Ranking in the search engines can be a powerful way to grow your site. By using a WordPress hosting plan you’re already giving yourself a head start, as it’s pretty well optimized.
However, if you want to take your onsite search engine optimization even further, then you’ll want to use an SEO plugin for WordPress.
Part of on-page SEO success is adhering to best practices to help your WordPress website rank. This includes optimizing your pages and other content the right way. The other aspect is offsite SEO, which involves things like building strong and relevant backlinks to your site.
This post will focus on the first part of that equation, optimizing your site’s content for relevant keywords to help you rank.
Luckily, this process can be simplified by using a WordPress SEO plugin.
Below you’ll learn why you’ll want to use a WordPress SEO plugin, which plugins for WordPress are worth using, and finally, how to install a WordPress SEO plugin on your site.
Why You Need a WordPress SEO Plugin
As we mentioned, choosing WordPress as your CMS already puts you ahead in the SEO game.
But, optimizing your WordPress site the right way still takes time and skill. So, if you don’t want to spend months learning the ins and outs of on-page SEO, you can rely on an SEO plugin for WordPress to guide the way.
There are dozens of little tweaks you’ll need to make to properly optimize your site. By using an SEO plugin you’ll save time and make your life a lot easier.
Plus, if you want to rank in the search engines, then there are a lot of other, offsite SEO tasks you’ll need to be doing. Spending all your time on onsite SEO just doesn’t make sense.
With the help of an SEO plugin you’ll be able to quickly optimize your content, so you can focus on the quality of your content, and other offsite factors that’ll really help your WordPress website rank.
Which WordPress SEO Plugin Should You Choose?
Hopefully, by now, you understand why using a WordPress SEO plugin is essential. Now, it’s time to choose the best SEO plugin for your site.
There are dozens of different SEO plugins for WordPress you can use. However, instead of diving into every plugin here, we’ll focus on the best one you can use: Yoast SEO.
Yoast SEO is one of the most useful and comprehensive SEO plugins for WordPress on the market. Plus, it’s entirely free.
With Yoast, you’ll get access to features like:
- Post title and meta optimization
- Keyword analysis and expert SEO recommendations
- XML sitemap creation and integration
- Taxonomy creation
- Google Webmaster Tools validation
- And more!
It’s a feature-packed free plugin that will actually educate you about SEO-friendly practices as you spend time optimizing your site and your content.
How to Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
Below you’ll learn how to install and configure Yoast SEO on your WordPress blog or site.
For the sake of this tutorial, we’re assuming you already have WordPress installed on your site.
If you don’t then follow this tutorial and do that first. For those who are already rocking WordPress, let’s dive in!
1. Install and Activate the Plugin
First, you’ll need to install and activate the Yoast plugin to make your site more SEO friendly. To do this navigate to Plugins>Add New on your sidebar.
Next, search for Yoast SEO and install the free plugin that looks like the one below.
Now, click ‘Activate’ and the Yoast plugin will be installed on your site.
With the plugin installed it’s time to start configuring the settings. You’ll probably notice that there are a ton of different settings you can play around with.
Instead of focusing on every aspect of the tool, we’ll only focus on tweaking the settings that are most relevant towards improving your rankings.
With that being said, click on the new ‘SEO’ tab on the left-hand sidebar of your WordPress dashboard. This will open up Yoast SEO.
2. Using the Configuration Wizard
The easiest way to set up WordPress Yoast SEO is by using the configuration wizard. Click on the link that looks like the picture below to get started.
Select Your Environment.
The first step is easy. Click the box that says ‘Option A’. Unless you’re building a site that isn’t quite ready to launch to the world.
Select Your Site Type
Next, you’ll select the type of site that best matches your site.
Choose Company or Person.
Next, you’ll choose whether this site will represent a person or a company. This will help when ranking and displaying your site in the Google Knowledge Graph. If you choose ‘Company’ you can also add your logo during this step.
Add Your Social Profiles.
If you have any existing social media profiles, then you’ll want to enter those URLs now. This will help the WordPress Yoast SEO plugin provide more details about your site to Google. You don’t have to enter every single profile you have, just the ones you use most often and are actually related to your website.
Select How You Want Your Site to Appear in the Search Engines.
Now, you’ll decide if you want both your posts and pages to show up in the search engines. You’ll probably want to leave these default settings and allow the search engines to index your entire site.
If you’re going to be the only author for your blog, then you’ll want to select ‘No’. This will help you avoid any duplicate content issues that can reflect negatively on your rankings.
However, if you will have multiple authors on your site then choose ’Yes’. This will create individual archive pages, so people can access posts written solely by that author.
Integrate Google Search Console.
Google Search Tool is a valuable tool that will provide you with relevant search information about your site. To configure this you’ll need to have an existing Google Search Console profile.
If you don’t have it set up already, then this post will show you how to do it.
You can always set this up later if you don’t want to go through the process at this time. It isn’t necessary for the proper functioning of Yoast SEO.
Choose Your Title Settings.
Your title is the main headline that will appear in the search results. Here you’ll choose your website name and the separator you want to use.
There are a few more sections to click through, which will ask you to sign up for their newsletter and upgrade to the premium version of Yoast. However, you don’t have to do either of these if you don’t want to.
Just keep clicking through until you get to the ‘Success!’ page.
Congratulations! You’ve now properly configured the Yoast WordPress plugin for your site.
Optimizing Your Pages and Posts
One of the coolest features of the Yoast plugin is how easy it is to optimize your pages and posts.
To do this open up one of your existing posts or pages. Towards the bottom of the page (underneath your content), you’ll see a box labeled Yoast SEO.
Here you can change your title, meta description, URL, and enter your focus keyword. Then, you’ll get a score and recommendations for how you can improve that score based on search engine optimization best practices.
For every page and post on your site, you should aim for ‘Green’, which means that your content is properly optimized for your chosen keyword.
If for some reason Yoast WordPress SEO plugin isn’t the right one for you, then spend some time finding an SEO plugin that works better for you. The installation process will be the same as the first few steps above.
Start Optimizing Your On-Site SEO
Hopefully, you have a better understanding of how to install a WordPress SEO plugin on your site and set it up the right way. Finally, it’s important to note that your host can actually have an influence on your rankings, so make sure you choose a quality hosting environment.
If you have any more questions about how to install a WordPress SEO plugin, please contact us at HostGator today!