When you create a website, the goal is to share your products, services, or information with as many people as possible. And to do that, you need people to visit your website and see what it has to offer. However, when you make a new website, it won’t automatically show up on the first page of Google results. You have to use SEO to get there, and we’re going to show you how to do that with WordPress.
Watch the 15-minute video here, or read the text below. In this video, you will learn how to setup WordPress SEO in 2020.
Why is SEO important?
SEO strategies take search engine algorithms into account, helping you build your website’s authority and visibility. SEO is a must-have for any successful digital marketing strategy, whether you are using WordPress or any other platform.
Is WordPress good for SEO?
WordPress has been one of the most popular website builders for many years. It started as a blogging platform, but in the last few years, it has become more and more popular as a website platform.
- It offers customizable themes and a wide variety of tools, extensions, and widgets.
- It has some great website building tools that make it very SEO-friendly.
- It is also an affordable platform with excellent technical support and lots of resources available.
WordPress suffers in some aspects when it comes to SEO, though. It is very complicated on the back end. You might need an SEO expert and a pro web developer, and research to implement more advanced SEO.
However, most cases will not require an expert as SEO can be set up on the platform. You will only have to choose a plugin and learn how to use it.
WordPress websites can also be negatively affected by Google’s mobile-first indexing. If you’re trying to decide what platform to use for your new website, you can learn more about WordPress and many others right here.
Step-by-step WordPress SEO setup: How to do SEO yourself on WordPress
We created a free video course that explains everything, step-by-step:
WordPress can provide a strong foundation for good SEO, but there are many things you can do to make your website more visible to search engines. Here’s a step-by-step list of how we handle SEO on WordPress.
1. Optimize URL structure
You will need to choose the correct permalink structure from the start, or you may have SEO problems later on. A simple way to structure your URLs is like this: yourwebsite.com/category/sub-category/product-page.
This URL structure is called “pretty URL”, and you can enable it from – Settings > Permalink menu inside of WordPress
2. Choose between www or non-www
Do you want a website that appears as “www.xyz.com” or just “xyz.com”? This doesn’t usually affect SEO, but if both versions exist, it will get you in trouble with Google. It’s mainly a matter of personal preference, but it’s something you may want to give some thought to.
3. Set up your site’s SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
The next step is to set up an SSL certificate, which is now required if you want to show up in search engines. As much as 90% of page #1 search results on Google will be HTTPS secure. You can do this with a free Cloudflare account. If you have questions about this, check out this step-by-step tutorial video to learn everything you need to know.
4. Install the Yoast plugin
Earlier, we mentioned that WordPress comes with many useful plugins that can make your life a whole lot easier. Yoast is one of the best plugins that do a great job. Thanks to its easy-to-use tools, Yoast can help you a lot with SEO and content optimization on webpages and blogs.
5. Verify Google, Bing, and Yahoo
Next, you should submit your website to search engines (such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo) and verify your website ownership to them. This way, you can track your website performance, view keywords, get alerted to broken links and linkbacks, and get a whole lot of valuable data regarding these search engines.
6. Optimize your XML sitemap (exclude thin content pages)
This lets search engines know when your site has been updated. Yoast automatically configures *XML sitemaps, making things easy for you.
Optimize your Robots.txt file—This is a file placed on your site’s server to instruct the search engine robots on how to crawl and index files on your domain. There are two ways you can edit robots.txt on WordPress:
- Use Yoast > Tools > Editor to fix it.
- If not available, install the ‘Virtual Robots.txt’ plugin
Note: Make sure to add your XML sitemap in the robots file.
Create HTML sitemap
Many websites can benefit from an HTML sitemap in addition to an XML sitemap. The ‘Simple Sitemap’ plugin makes this easy.
7. Optimize your site for speed
A good website is a speedy website. These days, websites need to have high-quality images and design, but they still need to load almost instantly, or you’ll lose visitors. Loading speed affects your SEO both directly and indirectly. We recommend an image optimization plugin like Imagify and a cache plugin like WP Rocket or Autoptimize. Also, it is a good idea to change the settings for minification, lazy loading, and CDN delivery.
8. Install schema markup
If you operate a local business, online store, or you are an influencer, this is very important. It helps search engines deliver valuable results to visitors searching for you on Google. Here are some of the plugins we regularly use and suggest for basic schema markup: All In One Schema Rich Snippets, WP Review, snip – The Rich Snippets & Structured Data Plugin, and Schema.
There are many ways to set up SEO on WordPress and optimize it to your needs. As professionals in the field, these are our suggestions. However, SEO is ever-changing. If you want to stay in that coveted top slot of the Google search, you need to keep up with the changes and continually optimize. Check out our SEO Management service to get affordable, all-in-one SEO assistance for your business.
Mike is the co-founder of Zima Media, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and paid advertising.