Isaac Newton revealed sometime in 1687 that the world is governed by a basic set of rules. Rules that help literarily keep us on the ground. He called it the rule of Gravity.
It’s the reason why we all don’t just float away as we navigate through our daily spaces.
So you have successfully set up a WordPress website. Great work.
But there’s more.
Its time to set up search engine optimization or SEO for your WordPress website. Now you’re asking what’s so important about SEO that you need to integrate it into your WordPress website in the first place, right?
Now SEO simply put are sets of rules and processes governed by a standard framework. These rules determine the overall ranking of your website or how often it ‘pops up’ when an online search is done.
A key metric that every webmaster, brand or serious blogger should aspire to is visibility. To be seen when potential customers are looking for the kind of goods or services that you offer. After all, that’s a big part of why you put up your brand online in the first place.
Sales! Returns! Feedback!
That’s where SEO comes in. See it as an online Gatekeeper, maybe wearing a t-shirt and sneakers, that only gives access to a favored few out of the millions of requests or users looking for solutions to their problems or answers to their questions. This stylish Gatekeeper will only grant access to your online space if you have the required set of combinations or rules in place.
I hope you’re slowly getting an idea of how important SEO is to the overall success of your budding business. Not yet convinced?
Then maybe it’s time to let you in on some industry secrets!
Majority of online users searching for stuff will more likely click on the first 5 suggestions in the search engine results pages.
Users trust search engines. So when your website is somewhere on its top results, it instantly increases your website’s trust.
Now that you’re finally convinced (I thought we would never get here) it’s time to take you through how to properly set up SEO for your WordPress website.
Wait! Did I tell you that SEO can be broken down into three major stages or types?
That’s the fun part.
There is what we call:
Technical SEO– when set up, this ensures that search engines can crawl and index your website without issues.
On-Site SEO– this has to do with certain rules that you can apply to the content you put on your website to make it more search engine friendly.
Off-Site SEO– this outlines extra ways to promote your blog or website to help it rank higher in search results.
Now to the business of the day. Setting up SEO for WordPress.
Whenever you think about SEO, the Yoast plugin easily comes to mind. There are other plugins but Yoast has managed to stay above board with its evolving and intuitive interface that has stayed in line with best practices. So whether you’re a newbie or some kind of veteran in optimizing websites, Yoast isn’t a bad way to start.
There’s a free version of the Yoast plugin and also a premium version with additional extensions and tools but to simplify things, this tutorial will stick to setting up the free version.
Now, let’s dive in!
TASK 1: INSTALLING SEO
To kickstart the process, you need to first acquire and install the Yoast plugin.
That’s the easy part.
Just go over to your WordPress dashboard and hover over the “Plugins” tab and then click on “Add New” when it appears. On the right-hand side of the screen, you’ll see a search box. In this box, simply type in Yoast SEO.
When you see it, click the install button and you will see a plugin install screen. When the installation is done, click the blue link that says “Activate” and you’re done.
This will get the plugin running on your WordPress site. Notice a little logo that says ‘SEO’ on the bottom-left side of your site? That means you are good to go!
TASK 2: SETTING UP YOUR SEO
Hey, don’t be daunted by the many settings on the plugin display. Looks scary right? I know but if you follow our step-by-step guide, you will soon have a hang of it in no time and come out at the other end with a perfectly optimized WordPress website.
1. General Settings (Tour your space!)
Let’s do a quick tour of this plugin. Go over to the general settings by navigating to Yoast>SEO> Dashboard. Then click on the ‘General’ tab at the top. Here you’ll be able to basically look around the Yoast plugin and get a feel of what to expect.
Alright, that’s enough, let’s move along.
2. Personal Stuff (Change is Easy!)
On the ‘Your info’ tab, go ahead and adjust your website name (if that’s your thing) and even give an alternative name to your site. Cool, right?
You can also add a company name or a rep here because this helps improve your visibility to search engines on the Google Knowledge Graph.
It’s a new feature of Google’s search results that if optimized well can be a cool source to get more traffic your way!
3. Webmaster Tools (Stalk your Traffic!)
Looking to get great insights and analytics on the traffic that’s coming to your site? Just go over to the Webmaster tool and link it with your Google Webmaster tools account or any other cool analytic tool.
Now you can get valuable insights on how your site is doing across different search engines.
4. Security Tools (Delegate wisely)
If your site is run by more than a few nerds (authors, contributors, etc.) then you might just want to limit access to how much these fellow site users can customization a post. Enabling this setting will only allow those who have administrator access to do stuff that you have pre-approved.
5. Titles & Meta Optimization (Looks Matter!)
What if I told you that you can tweak what your posts and site look like?
Yes, you can, just go over to the Tiles and Metas section and adjust it as you deem fit.
Hey, the plan is not to go overboard here because the settings you adjust will determine how your site and posts are displayed to the search engines. More importantly, it can affect your search engine click-through-rates and we don’t want to mess with that, do we? To adjust these settings navigate to Yoast> Titles & Metas.
Here’s some extra advice; turn on the ‘Enabled Analysis’ section. This will give some cool recommendations at the bottom of every post or page you create and helps improve the readability of your posts.
6. Post Types (Show What You Mean!)
Here’s a valuable tip.
Use the ‘Post Types’ section to fine-tune how your post and page titles show up in search results. Be sure that your ‘Title templates’ reflect what’s shown in the post image. No point being getting ignored for inconsistency by the bots crawling through online searches.
As for the rest of the checkbox settings, leave them the way they are. The ideal format to follow is your post title first, followed by your site’s name. Any other information might probably be a distraction.
TASK 3: SETTING UP SOCIAL MEDIA ACCOUNTS
It’s time to get social!
Integrating your social media accounts to your WordPress account is as fun as it gets. Yoast does this nicely for all existing social media accounts, but for the time we’ll only discuss two.
Simply enter your profile URLs for your social media network of choice on the main screen and you are good to go.
It’s that simple.
Your Facebook Open Graph Metadata can be configured from the Facebook tab giving you more options for tweaking your Facebook post from within the WordPress editor. You can also add your Facebook Admin up to get extra insights about page traffic and other stuff.
On the Twitter settings tab you can:
Change how you would like the Twitter card to be displayed in a post.
NB: make sure to choose the option ‘Summary with a large image.’ This usually delivers better conversions than just having the title alone.
TASK 4: ENABLING ADVANCED SETTINGS
The plan is to take your SEO efforts a notch higher, right?
That’s why we are letting you into some advanced settings secret too.
XML Sitemaps (Giving Directions)
There’s something called an XML Sitemap that you need to configure also. It’s more like a map that gives directions to the search engine bots to find and crawl your site when it’s updated.
On the first screen make sure that your XML sitemap is enabled. Then, you’ll need to click on the box that says ‘XML Sitemap’, and copy and paste that link into your Google Webmaster Tools account. This will link the two together, so data is shared between the two platforms.
RSS (Bugging your Content)
This RSS feed setting helps secure your content and you, as the original source by adding a link back to all your blog posts. This helps readers and search engines know that you originated the said content in the event that it is ‘used’ by someone else.
Search Console (Getting Visitors Info)
You need some key tracking information to help keep tabs on any crawl errors on your site by search engines, so you can fix them before they become a burden.
Here’s how to set that up.
First, add your site to your Google Webmaster Tools account, then enter the authorization code received to link the Search Console with the Webmaster account.
Just click ‘Get Google Authorization Code’ and a window pops up where you can get the code. Next, copy and paste it into the box and you’re automatically linked for life!
That’s all on the technical part of properly setting up a Search Engine Optimization or SEO using the Yoast Plugin.
It might seem like a lot of work at first but once you get a hang of it, it becomes second nature. Besides if you’re looking to make an impression with your online brand in any capacity, then setting up your SEO is definitely the way to go.
Hope this helps.
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