You can either pay for clicks or build your site so that customers find it themselves. With WordPress, you have an excellent tool at your fingertips. In this article, I’ll show you how to do search engine optimization for WordPress.
You don’t feel like it? Then we will be happy to help you with search engine optimization.
Why is search engine optimization important for WordPress?
The Internet consists of millions of different websites. Google, Bing and other search engine operators have set themselves the goal of making these websites accessible. But the competition is fierce!
For the search query “malergeschäft”, for example, there are 1,130,000 hits!
You know from experience that the website on page 2 is unlikely to be accessed. Already from the 5th or 6th place on the first page, the click numbers are around 0%! The first and second search results receive almost 80% of clicks. Is that still not enough motivation to optimize your WordPress site for search engines?
I don’t want to hide it, but “malergeschäft” is searched for around 2,400 times a month in Switzerland! That’s 2,400 potential customers. And after\”paint store nearby” at least 140 times a month!
What is the goal of search engine optimization?
The goal of search engine optimization – SEO for Search Engine Optimization– is to get on page 1 of Google. Of course, it would be better in 1st place.
Why are we always talking about Google? Well, there are also Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, Yandex, Baidu and a few more, but Google simply has the largest market share. Google’s market share in Switzerland is 92%. You can also assume that if the page is well positioned on Google, it will also be high up on other search engines.
Which factors influence the Google ranking?
Nobody knows exactly, because that is Google’s big secret. There is talk in the industry of around 200 criteria that determine the ranking. If you want to know exactly, then I recommend Google’s starting guide to search engine optimization.
There are countless books, forums, courses and conferences on the subject, so it is definitely beyond the scope of this article to go into detail. Here are just the most important factors (these factors apply not only to search engine optimization for WordPress, but in general. Also for Jimdo, Wix, Joomla and co.):
Backlinks – links that point to your own site
This can be from a directory, another blog post, a newspaper or the community website. The more popular this other page with the link is, the better. Make your site known and feel free to ask people if they would link to you. For example, make sure that the link is in your Google Business profile.
The internal structures are taken into account and help Google to understand how your site is structured. In addition, unlike backlinks, you have control over it. Take-away: Link your pages to each other in a meaningful way.
The correct use of metadata
This includes, for example, the so-called
Use headings correctly. Important: Headings must be marked with the H tags and not simply with larger font. This structures the article and makes it easier for the visitor and also for Google.
Exactly. Slow loading times are not only annoying for visitors, but are also not appreciated by Google. Therefore: the faster, the better.
Exactly. You read that right. Good content. How does Google know that the content is good? Links that indicate how long a user stays on the page, how easy the content is to read, etc.
Google is happy when there is always something new. Therefore, a page that is regularly updated is more interesting for Google.
There are still pages that use cryptic URLs. They look something like this: www.meineseite.ch/index.php?id=12349. But what Google prefers is a URL à la www.meineseite.ch/mein-guter-artikel
The right use of images and videos
After all, there is a dedicated image search on Google. It is therefore only logical that images also have an influence. If you use images, make sure that you also fill in the alt tags and make the file name descriptive. You don’t see that, but Google does.
This is certainly not yet conclusive, but it is already a more than good start. If you do all this, then you have already achieved a lot! Before we move on to implementation, you may be wondering whether or not you need to register your site with Google. The short answer: No, Google will find it eventually, but you can help Google by submitting the page via Google Search Console. More on this in the article:“My homepage doesn’t appear on Google – what can I do?“
To get started with search engine optimization for WordPress in the first place, you should think about which keyword you should optimize the site for. If you want to optimize for everything, you are optimizing for nothing. The key question is therefore:
- What are my customers looking for?
- How often do they look for it?
Once again at this point. Keyword research is a huge topic and we will only scratch the surface a little here. As a rule of thumb: the more precise a keyword, the better. There are two reasons for this:
- It is easier to rank for more precise keywords (also called long tail). Ranking for “washing machine” will be much more difficult than for “buy washing machine in Herzogenbuchsee”.
- The more search volume for a keyword, the better.
These two points are competing! In other words, it is always a trade-off: More volume vs. better chances of climbing.
Tools that help with keyword research
There are many tools, so I will only show a few of the most common ones that I use.
You know your business, you talk to customers. Think about which keywords are important. These can sometimes be technical terms, terms that only make sense in your context and that only you know.
Google search engine
You read that correctly. If you enter something on Google, suggestions with further search queries will automatically appear. These are all search queries that are also searched for and could give you some inspiration.
You can see a similar list at the bottom of the search page: Related search queries. These can also help you.
Ubersuggest is a useful tool and offers a limited free version. You can use it:
- Check how high the search volume is for a keyword
- Get suggestions for keywords
- Suggestions for content
- Rank Tracking
- and much more
This then looks something like this.
Google Ads is the tool you use to place your ads on Google and is free for keyword research. For example, “painter nearby” has 5x more traffic than “painting company nearby”. Google also provides suggestions for other keywords.
Google Search Console (formerly Webmaster Tools)
This console gives you insights into the search queries for your site. For example, you could see that your page is listed for a certain keyword, but you appear very far behind. You could include such keywords and optimize the page accordingly. Assumes that you already have a page.
The other top dogs include:
These tools are similar to Ubersuggest, usually offer a limited free version and a whole host of additional functions and are likely to overwhelm the average person.
How to optimize your WordPress site for search engines
Now that you have your keywords, we can get to work on search engine optimization for WordPress. And here’s the first good news: WordPress is very well suited for search engine optimization!
Use a good theme
There are thousands of freely available themes. Many of them are very good. Many of them very bad. A good theme is characterized by the following points:
- It loads quickly
- It is flexible
- It supports all WordPress functions
- It has good HTML code
Set permalinks correctly with WordPress
Make absolutely sure that your WordPress permalinks are set correctly. For a small page I would recommend just using the post name, for a larger page it can have a bit more structure.
You can find this setting under Settings > Permalinks in WordPress Admin.
Also important: Make this setting at the beginning. If you change them later, all your URLs will change, which will lead to many broken links. In this case, a correct migration is necessary. The best way to do this is to contact us for support.
Write content correctly
When you write the content, pay attention to good structure and semantics. WordPress also helps you a lot here: paragraphs, headings, bulleted lists, etc. are all already usable and are integrated with the right tags. You just have to use them!
It is also known that readers of websites do not read the pages from top to bottom, but “skim” or fly over them. It is therefore extremely important to make it easier for the reader: Headings, bulleted lists, bold important words, etc.!
Pictures and video
If you embed videos, you would do well to do this via a service, because then you don’t have to worry about much: Upload the video to YouTube and then embed it on your site.
A few rules of thumb for pictures:
- Do NOT upload the pictures directly from the camera! Change the size beforehand. 1920 x 1080 pixels are usually more than sufficient
- Compress the images. Compressor does a very good job here.
- Change the file name of the picture BEFORE uploading to something readable: e.g. hans-bei-der-arbeit.jpg
- Do not use spacing, special characters or umlauts in the image name
- Once you have uploaded the image, set a corresponding alt description (you can find this in the Gutenberg editor on the right-hand side).
How often do I have to use the keyword
First of all: The text must be legible! So there is no point in simply stringing together keywords that make no sense. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that the keyword density should be around 1-3%.
More importantly, make sure that your keyword appears in the page title, headings, images and meta description!
Unfortunately, no tool can do this work for you, but it is the core of search engine optimization for WordPress.
These plugins support search engine optimization for WordPress
There are some plugins that can help you with this. The most popular plugins include
All of these plugins have the same core functions and help with search engine optimization for WordPress:
- Give you feedback on how well a page is optimized and give you clues as to where you still need to improve.
- Allow you to set the title manually
- Allow you to set the meta description of a page
- Provide a sitemap that makes it easier for Google and co. to index your site
- Schema markup (rich snippets)
- Broken links (404 tracker) and much more
Personally, I use Rank Math because I like it best and have gotten used to it over the years, but in the end, the other two will get the job done. Rank Math also offers a paid Pro version. However, the free version is more than sufficient for the first steps in search engine optimization for WordPress.
A short tutorial for Rank Math would probably be appropriate at this point. That will come in due course.
Summary and conclusion
As already mentioned at the beginning, the topic \”Search engine optimization for WordPress\” cannot be answered conclusively in one article and there is still a lot to learn and say. But here is a brief summary of what you should definitely know and bear in mind:
- Know which search queries you want to optimize an article for
- Use the search term in the text
- Use the search term in the page title, URL, headline, images and metadata
- Structure articles well, using headings, paragraphs, bulleted lists and images
- Use permalinks
- Set internal links that contain the desired search term
- Use sitemap
If you need more help with search engine optimization for WordPress, we would of course be happy to hear from you.