The 2018 WordPress SEO Quick Setup Guide

Contents

Where to Start
1. Check your Settings
2. Install Yoast SEO Plugin
3. Add Meta Titles and Descriptions to Every Page
4. Social Previews
5. Add Alt Tags to All Images
6. Bridge Broken Links
7. Include Schema Markup
8. Setup Google Analytics & Search Console
9. Install an SSL Certificate
10. Install a Caching Plugin

 

Where to Start

“Search engine optimization” is a huge buzzword in the online world, but the concept itself can seem overwhelming. If you’re unsure of where to start, welcome! You’re in the right place. SEO is the single most important tool for getting found, and while that may sound intimidating – it is achievable. To help you out, we’ve put together our top 10 list white hate SEO strategies to improve your WordPress website’s SEO in 2018.

 

1. Check your Settings

Before you do a deep dive into the world of SEO, be sure that your site is able to be crawled by search engines. To make your site crawlable, you’ll want to log into your WordPress admin panel and go to the Settings tab on the left-hand side and select Reading.

Under Reading, scroll down to where it says Search Engine Visibility and make sure the Discourage search engines from indexing this site is unchecked. It’s vital that this option is disabled. If you skip this step none of the next steps will be of any help!

 

2. Install Yoast SEO Plugin

Install Yoast SEO, WordPress’ number one SEO plugin. Not sure how to get started? Here’s a great tutorial on the ins and outs of the application. Once installed, you’ll see it displayed on each of your pages. The visual tool illustrates the strength of your page’s SEO.

This resourceful tool will allow you to easily create social previews, meta titles and descriptions for your pages.

 

3. Add Meta Titles and Descriptions to Every Page

Make your site stand out against competing sites in Google searches by configuring each page’s meta titles and descriptions. By writing your own meta titles and descriptions, you have more creative control over what people will see when your pages appear on the search engine results page (SERP). If you don’t declare each page’s meta title and description Google’s algorithm will grab content and present your search engine result the way it wants to (which definitely isn’t optimal).

Writing meta titles and descriptions is very similar to writing Google Adwords ad copy. Be sure to include your unique selling proposition (USP) and if you’re a local business it’s a good idea to include your location (i.e. city/town name).

You’ll want to reach the maximum character limit for your meta titles (50–60 characters) and meta descriptions (150-160). While Google has recently announced longer meta descriptions of up to 320 characters are now allowed, it is not recommended because Google will not always show longer snippets.

Here’s an example of what your meta title and description may look like if you do not declare them in Yoast SEO:

As you can see, without defining your meta title and description, Google’s algorithm will grab whatever it can from your page making it look disorganized and unappealing to click on. Below are two good examples of the positive difference properly using a meta title a description can make.

Example #1:

Example #2:

As you can see with the Best Buy, the title clearly states what the business does and the description gives a USP with “Lowest Price Guarantee.” As I mentioned above, this meta description does not exceed 160 characters which ensure that the entire description is shown and nothing gets cut off.

 

4. Social Previews

Since you are going to want people to share your website across social media, ensure that your social previews are configured and optimized. Whether a user is on their smartphone, tablet or desktop, you want the way your page is presented on social media to be pause-worthy and enticing enough for someone to click on.

By using Yoast SEO, you can create a social preview for Facebook and Twitter. To keep it simple you can reuse your meta title and description as the copy. That being said you do have more room when writing your social preview so feel free to add more if you feel that it will make your social preview more enticing.

The last step to creating a great preview is to include an image that best represents the page content and is attention grabbing. Ensure you use the recommended dimensions for each social platform:
Facebook – 1200 by 630 pixels.
Twitter – 1024 by 512 pixels.

Once you have completed your social previews, test them out using the Facebook Debugger Tool and Twitter Card Developer Tool.

Make sure you press Scrape Again. This will force Facebook to crawl the page and grab the new image, title, and description and, ta da! Now when people share your page on social media a preview will automatically populate and preview your page exactly the way you want it to be displayed.

 

5. Add Alt Tags to All Images

“Alt tags” are used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page. The reason why we add alt tags to images is because it allows search engines to easily crawl and index each picture. Search engines have gotten better at identifying images, but they still have not been able to recognize context. Not only will adding alt tags improve search engine visibility, but it will increase the user experience of your site for those who are visually impaired. Be as descriptive as possible.

Here are a few examples:

<img src=”tulips.png” alt=”tulips”>

This alt tag is too simple and doesn’t fully describe what the picture is about.

<img src=”tulips.png” alt=”field of tulips in Holland with windmill in background”>

This is a proper alt tag because it fully describes the image, but avoids keyword stuffing.

<img src=”tulips.png” alt=”tulips field of tulips field of red tulips field of yellow tulips tulips in holland holland tulips”>

This is an example of an alt tag that is keyword stuffing. Using too many keywords is discouraged.

To add alt tags to your images go to WordPress and go into the media tab on the left-hand side.

Click on an image and you will see a screen where you can add your alt text.

 

7. Include Schema Markup

Schema.org is an underutilized resource that can help your site be more crawlable . As a collaboration project between Google, Bing, Yandex and Yahoo!, the Schema can be easily pasted into the header of your homepage. The purpose of this is to declare your business’ information.

To get started, download one of our free schema templates.

If you have a physical storefront location, click this link:

DOWNLOAD LOCAL BUSINESS SCHEMA TEMPLATE

If your business does not have a physical location then use the link below. This option will allow you to include more broad details.

DOWNLOAD ORGANIZATION SCHEMA TEMPLATE

To use the templates simply replace the details highlight in red with your company’s information. Once completed, use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool and insert your code snippet to see if there are any mistakes.

Now that the schema information has been filled out, you can now insert that code snippet into your header of your home page. To simplest way to add this code is to install the plugin Head, Footer and Post Injections. After you install the plugin you will be able to find it under the Settings tab. This will allow you to simply paste in the code snippet into the section that says ONLY ON THE HOME PAGE.

Once added in, save the changes and go back to Google Structured Data Testing Tool and use Fetch URL to test that the information has successfully been added.

 

8. A) Integrate Google Analytics

It’s difficult to understand your online presence and understand how to optimize it without using Google Analytics. From statistics on your users, sessions and bounce rates, Google Analytics collects data about your website and shows you what you need to do in order to optimize.

First, you’ll want to create a Google Analytics account where you will be prompted to fill out your website’s information.

Once completed you will see a page that include your accounts Tracking ID.

After creating a Google Analytics go back to wordpress and install Google Analytics Dashboard for WP (GADWP) plugin. To access the plugin go to the side menu and scroll down to Google Analytics.

Select Authorize Plugin.

Select Get Access Code to where you will receive your access code. Copy that code and paste it in. You’ll then be given the option to select which Google Analytics account to track. Make sure the Tracking ID in wordpress is the same in Google Analytics.

Once you save changes, Google Analytics and WordPress will be connected and you will start seeing data on your Analytics account.

 

8. B) Setup Google Search Console & Submit your Sitemap

Integrate Google Search Console with your website to get status updates on the crawlability of your website. Any errors will show up on this platform. To get started, go to the Google Search Console page to log into your account. Here, you will be able to add properties to your account.

Click ADD A PROPERTY and enter in your website’s URL.

You will now be prompted to verify your website. If you have successfully installed Google Analytics, go to Alternative Methods and select Google Analytics.

If you were not able to install Google Analytics use HTML tag. Copy and paste the tag and insert it into your homepage using the Head, Footer and Post Injections plugin.

Lastly, you’ll want to submit your sitemap. A sitemap details the structure of your web pages. By submitting your sitemap, you can allow Google’s algorithm to easily crawl your web pages. Since you are using Yoast SEO the sitemap is automatically generated.

To view your websites sitemap, simply add sitemap.xml to your url.
www.example.com/sitemap.xml

To submit your sitemap, go to “Crawl” on the left side menu and select “Sitemaps”.

To add your sitemap, select ADD/TEST SITEMAP and type in after your URL “sitemap.xml”.

 

9. Install an SSL Certificate

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the standard when it comes to securing your website.
How can you tell if a website is secure? Just look for the green Secure icon before the URL. The URL will also contain “https://” instead of the standard “http://”. HTTPS is highly recommended by Google and will help prevent intruders from attacking your users.

Not only will this make your site more secure, but it will help your site do better in search results because Google has announced that SSL is a ranking factor. Not only will having an SSL help increase your ranking, it will also prevent chrome and other browsers from flagging your website as unsecured.

To add SSL to your website you will want to purchase it from a well known vendor like GoDaddy, which provides SSL fro $5.99/year or you could host your website with us – we provide SSL certificates for free with our hosting packages. Once you have purchased your SSL you will install it onto your server. Each server has different processes to installing SSL, so use on of the guides for your server provided by GoDaddy. If you don’t want to have to deal with installing your SSL certificate please contact us – we can handle this for you.

 

10. Install an Caching Plugin

The faster a site loads, the better the user experience and therefore the more likely it is to rank well by Google. To enhance the speed of your website, you can use a the WP Rocket Cache Plugin. We’ve had great success from using this on a number of the site we’ve built, however it should be noted that this is a paid plugin. Curious what your current loading time is? Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights are both great, free-to-use online tools to test your site.

 
And there you have it! Our tried and true top 10 tips for achieving optimal SEO through your WordPress site. Understand that while it takes content, hardwork and patience to achieve top search rankings, these plugins and recommendations will help set your site apart.

 

Questions?

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We’re here and ready to respond to any questions that you might have…

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Corey Shelson, Digital Marketer

Author Corey Shelson, Digital Marketer

A diverse leader with a strong entrepreneurial background, Corey has been managing teams and delivering projects on time, on budget and on scope for over 10 years. With a Computer Hardware Engineering Degree from the Royal Military College of Canada and MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business, Corey has an innate ability to dissect complex problems, create clear and concise strategies and execute projects with precision. Corey founded 44 North Digital Marketing in 2015 and has led the company's rapid growth ever since.

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