Powering more than a quarter of the entire of the internet, WordPress is the preferred content management system (CMS) for seasoned web developers and digital marketers. However, if you’re thinking about building a website using this platform, you must plan your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy to achieve high visibility in the search engines. In this WordPress SEO tutorial, we’re going to reveal the steps to creating a Google-friendly website that dominates the search results and attracts massive amounts of organic traffic.
What Is SEO?
You’ve probably seen the term when researching digital marketing strategies, but do you really know what SEO means? In short, SEO is a collective term used to describe the processes for improving a website’s search ranking. Websites are ranked using complex search engine algorithms. Google, Bing, Yahoo, and even lesser-known search engines like Ask.com and DuckDuckGo have algorithms that analyze websites while looking for specific signals that determine where and how they should rank. SEO involves targeting these signals through on-page and off-page optimization processes. This is so search engine algorithms believe your website should rank high for your chosen keywords.
Some of the benefits of SEO include:
- Higher organic search ranking
- More traffic
- Increased brand visibility
- Increased trust and authority
- Cheaper than pay-per-click (PPC) marketing
One of the first steps in WordPress SEO is researching prospective target keywords, which are the keywords for which you want your site to rank. It’s important to take your time and choose the right keywords to increase your chances of digital success. Keep in mind that you can target multiple keywords. Even if you have a primary target keyword, it’s okay to have several secondary keywords.
When choosing target keywords for your WordPress site, consider these criteria:
- Low competition
- Highly relevant to your site’s content
- Not trademarked by another company
- Marketing potential
If you have a Google AdWords account, use the Keyword Planner tool to research target keywords for your WordPress SEO campaign.
Change Your Settings
After choosing your target keywords, you’ll need to log in to your WordPress site as the admin and update the settings. By default, WordPress displays all of your posts on the homepage. And this, unfortunately, means visitors can read your posts without ever visiting the posts’ URLs. To change this, access Settings > Reading and choose “Summary” for the option labeled “For each article in a feed, show.”
Here are some other settings to adjust when optimizing your WordPress site:
- Set all visitor comments for manual approval
- Disable pingbacks and trackbacks
- Change the permalink settings from plain to something related to the post title
Upload a New Theme
You can and should change your site’s design by uploading a new theme. The default WordPress theme has limited functionality and doesn’t provide the same versatility and SEO power as a premium theme. To change your theme, access Appearance > Themes, at which point you can upload your new theme from your computer to your site’s server.
Here’s what to look for when choosing a WordPress theme:
- Responsive design that’s mobile-friendly
- Loads quickly
- Frequently updated by the developer
- Isn’t cluttered with unnecessary or poorly written code
- Accessible and friendly customer support
- Iron-clad security with no vulnerabilities
Install an SSL Certificate
Since 2014, Google has used SSL as a ranking signal for its algorithm. Websites featuring this newer and more secure internet protocol receive ranking priority over their competitors. The Really Simple SSL plugin makes adding an SSL certificate a breeze. Once you’ve purchased the certificate from a third-party vendor, you can add enable SSL with a single click using this plugin.
In addition to higher search rankings, other benefits of SSL include:
- Enhanced security for visitor
- Increased trust
- Checkout page security
The content you publish on your site plays an important role in where it ranks. When search engines crawl your site, they analyze your content for ranking purposes. You can encourage higher search ranking for your target keywords by creating SEO-friendly content.
Follow these tips to create stellar content that search engines love:
- Create at least one new page or post per week
- Sprinkle in your target keywords
- Break up your content into sections so that it’s easier for visitors to read
- Focus on quality over quantity
- Include images with the alt text attribute in your content
- Link words and phrases to other sites and internal pages with relevant content
Install Yoast SEO
Don’t forget to install an SEO plugin on your WordPress site. While there are several from which to choose, Yoast SEO is the most popular. With more than 5 million downloads, this plugin provides additional customization to further improve your site’s authority in the eyes of the search engines.
Here are some of the best Yoast SEO features:
- Add custom title tags
- Add custom meta descriptions
- Enable canonical URLs
- Create an XML sitemap
- Analyze on-page SEO
- See what your site looks like the search results
If you analyze some of the top-ranking websites, you’ll probably notice they all have a strong backlink portfolio. This is because search engines view backlinks as a signal of authority. If a website has hundreds of high-quality backlinks from other authoritative sites, search engines will believe that it, too, is worthy of a high search ranking.
Here are some tips to create high-quality, effective backlinks to your site:
- Don’t purchase backlinks or use automated software to create them (that’s a big no-no)
- Diversify your anchor text
- Target backlinks without the nofollow HTML attribute
- Acquire backlinks from authoritative, relevant pages
Google Search Console
Finally, you should add your site to the Google Search Console. Formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, the Search Console provides valuable insight into your website’s Google search ranking.
Using the Google Search Console, you can do the following:
- Identify your number of indexed pages
- Remove unwanted URLs from Google’s index
- View clicks and search rankings for keywords
- Analyze mobile compatibility
- Identify security issues
- Upload a sitemap
By following this WordPress SEO tutorial, you’ll have an easier time climbing the search results. If you’re still struggling to achieve a top search ranking, contact us today for professional assistance. With more than 20 years of experience, Bright Vessel is an industry-leading digital marketing firm that delivers real results for your site and your business.