Essential SEO Tips for WordPress

Three letters stand between you and your goal of reaching your audience online. Those three letters are SEO, which is short for search engine optimization. 

It doesn’t matter how life-changing your product is or how engaging your blog posts are. It doesn’t even matter if you’re using your website to give away free cars like Oprah. If you don’t optimize your website for Google and other search engines, no one will find you online. 

Search engine optimization is a set of essential practices for improving your website’s visibility and attracting more traffic from search engine users. 

If your website is powered by WordPress, you’re ahead of the SEO game. You already have access to built-in SEO tools along with the ability to further optimize your website for search engines. 

But keep in mind that more than 40% of all websites online use WordPress. So, you’re competing with other websites that already have the same built-in SEO capabilities that you have. To reach your target audience through Google searches, you’re going to need to do a little extra to improve your site’s visibility online, and that’s exactly what we’re focusing on in this article.

But here’s the thing about SEO: It can get very technical very quickly. And there are a lot of things you can do that individually can make a small impact. In this article, we don’t want to overwhelm you with an exhaustive list of every single nit-picky SEO tactic. Instead, we’ll focus on the top tips you can do today that are guaranteed to bring the most significant results.

Let’s get started.

The SEO Basics 

Let’s run through the basics of SEO in case you need a quick tutorial on what SEO is and why it matters. 

(If you already know what SEO is, feel free to skip ahead to the next section, where we discuss how to optimize your WordPress website for search engines and increase your traffic.)

SEO encompasses a set of practices designed to optimize a website so that a search engine can:

  • discover the site’s content,
  • understand what the content is all about,
  • include the site’s pages in its index,
  • and rank those pages in the search engine’s results when users search for relevant content.

Many factors contribute to this process, and that also includes delivering a quality experience to your visitors. This means that your website is relevant, informative, and easy to navigate. 

Even if you share relevant content on your website that aligns with what the user searched for, your site will ultimately fail SEO if your website loads slowly or has unclear navigation. Visitors won’t stick around for a negative experience, which will eventually damage your reputation with the search engine. 

This will also affect where your page is ranked on the search engines results pages. The search engine may still show your page, but it may be somewhere past page 47. And, in SEO, the only page that matters is the first one. The overwhelming majority of search engine users never click past page one of the search results. So, your page is fighting for a spot in the top 10 search results. With millions of web pages competing for those same 10 spots, your page has a rugged mountain to climb.

But it’s not so difficult when you realize that many of those websites aren’t doing what you’re about to do to improve your SEO. So, let’s get to those tactics now.

Pick the Best Host

The foundation of all good SEO starts with your web host, so we can’t skip this step. We’ve already mentioned that a slow site will create a negative experience, resulting in poor SEO.

Your website’s speed depends on many factors, but page speed begins with the web host you choose. Some web hosts offer shared hosting, which means that your website “shares” space with other websites on the same server. Shared hosting is usually very affordable, but you’ll pay for it in terms of slower loading times and possibly even outages. 

Having a fast web host is non-negotiable. These days, people expect to quickly interact with a web page. If it takes longer than three seconds to load, people are ready to give up and move to the next site.

When people leave your site without sticking around for it to fully load, that’s called “bouncing.” Bouncing may negatively affect your SEO. Search engines want to suggest sites that provide the best possible experience for visitors. If many of your visitors are bouncing, your website isn’t delivering a great experience, and search engines won’t want to promote your site to the first page of the search results.

A great web host will ensure that your website loads quickly, which is an essential ingredient in the recipe for SEO success.

Which web host should you choose? 

WordPress.com offers managed hosting, which means that a team of WordPress experts monitors your site continuously to ensure that it’s always online and always loading at the fastest speed. In fact, our managed hosting service is rated best in class for speed and security. When you sign up for one of our plans, you’ll level up your SEO automatically. 

Learn more about our WordPress Business plan here.

Install an SEO Plugin

You don’t need a plugin to optimize your site, but an SEO plugin makes it easier to hit your goals. SEO plugins are like helpful sidekicks who can spot SEO opportunities that you may have missed otherwise. 

There are several great SEO plugins available, but the most popular is Yoast. Why? For three reasons: It’s easy to use, it gets results, and it’s free for basic uses.

Of course, if you want to access all of what Yoast offers, you can upgrade to the premium plan. 

Yoast is an incredible SEO sidekick because it analyzes your content, noting important SEO attributes such as readability, keyword (or keyphrase) density, and internal links.

Yoast also has another important feature, known as breadcrumbs, which can positively impact your SEO. Breadcrumbs are text paths that show users where they are on your site, such as Home > Products > Outerwear > Coats. Each word or phrase in the path is clickable, making it easy for your visitors to return to where they were.

Google also uses breadcrumbs to understand how your site is structured, so this is another way to optimize your website for search engines. Your breadcrumbs may even show up on the search engine results page. 

Breadcrumbs give visitors an alternate way to navigate your site instead of simply using the search or menu bar. This increases the likelihood that they’ll explore more of your site.

How do you install Yoast on your WordPress site?

To install Yoast (or any other plugin), you’ll need to be signed in. From your WordPress dashboard, scroll down until you see the Plugins option on the left. Click on Plugins and then select “Add New.” Search for “Yoast,” then install and activate.

Get Serious About Meta Descriptions

Your first thought probably doesn’t focus on meta descriptions when you think of SEO, but here’s why you should: Meta descriptions play a huge role in your site’s clickability on search engine results pages.

What is a meta description?

A meta description is a short paragraph, or snippet, that appears under your URL and page title on the search engine results pages (SERP).  This description briefly summarizes what’s on your page. Each meta description should be unique to the page that it’s describing.

Why is a meta description important?

The meta description doesn’t directly impact your SEO, but it does have an indirect influence. A relevant, informative meta description encourages search engine users to click on your link on the search engine results page. If your meta description doesn’t give people a reason to click, they’ll simply move on to the next page. If enough users ignore your link due to a poor meta description, your page won’t appear within those coveted top 10 results.

Your meta description should be written for humans and should clearly describe your page’s content to be successful. Think of your meta description as an ad for your page. Its sole purpose is to convince the user to click. Also, keep in mind that you are limited to approximately 156 characters, so make each word count towards your goal. The best meta descriptions are written in the active voice as if they’re speaking directly to the reader.

How do you add a meta description?

One of the easiest ways to add a meta description is through the Yoast SEO plugin.

When you have the Yoast plugin installed and active, you can access your post’s SEO settings on the editor screen. It will show up under the draft section. 

To add your meta description, scroll down to the “meta description” section and type your meta description there. Notice the bar below will turn from orange to green when you’ve met the ideal length for a meta description.

Write for Humans

Our final tip is to write for humans.

We’ve spent a lot of time focusing on what we can do technically to optimize a site for search engine bots. But don’t forget that the end goal is to connect with humans, not bots. Both you and search engines want the same thing: Deliver a quality experience that resonates with your target audience.

For this reason, you must create content that people want to consume online.

How do you create SEO-friendly content?

Here are the 6 steps you can take to directly improve your search engine visibility:

1. Target a specific keyword 

When people search online, they’re using a specific keyword or keyword phrase. The goal of your content is to answer the questions that people are currently asking. Of course, you’ll want to narrow these questions down to a specific topic, which will be the focus of your page. This will be your focus keyword phrase.

2. Improve the readability of your content

To optimize your site for search engines, make your post easily readable by the average Internet user. To do that, write on a 6th-grade level so that it’s easy for most people to understand your content without needing to reference a dictionary.

3. Use conversational language in the active voice

In other words, write directly to your audience as if you were talking to them face to face. This allows your audience to instantly engage with your content. 

4. Add keywords to your headings

Adding keywords to page section headings helps Google to better understand what your page is about.

5. Make your content scannable

Break up your content visually. Use smaller paragraphs, insert headings, and add bullet points. 

6. Link internally

Adding internal links to other pages in your site is important for both search engines and human visitors. Search engines use internal links to understand the context of a page and of your website in general. People use internal links to learn more about a specific topic. And, remember that when visitors stay to explore your site, it improves your SEO. So add as many relevant internal links as you can to increase visitors’ time on your site.

Overall, we must keep our human audience in mind because reaching people is actually the whole goal of SEO.

Final Thoughts

By implementing a few simple practices, you may improve your site’s visibility on search engine results pages and reach the people who need to hear your message.

If you don’t have a reliable and fast web host, give us a try. Learn more about WordPress.com managed hosting here.

Let our experts build your custom WordPress.com website.

Whether you need a landing page or a full ecommerce site, an online learning academy or an interactive informational site for your business, we can build it for you.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

At WordPress.com, our mission is to democratize publishing one website at a time. Create a free website or build a blog with ease on WordPress.com. Dozens of free, customizable, mobile-ready designs and themes.

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