7 DIY WordPress SEO Tips for Beginners
Heeeeey fellow WordPress user!
By choosing to build your site on WordPress you’re joining the most popular and trusted web building service on the internet, as WordPress powers over 40% of the entire world’s websites.
So, you’re in good hands with WordPress.
But now that you’ve got your WordPress site you want people to actually FIND it, right?
That’s why in today’s article I’ll be sharing 7 DIY WordPress SEO tips so your ideal customers can start finding you on Google.
First thing’s first; what IS SEO?
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization and it means that you’re actively helping Google understand what your website is about so they can show it to the relevant searchers.
Search Engines = Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.
Optimization = maximize efficiency.
But, why do we do it? Why is SEO so important?
Well, because your ideal customers are out there on Google RIGHT NOW, searching for what you have to offer.
They’re willing to pay money, they might even have their credit card just sitting there on their desk, waiting to find the right solution to their problems.
So, why wouldn’t you want to be found by them?!
SEO does NOT have to be super technical and complicated (even though a lot of people would have you believe it is…)
But before I dive into showing you how EASY it is to make simple SEO tweaks that have a big impact, let’s talk about WordPress and whether or not it’s good for SEO.
Is WordPress good for SEO?
If WordPress wasn’t good for SEO then a lot of the world’s major websites would be in some SERIOUS trouble…
WordPress is one of the most popular content management systems in the world for a good reason: it’s highly customizable, but is also easy to use once you get used to it.
What gives WordPress an edge over other website providers, is how much control you have over it, especially with the use of plugins.
As WordPress is what we call open-source software, it means that individual developers can create products like plugins, which enhance its functionality.
The benefit of this is that users of WordPress can download specific plugins designed to help improve on-page SEO (more on that below).
Lastly, what’s great about WordPress is the freedom that users have when it comes to things like hosting providers and themes. If one isn’t working for you (there are some BAD hosting providers & themes out there) then you can simply switch to a better one.
This means that there is more healthy competition in the marketplace so companies and plugins have more incentive to improve their services.
In a nutshell, WordPress is great for SEO because;
- It’s really well maintained by its community
- It’s SUPER customizable
- They have so many great plugins that can improve your SEO without you having to touch any code
- WordPress sites are structured in a way that’s easy for Google to crawl (if Google can’t crawl your site, ya can’t be found)
- You have control over your themes and hosting so if one isn’t working for you – you can find a better one
7 Tips for DIY WordPress SEO
If you’re a beginner when it comes to SEO and it all feels a bit overwhelming, don’t worry.
These tips are simple but EFFECTIVE when it comes to improving your WordPress website’s SEO.
Let’s go for a walk…
WordPress SEO Tip #1: Download the Yoast Plugin
Yoast is one of the most popular WordPress plugins ever with nearly 8 million downloads.
But what does Yoast actually do?
It’s important to note that Yoast isn’t a keyword research tool and it doesn’t “do” your SEO for you, but it is a TOOL that helps out with some aspects of SEO like;
- Allowing you to create meta descriptions for your posts and pages
- Redirecting URLs that you’ve changed to avoid 404 errors
- Running your content through an on-page SEO checker tool to see if you’ve properly optimized your pages for your target keyword
- Although take this with a pinch of salt. Yoast still recommends certain keyword densities that aren’t that relevant to SEO anymore.
- Choosing how your posts will look when shared on social media
- Giving you the option to stop Google from indexing some of your pages
- This is useful for things like Thank You pages and other low-priority pages that don’t need to be found on Google
How to set up Yoast
- Go to your WordPress dashboard and go to Plugins
- Go to Add New
- Type “Yoast” into the search bar and click Install
- Once it’s installed click Activate
- You’ll then be taken to the set-up wizard where you can enter all the info about your site
- You’ll be asked to provide a logo for your site so have a transparent PNG image that’s handy
- If your website is currently under construction, choose option B in the first setup stage to avoid Google prematurely crawling your site
Once you install Yoast you’ll see that it appears at the bottom of your pages and posts and will help you optimize your content for your chosen keyword.
But don’t stress trying to get everything green, most of it is pretty arbitrary and it’s just meant to be used as a tool to guide you in the right direction.
WordPress SEO Tip #2: Do keyword research (for FREE)
Keyword research tools can be expensive.
A lot of them weigh in at over $100 a month, but most people don’t need a tool with all the bells and whistles – you just need to get some keywords.
Thankfully, there’s a Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere that is GREAT for doing keyword research.
It has a FREE option and a super cheap paid option.
How Keywords Everywhere Works
When you search for something on Google it automatically generates related searches and more niche keywords along the sidebar.
The free version won’t give you data like search but it will give you;
- Related keywords on Google & Bing, People Also Search For (PASF) keywords on Google (no volume data).
- A trend chart in Google & YouTube (no historical volume data).
- See YouTube insights & YouTube Tags (no volume data).
- View monthly estimates traffic & the top 500 keywords that any URL ranks for (no volume data)
- Analyze any URL to get the list of keywords in the content of the page, and the density of those keywords (no volume data)
If you want more data, especially for metrics like volume data to help you make better decisions about what keywords to target, there’s also a paid option that’s really cheap.
$10 will get you a BUNCH of credits that’ll last you months.
Here’s an example of what Keyword Everywhere pulls up from a search of “web designers Chicago.”
You see how on the right-hand side you get a list of related keywords? Well, you can export them and all their data into a spreadsheet to help you analyze which ones you’ll pick.
Not sure what keywords you should use for your content? Then check out this post about keyword research for beginners.
WordPress SEO Tip #3: Submit your sitemap to Google
The downside to using WordPress is that your XML sitemap isn’t automatically generated for you, like it is with Squarespace.
But plugins like Yoast will create an XML sitemap FOR YOU, so don’t stress!
Sidenote: an XML sitemap is like a roadmap of your website that helps Google understand your site’s structure.
Although, just because Yoast automatically creates one for you, it doesn’t mean that Google actually knows it exists -you have to go and upload your sitemap to Google Search Console.
If you’re using Yoast, you’ll find your XML sitemap at: youdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml
How to submit a sitemap to Google:
- Go to Google Search console (create an account on Google Search Console and connect your website if you haven’t already).
- Go to Sitemaps > Add new sitemaps (you can find this on the left hand side)
- Paste in your sitemap slug (the part that comes after your domain name)
- Click “submit” and then refresh the page
Want a walkthrough so you can see how simple this process is? I’ve got a video for that 😉
By submitting your sitemap to Google you’re increasing the chances that they go and have a look at your website.
And it literally takes a couple of minutes.
Who said SEO was time-consuming?
WordPress SEO Tip #4: Choose a great hosting service
When you build a site with WordPress you need to find a company that’ll “host” that site. This just means that you need to find a place for your website to live on the internet aka a server.
Hosting companies provide just that; a home for your website.
But there are SO many different hosts to choose from and not all of them are good. Finding the right host is VERY important, because if you host your site with a really bad service then it’ll slow your website down and your site will be offline more.
And slow websites that go down a lot are BAD SEO mojo.
Want a rundown on the best web hosting options?
The two hosting services I recommend are;
- Siteground: If you’re purchasing website hosting with the intention of hosting only ONE website, the basic StartUp plan would be a great place to start. Click “Get Started” under WordPress Hosting and then “Get Plan” under the StartUp option.
- WP Engine: If you’re only purchasing a website hosting with the intention of hosting only ONE website, the basic StartUp plan would be a great place to start. WP Engine will also give you access to the Genesis theme & child themes FOR FREE when you purchase hosting through them.
WordPress SEO Tip #5: Use a lightweight theme
Chances are you’ll be buying a premade theme for your WordPress site, but it’s important to choose one that won’t slow down your site.
Any theme that comes with a lot of unnecessary code can end up slowing down your site which will negatively affect your rankings and SEO.
You also need to make sure that whatever theme you’re buying is responsive. This means that the design stacks on mobile so that everything fits and looks good on a small screen.
Don’t worry, though, there are a TON of amazing, lightweight and responsive theme templates available for WordPress.
There are free themes available on WordPress that can work really well, like the Astra theme, but usually you’ll have to pay for a theme.
The price can range anywhere from $47-$600, but that’s an absolute STEAL given that web designers usually charge around $2,000+.
Here are some great theme templates you can snag;
- Coded Creative: https://codedcreative.co/shop/ref/24/
- Starting at $39 USD
- BluChic Feminine Themes: https://transactions.sendowl.com/stores/5571/39270
- Starting at $79 USD
- My Boutique Themes: https://myboutiquethemes.com/product-category/wordpress-themes/
- Starting at $55.55 USD
- Elementor Page Builder: Learn more about Elementor here!
- FREE version is awesome
- Pro version is 100% worth it because it comes with layout packs to help you keep the pages on your website cohesive.
- Divi Theme & Page Builder: Learn more about Divi here!
- Starting at $ USD for a yearly license
- This also comes with page layout packs so you don’t have to build your pages from scratch.
Want a quick way to find out how fast a theme is?
If you’re searching for a theme, you’ll usually find demo sites that were built using it. Find the demo site on the theme seller’s website and copy and paste the URL into GT metrix.
This will show you how fast the theme loads and if there are any major issues with it that will cause any problems.
This will show you how fast the theme loads and if there are any major issues with it that will cause any problems.
WordPress SEO Tip #6: Use ALT Text for your images
Your written content isn’t the only thing that Google reads on your site; they also read the text associated with your images.
That’s why it’s so important to write ALT text for your images.
Using ALT text for your images allows you to add a description of the image. This was originally designed to improve the accessibility of your site by people with sight problems who use screen readers.
It also means that if your image doesn’t load in the browser, ALT text can be shown so the visitor at least knows what the image was.
But when it comes to SEO, it gives Google more clues as to what your content is about, that’s why it’s important to use it.
Let’s take an example.
If you have a cooking blog and you’re uploading a picture of some tasty hot wings, then you’ll want to write some ALT text like; barbeque hot wings with side salad.
Doing so will help Google understand your content better and your keyword “barbeque hot wings” looks natural.
What you DON’T want to do is stuff your ALT text with a bunch of keywords in a way that ISN’T natural like; barbeque chicken hot wings, delicious hot wings, hot wing recipe….
This is known as keyword stuffing and is basically the SEO equivalent of spam.
So make sure you’re adding ALT text to your images to squeeze a little extra SEO juice out of your content.
WordPress SEO Tip #7: Download WP Fastest Cache & Smush
We’ve touched upon the importance of good hosting and a lightweight theme to improve your site’s performance (and with it your site’s SEO), but somethings may still need tweaking.
That’s why having a site speed plugin like WP Fastest Cache comes in handy.
WP Fastest Cache automatically applies certain site speed optimizations like page caching and cache preloading which make your site run faster.
There is a FREE (woohoo!) and paid option available.
But NO site optimization would be complete without optimizing the images on your site. To make sure your images are properly optimized, another great plugin you can get is Smush.
Huge images on your website are the #1 culprit of super slow loading times, but Smush helps trim them down in a variety of ways.
How Smush optimizes your images for SEO
- It strips unused data from your images like metadata and color profiles
- Lazy load images: images that aren’t yet visible on the user’s screen aren’t loaded
- Image resizing: you can set a max height and width for your images
- Incorrect image size detection: Smush lets you know what images are slowing down your site and how to fix them
So if you use WP Rocket with Smush, you can seriously SPEED UP your site without ever having to touch a line of code.
Summary: How to DIY your WordPress Site’s SEO
- Download an SEO plugin like Yoast
These help with things like automatic redirects and suggesting linking opportunities
- Do keyword research
You can do this for free or super cheap with Keywords Everywhere
- Submit your sitemap to Google
This helps Google find and crawl your site
- Choose a great hosting service
Bad hosting will slow down your site. Go for a service like Siteground or WP Engine for fast, reliable hosting.
- Use a lightweight theme
Having a lightweight theme will improve your site’s loading time
- Use ALT text for your images
This gives Google extra clues about what your content is about
- Download WP Fastest Cache and Smush
Both great plugins for improving site performance
Want a Free Full Roadmap of Successful SEO?
I hope you’ve gotten some golden nuggets out of this post and feel empowered to DIY your WordPress SEO, even if you’re a total beginner.
But with so many different ways to optimize your website, it can be hard to know when to do what.
That’s why I created my FREE SEO Roadmap that maps out step-by-step how to be strategic with your SEO (without the tech headaches and overwhelm).
Download it for yourself and start getting on Google’s good side.