Making WordPress search engine optimized is no easy task even for the most hardened SEO, but with this ultimate WordPress SEO Guide For Beginners you will learn how to optimize your WordPress site, blog, or eCommerce site to be SEO ready.
What you’ll learn in this tutorial
Basic WordPress SEO settings
Checking your sites visibility settings
The first thing we always check in WordPress is hidden behind Settings > Reading. Here you can find the “Search engine visibility” setting which should be unselected.
If this setting is selected Google, Bing, and all other search engines that respect the no-index command will not index your site, blocking your search engine visibility completely.
SEO friendly URL settings
The second setting every user should check in with their WordPress is their permalinks. To find permalinks head on to “Settings > Permalinks” and select the “Post name” to ensure your links are as follow bloginbox.com/sample-post/ instead of bloginbox.com/?p=123/
It’s much easier for users to remember /sample-post/ than numbers. This setting helps your users to navigate as well as the search engines to understand better what each page is about.
WARNING! Changing this setting will affect all your current links. This means that if you have been using any other setting than the “Plain” or “Post name” you need to create redirects manually to ensure WordPress knows where to direct the old URL.
All In One SEO setup
WordPress doesn’t offer a way to edit meta descriptions or titles itself but there are plugins that can help you with the basics of WordPress search engine optimization. Do note that WordPress itself is very well optimized for SEO, but we do recommend setting up an SEO plugin like AIOSEO since they add new functionalities WordPress itself doesn’t have built-in.
1. Install and activate AIOSEO
After activating the plugin AIOSEO will walk you through their Setup Wizard. So go on and click the “Let’s Get Started” button.
2. Category and homepage settings
The first thing AIOSEO asks from you is some basic information about your site. This is so it can set up the right settings for your SEO. Here you can also change what your home page meta title and meta description will look like. After you’re happy with the home page and other settings press “Save and Continue” to move on to the next step.
3. Additional Site Information
The second step in AIOSEO is to set up your site information. This includes the information that tells the search engines if you are a person or organization and how you can be contacted. You should also add your social media links and company logo here so AIOSEO can generate the correct schemas for your page.
4. SEO features
We can now what AIOSEO features we want to activate. The most basic ones are Sitemap and Optimized Search Appearance. For best results, we recommend getting the AIOSEO Pro which unlocks the Local SEO, Video Sitemap, and News Sitemap features.
5. Search Appearance
Here we can see what our search results will look like on Google and other search engines. If you want to edit the looks you can simply use the buttons to remove certain data from showing in the meta title or in the meta description.
Here you can also edit the information regarding if you have multiple authors or if you want to redirect attachment pages to your site.
6. Site analyzer
If you don’t want to set up the site analyzer or smart recommendations you can simply skip this step from the bottom of the page by clicking “Skip this step“.
7. Enter your AIOSEO License key
If you already purchased your AIOSEO license key you can add it here to activate it. Otherwise, you can simply press “Skip this Step” to finish up the setup.
And you’re done. If you want to activate Image SEO and the Smart Redirects +404 Detection you will need the PRO license. You can purchase yours by clicking the button below.
AIOSEO breadcrumb settings
After the basic setups of AIOSEO head on to the General settings of AIOSEO by selecting “All In One SEO > General settings” from the left main menu. Here you can select “Breadcrumb settings” to edit them.
Here you can either enable or disable breadcrumbs completely and select the way you want to add breadcrumbs to your page. AIOSEO offers four different ways to add the breadcrumb to your page shortcode, Gutenberg block, PHP code (useful if you wish to place the breadcrumb on all pages in the same spot), or as a widget.
The breadcrumb settings offer quite a few different ways to edit them. You can edit the separator if you want the “Homepage” link to be active and other basic settings. Though for most there is no need to edit these settings.
Before we go deeper into AIOSEO let’s set up a Google Search console, because it is required for the next step.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a web service by Google which allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize the visibility of their websites. Google Search Console is free to use and is one of the most important tools for those who want to optimize their search engine rankings and increase their visitor count from search engines to their site.
How to add the site to Google Search Console
As always to use Google Search Console you are going to need a Google account or a Gmail account. So first thing first, create your Google account here.
After creating your Google account you can log in to Google Search Console here.
Verify site ownership
To add your property (website) you can select the “Add new property” from the top left corner or Google Search Console.
You will be prompt to select from the two types, the domain or the URL prefix. If you select the domain you will be required to do DNS verification so we recommend using the URL prefix.
To verify your page scroll down until you see “Additional methods” and select the “HTML tag“
Next head back to your site and select “All In One SEO > General Settings > Webmaster Tools” and click “Google Search Console“. Now you can input your HTML tag and save the changes.
After saving your verification key on AIOSEO remember to go back to Google Search Console and click “Verify” so Google can verify your ownership.
How to add a sitemap to Google Search Console
Now that we have our site verified we can add the site’s sitemap to the Google Search console. To do this head on to the “Sitemaps” area from the left and submit your sitemap. If you have followed our guide your sitemap URL should be your-page-url.com/sitemap.xml.
Submit your sitemap and you should get a message from Google that your site map has been successfully submitted.
Important note: If you are seeing the status as “Couldn’t fetch” or “Failed” don’t panic. Usually, it takes a bit of time for Google to crawl your site map so give it some time and check back again later.
Add SSL to your site
Google has officially stated that SSL is a ranking factor in their search and for this reason, SSL has become more important than ever on your site. On other notes, it helps to keep your visitors safe and helps your site to be more secure as well overall.
To add SSL to your site you should go to “Plugins > Add New” and search for “Really Simple SSL“. Please note that most hosts like BlueHost offer a free SSL and it can already be in effect on your site. Really Simple SSL can still help you set up a few other protection measures to help you keep your site safe so we recommend installing it either way.
System status scan
Getting started with Really Simple SSL head on to your WordPress “Settings > SSL” and start the system Status Scan. When you start your scan Really Simple SSL with scan your site and tell you if it’s possible to add a free Let’s Encrypt SSL to your site.
After the scan is ready press “Save and continue” to continue to the next step.
After the scan, you will be requested to add an email which will be the main email to which the SSL will be connected. Don’t forget to activate the “OCSP Stapling” to help you speed up your site so there is less time between the SSL confirmation and the visitor’s browser when it checks it.
To finish up the SSL installment follow through with the walkthrough with Really Simple SSL.
Really Simple SSL basic settings
After the SSL is set up head on to the Really Simple SSL basic settings. You should be redirected to the page automatically but if not head on to “Settings > SSL”.
Important settings to set on are:
- Mixed content fixer
- Helps you fix all content that should be delivered from HTTPS but are still for some reason behind HTTP by changing them to HTTPS.
- Enable WordPress 301 redirect
- This will redirect anyone trying to access your site through HTTP by forcing them to HTTPS.
- Enable 301 .htaccess redirect
- Setup the 301 redirect to your .htaccess which is faster than if the redirect was made on the WordPress end.
Now that we have set up WordPress basic technical SEO we can start checking our posts and pages. Thankfully AIOSEO helps us with this as well by giving us a page score to check when creating our content.
AIOSEO page score
The AIOSEO Settings can be found from the bottom of your post/page editor where you are able to edit your meta description and title as needed. You can also see a preview of your snippet ow it will show up on Google and other search engines.
Please note that Google might sometimes decide not to show your snippet but instead will choose a snippet from your page that it thinks reflects better what the page or post is about.
Headline analyzer helps you analyze your title so it’s optimized for SEO but also attracts those important clicks. The scoring is shown clearly and it even shows how it emphasizes different words in the title. Another factor AIOSEO considers is the character and word count to ensure your title is not too short or too long to show fully in the search results.
A good score is between 40 and 60, though you should always strive for 70 or more for the best results by AIOSEO.
WordPress works as a great platform for those who want to create search engine optimized content, but it does require some help from a few plugins to achieve its full potential. If you have followed our step-by-step guide you should now have set up your WordPress towards the right path of being search engine optimized and hopefully, you learned a trick or two.
Did you like our blog post? Share our blog post and comment below what you think of this guide, share your own tips or tell us if there is something we can improve.