WordPress is one the world’s most trusted website builders out there. WordPress supports 64 million sites run by bloggers as well as business both big and small! Perhaps your site is one of the 64 million. If you are a WordPress user and are interested in learning more about WordPress SEO, you’re in the right place!
What is SEO?
Before we dive into WordPress SEO optimization, we need to establish what the terms SEO and optimization mean to us. Simply put, SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is a term that describes the process of improving how well your site fares with search engines. Having an optimized site implies that you have taken measures to improve your website traffic, as well as the quality of users. When your site is optimized correctly, more people not only see your site in their search results, but they are more inclined to click on your site and interact with its content for long periods of time. The goal of search engine optimization is to reach more users and expand your audience.
Optimization for WordPress SEO
Now that we understand what search engine optimization is and why it is important, let’s dive into the features that WordPress provides.
WordPress has a handy feature that allows you to hide your visibility from search engines when you getting your website up and running. The feature helps your website hide while you make necessary edits. Unfortunately, it is easy to forget to switch this feature off once your website is completed. If you are having trouble with appearing in search results, you need to make sure that this if the first thing you check for. If you go to settings and hit the “Reading” tab. Scroll down to the “Search Engine Visibility” section and there is a box next to the phrase “Discourage search engines from indexing the site”. You’re going to want to make sure that the box is unchecked. Click “save changes” and you’re done.
SEO Friendly URL Structure
URLS that are SEO friendly are much easier for both humans and computers to process. An SEO friendly URL clearly indicates to the user what the content of the link will be, making it a more attractive link. URLS that are not WordPress SEO friendly will typically have a jumble of numbers and letters that do not provide clues as to what the link will lead to. In order to thoroughly optimize your site, make sure your links fit a WordPress SEO friendly structure.To do so, go to settings and click the tab “Permalinks”. You will find a list labeled “Common Settings”. You’ll want to click “Post Name”. Lastly, save your changes. You should be all set! If your website has been running for more than 6 months, it’s best that you do not change your permalink structure unless you are using the “Numeric” option. This is because you could potentially run the risk of losing your social media share count, and worse, your existing SEO ranking. If changing your permalink structure is still your goal, hire a professional to deal with some of the logistics.
Another great feature WordPress offers is their abundant selection of plug ins, one of the them being Yoast. Yoast is a SEO plugin run through WordPress that has been in operation since 2008. It provides meta description and title templates, canonical URLS and meta tags, and faster sit loading times; all of which are helpful when trying to improve your site’s WordPress SEO. If you want your website to start gaining traction, it would do you well to download the plugin and make sure you know how to use it. If you are unfamiliar with Yoast and how it operates, there are some easy tutorials and information available on the web.
Once you have installed your plugin, you’re going to want to find your Yoast SEO Configuration Wizard. It will help guide you through several steps to help you configure the plugin to better suite the needs of your site. Think of it as a personal assistant that helps you get the best results. The wizard can help your site regardless of whether it’s older or brand new as long as your settings are up to date. To find the wizard, all you have to do is click SEO > General > Dashboard. After you’ve clicked on the link, you will be asked a series of questions that will help the wizard fine-tune its settings to meet your needs.
What is Your Purpose?
One very important question that the wizard will ask is if your website is for an organization, or if it is for personal use. The answer you give will actually be stored in Google’s knowledge graph. A knowledge graph is a chunk of information that you typically see on the right hand side of your computer screen after having completed a search or a company or a person. So, make sure to provide the configuration wizard ample information in this step so that you have a better chance of getting a knowledge graph.
Sidebar and Meta Box
One great feature about Yoast is its green, orange, red indicators that tell you whether or not your site is user friendly. They were originally placed below your post editor, but more recently this bullet feature can now be seen next to your content in the Yoast SEO sidebar. In the sidebar are four different tabs including the focus key phrase, the readability analysis, the SEO analysis, the Google Preview. Let’s start by going over the focus key phrase tab.
The Focus Keyphrase
This field is located at the very top of the sidebar and it is found in the SEO tab of the meta box. In the this field, you will enter the phrase that you’d like the specific phrase you wish for the post to pop up for in search engines. Adding a key phrase when you begin writing your post will help you keep it in mind as you create your content. Conducting keyword research before deciding on a key phrase can help you better select one for you content. With Yoast Premium, you can even select related keywords and synonyms to help boost yourself in search results.
The Readability Analysis for WordPress SEO
The field for this is located right under the focus key phrase field in the sidebar. Check it out after writing your first draft of your content and notice whether you get green, orange, or red bullets. The colors determine your readability. The analysis gives you an in depth look at a number of different areas where your readability is strong or where it may be lacking. For example, it may indicate that your content is strong when using the passive voice but lacks transition words that hurt the flow of your content. If you notice any orange or red bullets, Yoast will provide instructions on how to solve the problem.
The SEO Analysis
This helps determine how well your content is being optimized so that it can appear in search results with the keywords you have put in place. It checks whether or not the key phrase has been used in your title, meta description, images, and subheadings. This tool can also check for things such as internal and external links placed in your content. Check the instructions from Yoast if you receive orange or red bullets in any of the categories. Keep in mind that you don’t need to have all green in order for your website to rank. In fact, it isn’t the best strategy to push for all your bullets to be green.
The Google Preview
You can find the Google preview in the SEO tab in the sidebar as well. It will show you how your page shows up in Google and other search engines. Here, you will be able to set up an SEO title and a meta description. This feature is great because you get a clear image of what users see if they come across your site. Be sure that both of these accurately describe what the content is about. Make it enticing enough that people want to click on your site.
More Features for WordPress SEO
Other features in the sidebar and meta box include internal linking suggestions, social previews, and schema. These are all great features to help you boost your WordPress SEO. In addition, the Yoast Dashboard provides some slightly more advanced WordPress SEO enhancing features. One of these is search appearance. It is located in the left hand side of the dashboard. In this feature, you choose your title separator as well as how Yoast sets up your titles and meta descriptions and you can find the breakdown in the snippet variables.
- What is a meta description?
- How do I improve my WordPress SEO?
- What is in Yoast for WordPress?
- What is an internal link?
- How do I figure out the best SEO for WordPress?