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WordPress is a popular content management system (CMS) that allows users to create powerful websites. One of the best features of WordPress is how customizable it is, which makes it an attractive option for many website owners.
Not only can WordPress help to make impressive-looking and fully functional websites, but it is also very compatible with search engine optimization (SEO). SEO is important because it helps ensure your website ranks well in the search engine result pages (SERPs). What this basically means is that if somebody searches for your products, your website shows up in the search results, and this increases the volume of traffic to your website.
To help with this, WordPress has introduced a variety of features that can help you get your website listed high up in the SERPs. This blog post will introduce you to some important basics about SEO in WordPress and help get your site up to date with current practices.
Enable Your Website Visibility Settings
Google reads websites with help from bots known as “crawlers.” Crawlers can “crawl” around every page of your website, learning what’s in there and then reporting back to Google. They are an essential part of SEO and the system would not work without them.
One of the first things you need to do is to ensure your website is accessible to Google’s crawlers. WordPress has an option that allows people to switch off visibility should their website still be under construction, and this is often set to make a website invisible without the owner realizing it.
You will find this option by going to Settings > Reading. Scroll down until you see “Site Visibility” on the left, and to the right you will see an option that says “Allow search engines to index this site.” Google and the other search engines will then be able to see what is on your website so all your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Add an XML Sitemap to WordPress
An XML sitemap is a type of map that tells Google about the layout of your WordPress site. It essentially gives their crawlers directions on where to go to find out about the information on your site. This makes it very important for SEO and, thankfully, adding an XML site to Google is very easy to do.
Add Your Site to Google Search Console
Google Search Console gives you valuable information on how well your site is performing in terms of SEO. This includes factors like ranking, number of visitors, which pages have been visited, and so on. Adding your WordPress website to Google Search Console is also very easy to do.
Set Your Site Title and Tagline
Your site title and tagline are the first things most visitors to your site will see, so it should be concise and tell people exactly what you are about. It’s also an opportunity to add a target keyword, which will help you with your SEO ranking.
You will find the option to do this in Settings > General.
Keyword research is an essential part of SEO. Using the right keywords tells Google what your products are, letting them know you have what people are looking for.
You need to know what words and phrases your customers use when searching for products or services like those that you offer. This can be done using tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner, which gives suggestions on related keywords.
When selecting your keywords it’s important to target those that a lot of people are using in searches (high search volume). You also need to use those that are in low or medium demand to avoid competing with the big companies that have a huge marketing budget.
Use SEO-Friendly URLs
A URL is a website page address. It includes the domain name, which is the address of the website overall. When choosing your domain name you should try and find something that’s easy to remember, catchy, and contains a target keyword to help you rank.
While your domain cannot be changed, the part afterward (the slug), that’s specific for each page, can be. These should also help describe the page and contain a target keyword where possible. To edit your URL in WordPress, go to Settings > General. From here, you can edit the URL under the WordPress address and Site Address options.
Take Advantage of Linking
There are different types of links you can leverage to improve your SEO.
External links are links to third-party websites. It is beneficial to have these in terms of SEO because it tells Google that you are trying to provide useful information to your readers. This then tells Google that your site should be listed higher up in the SERPs. It’s important to make sure external links are relevant to your content and that they have good authority. “Good authority” means ranking well for metrics like domain authority (DA), and free tools are available that check the DA of a website for you.
Internal links are links to other content found on the same website. This is beneficial for two main reasons:
- It helps visitors navigate your site more easily, improving their user experience.
- It makes it easier for Google’s crawlers to navigate the content on your site. This gives them more information, helping them know that you have what people are looking for.
Backlinks don’t have to do with WordPress per se, but they are so essential for SEO that they should be mentioned.
Backlinks are links to your website that are found on third-party websites. These act as a kind of recommendation – telling Google that other people are talking about and recommending your website. They are one of the most important ranking factors so they should not be overlooked.
There are different ways to gain backlinks; one of the most common is guest blogging, which means writing content for other sites with a link to your own website in the content. Another is to write good quality content which will encourage other people to share it online.
Meta Tags and Descriptions
Meta tags and descriptions are short explanations of what content is about. This helps SEO in two main ways.
Google’s crawlers are everywhere and can read everything, including your meta tags/descriptions. This helps tell Google that you have something people are looking for.
Meta descriptions help people know a certain piece of content is of interest to them – encouraging them to click through to it, thus increasing your click-through rate (CTR). A high CTR tells Google that people are finding your website useful, and this encourages them to give you a boost in the SERPS.
To add meta tags and descriptions to your WordPress site, you will find the option under Search Appearance > Global Settings.
We’ve mentioned how to find keywords; now we need to cover how to use them.
Don’t add too many keywords in your articles, otherwise Google will see it as keyword stuffing and this will not please them at all. Instead, try and space your keywords out fairly evenly and keep the keyword density to about 2%. Also try and include the keyword in the first 100 words or so of the content, and try to include it in at least one heading or subheading.
Optimize Content Structure
When adding content such as blogs to your WordPress site, try and structure the content in a way that makes it SEO-friendly. This means spacing out text into easily digestible paragraphs rather than having large blocks of text that are difficult to read. How easy or difficult people find your content to read will have an impact on your overall SEO rankings.
Headings don’t only help people know what your content is about, they also tell Google. Make sure to use headings and subheadings for different sections.
In addition to the standard features provided by WordPress, you can also buy plugins that will enhance your SEO strategy further.
Perhaps the most popular example is Yoast, a plugin that will give you a lot of information on the keywords you are using and linking, the structure of your content, and more. It will give you useful advice on how to correct issues and will take care of a lot of the technical stuff for you. It’s a must-have for many people who want their WordPress site to rank highly.
To add a plugin go to Dashboard > Plugins. Then search for the plugin you want and click on “Add New.” Then install, activate, and it is ready to use.
SEO can sound daunting to begin with, but it’s really quite straightforward. That is, provided you use platforms like WordPress that are SEO-friendly and do a lot of the work for you. The above guide should pretty much cover all you need to help get your site ranking well, although there are more advanced tactics you can use if you really want to have a strong presence in the SERPs.