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WordPress Blog SEO – Where to Start if You’re a Beginner

But don’t worry – it’s not as complicated as you might think. We’ll quickly cover the basics so you can start blogging on the right foot.

Let’s dive in.


What is SEO? Why does a WordPress blog need it?

SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization.

“Search engines” refer to services like Google, Bing, and Yahoo, and “search engine optimization” refers to the process of optimizing content for the search engine.

Websites optimize their content for search engines so that:

  • The content has a higher chance of appearing in relevant search results and even ranking in the first few positions which is sure to drive more organic traffic to your website.
  • Besides optimizing content, search engine optimization involves optimizing other aspects of the website, including site structure and user experience making the site user-friendly.
  • Search engine optimization allows websites to stay ahead of their competition by drawing relevant audiences into their websites and converting them into customers and loyal fanbases.

How to do SEO for your WordPress blog

SEO is a rather wide topic, so we’ve broken it all down into individual parts. Here are all the steps from top to bottom:


1. Do keyword research

Keyword research is super important and could dictate the success or failure of your SEO strategy.

Keyword research is the process of identifying keywords that you can write about on your website and ranking them in the first few positions of the search engine result page (SERP).

But how do you find these keywords? And how do you know these keywords will rank on SERP? Let’s find out.

a. Find relevant keywords

Finding relevant keywords can be easy or hard depending on the popularity of the topic.

Let’s say, you sell oranges on your website. Orange is a very general term and therefore finding relevant keywords is easy.

You can head over to the Google search engine and write the term “orange” in the search box. Google will immediately suggest tons of related terms.

To find longtail keywords, you can add words like “does,” “can”, “will, “is/are,” “how,” etc., before the term “orange” and you’ll be suggested keywords like “are oranges good for cold,” “are oranges sweet,” etc.

google suggestion keyword research method

Another clever way to find relevant keywords is to add letters of the alphabet before or after the term, as shown in the image below.

alphabet soup keyword research method

b. Find what your competition ranks for

The easiest way to find some good keywords is to check what your competition ranks for already.

Find their top-performing posts by plugging their URL into BuzzSumo or Ahrefs, then take the URLs of their top post and plug them into Google Keyword Planner (GKP) to see what keywords they rank for.

Keyword Research with Google Keyword Planner - the first element of WordPress blog SEO.

If you see any good ones, steal ’em!

💡 PRO TIP: The “competition” row in GKP refers to paid advertising, not organic rankings, so don’t worry about that when choosing a keyword.

c. Check the search volume of your keywords

The next thing you should know is which keywords have enough monthly search volume, which means that there are people actively looking for these keywords = interested readers.

Search volumes can be found using keyword research tools like, again, Ahrefs, Semrush, Keywords Everywhere, etc.

finding keyword volume in keywords everywhere

We can generally say that the more the better, but it’s not always that easy. There’s also a metric called keyword difficulty. Tools like Ahrefs will let you know what the difficulty of any keyword is.

ahrefs keyword difficulty

This example keyword is pretty easy to rank according to Ahrefs, but if you see your keyword in the red, then it’s probably a good move to skip it and choose different ones.


2. Do on-page SEO

On-page SEO refers to the optimizations made on your own pages to improve their search engine rankings and visibility. Below we have covered elements for you to work on:

a. Write high-quality content

Content is the foundation of a web page. Publishing high-quality content is arguably the most crucial factor (besides proper keyword research) in the success of your WordPress SEO strategy.

High-quality content offers the reader what they came looking for, keeps them engaged, and encourages them to revisit. Poorly written content on the other hand is off-putting and unlikely to encourage revisits. Even if you were to implement proper on-page, off-page, and technical SEO, bad content is unlikely to rank or gain any visibility in SERP.

b. Distribute target keywords evenly

When implementing on-page SEO, you need to ensure that the keyword (example: “oranges vs apples” ) and variations of the keyword (example: “are oranges better than apples”) appear throughout the article, evenly. It makes the article seem a coherent piece for both readers and search engine crawlers.

SEO experts recommend that keyword variations should appear throughout the article and the keyword itself should appear in the following locations:

  • The page title
  • The URL of the page
  • At least one subheading (H2 or H3) on the page
  • At least one image’s alt text
  • The meta title
  • The meta description
  • The body content (a handful of times)

So, for example, if you’re targeting “SEO tips” as your main keyword, your page would be optimized like this:

“Example (a)”
  • Title: “5 SEO Tips to Grow Your Rankings (Fast!)”
  • URL: yoursite.com/seo-tips
  • H2: The SEO Tips That Actually Matter
  • Image alt text: “SEO tips for beginners”
  • Meta title: “5 SEO Tips to Grow Your Rankings (Fast!)”
  • Meta Description: “Looking for SEO tips? These 5 tactics helped us go from 0 to 1,000 daily visitors in less than 6 months!”
  • And of course in the content, you’d use “SEO tips” a few times. I recommend at least 3-5 per 1000 words, but don’t overdo it, because Google will penalize you for keyword stuffing.
“Example (b)”
seo keyword distribution in article

Sounds like a lot to remember, right? That’s where the Yoast SEO plugin comes in!

This is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress. It adds a dedicated section to your pages where it makes suggestions on how to improve on-page SEO and reminds you when you miss any of the important keyword locations, as shown in the image below:

yoast seo section in article

c. Use heading tags

Heading tags are HTML elements used to structure and organize the content on a webpage. Example:

h2 tags in html wordpress

Heading tags range from H1 to H6 and have two purposes:

  • One is to provide visual hierarchy and improve readability for readers and
  • two is to offer search engines a better understanding of whether the content aligns with the search intent of users.

Be sure to organize tags in a proper hierarchy. Use H2 tags for major subheadings, and progressively use H3-H6 tags for other less important subsections.

Also, never choose the H1 tag because that’s only meant for the page title itself. WordPress automatically adds H1 tags to its page titles.

d. Optimizing title and meta description

The title and meta description are some of the most important components of a WordPress web page. These two are the first things that search engine users notice. They help convince the users to click through the links and read the entire article.

title and meta desc in serp

Try to add the target keyword to the beginning of the title to grab the reader’s attention and establish content relevance quickly.

keyword at the beginning of article title

Want to show a different title to search engines instead of the one that appears on the article? You can do that using Yoast.

Scroll down to the end of the post and replace the default title – as I have done in the image below:

serp title yoast seo

The meta description is a concise summary of the content on the page. You need an SEO plugin to add a meta description. Here’s where to put the description in Yoast:

wordpress yoast meta desc

Internal links refer to links from within your website and external links refer to links that go from your site to others.

  • Internal links provide readers with additional resources related to the content they are consuming. They encourage readers to explore the website further and allow search engines to crawl the site better.
  • External links help establish trust by citing authoritative resources.

Yoast will let you know how well you’re doing when it comes to adding those links to your content:

yoast seo inbound outbound link notification

f. Optimize your URL

The URL of the page should have the target keyword ideally at the beginning so that search engines can quickly identify the page’s topic and relevancy to users’ search intent.

A few pointers: the URL should be easy to read and understand for both readers and search engines. Keep it short and ensure that it accurately reflects the content of the page. Avoid unnecessary words, numbers, or special characters.

In WordPress, the title of the page is automatically converted into a URL. If you need to modify the URL, then select the setting option on the right-hand screen corner, click on the URL, and proceed to make changes.

changing url in gutenberg

3. Add your site to Google Search Console & Google Analytics

Search Console and Analytics are free tools from Google.

Google Search Console (GSC) helps monitor a website’s presence in Google search results by providing insights into indexing, search performance, and website security health.

Google Analytics (GA), on the other hand, tracks and analyzes website traffic, and user behavior as a way to help website owners make data-driven decisions to optimize and improve the site’s online presence.

It’s recommended to add your website to both of these tools so that you are able to monitor your progress over time. One additional benefit is that Google will let you know through the Search Console in case it stumbles upon any problems when crawling your site.


4. Do mobile SEO 📱

Views from mobile devices account for more than 50% of all website visits right now. Add to that, 60%+ of mobile visitors will leave your site if they have a frustrating browsing experience.

When you think about this, it makes total sense. Everyone and their dog has a smartphone now, and they use them for nearly all web purposes.

Mobiles is where we go to see Facebook, watch a YouTube video, check email, everything.

This is why making sure that your web pages look good on mobile is key. Two reasons for that:

  1. Mobile-friendly page means that it’ll be easier for your readers to consume the content you’re publishing,
  2. Google now actively penalizes websites that are not sufficiently mobile-friendly; or, even more than that, Google uses mobile-first indexing, which means that it’s the mobile view that decides how highly your page will rank in Google.

Here’s what you can do with that information and how to make sure that your whole website as well as your individual posts and pages are mobile-friendly:

a. Use Google’s mobile friendliness tool

Mobile friendly test.

Google has made their own tool public so that every webmaster can check how mobile-optimized their web pages are. You can access the tool here.

To use it, just enter the URL of the page you want to check.

It’s a good practice to test a couple of types of pages on your site:

  • your homepage
  • a standard blog page – any standard page built in the Pages section of the WordPress dashboard
  • a standard blog post
  • any custom or otherwise non-standard page or post – test any post and page that have custom designs or use custom page templates

Doing all of the above gives you a good overview of the situation.

If any of those tests return a negative result, you need to investigate some more and follow Google’s tips on how to fix the issues.

Here’s what the test should look like when all is fine:

Mobile test ok.

b. Use a mobile optimized theme

Since WordPress is a fully modular platform, so to speak, this means that you can exchange your themes whenever you see fit. Thus, you can use this opportunity to make sure that your theme works good on mobile as well.

Here’s how to do that:

  • test your theme using the Google mobile test described above,
  • emulate different devices in the Chrome browser and see if the content still looks correct.

To emulate different devices in Chrome, launch the developer tools by hitting either Cmd+Opt+i (Mac) or Ctrl+Shift+i (Win). You’ll see a new panel appear on the screen. Click on the “device” button:

Dev tools.

Once you do this, you’ll have the option to select a specific device that you want to emulate.

Refresh the page once you make a selection.

Pick device.

Scroll up and down the screen to make sure everything is in order. You can also switch to other devices and repeat.

Device preview.

If there are any significant issues at all, you’ll likely not be able to fix them in a straightforward way. At this point, it’s better to just switch your theme to something that’s mobile-optimized from the get-go.


5. Structure your site for readers and Google

The way your site is set up affects how easily users (and Google’s crawler bots) can navigate it.

There are two golden rules to site architecture in terms of WordPress blog SEO:

  1. Every page should be within three clicks of every other page.
  2. Your site should be simple and scalable.

More on those later. First, and example of BAD site architecture (each block is a single sub-page):

Poor SEO site architecture.

It breaks both rules. It takes as many as five clicks to get to the content (go from the top to the bottom left), and it’s not scalable.

Not only is this poor for navigation, it also hurts your search rankings. Here’s why:

Typically, your home page is the most authoritative page on your site. Internal links from one page on your site to another pass some of that “link juice” or “authority” from one page to another. This was formerly called PageRank, but Google no longer uses that term.

Visually, it works like this:

Internal Linking SEO.

So if you bury your posts deep within your site, you’re losing the authority from your home page. Here’s another visual:

Explaining Pagerank.

So your blog posts lose out on that link authority.

Instead, set up your site like this:

Proper Site Architecture.

Your pages are linked together like a web. These internal links help Google crawl all your pages efficiently, while helping users get around your site. It also spreads around your site’s authority, helping all your content rank = that’s good WordPress blog SEO.


6. Do off-page SEO

Off-page SEO refers to the optimization efforts that take place outside of your website to improve its search engine rankings.

It involves activities like building high-quality backlinks from other websites, partnerships with industry influencers, building up social media followings, and online reputation management to enhance your website’s authority, visibility, and credibility in the eyes of search engines.

As you can tell, off-page SEO covers a lot of ground and requires careful planning before implementation. It also requires a lot of work and its result can only be measured over time, by which we mean months or even years.

Covering off-page SEO in detail is beyond the scope of this article so I recommend diving into this excellent guide on the topic: off-page SEO checklist for WordPress.

Just as internal links from one of your pages to another passes authority, so too do links from other people’s websites to yours.

Actually, links from another website to yours are far more important for ranking your website on Google than internal links. Think of links like votes for Google. The more votes your website has, the better chance it has to rank highly.

However, you don’t just want links to your homepage. While they do help, what’s more important are links directly to the individual blog posts you’re trying to rank.

I would even risk saying something like this:

Links equals traffic.

So you get it – links are important. But how do you get them?

If I were starting from scratch with no connections in a brand new niche, I would start by building relationships with the influencers in the industry.

Not only will these relationships leads to backlinks, but they can also lead to partnerships, help sharing your content, and loads of learning.

To find those influencers, start with Google. Just start searching for topics you’re interested in. The top results are typically influencers.

How to find influencers.

Get together a list of 10-20 of these people. Follow them on social media, share their content, and comment on their blogs. Do all the things you wish people would do for you.

After that, reach out to them and ask for their feedback on your content. Be genuine about it – talk about how you found them, what you love about their blog, or what you admire about them. The more genuine you are, the better your chances of getting a response.

Once you become better than acquaintances with them, ask them straight up if they’d mention your content on their blog. Make sure it’s valuable for their readers, and they’ll probably be more than happy to help.

Go out there and do the work!

And that’s all there is to it! You now know more about WordPress blog SEO than 80% of bloggers out there. Give yourself a pat on the back!

With all that being said, I do realize that some of this may sound perhaps a bit too simple and too convenient. There doesn’t seem to be any secret sauce here, right?

Well, there’s no magic trick that’s sure to “break SEO,” unfortunately. SEO is mostly about doing a lot of little things, and doing them regularly. It really is about showing up and doing the actual work rather than hoping to stumble upon the next killer technique.

This WordPress blog SEO strategy is basically how we built this blog’s position within the WordPress niche. We networked with people, commented, reached out to them a number of times, made friends, and so on. This, in time, allowed us to get links and thus improve our search engine rankings.

We talk some more about that in the next chapter, which is all about effective blog promotion.

Karol K

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