WordPress is one of the Content Management Systems (CMS). It helps manage your digital content on your website. The reason it has become the first choice of a majority of bloggers and e-commerce platforms is the fact that it fills all the requirements posed by a search engine, with stability and ease.

Let’s start with the basics.

What is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. Let me make it straightforward for you to grasp the concept of SEO.

2,408,599 is the number of blogs published today itself (15th Nov at 6:03 AM). A Whopping figure! Right? – Watch for yourself the real-time counter at internetlivestats.

And, how many results the first page of a search engine displays? That’s hardly Nine or Ten results.

How do you think those nine or ten results manage to be on the first page of Google, Bing or any other search engine? Is that just luck or a pre-planned approach that does the trick?

SEO is the driving force here. It is a strategy that helps the website owners to rank higher than the competitor websites to drive an immense traffic to their sites.

SEO doesn’t mean fooling the search engines to achieve this result, but to let the search engines find your website easily with the help of a quality code and formatted webpage. It is more about expressing your website content to the search engines explicitly in the format the search engines easily comprehend.

Consequently, an optimized content appears higher on the search results.

Why SEO matters?

Most of the sites get their sizeable amount of traffic from the search engines. The search engines use complex (but not so efficient) algorithms to come up with millions of search results in the fraction of a second in the order they are optimized.

Read how Google search works

An unoptimized content ends up being lower in the search results.

You may find this line humorous if are truly yearning to perfect your SEO; The Best Place to Hide a Dead Body Is Page 2 Of Google- digitalsynopsis.com

With a lower ranking, you consequently miss out on all the traffic, resulting in lesser earnings.

Therefore, anybody seeking to secure their future in blogging and online business cannot afford to overlook SEO.

SEO and WordPress

WordPress is SEO friendly and is also the search engine friendly CMS. This is one of the reasons why WordPress is preferred over other CMS.

The code the WordPress generates follows the SEO best practices, and it already comes with standard settings in favor of SEO. Still, the fierce competition and its do or die attitude requires the WordPress to be optimized even more, which is easily achievable.

With WordPress, you don’t have to rely on a WordPress developer or a tech genius to move ahead with it. Just an introduction to WordPress, few tweak ups in its settings and some basic SEO tips is all that will boost your website traffic in no time.

Follow me through to know how you can get the search engines prefer your WordPress website by utilizing its search engine friendly configuration.

WordPress SEO: The Basics

1. Check if your Site is visible to Search Engines

WordPress has a feature to temporarily hide your website from the prying algorithms of search engines until it is ready to be published publically.

How does this feature help?

In case you don’t hide your site before it is finalized with the required modifications, the search engines index your unfinished site and display unprofessional search results like ‘Hello World’ for months even after you get the updates done.

How can this feature hurt your website?

Your website remains invisible to search engines and won’t appear in their search results.

How to make your website visible?

  • Log in to your WordPress dashboard
  • Navigate to Settings » Reading
  • Scroll down to find ‘Search Engine Visibility’ section
  • Uncheck ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ box
  • Save Changes

2. Choose SEO friendly URL structure

An SEO friendly URL structure increases your chances of ranking better in search results. WordPress gives you an option to set SEO friendly URLs on your website.

What is an SEO friendly URL structure?

An URL that is easy to read and helps understand what its respective webpage is about. It is convenient for humans and search engines both.

SEO friendly URL

http://study.com/academy/lesson/globe-activities-for-elementary-school.html

non-SEO friendly URL

http://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/FR/ALL/?uri=CELEX:31996L0009

I bet you know more about the content of SEO friendly URL than the non-SEO friendly URL given above without even opening it.

How to check and choose the SEO friendly URLs for your WordPress site?

  • Navigate to Settings » Permalinks
  • Select the ‘Post Name’ option
  • Save Changes

Note: Change this setting only if your site is less than six months old, or else you risk losing your social share counts and current SEO ranking. You can Hire a professional to be on a safe side.

3. Set your WordPress site to either WWW or non-WWW site

Although there is no advantage of this feature from the SEO point of view, it is advisable to choose one and stick to it.

  • http://www.example.com (www)
  • http://example.com (non-www)

Failing to do so may cause the search engines to recognize the two versions as two sites that may create the duplicate content issues.

How to set your WWW or non-WWW preference for your WordPress Site?

  • Go to Settings » General
  • Fill both ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ boxes with your preferred URL.

WordPress SEO: Plugins

WordPress repository contains thousands of plugins that enhance its functionality. SEO is no exception. These two best SEO plugins for WordPress greatly help you with optimizing the website as per the parameters of a search engine.

Crucial SEO Features that these plugins come packed with

XML sitemaps

An XML sitemap lists out all the content available (pages, posts, categories…) on your WordPress website. This helps the search engines to find (crawl) your newly added content efficiently and rank it; another reason why search engines love the WordPress Sites.

Ease to add your site to the Google Search Console

Google Search Console gives insights about your website that can help you analyze its SEO-performance to make the strategy and modifications accordingly.

The insights you can get with Google Search Console

  • How search engines see your content.
  • Search terms that lead people to your website.
  • How often your pages are clicked.
  • The exact problem when there is something wrong with your website.

Optimizability for your blog posts

These WordPress SEO plugins assist you with on-page SEO whereby you can optimize all the required elements (Title, Description, Focus keyword, readability, SEO-URL) of a post and page to help your site get maximum clicks and engage the users.

NoFollow External Links

The option to add the nofollow attribute to external links helps improve your SEO score by limiting the ‘link juice’ you are passing to other sites.

For a good search ranking, you should be getting more link juice than you are giving it away.

WordPress SEO: The Best SEO practices

These non-techie WordPress SEO practices along with WordPress SEO plugins ensure you stay ahead of most of the websites. These are easy to follow and beneficial for long-term success.

1. Use the Categories and Tags properly in WordPress

Categories and Tags organize the website content and help the search engines and users to browse your WordPress website easily.

Categories

It is the broad grouping of posts. For Example-A website can have the categories of Music, Food, Lifestyle, etc. You can further add child categories to the main category.

Tags

These are the specific keywords of a blog post. For example- an individual post under Food category can have these tags- Breakfast, boiled egg, salad, etc.

2. Do Internal Linking

Internal Linking helps boost your page views, improves the SEO score of your blog posts, and engages users better with your WordPress website.

Moreover, Internal links help the search engine bots to index your site deeply. Make a habit of internal linking. You can even keep it as a pre-publishing checklist on a multi-author site.

3. Optimize WordPress Comments

Comments on your blog post imply a better engagement of users, improved SEO, and good traffic. However, the spam comments may affect or ruin your rankings.

Use Akismet plugin to keep your site healthy and spammers at bay.

Additionally, you can split the comments into multiple pages to decrease the burden they incur on your site’s speed.

4. Set your articles to show Excerpts or Summary instead of Full Articles

By default, WordPress display full articles on homepage, archives, category, author pages, date archives, etc. This may appear as a duplicate content for search engines, resulting in the affected SEO score of your website.

How to show Excerpts or Summary instead of Full Articles?

  • Go to Settings » Reading
  • Select Summary

WordPress SEO: Speed and Security

1. Optimize your WordPress website’s speed and performance

On an average, a user decides within only 8 seconds whether or not to continue with your website. If you lost these 8 seconds due to the slow speed of your site and couldn’t present your content to them, the consequences could be pretty upsetting.

Google prefers faster loading sites and ranks them higher.

2. Optimize your Images

Losslessly compress your images before uploading them to your website. This keeps your site loading faster.

Moreover, use the Title and Alt tags to optimize your images for a good SEO and visibility by search engines. WordPress gives you the option to add Title and Alt tags.

3. Beef up the Safety and Security of your WordPress website

An infected website gets blacklisted by search engines and ceases to exist in the search results thereafter. The security of a website is, therefore, essential to grab the higher rankings in the search results.

Use the WordPress plugins like Wordfence Security and Sucuri to block the malware and phishing attacks.