WordPress SEO Guide

This is an SEO guide for WordPress site owners. WordPress is the most popular CMS (Content Management System) on the web, powering at least 36 % of all websites on the internet. We are here to give you some tips about WordPress SEO.

What is SEO?

SEO is short for “search engine optimization.” The premise of SEO is pretty simple: make your website rank higher in search results. It takes a lot more than that, but it’s basically like this. WordPress can help you with all the necessary aspects of SEO (more on WordPress SEO later). WordPress makes your blog easy to post new content and edit existing content, WordPress has already boosted its own blogs up the search rankings without any extra effort on their end. WordPress employs some techniques that improve your chances of getting into top search results.

Namely, WordPress websites are not only extremely simple to create (just log in and start writing) but also very easy to manage thanks to a plethora of plugins – which we will discuss later as well! WordPress cares about your SEO, which means that WordPress itself is optimized to help with search engine optimization. WordPress automatically provides you with a sitemap and an XML site map, both of which are integral parts of WordPress SEO: without these WordPress components, your blog would not even show up in the first place!

With WordPress theme and plugin developers following search engine optimization best practices, WordPress has delivered one of the friendliest blogging experiences on the internet. Not only does it make blogging as simple as writing (and publishing!), but WordPress also offers bloggers great opportunities to explore niche markets and monetize their expertise through better WordPress SEO practices. This is why we will now look at WordPress how to’s guide for doing SEO!

The fundamental WordPress SEO steps

Let’s begin by talking about fundamental SEO steps to take before you even start blogging.

Step 1: WordPress Hosting

The first step is to choose a fast, reliable, and secure WordPress hosting for your website. Web hosting is delivered through a WordPress-optimized environment which ensures the fastest, most secure WordPress hosting environment possible. By choosing a reliable WordPress hosting, you are ensuring that your website will run smoothly and quickly at ALL times! You are also accessing the latest in web technology – after all, since this blog runs on WordPress, it would be silly not to use a WordPress-optimized hosting solution.

With this technology available there’s simply no reason not to have WordPress optimized hosting!

Step 2: Start blogging

Now that your website is running on a fast hosting plan, you have one less problem with ranking in the search engine results pages! Now you can start posting your content. WordPress makes posting new WordPress SEO-friendly content as easy as typing. WordPress automatically emails your WordPress blog subscribers with every fresh post that you publish, so they won’t miss out on any of your best content.

Step 3: Theme and Plugin Optimization

WordPress sites are extremely powerful because WordPress is updating (and improving) its plugins constantly; the only thing you need to do is make sure that you are using the latest versions! This alone can dramatically improve your WP SEO. The use of a premium theme provides an advantage for WordPress bloggers concerning their SEO. By using a high-quality WordPress theme, you are reaching your target audience with “ease”. With SEO plugins, WordPress makes SEO more convenient by adding links that will automatically take people to their related posts or pages – no need to remember that WordPress keyword!

Step 4: WordPress Theme Customization

When choosing a WordPress theme, be sure to choose one which allows you enough control of WordPress customization. As an example, the Stag WordPress customizable WordPress themes give you complete control over colors and fonts in addition to allowing for extensive internal HTML editing. By doing this, WordPress dramatically increases its search engine friendliness since blog posts are written using keywords wherever possible – keywords being an important part of not only your WP SEO but also improving user experience! So if both WordPress SEO and WordPress user experience are important to you, WordPress theme customization is a WordPress SEO must.

Step 5: WordPress Customization

WordPress themes allow for extensive WordPress customization without affecting your WordPress SEO. To WordPress, it’s just code – if you know what you’re doing! So adding extra HTML or CSS should not affect the way your site shows up in search engines. But be careful when choosing plugins that add to this WordPress functionality – some of them may actually mess with your SEO!

Step 6: Stay Updated

WordPress has released many new versions since its initial launch in 2003 and continues to update and improve itself regularly. Because of this, staying on top of WordPress security updates keeps your site protected while staying ahead of other blogs in terms of search visibility. WordPress security is important because WordPress hackers can expose vulnerabilities in your WordPress site and WordPress updates close these loopholes.

Step 7: Analytics

Analytics and WordPress Statistics WordPress provides a platform for free analytics which allows you to track how many people are visiting your website, what pages they’re looking at most often, and where they come from (search engines included). By using this information to improve your blog’s content, you can increase the user experience while simultaneously improving blog page rankings. For a WordPress WP blog to see success with either its traffic or its SEO, both need to be improved – so why not do them both at the same time! SEO is important to keep up with because the competition is constantly increasing. User experience is a ranking factor that should be analyzed all the time.

SEO tips

Do NOT start with a sentence that by adding too many keywords or anything similar! This keyword-stuffed jargon only confuses readers and makes your post look spammy and unprofessional: in other words: it makes you look unqualified.

WordPress doesn’t come with tools to help with your SEO. So you will need a plugin that can help you with search engine optimization. I will present some of the plugins if you continue reading.

Always try to naturally incorporate the keywords into the text of the post, not just “dump” them near each other.

Start your WordPress blog off right with these basics for optimization. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging systems on the web today, but starting a WordPress blog sometimes feels like you’re launching a ship at sea without a compass you know where you want it to go, but you don’t have any idea how to make it get there! With these basic WordPress tips, I’m going to give you some tools for setting your WordPress blog on the right course from day 1.

Please keep in mind that the focus of an article is to provide quality information, not spam readers with lots of irrelevant keywords. Using relevant keywords is one aspect of creating a great post, however, it must be done so in a manner that also provides value for the reader.

If you follow the basic guidelines I’ve outlined here you’ll be well on your way to writing posts that help your site rank higher and attract more visitors as opposed to just “attract more search engine traffic.” Because when people ask me about WordPress SEO, that’s what they really want: traffic, real human visitors who are interested in their product or service. WordPress SEO helps with that, but WordPress SEO is just part of the equation.

Ok so now to start off I’m going to show you WordPress settings you should set up right out of the box before focusing on WordPress SEO. This will mainly cover your WordPress general settings and WordPress permalink settings. WordPress general settings are located under Dashboard > Settings > General. WordPress permalink settings are found under Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks.

General WordPress Settings

WordPress Site Title & Tagline: The name and slogan for your site should be entered here by default – edit accordingly if needed.

  • Site Address (URL): Your site address or URL is what visitors will use when sharing a link to your content on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter. WordPress has a default setting of using your WordPress Site Title by default which is usually best to keep so WordPress SEO will keep this the same.
  • Admin Username: WordPress username can be edited here if you need to change it from the WordPress default “admin” – this username does not have an effect on WordPress SEO.
  • The first day of week displayed in the blog: WordPress defaults to Monday but I prefer Sunday because people are more likely to read my posts over the weekend where I want them to see them. You can change this for any day if needed.
  • Profile Details: These profile details include information like your location, website (which you should already have set up!), bio etc. This information does not affect WordPress SEO either way, but it’s nice to personalize WordPress by adding this information.
  • Timezone: WordPress shows the time of your site in WordPress Dashboard . WordPress default is usually correct depending on which geographical location you choose when installing WordPress. You can change this if needed.
  • Google Analytics: This WordPress setting will connect to Google Analytics and link up your website traffic inside WordPress so you can see accurate metrics under the WP Statistics dashboard widget. If you already have a WordPress goals plugin installed such as MonsterInsights, then you can use that instead for tracking and using Google Analytics is not necessary however I prefer to use Google analytics over WordPress goals because it allows me to separate organic traffic from adwords traffic, etc.
  • Site Language: Not all websites are written in English so WordPress has this WordPress setting to change the default WordPress language. WordPress SEO keeps this the same because WordPress defaults to English.

WordPress Writing Settings

These WordPress writing settings mainly deal with how WordPress formats your posts and pages, what HTML tags are allowed, etc. This can be changed later if needed but WordPress will keep these the same by default.

  • Formatting Shortcuts: Turning on formatting shortcuts lets you use keyboard shortcuts when typing things like bold text or a paragraph break instead of manually adding HTML tags every time you want to insert a basic styling tag into a post or page that doesn’t have custom styles applied to it yet. I turn off all formatting shortcuts because I prefer writing my posts without them then adding styling later as needed. WordPress keeps this the same by default because WordPress defaults to “On.”
  • Press This: WordPress Press This is a WordPress tool for quick blogging similar to Tumblr or Medium – you can set it up under WordPress Dashboard > Tools > Press This . WordPress won’t allow HTML unless you have formatting shortcuts turned off but WordPress still allows URLs, images etc. WordPress will keep this the same if you leave it on which is what I do – I use WordPress PressThis daily when writing new posts to speed up blog creation.
  • Discussion Settings: When visitors leave comments on your site, they are sent here next to read your comment moderation guidelines and determine whether to approve their comments for everyone else to see or. WordPress keeps these settings the same because WordPress defaults to “Allow people to post comments on new articles.”
  • Default Gravatar: WordPress Gravatars are little profile icons that show next to your name when leaving a comment or posting a WordPress post. WordPress defaults this to WordPress Tenor which is usually the best choice, but if you want a custom gravatar because it’s more aesthetically pleasing, you can upload one under WordPress Dashboard > My Profile . WordPress won’t allow HTML unless formatting shortcuts are turned off though so WordPress will keep these the same by default.
  • Disable Trackbacks: Trackbacks and pingbacks were used previously in WordPress but they’re not as effective for increasing website traffic and conversation about posts anymore – we use other methods like social networks instead! WordPress will keep trackbacks enabled by default.
  • Disable WordPress Emojis: WordPress emojis are cool because WordPress has some fun emoji characters that you can insert into blog posts, but they’re really annoying too! WordPress will show a hyperlinked black star next to all your WordPress cover photo images, the WordPress logo etc which I find distracting so I disable WordPress emojis by unchecking this box. I’ll show you how to remove these with CSS later if needed. WordPress keeps emojis enabled by default.
  • Leave Default Author Name as “WordPress” for Contributors Only: Authors used to be separated from contributors in previous versions of WordPress – author would have their name displayed beside their WordPress posts and contributors would be displayed under “More By WordPress” at the bottom of each WordPress post. WordPress contributors are included alongside WordPress authors again in WordPress 4.7 so you can leave this blank or delete it if you want to remove WordPress contributors entirely, but leaves this set as is because WP defaults it to include the username “WordPress.”
  • Include Site Name Under Post Titles: WordPress displays your website’s name next to your blog posts by default which looks nice, but I prefer a clean layout without any distractions from my content so I disable this feature by unchecking this box. This will remove the WordPress Tenor emoji too if you have that enabled for some reason – a big thank-you to reader DAN for bringing this to my attention (see comment below)! WordPress keeps authors and titles included by default because WordPress defaults both of these things.
  • Enable WordPress Excerpts: WordPress allows you to publish longer content that can be excerpted into multiple pages such as a tutorial or product review where the full post is visible on it’s own URL but you could also include other WordPress snippets like FAQs, tables etc – WordPress calls them “Excerpts” and they only display the first 55 words by default with an option to include more in your WordPress dashboard under Settings > Reading . If you’re not using WordPress excerpts then disable this feature and save changes. WP has left the default options unchanged.
  • WordPress URLs Include “?” in WordPress Slugs: WordPress slugs are used for SEO – a WordPress slug is a URL that leads to a post or page and you can edit them by going to Dashboard > Posts > Edit. WP uses the date as it’s default WordPress slug but I always use keywords instead because Google prefers this for SEO! The problem with keywords as WordPress slugs is that WordPress will include a question mark at the end of your keyword which looks stupid, so WordPress adds an extra character onto your WordPress slug instead like ? keyword which looks much nicer. This makes no difference to your user experience though, all you’ll see when clicking through to your post or page is the title anyway although not having question marks in WordPress slugs is a good SEO practice. WP has left the default slug settings unchanged.
  • WordPress Permalinks Update Automaticly: WordPress permalinks are where WordPress posts and pages get their permanent links from – a WordPress permalink is a URL that leads to a single post or page but includes keywords instead of dates, which helps increase SEO by informing search engines what your content is about before they even visit your website. WordPress will automatically update WordPress permalinks when you publish changes to your posts and pages using the “Post/Page Breakdown” section on the right-hand side of each post or page editor – this can slow down publishing time though so I disable this feature which speeds up my workflow. WordPress keeps authors & titles included by default because it defaults both of these things.
  • Use One Column Layout for Posts and Pages: WordPress allows you to use a left-column layout where text appears beside images for your WordPress posts and pages by checking this box which is great if you want to include other snippets like FAQs or tables because WordPress calls them “widgets” that can be edited within your WordPress dashboard under Appearance > Widgets . If you’re not using widgets besides photos then disable this feature and save changes – I prefer to keep my post layouts clean with no distractions from my content (and yes, I know the image below isn’t aligned properly but it’s just an example). WordPress keeps authors & titles included by default because WordPress defaults both of these things.
  • WordPress Cards Formatting for Bold, Italic & Blockquotes: WordPress allows you to use “Cards” to format your WordPress posts and pages (I think this feature was added in WordPress 4.4.2 but I’m not sure). WordPress cards are like Pinterest boards whereas each image or section can be clicked-through into a new window similar to the grid layout that WordPress introduced in version 4.1 – here’s an example . If you’re not using WordPress cards then disable this feature and save changes. WP has left the default options unchanged.
  • Use Focus Keywords Instead of Broad Match Modifier for Search Phrases: WordPress uses the broad match modifier for WP search phrases and has allowed this by default since WordPress 3.7 (November 2013). The problem with broad matching is that it’s too wide and includes irrelevant words which will decrease your SEO, so I recommend using focus keywords instead which narrows-down your WordPress search phrase results to only include relevant words or phrases. WP has changed this setting to use “Exact Match” by default to increase WordPress SEO – you’ll need to input all of your WordPress posts and pages again but it’s worth it.
  • Stop Using “Featured Images” in WordPress Posts & Pages: By default WordPress allows you to use a “featured image” which is an image at the top of WordPress posts and pages, WordPress will not use this image in SEO but it does increase WordPress speed because WordPress doesn’t have to resize the thumbnail – I recommend removing this option and saving changes. WP has changed this setting to disable featured images by default which increases SEO – you’ll need to input all of your WordPress posts and pages again but it’s worth it.
  • Select “No” for Automatically Add Open Graph Tags: WordPress adds open graph tags automatically so that your WordPress website appears properly when shared on social networks (Facebook for example) but these tags can potentially slow down your WordPress website if they aren’t carefully implemented . I prefer to add open graph tags manually using Yoast or All In One Schema as WordPress sometimes messes up WordPress og tags. WP has left the default options unchanged.
  • Add Schema Markup for WordPress Search Results & WordPress Posts/Pages: WordPress allows you to add schema markup which will enhance your WordPress search results within Google and other search engines but it will decrease WordPress speed because WordPress is loading extra code that isn’t necessary – I recommend using Yoast or All In One Schema . WordPress keeps authors & WordPress titles included by default because WordPress defaults both of these things.
  • Disable Author URL Canonicalization in WordPress Search Results: By default WordPress canonizes the author’s website when their name appears as a result from a WordPress search so that users can click-through to visit their WordPress author profile – WP has left the default options unchanged.
  • Don’t Use WordPress Related Posts: WordPress allows you to add “related posts” after WordPress posts and pages which is a good idea but they’re using an non-optimized version of related posts by default, I recommend using WP Smush for related posts (or another plugin) instead: WP has changed this setting to disable WordPress related posts by default in order to increase website speed and decrease load times (you’ll need to input all of your WordPress posts and pages again). This will not affect paginated post pages.
  • Don’t Use WordPress Social Media & WordPress Open Graph Tags: WordPress allows you to add open graph tags which help Facebook (for example) understand your WordPress website better although these tags increase WordPress speed because they’re loading unnecessary code – I recommend using All In One Schema . WordPress has changed this setting to disable social media titles & open graph tags by default in order to decrease load times, you’ll need to input all of your WordPress posts and pages again (this will not affect the og data already present for paginated WordPress pages).
  • WordPress Plugin Organizer: WP has changed this setting to enable WordPress plugin organizer by default which decreases load times because WordPress is loading unneeded WordPress plugins and scripts. If you don’t use the WordPress plugin organizer then you’ll need to input all of your WordPress posts and pages again but it’s worth it for the speed increase.

Best WordPress SEO plugins

With SEO plugins you can do all the basic but very effective SEO tasks. Many of the plugins offer the same features but they may differ from each other with small differences. Some plugins are more comprehensive than others. Many of the SEO plugins can create an xml-sitemap, optimize keywords and H-tags, add schema (structured data, local SEO, how to schema FAQ, etc.), do redirects, internal linking, create canonical URLs, connect to Google Search Console, analytics, etc.

They are just great tools for optimizing your site for the search engines.

Here are some of the most popular and best SEO Plugins:

Rank Math

Ranking your site higher in Google requires taking advantage of keywords in articles and titles, but this can make for difficult writing when titles need to actually read naturally. Rank math has gained a lot of popularity because it has basically all the features you need to have in order to rank higher on the search engines. We recommend Rank Math.

Yoast SEO

Yoast allows the user to insert keywords into posts and then Yoast will change that post’s title into a keyword-heavy version without breaking the flow of the article. Yoast has been a long time the most popular SEO plugin. It’s still the most downloaded SEO plugin in the world. It also has almost everything you could want from an SEO plugin. We recommend Yoast!

All in One SEO

All in One SEO is a WordPress SEO plugin that provides easy-to-use SEO tools and SEO settings for managing SEO meta tags, redirections, and SEO  links.  With the help of the All in One SEO pack, you can easily manage your site’s metadata (title, description, and keywords) for all posts, pages, custom post types, and even SEO links. Hight recommended!

SEOPress

SEOPress is a plugin that can help you to improve your SEO rankings in the search engine result pages. SEOPress contains various features which can help you get top-page SEO results for your website and blog very quickly. Moreover, it includes all the basic functions of an SEO WordPress plugin, like keyword density checker, meta description maker, internal link analyzer, and much more. The plugin itself is very similar to Yoast, Rank Math and All in One SEO plugin. We really like SEOPress. It has everything you need from an SEO plugin and it doesn’t slow down your website (less bloat compared to Yoast). Highly recommended!

The SEO Framework

The SEO Framework is a slimmed-down version of the popular SEO plugins. It has almost all the necessary options you could want. It has less bloat than the most popular plugins. It is free and more suitable for more advanced SEO’s. It is a highly recommended SEO plugin.

Conclusion

I hope that these tips are helpful for people who are looking to improve their WordPress SEO. This list may help to optimize your website for Google search results but remember that you have to practice to become better at doing SEO. Just build a website and test with different SEO methods and analyze the results. Good luck!

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