Search engine optimization (SEO) is a multi-billion dollar industry.
SEO is the process of optimizing your website to be found in search engines for particular keywords and phrases.
I attribute a good portion of my success to being easily discoverable for relevant search terms, which has helped me build my networks and net worth.
If you’re new to SEO, then this new feat may seem daunting.
But, WordPress makes it insanely simple to optimize the technical aspects of your blog.
The majority of your SEO efforts will be to create engaging content for real people. Whether that’s through text, videos or images, your job as a blogger is to spark a relationship with your readers.
And, what better way is there than through relatable and informative conversation?
You can get started by downloading a plugin called Yoast SEO.
Hover over the plugins menu on the side and click “Add New.”
Search for “Yoast SEO” in the search bar and it will be the first result that comes up.
Click the “Install Now” button. Then, hit the “Activate” button once the installation is complete.
You can access the plugin’s settings from the new SEO menu in the sidebar or by clicking the icon at the top.
From the dashboard, go to “Your Info” and set the foundations for your blog.
Make sure that your website name and tagline are correct. Then, identify yourself as a company or person.
Click the “Save Changes” button and we’ll move on to the next step.
Next, go to the “Webmaster Tools” tab and click “Google Search Console.” Google Search Console is a webmaster tool that allows you to submit your site to their search index and optimize visibility.
Sign into your Google account, whether that’s your Gmail or Drive account.
Once you’ve logged in, click the “Alternate methods” tab and select “HTML tag.”
A new drop-down will appear with your search console meta code. Copy the alphanumeric string without the quotation marks.
Next, paste your meta code into the Google Search Console text box and click “Save Changes.”
Finally, click the “Verify” button.
As you tinker around in Webmaster Central, you’ll gain a wealth of data-driven insight, such as keyword phrases you rank for, errors on your blog and the ability to give Google a nudge when you publish a new post.
Next, go to the “General” tab and start the installation wizard.
Yoast will take you through a series of 10 quick steps to optimize your WordPress blog.
The first step is a welcome screen that you can skip.
In the second step, select the environment that best suits your site. Most likely, you’ll choose the production environment, which means that it is a real website that you intend on driving traffic to.
Step 3 is the website type. Choose blog and click next.
The next step is to set yourself up as a company or person. We already set this up before, so you can skip this step.
In step 5, you can add any social profiles that are associated with your blog. Click “Next” when complete.
Step 6 is about post visibility. The default settings are fine to use. Set your “Posts” and “Pages” to visible and “Media” to hidden.
Next, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll have multiple authors or a solo blogger. If you choose to add another writer in the future, you can change these settings later.
If you wish to have the Yoast SEO plugin pull in data from Google’s search console, step 8 is the place to do it.
Click on the “Get Google Authorization Code” button.
A new pop-up will appear where you can allow Yoast to access your search console data. Click the “Allow” button to confirm access.
In step 9, you can verify your website name and choose a title separator.
The title separator is a symbol used to separate your blog post’s title and your website’s name in the meta title information. This is what Google searchers will see when finding your blog through a search query.
For instance, if you found this post in Google, you might have saw “Post name – How to Start a Blog.”
The symbol is a matter of personal preference. Click “Next” when you’re ready to move on.
The final step is no step at all. It’s a congratulatory message confirming that you have successfully optimized your SEO settings for your budding WordPress blog.
The last Yoast SEO setting worth configuring is an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap is a file that lists the URLs for your website.
It helps Google and other search engines crawl your site for new posts and pages. Fortunately, Yoast has a built-in feature that automatically updates your sitemap, so you can click it and forget it.
In the “Features” tab, set the “Advanced settings pages” to “Enabled” and save the changes.
A new group of menus will appear in the sidebar, under “SEO.” Select the “XML Sitemaps” menu.
Select the “User Sitemap” tab and toggle “Author / user sitemap” to enabled. Don’t forget to save your changes.
You can play around with these settings endlessly, but everything that we’ve set up to this point will get you started on the right track.
Set up permalinks:
Permalinks are static hyperlinks that lead to a particular blog post or page. By default, WordPress sets your permalinks to yourdomain.com/postID.
In no way is this sexy and it doesn’t help anyone understand what the page is about before viewing it.
The simple fix is to set a permalink structure.
In the left sidebar, mouse-over “Settings” and choose “Permalinks.”
There are a few options to choose from. I use the “Post name” structure on my blog which uses keywords from my title to create a unique permalink.
Save the settings after you’ve selected it. You’ll see this in action a bit later.
If you’re still with me, you’ve purchased your domain and web hosting, installed a theme and optimized your website to be crawled and found by search engines.
Now, we get to the bread and butter of blogging. What are you going to write about in your blog?
Let’s find out in my next post.