WordPress SEO 101: Tips, Tricks and Tactics You Should Know

WordPress SEO by YoastWordPress is one of the most widely used content management systems in existence for good reason: It’s easy to install on a web hosting server to create a website online, it’s easy to customize, and it’s easy to optimize for search engines in order to attract more traffic. With that said, many fail at the basics of WordPress SEO. The following is a sort of “WordPress 101” for new bloggers who need to know the basics of setting up their WordPress blogs in the most search engine friendly way.

Before we begin, it is important that users are aware of various SEO plugins that make much of the following possible. The most popular is the free plugin called Yoast SEO, which is easily the most complete offering available, regardless of cost.

Terminology

Some basic terminology will make the following recommendations easier to understand and implement:

  • Noindex vs Index: These are metatags that tell search engines what to do with a page or post. Index allows search engines to include an item, such as a post or page, in their results, while noindex does not.
  • Posts and Pages: Posts are where the more “blog type” content will typically go, while pages are often used for legal notices, “about” pages etc.
  • Categories and Tags: Categories are used to organize content themes, while tags are used for extra descriptions and to allow users to find related content in a more focused way.
  • Metatags, descriptions and Titles: Used to add a title to a page or post, as well as to provide more information to search engines concerning the topic of a piece of content.
  • Permalinks: The URL of a new WordPress site something akin to: http://examplesite.com/?p=30. These are referred to as permalinks that can, and should be changed.

There are more features and items, but these are the most important and where most of the results come from when optimizing a new WordPress Theme. Now, we can look at how to set each of these up in the most search friendly way possible, starting with metatags and titles.

Other Metatags, Descriptions and Titles

Yoast WordPress SEO pluginBy far, the most important element to optimize for individual posts as well as the homepage of a website is the title tag, and the meta description. These are used by search engines to determine what a piece of content is about. Each title and description should include the focus keyword for each piece of content.

Yoast’s plugin allows users to write a meta description and title to be shown in the search engines. Include the keyword no more than twice, and only if it flows naturally from a human perspective. Alt tags should also be included for images to include a keyword or variation of that keyword. While important this does not require a plugin and is not quite as important getting titles and descriptions right.

Posts and Pages

Posts and pages should always be set to index with very few exceptions. The only case should be situations when there is duplicate content from post to post, or page to page. An example would be multiple tag pages containing the same content. This is discussed below.

Categories and Tags

Categories are best set to index, while tags should be noindexed. These add little to the overall architecture of a site, and also potentially have value for people who may find category results in search engines.

Tags create a new page each time they are used, looking like “http://examplesite.com/tag/post-name”. A post with four or five tags is essentially duplicated on four or five additional pages. This can confuse search engines, as well as dilute authority, possibly resulting in lower search engine rankings.

Google’s guidelines on duplicate content indicate that this should not usually be a problem. There are several safeguards against duplicate content issues, but the easiest is to simply noindex tags. Both of these settings are easily handled by Yoast and other SEO plugins.

Permalinks

These are easy. By changing the permalink, you can include the target keyword in the post’s URL, adding more information for search engines to understand a piece of content’s topic, and encouraging higher rankings for important terms.

On the majority of blogs, changing the permalink to /%postname%/ in the permalink settings is fine. This will result in a url that looks like “http://examplesite.com/post-name”.

A Word On Links

Quality sites link quite a bit—both internally, as well as to external sites that add value to their audience. Descriptive internal linking helps search engines to find and understand content, as well as to push authority to target posts and pages to help them rank better. Linking to external sites helps little known sites get noticed by often notifying the site being linked to. Eventually, with enough quality content and outbound links to other popular blogs, links back may develop, further improving search engine rankings and helping to grow an audience.

SEO Is Ongoing

The downside to SEO is that it can be a never-ending process that changes when search engines adjust their algorithms. Getting the basics right is safe, effective, and can be completed in less time than it took to write this post.

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This article was written by Chad Fisher on behalf of Kohala Ditch Adventures.