WordPress is the best blogging platform and CMS out there. It has everything you’ll ever want to create and grow your online business.
One of the many reasons to use WordPress over other platforms is SEO. It has more SEO options than any other blogging platform.
However, WordPress is not SEO friendly. Not in its default stock version.
Its settings need to be completely changed and you have to optimize all the technical aspects in order to make it really SEO friendly. There are changes you need to implement as soon as you install WordPress and before you publish your first blog post.
Now, I’ll show you how to make your WordPress blog SEO friendly by tweaking some settings and installing some plugins.
Default WordPress Settings That Need To Be Changed
There are a few default settings when you install a fresh WordPress on a server. Here are a few that need to be changed right after WordPress installation finishes.
The permalink setting is the permanent link structure your blog posts, pages and everything media will have. It is basically the URL of your blog posts and pages.
Go to your WordPress dashboard. Click on the settings tab and select Permalinks. A new window like shown below will open:
By default in a new WordPress install, the permalink is set to be plain which looks like:
The default plain permalink structure is not so SEO friendly.
You have to change it to the postname structure. Below is the screenshot of the same:
Every time you publish a new post, WordPress automatically pings and notifies all the major feeds and networks to update the information regarding your blog. This also helps search engine crawlers to index your site faster.
By default, WordPress is set to ping several major services. We can update this ping service list to ping even more services hence extending our reach.
Here’s how you update ping service settings:
- Go to this post which contains a list of ping services. Copy all of them.
- Go to your WordPress dash and open writing settings.
- Paste the ping list in the update services field.
Showing the full content in feed will result in content theft and may eventually become content farming, which Google doesn’t like. You might never know, but the feeds will be stealing your content.
This might also land you in duplicate content issue.
So, you should always show a small summary part of your blog posts in your feed and blog index page. By default WordPress shows full content in feeds, and here’s how to fix that:
- Go to the reading settings from your WordPress dashboard.
- Select feed In the option “For each article in a feed, show:” settings. Below:
You have to make sure the checkbox below the feed settings which says discourage search engine from indexing this site is unchecked.
Install A WordPress SEO Plugin
The quickest way to manage SEO of your entire blog is by installing an SEO plugin.
Yoast SEO is the most popular SEO plugin for WordPress and is the only SEO plugin that you need to install.
It lets you manage both on-page and on-site SEO of your blog.
Upon installing the Yoast plugin, you’ll have to a number of options available which will help you further optimize your blog. This includes sitemap creation, adding no-index to category and archives, adding meta description and title box, redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself, creating a robots.txt file, knowledge box and etc.
Setting Up Google Search Console
Google search console is also known as the Google webmaster tools. This one tool will help you monitor your post rankings, search traffic, keywords and other very much important metrics.
Setting up Google search console is simple. Here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Go to Google search console & Sign in with your Gmail account. (opens in new tab).
Step 2: Click on add property button.
Step 3: Enter your blog URL including HTTP or HTTPS and click add.
Step 4: Complete the verification process. The best and simplest way is the HTML tag verification as shown in the image below. You can use a plugin called insert HTML snippet to do this easily.
The next thing you have to do after signing up for Google search console is submitting a sitemap. Submitting Google a sitemap of your blog is extremely important because that’ll help your blog posts and pages get index faster by Google crawl bots.
Yoast SEO plugin upon activation will automatically create a sitemap for your entire links including blog posts, pages and media files.
You can find your sitemap at the URL:
- Go to Google search console and select your site
- Click on the sitemaps link in the left menubar
- In the field next to your domain type sitemap.xml and click submit.
You’ve completed the basic and some very important steps for the SEO of your blog. Still, there are a few more things which you need to do. Let’s check those out as well.
A crucial aspect of getting your technical SEO in order is site speed. Waiting for slow mobile content to load can be more stressful for people than waiting in a queue! A slow website doesn’t just hurt your users, it hurts your rankings as well.
To start improving your site’s speed, you need to understand how the loading process works, and you have to figure out where you can improve. How do you take these first steps?
You need to two primary plugins to make your blog blazing fast:
If you can, I would recommend you to install WP Rocket, a premium plugin. It includes both the cache mechanism and other speed improvements for your blog such as Gzip compression, CSS/HTML compression and so on.
Do you know, blog posts with at least one image tend to rank better than those which don’t have any images?
Images make a good impact on your rankings. Optimizing them for SEO will help you get more image search traffic as well.
There are two things to optimize in your images:
- Alt tag
- Image size
Alt tags are extremely important and should not be ignored. Alt tag tells the search engines what your image is all about. Since search engine bots can’t read images, they read alt tags to figure out what your images are related to.
Every time you add an image into your blog posts or images, click on the image and then click on the edit button. After that, in the image alt text filed type your alt text (what image is about in 3-5 words) and click save.
Image size has a direct impact on your site’s loading speed. So, you have to make sure your images are compressed to the smallest possible size without deteriorating the quality to load faster. You can use the plugin called EWWW to compress your images the moment you upload them.
SEO Friendly Theme
Finally, you need an SEO friendly WordPress theme that will make your blog looks gorgeous, neat and has proper SEO optimization inbuilt.
There are thousands of free themes available in WordPress theme repo, but you should not install any of them. They are all quite generic and almost 95% of them won’t give you any SEO advantage.
A good SEO theme should be:
- Mobile friendly
- Schema loaded
That’s why I’ve a detailed post on the best SEO friendly themes for WordPress absolutely free. The post will guide to choose from several themes that are best for SEO and are still free to install.
If you can afford a premium theme, you should definitely check out Genesis framework from Studiopress. It is a robust framework with a collection of child themes that beats every other WordPress theme framework out there.
If you use or even plan to use affiliate links inside your blog posts, make sure to add a nofollow tag to all of them. A nofollow tag indicates to search engine bots not to pass link juice between you and the affiliate site you link to.
Thankfully, for WordPress, we have an amazing plugin called ThirstyAffiliates which automates the whole process. It automatically adds nofollow tags and opens all of your affiliate links in a new tab. Which also helps to reduce bounce rate a bit.
Below I’ve linked some more helpful SEO guides for you as a beginner:
- How To Automate Internal & External Linking In WordPress
- How To Create An Ideal WordPress Robots.txt File For SEO
- 11 Common SEO Mistakes (& How To Correct Them)
- Varvy SEO Tool : Beginner Friendly Way To Analyse Your Onsite and Onpage SEO
Share your tips in the comments section, we all would prefer to hear them.