WordPress SEO Basics for Beginners

WordPress is one of if not the most popular Content Management Systems used across the web. WordPress is known to be very user-friendly, have innovative design features in their core software, and is recommended on many popular hosting platforms like WP Engine, BlueHost, and Siteground. Another great feature is that WordPress is very SEO friendly!

This however doesn’t mean WordPress will automatically create a high ranking SEO strategy for you automatically. You may have heard SEO is an important component of any website, but let’s discuss some ways you can take your SEO strategy even further with WordPress SEO tools. 

WordPress SEO Basics

Hosting Provider

The first thing you should focus on is investing in a great hosting provider. Depending on the hosting plan you enroll in, it can determine your site speed. A slow website is not only frustrating  but it also negatively affects your SEO by making you rank low on search engines.

Your hosting provider also impacts the security of your website’s data. Plan out how big your website will be and its needs. For example, you can get away with shared hosting if your website is mainly used for blogging but an e-commerce website that manages online purchases and manages store inventory will do terribly on a shared hosting plan. The cheapest option is not always the best option. 

Install a Free SEO plugin

An SEO plugin doesn’t automatically generate and execute a WordPress SEO strategy for you, but it makes it much easier to execute some of the necessary tasks. Two free popular plugins (they both also offer premium plans) are Yoast and All in One SEO Pack. These plugins allow you to directly optimize each page to better fit your keyword strategy. You can even generate an XML sitemap and add schema markup to your website.

WordPress SEO Specifics

Keyword and Key phrase Research

Keywords are ideas and/or topics that define what your website’s content is about. This is a major factor that must be implemented when you post any content on your website. You’re trying to attract certain audiences to your website – what do they care about?

You need to post content your audience searches for and cares to read about. For example, you have a pet website and you sell pet products, a blog article discussing politics won’t make sense for your website. 

Writing content can be very challenging but a great WordPress SEO plugin helps analyze your content for you (less work for you)! A great SEO plugin will scan your page’s content to ensure it utilizes the necessary keywords and phrases that accurately describe your website’s content.

Including these keywords and key phrases in all your content will help your website rank and show up on search engines when someone searches for your key phrase or keyword. The more good quality content you publish, the more your site will index for your keywords and key phrases, the more clicks and shares your website will receive,  the higher your website will rank!

Alt tags  

Alt-tags are descriptions used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. Seems like a very minor and unnecessary task to complete but it does make an impact.

  • Visually impaired individuals rely on screen readers to review websites. A screen reader will use the alt text to read to the screen reader users. 
  • Alt text is displayed when an image cannot load
  • Search engine crawlers use alt text to helping them to index an image. A good idea is to include a keyword in your alt text. The more descriptive the alt text, the better.
WordPress SEO Yoast Images
Image from Yoast.Com

(Yoast keyword analysis)

How Does WordPress Help?

You may not have realized it but WordPress’ core includes WordPress SEO tools that help structure your content more strategically for site crawlers. 

The WordPress Text Editor

Header tags are structure tags you use on every single one of your WordPress website’s pages and posts. Header tags will give the crawler bots an idea of what your content is about. Using these tags throughout your content will make it more readable and optimized for the search engines.

You use only H1 (Heading 1) tags on your page and you use your other heading tags carefully to split up your content throughout your page. Overuse of the header tags will make it harder for site bots to crawl through your website’s pages. You can access these header tags in your text editor.

WordPress SEO Heading Settings

Set Custom urls, Meta Titles, and Meta Descriptions

Again this where doing keyword research comes into play. The words used in a page’s url will give both humans and site crawlers an idea of the topic of that page or post. By default WordPress makes your url match the title of the page of post, but just sticking to that won’t help site crawlers accurately index your page, especially if it doesn’t even include a keyword. 

WordPress’ permalink options allow you to change that. To get to your url setting options go to your page’s document settings, then scroll down to permalink, then edit it to the desired url. Your SEO plugin will also help analyze your page’s url and tell you if it’s effective or not. 

Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions are posted on search engine listings to allow users to read what the page is about before they click on the page url. The page’s meta title tag tells users and search engines what your page is about and is commonly regarded as being an important ranking factor. By default WordPress uses your H1 and the few sentences as your meta title and description. Using an SEO plugin will allow you to further customize it. 

WordPress SEO - Post Views

All In One SEO settings showing in WordPress post listing

What about WordPress 5.5?

With the upcoming WordPress 5.5 update, some SEO and optimizations tasks will be taken care of automatically. 

One of the biggest and most tedious tasks is image optimization. Images with a large file size can make pages load very slowly. You would have to either optimize them using a second party plugin or edit them in a photo editing application before you upload the image to the website. WordPress 5.5 will now automatically implement Lazy Loading on your website.

Lazy Loading means images are only downloaded when they are visible on the user’s browser screen. Other images are downloaded as a user scrolls down your website. It will make it a default option for all sites by adding the ‘loading’ attribute to the image tag.

This attribute is supported by all modern web browsers (except Safari). You can also resize your images using the new inline image editor. Optimizing your images is a much easier task now. WordPress 5.5 also allows users to resize your images using the new inline image editor. 

Your website serves more than just a digital and visually appealing marketing tool. A great website works for you. Make sure you make your WordPress website works up to its full potential by implementing an SEO strategy and utilize great tools. We hope you found these tips and ideas useful for your WordPress sites! 

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