of your page, and that both human and search engines can easily read.
Chances that you will get a better position in search engines when you use SEO friendly permalink structures are high.
An excellent example of an SEO friendly URL can be:
a reader can easily guess what they are likely to see on the page by just looking at it as opposed to if it were this way:
The trick is to have an SEO friendly URL that will be easily viable in search engines as well as be easily understood by users.
According to Backlinko’s research, shorter URLs tend to outperform longer ones.
So don’t make your URLs too long.
3. WWW vs non-WWW
Since search engines consider these two to be different websites, you need to choose one and stick to it.
If you are just starting and still finding your way through WordPress SEO then you need to choose whether to use www (http://www.example.com) or a non-www (http://example.com) within your site’s URL. You can do this by going to Settings >> General page. Add a preferred URL in both the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields.
Worth noting is that there is not any advantage to using one or another from an SEO standpoint.
4. Have an SEO-friendly theme installed
When first installed, WordPress normally has a not so good-looking default theme. And for an SEO-friendly WordPress theme you want to go one that is;
Lightweight: bloated themes with third-party plugins and scripts will slow down your website, so avoid them altogether.
Responsive design: have mobile-friendly content; they may perform better for those searching on mobile.
5. Choose the right page title
A title refers to what is on a specific page; therefore, every page must have a title. Have the best title for your page. Search engines list out websites according to the page titles. Google will display yours if its meta-tag text matches with the search query.
6. Choosing the best WordPress SEO plugin
An advantage to WordPress is that there is a plugin for everything, and SEO is not an exception. However, this is a challenge to beginners as they do not know which is the best SEO for WordPress.
These two options are both practical solutions and all you need to do is to pick one and look up a setup tutorial for your preferred choice online.
7. Optimize your blog posts for SEO
Installing and activating an SEO plugin for WordPress is not all that is needed. It is worth noting that SEO is an ongoing process worth keeping up with if you want great results.
Most top SEO plugins allow you to add a title, focus on keywords on every blog post and page, and description. Optimize your title and description to achieve maximum results.
Here is how you can change the title and meta description tags in Yoast SEO for a given post:
8. Meta title tags
Tags are essential for high SERP rankings as they are the only introduction to the content of your page in the search engine results. Do not overlook meta tags as they are essential for both pages and websites.
Make sure always to have a relevant meta title and meta description for every page and post published on your site.
9. Website internal links
This is a widespread SEO practice used to link various content published on your website. An anchor text is included and then linked to other blogs or pages on your websites.
This ensures that a guest stays longer on the website and reads more than just one piece. This results in an increase in page view and a decrease in the bounce rate of your website.
Always remember to select the right phrase or keyword when creating a hyperlink. Ensure that your links open in new tabs, this improves the user experience. Links situated deep within the structure of the website work best.
10. Use 301 redirects for your links
If you want to change the link of a post or a page on your site, you should do it using a 301 redirect.
A 301 redirect indicates the permanent moving of a web page from one location to another.
Example: Redirect mysite.com/how-to-do-seo to mysite.com/seo.
If you want to do a redirect like the one above, you should use a 301 redirect.
It basically tells the browser that the old URL - mysite.com/how-to-do-seo has moved permanently to a new location - mysite.com/seo.
301 redirects help maintain your search equity at all times always. However, note that you will lose 10-15% of your traffic. This is normal and should not be a big deal. It is a significant step in the optimization perspective of the search engine.
301 is the only option for you if you want to maintain the traffic of your website.
11. Image names and alt text
Have proper names for all images used on your website. This helps people and search engines know the content of your post. Make sure that Alt Text field for your images is appropriately filled with descriptions of the image. This helps when the browser is not able to render the image correctly. Boost your WordPress SEO rankings by focusing on keywords and phrases in the Alt Text field.
12. Polish your content
A powerful factor for any website is the content. Great content leads to more traffic and can help you get more backlinks. Figure out what your audience is actually looking for or interested in.
After analyzing their field of interest, do your research and go through your content. This attracts your audience and increases traffic on your site. If your WordPress blog is for digital marketing, then you can look up chrome extensions for digital marketers and boost your content.
13. Heading tags
These provide a structure and context for your articles. Have headers that reflect the information about the paragraph. You should only use H1 only on your article or page. H1 is for your article topic which says what the article is all about. H2 is for topic headings, H3-H6 will be used for subheadings.
Sitemaps help make a clear architecture that makes it easier for crawl bots to recognize all of your pages.
It also helps search engines understand how your site is structured and how often do you update your pages.
Here is a good article on sitemaps and why they need to have one.
15. Enable content caching
Create static versions of your posts and pages so that browsers can quickly load them. Your website becomes quick.
Choose an excellent caching plugin for WordPress and let your users enjoy faster loading speeds. It is worth noting that Google likes happy users and fast-loading sites.
Some of the great caching plugins are W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket, WP Optimize.
Every plugin has its’ own set of configurations, so make sure that you read the instructions in order to set it up correctly.
Besides using WordPress plugins for caching, many hosting providers provide their own caching systems.
So make sure that you talk to your hosting’s customer support team and ask them if they provide caching and if they can help you configure that.
16. Optimize and compress your images
It is important to optimize the slowest part of your web pages- images!
Activate the Smush Image Compression and Optimization plugin. This you can install beforehand. It compresses and optimizes all the images that you upload.
This software also resizes your images and makes them suitable for your WordPress theme.
17. Avoid duplicate content
These arise when search engines encounter multiple URLs with similar content.
This, therefore, means the search engines won’t be able to know which URL ranks higher, thus giving lower rankings to all of them.
The root cause of this problem is technical and can happen even without you noticing.
Have top-notch content that has been carefully curated to meet the needs of your audience.
Also, avoid writing about the same topic too often and address the topic keyword cannibalization to prevent this.
With these easy to understand guidelines, make your website user-friendly. Ensure that all your settings are WordPress SEO friendly as much as you can. As a beginner, you can follow these guidelines to create an SEO friendly website and maintain a top rank on the search engines.
About the author
Kristin Savage nourishes, sparks and empowers using the magic of a word. Along with pursuing her degree in Creative Writing, Kristin was gaining experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in marketing strategy for publishers and authors. Now she works as a freelance writer at WowGrade, TrustMyPaper and SupremeDissertations.