The Beginner’s Guide to WordPress SEO

It’s interesting to note that 74.6 million websites depend on WordPress. What a whopping number?! What’s more interesting is that WordPress is most popular with business websites. If you’re running a website for your business on WordPress, you can optimize your website for your business keywords in SERPs without a lot of coding. Here are 7 ways to optimize your WordPress business websites for search:

wordpress seo

1. User-first approach: Optimize for User Experience

The way we think and implement SEO should follow a user-centric approach. Search engines follow people. They think like people. They continuously try to improve their algorithms to replicate how people think. Each time, the algorithms tend to come closer to how people think and evolve. If your readers like to read your content, search engines would love to index it. Therefore, it is important to ensure usability, responsiveness, device friendliness and adaptability rather than just tags optimization.

2. Install and configure a Master SEO plugin

WordPress is a powerful CMS tool but does not come pre-loaded with in-depth SEO options. There are many third-party plugins available by the WordPress community developers that help search optimization in many aspects. There are plugins, and then there are Master plugins.

Master plugins like “Yoast SEO” and “All-In-One SEO” allow users to supercharge WP with a variety of search optimization options.

Both the master plugins have global and page-specific on-site optimization options. On-page SEO refers to all the optimization you perform on your website to optimize it for search engines.
Examples: focus keywords, description, titles, post content optimization, image optimization, are all examples of on-page SEO since these are optimized on the website.

3. Move to a search and user friendly permalink structure

Let’s start with the basic structure of the post URLs. You don’t want post URLs to be like, right? You want something descriptive! And so do search engines. Having dates, numbers, categories in the URLs usually leads to weird looking unidentifiable URLs. It is recommended that you choose the “” format.
This is the first thing you do on a fresh WP installation, before hitting that publish button for the first time: Change your WordPress permalinks and use the “Post Name” permalink format.

To do this: On your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings > Permalinks from the left column. Then select the “Post Name” from “Common Settings” or enter “/%postname%/” in the custom structure field.


4. Create a Sitemap and submit it to Google Webmasters

Sitemaps are like indexes of your WordPress website which include the links to all posts (and other elements) of your website. You should make sure that search engines have access to your post and page sitemaps. The process is simple: Create a sitemap > Submit it to search engines > Add a link of the sitemap on your site.

You can do this using one of the following plugins:
• WordPress SEO By Yoast
• All in One SEO Pack
• Google XML sitemap.

After installing WordPress SEO by Yoast, go to the plugin settings link “SEO” in the left navigation in your WordPress dashboard and select “XML Sitemaps”.

If you’re using All in One SEO Pack for WordPress, then you will need to go to the plugin settings and find the “Feature Manager” link. You can activate the XML Sitemap feature there.

The Google XML sitemap plugin can generate sitemaps for a number of major search engines apart from Google.

The next step should be to submit these sitemaps to search engines.

Submitting sitemap to Google:

To submit your sitemap to Google, go to your Google search console / create one if you don’t have it and configure your site. Find the sitemaps option and submit the sitemap.


5. Remove stop words from your Post, Page Titles and URLs

Changing the permalink structure of your WordPress blog is not enough when it comes to optimizing URLs. It is also important to have URLs that search engines prefer. Titles and page URLs both should contain the keywords. Stop words include words like “a”, “the”, “and”, etc. which are not part of the keywords and should be removed from the URLs. These are called stop words as they are ignored by the search algorithms.


6. Use Headings to provide structure to your content

WordPress Headings are a great way to logically divide your post in different sections. Headings help both readers as well as search engines to understand the topics and ideas portrayed in your posts / articles. Use different headings (H1 through H6) to organize your content. Usually H1 and H2 can be reserved for your blog title and post titles. You can use H3 & H4 for headings and sub-headings while creating content.


7. Use Categories and Tags to define hierarchies

Categories are the broad topics that your WordPress site is about. The best way to go about finding your main blog categories is to write 5 major topics that you wish to write about.

I think 5 is the magic number you should look at while creating categories. Otherwise, anything between 3 to 7 is fine. Avoid creating more than 7 top-level categories. If you do, then you’re probably going out of your niche. You can have sub-categories for specifics and tags for further specifics.

This is where tags come in: they are more specific classifications of your blog posts. Assign each post to 1 (or max 2 categories) and tag each post with 1 to max 3 tags.

No plugin is required to do this. Some useful features while making changes can be the “category to tag conversion feature” which can be found on the “Categories” page. Use this to convert less used categories to tags.

Follow these key strategies to ensure essential search optimization for your WordPress website. Feel free to reach out through the comments section for any queries or doubts on WordPress or SEO.


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