WordPress SEO: The Ultimate Guide for Beginners

Are you a beginner looking for a WordPress SEO guide to help you optimize your website?

WordPress is the most widely used content management system (CMS) in the world.

It’s free and open-source. And above all, It’s SEO-friendly.

However, simply using WordPress won’t make your website rank #1 on Google. You need to follow WordPress SEO best practices to increase your website visibility and get more traffic to your website.

In this guide, we’ll share the best WordPress SEO tips and practices that you can use to properly optimize your WordPress SEO.

What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?

SEO refers to the way of optimizing a website or webpage to increase its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). The basic goal of SEO is to attract organic (not paid) traffic to a website by making it more relevant and appealing to search engines.

Why is SEO Important?

SEO is crucial in today’s competitive market for several reasons:

  • 70% of users click on one of the first five suggestions in the search engine results pages(SERPS). To get visitors and increase your traffic, your website must appear in one of the top positions.
  • SEO isn’t only about search engines; good SEO practices increase a website’s user experience and usability.
  • Users trust search engines, and appearing in the top positions for the keywords increases trust and credibility in users.
  • SEO serves as an advantage for the social advertising of your website. People who find your website via Google are more likely to share it on social media platforms.
  • SEO is less expensive than other marketing tactics, such as paid advertising.
  • Lastly, SEO offers a competitive advantage, too. By implementing effective SEO strategies, you can outrank your competitors in search engine results, attract more traffic, and generate more leads and sales.

WordPress SEO Best Practices

Below are some WordPress SEO tips & best practices you need to follow for your website optimization.

1. Choose a Reliable Hosting Provider

Your hosting affects many things related to SEO, including site performance, uptime, and security. So, think about it before you create a website.

If you already use a web hosting provider and are unhappy with it, you may always change it. The majority of high-quality hosting providers would be happy to help you in moving your website from one of their competitors.

Consider the following factors while choosing a hosting provider:

  • High Uptime: Look for a hosting provider that offers a high uptime guarantee, ideally 99.9% or higher.
  • WordPress Compatibility: The hosting should be compatible with WordPress websites. The majority of high-quality providers have a plan designed specifically for WordPress needs.
  • Security Measures: Look for a hosting provider that prioritizes website security. This includes features such as regular backups, SSL certificates, firewalls, malware scanning, and DDoS protection to safeguard your website and data.
  • Location of a Server: For instance, if you primarily target US visitors, you’ll want the server to be in the US so the website loads faster for them.
  • Customer Support: Check the availability and quality of customer support.
  • Backup and Restore Options: Check if the hosting provider offers regular automated backups and provides easy restoration options in case of data loss or website issues.

If you are not sure where to start, choose one of the hosting providers WordPress recommends:

2. Choose Your Preferred Site Address Format

If you’re already starting with your website, you’ll need to decide whether you want to use www (http://www.example.com) or non-www (http://example.com) in your site URL.

As search engines consider them to be two different websites, you have to choose one and stick to it.

You may update your preferences by going to the Settings » General page. Fill up your desired URL in both the WordPress Address and Site Address boxes.

Choose Your Preferred Site Address Format

Regardless of what someone else says, there is no SEO benefit to using one over the other.

3. Using SEO-Friendly URL Structures in WordPress

SEO-friendly URLs include terms that clearly describe the page’s content and are easy to read for both humans and search engines.

Some examples of SEO-friendly URLs are:

It’s important to note that these URLs are readable, and a user may guess what will show on the website simply by looking at the URL text.

So, what does a non-SEO-friendly URL look like?


It’s important to note that these URLs use numbers that have nothing to do with the content, so users can’t guess what they’ll see on the page just by looking at it.

Using a permalink structure that is SEO-friendly increases your chances of ranking higher in search results.

Here’s how to check and change the permalink structure on your WordPress site.

You must go to the Settings » Permalinks page. Choose the post name option and then click the Save Changes button to save your choices.

WordPress Permalinks Settings

Note: If your website has been up and running for more than six months, please do not change your permalink structure unless you use the numbers option. If you are using Day and Name or Month and Name, continue using that.

If you change your permalink structure on a long-established site, you will lose all of your social media share counts and risk losing your SEO ranking.

4. Check Your Site’s Visibility Settings

WordPress provides a feature that lets you hide your website from search engines. This option aims to allow you time to work on your website before it goes live.

However, sometimes, this option might be selected by mistake, rendering your website unreachable to search engines.

If your website isn’t showing up in search results, the first thing you should do is make sure this option is unchecked.

Go to the Settings » Reading page in the admin area of your WordPress site.

You must go down to the Search Engine Visibility area and uncheck the option next to Discourage search engines from indexing this site.

Search Engine Visibility Settings in WordPress

Remember to save your changes by clicking the Save Changes button.

5. Choosing the WordPress SEO Plugin

When it comes to choosing the best WordPress SEO plugin, you’ll most likely narrow your choices down to the three most popular options: Yoast SEO, All in One SEO (AIOSEO), and Rank Math.

For this guide, we will use Yoast SEO.

Yoast SEO is the original WordPress SEO plugin that’s used on over 5+ million websites.

Plus, this is the plugin that we use on the Pickup WP website.

It comes with powerful features like SEO analysis, readability analysis, advanced XML sitemaps, schema.org integration, social media integration, breadcrumb navigation, and much more.

Simply put, Yoast SEO handles all of the technical SEO optimizations for your WordPress site.

6. Add XML Sitemaps in WordPress

An XML Sitemap is a specifically structured file containing a list of all your website’s pages. This allows search engines to discover all of your data quickly.

While using an XML sitemap does not improve your site’s search rankings, it does help search engines quickly find and rank the pages.

If you are using an SEO plugin, it will generate an XML sitemap for you automatically. To find your sitemap, go to this URL (change example.com with your own domain name):


7. Submit Your Sitemap to Google Search Console

Google Search Console, commonly known as Webmaster Tools, is a toolset provided by Google that helps website owners see how Google views their content.

It is also one of the free SEO tools that help website owners optimize their websites for better search engine visibility, fix technical SEO issues, and gain insights into user behavior and search performance.

If you’re using AIOSEO, you can follow this guide on how to add a WordPress website to Google Search Console.

After you’ve added your website to Google Search Console, go to the left menu, select sitemaps, and copy the last portion of the sitemap URL.

Submit Sitemap To Google Search Console

To save your changes, click the Submit button.

Your sitemap will now be checked by Google Search Console and used to optimize the crawling of your website.

Your sitemap will display as pending after you have successfully added it. It does take Google some time to crawl your website. After a few hours, you should be able to check some statistics about your sitemap. It will display the number of links it discovered in your sitemap, how many of them were indexed, the ratio of pictures to web pages, and so on.

We recommend that you visit your Search Console at least once a month to gather information and track the progress of your website’s SEO.

8. Do Keyword Research

One of the most important WordPress SEO tasks is to find the keywords that your target audience searches for on Google so that you can target them and get relevant traffic.

This process is known as keyword research.

There are two main types of keywords:

  • Short Tail Keywords: These are keyword phrases that typically consist of one or two words. These keywords are highly competitive and have a high search volume. For example, “shoes” or “laptops” are considered short-tail keywords.
  • Long Tail Keywords: These are longer phrases that are typically composed of three or more words. These keywords have a small search volume but are more targeted and have less competition. For example, “running shoes for women” or “best budget gaming laptops” are long-tail keywords.

Long tail keywords are best for a new website to rank their site. Meanwhile, short-tail keywords are more effective for a website with a large audience.

Finding Keywords

There are a number of paid and free keyword research tools available to help you find the target keywords for your site. We recommended using SEMrush. It offers an extensive set of features that can help you identify relevant keywords. These include analyzing competitors’ keywords, keyword search intent, trend analysis, content ideas, keyword gaps, long tail keywords, and more.

SEMrush Keyword Overview Tool

9. Write Optimized Title Tags

The title tag of your website informs search engines and users about the content of your page. And it’s an essential ranking factor.

It shows up in search engine snippets and browser tabs:

Title Tag in SERP and Browser

As a result, creating powerful, well-optimized title tags is a crucial on-page SEO task.

The Yoast SEO plugin can also help with this. Scroll down to the bottom of the page you’re working on and edit the field under the SEO title:

Yoast SEO Title

The Title and Page placeholders will be filled up automatically with the post or page title.

You may remove them and create your own SEO-friendly title tag.

Here are some tips for writing eye-catching title tags:

  • Write your title around 50-60 characters to ensure they are fully displayed in search engine results.
  • Put your target keyword at the beginning.
  • Use numbers to make them more attractive and actionable. For example, “top 10” or “in 2023”.
  • Use actionable and persuasive words like “review”, “best”, “checklist”, or “step-by-step”.
  • Use your brand name if possible.

10. Write a Compelling Meta Description

While meta descriptions aren’t a direct ranking factor, they help you increase your click-through rate (CTR).

Meta Description in SERP

In other words, writing excellent meta descriptions can encourage more users to click on your link in search results.

You can use Yoast SEO to add a meta description as you add your title tag by going to Meta Description:

Yoast Meta Description

Here are a few tips on how to write effective meta descriptions:

  • Write your meta description around 130-140 characters to ensure they are fully displayed in search engine results.
  • Include your target keyword that accurately represents the content of your webpage.
  • Include a compelling call to action like “Learn more” or “Get started today” in your meta description.
  • Make it actionable and use an active voice.
  • Create a unique meta description for each page.

11. Properly Using Categories and Tags in WordPress

WordPress helps you to categorize and tag your blog content. This makes it easy for you to organize your content into topics and for your users to find the information they need.

Categories and tags also assist search engines in understanding the structure and content of your website.

Categories are used for broad groupings of your posts. If your blog were just a book, the table of contents would be categorized.

On the other hand, tags are more precise terms that describe a single post’s contents. For example, a blog entry in the WordPress category may include plugins, widgets, themes, etc.

By using categories and tags correctly, you make it easier for your users to browse your website. Because it’s simple for people, it’s also simple for search engines to browse your site.

12. Add Internal Links in the content

Internal links lead from one page or post on your site to another on the same site. They’re essential for both SEO and site navigation.

You’ll usually use them to refer to other kinds of content you’ve written or to connect to your landing pages.

For example, here is how we use the anchor text “Free SEO Tool” in this internal link:

Internal Link Example

The link gives extra information on the topic contextually—right within the post’s content.

There are three reasons why internal linking is beneficial:

  • Interconnectivity: Internal links may show search engines how one page relates to another, which is helpful for crawling.
  • Passing authority:  It can provide link equity to your most important content, making it the website’s thematic leader. As a result, search engines will place a higher value on these pages.
  • Efficient navigation: These links can guide readers to further information relevant to their interests, causing them to spend more time on the website.

This will raise the number of pageviews on your site, the number of time users spend on it, and, eventually, the SEO score of your blog posts and pages.

13. Add Trustworthy External Links

In addition to providing internal links, you should also include some external links to high-domain authority sites. This improves your WordPress SEO by indicating to Google that you are connecting to high-quality, relevant content. It also enhances the user experience by offering more information to your visitors/users.

We recommend including at least two high-domain authority external links within each piece of content. When doing so, a good little tip to keep users on your site is to make the link open in a separate tab or window.

14. Approve Comments Manually

Writing comments on other websites to get backlinks was a common link-building strategy.

Of course, it doesn’t work as well as it used to (for example, all links in WordPress comments are nofollowed by default, meaning they don’t pass any authority).

However, many spammers continue to do it.

Having spammy comments on your website won’t affect your SEO efforts. Still, Google advises website owners to fight spam content.


Because spammy content can still harm your website in various ways:

  • It hurts your trustworthiness.
  • Provides no added value for users.
  • It is irrelevant to your content.

Fortunately, WordPress offers a very easy solution for this.

Go to Settings » Discussion from your WordPress admin. Then check the box next to Comment must be manually approved.

Manually Approved Comments in WordPress

This way, you’ll have to approve every new comment on your website before it is shown on a page.

However, it adds an extra task to your workflow. But it will prevent spammy comments from affecting your website.

15. Optimize Your Images for WordPress SEO

Images help capture the user’s attention and reinforce the ideas you want to convey. However, they may use a lot of resources and slow down your site.

Image optimization can increase your site’s loading times and accessibility, which may result in higher SERP ranks.

Let’s look at the three ways to perform image optimization.

Compress Your Images

Image compression will reduce the file size of your images and make your site lightweight.

You’ll have to decide between lossy and lossless image compression. The best decision will depend on the type of images on your website.

You can use Imagify, the best WordPress image optimization plugin, for this.

Add Alt Text for Images

Alt text (alternative text) makes your images more accessible. They explain what images seem like to search engines. Screen readers use alt text to help visually challenged users understand what images are saying.

Further, WordPress has a built-in feature for adding alt text to images. Users can assign it using the media library and the block editor.

We recommend adding alt text directly through the media library so that it is attached to the image whenever you reuse it.

Adding Alt Text to Image in WordPress

Here are some WordPress SEO best practices for alt text:

  • Be Descriptive: Write alt text that accurately describes the image.
  • Use Keywords Wisely: Incorporate relevant keywords naturally into the alt text, but avoid keyword stuffing.
  • Keep it concise: The ideal alt text is between 80-125 characters long.
  • Maintain sentence structure: Write alt text with correct grammar, spelling, and structure.

Give Readable File Names for Images

File names can help search engines understand visual content. Even search engines are more likely to encourage images with understandable file names. As a result, using readable file names like slice-of-pizza.jpg is always better than IMG_01.jpg.

16. Always Use SSL With the Domain

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It’s a type of encryption that secures the connection between a website and a browser. It protects critical information, such as payment information, against unauthorized access.

When a domain has SSL certification, the URL begins with https:// rather than http://. In addition, a padlock icon will display next to the address bar, as shown below:

A Site Secured by SSL and HTTPs

When assessing the page experience of a website, Google considers HTTPS. If the content of competing web pages is of similar value, a high page experience score might be the determining factor in ranking high on SERPs.

Furthermore, if a website does not have an SSL certificate, browsers such as Safari and Google Chrome may flag it as insecure, warning users not to submit personal information. If you have a landing page or an online store, a warning like this might turn off potential customers and reduce conversion rates.

17. Secure Your WordPress Website

Website security is a crucial part of SEO.

Google blacklists about 20,000 websites every week for malware and about 50,000 for phishing. When a website gets blacklisted, it no longer appears in search results.

Therefore, the security of your WordPress site is important for getting high rankings. You don’t want all of your SEO efforts to go to waste if your site is hacked by a hacker.

We’ve already discussed the use of an SSL certificate above. Now, let’s look at some more ways you can use to protect your website from cyber-attacks.

Using a Backup Plugin

The first is to install a reliable backup plugin, such as UpdraftPlus. Creating regular WordPress backups is the most essential thing you can do for the security of your website. Backups create peace of mind and can save you in unforeseen circumstances, such as when your website is hacked, or you mistakenly lock yourself out.

Check our list of the best WordPress backup plugins.

Using a Security Plugin

A WordPress security plugin safeguards your website from malware, brute-force assaults, and hacking attempts. Security plugins are intended to prevent attacks and offer comprehensive security reports for your WordPress site.

Check our list of the best WordPress security plugins.

Updating Regularly

Outdated software may include flaws that attackers can exploit. Regular updates fix these flaws.

You need to regularly update your:

  • WordPress core
  • Plugins
  • Themes

Simply go to Dashboard » Updates and check what needs to be updated.

Update WordPress Themes and Plugins From WordPress Dashboard Update Screen

Or, you can visit the plugins (Plugins » Installed Plugins) and themes (Appearance » Themes) sections to manage the updates of these respective installations.

Update Plugin From WordPress Installed Plugins Screen

Install Only Trusted Plugins

WordPress makes it simple to identify the best plugins. When installing a new plugin, ensure that it meets the following requirements:

  • It has been updated recently
  • Compatible with your version of WordPress
  • It has a good number of installations and ratings

Here is an example of a good plugin that is updated, compatible, and popular:

Good Plugin Example

18. Use Schema to Mark Up Your Pages

Schema markup, or structured data, is a type of code you add to your website to inform Google what your page is about. As a result, Google can improve your content in search results by showing it as a featured snippet.

For example, say you run a recipe blog that gives detailed instructions on how to cook.

By adding the Recipe markup, you can show an image, ingredients, cooking time, and star ratings to help Google read and understand these.

Then, Google can use this data in search results featured snippet:

WordPress Recipe Schema

You may mark up nearly anything, from basic details of your website (such as the name of your organization, articles, or authors) to more specific details (such as events, products, reviews, FAQs, how-tos, and so on).

If you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, it handles all the essential markup on your behalf based on the settings you set for your site and the details you provide during initial configuration.

You may additionally mark up certain specific content types in the Schema tab of the Yoast box that appears when editing a page or a post. Then, select a schema type.

Yoast Schema Type

You can also use the WordPress schema plugin to add schema markup for your site.

19. Focus on SEO-Friendly Content

Before you start writing content with your target keywords, you need to know what makes a website or blog SEO-friendly in the first place.

Here are some qualities of good SEO content:

  • In-depth: The writing includes the essential points and covers the most often asked questions by the targeted users. As a result, users don’t force themselves to use a competitor to achieve their goals.
  • Original: It provides unique value, whether it’s new information that competitors haven’t covered or a different perspective than the rest of the market.
  • Easy to follow: The language is primary and easy to understand for the targeted users.
  • Readable: The paragraphs are short – three to five sentences apiece to make the content understandable. To improve scannability, the text may use bullet points or organized lists.
  • Keyword-friendly: The target keyword appears naturally and SEO-friendly throughout the article.
  • Well-structured: There are several headings to make the web page or blog post easier to navigate.
  • Visual: It uses images, infographics, and videos to make information more engaging.

For more details, see our guide on how to optimize your blog posts for SEO.

20. Use an SEO-Friendly Theme

An SEO-friendly theme isn’t only appealing; it also provides a positive user experience and helps search engines browse the site’s content.

To find a WordPress theme that is SEO-friendly, look for one that is:

  • Mobile-Friendly: This point should be a priority because Google promotes mobile-friendly websites in their SERPs. The term “responsive” refers to the theme’s ability to adapt to desktop, tablet, and smartphone screens.
  • Speedy and lightweight: The theme should only include the essential features and contain no boilerplate code to load quickly.
  • Latest Coding Standards: It follows the most recent WordPress coding standards to avoid errors, keep code readability, and track web accessibility rules.
  • Regularly updated: Ideally, the theme’s developers should check on it regularly to fix any performance or security issues.

21. Speed Up Your Website

When it comes to site page speed, every second counts.

Page speed is also one of the Google ranking factors. As a result, having a slow website could negatively impact your ranking.

There are various ways to optimize your WordPress website to increase page speed:

  • Choose a Reliable Hosting Provider: Select a hosting provider such as Bluehost, Hostinger, or DreamHost that offers fast servers optimized for WordPress. We recommended.
  • Use a Caching Plugin: Install a caching plugin like WP Rocket or W3 Total Cache to generate static HTML files of your dynamic WordPress pages. This reduces server load and improves page load times.
  • Minify and Combine Files: Minify your HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files to remove unnecessary characters and reduce file sizes. Use plugins like Autoptimize or WP Rocket to handle this task automatically.
  • Enable Browser Caching: Set up browser caching to allow returning visitors to load your site faster. This involves adding cache-control headers to your site’s HTTP headers or using a caching plugin that handles this for you.
  • Use CDN: A CDN stores static files of your site on multiple servers around the world. When a user requests your site, the CDN serves the files from the nearest server, reducing latency and improving load times.

For more performance optimization tips, check out our ultimate guide to speed up WordPress.

22. Use Last Updated Dates

Always keep your content fresh and up-to-date by updating it on a regular basis.

When you update the content, you should also modify the date to inform users and search engines that it has been updated.

The best way to do this is to display the date when a piece of content was last updated.

Here is how Backlinko’s Brian Dean does it:

Backlinko Post Updated Date

If you check the page source, you can notice that it was published in June 2021 and updated in April 2023.

Post Published Date vs Modified Date

That means:

  • Google can read both dates and choose which one is most relevant to show in search results.
  • Users see the date of the most recent change, so they know the post content is fresh.

This means a win-win situation for both Google and its users.

23. Enable Breadcrumbs

A breadcrumb is a text trail that usually appears at the top of a page and identifies the page’s position within the site structure.

This is how it shows up:

Breadcrumbs For Pickup WP

The main reason for using breadcrumbs is to help visitors navigate your website.

Second, they can appear in search results and enhance your SERP snippets:

Breadcrumbs SERP For Pickup WP

If you are using Yoast SEO, you can easily enable Breadcrumb for your site. Simply go to Yoast SEO » Settings from your admin dashboard. On your Yoast SEO Settings screen, toggle the Advanced menu, and then click on the Breadcrumb.

Enable Breadcrumbs in Yoast SEO

If your theme is compatible with Yoast breadcrumbs, the toggle in the Breadcrumbs settings will be enabled by default. If your theme doesn’t support them, you will need to insert a title bit of code into your theme.


Optimizing your WordPress site for search engines is crucial for driving organic traffic and improving your online visibility. By implementing the best WordPress SEO tips and practices outlined in this guide, you can improve your website’s ranking in search engine results, attract more targeted traffic, and enhance the overall user experience.

Remember to create high-quality content, optimize your site structure and URLs, use proper keyword research, and implement on-page optimization techniques.

Additionally, staying up to date with the latest SEO trends and algorithm changes is vital for maintaining a competitive edge.

With dedication, patience, and a well-executed SEO strategy, you can maximize your WordPress website’s potential and achieve long-term success.

We hope this guide helps you learn how to optimize your WordPress site for SEO.

For your next steps, check out these helpful resources:

Lastly, follow us on Facebook and Twitter to stay updated on the latest WordPress and blogging-related articles.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is WordPress Good for SEO?

Yes, WordPress is a good platform for SEO (Search Engine Optimization). WordPress provides a solid foundation for building search engine-friendly websites and offers various features, plugins, and themes that can help optimize your site for better search engine visibility.

Does Google Favor WordPress?

Google does not favor any particular website platform or content management system, including WordPress. Google’s primary objective is to provide the most relevant and high-quality search results to its users. It evaluates websites based on numerous factors, such as content relevance, user experience, site speed, mobile-friendliness, and overall authority.

How Do I Improve my WordPress SEO?

There are many things you can do to improve your WordPress SEO. Here are a few tips:

  • Install a good SEO plugin.
  • Optimize your SEO title tags and meta descriptions.
  • Use Schema markup.
  • Submit your website to Google Search Console.
  • And many more.

Are There Any SEO-Optimized WordPress Themes?

Yes, there are several SEO-optimized WordPress themes available in the market. These themes are designed and developed with built-in features and code optimizations that can help improve the search engine visibility of your website.

Astra, GeneratePress, and Divi are a few popular SEO-friendly WordPress themes.

What Are Some Common WordPress SEO Mistakes?

Here are a few common WordPress SEO mistakes:

  • Not optimizing titles and meta descriptions.
  • Ignoring permalink structure.
  • Not doing keyword research.
  • Writing low-quality content.
  • Not using SEO plugins.

How Can I Track my WordPress SEO Performance?

Installing Google Analytics and Google Search Console is the best way to track your WordPress SEO performance.

Can I Do WordPress SEO Without Plugin?

Yes, you can perform WordPress SEO without using a dedicated SEO plugin. While SEO plugins offer convenient features and functionalities, you can still optimize your WordPress website manually by following the best practices described in this guide.

How Can I Find WordPress SEO Keywords for My Site?

There are many keyword research tools (free & paid) available that you can use to find WordPress SEO keywords for your site.

How Good is Yoast for Doing WordPress SEO?

Yoast SEO is a popular SEO plugin that helps users improve their website’s SEO. It offers a number of features, including:

  • Title tag and meta description optimization
  • Schema markup
  • XML sitemaps
  • Robots.txt management
  • And more

However, it is important to note that Yoast SEO is not a magic bullet. It is still important to create high-quality content and build backlinks to your website.

Are WordPress Tags Good for SEO?

WordPress tags are not directly beneficial for SEO. They don’t directly affect your search engine rankings. However, they can indirectly affect your SEO by helping users find your content.

Can My WordPress Site be Hacked?

Yes, your WordPress site can be hacked. WordPress is a well-known platform, which makes it a target for hackers. Hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in WordPress to gain access to your site and install malicious code. This malicious code can then be used to steal your data, deface your site, or even take your site down completely.

However, with the right WordPress security practices, you can significantly lower the risk of your site being hacked.