That shiny new WordPress site of yours is live and you want people to find it in Google, Yahoo, and Bing. But, you don’t know how to make that happen.
Like all of us at one point, you are probably asking yourself some beginner WordPress SEO questions like “How do I use that popular Yoast SEO plugin I installed?” “Where do I get started with SEO?” Or, “Is there an SEO software I should use?”
Before you let your snowball of SEO questions get any bigger, step back and let these essential WordPress SEO tips for beginners inform your next steps.
SEO Tip #1 - Install Yoast SEO and Configure It
You can spend hours trying to figure out what the best SEO plugin is. There’s no need.
Install Yoast SEO and don’t look back. And, if you are doing SEO for a business that can afford a $89/year plugin, install Yoast Premium. Here's why. Either way, you won’t regret your decision because you will be in good company. Many of the biggest and best businesses using WordPress rely on Yoast every single day and you can, too.
The thing is, Yoast doesn’t actually do SEO for you. Once you install it, you have to configure it. Same goes for most your other plugins. If you don’t, they just end up slowing down your site which has a negative impact on SEO. Especially when it comes to big plugins like Yoast.
SEO Tip #2 - Sign up for Google Search Console
Signing up for Google Search Console is going to give you a direct line of communication with the biggest search engine in the world.
After you sign up, verify your WordPress site with Google Search Console. This will let you communicate with Google, find out how well your site is performing in search results, discover what search terms (queries) your site is ranking for, and much more.
At the very least, sign up and verify your website so Google knows about it and can start showing it in search results. Without verification, Google might have to wait until someone links to your site to find out that it exists.
SEO Tip #3 - Sign up for Google Analytics and Benchmark Your Organic Traffic
Knowing how many people are currently visiting your website from search engines (your organic search traffic) is essential if you want to be able to measure the impact of your SEO work.
Google Analytics is a free analytics tool that will tell you how your website is performing. It can get incredibly complex, but at its most basic, it will show you how many people are visiting your website during any given period of time.
Sign up for Google Analytics and add its tracking code to your website using the Monster Insights plugin. Once you’ve connected your site to Google Analytics, it’s time to see how many people are visiting your site from the search engines.
Login to Google Analytics. Then go to Acquisition > All Traffic > Channels in the left-hand menu of your dashboard. Set the date range to last month in the top-right corner. Record the number of Organic Search sessions your site has seen in the last month so you have a benchmark to measure your future performance against. You can also read this article to discover the five most useful Google Analytics SEO Dashboards.
Overwhelmed by SEO? Try a guided approach.
SEO Tip #4 - Get an SEO Checklist
One of our favorite quotes is “Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - Sun Tzu. The second part of that quote is the important part because up until now, we’ve been talking about SEO tactics.
Doing a bunch of random SEO work without any strategy to guide it is going to ensure you end up wasting a bunch of time and energy.
One of the simplest ways to add a bit of strategy to your SEO work is by following a tried and true process or a checklist. There are plenty of them out there on the internet, if you are a small business owner, start with this one.
SEO Tip #5 - Get to Work
Once you have a checklist to guide your efforts, it’s time to start acting on it. It’s easy to qualify SEO as a low priority when you have clients and customers to take care of, bills to pay, and other important work that needs to get done. Give SEO the respect it deserves and you will be rewarded.
Carve out a few hours each week, or each month, to do your SEO homework. Making room for yourself to focus on your SEO work is often the only way you will end up prioritizing it. Put it on your calendar and get to work when the time comes.
Follow these five WordPress SEO tips for beginners and you will be able to realize measurable gains in your organic search traffic within six months.
Make sure to measure your progress and make time for your SEO work on a recurring basis. If you need an SEO checklist, access to SEO tools, or monthly SEO Coaching, Pathfinder’s guided approach to SEO is worth exploring.
Editors note: This article was originally published in 2018. It has been updated for accuracy and expanded in February 2020.
Erik loves breaking down complex SEO topics into understandable instructions anyone can follow. In his role as an SEO coach, he guides Pathfinder SEO customers through the SEO process on a daily basis, giving them helpful tips, instruction, and advice along the way.