WordPress SEO

SEO Optimization for WordPress: the ultimate guide for beginners & advanced

No matter which CMS you use: search engine optimization is the supreme discipline in online marketing and the be-all and end-all for anyone who wants to be successful with their website. Every day in Germany alone, tens of millions of queries are sent to Google, and so you should make the goal of appearing as high up in the search results as possible the top priority of your strategy. WordPress Users do not necessarily have it easier with this topic, but the vast number of available Plugins...afford you on the way to 1st place in Google good company. In this ultimate WordPress SEO Guide we clarify which SEO Measures It is especially important to consider which plugins are the best choice and which "SEO side wars" are otherwise so interesting.

What is SEO actually?

The three letters S, E and O are the abbreviation for the English term "search engine optimization". While SEOs (i.e. people who do SEO) used to do a particularly good job of exploiting the weaknesses of Google, today's professional search engine optimization focuses on the user. Because Google (and other search engines, too, of course) are getting smarter and smarter, use artificial intelligence and want one thing above all: to satisfy their own users. And the best way to do that is to let Google play out exactly the content that a user wants to find for a particular search query.

If weaknesses of Google and Co are still exploited, this kind of search engine optimization is called black hat SEO in the scene. If, on the other hand, one operates serious and long-term functioning SEO, one can count oneself among the white-hats.

Before you start: Enter the WordPress page in the Search Console

google-search console

Before we move on to the actual tips, you should Enter your website in the Google Search Console. There you can later not only add a sitemap or crawl (check, search) individual URLs, but also have important data always in view.

At this contribution you will learn how to enter your WordPress page in the Google Search Console.


OnPage & OffPage SEO in WordPress

Before we go into more detail and give you specific recommendations for action and plugin tips, we would like to clarify something basic. We differentiate between OnPage and so-called OffPage SEO. Everything you can do directly in WordPress to improve your rankings, belongs to the OnPage WordPress SEO. Measures that you implement outside your own installation to improve your own rankings are part of OffPage SEO.

OnPage Best-Practice #1: Writing good & clear content

It doesn't matter if you are on the road with WordPress as a food or fashion blog, have built up an online shop or run any other niche site with the world's most popular CMS: The competition is huge and therefore your content (i.e. your content) should be as good as possible. By the way, "good" does not only mean packed with information, but also clearly structured and easy to read. Furthermore, you shouldn't beat around the bush, but keep the topic in mind and work on it in a focused way. Various tools can help you to avoid filler words, split up sections and use the right keywords.

Important: The keyword density, i.e. the amount of relevant keywords in relation to the total length of the text, is no longer so decisive today. It is much more important to use synonyms and to present the topic perfectly. Keywords are not to be understood as words or fixed terms, but as the topic that can be described in many other words.

Interposed question: Does good content in WordPress always have to consist of many words?

This is a very popular question to which no general answer can be given. The truth is that not every topic has the same number of words. Because users usually don't want to rummage through endlessly long articles to find the answer to a specific question, short but very informative articles can also be very good - sometimes even better than some article monsters with thousands of words. Besides: Sometimes a picture says more than a thousand words. But it is important to Optimize images in WordPressso they don't eat performance.

Even if a topic is so extensive that it could be dealt with in unspeakably long articles / landing pages, it can make more sense to unravel the topic to individual URLs, i.e. individual posts. This creates an overview and helps users to find what they are really interested in more quickly. In addition, Google can then play your posts off to much more specific search queries (longtail keywords, niche keywords), creating many positive user signals that can only be good for the ranking of your WordPress page.

Also keep in mind: Meta information can only be given ONCE for each URL. If you treat far too many companies in only one article, you can no longer perfectly adjust the SERP snippets, e.g. to increase the click rate in Google. Instead of just looking at the size of an article, you should give priority to internal linking and build one post on top of the other.


OnPage best practice #2: Create great meta tags


Meta tags help search engines to understand the subject of a URL more quickly. Such information is always located in the header of an HTML document and is not visible to the reader or user. Only on Google's search results page (SERP for "search engine result page") will information such as meta title and meta description become visible to users.

Firstly, the information should not exceed a certain number of characters: Although Google has extended the length of the meta description, the entire description is not always displayed. In order to avoid truncating text, we recommend that you keep to the maximum length of 156 characters. If you have marked your posts with a "published on" date, it will also be displayed on the SERP. The maximum length of the actual meta description is then only 139 characters including spaces. You should not use more than 70 characters for the meta title.

Because WordPress delivers hardly usable meta tags without a corresponding plugin, you should rely on extensions like Yoast SEO, wpSEO or that All-in-One SEO Pack to fall back on.

Tip: The more concise and eye-catching the meta-title and description are and the better they pick up users, the higher the chance that your users will click on your page in Google. By the way, if the number of clicks in Google increases, your rank will also increase in the long term.


OnPage Best-Practice #3: Performance Optimization

The faster a page loads, the more satisfied the users are in general. Patience is something that is more than rarely sown in this day and age. Google knows this, too, of course, and therefore prefers to play off websites in good positions that load particularly fast. So you should attach great importance to the topic WordPress performance optimization. But remember: The worst content does not rank just because the page loads fast. The optimization of the WordPress performance is rather the icing on the SEO cake.

HERE you will find everything you need to know about WordPress performance optimization.
→ If you are especially interested in the (sub)topic "Caching", there are HERE more information.


OnPage Best Practice #4: Create XML Sitemap

A sitemap is something like a map for your WordPress page. It helps Google and Co to find their way around your site and to integrate new posts and pages into their own index more quickly. Although such a sitemap is not always necessary, since you can also submit new posts manually in Google's Search Console, the sitemap makes sense for more extensive pages. Google will be automatically informed if the structure of your blog changes or if new posts are added.

HERE you will learn how to create an XML Sitemap in WordPress.


OnPage Best-Practice #5: Using Schema.org labelling

A correct Schema.org labeling within your WordPress Themesis of immense importance. Schema.org is a Initiative of Google, Bing and Yahoo, so from the three (partly former) largest and most well-known search engines. The correct marking with so-called tags from Schema.org ensures that the search engines can better recognize individual elements of your WordPress page and therefore better rank it. This applies for example to logos, the header, the actual content area, but also to sidebars, menus and many other small details.

HERE learn how to tag your WordPress theme with Schema.org tags.


OnPage best practice #6: using the right permalink structure

Using an SEO-friendly URL structure is also one of the important OnPage measures. Ideally, you define this right at the beginning. In our opinion an ideal URL is for example: "https://fastwp.de/wordpress-seo".

As a user you know immediately what this subpage or this post is about. Also Google helps you with such a URL to understand quickly which topic is treated. A non-SEO-friendly URL like "https://fastwp.de/?p=1234567" has a good effect on the performance of your site, but only to such an extent that you should consider whether you really want to use a simple or numerical permalink.

All you need to do to customize your permalinks for good SEO is to navigate to the "Permalinks" item in the WordPress Dashboard settings and select the "Post Name" option.


OnPage Best Practice #7: Use SSL/HTTPS


Safe is not only safe, but also Google's favourite. Apart from the fact that an SSL-encrypted WordPress page has been mandatory since the introduction of the DSGVO, Google has for a long time wanted to present its users only websites on the search results pages that have an SSL certificate.

→ Here you can find out how to convert your WordPress page to SSL

OnPage best practice #8: use a slim response theme

This point is linked to both performance and the creation of good content. Many premium themes are completely overloaded and therefore reduce the loading time of your installation extremely. On the other hand, themes should be responsive in any case to ensure clarity on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets.

HERE find out how to find the right WordPress theme for your needs.


The best OnPage plugins for WordPress

As a WordPress user you have it good, because with all OnPage measures great plugins help you. HERE you will find an overview of the best All-In-One solutions (e.g. Yoast SEO, wpSEO etc.), the most powerful caching tools and the most popular plugins for image optimization in WordPress. Important: Pay attention to the performance of the WordPress SEO tools. The one or other top plugin turns out to be a load time eater at a closer look. HERE go to our Performance Check of the most popular SEO All-in-One Tools for WP.


OffPage SEO tips for WordPress users

Although it has been ringing out from all corners for what feels like ages that Google wants to get away from backlinks, the search engine, which is still largely link-based, has not succeeded to date, and it is unlikely that it will happen that quickly. Search engine optimization therefore still means Backlink-up to operate.

Which must be mentioned as a limitation: Backlinks today have to be of higher quality than they used to be, so that they can really provide the appropriate push for your blog. Backlinks from comments, for example, are of little or no use. You should also pay more attention to anchor texts (link texts).

The days of so-called "money keywords" as anchors (the focus keywords for which your post or page should rank) are definitely over and will catapult your page out of the Google index faster than you can say "hop".

More recommendable are neutral links from long articleswhich is marked with a "click here" or "Look at that" are marked. Attention should also be paid to the quality of the linked source.

Instead of buying backlinks from dubious sources, you have to dig a little deeper into your pocket when buying good backlinks.

But the best is of course the link building (unpaid), which only works great if your content is so good that other sites voluntarily link to it. Exactly that is the reason why backlinks WILL no longer play THE role, but are only an additional indicator for the quality of your WordPress page.

Set WordPress links automatically to noFollow

OffPage Best-Practice #1: Submit your blog to directories

Blog directories are a good way to work through the basics and get at least a few decent backlinks. Bloggerei.de, TopBlogs.de and Bloggeramt.de, for example, are well-known link sources for bloggers. If you run a company website, entries in company directories such as the GelbenSeiten or regional business directories are of course a good idea.

Tip: If you are a local entrepreneur running a WordPress site, local SEO plays an important role. In this article you will learn more about the topic.


OffPage Best Practice #2: Social Media Marketing

social media marketing

With nearly 1.9 billion Facebook users worldwide and still growing user numbers on Twitter and Instagram, social media is an important part of the online marketing strategy. What this has to do with WordPress SEO? Very simple: If you generate traffic (i.e. visitors) via social media channels (through your own posts, shares, etc.) you send a positive signal (social signal) to Google. Google rates your content as especially interesting, because it is often shared, for example, and may raise your ranking a bit.

Tip: So not only create your own Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram profile, but also fill your WordPress page with Social share buttons. So your readers can easily share posts on their own profiles.

Extra SEO tip #1: Follow Google Webmaster Guidelines

In addition to performance, tags, important keywords and much more, search engine optimization also means that Google is especially happy with your blog. So WordPress SEO also always means, Google's rules to be observed. The old and wild times are simply over, today no webmaster or web worker may allow himself too much, because otherwise there is the manual punishment, which is feared so much, but in the meantime is imposed from time to time. We were also affected by this once before and it was quite difficult to shake off this manual punishment by Google, not to mention the fact that the affected site (in our case it was a forum) somehow never really recovered. So it is important to follow the Google Webmaster Guidelines perfectly.

You can check if your WeordPress page complies with the Google Guidelines with the online tool Varvy very easily.


Extra SEO tip #2: Use Google AMP & Facebook Instant Articles

With Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) the search engine has been presenting an answer to the Facebook Instant Articles for some time now. The clear intention behind it: To present users of the search engine with the right answer or page in a flash, instead of cumbersome forwarding to an overloaded website. Your website should be mobile friendly anyway (short loading times and responsive design), but AMP takes it to the extreme once again. And as a project of Google, the search engine of course prefers to play AMP pages way up there.

As a WordPress user you can easily use AMP by using the official WordPress AMP Plugin installed. There is also a handy plugin for Facebook Instant Articles.

About Christian

My name is Christian and I am co-founder of the platform fastWP. Here in the magazine I am responsible for the more "technical" topics but I like to write about SEO, which has been my passion for over 10 years now.

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