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WordPress SEO - What is it? Basics tutorial for beginners

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Looking for WordPress SEO basics for beginners tutorial that will explain WordPress SEO default features, settings, and other important basic SEO strategies?

Whether your WordPress site is for starting a blog, small business service/product promotion, etc, you need to understand how to SEO on WordPress if you want to get quality traffic.

This tutorial is simplied to help you understand what WordPress SEO is, default features, settings, and other important WordPress SEO basics.

The basics this guide mention are the first steps to SEO campaigns that will improve your WordPress website SERP performance for more traffic.

What is WordPress SEO plus other important basics for beginners explained

Below is WordPress SEO meaning, WP built-in SEO functionalities, and guide to other basics that a beginner need to understand to get started on the right track.

This section will explain the features, settings, etc, on WordPress helpful for SEO.

WordPress SEO meaning defined

So what is SEO?

SEO stands for search engine optimization.

So on a WordPress site, search engine optimization are strategies applied by website owners or the online marketing agency hired to help the website show up on page one of search engines like Google & Bing for targeted keywords and phrases.

There are both basic and advanced strategies used to achieve search engine optimization success with WordPress sites.

Basics of WordPress SEO(Built-in features/settings)

Now that we have defined what WordPress SEO is, let's look at some settings, features on a WordPress website that will make your SEO campaign easier.

Make WordPress site visible to search engines

An extremely important part when SEO with WordPress is to know some WP basic settings.

One of those is the one to make your website visible to bots(aka web crawlers) like Googlebots to find and crawl it.

WordPress has a setting that can hide or make your WordPress visible to search engines.

By default when you install a WordPress, the setting is on.

However, while building your site, you or your designer or internet marketing firm may turn it off.

So when your website is ready to launch, you need to enable the setting.

Here is how to check and enable it:

  1. go to your WordPress admin area
  2. hoover on Settings
  3. click on Reading on the dropdown
  4. untick where it says Search Engine Visibility if it is ticked

WordPress permalink(URL)

One of the important basics of WordPress SEO for a beginner is to set the the permalink correctly.

Some URL structures are SEO friendly while others are not.

You can easily set a friendly WordPress search engime optimization URL by following these easy steps:

  1. log into your admin area
  2. hoover your mouse to Settings on the left side
  3. click Permalinks
  4. then select Post name
  5. and Save

Default XML sitemap

WordPress has a built-in SEO friendly XML sitemap that's enabled by default.

WordPress SEO-friendly themes

Using the right theme is helpful when doing SEO on WordPress sites.

As a beginner you need all the advatange you can get from the start and using non-complicated SEO friendly theme is one of them.

The good news is that most WP themes including the default themes has SEO features by default.

We recommend Neve, GeneratePress, and the default Twenty Twentys themes.

WordPress ping services

WordPress has a built in ping service that let's search engines know each time a new post or page is published or an existing ones updated.

It is helpful when optimizing a WordPress site because it can get search engines like Google to crawl your website content faster.

To make sure it is enabled, follow these steps:

  1. log into your admin area
  2. hoover your mouse to Settings on the left side
    click Writing
  3. scroll down to where it says Ping Services
  4. look for https://rpc.pingomatic.com/ in that box under Ping Services
  5. if empty just copy and paste - https://rpc.pingomatic.com/ into that box

Caution:

If you will publish or update content frequently, we recommend that you remove the ping service or limit how often it pings search engines.

Over pinging might make you look like a spammer to search engines which is not good for ranking.

Use the WordPress Ping Optimizer to limit how often search engines are pinged.

Lazy-loading image

Another built-in WordPress SEO feature that is enabled by default is lazy loading image.

Lazy loading means that images won't load until the browser viewport is within a certain distance from an image.

Since speed is a ranking factor, by lazy loading images, your WordPress site will load faster which will help with its SEO performance.

H1 & Title Tag

WordPress uses your post and page title as both the H1 tag and Title tag now. This makes optimizing your website's title and h1 tags super easy.

Remember to create titles that users like and will help search engines understand what that page or post is about.

Custom Field for meta tags

WordPress has a built-in feature called Custom Fields that enables title tags, meta description, keyword tags, etc, on the bottom of each page or post editor.

Since custom meta description, keywords, and title tag affect SEO performance on some search engines you want to enable it.

So how do you enable and add WordPress custom fields without a plugin or coding experience?

For information on how to, see what is WordPress custom fields and steps to enable & add them.

With the custom field functionality enabled you won't need a bloated do it all WordPress SEO plugin.

Rel-canonical

Rel canonical can break or make your WordPress SEO.

It helps you avoid duplicate content issues.

WordPress handles this for you by default, sweet!

Guide for other important WordPress SEO basics

In this section you will learn other important search engine optimization basics for WordPress sites.

Know Google SEARCH basics

Google being the most used search engine in the world, you like others will be optimizing your WordPress site to rank on it mostly.

To achieve this, you need to really understand Google's three step process - crawling, indexing, and result page serving.

As a beginner, this is Google search engine basic that is highly recommended to master if you want to make your WordPress site SEO rank successfully for long-term results.

Use managed WordPress hosting for beginners

As a beginner, the WP experts at OnlineBusinessConsulting recommend that you go with a fully managed WordPress hosting provider like WPengine or Kinsta if budget is not an issue.

These two companies only host WordPress sites. They have important security and speed features on their server which will help with your WordPress site SEO.

You can use BlueHost or other cheap hosts like GreenGeeks, however, you have to do some technical and speed implementation or hire a speed or security expert to do them as they are not fully managed WP hosts.

You can still use those two if your budget is limited and upgrade later to WPengine.

Make your site load faster

When you make your WordPress site speed(load time) faster you will improve your search engine optimization performances on Google and Bing.

This is because search engines like Google uses page load times as a ranking factor.

Focus on improving your WordPress website load time instead of chasing some score and green color.

Some easy ways to keep your site speed fast:

HTTPS and SSL

Another SEO on WordPress basic for a beginner, is to make sure that HTTPS and SSL certificate is enabled on your site.

HTTPs offer security and small boost to SEO performance as it is one of Google's ranking signal.

The good news is that most modern WordPress web hosting companies like WPengine enable SSL certificate by default.

So you don't have to worry about doing this yourself.

Most hosting providers use the free Let's Encrypt SSL certificate which is adequate.

Interlink for powerful WordPress SEO result

Help search engines and people find related and important pages on your WordPress site through interlinking.

When you created great menu and internlinking in the body of your content, search engines will spend more times on your sites crawling it which is great for ranking.

Keyword research/searchers intent optimization

When doing keyword research, focus on the keywords or keyphrases that people are searching and the intent of the keyword.

When writing content don't just optimize keywords but the different intents behind the keyword you are targeting.

For any keyword, ask yourself, what's the goal of the searcher?

This a powerful WordPress site SEO basic to master.

WWW vs non-WWW

Another basic SEO strategy to implement for your WP site is to set your site as a www or non-www.

The choice is yours on whichever you choose.

Just make sure that whichever version that you pick, you are consistent with it when building external links and setup a redirect to the other version.

To set this up go to your admin area and do these:

  1. Hoover to Settings on the left side
  2. click General
  3. where it says WordPress Adress(URL) and Site Andress enter your site domain name with WWW or no WWW( remember to enter HTTPS before www or no www if your site has an SSL certificate on)

Utilize WordPress SEO tools

Below are compilation of some of the best WordPress SEO tools(including plugins) that will help make your site optimization easier.

Note

Some of the tools directly and indirectly affect WordPress search optimization.

NameCategory/TypeOverview
WordStreamKeyword Research ToolFind keyword volume to use and do competitor domain analysis.
SEMRUSHCompetitor/Keyword Analysis/Tech/Local SEOOne of the best all suite tool to find backlinks, keywords, technical issues, track ranking, and do local seo listing.
WP EngineTechnical SEO(Speed/Security) ToolSpecialized/fully managed WP hosting focused on security & speed. Remember that website speed and security directly and indirectly affect SEO performance.
GreenGeeksTechnical SEO(Speed/Security) Tool Fast LiteSpeed server that imrpoves your WP speed that assists with SEO.
Google Search ConsoleTechnical SEO/Rank TrackerUse to track ranking, crawling issues, etc. Must have.
BrightLocalLocal SEO/CitationSubmit your WordPress site to local directories and citations for local SEO ranking. Also, tracks online review.
LiteSpeedOn-Page SEO(Cache for Speed) PluginOne of the best browser cache plugins that optimize website speed.
Simplistic SEOOn-page SEOSuper lightweight plugin( just 23 kb total size and loads in 20 millisec) to add custom title tags and meta decritptions on posts and pages.

Important

We love being transparent with our readers.

Some of the tools listed we have used to run our business and blogs for years.

While others, we did extensive research and testing to make sure they provide value to our readers before recommending.

Optimize your site with a partner

Doing SEO with WordPress can be challenging.

This is why you may need a professional partner to help you do what you can't or don't have the time to do.

Bottomline is that it doesn't hurt to have your content and website checked out and optimized by a professional WordPress SEO expert.

OnlineBusinessConsulting is one of those partners to consider.

We offer advanced SEO consulting, training, and implementation services.

Get the company who knows how to WordPress SEO correctly on your side.

Emmanuel Okeke

A Los Angeles resident who loves to write awesome guides on SEO, WordPress speed/security, content strategies, business and personal finance, digital and growth hack tools, legal stuff, etc, that are helpful to businesses, solopreneurs, bloggers, and consumers.

What I write about is based on tests, extensive research, and 11+ experience as a former Senior digital & content marketing consultant with a division of Thomson Reuters and running a successful digital marketing agency...[Read full bio]