Get Found in Search Engines, Grow Your Audience

Search Engines and SEO (Search Engine Optimization)

WordPress.com is very search-engine-friendly by default. However, you may decide to perform additional optimization for your site or blog to control how your visitors find you through search engines. This guide covers tips for Search Engine Optimization, referred to as SEO for short.

Table of Contents

Appear in Search Engines

SEO refers to techniques you can use to help ensure that your site ranks high in the results of search engines such as Google and Bing.

To make sure you get indexed in search engines, make sure your Privacy Settings allow search engines to index your site. To appear in search engines, your site must be set to public and the checkbox for Discourage search engines from indexing this site should not be checked.

To increase your ranking in search results, it’s important to frequently write good content and provide descriptive image alt text.

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While you can control the basic privacy settings and the content for your site, you cannot control when your site will get picked up by search engines or how they will rank your site.

Those processes are handled by each search engine, and they are always changing. If you are concerned, you should try to find information from the search engine directly in their help pages to see their current recommendations.

Improve Your Search Engine Rank

There is a difference between being indexed by search engines and having a high ranking. Ranking in search engines means the search engine has decided your website closely matches what the person is searching for. Search engines use a variety of criteria to determine if a site should rank high for a specific search request.

Ranking higher in Google and other search engines can take time. Here are some tips you can use to help speed up the process:

  • Research your keywords: Figure out what keywords you want to come up in searches. For example, if your site is about boating, you might want to show up for “boats” “sailing” or “crew.” Work these specific keywords into your post titles, headings, content, and URL slugs.
  • Post new content regularly: The more you post, the higher your search ranking. Google likes blogs that update frequently. You don’t necessarily need to post every day or every week – find a cadence that works for you and stay consistent with it.
  • Share your site: Automatically share your posts to social media when you publish, and reach a larger audience. The more organic traffic your site gets, the better it looks to search engines.
  • Verify your site with search engines: Verify your site with Google Search Console and other search engines. This step isn’t necessary for it to be indexed but it can speed up the process.

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There is no setting, plugin, or service that can make your site show up first in Google search rankings. If someone is trying to sell you SEO services that promise fast results, they may be trying to drive fake traffic to your site. This can penalize your site’s SEO and lock you out of participating in ad programs.

Diver Deeper into SEO

Join Our Free SEO Course

Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) is valuable for anyone looking to improve their site or blog for both search engines and humans. The course will give you a solid foundation of what you can do to ensure people have the best chance to find your content when they search online.

Here is a collection of SEO tips and best practices for WordPress.com sites:

You can also explore our webinar on SEO, finding an audience, and increasing traffic:

SEO and Plugin-Enabled Plans

This section of the guide applies to sites with the WordPress.com Business or Ecommerce plan. If your site has one of our legacy plans, this feature is available on the Pro plan.

In addition to the above techniques, our higher-level plans include additional SEO Tools that you can learn about here.

Please note that these plans include a .wpcomstaging.com domain that will not be indexed by search engines. You must add a custom domain name for your site to be indexed by Google.

You do not need to have a plugin-enabled plan for your site to be indexed and ranked in search engines. You do not need a plugin either. But, they do provide you with additional tools to fine-tune your search results.

Frequently Asked Questions

For the sake of brevity, the following questions all refer to Google. However, the same answers apply to all search engines.

Why isn’t my site showing up on Google?

Search engines can take 4-6 weeks or more to show any newly created sites.

Make sure your site’s privacy settings are set to Public, with the option “Do not allow search engines to index my site” not selected.

While not necessary to be included in Google’s index, connecting your site to Google’s Search Console can help Google include your site more quickly.

Why is my site’s information in search results incomplete or incorrect?

If you make changes to your site, the site previews provided by Google may take some time to update. To try and speed this process up, you can ask Google to recrawl your site.

It’s up to Google to decide what information to display as a search preview. You can try adding an excerpt to your post or page and updating your site title and tagline, but what is displayed is ultimately decided by Google.

Do I need to create a sitemap?

No. WordPress.com automatically generates an XML sitemap for you. You can learn more about sitemaps here.

What is this error in my site description on Google?

‘A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt – learn more’

If you had your site visibility set to Private for a long time and just changed it to Public, you will not see the description of your site in Google right away. Instead, you will see the above message.

Allow some time for Google to crawl and index your site, and the description of it will eventually update on its own.

Microsoft’s Bing search engine shows “We would like to show you a description here but the site won’t allow us.” under your site’s URL if you had your site visibility changed to Public from Private recently.

How do I edit my robots.txt file?

By default, every website hosted on WordPress.com has its own robots.txt file that search engines will pick up. You have a few options if you need to add additional customizations to your robots.txt file.

This section of the guide applies to sites with the WordPress.com Business or Ecommerce plan. If your site has one of our legacy plans, this feature is available on the Pro plan.

  • You can create a custom robots.txt file and upload it to your root directory via SFTP.
  • You can use a plugin specifically designed to edit your robots.txt file, like Robots.txt Editor.
  • Plugins designed to improve SEO (like Yoast or Rank Math SEO) also include sections for editing your robots.txt file.

Remember, most plugins are developed by third-party developers. They will be more familiar with installing, configuring, and troubleshooting issues with the plugin itself. Any good plugin will have a method for you to contact them for help.

“No Information Available for This Page”

If search engines index your site before you have added a meta description, they may display the message “No information available for this page” instead of a description.

Make sure you update your meta description. Then, allow search engines two to four weeks to re-index your site and display the new information.

“Search Console has found that your site is affected by…”

Google Search Console provides a page indexing report, including warnings about pages that may be having trouble getting indexed. Because these reports come directly from Google, they are the best resource for learning more about any errors or warnings they display.

More information on Google’s Page Indexing report.

SEO Basics | WordPress.com Webinar

Watch our recorded webinar that will show you how to do effective keyword research for your site’s SEO:

Check out our complete schedule of webinars to learn how to do lots more with your WordPress website.

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