SEO Tips for WordPress.com Beginners

The internet is full of acronyms that can feel daunting and overwhelming. Fortunately, there is usually some level of simplification behind the complexity and SEO is no different – even for beginners. In this article, let’s explore some WordPress.com SEO tips that you can apply to your blog or website, even if you don’t know what SEO means.

But in case you don’t know, SEO expands into search engine optimization – which, in fairness, isn’t any less daunting. It’s a complex, multifaceted subject that can confuse even the most web-savvy bloggers and website owners. 

The good news is that you don’t need to be a tech-savvy expert to nail the basics of SEO in a way that will improve your site for both search engines and humans – which is a valuable win for everyone.

At the end of the day, the best way to look at SEO is that it’s about choosing the best possible words for your particular content so that search engines understand that your site is offering the information that people are searching for.

Once you’ve figured out what some of the best possible words are, you then want to make sure you’re using them, organically, throughout your content.

That really is the heart of the matter. Simplified, SEO is about words. Regular words that you’re using when you write an article on your website. These words have become known as keywords or phrases simply because they are key words for you to include. Key really means nothing more than important. They aren’t a fancy, technical mystery. They’re just words that have been researched and intentionally selected to use throughout your content. 

Is there more to SEO? Sure there is, but one of the added benefits of using WordPress.com for your site is that the more technical aspects of SEO from a behind-the-scenes and coding perspective are already taken care of for you, so you can focus on the words that matter. 

Keep all this in mind while you’re learning about some of the easy-to-apply WordPress.com SEO tips below.

1. Pick your keywords

The first thing you need to do when starting your SEO journey is picking the keywords you want to rank for. These should be keywords that your target audience is likely to search for on Google (or other search engines). 

This really is the start of it all, so let’s spend a bit more time on this particular SEO tip.

Finding appropriate keywords is about research. You need to spend some time digging and searching to learn what words other people are using when they’re looking for information on your particular topic.

Google’s built-in predictive search feature is the easiest and quickest way to get ideas for the best keywords for your particular article topic. When you go to Google, and type in a word or two, it offers suggestions that you can then choose from to narrow down what you’re searching for. These suggestions are based on other, real people who have typed those same words into Google to find the information they’re looking for. 

So, head over to Google and type in a couple of words that are specifically about the topic of your page or post and see what suggestions come up. Then, when you choose one of those suggestions, scroll to the very bottom to see what additional suggestions that particular search offers. 

Make a list of all the different, relevant suggestions that you find. Repeat this process as many times as needed until you’re finding suggestions that resonate with you and make sense for your piece of content.

There are also specific keyword research tools available to dig deeper into the research on keywords, especially if you’re trying to up your search-ranking game in a highly competitive market. These tools can provide insights into how popular a particular search phrase is.

One such tool, which is free, is Google’s Keyword Planner. While often used by people looking to bid on particular phrases for ads, this tool can help you discover new keywords. Remember, keywords are simply words or phrases that you’ll use within your content – and this tool will give you a list to choose from.

There are also third-party tools available, such as:

Some may offer free features, some may offer a free trial, and some features require a paid plan. The decision of whether to pay for more in-depth research tools will depend on your particular needs, but it’s not a requirement to find good quality keywords for your content. 

Searching for and finding the best keywords for your content is the first and most important SEO tip for your WordPress.com site. Plan to give this step some time and attention to make the rest of the tips below worthwhile.

If you’d like to delve further into understanding keyword research and how to use them throughout your content, consider enrolling in our free course at WP Courses: Intro to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

2. Make sure Google can see your site

While picking your keywords is an important SEO tip, it, unfortunately, won’t do any good if your website is actively preventing search engines from finding it – and it’s an easy setting to forget. Fortunately, it’s also a quick setting to check and update.

Go to your WordPress.com dashboard and click Settings at the bottom of the left sidebar. In the General tab, scroll down to Privacy and make sure Public is selected and that you don’t have the box checked off to discourage search engines from indexing this site.

It’s important to note that it can take search engines, like Google, four to six weeks to index a new site. So, it’s worth making the site public early on, even if you’re still working on it. If you’re concerned about real people seeing your work-in-progress site before it’s ready, then you may opt to mark the site as Coming Soon – just know that search engines won’t start their work on indexing your site until it is public.

 

3. Set your site title and tagline

Your title and tagline are considered prime real estate when it comes to SEO. In other words, they’re the perfect spots for you to insert your main keywords.

To set them, go to your WordPress.com dashboard and click on Settings. There, in the General tab, you can set your Site title and Site tagline under the Site profile section.

For example, if you manage a blog on vegan smoothies called SmoothieLuv, your Site title will likely be “SmoothieLuv” which doesn’t mention vegan. This is where you can then tap into the Site tagline with something like, “The World’s Best Vegan Smoothies.” That way, people searching for “vegan smoothies” will be more likely to find you. With this in mind, if you’re starting a brand new site, or rebranding, it can be beneficial to spend some time considering what name would be the best fit.

Pro WordPress.com SEO Tip: If your Site title and/or tagline are included in a logo or header image, you might think that you should leave these fields empty so that the information isn’t repeated on the live site. However, you do still want to fill out these fields, because search engines will be looking at these fields behind the scenes when deciding how to categorize and rank your site and content. Fortunately, there are ways that the Site title and Site tagline can be hidden from displaying publicly on the site. That process will depend on the theme you’re using, but there will be a way to do it. If you need help learning how for your particular WordPress.com site, reach out to our Happiness Engineers and they can guide you.

4. Use optimized headlines for blog posts

Each blog post’s headline should not only convey the topic of the post but also include the post’s main keyword.

For example, a headline like, “10 Vegan Smoothie Recipes That Will Rock Your World” is highly optimized for the keyword phrase of “vegan smoothie recipes.” But if you were to title the same blog post, “Rock Your World with These Refreshing Smoothies,” your post wouldn’t rank as well for people searching “vegan smoothie recipes”, as it’s missing the keyword phrase.

If you’d like to learn more about coming up with effective post titles, check out the WP Courses article on Content titles that attract.

You can also utilize CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to help dial in even stronger headlines. This free tool will help you to explore optimizing your post headlines for additional factors such as character count, word count, emotion, clarity, and more.

5. Use your keywords in blog posts

Now that you’ve figured out your main keyword phrase, as well as a few secondary phrases, it’s time to make sure you put them to good use. In addition to using the main keyword in the post title, try mentioning it within the first paragraph as well. Also, be sure to include the main keyword and other related ones throughout the entire piece.

However, focus on including them organically. Write in a way that sounds natural, with occasional mentions of your keywords where they make sense. Unnaturally cramming keywords into a post is known as “keyword stuffing.” Search engines can recognize it and it can end up hurting your SEO efforts. 

Don’t forget to use your keywords in subheaders when possible, too. Subheaders not only help with keyword placement, but they also improve readability and clarity for your readers, which will increase the likelihood that visitors will consume more of your content.

6. Utilize post excerpts

WordPress post excerpts are text summaries of posts and pages. They help visitors understand what the content is about in just a few sentences. They can also be used to help search engines to understand what your content is about.

These excerpts are used in a variety of places throughout your website, depending on your theme and the blocks you’ve chosen to use. But they’re also used in the results provided by search engines, which makes them primary real estate for including keywords. 

Sometimes, search engines will generate their own snippet excerpt based on what a person has searched for and what it finds within the body of your content (which is another reason to make sure you have good keyword placement throughout the body of your content). But in other cases, it will display the first sentence or two from your post unless you have created a customized post excerpt.

The easiest way to control your post excerpt is directly within the editor for the post:

But you can learn more about working with post excerpts in this article.

As with all content on your site, you want your excerpt to read naturally and for the inclusion of keywords to flow. But since your keywords should be highly relevant to the topic covered on a particular post, incorporating them into your excerpt may even prove easier than working them into your opening paragraph. 

7. Optimize your media

The written words of your pages and posts aren’t the only place where your keywords can have an impact. An often overlooked, yet relatively simple SEO tip is to incorporate your keywords into your media as part of your media optimization.

Re-naming your media files, on your computer before you upload them to your WordPress.com media library, is an excellent way to incorporate the main keyword for a particular piece of content. So, instead of uploading “image5874.jpg”, give it a descriptive file name such as “strawberry-vegan-smoothie.jpg” that fits with the content and image description while also including your main keyword.

The same then applies to the Alt Text field for the image, once you’ve placed it in your content. This option is found in the Image block settings in the right sidebar and should serve two purposes: 1) a clear description of what the image is for accessibility purposes, and 2) to include your main keyword. Such as, “Tall glass of a pink strawberry vegan smoothie with a straw and slices of strawberries.”

If desired, you could also include this description in the caption and/or description fields for the image. Different types of media files may have different field options, so utilize whatever is available for the applicable media being added.

8. Optimize your slugs

A slug is the part of a post URL that comes after your domain name. For example, in the URL, http://mygreatnewblog.com/awesome-blog-post/ the slug is “awesome blog post.”

WordPress.com lets you adjust slugs freely when editing your posts or pages. Under the right sidebar where it says Post tab, scroll down to the Permalink section and fill in the Slug field.

As a general rule, the slug will be the same as your post title. In most cases that will likely be fine and your post title will include your main keyword as well. But there may be occasions when adjusting the slug for a keyword or length may also make sense – especially if you end up changing the title of a post at a future date (like when you’re working on improving your SEO).

It’s also worth noting that your main domain name can have an added SEO benefit as well. Along with choosing a great Site title, consider what your primary custom domain options are as well.

9. Optimize title tags and meta descriptions

Sometimes you’ll run into situations where a specific keyword might not be best suited as the main title, or you’re not using the custom excerpt field, of specific posts or especially pages because of your theme or the general layout of your site. Yet, you still want the main keyword to be prominent in search results. A couple of examples might be your Homepage or your blog posts page. This is where SEO tools and plugins can come into play.

Eligible plans on WordPress.com offer built-in SEO Tools that you can use to control title formats and meta descriptions. You may also opt to use a plugin such as Yoast to manage these components of your content’s SEO. The added benefit of a plugin is it will often provide a checklist to help ensure you’ve taken care of all the SEO tips covered in this article.

Utilizing SEO Tools will help to give you more granular control over the information and keywords being served through search engines.

When working on a new post or page, always look for opportunities to link to your already existing posts and pages. Those links should be relevant to what your article is about, don’t include links just for the sake of having them. Aim to include at least one link for every 250 words of text. It’s also a good practice to link to outside resources when it makes sense.

What’s next for your WordPress.com SEO?

Apart from the above WordPress.com SEO tips, you should also make an effort to publish new content regularly. When you do, optimize each individual piece of that content with its own dedicated keywords. This is what’s going to give you the best long-term SEO for your WordPress.com site.

Want to dive deeper into SEO? WordPress.com offers a free Intro to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) course that will expand on the WordPress.com SEO tips provided in this article, as well as explore a few others.

Want to go the extra mile and get into some advanced tactics? WordPress.com offers some SEO tools and common FAQs to further assist with your SEO efforts.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

The WordPress.com Team

We're a team of happiness engineers, developers, editors, and WordPress experts. Our team personally curates and serves up the best resources to help you no matter where you are in your blogging or website-building journey. 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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