This an easy to understand WordPress beginner guide that will teach you how to optimize your website or blog for Search Engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, etc.
We will cover all the basic SEO terms and technics.
Introduction to SEO
What is SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it assembles the tools and technics used to gain better website ranking in overall Search Engine Results Pages. (SERPS)
SEO includes on-page optimization services in terms of making your website content better. It also includes making sure that your website is fast, accessible and mobile-friendly. Your content should be easy to read and useful for your visitors in terms of quality.
On-page optimization is a process of making your websites faster, accessible to visitors and optimized for proper keywords. It also includes adjusting the text readability, proper use of Heading tags, leveraging of keywords density in content, ensuring that all images are having proper ALT tags.
The final step in on-page optimization is setting up the caching process and boosting website speed. Making website responsive and mobile-friendly.
You might also wanna learn how to speed up your WordPress website using W3 Total Cache and FVM
Off-page optimization is another process that takes place outside of your website and it refers to backlinks (links for other websites pointing to your domain), social networks coverage, domain authority, etc.
White Hat SEO – Good SEO practice
White hat SEO technics are the ones mentioned above that are including website optimization, content optimization and all other legit tweaks for better SERP results. While using the white hat technics you can rest assured that your website reputation will be safer and you won’t be penalized for taking any illegal actions.
Black Hat SEO
The black hat SEO as its name says assumes all black or forbidden tricks and technics to tricks search engines in ranking your website higher for some keywords or terms.
Those technics often include creating websites that serve as the link farm, websites with autogenerated false and spammy content, comment backlink spamming, false likes and followers on social media, etc. There are also some known cases of hacking to gain higher SEO impact, so all of this can be addresses as black hat SEO.
SEO in WordPress
If you have just started to build your new website or client website/blog, you should consider working at on-page optimization after you prepare the initial website version ready for release.
So, your WordPress website is completed and ready for production, now you should start with adjusting the basic WordPress settings for better SEO.
Navigate to WordPress admin -> Settings -> Permalinks. Here just make sure that the permalinks are set to human-readable “pretty URLs” format.
You should choose a custom structure and paste just the post name shortcode inside the form and save changes.
This will generate the links to your website posts and pages to top directory or folder, for example, domain.com/your-post-or-page-title/
It’s important that you highlight your posts in this way to tell the search engines about the importance of the page as it’s located in the root website directory.
Leave the rest of the option to a default state and don’t mind setting the custom name for category slug in the URL. We will handle it later.
SEO plugin for WordPress
There are a ton of benefits to adding the SEO plugin for WordPress. The plugin will automatize a bunch of boring stuff related to optimizing a website for a best SEO practice, adding various markup needed for search engines and social networks, etc.
We recommend the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. It’s one of the most popular and used plugins for WordPress.
You can install it easily by accessing the WordPress admin -> Plugins. Add new. Here just type the words “Yoast SEO” in the search form at the right and wait for results. Once the plugin is listed, click install and activate.
We will only cover the Yoast SEO setup in this tutorial, if you need help with these two plugins above, just ask in the comments.
Configuring the Yoast SEO plugin
The plugin will automatically set up the basic this related to the SEO such as meta titles, descriptions and indexability.
It will also add the Open Graph markup needed for proper social sharing on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.
So, you can now proceed to explore the plugin features and options. Go ahead, access the WP admin -> SEO. You are now on the plugins dashboard page where you can see the notifications and warnings. If there is any issues with indexability or website access, the warnings will be presented here.
We won’t cover all the options here, you can find them in the documentation of the Yoast SEO plugin. We will refer only to those options needed for our SEO guide here.
So, now just access the SEO -> Search Appearance. For start, set the name Knowledge Graph & Schema.org by adding the name and type of website.
The next step is to adjust the meta title and description template inside the Taxonomy and Archives tags.
You should just remove the word Archives from the SEO title templates in the Archives tab.
Make sure that you also disable the category slug inside the Taxonomy tab. See image:
Now, just set this option to “Remove” and the permalinks of your WordPress website will look like, for example, domain.com/blog/post-title/ instead of domain.com/category/blog/post-title.
You can leave the rest of the option to a default state as they should be adjusted already for best SEO performance.
Performing content adjustments for SEO improvements
After we have set up the Yoast SEO plugin and resolved many small but worthy SEO efforts, we can proceed with the optimization of content.
Now, go thru all your posts and pages and alter the website SEO title and description inside the Yoast settings boxes below every page and post.
You will notice that the plugin will check and analyze the input and suggest the best length for titles, descriptions. It will scan text for readability and SEO and suggest how to improve the content.
So, once you set up the titles, description, and content using the help of a plugin, you can proceed further on. The plugin will set the canonical URL for pages, open graph and indexability automatically. The sitemap and robot.txt files will be also generated automatically.
Off-page optimization and promotion
Once the on-page optimization process is underway, we can start off-page optimization. Remember that SEO is a continuing process of optimizations and awareness of changes, so the website will be always under some form of development and optimization.
The first step in off-page optimization is creating or gaining the backlinks for our website or blog. There are a couple of ways to achieve that. The one is the guest posts, as some blogs are accepting the guest’s posts and they will also give you a backlink to your website along with the post. The other method is via link exchange and some website directory sign-up could help.
Keep in mind that the best and most worthy backlinks are the ones coming from a website with the same topic and from the same niche. These backlinks will help you rank faster and further.
If you have backlinks for a website with a poor reputation, you will be penalized as the domain with spammy activity.
You should also fully utilize the social networks to gain backlinks, shares, and likes as they also tell the Search engines about the popularity of a website or service. It also affects the overall ranking of the website in SERPs.
Create a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and utilize the ability to gain traffic by posting interesting articles and engaging users.
Use plugins for WordPress that will allow you to automatize the social sharing and invite people to like your page and follow you.
This is a basic introduction and guide to perform initial SEO for your WordPress website. If you need any assistance on WordPress SEO, feel free to ask in the comments below.