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Basic SEO in WordPress

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Here’s how to get you started doing some basic search engine optimization in WordPress. A proper setup is important to be able to be recognized by Google and seen in a relevant search.

Install WordPress SEO by Yoast

Great well rounded plugin for SEO in WordPress. Search it in your WordPress plugin depository or find it here.

Wordpress SEO by Yoast

Adjust the Settings

We just need to adjust one setting after installation:

Titles & Metas > check “Force rewrite titles”.

The reason for doing this is because I find that most themes have their own way of incorporating the site title and site tagline into the individual page meta titles. This usually interferes with the Yoast plugin by making duplicate site taglines or putting your site title or tagline on the end of your nice custom made titles (more on this in the “Adjust your Titles and Description Tags” step).

Submit your Sitemap

First, sign into your Google Account then sign up for Google Webmaster Tools if you don’t already have an account. Follow the instructions to verify your site. There are also options to verify automatically if you already have a Google Analytics account or, in your SEO plugin dashboard, see “Webmaster Tools”.

Once you’re verified, in your SEO plugin, go to XML Sitemaps and click the “XML Sitemap” button to view your auto-generated sitemap. Copy it’s url from the browser.

Next, go to your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and go to Crawl>Sitemaps. There, you can submit your sitemap using the url you copied.

 

Veirfy XML Sitemap with Google

 

As as side note, Google Webmaster Tools is a must have for investigating search queries and other information in more detail than google analytics.

 

Adjust your Titles and Description Tags

Go to a post or page and scroll to near the bottom. You should see this

Page Title and Description Meta

Pick a focus Keyword (a word that is most relevant to the page) and give it a better title and meta description. The Snippet Preview will show you what it will look like when someone searches for something and sees your page as a search result. It will automatically warn you when you’ve run out of characters and suggest better use of the focus keyword. In short, just pretend you’re doing a client searching for something. How can you show them this page is relevant?

Update Your Images Alt Descriptions

Lastly, click your post images to edit them, or when adding new images always set and “Alt” description and optionally a “Title”. This will help for crawlers to search your images and hire their relevance in different ways. Here’s a good article explaining the difference between Alt and Title tags: Image Alt Text Vs. Image Title : What?s the Difference?

adjusting title and alt tags in WordPress Images

That’s it! There is definitely more that can be done than this like social media marketing, newsletters and regular blogging, but getting off on the right track is important so hopefully this helps you with that.

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