WordPress SEO guide for beginners: 13 tips to improve your website’s rankings
You may have chosen WordPress as your website’s CMS because you read that it is SEO-friendly right out of the box. Indeed, a glance at WordPress’ list of ‘powerful features’ on its homepage reveals that the platform is SEO-friendly.
However, simply launching a WordPress website is not enough to rank at the top of search engines. You will still need to understand the right SEO tactics to use and how to implement them, but the good news is that WordPress makes this simple and allows beginners to grow their traffic from Google.
The platform includes many features that adhere to SEO best practices to make your life easier, allowing you to focus your efforts on tasks that have a real impact on your rankings and organic visibility.
The EverRanks SEO company will give you the standard guideline to help you improve your websites’ rankings.
What is wordpress? What is wordpress SEO?
What is wordpress?
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, powering 35% of the internet and many of the websites you probably visit every day, such as BBC America, Time.com, and TechCrunch. WordPress is also used by The Rolling Stones for their official website. If it works for these global behemoths, it’s easy to see why it’s the preferred platform for many website developers.
WordPress began as a blogging platform in 2003, but quickly evolved into a powerful and adaptable solution for running entire websites, and by 2020, it will also be capable of being used as an eCommerce solution. WordPress is popular to many website development companies, SEO company and others.
What made WordPress so popular?
Many people believe this is because:
- It is simple and straightforward to use. To launch a WordPress website, you do not need to be a developer, and it is extremely user-friendly, even for beginners.
- It is adaptable and versatile. With literally thousands of themes (many of which are free), you can tailor WordPress to your needs while also extending core functionality with one of over 55,000 plugins.
- There is a fantastic community. WordPress is open-source, and the platform’s community is simply amazing. Whether the problem is simple or complex, there is always help available, from support forums to simple documentation.
Of course, it isn’t the best platform for everyone, and there may be times when other CMS options are better suited to your specific needs. The most frequently mentioned disadvantages and cons of WordPress are the need for frequent updates, potential vulnerabilities (if your site is not kept up to date), and a small learning curve to launch bespoke themes. However, for the most part, it is an extremely powerful platform that also provides excellent foundations for SEO company success.
What is WordPress SEO?
WordPress is not a substitute for a solid strategy in SEO company, and while there is no denying that the CMS saves you time and allows you to adhere to best practices without prior experience, you must understand that you must put in the effort to rank your website on Google.
Unless your site has extensive technical issues that prevent it from being crawled and indexed, your CMS choice has no bearing on whether or not you can rank well. You should not believe that WordPress is a magical weapon that can be used without further effort; it takes time and effort. SEO can quickly become technical, but the beauty of WordPress is that it is easily accessible to those who aren’t experienced or consider themselves to be technically savvy.
Just because you’re using WordPress doesn’t mean your SEO strategies will change. You must still create great content, earn great links, and ensure that your site is well-optimized and free of technical issues. However, WordPress takes care of many of the SEO basics that help your site rank out of the box, and what you will find below are tips and tricks that help you implement growth-driving tactics specifically on the platform.
Before you learn how to properly optimize your WordPress site and start increasing organic traffic, there are a few fundamentals you should cover to ensure that you are working with a solid build.
WordPress SEO for beginners
Basic knowledge of WordPress SEO
Check your website display settings
WordPress allows you to hide your website from search engines. This option is intended to give you more time to work on your website before it goes live.
This option, however, can be selected by mistake, rendering your website inaccessible to search engines.
If your website isn’t appearing in search results, the first thing you should do is make sure this option isn’t unchecked.
Simply log in to the admin area of your WordPress site and navigate to the Settings >> Reading page.
Scroll down to the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ section and uncheck the box next to ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site.’
Don’t forget to save your changes by clicking the ‘Save Changes’ button.
Use an SEO-friendly URL structure in WordPress
SEO-friendly URLs include words that clearly explain the page’s content and are easy to read by both humans and search engines.
SEO company often notice how readable these URLs are, and how a user can guess what they will see on the page simply by looking at the URL text.
Here’s how to check and update the permalink structure of your WordPress site.
You must go to the Settings >> Permalinks page. To save your settings, select the post name option and then click the ‘Save Changes’ button.
WWW vs non-WWW in URL
If you are just getting started with your website, you must decide whether to use www (http://www.example.com) or non-www (http://example.com) in the URL.
Because search engines consider these to be two distinct websites, you must pick one and stick with it.
You can change your preferences by going to Settings >> General. Fill out the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields with your preferred URL.
WordPress SEO Plugin
One of the best things about WordPress is that there is a plugin for everything, including SEO. There are thousands of WordPress SEO plugins available, making it difficult for beginners to select the best WordPress SEO plugin.
Choose the best WordPress SEO plugin
When it comes to selecting the best WordPress SEO plugin, you will most likely be limited to two options: All-in-One SEO (AIOSEO) or Yoast SEO.
With over 3 million installations, AIOSEO is the original WordPress SEO plugin.
TruSEO on-page analysis, rich snippets schema markup, social media integration, breadcrumb navigation, advanced eCommerce SEO support for WooCommerce, local SEO, and many other features are included.
Add XML sitemap
An XML Sitemap is a specially formatted file that contains a list of all the pages on your website. This allows search engines to easily find all of your content.
While adding an XML sitemap does not improve your site’s search rankings, it does assist search engines in quickly finding and ranking the pages.
Add site to Google Search Console
Google Search Console, also known as Webmaster Tools, is a set of tools provided by Google to website owners to help them understand how their content is viewed by search engines.
It offers reports and data to assist you in understanding how your pages appear in search results. You can also see the actual search terms that people use to find your website, how each page appears in the search results, and how frequently your pages are clicked. After that, you can plan your content strategy accordingly.
Google Search Console will also notify you if there is an issue with your websites, such as when search crawlers are unable to access it, duplicate content, or restricted resources.
Optimize your blog posts for SEO
Beginners frequently make the mistake of believing that installing and activating a WordPress SEO plugin is all that is required. SEO is a continuous process that must be maintained if you want to see the best results.
According to some SEO companies, every blog post and page can have an SEO title, meta description, and focus keyword added by any of the top SEO plugins. It also shows you a preview of what users will see when they search for your website on Google. To get the most clicks in search engine results, optimize your title and description.
Do keyword research for your website
Content creators and SEO experts use keyword research as a research technique. It assists you in identifying keywords that users enter into search engines to find content, products, and services in your industry. You can then use those words and phrases to increase search traffic to your website.
There are numerous keyword research tools available (both free and paid). We recommend SEMRush because it can help you discover keywords and even find out where your competitors are ranking.
WordPress SEO Best Practices
If you want even better results, follow the WordPress SEO best practices listed below. These aren’t overly technical, and the majority of them won’t even require you to touch any code. If you follow them, they will make a significant difference.
WordPress allows you to categorize and tag your blog posts. This makes it simple for you to organize your content by topic and for your users to find the information they need. Categories and tags also help search engines understand your website’s structure and content.
Each page on your website is assigned a score by search engines (page authority). The formula for this score is kept secret so that people cannot manipulate the results. However, links are the most common authority signals. This is why it’s critical to include links to your content in your other blog posts and pages.
Make it a point to interlink your posts whenever possible. This will increase your pageviews, the number of time users spend on your site, and, ultimately, the SEO score of your blog posts and pages.
Optimize WordPress Comments
Comments on your website can be a good indicator of user engagement. Engaged users result in more links back to your site, more traffic, and better SEO. However, you must ensure that your comments are genuine and not spam. Spammers leave comments with bad links, which can harm or even ruin your search rankings.
As previously stated, links assist search engines in determining which pages are important. When you link to another website, you give that site a portion of your SEO score. This SEO score is named “link juice.” To achieve high search rankings, make sure you get more link juice from other websites than you give away.
When you add the “nofollow” attribute to external links (links to non-owned websites), search engines are told not to follow those links. This allows you to conserve link juice.
Full article vs summary (excerpt)
WordPress shows and links to your posts on a variety of pages, including the home page, category archive, tags archive, date archive, author pages, and so on.
Displaying full articles everywhere reduces your page views. Users who subscribe to your RSS feed, for example, will be able to read the entire article in their feed reader without ever visiting your website.
The simplest solution is to display summaries or excerpts rather than full articles.
This can be accomplished by going to Settings >> Reading and selecting excerpt.
Speed and Security for WordPress SEO
Even if you follow all of the WordPress SEO tips and best practices listed above, if your site is slow or is hacked, your search engine rankings will suffer significantly. Here’s how to avoid losing search engine traffic because of slow performance or lax security.
Optimize your website speed and performance
Web usability experts believe that users decide whether to stay or leave a website within a few seconds of visiting it.
That means you only have a few seconds as a website owner to present your content and engage users. You don’t want to waste your visitor’s time by making them wait for your website to load. In other words, Google favors faster websites.
You must use a fast WordPress hosting provider to increase the speed of your website.
Optimizing images in WordPress for SEO
Images are more visually appealing than text, but they take longer to load. If you are not careful with image sizes and quality, they can cause your website to load slowly. You must use images that have been optimized to load quickly.
Another method for optimizing your images for search engines is to use descriptive titles and alt tags. These tags assist search engines in determining what your image is about. They also assist visually impaired users because screen readers can read the alt text to them.
Security and safety of your WordPress site
Google blacklists approximately 20,000 websites per week for malware and approximately 50,000 for phishing. When a site is blacklisted, it no longer appears in search results.
This means that your WordPress site’s security is critical for good rankings. You don’t want all of your SEO efforts to be for naught if your site is hacked.
Start using SSL/HTTPS
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a technology that encrypts data transmitted between a user’s browser and a server. This provides an additional layer of security to your WordPress site.
SSL-secured websites are identified by a padlock symbol in the address bar of the browser. This increases the trustworthiness of your website and is required if you are running an online store with WordPress and processing sensitive payment information.
13 tips to improve your website’s rankings
WordPress SEO: Optimizing Pages and Posts
Once you’ve implemented the WordPress SEO basics, you’re ready to start optimizing your site and making a real difference in the way you boost your rankings.
1. Keyword Research
Without keyword research, you wouldn’t know which keywords you should optimize for your website. Keyword Research should be done at the beginning of an SEO project, it is used to plan your website content and on-page optimization.
Whether you’re starting to optimize your site from scratch or are creating new content, knowing the keywords you’re trying to rank for is essential.
2. Install SEO Writing Assistant Plugin
When you write (or review) content, the SEO Writing Assistant helps ensure that the content is written to SEO standards.
The SEO Writing Assistant offers recommendations and analysis based on the top 10 competitors on Google for a given keyword.
If you want to rank at the top of Google with your WordPress site, you need to make sure you’re creating great content. The SEO Writing Assistant will help ensure that your content is optimized and structured in a search engine-friendly way, and suggests additional keywords you might consider adding to your content.
3. Set a Friendly URL
By default, WordPress uses your Page title to generate URLs, which means those URLs can be long and sometimes truncated on the SERPs.
Let’s say you came up with a piece of content titled ‘The Best Dogs Beds to Buy In 2020.’ Depending on how you set your permalinks, your URL could be https://domain.com/ the-best-dog-beds-to-buy-in-2020.
However, you know that the main keyword you are targeting is “best dog beds”. The good news is that you can override the default URL by specifying a custom permalink for the page.
4. Optimized Page Headings
An H1 Page title is a way to give context to your page’s content to both users and search engines.
Best practices generally require the use of an H1 heading (Page title), but you should also use H2 – H6 headings; they give structure to your content to analyze the text and make it easier to read.
Page titles are a great place to include keywords and key page variations, but don’t include keywords somewhere where it doesn’t fit naturally.
5. Optimize Title and Meta Descriptions
Title Tags tell users and search engines what your page is about and are often considered an important ranking factor. It’s the part of the clickable page title that users see on Google search results.
You can use snippets, add custom text as title tags, or use a combination of the two.
Use Keyword Research for Title Tags optimization guides and learn more about how to structure this important page element.
Meta Descriptions are no longer a direct ranking factor, but they will indirectly affect a site’s performance due to CTR (click-through rate). It’s well worth the time to write compelling descriptions (they can be any length but are usually around 160 characters).
6. Internal Linking
You need to use Internal Linking in your content to help establish thematic relevance between different pages of your site, provide additional useful information, and help users navigate efficiently.
Adding internal links to other pages in WordPress is simple. All you need to do is highlight the text that you want to link (this will be the anchor text of your link) and click the ‘link’ button in the toolbar which will then allow you to paste the URL or search for pages in Places.
7. Optimized File Names for Images
You should use images and multimedia in your content. A Backlink study found a correlation between using at least one image per page and rankings.
Before uploading images to the WordPress gallery, make sure you’re using an optimized filename – this helps give more context to a page. Instead of /image123.jpg for an image of a large dog bed, use /large-dog-bed.jpg. It’s simple, make sure that the image’s filename reflects what it’s displaying.
8. Add Alt Text to images
When using images in your content, make sure you add Alt Text for each image. Alt Text is not only a web accessibility guideline to assist visually impaired users with screen readers, but also helps provide context and image descriptions to search engines.
Make sure your Alt Text reflects a clear description of what the image shows. You can add Alt Text to any image in WordPress in the onscreen image settings section of the menu.
Advanced WordPress SEO
If you follow the tips above, you will find that you can master the WordPress SEO basics pretty quickly. But what about other things you can do to improve your site’s performance and help it rank higher than the competition? Here are some advanced WordPress SEO tactics for you to use.
1. Install Cache Plugin to Improve Speed
While WordPress certainly offers powerful performance that is almost unsurpassed, there are site speed improvements that almost all websites can make, especially when the speed of a site is a powerful ranking factor.
You can get very technical in improving Website speed, but one of the most effective ways to increase this is to use a cache to save your posts and pages as static files.
For effective WordPress SEO, you should use W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, or Cache Enabler.
2. Image optimization
Another proven way to improve your website speed and performance is by optimizing images, as this is one of the most common things that contribute to slow page load speed. A common image problem is using a much larger size than the image will show.
The good news is that you can quickly optimize your entire WordPress media library, as well as all future images you upload using the Smush plugin.
3. Noindex and other low value content
WordPress uses several different classifications of pages, including categories and tags. Categories are extremely useful, especially when it comes to grouping content together:
Example: You have a recipe collection and you want to use categories for different dishes.
The cards are smaller and often focus on specific topics.
Example: A parmesan, macaroni, and avocado card recipe.
Tags are rarely useful to users, from an SEO perspective, these pages rarely offer anything of value and you generally don’t want these pages to be indexed and send traffic from Google (low quality traffic).
The same is true for media pages and other WordPress post formats. Normally, you don’t want these to be indexed by Google, and you can add no index tags to the tags in Yoast.
4. Schema or Data Structure
Schema markup can help boost your SEO efforts by adding context to your content and data. It helps Google understand your content, present it in different and useful ways, and enhances the searcher’s experience.
Simply put, by adding context to your pages, there is a greater chance that you will not only rank higher but also get clicks when your page is displayed.
Thankfully, as of Yoast 11.0, a fully structured data graph is built for each post or page on your site, but there are cases where you’ll want to highlight specific blocks in WordPress. You can do this when you create a new block by selecting ‘Yoast Structured Data Block’.
5. Use Last Updated
You should regularly update your ‘green’ content to ensure it stays up to date and relevant, but a question often asked is whether you should change the original publication date of your pages and articles. Post your own or not, and delete all other dates.
One suggestion is to use the last modified or updated on to show users and search engines that your content was last updated, helping them believe this is the latest information.
You can easily add the latest modified/updated information on your WordPress pages and posts using the WP Last Modified Info plugin.
There is no denying that WordPress is one of the most SEO-friendly CMSs available, which is why it is so popular. It is not only user-friendly, but it is also simple to implement a variety of SEO tactics by utilizing a small number of fantastic plugins.
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