If you are here, you know what SEO is, but just in case:
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and allows your website to be crawlable and indexed by the search engines.
SEO is important if you want your website to be found by your potential clients and to have regular organic traffic.
Let me show you how to prepare your WP website with the basic SEO configuration using the WP Settings page and a plugin called Yoast SEO, which is one of the most used plugins in the WordPress universe.
Let’s begin! 🙂
Configuring your WordPress basic SEO settings
The basic options you need to configure for SEO are the following:
- Your site title
- Search Engine visibility
Your website title, is the one that appears in your browser’s tab, and in the search results as link.
The site title configuration is one of the most basic settings in WordPress, if you didn’t configure it when installing it or if you want to change it, go to Settings > General in the WP Dashboard.
Permalinks is the way WordPress calls the search engine friendly links. The best option is to only use the post name as the name of the url. I suggest you to read Moz Guide to great page titles here (will open in new tab). The links are generated automatically according to your post/page title, but you can also customize them clicking on the permalink Edit button below.
To activate Permalinks, go to Settings > Permalinks and choose the option that better suits you. Using Post name is the most recommended option.
Search engine visibility
To complete your basic SEO configuration, make sure the Search engine visibility is active, this means, leave the checkbox unmarked. Is incredible how many websites I’ve reviewed in which this box is marked and the owners didn’t know! ?.
You’re doing great! Take a well deserved break!
Complementing your SEO settings with Yoast plugin
On the first part of this guide you learned how to setup the basic settings for SEO.
Now, you’ll learn how to step up your game! 😉
Download and install the Yoast plugin (Here’s a guide on how to install plugins). After you’ve installed the plugin, you will have access to the following SEO options:
- XML sitemap
- Advanced Titles/Meta descriptions setup
And here they are…
XML Sitemap configuration
The XML sitemap creates an index of all of your website’s internal pages. This helps the search engines to crawl your content more easily.
To activate the XML functionality follow these steps:
- Go to the option SEO, then General
- Then go to the tab Features
- Make sure the XML Sitemaps option is On and press Save Changes
- You’re done!
Titles/Meta descriptions advanced setup
With Yoast plugin you can configure how the titles behave for each post type, page type category, among others.
What we recommend is to leave the Title of the site out of each page title, which WP adds by default. In order to do this, follow the next steps:
- Go to the option SEO, then Search Appearance.
- Click on the tab Content Types. You will see a list of the basic types of posts. The most important to modify are posts and pages. Both Posts and Pages have the same configuration by default: %%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%.
- Delete %%sep%% %%sitename%% and leave only %%title%% %%page%%, both for Posts and Pages.
- Click Save Changes
- You’re done!
Adding a custom title for each post or page
With Yoast, you can configure a SEO title different than the page title. If you want to display a title in the site, and another in the search engine results now you can! Also, you have access to add an individual meta description to each page/post.
To do this you only need to scroll down in the page or post you want to customize the title, and click in the snippet preview title or description. After you’ve done that, the fields to edit the title and meta description will appear:
SEO is a whole universe. These are the basics to have your WordPress website up and running with SEO. If you want to learn more about SEO, we suggest you to visit the MOZ SEO Learning Center.