Many people who use WordPress for their website are not web designers or developers. They are people who use WordPress because it is simple to setup and update. With limited knowledge of web development, there is often a struggle to figure out where to get started when optimizing a WordPress site for search engines. There are a lot of different resources giving out a lot of different information, and this info can be hard to sift through.
This article will help you get rid of that headache and help you find a place to start with search engine optimization for your WordPress website. The tactics below have helped me and a number of my clients improve their search engine placement. Before I go any further though, I want to make it clear that these tips and advice are not the be all and end all of SEO. This article was designed to help you gain a better understanding of SEO and give you a good place to start.
Choosing Keywords to Optimize For
Before you do any optimization to your website, you need to come up with a list of keywords you want to optimize your website for. Now that might be obvious, but it is also important to choose proper keywords. I’m not going to go into great detail about keyword research in this article but I do want to help you get started.
There are some great free tools out there that can help you generate useful keywords for your website. You could use the Google tool, or Wordtracker. In addition, you can use this tool from Google to research trends in search phrases. There are also a couple advanced tools I’d recommend including Raven Internet Marketing Toolsand Market Samurai.
Read this web page to find out more about choosing good keywords.
The Basics of SEO
Your web pages cannot rank for your keywords unless the keywords can be found somewhere on that page. There are key places that having these keywords will help you rank better. They include:
- Page Title: The name of your page.
- Permalinks: This is the URL of your page. By default WordPress with use your title to create your permalink which is usually best.
- Page Headings: Headings on your page help people understand what your page or article is about. Sub headings within the page are also important.
- Page Content: The actual text on your page.
- Image Names: Name given to image when saved.
- Image Alt Tags: This is the ‘Alternative Text’ tag of an image. When you add a new image to a WordPress page, there is a text box where you can enter this alternative text.
- Link Text: The words that appear in links to your pages.
- Meta Tags: Description and keyword tags for each page.
By including your keywords in these places, you give yourself your best chance at ranking for those keywords.
Where to Begin Optimizing WordPress
There is one setting in WordPress, that if not set properly, will prevent your website from being indexed in search engines at all. Under Settings->Privacy there is an option called “Site Visibility”. Make sure you set this to “Allow search engines to index this site” and then click Save Changes. Some of you might think that everyone knows this, but I have seen it missed quite often.
The other setting to make sure you have right is Permalinks. Navigate to Settings->Permalinks and make sure that under Common Settings you change this option to “Post Name”. This will make sure you will be able to include keywords within your page URLs.
There is a simple plugin that can help you manage many of the keyword places listed above. It is called “All in One SEO”. You can Download the plugin here.
Once you have it downloaded you will need to install it. To install it, follow these steps:
- Log into your WordPress site and navigate to your Plugins page.
- At the top of the page click the Add New button.
- Click on the Upload link at the top.
- Click Browse and find the plugin ZIP file you download and select it.
- Once selected click Install Now.
- If installation was a success you will see a link that says Activate Plugin. Click it.
*Note: Depending on how your website is hosted you may not be able to install the plugin as described above. You can also install your plugin using FTP. Check out this article to learn how to do this.
Once installed and activated you can begin using the All-in-one-SEO plugin to start optimizing your site.
All in One SEO Settings
To get started with this plugin, navigate to Settings->All in One SEO. The important settings on this page are:
- Plugin Status: Change this to Enabled.
- Home Title: This is the title of your Home Page. This is most likely the most important page you are optimizing for so make sure you create a good, keyword rich title.
- Home Description: The description is the short page description you will see under your page title when you find your listing in Google or other search engines.
- Home Keywords: Your top keywords for your home page.
For most people, you can leave the rest of the settings as the default ones that are chosen. To try and keep this article from becoming too long, I will also refrain from explaining the other options on this settings page.
** Don’t forget to click the “Update Options” button at the bottom of the settings page.
Once you have this plugin enabled there will now be additional options for you when adding and editing your pages and posts.
Optimizing WordPress Pages and Posts
When adding or editing a page or post you will now see a section at the bottom titled “All in One SEO Pack”. This is the area of your page where you can set your page title, meta description and meta keywords. As explained above you will want to optimize these items to include the keywords you want to optimize this page or post for.
To best explain these options I think it would be good to share an example. So if I were to create a post about the basics of SEO for WordPress here is what I would set each option to:
Title: Basics of SEO for WordPress | Best SEO WordPress Website Tactics
Description: Learn the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) for WordPress. Techniques and tactics to help you optimize your WordPress website for best results.
Keywords: SEO, WordPress, website, basic, tactics, best, techniques
In the above example I am trying to optimize for “SEO for WordPress” and “SEO WordPress Website Tactics”. In my title I used a “|” character to break between two phrases. You could also use a “-”. Make sure your title makes sense though and you don’t just repeat your keywords.
It is recommended to keep your title to a maximum of 60 characters and your description to a max 160 characters. The All in One SEO plugin will display how many characters you have used for these options.
Page Headings and Content
Within your page content it is important to include a heading and/or sub headings. These will help readers as well as search engines about what can be found on your page.
By default, WordPress does not show you the “Headings” format box. You need to click the far right button in the editor to show the advanced editing tools. Within these options will be a dropdown list where you can choose to make text a Heading 1-6. It is recommended to have only one Heading 1 per page.
Next it is important to include your keywords in your content. It is most important to write your article to read properly for your audience, so be tactful when including your keywords within you text to make sure the reader doesn’t get confused.
When you create images for your web page, make certain to use keywords in the name. For example, the image found at the top of this page is named “seo-for-wordpress.jpg”. If you have multiple images, make sure not to name them all the same, but different variations of the keywords you’re trying to optimize for.
Also, as I mentioned above it is also important to add Alternative Text to images. When adding an image using the WordPress Insert media button, you will have an option to add this ‘alt’ text.
Advanced SEO Tactics
The above tactics are the basics of SEO for WordPress. They include tasks that most people who run a WordPress website should understand. There are many other tactics that can help you improve your search engine rankings. I hope to write an article on these tactics soon, but for now, check out some of these resources to find some great advanced SEO techniques:
Pro Tip: When optimizing blog articles, optimize each article for only 1 key phrase. This will help you focus the article on that one topic and improve the relevancy of that article to that key phrase.
It is important to choose good keywords and then optimize your pages to include these keywords. This is the fundamentals to ensuring your pages get ranked well in search engines.
If you’ve found this article useful, let us know what you liked in the comments below. If you know you should optimize your website but just don’t have the time, we can help you. Head on over to our YasTech contact form and let us know what you need help with and we will get back to you promptly.