SEO for WordPress blogs: getting the basics right

Improving your WordPress SEO is crucial if you want to attract more visitors to your website. If you are serious about increasing your website traffic, then you need to pay close attention to WordPress SEO.

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You may have heard experts say that WordPress is SEO friendly. This is the reason many people choose WordPress to start a blog or website. 

On the other hand, if you think that youll automatically rank highly on Google based on your choice of CMS alone, well… WordPress doesnt magically help you reach the top. SEO for WordPress will cost you a lot of time and effort. But it pays off.

Together with our friends from one of the best Dallas SEO offices, weve compiled a set of actionable steps you need to take to properly optimize your website.

Install WordPress SEO Health Check

Before making any changes to your website, its a good idea to know where you stand right now. Theres a lot to gain by getting it right: running your website on a modern server with updated software on a web host that offers great performance will maximize your results. 

So, ask yourself: what hardware and software does your website run on? What is your WordPress hosting plan? Are you using a budget shared hosting provider, or have you invested in a dedicated hosting plan with a well-known web host that has optimized their servers for use with WordPress?

To get a sense of whats going on behind the scenes of your website, you can install the Health Check WordPress plugin. This plugin offers a lot of technical insights and helps you to get the information that can be used by third parties to improve your website.

Check your website’s visibility settings

WordPress includes a built-in option to hide your website from search engines. The purpose of this option is to give you time to work on your website before its ready to be published.

However, sometimes this option can be accidentally overlooked, thereby rendering your website unavailable to search engines. If your website isnt showing up in search results, the first thing you need to do is make sure this option is turned off. Simply log into the admin area of your dashboard and go to Settings » Reading.

You need to scroll down to the Search engine visibility section and make sure the box next to Prevent search engines from indexing this site is unchecked. Dont forget to click the «Save Changes» button after you are done.

Pay attention to WordPress themes you choose

Pretty much all WordPress themes these days are responsive and smartphone-friendly, so theres not much to worry about in that regard. What you really need to look for when choosing a theme is its performance. If the theme is overloaded with unnecessary code and features, it will slow down your website. Page speed has been an important factor in Google rankings for over a decade.

Before deciding on a theme, you should read the description to see whats included. If there are several features that you wont use, it might not be the best choice for you. You can also run the theme demo through PageSpeed Insights to get a better feel for its performance.

Install WordPress SEO Plugins

WordPress without plugins? No way! At least, thats the attitude for most people who want to use WordPress for professional purposes.

However, as is often the case, the motto is: quality before quantity. Before you install plugins, think about whether you really need that plugin or not. For that reason, what we recommend is an all-in-one plugin: Yoast SEO.

Yoast SEO makes it a little easier to keep your cornerstone content up to date. If you use Yoast SEO on your website, you can mark a post as a cornerstone article. This way, these articles will be subject to more rigorous SEO analysis. They also appear in a separate list in your post overview, so you can easily browse through them and check if they are still up to date.

Use headings to create hierarchy

Headings provide structure and help visitors and search engines to better understand the hierarchy of your content.

In WordPress, you can use the WYSIWYG editor to add relevant headings quickly and easily. Just click the Paragraph dropdown menu and youll see six heading options. Since most WordPress themes use the post title as the first heading, it is best to use H2-H6 for the content itself.

Encourage engagement and interactions

Its always fun to interact with your readers, but how do you really get them engaged? By engagement, we mean all the different ways people can interact with your post. This can be leaving a comment, sharing on social media, or taking some sort of action in general.

How can you get people involved? Write in an engaging manner, ask readers for their opinions, and respond to their comments to keep the conversation going. This is a basic, easy way to keep visitors coming back.

Engagement is beneficial for SEO as it shows that your site is alive and active.

Final words

This guide gives you a lot of actionable items you can consider implementing on your WordPress website, from technical SEO tips to conversation tips and a whole lot in between. However, theres a catch: if you want to rank yourself on highly competitive terms, you have to take as many of these steps as possible, all while creating valuable and compelling content all along the way.

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