SEO: A WordPress Startup Guide 2022
You will learn the foundations of good SEO practices, best practices and how to get your website indexed, such as on Google.
1. Beginner: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) foundation.
2. SEO Game Plan.
3. Get out there (Search Engines: Google).
4. Analyse your SEO progress.
1. Beginner: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) foundation.
What does SEO mean, and what is it?
SEO is a short acronym defining Search engine optimization, which is the overall effort and processes to grow your organic search traffic (organically). SEO is both critical & essential as it can help your website increase its ranking on search engines like Google.
Why is it critically important?
Getting your content displayed on search engines and building substantial organic traffic means your hard work can have long-lasting results, saving you more money than paid marketing solutions. The additional benefit is that you can attract a wide variety of traffic from potential customers searching the terms you are ranked for on the search engine. It takes a solid strategy/game plan/foundation to rank, as competition is abundant and evergrowing. This is why getting it’s necessary to get the basics right, as it is so crucial to be listed by Google.
What can you expect from putting an SEO strategy together?
Most people quickly scan the first page of search results in less than 10 seconds and typically click one of the top listings, so obtaining a higher ranking usually results in better results and more traffic. Unlike other channels, search traffic tends to be consistent and passive. That’s because the number of searches is usually relatively consistent monthly.
What is the standard SEO workflow?
SEO can be broken down into the following primary areas:
- Having a detailed plan & researching suitable keywords. What terms (words) are people searching for, and what is your content game plan?
- Focusing on the right content. What type of content do your customers want to read and creating it?
- SEO principles (on-page). Doing all you can to make the content concise, well-written with clarity,
- Building high-quality links: You can build trust by obtaining high-quality backlinks from other websites (authority).
- Technicalities: SEO. Enabling search engines the ability to find, crawl, and index your content efficiently.
SEO Game Plan
Success and effort are much easier managed over the long run when your website is correctly set up for search engine optimization success. Let’s look at a few ways to do that.
Importance of having a tailored domain name.
Most domains are good for search engine optimization results, so don’t worry about this too much if you already have registered a specific name. But if you’re browsing and trying to select a new name, keep the following points in mind when choosing a domain name.
Why are domain names important?
A short, concise, eye-catching and memorable domain name is your best option. Don’t try to mix many keywords or use hyphens/ unusual characters for your business representation.
Top-level domain extension – TLD
This extension comes after the domain name, such as .co.uk/.com/.org.
Your choice of a top-level domain extension (TLD) does not impact your search engine optimization (SEO) results. But we, along with everyone else, believe .com is best for most people and is the standard in 2023, as it’s both trusted and well-known. For charities or government-related organisations, .org is best as it’s more tailored to the purpose. If you conduct business in a specific country/nation outside of the united states of America, then it’s best to use a country code top-level domain; an acronym (ccTLD), such as .nz or .co.uk, is also good.
One point of advice for TLD avoidance is those such as .biz/ .info that are most associated with unusual activity/spam. Although please don’t panic if you are using one. It’s still possible to build a good legitimate website that will rank.
Important to use a renowned and reputable hosting provider such as Kinsta (as we use at XENRO):
Well-developed hosting platforms such as Kinsta, which we use here at Xenro allow you to easily create and manage a website. They can be broken down into the following types:
- Hosted solution. The platform will do everything for you, starting from; hosting the website, ready-made themes which can be duplicated, ability to adjust content from the backend/frontend without touching code thanks to content management services (CMS) such as WordPress.
- Self-hosted solution. This will also give you the ability to adjust content without code. The difference is that you have to have the know-how to set up the hosting and installation process.
Many Search engine optimization (SEO) professionals usually recommend a self-hosted, open-source CMS/platform such as we offer at Xenro (WordPress) because:
- Easy to make adjustments. You can modify the code (open-source) as you like. There’s also an extensive community of WordPress developers who know the CMS platform inside out.
- It’s extensible to provide further features. There is an entire range of plugins for extending functionality, including many Security, Performance and SEO plugins.
Furthermore, a hosted solution might be a better fit if you value its ease of use and readily available support. All the significant ones provide sufficient search engine optimization (SEO) capabilities for most people.
What exactly is the best website hosting provider?
You’ll need a good WordPress website host if you’re using a hosted solution. The data will be stored on a server’s hard drive; you will need an internet connection. Carefully think of the following when choosing (Our hosting partner Kinsta covers all three):
- Strong multi-layered security. We provide you with a free SSL/TLS certificate when hosting at Xenro (Kinsta). Or, at minimum, use Let’s Encrypt, a nonprofit organisation providing free certificate access.
- Server choice and location. It’s important to have sufficient resources for your website (RAM/CPU/PHP workers); it also takes data (information) time to travel between the server and your visitors. We would recommend a host with servers in the same country as most of your traffic (At Xenro we provide you with a wide range of regions to choose from on Google’s C2 servers).
- 24/7 Support. 24/7 support is paramount as your site is active at all hours of the day. You should conduct due diligence by asking a variety of questions before signing up concerning security/ data security/ server location/ and the number of resources provisioned.
How you can create a user-friendly experience for your website visitors.
Most search engines, such as Google, want to prioritize ranking the pages that provide visitors with a positive experience. Here are a few ways to do that:
Make sure to utilize HTTPS
Visitors value their personal data is protected and not prone to the eyes of ill-intended hackers. This is why you must encrypt your site, such as with SSL/TLS.
Structure and plan your website with a design that considers the user experience and overall visual enjoyment:
Having an outdated design that looks ancient will turn away your visitors quickly. It would help if you kept your design updated and constantly improving throughout your business’s timeline, perhaps updating every quarter or, at maximum, yearly. It should also encapsulate your brand’s image.
Is it true that most of your traffic comes from mobile devices?
Yes, most search traffic derives from mobile devices, with the minority coming from desktops. This is why we prioritize mobile design at Xenro and ensure the overall experience is friendly for your visitors.
How to improve the readability of your website;
People will preview your website from various mobile devices and desktop machines. Make sure the content of your website is easily readable across the board by focusing on colors, font sizes, and how those appear on both mobile and desktop.
Stop or at least limit the intrusive and annoying popups and advertisements.
Nothing is more annoying than having too many adverts across your valuable content to turn your customers away. Indeed, you may have to use them at times, but you should think carefully about positioning and if it’s truly worth it as it can also hinder your Search engine optimization rankings.
How vital is Speed optimization?
The loading speed of your web page is a critical ranking indicator on both devices; desktop & mobile. Although speed is essential, it does not have to be blazingly fast like Usain Bolt (although it will help). Rankings will be affected if It’s a very slow experience, i.e. above 2 seconds.
Don’t forget about your website structure.
Make it easy for the search engine, such as Google and your visitors (potential customers) to locate content and what they are looking for on your site. Designing a well-thought-out structure in hierarchical order will help you (using things such as Mindmaps).
Each section or (branch) on the mindmap will provide an internal hyperlink; a specific link from one of your website pages to another.
Internal links are crucial for the user experience and overall search engine optimization because of the following:
- Do your best to help search engines such as Google find new pages uploaded: Google will not be able to index your pages that it can’t find. You can do this with a site map which is why we provide you with WPMU DEV’s full suite of plugins, including Smartcrawl (SEO) to easily upload and configure your sitemap.
- This will help the PageRank process. PageRank is the fundamental process used by Google’s search algorithm to assign a value in search results. Pagerank will judge the overall page quality by reviewing the quality/ quantity of the links that point to your pages. Google still leverages this today. More sites (highly reputable) pointing to your site will improve its overall credibility.
- The content structure will help search engines know what your page is about. Google and other search engines will review the clickable sentences/ words that contain hyperlinks, otherwise known as anchor text.
Structure all URLs (custom)
Why are custom URL’s important? a good structure will help search crawlers (from Google etc.) understand the context of a specified page. CMS (platforms such as WordPress) will allow you to easily customize the custom URL structure from the settings page. In WordPress, they are broken down into the following points:
- Plain structure: xenro.com/?p=567
- Day + name: xenro.com/2023/06/08/xenro
- Month + name: xenro.com/03/04/xenro
- Numeric: xenro.com/245/xenro
- Post name: xenro.com/xenro
For all new websites being created, I would advise using a concise structure in which you can elaborate on constructive terms—most developers and SEO professionals now (in 2023) use post names. Changing the URL structure with existing pages/websites could break things, and it’s best to avoid it if pages are abundant.
What is the best SEO plugin, and should you use it?
By default, most CMS platforms provide search engine optimization (SEO) functionality. But if you opt to use WordPress, we recommend installing either Yoast, Rank Math or WPMU DEV’s smart crawl SEO plugin. At Xenro we provide you with a full suite of WPMU DEV’s plugins, including Smartcrawl, so you are not out of expense for this plugin and have all the basic SEO functions covered straight out of the box.
Get out there (Search Engines: Google).
Structuring your website and having it ready for SEO success will massively help search engine crawlers index your web pages. And submitting your WordPress website directly to Google can speed up the overall process. That’s because you provide Google with the sitemap directly, even if there are no backlinks.
Sitemaps: creation & indexing (Xenro has you covered!)
Sitemaps list and detail the important pages and their specific URLs on your website that you want to be indexed. If you want to check if you have a sitemap in place on your website, try the following URLs to preview:
Cannot find your sitemap? Check robots.txt, where it’s usually listed. I.e. (xenro.com/robots.txt)
If you still can’t find your sitemap, it’s most likely not there, so you will need to create one.
Lastly, please don’t forget to go to the Google service console (GSC) and submit your newly created sitemap.
You do this via Google Search Console (GSC). It takes about two seconds.
It takes less than a minute and can be done here:
Analyse your progress as you submit content and work on SEO.
First, it’s best to properly comprehend how to measure and track your search engine optimization progress before learning the technical details of improving content structure & link building. At Xenro we will cover the primary points:
Traffic to your website through search engine clicks (organic results)
If your traffic is going up organically, then you are on the right path and should continue on it, which is why the GSC platform is a blessing (+free). If you don’t have access to it, you can try using a free account on a platform such as Ahrefs and analyse further on their website explorer tool for a rough gauge.
Keywords: tracking how they are ranking on your site.
If your rankings are going up for your selected keywords, then it’s another positive sign that you’re on the right path and should continue. It’s best to analyse the average keyword rankings for free using Google search console (GSC). If you want more precise tracking of keywords, you can use a tracking solution such as Ahref’s Rank Tracker.
Overall rankings, i.e. for keywords, and organic traffic views, are what some call vanity-related metrics. There’s no damage in reviewing the general data, but they often bear no direct link with your business and marketing objectives. The best metrics to review are those listed as we proceed:\
Overall visibility: number of eyes & clicks.
When previewing data, it’s important to check what percentage of visitor clicks for your tracked keywords land on your website.
Let’s pretend for a moment and say you are reviewing only a single keyword, and then all the primary (top) positions in the search engine, such as Google, are occupied by pages from your own website. Since your own WordPress website gets all traffic from that exact keyword, your Visibility would be 100%.
Now let’s say your website is shown on one spot in Google, with the rest occupied by others (potential competition). Since most clicks go to other sites, your visibility is much lower than the original 100%.
If your Visibility is increasing over time, then it is yet another positive indicator that your search engine optimization (SEO) is on the right path towards progress.
Recapping the essential points:
- Search engine optimization is the overall progress and process of expanding your site’s organic search traffic.
- It’s accomplished through ranking on search engines through that organic traffic.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) is vital to your progress because you’re unlikely to appear on important search results (first page of google).
- High search engine rankings provide you with passive, consistent and essentially zero-cost organic traffic month after month and year after year.
- Search engine optimization (SEO) primarily involves; keyword-research, content-creation process, SEO structure (on-page), internal/external link building, and technical adjustments.
- Working on your search engine optimization is so much easier when you follow the guidance such as highlighted here on xenro for complete success. We have 24/7 live chat so you can pose any questions in real time so our agents can assist you.
- Google will typically locate and index your website organically. Still, to make sure it’s picked up and that the overall process is done much quicker, you can submit your sitemap directly to the search engine.