Making the most of WordPress – SEO for idiots

Making the most of WordPress – SEO for idiots

SEO is a big topic at the moment for anyone who manages their own website, and I’m sure that those of us who do are tired of the constant emails which begin;

“Dear Sir/Madam,

We are writing to you as the owner of as India’s leading SEO company……….

For me, these spam emails and constant chatter of new ways to improve your search rankings only serve to put me off wanting anything to do with SEO, but this shouldn’t be the case!

Search Engine Optimisation is something we should all be taking note of, and especially when using WordPress, it really doesn’t have to be such a daunting task.

First off, WordPress as a platform is already optimised for SEO;

WordPress, straight out of the box, comes ready to embrace search engines. Its features and functions guide a search engine through the posts, pages, and categories to help the search engine crawl your site and gather the information it needs to include your site within its database.

Despite this, there is one change you should definitely make straight out of the box to help things along. In Settings – Permalinks, change the permalink structure from the default /?p=123, to the custom ‘post name’ /%postname%/

In addition to the standard WordPress features, there are a large number of third party plugins which can be used to provide additional optimisation for your website, and here, we’re going to look at one in particular, called Yoast SEO.

Yoast SEO is a highly recommended WordPress plugin (recommended to me by Mike Little, cofounder of WordPress!) and once installed and activated, it’s very easy for you to check if each post is fully optimised.

Once activated, you first need to have a look at your Yoast SEO settings in your admin panel. Under General, the options are pretty self explanatory, just ensure everything is filled out as you want.

Next up is Titles and Metas, which affects how your pages look when coming up as hits from a search engine. You can choose whatever you like for your title separator, you might want to stand out from the crowd, or keep it simple. The homepage, post type, taxonomy and archive setting determines what information is shown in the title of the search result, and you can choose what information is taken from the page, and in what order it’s displayed. Again, this is personal preference, but think about what information is the most important to put front and centre on a search result, is it your page title, the website name, the category of the post? Depending on how well you’ve structured your post names and other information, will depend on what works best for you here. Also, I choose to display the date on posts, as a lot of my posts are reviews, the date on which they were written is relevant here. Other than this, I leave the other settings as default. Remember, WordPress comes out of the box optimised for SEO, so if you don’t have a good reason for changing something, why change it at all?

Yoast’s Social settings are helpful if you want your website to be associated with your social media platforms as well.

For the XML Sitemaps settings, ensure the box is ticked to enable XML Sitemap functionality. This auto generates a sitemap of all your website’s pages and posts, and anytime you publish new content, Yoast will send a copy of the new sitemap to Google and Bing to allow them to easily and quickly locate your new content. The way this plugin does this is great, because it’s quick and does not slow down the publishing of your content, and it includes an image, which makes you rank better in Google Image search.

Next up, we look at the Advanced settings. Here, we want to enable breadcrumbs. This shows the user how they arrived at their current page in relation to the homepage, and improves the overall navigation of your site. For permalinks, it can be a good idea to remove stop words from slugs, as this gives you cleaner urls.

Now you have the basic settings in place, we can take a closer look at your content.

Thanks for reading!
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