Easy professional WordPress SEO (Tutorial)

With the right setup, search engine optimization is far from rocket science. In this guide, we explain to you how you can optimize your page for Google and other search engines and measure the results.

Preliminary information

On this page, you will learn onpage WordPress search engine optimization and get acquainted with practical tools for measuring success. Click on the following links to view the individual guides on setting up your website, blog, or online shop with our WordPress SEO Plugin. The guide presented here can also be used for other plugins such as Yoast, wpSEO, or the All In One SEO Pack (within their limits).

The setup described here does not guarantee success. Whether you are successful depends on your content, offerings, ideas, and the competition. Naturally, our recommendations here only consist of measures (“ingredients”) which we ourselves have successfully tested in hundreds of projects. Nonetheless, you should make a backup of your page just in case, and record down in your statistics (e.g. Google Analytics) when you made which changes in order to find out what had a positive or negative effect on your rankings.

Ingredients for successful SEO

  1. Measuring success: Access to the most important Google and Bing tools in order to identify topics and keywords, and measure rankings and user behavior. You can also use additional SEO tools. However, they are not necessary for search engine optimization, nor do they guarantee success.
  2. Setup: The correct WordPress settings and a responsive page that is optimized for mobile devices are necessary in order to ensure that your page is always stable and quick to load. Furthermore, you will also require an SEO plugin which you can use to optimize your website, blog, or your shop.
  3. Communication: Publish a post at least once a month on your own WordPress blog. It is only through regular and good communication that you will be able to build a reputation over the long term (e.g. backlinks).

Measuring success

First, you will require access to Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and ideally Google Analytics. With these tools, you will be optimally equipped to measure success.

Google Search Console Overview
Screenshot from Google Search Console

Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools function in more or less the same manner: After successfully verifying your website permissions, they show you if your page is being indexed correctly. If you have just registered a new page with Google and Bing, there will usually not be any data stored for it initially — you will need to wait around 1-4 weeks until results are displayed to you.

The left column displays crawl errors. If there are technical problems here, you should rectify them as soon as possible. The screenshot above shows “1 Soft 404” error. This is a dead link that should be forwarded if this is a meaningful option (this is not always the case). Because the topic of crawl errors is a rather comprehensive one, we will soon be compiling a guide on it — if you would like to be notified, click on the “Follow us” link at the bottom of this page.

The middle column displays statistics on the current number clicks from the search engine to your website, blog, or online shop. Click on the button “Search analysis” to display all search terms which directed users to your website.

Google Search Console Search Analytics English
Screenshot from Google Search Console

Set the search analysis to display the following:

  • Clicks (from the search results)
  • Impressions (i.e. appearances in the search results)
  • Click rate (i.e. percentage of people who click on your page in the search results
  • Position (on average in the search results)

You will then be shown four visibility diagrams, under which is a table of your rankings for each keyword in the last 28 days. For the duration filter, you can set a span of up to 90 days. The data is not stored longer than this. Hence, you should check and export the values regularly in order to record successes (recommendation: once a month). Ideally, you should right-click on the gear wheel on the top right, and then on the Google Analytics link in order to transfer the rankings to your statistics. The filters for search queries (keyword) and pages are highly practical. This allows you to e.g. enter the URLs of the pages of your offerings to display their rankings. The other filters are also very useful.

Information on your sitemaps is shown in the right column. These are the blueprints of your page. The guide to the sitemap module will show you how to submit them.

In addition to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, you should also keep an eye on your website statistics (ideally with Google Analytics): After all, every one of us wants to reach more users. However, in addition to the number of visitors, the dwell time, the click rate, and the bounce rate are also important. Google also uses these user signals to calculate the rankings in the search results. Furthermore, the number of returning users indicates how good your content is. This is because the greater the number of returning users, the more it appears to be worth their while. For more information on implementation, please refer to the guide to the statistics module of our plugin.

Google Analytics Search Console Acquisition
Screenshot from Google Analytics

To see the Search Console information in Google Analytics, select the section “Acquisition” > “Search Console” > “Search queries”. If you are unable to see the tab in Analytics, the link to the Search Console is missing. To rectify this, click on the “Administration” tab and then select “All products” in the middle column. You can now create a link to the Search Console.

Setup

To the installation tutorial of our SEO Plugin

Wherever possible, ensure that the correct WordPress settings have been configured at the very start of your website, blog, or shop project. However, do not make any hasty changes to your settings if the page is already running. Doing so carries the risk of causing the aforementioned crawl errors and the accompanying loss in ranking. By the way, we also recommend that you do not delete any content without careful consideration. Instead, it is better to revise content. If this is not possible, please forward users to appropriate new content after deleting the old links.

Speaking of content: Remember to ensure that all content can be accessed rapidly and easily. The navigation or menu structure of your page must be logical and immediately understood. Hence, short links in the menu are highly recommended. Wherever possible, link your (important) content in your texts as well.

Furthermore, you will also require performance and/or load time optimizationso that your page is as speedy as possible: 3 seconds is the absolute maximum, and significantly under 2 seconds of loading time is desirable.

Also important is mobile optimization and/or responsive design. You can use the tool think with Google to check if the search engine sees your page as being mobile-friendly and fast. Where mobile-friendliness is concerned, no score below 99 points should appear. For mobile speed, a score above 85 points is desirable, although we understand that performance optimization is not always easy (see guide in preceding paragraph).

think with Google
Source: think with Google

Communication

Regular communication is quintessential on the internet. No SEO plugin in the world — neither ours nor the ones from Yoast, wpSEO & Co. — can do this job for you. Good, current content forms the basis for your online reputation: This is because only relevant information is worth mentioning for other website and shop operators, bloggers, and journalists.

Ideally, you should already be considering which topics interest your target audience and how often and/or when you could post entries when setting up your page or blog. You can use our Content Wheel to determine which topics might be of interest for your target audience. Let yourself be inspired by your industry and your customers and use this information to develop an editorial plan that you can implement consistently: We recommend that you publish something new on your own blog at least once a month, and that you optimize an existing blog entry and re-publish it at least once a month.

Active reputation-building

Plan for at least one guest post a month that you wish to publish on portals relevant to your industry. Do not forget that


  1. reputation-building should take place primarily on websites and portals that are relevant for your industry and customers: Yellow pages and link directories are generally not suitable for this purpose. Trade journals and thematically appropriate blogs are examples of ideal platforms. You can find these pages by googling for your offerings and topics, using the Google AdWords Display Planer, searching for them in Buzzsumo and having their reach estimated with the aid of SimilarWeb.
    In the Display Planner, select the tab “Individual targeting ideas” after the statistics, and then “All placements”. You will then be shown 2-3 columns in the bottom half of the window containing relevant domains and authors for your industry. However, this tool only works with a Google AdWords (advertising) account — exactly the same as the Google Keyword Planner, which can be very helpful for researching search terms. Unfortunately, if you do not have an active AdWords campaign, you will be limited to the other tools. Using all the data, create a table and follow the media via e-mail, RSS feeds, or social media. Subsequently, while you are getting to know the media, consider which topics could be interesting for you, and suggest them to the corresponding editorial team.
  2. reputation-building is initially like cold calling: You will require a few attempts before a blogger, journalist, or other website operator accepts your suggestion. In order to achieve your goal of at least one entry and link per month, you should not only write to just one person. Instead, you will need at least 5 times as many attempts at the beginning. This is entirely normal and should not demotivate you. Each rejection helps you to learn and improve.
  3. social media fans and followers are not the primary goal: This is because in order to build reach on social media, you will need to invest a great deal of time and money (for advertising). Despite this, you will not receive the contact data of fans and followers, but instead remain dependent on the corresponding platform. Hence, I recommend focusing on your own leads (contacts) by offering users free e-mail subscriptions and other contact options. Of course, social media is also a form of lead generation, but only secondary to your own channels.

Now that we have completed the basics, we can turn to the actual optimization (with our WordPress SEO plugin):

Metadata

Meta titles and meta descriptions are important for your rankings on Google and Bing from the very start. They form the basis for snippets; i.e. the preview of your website, blog, or shop in the search results. Because the metadata provide an initial impression of your page, they should match your search terms as closely as possible, and ideally also explain what makes your offerings unique.

Metadata and Rating Rich Snippet in Google SERPs
Source: Google search results

In order to bridge the gap between manual and automated metadata, we have started off by implementing a number of settings for determining their sequence and composition in our SEO tool. When editing your content, you will receive an additional keyword field which is linked to Google’s autocomplete feature. It will help you to focus your content on those search terms that are actually being searched for.

Go to metadata guide

Sitemaps

Sitemaps are blueprints of your page which are best submitted right when preparing to measure success in the Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Google Search Console Sitemaps English
Source: Google Search Console

With our SEO plugin, all types of sitemaps can be generated automatically:

  • Standard
  • Images
  • Video
  • Google News

Although you will only require the standard sitemap for a normal website, if you are using a lot of your own images and videos for search engine optimization and are hosting your own content (e.g. as a photographer or videographer), we recommend that you also use these other types. You will not require these sitemaps for stock photos and videos which are embedded from an external source.

As a blogger or publishing house, the Google News Sitemap is also interesting. However, before you can use it, you will need to be approved first.

Go to sitemap guide

Statistics

As already explained in measuring success , we recommend that you use Google Analytics. You can embed the tracking code via our statistics module and have the IP addresses of your users anonymized to satisfy German data privacy regulations. Furthermore, our SEO plugin is also equipped with its own access statistics which is launched when the module is activated and conceived for industries where data privacy is crucial: e.g. for hospitals, insurance companies, and municipalities.

WordPress Statistics Dashboard Widget
Screenshot from WordPress Statistics Dashboard Widget

Go to statistics guide

URLs

A hierarchical and simple URL structure makes it easy for users and search machines to navigate your website, blog, or shop. In order to make the URLs as lean as possible, you can use this module to filter out filler words (called “stopwords”) from the new URLs. Important: Existing URLs should not be changed, or they should be forwarded if they are changed.

If errors occur due to a change in the URL structure — which Google Search Console will report to you as mentioned in measuring success erwähnt berichtet – you can define a 404 error page in the URL module.

SSL Settings in WordPress
Screenshot from WordPress

Furthermore, this is also where you can also force an encrypted connection to your website. The encryption should take place with the correct setup of WordPress and will be finalized with our plugin.

Go to URL optimization guide

As the name suggests, breadcrumbs help lead users back to your start page during navigation. They represent the current page on which users or search engines are located using a hierarchical path.

These navigation paths are shown above all in the mobile search results by Google instead of the URL of your page, but are also making headway in desktop search results. They are important for user-friendliness, and can be flexibly defined by our tool and positioned in the theme with the help of a WordPress widget, with shortcode, or PHP code.

Go to the breadcrumb guide

Both internal and external links are extremely powerful for search engine optimization. Previously, when discussing communication, we mentioned that you should not only link all important pages in your menu, but also within your content. However, you should also insert external links to additional content on other websites into your own content.

The purpose of external links is to increase trust among users and search engines by putting your content and theses to the test. Hence, it is no coincidence that we also linked one or more tools here on this page. The link module of our WordPress plugin takes care of the work for you, making it unnecessary to add programming code to open each external link in a new window. Furthermore, you can also have such outgoing links devalued overall with “nofollow”. This is particularly important when you embed links about advertising partnerships on your page.

Go to the link guide

Microdata

Microdata or structured data is particularly highlighted information that should be displayed directly in the search results of Google & Co. You are most certainly aware of rich snippets which contain video previews, price and event information, or contact data.

Google Rich Snippet
Source: Google

With the help of the microdata module, you can insert invisible contact data for your company in the source code of the entire page, which will then be utilized for your rich snippets. In addition, there is also a YouTube interface whose data you can insert, allowing you to automatically supplement videos with the correct information at the content level. Naturally, our plugin also offers additional microdata for configuration at the content level.

Go to the microdata guide

Ratings

In communication above, we already covered reputation-building. Ratings on your website are, in addition to “offpage” reputation, a powerful way to create trust among readers and hence potential customers. Similar to Amazon and eBay, our plugin can also combine star ratings with comments, thereby helping to collect opinions from your readers and customers and display them on the page.

Metadata and Rating Rich Snippet in Google SERPs
Source: Google search results

This “onpage” reputation has two major advantages:

  1. The star ratings can be displayed in Google’s search results with the aid of rich snippets, allowing you to set your website apart from other search results (also see Microdata).
  2. 1. The texts from the comments can contribute to identifying your content as being more relevant. If the comments are extremely good, they can even help you save a great deal of work on text optimization.

You can position the ratings obtained in a WordPress theme with the help of a widget, using shortcode, or PHP code.

Go to the ratings guide

Social Sharing

Also important for reputation-building are reactions and above all reaching visitors via social media. Previously, we stated that “social signals” are not part of our immediate goals. Similarly, they currently do not constitute direct ranking factors either. Despite this, it is still important to use them to attract website visitors. This is because on social media, customers and readers will recommend us to additional contacts. And we will attempt to increase this recommendation rate with social sharing buttons such as these:

However, because the official social sharing buttons of the various platforms are slow and do not always satisfy data privacy requirements, we have developed our own module which offers you configurable and customizable sharing buttons with counters. Above all, the reason why it is faster (and load time is really important in the basic setup) is that it does not transmit any data to the social networks without consent from your users: It is only after a user clicks on the corresponding network that data is transmitted, which according to current data privacy regulations is the only secure solution. Although this does not replace a corresponding clause in the data privacy regulations, it is definitely more secure. Naturally, there are more buttons to choose from than those shown here. You can use a WordPress widget, shortcode, or PHP code to position the buttons in your theme or e.g. in the sidebar.

Go to the social sharing guide

Text optimization

Relevant texts are the most important way to leverage search engine optimization. This is because with the relevant terms, Google can place your page in context, allowing the search engine to better index it. By the way: Classic SEO texts that are simply positioned at an almost invisible location and not read are something that we aim to avoid in search engine optimization. They constitute too high a risk for being identified as fraud and penalized (we call this “cloaking”).

Of course, our plugin helps you optimize your content down to the last word.

Go to the text optimization guide

Summary

The basics of search engine optimization with WordPress are not difficult. And if you delve a little deeper, you will notice that SEO is not difficult, but instead highly logical. If you would like to stay updated, we recommend following our blog:

To our SEO blog