For WordPress blog users, one of the best ways to gain more traffic to your website and getting more audience to read your content is through boosting your WordPress SEO. A lot of bloggers miss out the opportunity to reach a bigger audience and showcase what they have to the world because a lot of SEO guides are too technical that not all people can follow through. It’s finally time to uncover the world of SEO for WordPress in an easy and convenient way.
A lot of people choose WordPress for the very reason that it is SEO friendly. It is one of the platforms that contain the best content management systems if you understand the different functions of every button and plugins that you have on your dashboard. There are details that you should acquaint yourself with in order to master the ins and outs of SEO.
- Table of Contents
- What is SEO?
- Importance of SEO
- Basic WordPress SEO Techniques
- Check the Visibility Settings of your Site
- Use SEO Friendly Link Structures
- Using WWW or non-WWW
- Optimizing Your Blog Using SEO Plugin
- Best SEO WordPress Plugin
- Consider XML Sitemaps in WordPress
- Submit your Site to Google Search Console
- Optimize your Blog Post for SEO
- WordPress SEO Best Practices
- Use Fitting Categories and Tags
- Include Internal Linking to your Posts
- Optimize WordPress Comments
- Add NoFollow Attribute to External Links
- Showing Full Posts or Excerpts
- WordPress Performance for SEO – Speed & Security
- Optimize your Site Speed and Performance
- Optimize Your Images
- Securing Your WordPress Blog
- Use SSL/HTTPS
You might be thinking by now what this whole SEO is and how great of a strategy this is if you know and use the right tools and tweaks to go through. In order to unleash SEO for WordPress, continue reading and get a comprehensive guide most especially if you are using WordPress for beginners.
What is SEO?
SEO means Search Engine Optimization. This is one of the powerful strategies used by WordPress blog owners in order to get higher ranks and appear on top of the search engines. This is not a cheat in the content for the sake of landing higher ranks in search engines, but rather establish a site with optimized content and makes it easy for search engines to locate your site.
What happens when you land higher ranks in search engines? When this happens, your search engine optimized post is immediately visible every time a user searches for a topic you write about. With this, people will click through your content and you will be getting more blog traffic.
Importance of SEO
Aside from acquaintances and people who already know your brand who visit the website, a large percentage of the source of your traffic is still generated from the search engines. Search engines like Google use advanced algorithms to rank pages and posts in search results. But these search engines won’t know how to properly rank your page if your posts aren’t optimized and if this happens, you will be missing out the opportunity to reach a bigger audience.
Basic WordPress SEO Techniques
There are a number of techniques that you should know in order to achieve and optimize your content, but it doesn’t have to be technical and difficult. You don’t even have to be an expert or genius in order to implement these developments in your website.
Check the Visibility Settings of Your Site
Your WordPress blog has a built-in option whether you want your site to be visible in search engines. The main reason for having this option is for websites that are under construction and not yet ready to be viewed by the public.
To make your site visible in search engines, all you have to do is uncheck this option by going to your WordPress blog dashboard panel. Go to Settings and click Reading and you will be directed on a new page showing you the option to make your site visible in search engines.
Go to the Search Engine Visibility and uncheck the box with “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option. Click the Save Changes button after this move.
Use SEO Friendly Link Structures
SEO friendly links should already contain “keywords” that explain what the whole content is all about so that it will be easy for search engines to grasp and rank on on search results. It should be straightforward and on point.
For example, if you are writing an article about “Blog Basics” or “Writing Blog Content”, the link structure can be like this:
Given the link structure above, the reader and the search engines will immediately know the content of your post and show it to those searching for the basics of blog.
An example of a badly constructed link structure looks like this:
The link above contains digits that are not even related to the content. Misinformation may arise because it could be linked to another unrelated topic considering the structure of the link.
If you use SEO friendly permalink structure, your chance of being visible in the entire world wide web will be higher. To check and update whether you are using the correct permalink structure, go to your WordPress dashboard panel. Go to Settings and click Permalink where you will be shown with options related to permalink structure.
You can click on the option Post Name so that your permalink structure will be patterned base on your post title. After that, click Save Changes.
Important Note: If your site has been existing for more than six months, don’t change your permalink structure anymore because it will affect your social media share count and affect your ranking. If you have been using Day and Name or Month and Name, just continue using it. But if you really intend to change all your permalink structure, you may hire a professional who can set up proper redirects.
Using WWW or non-WWW
For WordPress beginners, you need to choose between using www (e.g. www.wpblog.com) or non-www (http://wpblog.com) in your URL. Search engines see these are two different entities so you have to choose your preference. There’s really no advantage about using one from the other, it will just make your address distinctive.
To choose whether you will choose for www or non-www, just go to your WordPress blog dashboard panel, go to Settings and click General.
Input your chosen URL whether it’s a WWW or non-WWW opposite the WordPress Address (URL) and Site Address (URL) and click Save Changes.
Optimizing Your Blog Using SEO Plugin
Best SEO WordPress Plugin
There are a number of SEO WordPress plugins that you can choose from across the options but one of the best plugins is the WordPress SEO by Yoast. You can download the Yoast SEO WordPress and install and activate as plugin here. Another option is using All in One SEO Pack, you can download it here. Both plugins are free, however you have the option to upgrade for more advanced SEO features. Although, using the free version is sufficient enough to optimize your blog pages and posts.
In this guide, I will use free version of Yoast SEO because it is basic, very easy to use and ideal for newbie bloggers. And we also use it here in EasyBlog Themes’ website. On the next step, I will show how to configure Yoast to boost your blog.
Before I proceed, learn how to install Yoast SEO Plugin to your WordPress blog.
Consider XML Sitemaps in WordPress
Your XML Sitemap can be generated through WordPress SEO by Yoast. It is a formatted file that archives an index/list of pages contained in your site.
The addition of an XML sitemap does not improve your ranking but it will make the search engines find your content easily. Learn more about XML Sitemaps and why it is important to have on every blog.
The Yoast plugin will automatically setup your XML sitemap after you activate the plugin. Your sitemap can be viewed by visiting this URL:
http://youraddress.com/sitemap_index.xml (replace youraddress.com with your domain)
Submit your Site to Google Search Console
Google Search Console or Webmaster Tool enables you to see how your content looks like when it appears in the search engines. This channel furnishes reports and data giving you a glimpse on how your page looks in search results.
Data and reports that you can extract from Google Search Console are: “keywords” or search terms that the people use to locate your site, “page rank” or how each of your post appears in the search results and how often these pages are clicked. Another benefit in using the Google Search Console is the notification that you get when there is something wrong with your website. If you want to learn more about Google Webmaster Tools read here.
Here’s the step on how to add your WordPress blog to Google Search Console via Yoast SEO Plugin:
1. Login to your Google webmaster tool account. Click on add property, then enter your blog domain.
2. Next will be verification of your domain ownership. Choose alternative methods, then check HTML tag. Meta tag will be generated as shown below.
3. Then back to your WordPress blog, search for Yoast SEO plugin in your dashboard and click SEO >> Dashboard >> Click on Webmaster Tools Tabs. Enter the generated Meta tag code. Then click Save.
4. Go back to your Google Webmaster tool and hit Verify button.
Now you have successfully added your blog to Google!
How to Submit Your Blog Sitemap
Go back you your blog dashboard, click on SEO plugin in your dashboard and click SEO >> Dashboard >> Click on Webmaster Tools Tabs. Enter the Google Search Console verification code.
Click the Get Google Authorization Code where you will be redirected to a new page containing the code. Take the authorization code and fill it in your Yoast Search Console page and click Authenticate. After the Authentication process, you will select the website to be added in the drop down menu.
When the addition of your blog to Google Search Console has been made, click Crawls and click Sitemaps. After that, click Add Sitemap button and fill this in the box: sitemap_index.xml and click Submit.
The submission will appear as pending after adding your sitemap. In a few hours time, you will see stats regarding your site which is an indication that Google has already crawled into your website. This is one of the means for you to collect insights and measure how your WordPress SEO is developing through time.
Optimize your Blog Post for SEO
When adding a blog post, Yoast SEO WordPress will serve as a guide whether you are optimizing the content of your article. At the bottom of post, Yoast gives an analysis whether you are making the most out of your content.
WordPress SEO by Yoast enables you to add the focus keyword so it can analyze whether the keywords are rightfully situated and included in the content. It also shows how your page will look like when it appears on the search results.
Make sure to write a catchy title and description for each post for maximum search engine result clicks. You can see the Yoast section under your WordPress text editor. Make all the needed configurations to optimize your post for search engine.
Other Helpful Resource(s):
The Start-to-Finish Guide to Optimizing Your WordPress Blog
Complete Configuration Guide For Yoast SEO
10 Tips in Writing SEO-friendly Blog Post
How to Write a Profitable Blog Post
14-Point Blog Post Checklist to Boost SEO
WordPress SEO Best Practices
Aside from the strategies that you can implement in order to optimize your content, there are other WordPress SEO best practices that you can consider in order to achieve better results in the long run while managing your site. These may be small details but will surely make a difference in your rankings and visibility in the world wide web when followed.
Use Fitting Categories and Tags
If you have been blogging for awhile, you will notice that WordPress allows you to add and sort categories and tags for your blog. With this you are able to manage your blog posts and topics. At the same time, it will be easy for your readers to search a particular topic on your blog if these posts are accompanies by tags and segmented per category.
Some are still confused with the importance of categories and tags but in order to give an analogy of the importance of these, we can take a book as an example. The book refers to your blog and the categories are your table of contents. The categories will group your blog posts into topics. For categories, you can have music, food, fashion, beauty, etc.
Tags refer to keywords that represent what your blog post is all about. For example, under the food category, you can have tags like breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Assigning proper and fitting categories and tags to your blog posts will make search engines to easily locate and show your page on the search results regarding a particular topic.
Other Helpful Resource(s):
Include Internal Linking to Your Posts
Search engines assign a score (page authority) for every page that you have. And the most common signals of authority are links. This is the reason why it’s important for you to link other pages within your site to your blog posts. It should already be a part of your habit to interlink your previous posts to a post that you are composing. Through this, you will increase your pageviews and improve your SEO score.
Other Helpful Resource(s):
Optimize WordPress Comments
Comments or feedbacks are very important, not just to show that there are readers visiting your site but it also shows the quality of content that you have produced that leads them to interact with you.
And once you reply to their comments and feedbacks, they are drawn to return and it gives you additional page visits. But you have to ensure that these comments are purely intended as a feedback to your content and not a spam. Spam comments include links that could affect the rankings of your post so it should be avoided at all cost.
To help you with the filtering of spam comments from genuine ones, install and activate Akismet plugin to help you combat the spammers.
The more genuine comments and feedback that you get only shows how engaging and interesting your content is. But you also have to note that too many comments for every post can slow down the speed of your server so you can consider splitting the comments into multiple pages.
Add NoFollow Attribute to External Links
Links are important to be included for every post because it helps search engines determine pages that are important and should be in the rankings. However, if you link to an external website, you are giving a portion of your site’s SEO score to that link known as Link Juice.
Now that you are knowledgeable about Link Juice, your site should work and take on this advantage by making sure that you get more Link Juice from other websites instead of you, giving Link Juice away.
If there’s a need to feature an external link to your page without passing the SEO score to that link, you can add a NoFollow attribute in order to instruct search engines not to follow those links. This is the best method to save your Link Juice.
To add a NoFollow attribute to your external links, view your post in HTML format.
The regular external link in HTML has this structure:
<a href="http://youraddress.com">Example Blog</a>
You can also add a NoFollow attribute to your external link by using the HTML link that looks like this structure:
<a href="http://example.com" rel="nofollow">Example Website</a>
You can simply edit the structure in HTML format and follow the structure above. Make sure to replace the example.com with your site address.
Showing Full Posts or Excerpts
There are a number of ways for WordPress to link back to your posts. It could be from home pages, category archives and author pages, to name a few. From these pages, WordPress shows the full content of the articles. The same thing happens to your readers who subscribe to your RSS feed, they can read everything from their own feed so they don’t have to visit your site anymore. Because of this, you are not getting traffic to your blog. Full posts also slow down your archives pages because everything has to load to complete the full article.
The best method to keep your page views and make your readers visit your site is to show a summary of your article only instead of showing the whole post. Readers will be compelled to read more because only a portion of the article is seen.
You can control and limit the content shown by going to Settings and click Reading. You will be directed to a new page. Look for For each article in a feed show and click Summary opposite this option. Don’t forget to click Save Changes to finalize the action.
WordPress Performance for SEO – Speed & Security
Despite the best efforts, strategies and practices you applied to optimize your content, all of these will go to waste if your page is slow and takes time to load. Speed plays big factor for the success of your blog. The other factor that you should consider is security. Your output will be nothing if someone is able to hack your site and may modify and destroy the content of your WordPress blog.
Check out some ways to achieve both speed and security while achieving your WordPress SEO:
Optimize your Site Speed and Performance
It is important to have all your contents presented the moment the reader virtually sets foot on your website. People are believed to have short attention span when browsing from one site to another so you must be able to capture and showcase everything in one click.
If your site is slow and takes time to load, the reader won’t wait and proceed to the next site instead. You will be missing out the chance to showcase your content that could have been a help.
Another reason why you should consider to speed up your WordPress blog is because Google ranks sites that are fast, higher, compared to slow ones.
Optimize Your Images
There are a lot of people who appreciate visual presentations in a content. Images are engaging and easily admirable at one glance so bloggers tend to put a lot of photos for every post.
The downside of filling your page with photos is it slows down your site takes time to load. To address the issue on multiple images that slow down the page, you can consider the type of your image file format and compression to reduce the size of the image. If there’s a need to add a lot of images because of the nature of your blog (e.g. photography blog), you can consider compressing your images for web.
To optimize your photos for search engines, fill in the descriptive titles and alt tags that come with every image. The description that accompanies your image will give the search engines an idea on what each photo is all about. The good thing is, WordPress enables you to add tags and titles.
Securing Your WordPress Blog
WordPress Security plays a very important role when keeping a WordPress site. It is reported that over thousands of websites are blacklisted by Google everyday due to malwares and phishing.
This is why, one of the crucial factors for good ranking is website security. When a blog got hacked, a red splash page shows up warning to visitors attempting to open the site. If this happens to your blog, this may compromise your online reputation, decrease site traffic and devalue your overall SEO performance.
Improving your WordPress security can be overwhelming for some newbie bloggers and owners as this may sound complex and needing expertise.
Thankfully, there are WordPress plugins that can help you protect your WordPress blog from hackers. You can use these two best free WordPress security plugins like Sucuri and WordFence to backup, scan, detect, and clean your website from harmful malwares.
To safeguard your site and establish the security to its maximum, you can start by using SSL/HTTPS. SSL or Secure Sockets Layer is a technology used to encrypt a connection between the browser of the reader and the server where they are connecting to. With this technology, you are adding another layer of security to your WordPress site.
The indication of being secured by SSL is seeing a padlock sign before the browser’s address. This will give a message to the browser that your site is trustworthy. This tool is very helpful most especially if you are running an online store where online purchases (e.g. paying via credit card) is expected.
Other Helpful Resource(s):
The power to optimize your site by achieving WordPress SEO is all in your hands. It’s up to you to maximize all available resources that are easy to comprehend. Before starting a blog or a site, remember one of the reasons for putting up a great content- that is to present what you can offer to the whole community.
Familiarizing and following the strategies, techniques and best practices will help you realize your reason for existing and reach a greater audience. This is an opportunity that a lot of people miss, now made available and easy.
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