When you’re first getting started with WordPress you’ll pretty quickly be looking at driving traffic to your site. One of the earliest a simplest ways to generate traffic to your site is through SEO, and fortunately, WordPress makes it simple to incorporate SEO best practices to your site, both in the vanilla version, and in a more advanced way through plugins.
In our beginners guide to WordPress SEO we’ll be covering the basics of getting your WordPress site set up for SEO, making sure your content is SEO friendly, and some of the SEO basics to help make sure you’re creating content the right way.
Setting Up SEO for WordPress
Getting WordPress set up for SEO is easy, there’s a few steps to getting started. To begin with we’ll cover the basics in vanilla WordPress, then we’ll cover some of the more advanced options you’ll find in plugins.
There’s a few things you’ll want to do before you get started with WordPress SEO.
- Install an SEO plugin, we’ll go in to detail on how to use these later, but to begin with you’ll want to get one installed. SOme good choices are RankMath, Yoast SEO, and All in One SEO (Nowadays I prefer RankMath).
- Set your site Title and Tagline under settings > general. Your title should be your site name, your tagline should be be a short descriptive sentence describing your site.
- Set the site to be indexable, its usually enabled by default, but some hosts such as WP Engine will disable it. Just go to settings > general and make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unchecked.
- Set the permalinks under settings > permalinks to somethnig human readable. The simplest solution here is to choose the “Post Name” option.
- Set up accounts on Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools and integrate them. Google has the Google Sitekit plugin to help with this.
- If possible set up a CDN, this is more advanced but Cloudflare is a simple free solution, and there are also a few plugins that can help here.
Setting Up Your SEO Plugin
While each SEO plugin has it’s differences, they all cover the basic SEO needs for your WordPress site. We’re not going to go in to too much detail here, there’s a lot of advanced functionaility, but we’ll cover the basics. Your SEO plugin will automatically apply a ton of settings to optimize your site, so you won’t need to do too much here. There’s still some things you’ll want to check though!
- Set up a sitemap, this will create a machine readable list of pages and posts on your website for search engines to index. Once this has been created, submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
- Link any relevant analytics accounts, this includes Google Search Console, Google Analytics, etc
- Set title and meta settings, this will help automatically generate some of these tags if needed.
- Indexing settings, some plugins will allow indexing submission, make sure this is active so your posts get ranked quickly!
Basics on Creating SEO Friendly Content
With the site set up, you’ll need content that will rank. Most of the SEO plugins will give you information inside the editor to help you create SEO friendly content. Here’s a few pointers though.
Before you start creating content, research Experience, Expertise, Authority, Trust. These are broad but critical aspects Google looks at when ranking content. There’s a ton of articles out htere covering E-E-A-T so I won’t go in to it here, but it’s critical to consider this when you’re building your site content/
Build Content Based on Topics
Back in the day SEO was all about the keywords. Nowadays however it’s more important to focus on topics. When you’re building out content, be it pages or posts, create topic areas with minimal overlap. you’ll want to do keyword research around these topics (using Google Keyword Planner, SEM Rush or similar), but use them to inform your content, don’t try and stuff keywords in.
Create Internal Links Judiciously
Internal linking, or linking between content on your own site, is a great way to help your users, and tell Google whats related on your website. Make sure you link related content where it makes sense (For example linking from one article to another article that provides deeper information on something you mentioned).
Customize Your Meta Title and Description
Titles and descriptions are no longer direct ranking factors, but they can still improve click through rates, which do impact your search rankings. This means improving your title and description has a double benefit that you shouldn’t pass up. raft your title and description carefully, they should be clear and descriptive on what users can expect from the page, but also be complelling and encourage relevant people to click your link on the search results.
Learn from Search Console
Look at Google Search Console, see where your page i sranking, and where it isn’t. If you’re getting low search ranking positions for keywords on an article that you weren’t expecting, consider breaking out that content to a new post or page, and linking to it from that article.
Don’t Give Up
When you get started it’s going to be really hard to develop organic traffic, and it can be disheartening. It’s far more likely for Google to rank more established websites,