WordPress SEO Guide for Beginners
Improving your WordPress SEO is crucial for getting more traffic to your website. Sadly most WordPress SEO guides are too technical for brand spanking new users to urge started. If you’re serious about increasing your website traffic, then you would like to concentrate on the WordPress SEO best practices. During this guide, we’ll share the highest WordPress SEO tips to assist you to improve your WordPress SEO and obtain more organic traffic.
You might have heard experts saying that WordPress is SEO friendly. This is often actually why tons of individuals choose WordPress to start out a blog or website.
While WordPress makes sure that the code it generates follows the SEO best practices, there are tons more you would like to try to if you would like to maximize your SEO efforts.
We have a variety of actionable steps that you simply got to fancy properly optimize your WordPress SEO.
To make it easy, we’ve created a table of content to assist you easily navigate through our ultimate WordPress SEO guide.
Table of Contents
- What is SEO?
- Why SEO is vital
The Basics of WordPress SEO
- Check your site’s visibility settings
- Using SEO friendly URL structure in WordPress
- WWW vs non-WWW in URLs
The Best WordPress SEO Plugin
- Choosing the simplest WordPress SEO plugin
- Add XML sitemaps in WordPress
- Add your site to Google Search Console
- Optimizing your blog posts for SEO
WordPress SEO Best Practices
- Properly using categories and tags in WordPress
- Make internal linking a habit
- Optimize WordPress comments
- NoFollow external links in WordPress
- Full posts vs summaries (excerpts)
Speed and Security for WordPress SEO
- Optimize your site’s speed and performance
- Optimizing images in WordPress for SEO
- Security and safety of your WordPress site
- Start using SSL/HTTPS
Finally, see more SEO tools and resources to require your WordPress SEO even farther.
We know the thought of optimizing for WordPress SEO is often intimidating for beginners, especially if you’re not a tech geek.
But don’t worry — it doesn’t need to be complicated. Start here to find out the fundamentals, then you’ll start applying them to your own website.
What is SEO?
SEO is an acronym that stands for program Optimization. It’s a technique employed by website owners to urge more traffic by ranking higher in search engines.
Search engine optimization isn’t about tricking Google or gaming the system. It’s simply about creating an internet site that has optimized code and formatting which makes it easy for search engines to seek out your website.
When people search online for the topics you write on, your search-engine-optimized content will appear higher within the search results, and you’ll get more people clicking through to your website.
Why SEO is vital
Search engines are often the most important source of traffic for many websites.
Google and other search engines use advanced algorithms to know and rank pages appropriately in search results. But those algorithms aren’t perfect — they still need your help to know what your content is about.
If your content isn’t optimized, then search engines won’t skills to rank it. When people look for the topics you write on, your website won’t appear within the search results, and you’ll miss out on all that traffic.
It is really important for all business owners to form their website program friendly, in order that they will maximize their search traffic.
Basics of WordPress SEO
SEO can get technical, but it doesn’t need to be. Just teach a couple of basic SEO tips to optimize your site can offer you a clear boost in your website traffic.
You don’t need to be a tech genius to use the techniques below. If you’re already using WordPress, then you’ve got what it takes!
Let’s start optimizing your website.
Check Your Site’s Visibility Settings
WordPress comes with a built-in choice to hide your website from search engines. The aim of this feature is to offer you time to figure on your website before it’s able to go public.
However, sometimes this feature can get checked accidentally and it makes your website unavailable to look engines.
If your website isn’t appearing in search results, then the primary thing you would like to try to is to form sure that this feature is unchecked.
Simply log in to the admin area of your WordPress site and visit the Settings » Reading page.
Search engine visibility settings in WordPress
You need to scroll right down to the ‘Search Engine Visibility’ section and confirm that the box next to ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ is unchecked.
Don’t forget to click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your changes.
Using SEO Friendly URL Structures in WordPress
SEO friendly URLs contain words that clearly explain the content of the page, and they’re easy to read by both humans and search engines.
Some samples of SEO friendly URLs are:
Notice that these URLs are readable and a user can guess what they’re going to see on the page just by watching the URL text.
So what does a non-SEO friendly URL look like?
Notice that these URLs use numbers unrelated to the content, and a user cannot guess what they’re going to find on the page by watching the URL.
Using SEO friendly permalink structure improves your chances of recuperating positions in search results.
Here is how you’ll check and update your WordPress site’s permalink structure.
You need to go to the Settings » Permalinks page. Select the post name option then click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.
SEO friendly URL structure in WordPress
For more detailed instructions take a glance at our guide what’s an SEO friendly URL structure in WordPress.
Note: If your website has been running for quite 6 months, then please don’t change your permalink structure unless you’re using the numbers option. If you’re using Day and Name or Month and Name, continue using that.
By changing your permalink structure on a longtime site, you’ll lose all of your social media share counts and run the danger of losing your existing SEO ranking.
If you want to change your permalink structure, then hire knowledgeable, in order that they can set up proper redirects. You’ll still lose your social share counts on the pages.
WWW vs non-WWW
If you’re just starting out together with your website, then you would like to settle on whether you would like to use www (http://www.example.com) or non-www (http://example.com) in your site’s URL.
Search engines consider these to be two different websites, so this suggests you would like to settle on one and stick with it.
You can set your preference by visiting the Settings » General page. Add your preferred URL in both the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields.
Non-www or www in WordPress URLs
Despite what somebody else might say, from an SEO standpoint there’s no advantage to using one or another.
For more detailed information on this subject, take a glance at our guide www vs non-www – which is best for WordPress SEO.
The Best WordPress SEO plugin
One of the simplest parts of WordPress is that there’s a plugin for everything, and SEO is not any exception. There are thousands of WordPress SEO plugins which makes it harder for beginners to settle on the simplest WordPress SEO plugin.
Instead of installing separate plugins for individual SEO tasks, we’ll assist you to choose the simplest WordPress SEO plugin that does it all, and it’s 100% free.
Choosing the simplest WordPress SEO Plugin
When it involves choosing the simplest WordPress SEO plugin, you’ll presumably narrow your choices right down to the 2 hottest solutions: Yoast SEO or beat One SEO Pack.
They are both effective solutions, and we’ve done a pros and cons comparison of Yoast SEO vs beat One SEO Pack.
At InfoDocx, we use Yoast SEO, so during this tutorial, we’ll be using Yoast SEO for screenshots and examples.
Regardless, we have a step by step guide properly fixing each of those plugins:
- How to install and setup the Yoast SEO plugin in WordPress
- Users guide for beat One SEO Pack
Add XML Sitemaps in WordPress
An XML Sitemap may be a specially formatted file that lists every single page on your website. This makes it easy for search engines to seek out all of your content.
While adding an XML sitemap doesn’t boost your site’s search rankings, it does help search engines find the pages quickly and begin ranking them.
If you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, then it’ll automatically create an XML sitemap for you. to seek out your sitemap, just attend this URL (don’t forget to exchange example.com together with your own domain name):
We will show you ways to submit your XML sitemap to Google within the next step.
Add Your Site to Google Search Console
Google Search Console, also referred to as Webmaster Tools, maybe a set of tools offered by Google to offer website owners a glance at how their content is seen by the program.
It provides reports and data to assist you understand how your pages appear in search results. You furthermore may get to ascertain the particular search terms people are using to seek out your website, how each page appears within the search results, and the way often your pages are clicked.
All this information helps you understand what’s performing on your site and what’s not. You’ll then plan your content strategy accordingly.
Google Search Console also alerts you when there’s something wrong together with your website, like when search crawlers are unable to access it, find duplicate content or restricted resources.
We have a step by step guide the way to add your WordPress site to Google Search Console.
If you’re using Yoast SEO, then follow step 11 in our Yoast SEO setup guide.
If you’re not using Yoast SEO, then you’ll watch our video that shows an alternate way:
Once you’ve got added your website to Google Search Console, click on the Crawl menu then select Sitemaps.
Crawl section in Google Search Console
After that, you would like to click on the Add Sitemap button.
Adding your WordPress XML sitemap in Google webmaster tools
Your main sitemap is sitemap_index.xml so plow ahead and submit that.
Once you’ve got successfully added your sitemap, it’ll appear as pending. It does take Google a while to crawl your website. After a couple of hours, you’d be ready to see some stats about your sitemap. it’ll show you the number of links it found in your sitemap, what percentage of them got indexed, a ratio of images and sites, etc.
We recommend that you simply check your Search Console a minimum of on a monthly basis for gathering insights and see your website’s SEO progress.
Optimizing Your Blog Posts for SEO
Often beginners make the error of thinking that installing and activating a WordPress SEO plugin is all that’s needed. SEO is an ongoing process that you simply must continue with if you would like to ascertain maximum results.
Yoast SEO allows you to feature a title, description, and focus keyword to each blog post and page. It also shows you a preview of what users will see once they Google your website.
We recommend that you simply optimize your title and outline to urge maximum clicks.
When writing your blog post, simply scroll right down to the Yoast SEO section and take full advantage of it.
If you’re wondering the way to choose the attention keyword, what’s an honest title, or what’s an honest meta description, then we’ve covered it in detail in our beginner’s guide to optimizing your blog posts for SEO.
We highly recommend that you simply read it because on-page SEO is crucial for your success.
WordPress SEO Best Practices
If you follow the fundamentals of WordPress SEO and use the simplest WordPress SEO plugin, you’ll already be before most websites.
However if you would like even better results, then you would like to follow the WordPress SEO best practices below.
These aren’t too technical and most won’t even require you to touch any code. But they’re going to make an enormous difference if you follow them.
Properly Using Categories and Tags in WordPress
WordPress allows you to sort your blog posts into categories and tags. This makes it easy for you to manage your content by topics, and for your users to seek out the content they’re trying to find.
Categories and tags also help search engines understand your website structure and content.
Often beginners get confused on the way to best use categories and tags. After explaining this to thousands of readers, here’s how we approach categories and tags.
Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts. If your blog was a book, then categories are going to be the table of content.
For example, on a private blog, you’ll have categories like music, food, travel, etc. Categories are hierarchical, so you’ll add child categories to them.
On the opposite hand, tags are more specific keywords that describe the contents of a private post. for instance, a blog post filed under the food category can have tags like salad, breakfast, pancakes, etc. consider these as indexes section during a textbook.
For more on this subject, see our guide categories vs tags and SEO best practices for sorting your content.
By using categories and tags properly, you create it easy for your users to browse your website. Since it’s easy for users, it also makes it easier for search engines to browse your website.
Make Internal Linking a Habit
Search engines assign each page on your website a score (page authority). The recipe for this score is kept secret in order that people cannot game the results. However, the foremost common signals of authority are links.
This is why it’s important that you simply link to your own content from your other blog posts and pages.
You should make it a habit to interlink your own posts whenever possible. If you’ve got multiple authors, then create a pre-publish blog post checklist that needs them to interlink a minimum of 3 other blog posts.
This will assist you to boost your page views, increases the time users spend on your site, and ultimately will improve the SEO score of your individual blog posts and pages.
Optimize WordPress Comments
Comments are often a robust indication of user engagement on your website. Engaged users mean more links back to your site, more traffic, and improved SEO.
But you would like to form sure that your comments are real and not spam. Spammers submit comments with bad links which could affect and even ruin your search rankings.
This is why we recommend everyone to start out using Akismet. It’s one of the 2 plugins that come pre-installed with every WordPress site, and it helps you combat comment spam.
If Akismet alone is unable to handle comment spam, then see the following pointers and tools to combat comment spam in WordPress.
If your blog posts attract tons of genuine, spam-free comments, then you ought to pat yourself on the shoulder for building such an enticing website!
However, too many comments on a post can make it load slower which also affects your program rankings. (Keep reading below to seek out more about how speed affects SEO.)
To prepare your website in order that it can handle the burden of your comments placed on your server and speed, you’ll split comments into multiple pages. See our tutorial on the way to paginate comments in WordPress.
(If you’d wish to get more comments on your site, inspect these 11 ways to urge more comments on your WordPress blog posts.)
NoFollow External Links in WordPress
As mentioned above, links help search engines decide which pages are important. once you link to an internet site , you’re passing a little of your site’s SEO score thereto link. This SEO score is named “link juice.”
For good search rankings, you would like to form sure that you simply are becoming more link juice from other websites than you’re making a gift of.
Adding the “nofollow” attribute to external links (links to websites that you simply don’t own) instructs search engines to not follow those links. This helps you save link juice.
A normal external link seems like this in HTML:
<a href=”http://example.com”>Example Website</a>
An external link with the nofollow attribute seems like this:
<a href=”http://example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Example Website</a>
You can also add rel=”nofollow” checkbox to the insert link popup. This may allow you to simply add nofollow to external links.
Full Posts vs Summaries or Excerpts
WordPress displays and links to your posts from a variety of pages like home page, category archive, tags archive, date archive, author pages, etc.
By default, it shows the complete article content on these pages. This affects your site’s SEO, as search engines may find it to be duplicate content. Full articles also make your archive pages load slower.
Showing full articles everywhere also affects your page views. For instance, users who subscribe to your RSS feed are going to be ready to read the complete article in their feed reader without ever visiting your website.
The easiest thanks to solving this is often by showing summaries or excerpts rather than full articles.
You can do that by getting to Settings » Reading and choose summary.
For detailed instructions, see our guide on the way to customize WordPress excerpts without coding.
Speed and Security for WordPress SEO
Even if you follow all the WordPress SEO tips and best practices above, if your site is slow or gets taken down by a hacker, your program rankings will take an enormous hit.
Here’s the way to prevent your site from losing program traffic thanks to slow performance or lax security.
Optimize Your Site’s Speed and Performance
Research shows that within the internet age, the typical human span is shorter than that of a goldfish.
Web usability experts believe that users decide whether or not they want to remain or leave within few seconds of visiting an internet site.
That means that as an internet site owner, you simply have a couple of seconds to present your content and have interaction users. You don’t want to waste this precious time making your visitor await your website to load. Search engines like Google admit that they rank faster websites above slow loading websites.
If you would like to enhance your site’s speed, inspect this expert advice on 18 useful tricks to hurry up WordPress, and boost performance.
Optimizing Images in WordPress for SEO
Images are more engaging than text but they also take longer to load. If you’re not careful with image sizes and quality, then they will hamper your website.
You need to form sure that you simply use images that are optimized to load faster. See our guide on the way to speed up WordPress by optimizing images online.
Another trick you’ll use to optimize your images for search engines is to use descriptive titles and alt tags. These tags help search engines understand what your image is about. They also help users with visual defects as their screen readers can read the alt and title tags to them.
WordPress allows you to feature titles and alt tags once you upload a picture.
If you’re a photographer or add tons of images to your WordPress site, then you would like to use a gallery plugin.
We recommend using the Envira Gallery. In our speed tests, we found it to be the fastest WordPress gallery plugin. It’s also fully responsive and SEO friendly out of the box.
Security and Safety of Your WordPress Site
Each week, Google blacklists around 20,000 websites for malware and around 50,000 for phishing. When a site is blacklisted, it doesn’t show up in any search results in the least.
This means that the safety of your WordPress site is crucial permanently rankings. You don’t want all of your diligence on SEO to travel to waste if your site is compromised by a hacker.
The good news is that it’s not that difficult to stay your WordPress site safe — see the step by step instructions in our ultimate WordPress security guide.
At InfoDocx, we use Sucuri to guard our website against attacks. To ascertain why we recommend this service, inspect our case study of how Sucuri helped us block 450,000 WordPress attacks in 3 months.
Start Using SSL/HTTPS
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) may be a technology that encrypts the connection between a user’s browsers and therefore the server they’re connecting to. This adds a further security layer to your WordPress site.
Websites secured with SSL are indicated by a padlock check in the browser’s address bar. This makes your website more trustworthy, and it’s required if you’re running a web store with WordPress and processing sensitive payment information.
If you’re using Bluehost, then you’ll purchase an SSL certificate. If you’re getting to purchase your SSL certificate through your web hosting company, see our guide the way to add SSL and HTTPS in WordPress.
You can also get free SSL with Let’s Encrypt. Several WordPress hosting companies like Siteground, Dreamhost, and WPEngine have already started offering easy Let’s Encrypt integrations.
For step by step instructions, see our guide the way to add free SSL in WordPress with Let’s Encrypt.
More SEO Tools and Resources
Once you get the hang of WordPress SEO best practices, you’ll want to require your skills even further to urge before your competition.
We have compiled an inventory of the best WordPress SEO plugins and tools that you simply should use to spice up your SEO. If you’re able to try some more advanced techniques, you’ll also inspect our archive of WordPress SEO articles.