When you publish a WordPress site, then you are joining a community of over 1.7 billion other websites for people to choose on the Internet.
Trying to get found in that sea of information can seem like an impossible task. Services like Google and Bing help people to find specific information when they need it by navigating the oceans of data that get published daily on these sites.
You probably use Google or Bing when looking for something on the Internet.
Now that you have a WordPress site, the goal is to get people to visit it. Asking your family and friends to tell everyone they know to see what you’ve created won’t hurt, but it will not help your website to grow effectively either.
Google receives 63,000 searches per second. SEO helps you to optimize your website so that you can get a piece of that action. In this tutorial, you will learn how to improve your WordPress SEO, get more traffic, backlinks and achieve your goals.
What Is the Definition of SEO?
SEO is an abbreviation that stands for “search engine optimization.” It is a marketing approach that uses the natural structures of language and the Internet to boost the traffic levels to a website.
The goal of an SEO campaign is to create better content that a search engine recognizes as the best. Then your information has a better opportunity to be seen as the top result when someone looks for what you offer.
It isn’t something magical or based on chance. When your WordPress site offers expertise from a solid foundation of SEO techniques, plugins, and structures, then your efforts can create more traffic to your website as your reputation builds.
How to Analyze Your Current SEO Status
Search engine optimization is an organic form of marketing. That means you have objective data that you can use for metrics to understand your success or recognize failure.
Your WordPress is already providing this SEO information. Knowing how to analyze the data so that you can improve your optimization efforts is the first step to take.
The most common mistake made during an SEO campaign is to start at the beginning of your goals instead of working with the end in mind. Establishing one specific outcome you want to achieve is essential for creating a successful result.
Your end goal for a WordPress site must be measurable. If you cannot track the information, then you have no way to improve it.
Your goal must also have specificity. Don’t let marketing jargon or generalities water down what you hope to accomplish with your WordPress site.
Then share your goals with others. When you write them down or discuss them with trusted associates, then your SEO efforts are more likely to be successful.
Before you start an optimization campaign, it is essential to understand how healthy your WordPress site is right now. Here are some ways that you can begin gathering the information you need.
- Google Search Console provides you with a free account. After verifying your website, this tool offers several actionable reports that can help you target your SEO efforts.
- Bing Webmaster Tools provides a similar option that is search engine-specific to Microsoft’s approach.
- Ubersuggest analyzes your website and even your competitors’ websites. Gives you keyword suggestions and more.
- PageSpeed Insights gives you performance insights from real user measurements when the data is available.
- Mobile-Friendly Test from Google is a tool that evaluates how someone views your WordPress site on a mobile device.
- SEObility tests your website without registration, offering tips that can help you to make some optimizations right away.
Why Is SEO Important for WordPress Websites?
Google and Bing continue to evolve as search engines to provide relevant information to all of us at the moment we need something.
If you ask a specific question of these services, the goal of the search engine is to provide the precise answer you require.
Although artificial intelligence could make an impact on SEO in the future, the current technology we use doesn’t allow Google or Bing to see a website in the same way a human does. Optimizing your WordPress site enables you to let a search engine understand what you offer while providing expertise to human visitors.
Then the search engines rank the results for each keyword search based on what the technology believes are the most relevant items. Most people click on the top-ranked result first when they look for something online.
If your WordPress site is in the top position for a non-advertised result, then it is ten times more likely to receive a click than a website in the bottom position. Even if you do not achieve a #1 ranking for a search term, SEO can help you to move up from where you are. That effort results in a 31% increase in clicks.
Two-thirds of the clicks happen within the first five results that a search engine produces.
If your WordPress site doesn’t reach the top of the results for a keyword search, then your traffic numbers are going to stay down. That’s why SEO must be a priority for everyone.
What Are the Ranking Factors for Modern WordPress Sites?
Modern search engine algorithms focus on value and expertise. When you can provide a visitor with comprehensive information presented with helpful structures, then your website has an opportunity to rank higher.
The only problem with that approach is that most websites are already using SEO to get into a top-ranking position. Since Google and Bing want to provide the most relevant and helpful information possible on every query, you must work on every ranking factor to prove that what you can offer is better than a WordPress site with similar data.
Here are some ideas that can help you begin your SEO efforts so that your website can start collecting some clicks.
1. Create valuable, comprehensive content that anyone can use.
When you create a blog post or design a page for your site, think about the questions that a visitor might want to be answered. Each content item should answer the who, what, where, when, why, and how queries that someone has about the information you share.
The only way to understand what people want to know is to have insights into the questions that get asked about your topic. Answer the Public is a useful tool that can provide new ideas about what to address in your content. By answering the questions based on real-time searches on Google, you can prove your expertise while showing the search engines that your site is valuable.
2. Improve the speed of your WordPress site.
Faster loading speeds are an essential component of your SEO efforts. When a website doesn’t load quickly, people abandon the idea of visiting almost immediately. If your site takes more than three seconds to load, over half of your potential visitors will leave.
Although cheap hosting companies can help you to launch a website on a budget, it may be worthwhile to invest more in this resource. SiteGround is a potential alternative for anyone who experiences consistently slow loading times.
3. Add some internal and external links to your website.
Search engines see websites like a railroad network. Information is coming and going constantly, which means Google and Bing want to direct people toward the most important stations for help.
Adding internal links to your WordPress site is like creating a subway with different stops for people to get off and explore. It is a natural way to encourage visitors to stay on your website longer. That reduces your bounce rate, which can help to improve your SEO ranking.
External links let people see outside communities that offer relevant information. It’s like taking a train from a big city to a small, rural town to see expertise in action. If you include credible sources linking to your content, then more trust develops with the search engines.
4. Include SSL with your WordPress site.
SSL stands for “secure sockets layer.” It is a protocol that provides a certificate for an extra level of security on your site. Once you obtain the SSL certificate, you can use a tool like Really Simple SLL to enable it for your WordPress site.
5. Connect with people through a compelling bio.
One of the most overlooked pages on your WordPress site is the one that talks about who you are. All of the expertise in the world doesn’t matter if you cannot connect with the people who visit your website.
Be open and honest about your interests, habits, and personal history. Tell an embarrassing story if you want. You can talk about some of the awards that you’ve won, but it also helps to discuss some of the mistakes that you’ve made.
When your site feels like a conversation with a new friend, then you add more value to the experience. That means your SEO ranking can improve as more people discover who you are and what you offer.
6. Keep your website active and available.
Very few websites that are less than 12 months old achieve a top ten Google ranking. Your domain age involves how long your website has been available to the online community. As it gets older, then the search engines perceive that it has more value.
About 60% of the websites that achieve a first-page Google search ranking are at least 36 months old.
SEO rarely provides instant gratification. It is a campaign that involves hard work and optimization knowledge that you access every day.
7. Improve the technical structures of your content.
Optimizing content requires some technical components that can be beneficial to some WordPress sites. One of the easiest improvements you can make is to use header tags to show how your pages or posts have a hierarchy. Start with your title, then use H2 and H3 for your subheadings.
A meta description that entices a reader to click on your search engine result can be helpful, especially if it is short (under 160 characters) and straight to the point.
An under-utilized SEO option is to use alt tags so that individuals with visual impairments can access your website using a screenreader.
Practical Keyword Research Methods to Use
Keyword research is the use of words and phrases that people use to find information in a search engine. Using this data enables you to optimize content around specific queries so that more clicks can happen.
This part of the SEO process impacts every other optimization task you perform, including outreach and promotion.
Before you start using a keyword research tool, it is crucial to think about the topics you cover on your WordPress site. What broad categories does your business represent?
These general topics act as a guide toward the keywords that you want to use. For the purpose of this example, let’s say that “SEO” is the topic your WordPress site covers.
Now let’s start developing some specific keywords. Type the general topic into Google to perform a search. At the bottom of the first page of websites, the search engine provides eight searches related to your topic.
When we search “SEO” specifically, some of the related keywords that we get include “how to do SEO,” “what is SEO and how it works,” and “SEO tutorial.”
Notice that there are three specific terms chosen out of the eight that Google provided. We want to do some in-depth research into these areas, which means using those keywords to perform another search.
When we search “how to do SEO,” new related searches appear – courtesy of Google. We have “search engine optimization tutorial,” “basic SEO knowledge,” and “search engine optimization techniques” to explore.
After deciding the general topic (SEO) and performing one search, we found three potential keyword possibilities to structure content around. Then we located some excellent choices to build informative, valuable posts that could generate some traffic.
This process works for any topic. Let’s use “Social Work” as an example.
When performing this search, we get keywords like “how to become a social worker” and “what is a social worker salary.”
Then we choose the first keyword. Google then gives us these more specific keywords: “social worker education requirements,” “types of social workers,” and “social worker degree online.”
Continue going through that process until you have at least ten keywords that are topically relevant to the information you provide on your WordPress site. Then take them to a keyword research tool that can give you even more ideas to cover.
Not all of the keyword research tools are helpful. Some of them provide the related search terms from Google as described above – and charge you for it!
These three tools are the best ones available right now.
This keyword research tool provides you with almost every variation imaginable. The results are often more developed than what you’ll find with other providers, offering data about the competition, potential traffic, and search volume.
When you’re new to SEO, Jaaxy makes finding the best keywords a simple process. One of the information points for each topic is called the “Quoted Search Result,” or QSR.
A lower number next to a term means you have a better chance to rank in the top five for that keyword.
Ahrefs Keyword Explorer
You can receive a lot of in-depth information when using this keyword research tool. Instead of seeing vague reports or a score that ranks your chances for a successful experience, you get to know how many backlinks are necessary to rank on the first page of Google results.
This tool also gives you information about search volume, clicks, and some additional keyword ideas that you can incorporate into your SEO campaign.
It doesn’t get any easier to find new keywords with this free tool. You choose the term that you want to search, the platform that you intend to target, and then let it do the work for you.
Although you need to subscribe to the pro tool to get information about search volume, competition, and trends, a search query for “SEO tutorial” produced 171 unique keywords to explore.
Then you can use the keyword suggestions to start creating the perfect content that people are searching for in your category.
How Do I Figure Out the Most Popular Search Terms?
The best part about keyword research today is that each term you use relates to the parent topic of your WordPress site.
That means valuable and relevant content can hit terms that you might not specifically target because it has relevance to the person using a search engine at that moment.
When you use a keyword tool, targeting the phrases with the lowest competition is going to start the SEO process for you. Then start thinking about the questions that people want to be answered.
Those questions are long-tail keywords that you can target with specific content items, adding even more value to your site.
How to Use Backlinks Appropriately
Building backlinks is one of the most useful ways to increase your traffic and SEO rankings. It is also one of the most challenging components of optimization.
Search engine algorithms look for natural linking behaviors to provide value. If you pay for a link or mutually exchange them, then that outcome doesn’t have the same benefit as another website linking to yours because it had expertise that someone couldn’t ignore.
Credibility is also a factor when backlinks connect to your website. When domains with high domain authority create connections to your WordPress site, then this tells Google and Bing that you’ve got something valuable to offer. That value perception then increases the possibility of a top-rank position for your preferred keywords.
Several strategies can help you to start building a backlink profile that can produce positive SEO results. Here are the options that tend to be the most reliable.
Writing Guest Posts for Other Sites
Contributing free content to another website often receives a link to your WordPress site in exchange for your expertise. If you provide this information to a handful of sites with excellent domain authority scores, then it can be a useful way to increase your ranking.
Some SEO specialists take this concept too far by creating large-scale article campaigns using content that is virtually worthless.
You must create a one-of-a-kind post or article that another website can use to benefit from this backlink strategy. Offering content without expertise, stuffing it with keywords, or publishing the same item across multiple sites will hurt your WordPress site instead of helping it.
Receive Citations for Your Expertise
When people use the information on your WordPress site for a specific purpose, then a backlink that cites you as the source can boost your SEO efforts. Although this process happens naturally, it tends to be a slow build that can take years of development before it is useful.
That’s why a resource like Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is useful for your optimization campaign. Sign up as a source, tell the platform what you can provide, and then answer the questions that journalists need for their content.
This process develops backlinks in news reports, trade magazines, and other high-value destinations that can quickly build your profile.
Use a Broken Link Checker Monthly
When other websites link to yours, then you have no control over how that domain manages content. Pages that have lots of broken or NoFollow links don’t pass along the same value to your WordPress site as ones that have active and DoFollow links.
Use a tool like Ahrefs broken link checker to analyze the pages where you might have links pointing your way. Then make sure that the content you offer lines up to what is being discussed on that page. If it does not, then you can make adjustments – or you can ask that site to take down the link.
It also helps to check your website for broken links to ensure the sources that you’ve used haven’t changed their URLs.
Best WordPress Plugins For SEO
The best plugin to improve SEO on a WordPress site is Rank Math. It comes with a setup wizard that anyone can use that enables you to import data from other optimization plugins. Then you can add meta titles, descriptions, and additional information that search engines like to see on pages and posts.
Rank Math generates an XML sitemap for your WordPress website, connects you to Google Search Console, and gives you control access to the features it provides based on the user roles that you assign. Then you get to see a clear checklist that shows if you got the basic SEO items correct in your content.
Although Rank Math is the best SEO plugin for WordPress, individual needs can be different. You may find that one of these alternatives provides a superior solution for your particular circumstances.
If someone doesn’t love Rank Math, then it is highly likely that Yoast SEO is their preferred plugin. It also enables you to add SEO descriptions and titles to your posts and pages. Although it provides content analysis, it can sometimes show items as being invaluable when the information could have a positive impact if published.
This plugin gives you access to organic search terms and keywords for ranking purposes. It can also provide you with advice that helps you to post better content than already published pages in your preferred categories. You might consider this option if writing isn’t one of your more confident SEO skills.
All in One SEO Pack
The one potential advantage for some WordPress sites is that this plugin works out of the box with WooCommerce. Its feature manager allows users to control access to different settings while optimizing their e-commerce experience. You have more addons to consider with this choice at an affordable price, but its strengths involve promoting products or services through SEO instead of an entire site.
WordPress Themes and SEO
One of the characteristics that many WordPress themes have in common is a claim of being SEO-friendly. When you find one that you like, then the best approach to take is to trust, but verify what the developer says about the product.
The best WordPress themes should have enough room for widgets, support featured images, and provide multi-language support. Some developers try to give users everything they could ever want, but this approach can lead to bloat and problems with site speed.
It is up to you to determine if the code for your preferred theme is clean. When your preference is to use a free theme, then you must watch out for hidden links that go to the developer’s site – because that could hurt your SEO campaign.
The fastest way to find out if the code for a theme is valid is to use the W3C validator.
Once you choose your preferred WordPress theme, it is critical to test it. One of the best options to ensure that it is functioning correctly is to load your website with simulated data from WP Test. This tool also measures the integrity of your selected plugins.
If you cannot fix the issues that may come up when using these theme evaluation tools, then it is time to find a different product.
One of the best WordPress themes to consider using for your site is Divi. It offers one of the best visual builders that improve content creation through custom CSS control. The interface is simple, but it isn’t limiting with its options. That’s why it is suitable for beginners or experts alike.
Now You Can Start Your SEO Journey!
Search engine optimization is no longer an optional part of the WordPress site management experience. Although it takes some work to get these essentials correct, avoiding this work could prevent your website from reaching anyone.
The best part of modern SEO is that it is a very forgiving marketing opportunity. Even if you have already made optimization decisions in the past that backfired, you can recover to build a valuable resource that every visitor will love.
Before you publish your next page or post, make sure that you do some keyword research. Then use the information to optimize your descriptions, title tags, and composition.
When one page stands out, then the search engines will start to take notice of your value and expertise. As you continue to optimize, then your WordPress site could be an incredible daily resource and revenue generator in as little as six months.
Are you ready to begin your SEO journey after reading this guide?