After launching a website, there comes a moment of reflection. You start wondering what to do to attract the first customers. After all, that is why you launched the website.

In the previous article "Why my website is not visible on Google" we have touched upon the subject of positioning. In this text we will develop this thread even further, because before you SEO WordPress guide for beginners. 

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SEO - what is it?

SEO stands for Search Engine OptimizationThis is the type of action that website owners take to optimise their content for search engines such as Google.

Put another way, SEO is a set of techniques aimed at directing as much and valuable traffic as possible from organic search results. What it is organic traffic? If you type in a phrase such as "prams" into a search engine, all results, not counting ads, are organic. Thanks to high rankings in these results for specific keywords/phrases, your website may be visited by customers interested or potentially interested in your services, products and everything else you have to offer.

Essentially, SEO activities involve two areas:

  • On-Site SEO - activities directly focused on the page, so content their optimisation, etc...
  • Off-Site SEO - actions taken outside our website, e.g. publications on external sites, link building, social media, etc.

This text mainly discusses On-Site SEO activity on a site using the WordPress CMS, but of course the general principles apply to any other site without exception.

SEO and WordPress

You may have heard that WordPress is brilliantly optimised for SEO, but what does it look like in reality? In fact, the core of the system itself doesn't really add anything interesting in this area. So if you decided to run a site on WP in its default form without using any additional extensions, it would be hard to call such a site well optimised for SEO. WordPress would be better described as a very SEO-friendly system, as all processes related to it can be implemented in an extremely easy way. However, it needs to be done.

The strength of the system is its extensibility, which means that when you enhance WordPress with the optimization plugin of your choice, of which there are quite a few by the way, your site will get a chance for a better future. So, let's take a look at the basics regarding SEO optimisation of a site running on WordPress. What should you pay attention to?

Install and configure the SEO plug-in

You'll quickly find some interesting solutions in the free WordPress plugin repository. Here they are:

selection of SEO plug-in from the repository

The most popular is the extension Yoast SEO with over 5 million active installations. You can find out how to better optimise your website content using this plugin in the article "SEO optimisation of a website with Yoast SEO“.

The second in line in terms of popularity is the plug-in All in One SEO Pack with over 2 million active installations. Impressive, isn't it?

However, these are not the only legitimate additions that should get your attention. Their popularity is largely due to the fact that they were created quite a long time ago and over that time they have developed their results. However, you can find much younger extensions, which in many respects are not inferior to them, and often surpass them, such as the plugin Rank Math. Its description can be found in the article "Rank Math - an alternative to Yoast SEO“.

No matter which SEO plugin you ultimately choose, it makes the entire optimisation process easier. It helps you to properly adjust your content and solve search engine indexing issues. You can also control the appearance of what will appear in search results by optimising the title, meta description and a few more little things. We'll get to that.

These plugins offer features such as site maps, robots.txt file control, redirects, enhanced data (rich snippets) and much more.

Define the format of URLs

By default, URLs to individual subpages have the form www.yourdomain/p=123 which is not good for SEO. Therefore, I suggest you change this by going into Settings > Direct Links. Here, set the URL scheme by selecting Entry name.

WordPress url configuration

Add your website to Google Search Console

Google Search Console (formerly known as Tools for Webmasters), is a website made available to website owners by Google. It contains a set of free tools to improve your website's search engine presence.

Once you've added your site to Google Search Console (GSC), the tool will start collecting data and notify you when something is wrong. Mistakes happen here, but overall it's a great treasure trove of relevant information for your site's visibility.

Most people use GSC just to upload a site map and check for indexing errors, but it is definitely more useful. You can, for example, improve the appearance of your website in the search results by implementing structured data or check for which phrases your website is displayed and how often clicks occur. In addition, you can check the link structure and the domains referring to your site, a These are just some of the possibilities.

Ensure attractive titles

The title is the first thing that catches your eye when you use a search engine. It is usually what determines whether you click on a result or skip it and move on. This is why you should try to create titles that are attractive and as optimised as possible for a high click-through rate (CTR).

If your titles are boring, then even high search engine rankings may not produce satisfactory results. Simply put, the number of people who choose to click and visit your site will be much lower. 

Organic traffic will only be gained effectively if users click and enter your site. This will only happen if you work on your sub-page and article titles.

A well-crafted SEO title will also help you rank higher if you use the main keyword phrase you care about the most.

How do I change my SEO title?

Changing the SEO title in the plugin settings

Use some tricks that can increase the CTR, thus:

  • Use numbers in the title, e.g. "The #1 SEO tip to help you climb to the top"
  •  If possible, start the title with the main key phrase
  •  Use words that increase curiosity, e.g. "Free, Great, Secret etc..."

Write content that is as long as possible

Machine learning has made search engines smarter. Today they can understand the texts on your site better than in the past, and various SEO tests only provethat longer content achieves better results.

They are easier to properly saturate with the key phrases you are focusing on and are additionally more effective in gaining traffic for many other phrases (the so-called long tail).

Do not over saturate with keywords

In the past, it was enough to put a phrase you cared about X times in the text to quickly land at the top of the search results. However, those days are behind us. Today, artificial, excessive saturation of text with a phrase can be quickly detected by search engine algorithms and considered bad practice. As a result, the website may be penalised.

SEO plugins analyse your text for the phrases you care about and provide saturation with them as a percentage. However, there is no perfect saturation level. The only thing to beware of is overdoing it.

saturation

By writing long content on a particular topic, you will naturally imbue it with phrases that are relevant to you. Sometimes this can be slightly tweaked afterwards, but do so sensitively. This is often not necessary, however, but as I mentioned when the article is long, e.g. around 2000 words.

Link outwards

Linking to another site that describes a particular issue in more detail may seem frivolous, especially if you were to link to your competitors. To get a better idea of what this is really about, you first need to understand the 'psychology' of such a link.

The main purpose of external linking is to strengthen your article and offer more value to your readers who are interested in the topic. There is no way that a single article can cover every aspect in great detail. So if one of your competitors has written an interesting text that goes into detail about something you have only touched on lightly, create a link to that article.

Search engine algorithms appreciate such actions and notice that you care about your readers by providing them with access to external sources with additional information on a given topic. Thus, they consider your text to be more valuable to your audience.

Link internally

This is an extremely effective SEO optimisation technique. Link to your older articles. Internal linking not only helps with SEO optimization, but it also helps to increase page views, decrease rejection rates, and increase the value of your main article content.

Find posts that are already on the first pages of a search engine, then add in some internal links to other content and let the organic traffic go deeper.

Optimise images

In the case of photos, don't forget elements such as alternative description (ALT), title, label and general description of the photo. It is worth completing these data. In WordPress, by entering the media library and then editing the selected image, you can do this easily.

Good SEO optimisation of photos and images in certain industries such as fashion or recipes can do wonders, as it generates additional traffic to the site from image search results as well. 

TODO as regards images

  1. Complete the alternative description
    Google has confirmed that the text in the alt field is treated as a ranking factor for images, so it would be a good idea to add a key phrase here. But you should avoid stuffing keywords in by force. Add them in one or two images in the text, the rest you can describe in another way.
  2. Image relevance
    Relevance plays an important role in SEO. Try to add relevant images that illustrate the topic you are covering. Images chosen in this way not only help your readers, but also help search engines better understand what you are writing about.
  3. Image placement
    Place your photos in such a way that they do not distract your readers or interfere with their reading.
  4. Select an appropriate file name
    After downloading images e.g. from image banks "Where to get free photos"They usually have not very friendly file names. Try to change this.
  5. Use the site map for images
    These types of maps can be generated by SEO plugins such as Rank Math.

Compress images

Another important factor related to SEO. Your images and graphics that you place on the site should be slimmed down. The aim of this optimisation is to increase the loading speed of the page for the reader, which is also something that search engine algorithms pay attention to.

If you upload photos straight from your phone or camera their optimisation will be far from sufficient, which will affect rankings.

There are plenty of ways to optimise on this when it comes to WordPress. Plugins and tools abound. From free to paid ones. Take a look, for example, at the article "Optimising photos with the ShortPixel Adaptive Images plug-in"which I use on a daily basis.

Switch to faster hosting

Another piece of the puzzle responsible for how fast the page loads. Probably like me you don't like to wait too long for a page you want to view to load. When I come across such a site and see that it takes too long to launch I go back to the search results and select the next one on the list. 

This is what a significant proportion of internet users do. On mobile devices, if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, more than 50% people tend to abandon it. Your hosting should therefore be very fast.

The problem with many hosting providers is mainly that they are overloaded. To illustrate this in the simplest way, imagine that you have two servers with identical performance. On one machine you have 100 client accounts with a total of 150 pages. On the other there are five times as many client accounts, i.e. 500, and the server has to serve 750 pages. Which one do you think will have more frequent performance problems?

These difficulties, which are not necessarily visible all the time but, for example, appear in waves, will affect how your website is perceived by those trying to view it and, consequently, search engine rankings as well. SzA fast-loading website always benefits you and your readers by increasing engagement and conversions, which you probably want.

There are many hosting companies that claim to be the fastest. But only a few can boast of actually phenomenal results like WP Engine whether Kinsta. These are services dedicated exclusively to the WordPress system however they are not cheap.

If your site is new and doesn't generate a huge amount of traffic, you can choose other operators that provide you with peace of mind in this area such as Siteground or native accounts DidhostThe specifications and descriptions of which can be found in the links below.

Keep URLs clear

The choice of format itself for URLs of subpages and entries is one side of the coin. On the other is their readability. If you create an article with a long title, e.g. "The best clothes for kids aged 8 to 12 in the winter season 2019/2020", by default the article address will be generated with the following form: www.twojadomena.../najlepsze-ubrania-dla-dzieci-w-wieku-8-do-12-lat-w-zimowym-sezonie-2019-2020. Long, right?

Such an address should be optimised by shortening it and eliminating unnecessary fragments. You can perform the whole operation either by using the native WordPress settings for the edited document:

setting direct links

Or in the settings of the SEO plugin. In Rank Math it looks like this:

direct link settings in Rank Math

How could we optimise our sample address?

version with a shorter URL

You could do it differently, but the important thing is that you already know what it is. Try not to make the address too long and complicated and include the most important words/phrases related to the optimised text.

Don't skip the meta description

I have already mentioned that the title visible in search results is the most important element often deciding whether someone clicks and goes to the page or skips it.

However, not only the title matters. Also the description, which is visible in the search results.This description, is a brief summary of what the user can expect when entering the page.

Google descriptions

In practice, the information inside metatags is not directly visible to readers of your site. It is a piece of code buried in the source of your site. However, search engines see this data and use it by displaying it in the list of search results.

If you omit this element, Google will insert a piece of content of its choice from your site. This will mean you have no control over what you want a potential customer to read and could have a negative impact on your click-through rate.

The main purpose of metatags is to assist search engines and their users in the process of understanding what to expect on a given page.

How do I add a meta description?

Creating a custom meta description for a selected page or post is very easy provided you use an SEO plugin.

Go to edit the page or post you want to modify. Then scroll down the page to the SEO plugin section and enter your description here. In the case of the Rank Math plugin, it looks like this:

change to edit the meta description

By clicking on the edit button you can make changes.

making changes to the meta description

As you can see the Rank Math plugin informs us that the maximum length of the description should not exceed 160 characters In practice it is good if it does not exceed 150. Some time ago Google allowed descriptions of up to 300 characters, but they withdrew this quite quickly.

Try to construct the description in such a way that it is attractive and contains the main keyword phrase for which the page or entry is optimised. Just remember to make it natural. If you force the keywords in an artificial way, the effect will be opposite to the one intended.

Use extensions (rich snippets)

Thanks to them, additional information can appear in search results to attract the attention of searchers and increase CTR. The simplest example is ratings. You have certainly seen something like this more than once in the search results:

ratings in search results

However, this is not all. By choosing to implement extended information, you can display many other data, e.g.: cThe message of the product you are offering and make it even more attractive.

Here, too, you can support yourself with an SEO plugin or another extension. In the case of Rank Math, you have at your disposal quite a large base of extensions defining various types of content that you publish, e.g. articles, books, courses, events, recipes, reviews, etc.....

rich

Use up crumbs

Crumbs, or breadcrumbs if you prefer, are navigation paths that display a user's current position on your website.

Their main purpose is to provide easier navigation. Users can navigate the site without clicking on return buttons and can quickly reach, for example, the category within which the text is published.

Regardless, crumbs are also important clues for search engines about the structure of a page.

You may have noticed that most self-respecting sites such as the SEO gurus you may know Neil Patel, - if not, it's worth reading his posts - he uses crumbs on his site. They may also be visible in the search results.

crumbs

Long, not always attractive-looking links can thus be hidden behind the navigation structure in the search results.

Use the Cache plugin

Writing earlier about hosting and how its speed affects search engine results, we touched on the topic of performance. However, a website does not live by hosting alone. To make it really fast, use a cache plugin, whose task is to store previously compiled pages in its cache and dump them to the visitor's browser. This way many server-side processes are bypassed, which can significantly speed up page loading.

On hosting accounts operating in technology LiteSpeed Web Server I recommend you a free plug-in LiteSpeed Cache. If you do not have such an environment then take a look at the plug-in WP Fastest Cachewhich I like very much and also use frequently.

Use CDN

CDN i.e. Content Delivery NetworkCDN is a service whose main task is to speed up the loading of your website. In the simplest terms, it works in such a way that certain resources of your website e.g. images, photos, CSS, JS files etc... can be stored on external servers of a given CDN network.

These servers are scattered around the world. This means that if, for example, your client wants to access your website from the USA, then the files I mentioned will be loaded from the closest possible location to him. So they will not be downloaded from Poland if your hosting is located here, but from a server room in the USA.

CDN

This has a real impact on the speed with which the website is launched, and therefore on greater customer satisfaction, higher conversions and also better search engine results.

CDNs are plentiful these days. You can use a free or paid plan on CloudFlare or possibly other providers. Personally, I prefer BunnyCDN. They have very good prices, a clear interface and qualitatively they are great.

Summary

A lot of it, and that's still not all 🙂 I will prepare a more extended description soon in the form of eBookwhich you will be able to download for free. Meanwhile, as you can see there are quite a few factors involved in SEO optimisation.

At first glance, it may seem that these topics are impossible to grasp for a person who is just starting out. However, in reality, when working with a WordPress website, you are able to implement all of these elements using ready-made add-ons, which are bursting at the seams in the WordPress repository.

All you need to know is which extensions to use, how to configure them and, above all, what to look out for.

I hope that this short guide to SEO will help you take your first steps, and if you use other mechanisms related to optimisation in your daily work, write about them in the comments.

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2 Comments

  1. Great guide for the budding SEOwoman 🙂 I look forward to the expansion.
    By the way, a question. Is a well done optimisation a guarantee for higher positions? If so, in what time?

    1. Krzysztof Wojteczko says:

      You have no such guarantee. Optimisation allows search engines to better understand what the text is about, which makes it easier to get higher positions, but does not guarantee them. Apart from a well-prepared text, you should also take care of external linking (other websites, social media).

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