In a nutshell, Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a process or an activity that attempts to improve a website’s search engine rankings. Payment is not involved, as it is with paid advertisements, because traffic comes from natural and organic sources.
SEO is one overwhelming topic. You’ll find countless articles, videos and even webinars on how to improve website ranking all over the Internet! And SEO has change a lot and it is going to continue to change. But there are basic principles that will be valuable to you no matter what the stage of your online business is, whether you are new or not, may it be today or years from today.
So here three basic things that we should focus on doing WordPress SEO:
Create great contents ALL the time!
Content is the key! You have to regularly update the contents of your website and make sure that they are of high quality offering to attract readers and links from reputable websites. If your site creates good traffic, then Google will rank you high. Since Google, by far, is the most popular search engine there is, it can do wonders to your business if you do it right. And ranking high on it through organic traffic will be VERY VALUABLE.Why? Imagine having your advertisement posted for free on the best advertising space in the world! That is definitely good for your business, right?
Keywords are actual words or terms used by people to search on something. The keyword used for your website is crucial. It should be relevant, something that you want your page to be found for.
There are lots of tools that you can use for this purpose but I highly recommend an optimizing plugin like YOAST (formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast). It is available for free but also offers premium features. It’s the most complete WordPress SEO plugin out there.
You know you have successfully installed Yoast when you can see the Yoast SEO fields. See image below:
As you can see on the “SEO” field (beside the SEO Title), there are grey colored bullets. It means that you have not selected a keyword yet.
For your reference, this is what the Yoast Color System means:
- Grey – you have not selected a keyword yet.
- Red – the keyword used ranks poorly.
- Orange – keyword used still needs improvement, but better than red.
- Yellow – you may improve the keyword used, but only if it does not hurt your overall post.
- Green – Good optimization!
To start optimizing your page or post, click edit. When you scroll down on your page or post, you will see the Yoast SEO feature and where the keyword hunting starts. The free plugin looks like this:
- Snippet Editor – Make changes straight to the snippet where you can see it, making it easier to work with.
- Focus Keyword – Choose the most appropriate keyword for your page or post.
- Content Analysis – this is where you can analyze your keyword. It is pretty straightforward and will tell you what needs to be done.
- If you have achieved the green light, then you have made a good job in optimizing your page. Do the same for your other pages (I recommend 4more pages to make it a total of 5) and your website is SEO-checked!
Create an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap allows search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing to find all your webpages that they might otherwise miss when indexing. Having this information in a file helps these search engines understand a specific website and crawl it more efficiently and intelligently. This will make your website ‘crawlable’ and searchable for the search engines.
We can also use YOAST to create the XML Sitemap and send it to search engines to re-crawl your site. This will help you rank in on new pages immediately.
Here is how to generate an XML sitemap using Yoast:
- Go to your backend, hover on ‘SEO’ and click XML sitemaps. (see images below)
- When it opens up, you will see several tabs that you can configure.
General Tab – this is where you can enable or disable the XML sitemap functionality. Select ‘Enabled’.
User Sitemap – contains the author archive URLs for every user on your site. It is ‘Disabled’ by default.
Post Types – contains the post types that you want to include in your sitemap.
Excluded Posts – contains posts that you want to exclude from your sitemap. You can exclude posts by entering a comma-separated string with the Post ID’s.
Taxonomies – you may opt to include or exclude taxonomies such as categories and tags to your sitemap.
When everything is set, just click “Save Changes”. Doing so, you already saved your XML sitemap. It will automatically ping search engines so that they can crawl your site and see the changes and optimization done on your site. That’s going to make your website rank on search engine faster!