WordPress has emerged as a popular Content Management platform across the globe with its templatized website building features. While it's easier to develop a website on the platform than from scratch, SEO is a completely different thing.
SEO is all about ranking on Google's first page, regardless of the platform on which it's made. But by following the basics and continuous efforts, your site can also stand out in search rankings.
If you've made your website on WordPress, or are about to make one, read this list below for a step-by-step guide for knowing how WordPress SEO works. From optimizing your site's content and images to improving speed, here are some tips that'll end up with better search rankings for your website.
SEO for WordPress is slightly different from trying sites on other platforms to rank. But here's the good news: it's easier. Here are some actionable settings to follow:
WordPress allows you to make your website visible or keep hidden from search engines. Ensure that your website is visible to search engines for indexing. On your WP dashboard, go to Settings>Reading, and then uncheck the box 'Discourage Search Engine from indexing this site' at the bottom of the site.
You can confirm when search engines index your site by searching for your domain name. If you're on the list, it means your site is indexed. If not, you need to submit the pages you want to rank to the search engine.
The pages that you don't want to be ranked should have a noindex directive, which keeps your pages from appearing in search results.
Improving site speed will give a massive boost to your WordPress SEO. Start with a theme that has the best coding practices. It's advisable here to try different themes and select the one with the best performance, which is an efficient approach than buying a theme and then optimizing it.
The second thing that you'd want to take note of is your website's plugins and themes. These updates must be up-to-date, and there shouldn't be any unnecessary plugins.
Use Google's PageSpeed Insights to identify areas where your site is lagging behind. Google also has a definitive guide and tools to help you build high-performance websites.
We all know that mobile searches have long left desktop searches behind. And it's not just used by people who're travelling, mobile searches have become dominant at homes as well as at workplaces, where PCs and laptops are more likely to be.
This is the reason that Google has also started prioritizing sites that are mobile-friendly, meaning they can perform optimally even in smaller resolutions and screen sizes.
You'll find tons of themes on WordPress that are fully responsive across platforms. But once again, you can be the wiser person by testing out a theme before building your site on it.
You can also use Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP), which is an open source system by Google for faster experience on mobile devices. Using AMP will not only make your website load and respond faster, but will also play a major part in increasing traffic, engagement, and conversions.
In order to make your site come alive with features and interact with search engines, you'd need to have a fair knowledge of codes. If you're not versatile with programming languages, you can either hire a professional web developer to do it for you, or go for SEO plugins.
There is no dearth of SEO plugins on WordPress. From adding schema to your website to optimizing your content and keyword targeting, you can find dozens of SEO plugins on the CMS platform. Yoast SEO, SEMRush, and ahrefs are some popular plugins that have most of the features you need for SEO. While some features are free to use, you may need to purchase premium versions of some of these plugins to access all of them.
You'd naturally want your audience to find your content and information easily on your website. To this end, create an XML Sitemap which'll guide your users and let search engines discover and locate your web pages.
If you think that you can leave optimizing your site's content for later, think again. It's not just your audience who'd be accessing your content, search engine bots will also keep tabs of your visitors, the time they spend on your site, how many shares your site has, and all of that.
The first step is to optimize your content. Every word of content in your website should be unique, have a high readability, and also be able to match the search intent of your audience. Use catchy titles and include pointers in your content, rather than having lengthy paragraphs.
You should also consider writing blogs, as they play a huge role in bringing traffic to your website. Optimize your blogs with focus and related keywords to have a better chance of ranking for phrases that your audience searches.
Improve images in your website (if any) by bettering their alt text, file name, and description. Use informative filenames and use HTML tags for the images you want ranked.
Go through the entirety of your website to ensure that there are no useless or low-quality content that adds no value to the reader, search engine, or you.
Other optimizations include improving your meta titles and descriptions, removing duplicate content, tagging external links as nofollow, etc.
Make sure that you include your focus keywords on the title and description of the specific web page.
Add nofollow attributes to external links that hamper your SEO scores or harm the 'link juice'.
If all this sounds too much, relax. Nobody can rank their site in a matter of days, it usually takes 5-6 months even for the best SEO practices to yield results.
These tips were just the basics, but you need to have a solid foundation for any structure to stand. Get started with optimizing your site for SEO, taking one thing at a time.
Remember, these were just the elemental aspects of WordPress SEO, getting these basics right will help you to improve your site rankings over the period of time.