Its rich features combined with its ease of use have made it one of the most powerful content management systems. According to usage statistics , WordPress is now used by more than 23% of the top 10 million sites. This makes it the most popular blogging platform in use today.
But all installations must be optimised to rank well in the search results.
Otherwise you lose a significant competitive advantage. If your site has poor online visibility, your target market would be landing on competing sites instead. This is why search engine optimisation (SEO) is so critical.
Because more targeted traffic ultimately means more sales.
Proper optimisation right from the start is absolutely important. With that said, we put together a beginner’s guide to help you get better rankings with your WordPress site.
Install WordPress SEO by Yoast
WordPress is already well optimised for search engines out of the box.
But it can be further improved with the installation of the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin which allows you to adjust settings for nearly aspect. The plugin helps you set up templates for page titles, configure the robots file, create sitemaps, and even clean up excessive code.
Follow these steps to install the plugin:
- Login to your dashboard
- Select Add New
- Then click Install Now
You’ll then need to activate the plugin once you install it. You can now change settings on the plugin from the SEO menu on the left side.
Metadata refers to basic post information such as titles and descriptions.
Your title is easily one of the most important factors from an SEO perspective. This is what shows up for each search result so your target keywords will go here. With the new plugin you installed, you can set a template for the title.
Simply go to Titles and Metas under the SEO menu then click on the Post Types tab. In the Title template box, enter in %%title%% %%sitename%%” (without the quotes) to display your post title along with your site name. You can set the name of your site from Settings > General > Site Title.
The snippet preview and page analysis tabs are easily the most powerful features of the plug-in. This lets you see exactly how your metadata would look like in the search results.
You can see an example here of how this looks:
- Remember to keep titles between 50 to 60 characters and meta descriptions between 150 to 160 characters. Google will automatically truncate results that are too long.
Perhaps one of the most useful features is the ability to add a focus keyword. The plugin automatically checks to see if your keyword is included in your title, URL, content, and meta description.
Another useful feature is the Page Analysis tab:
- This gives you a complete analysis of how well optimised your page is. It also include recommendations so you can go back and make the necessary changes. The information is incredibly invaluable for optimising each posts for higher visibility.
Permalink are the URLs to your pages.
Optimising the permalink is helpful to demonstrate a clear hierarchy so search algorithms can better deduce the relevance of that page. Right out of the box, WordPress shows default settings as: ?p=123. This is an example of a bad URL structure.
The good news is you can easily change these settings.
From your dashboard, navigate to the Settings menu then click on Permalinks. Selecting the Custom Structure options and using your own tags gives you more flexibility on how your URLs appear. Choose this option and enter /%category%/%postname%/” (without quotes) to display the category and post name in the permalink.
Install W3 Total Cache
Site speed is now a search engine ranking factor
Submit a Sitemap
A sitemap is a file that lists all the pages of your site. This makes it easy for Google and other search engines to crawl and index your site. The good news is that the WordPress SEO plugin you installed earlier generates sitemaps automatically.
To access it, go to SEO then XML Sitemaps. You can then find a link to your sitemap from this page which you can submit through Google Webmaster Tools. Simply login to your account, click Crawl on the left side and click Sitemaps.
Here you can add a new sitemap to your site which helps Google find and index your content. Google Webmaster Tools also lets you see other key information about your site such as if any crawl errors are present.
WordPress is a powerful platform used by millions of businesses around the world. But there is still a lot of room for improvement in terms of SEO. This guide is by no means definitive but is a great start to improve the online visibility of your site.
Is your WordPress site fully optimised?
If not, you could be losing potential sales from your target market. Contact us today to schedule a free patient with our marketing consultants. We work closely with you to design and implement a marketing strategy that works for your business.