WordPress really is the king of blogging platforms and if you are looking to start a blog then I would recommend the self-hosted WordPress route.
Blogging is all about great content and you can create great content on any blogging platform.
The question is “can you create great content that ranks on Google?”
Being able to put your content in front of people on the SERPS comes down to how good your content is and how good your SEO is.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is basically your pages optimized for what Google wants to see. You match up to Googles wish list.
And that is where WordPress gives you a big advantage over other platforms because you can set up WordPress to really cater for SEO more so than any other comparable blogging platform
WordPress SEO Guide 2018
When we first download and install WordPress on our hosting there are a few out of the box settings that need changing. The first change that we need to make involves the link structure of posts and pages.
Google likes keywords and your permalinks are an opportunity to add keywords to your post and page links.
For example, the URL for this article is “infobunny.com/Ultimate WordPress SEO Guide 2018”
For best results use your target keyword at the beginning of the URL and even start with it if possible.
WordPress URLs are not SEO friendly by default they add in plain links that just add a post number at the end that means absolutely nothing to search engines.
But you can fix this easily.
How to change the permalinks default to create WordPress SEO friendly links
- Go to Settings
- Select Permalinks
- Change your permalinks to Post name.
Now, whenever you post a blog your URL will have the keywords added from your post title.
Changing your permalink settings, though a huge step in the right direction for WordPress SEO is not the end in optimizing your URL.
Google likes short URLs and what you really want is just your keyword phrase in the URL if possible.
The permalinks “post name” setting adds the whole title of the article. So for this article, my URL would be “WordPress SEO Guide 2018 – How to structure your WordPress site” and that is just a bit too long.
So how do we fix this?
Well, you can right at the start before you start the article add in your keyword phrase as a working title and save as draft and your keywords will be the URL. But you may not be locked into your keyword phrase right at the start. It may evolve as you actually write the content to something different.
That’s not a problem because you can just click edit URL that is located under the title and add in your phrase.
Or better still you can download Yoast SEO (no affiliation).
You will need a good WordPress SEO plugin and Yoast is regarded as the best out there and the free version covers exactly what you need.
Now I am not going to go into huge detail with Yoast. I am just going to go through a few of the Yoast SEO settings that help you set up your WordPress post SEO.
I will leave all the back office settings to the Yoast guys,
I can’t explain the setup of Yoast any better than the Yoast team over on their blog so here is their Yoast SEO Configuration Guide
Here are the Yoast SEO setting that we are interested in for this guide.
Check out the screen capture below
The text that you add in the “Slug” box becomes the text in your URL, so no need to edit the link, no need to decide the keyword phrase right at the start.
Whatever you put in that box becomes your SEO friendly URL.
Yoast SEO offers you an additional title that is called the WordPress SEO Title
So you can effectively have two titles, a WordPress post title (h1 title) and a WordPress SEO title.
The post title is the title that appears to visitors when they click through onto your blog at the top of the page.
The SEO title is the title that appears in the search results and is normally a more call to action title
It is important to realize that your SEO title doesn’t have the same purpose as the title of your post or page.
Your post title is meant for people that are already on your site. It’s telling them what your post or page is about in a very matter of fact way.
Your Yoast SEO title, on the other hand, is meant for people who are not on your website yet.
It will be shown to people in the search engines. It is the title of your snippet that appears in Google after your post has been indexed.
The purpose of your SEO title is to make people click on the snippet and click through to your website.
The Meta Description
Adding a meta description overrides the default snippet that appears in search results.
The meta description is a snippet of text up to 320 characters in length, a tag in HTML, that summarizes a page’s content.
Search engines show the meta description in search results when the searched for phrase is contained in the description.
Optimizing the meta description is a very important aspect of WordPress SEO and SEO in general.
Adding a meta description to your post is another opportunity to add your keyword phrase and your related phrases.
WordPress SEO Guide 2018 – Structuring your content
When creating content you need to be producing long-form content, content that is between 1500 – 2000 words.
Neil Patel indicates that the content length sweet spot is around 2400 words. Articles of this length and above gets the most social shares and engagement.
But of course, not every topic can carry such a long post. So the best course of action from an SEO standpoint is just to check out how long your competitors ranking articles on the same topic are.
Then just create content that is longer in length.
Google favours well written well-researched content that is long in length within the SERPs
A 300 character article is just not going to outrank one of 2000 unless it is on a kickass authority site that Google loves.
So go big in length when the topic allows.
So structuring your content
I like to think of a blog article along the same lines as a newspaper article.
You have a headline/title then you have subheadings.
Your WordPress title is h1 by default, that is good for SEO so nothing to change there.
Only use one h1 tag per article.
Your subtitles need to be h2 and h3 depending on their importance. H2 is more important than h3. You will need to make your subtitles h2 and h3.
This is very simple if you have a visual editor of your WordPress.
Infobunny uses TinyMCE, (no affiliation) you can see the editor working on this post in the screen capture below.
You change the htag by just pulling down on the paragraph menu and selecting the required heading.
Paragraph is the default setting and refers to plain text.
If you are interested in more information on TinyMCE then take a look at my article called Top 10 WordPress Plugins.
Again your title and subheadings need your keyword phrase where possible, certainly in the title along with variations of your keyword phrase.
Variations of this articles keyword phrase WordPress SEO Guide 2018 would be:
- WordPress SEO tips
- how to add SEO to Wordpress
- best SEO for wordpress
- yoast SEO settings
- WordPress SEO tutorial
Add rich content to your posts
Rich Content is basically just images and videos. Work to a format that whenever you add an image you have it at a set size.
Whenever I add a header image it is 1000px wide. Featured images are 365 px square and my schema image is 300px square.
Any other images that I add are normally 700px wide unless I add a specific image to my Pinterest marketing then the image will be 500px wide and in portrait.
If I add a YouTube video then I make it as wide as the article so for me 1000 px to match my post header (top image)
Any images that you add should be jpg format and also compressed to keep the file size down.
Make sure that you name your images with your keywords.
Take advantage of the Alternative Text and the Image Title Attribute fields to describe your images.
Internal linking from one article to another within WordPress is great for WordPress SEO. Linking internally is really just navigation from one page to another.
It is just a trail of breadcrumbs for visitors and search engine spiders to follow.
Google hates dead ends. You yourself are never happy when you walk down a road to then hit a dead end.
You get confused as to where you are where you got lost and the search engine spiders and your visitors are no different.
Internal linking is your chance to send your visitors to your best-related content, cornerstone content, the content that you are most proud of, evergreen content.
Internally linking to these types of content tells Google and Bing that they are your best pages and so they are pushed forward more.
With mobile searches having taken over desktop and laptop searches the speed of your site is now more important than ever, especially when it comes to mobile SEO.
Google has announced that is launching its mobile-first index very soon.
Meaning that your desktop/laptop search rankings will now be based on how good your mobile site is
The graphic below shows the mobile site bounce rate percentage as your visitors wait for your mobile site to load, yes mobile users are impatient!
For useful tips on how to speed up your site please refer to – How Fast Does The Mobile Version Of Your Site Load?
Your WordPress Theme
The WordPress theme that you use for your site needs to be good and it needs to be responsive.
A responsive theme equals having a good mobile-friendly site. Responsive themes adjust to the screen they are being shown on.
So if your site is viewed on a smartphone it looks great, if it’s seen via a tablet then no problem it will look great as well.
Having a responsive theme will keep you on the good side of the mobile-first index and is a must for WordPress SEO 2018.
There are many free responsive themes that you can use, buying a premium theme is better than going the free route because of WordPress security problems that can arise
WordPress SEO Guide 2018 – Takeaways
WordPress SEO doesn’t have to be scary or complicated.
All you really have to remember is to write good long content.
Structure your posts as if they are newspaper articles
Make sure that your keyword phrases is in your post URL, in your WordPress post title, your WordPress SEO title and in your meta description.
Also, use your keyword phrase within subtitles along with variations of your keyword phrase.
And of course throughout the body of your article.
Remember, there is no need to keyword stuff your posts. It makes your posts look and read horribly and Google can see that you are trying to manipulate their algorithm.
Google is intelligent if you add variants of your phrase it knows what you are talking about so there is no need to force the issue 😉
That is all for now.
I hope that you find my WordPress SEO Guide 2018 useful.
If you have any questions then please leave them in the comments section below.