SEO and WordPress: How to set up your site for success

WordPress enjoys an excellent reputation across the SEO community. If you want to build a scalable website that ranks on Google, WordPress is a great place to start. We’re no strangers to singing the praises of this CMS behemoth, and we’re not alone. WordPress powers around 39% of all websites in the world.
WordPress and SEO optimisations go hand-in-hand. And the best part is that you can easily make changes to your website as it grows. So whether you’re setting up a WordPress website for the first time, or you’re trying to implement some much-needed SEO changes, it’s easy enough to manage.
In this blog post, we will look at the steps you need to take to make sure your WordPress website is fast, efficient and fully optimised for SEO. Read on to discover our top tips…

WordPress and SEO: The Basics

As we’ve mentioned before on this blog, running your site on a fast server with an SSL certificate is a key aspect of search optimisation. Your server should be sufficient for current web traffic levels and it should also be able to handle growth. This could mean switching to a dedicated server or simply moving to cloud hosting.
An SSL certificate is also very easy to set up with a WordPress website. Most hosting companies will offer a guided installation to help you get this up and running. Once it’s live, you can use a WordPress widget to make sure it is working correctly. The Really Simple SSL plugin will manage all of the website changes for you.

WordPress Themes and SEO

WordPress is popular because it is easily customisable. The back end of the website offers a fairly standardised layout, with pages, blog posts and settings. The front end of the website, or how your website appears, is determined by a theme.
There are free and paid themes available, or you could hire someone to build your website from scratch. When looking for a theme, there are huge SEO benefits to paid and custom themes. Free themes can be rather heavy on the code. This makes it more difficult for search engines to index the content. Working with a developer can help to strip out unnecessary code and streamline your website.

WordPress Plugins and SEO

Plugins are small bits of code that add extra functionality to your website. There are plenty of plugins that will help you manage the SEO on your website. The two most popular are Yoast SEO and All In One SEO.
These plugins will add an SEO section to the elements of your site and offer guidance on how to optimise your content. For example, Yoast SEO will allow you to enter your target keyword and it will then give you a readability score and SEO score. The readability score will help you to optimise your content for readers while the SEO score will make sure you have properly signposted your content.
A WordPress SEO plugin will allow you to create a meta title and description, add OpenGraph meta data and determine the URL.

WordPress and your Sitemap

A Sitemap is like an instruction manual for the search engine crawl bots. It outlines which content should be indexed and which content should be ignored. It also tells search engines where to find it. Most SEO plugins will automatically generate a sitemap, but you may need to configure elements of it.

WordPress, Headers and Footers

Most WordPress websites will follow the same layout with a header, body and then a footer. Headers typically contain the navigate and will be the same on every page. Footers are also the same on every page but these might offer a secondary navigation, contact details or further information. Headers and footers are great for SEO because they are great for the user experience.