The Complete WordPress SEO guide for Beginners

Undoubtedly, WordPress Search Engine Optimization (hereinafter referred to as WordPress SEO) is the cheapest way to drive traffic to your site. Or rather, improving WordPress SEO you will help your target users discover your content.

WordPress SEO usually is not a tough task, but most WordPress SEO guides are too technical for beginners to get used. We have a number of actionable steps that you need to take to properly optimize your WordPress SEO. In this article, we will showcase the top of WordPress SEO tip which help you improve WordPress SEO and get more free organic traffic.

Why is SEO important?

It is not a secret that the biggest source of traffic are often search engines. Search engines unfortunately will not know how to rank your content, if it is not optimized.

For this reason, task to follow WordPress SEO best practices and help search engines easily crawl and index your site for the right keywords is the primary goal. As a result, your website became more search engine friendly.

Check Your Site’s Visibility Settings

WordPress offers an option to hide your website from search engines. This option is helpful when your site is not ready to be indexed.

Otherwise, developer has forgot to enable visibility settings or got checked accidently. You need to scroll down to the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ section and make sure that the box next to ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ is unchecked.

After you do that hit save button not to lose your settings.

SEO-friendly URL Structure

At the next step you need to make your URLs readable for both search engines, users and therefore SEO friendly.

Here it is a SEO friendly URL:

https://wordpressstudios.com/tutorials/broken-links-how-to-find-and-fix/

https://wordpressstudios.com/tutorials/broken-links-how-to-find-and-fix/

SEO friendly URLs enhance the possibility of your website getting higher rankings in search results, so they are one the ranking factors. The easiest way to make URLs search engine friendly is to include your keywords into them.

Some examples of non-SEO friendly URLs:

https://www.example.com/?p=1467

https://www.example.com/?p=1467

https://example.com/archives/213

https://example.com/archives/213

As you can see these URLs consists numbers unrelated to the content.

To find out the current permalink structure you can visiting Settings » Permalinks page. Then select the post name option and click on the “Save Changes” buttons to save the settings.

It should be noted, if your website has been running for more than 6 months and you not using the number option except Day and Name or Month and Name then do not change your permalink structure. You should think about it in order not to lose your existing SEO ranking. Nevertheless, you’ll still lose your social counts on the pages.

Add an XML Sitemap to WordPress

An XML Sitemap is a specially formatted file that contains every single page on your website. It really plays a huge role in letting Google discover your URLs.

Added XML Sitemap actually does not boost up your search engine ranking, but it helps to find the pages quickly and rank them.

Using Yoast SEO plugin on your website it automatically generates a sitemap by default. If you does not disable it feature then a sitemap will be available at next URL (you should replace example.com with your own domain name):

http://example.com/sitemap_index.xml

http://example.com/sitemap_index.xml

There are obviously more xml sitemap plugins so you can use another one.

WWW vs non-WWW

If you want to start with a website then you have to choose to use www (http://www.example.com) or not (http://example.com) in your site’s URL.

Indeed, search engines consider these sites as two different. Thus, it is important to make a decision to choose one and stick to it.

Visiting Settings » General page add your preferred URL in both the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields.

Add Site to Google Search Console

We have already consider Google Search Console in article Broken Links: how to Find and Fix. Now we only showcase a step-by-step tutorial to set your sitemap in Google Search Console.

Once you have added your website to Google Search Console, click on the Sitemap from the left menu and then paste the last part of the sitemap URL.

As soon as, Google Search Console will check your sitemap and use it for crawling. After a few hours, you would be able to see some stats and number of links found in a sitemap.

Further, Search Console will periodically updates the results with accordance to your website changes and display errors if it occurs.

On-page SEO

At this step named on-page SEO you need to optimize individual pages of your site, in order to have a better search ranking, more visibility and traffic. It means working on your content, images and right the HTML source code.

In particular, this step consists of Content Planning, Image Optimization, Remaking Your Title, Add meta descriptions and Interlinking. Below we will consider each of these points separately.

Content Planning

First, you need to know what topics people are looking for as a part of your content strategy. Truly, using real data keyword research will help you in this matter.

The keyword research technique helps you discover words users enter into search engines to find content, products, and services in your industry.

Second, use those words and phrases in your website to get more search traffic. Moreover, understanding your topic thoroughly you can prepare a comprehensive post that answers your reader’s questions.

Note: readability is one of key searching ranking factors hence make your posts easy to read.

Image Optimization

Images are more attractive and interesting than text, but also load slower due to their size. If your images are optimized then you can use another trick. In other words, just add a descriptive title and alt tags that help search engines to understand what these images are all about.

Photographers adding a lot of images to WordPress site can use a gallery plugin. For example, the Envira Gallery is fully responsive, SEO friendly out of the box and fastest in speed tests.

Remaking Your Title

First thing that a guest will notice in your article is the title. To come up the title that work use a headline analyzer.

Besides, you may use power words, which can evoke an emotional response in your users and attract them to click on your title.

Add meta descriptions

The Meta Description is HTML tag which provides a short description of your article for search engines. It actually limited up to 155 characters.

A good meta description must contain your keywords so that it can explain a lot more about an article. You should also make sure that you at least mention your focus keyword once in the meta description for search purposes.

Interlinking

Having enough posts on your blog, you can start internal linking them. Frankly speaking, internal linking is a great way to build a contextual relationship between your older and new posts.

Each page of your website has a score assigned by search engines. Score calculation formula is kept secret so that people cannot game the results. However, links are the most common signs of authority. Hence, linking your blog posts and pages is so important.

Nofollow External links

When you link to a website, you are actually passing some of your site’s SEO score to that link. This SEO score is called “link juice”.

To avoid link juice passing you need to use “nofollow” attribute when place an external link.

A normal link looks like:

<a href="http://example.com">Website URL</a>

<a href="http://example.com">Website URL</a>

An external link with the nofollow attribute looks like this:

<a href="http://example.com" rel="nofollow">Website URL</a>

<a href="http://example.com" rel="nofollow">Website URL</a>

By default, WordPress does not provide the “nofollow” option for links. But you can still do that by manual link modifying. Simply change type of view to HTML code, and then add rel=”nofollow” attribute to the link element.

Optimize Your Site’s Speed and Performance

As statistics show that user decides whether to stay on the site for the first few seconds. Consequently, you as a website owner have a few seconds to attract and engage users. Additionally, such search engines as Google rank faster sites higher than slower loading ones. Thereupon, you have no time to waste it waiting for the website to load.

Measuring SEO Success

The SEO is changing so dynamically that to abide by it is difficult task. But you should follow the outlined above steps to get your SEO game started.

After you have done it, you need to know how to measure your SEO success. Google Analytics dashboard is one of the most popular SEO analyzer.