WordPress is search-friendly, but there’s still a need for search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts to make your website a success. Here’s a WordPress search engine optimisation tutorial you can start with.
Depending on how you set up your WordPress – whether your hosting partner like GoDaddy did it for you or you installed everything by yourself – there can be pre-installed plugins and a whole load of cappuccino you might not need. First deactivate those, if you can. If (and when) you are sure those files won’t affect your website in their absence, delete them and free up some space.
Now let’s get started with this tutorial..
Such a tongue twister! This is where you start once your website is up and running.
According to Moz, canonicalisation simply means telling search engines which version of a URL you want to appear in search results.
In WordPress, use the Yoast SEO plugin to set the canonical tags in the pages and posts of your choice. By doing so, you are avoiding “duplicate” content issues that could possibly affect your SEO status.
Many sites tend to automatically add tags, allow multiple paths (and URLs) to the same content, and add URL parameters for searches, sorts, currency options, etc. You can avoid all sorts of such duplicate content issues by using canonical tags.
Sometimes, the way we perceive duplicate content may be different from how spider bots do. For example, using the same keyword on more than one page (without canonicalisation) is marked as duplicate content, even though it makes perfect sense to use the same keyword for multiple pages.
In this scenario, you can do ONE of the following:
» use a different (similar) keyword
» mark the page as “NoIndex” in the robots.txt file
The second step (of using “NoIndex”) is particularly helpful in WordPress to make sure you get rid of that annoying “duplicate content warning” on your archives, which are date-based, category-based, tag-based, and author-based. This step allows the search engine to know this content exists but does not need to be unnecessarily indexed.
If you want good easy-to-read URLs instead of &*^#(!%1243, you need to customise your URLs within WordPress. This also boosts your SEO because you can use your keyword in the URL, giving more weight to the page for that keyword.
In WordPress, go to Settings -> Permalinks. Whatever the default is, click on “Custom Structure” and add “/%postname%/” in the blank field. This way your title will be your URL, which you can further change it and optimise it as per the keyword.
Once you’ve set up your website (pages are ready but haven’t started publishing posts yet), go to Google Search Console and submit your sitemap. You’ll be submitting your sitemap periodically by yourself or via some WordPress plugin.
If you don’t have any plugin set up to handle sitemaps, go to the Online XML Sitemap Generator and create your free sitemap. Follow the instructions on how to install it in your web directory and then submit at Google Search Console.
Once you have the sitemap installed in your web directory, create the robots.txt file. This is a file that has to be present in the root directory of your website. Spider bots from search engines look for this file and this usually includes the location of the sitemap, redirects, etc. among other important stuff.
So create a blank text file, name is robots.txt and add the following line of text.
Then upload it to the root directory of your website. And you’re set.
Remember not to mess around with this file, EVER! If you have to add something to it, use a plugin instead. And always back up your files.
AMP – Accelerated Mobile Pages
Use the Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin to make your web pages faster, thus optimising the experience for your mobile users.
AMP is an open source HTML framework developed by the AMP Open Source Project. It was originally created by Google as a competitor to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. AMP is optimised for mobile web browsing and intended to help webpages load faster.
After activating this plugin, I’ve noticed my mobile traffic going higher than ever. So I am really happy about it.
However, remember to check the options you select. The setup process is quite complex and testing is a must to make sure you’re delivering the experience of your website uniformly to your AMP and non-AMP users. As a rule of thumb, I haven’t activated AMP for my pages because then most of my fancy design work is gone. So I have AMP activated on my posts only. My blog posts load up blazingly fast and I am able to get my content across to my audience. So it’s all good.
Let’s work on the Content!
Moving on in this WordPress Search Engine Optimisation Tutorial for Beginners, let’s see how to optimise your content for search engines in the right manner.
We all know: Content is King.
But to crown that King, we need to write quality content. And quality content comes from original ideas.
The inevitable truth is what your content is saying can be similar to what a thousand others are saying. But adding your personal voice and tone to the same piece makes your content much better than the others. You’ll realise this once you get started, and experience the content flowing out of you based on your own knowledge, expertise and experience.
For example, this post itself – WordPress Search Engine Optimisation Tutorial for Beginners – can be found online, written by innumerable experts. What makes my post different is I’m talking from my experience, not just stating the facts. Plus, I like to think that I talk pretty simple for every one to understand. So let’s get started on on-page SEO:
There are many who argue certain meta tags like “keyword” are now redundant. But I beg to differ. If “meta description” is still in demand by search engines to display the description of a page correctly, I believe “meta keyword” is also an integral part of the process to tell the search engine what the page is all about. The Yoast SEO Plugin uses something similar called the Focus Keyphrase, and as long as you’re using that, you’re set.
And yes, meta tags should be added to each page of your website (manually or via plugin or some interesting outtadaworld code). Some of the important ones are: keywords, description, ALT, lang, charset, viewport, open graph properties, twitter cards, og tags, and so on.
My personal rule on keyword optimisation is:
» Place the keyword of the post in the TITLE
» Place the keyword in the first sentence, and BOLD it
» Place the keyword in the last sentence and BOLD it too
» Use H1 and H2 tags for keywords at the beginning and ending of the post
» Place the keyword in ANCHOR TEXT and BOLD it.
ALT Tags on Images
Always remember, spider bots sent by search engines to crawl (read) your website can understand text only. So when you use images without ALT tags, they simply ignore those, in favour of the text present in your web page. And sometimes this can mean they are missing out on integral elements of your web page.
So always use a descriptive text in your ALT tag on EVERY image you use on a page.
Use the Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP plugin to add Google Rich Snippets markup according to Schema.org guidelines to structure your site for SEO. It’s also AMP compatible. And it does a really nice job of categorising your content across your website so that search engines can interpret the content on your site better to serve the most relevant data to users based on search queries.
Category Vs Tag
I think of it this way – Categories are your featured topics, about which you post about, while Tags are a neat way to string your posts together. In fact SEO is greatly helped by tags when they actually relate one post to another, and even more, when related to a group of similar high-quality posts.
Now, over to you
The above steps are just basic steps you can take to get started with WordPress SEO. This should be enough to get you noticed online. But remember, SEO is an ongoing process. You have to keep at it to reap the benefits. And remember to expect positive results in about 3-6 months, not earlier. Those who say you can achieve SEO success overnight or month are lying to you. So beware!
So, what do you think about my WordPress Search Engine Optimisation Tutorial for Beginners? Let me know :)
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