WordPress and SEO

October 21, 2014

WordPress has some great SEO capabilities built in, but anyone serious about their SEO will want to use a specialist plugin. There are a number of them available, but they all do pretty much the same thing so you only need to have one of them. Installing several different SEO plugins won’t increase your chances of doing better, and in fact it’s more likely that the plugins will conflict with each other. I tend to prefer the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.

Anyone who has this plugin installed will notice that when they add and edit pages or posts in WordPress, there is a whole section available called ‘WordPress SEO by Yoast’. Here’s what it looks like if you can’t find it:

wordpress seo

It’s well worth taking the time to fill out the things in this box as it can make a difference to where your page gets listed in Google.

What is the Snippet Preview?

This shows you a preview of how your page will appear in the search engine when somebody is searching for you. It is only an estimate, but is good to give you an idea of what people will see. From this you can decide if you think your search engine listing is going to be enticing enough to get visitors to your website. You can then tweak the boxes below as you feel necessary.

Focus Keyword

What you type in here is for your reference only. It’s the word or phrase that you are targeting for this particular page or post. It should be what you think people will be typing into Google who should be finding your page. You should aim to use a different focus keyword on each page/post on your website. The SEO plugin will use this focus keyword to analyse your page and offer suggestions for improving your SEO.

SEO Title

This is the title that will display in the search engine results. It can be different to the page/post title. When you save your changes, the snippet preview will update to show what you typed here.

Meta Description

This is also for use in the search engine results and when you save your changes the snippet preview will update too. You can read this previous blog about meta descriptions post to understand more about what a meta description is.

The Page Analysis Tab

Once you’ve tweaked your SEO title and Meta description and had a look at the page analysis, you’ve probably panicked. Some of the recommendations here are over zealous so don’t get too hung up on trying to perfect your score. Use these suggestions as a guideline to check you’ve not missed anything important. Remember to keep your focus on the reader – don’t stuff keywords in places where it doesn’t sound natural.

What are ‘Stop Words’?

Perhaps you’ve seen a message telling you about stop-words. These are words such as ‘and’, ‘in’ and ‘the’ – words which do not have much meaning on their own so are ignored by search engines. One nifty thing that the WordPress SEO plugin does is automatically remove these stop words from your page URLs.

I hope you’ve found some of this information useful as a starting point to help improve your websites SEO. If you want more information, there are loads of tutorials on the internet, try searching for ‘Yoast WordPress SEO tutorial’.