How to Optimize Your WordPress Site for SEO

WordPress is a plug-and-play platform for customizing a website many entrepreneurs use when launching a small business on a budget. It’s a solid option for those who want to create a fairly customized website without having to code the entire thing or paying a web designer to create a website from scratch. In other words, its ease and convenience are appealing to many small business owners.

But filling in the WordPress template is not really enough to maximize the reach your company’s website has. You don’t just want the website to exist for people already visiting your online store; you want it to actually attract new visitors by showing up in search engine rankings.

Keep reading to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO) and how it relates to a small business WordPress site.

What Is Search Engine Optimization? 

It helps to have a working understanding of SEO before even launching your website, although you can absolutely use SEO tactics to optimize an existing website to help improve its visibility. Search engines index websites by using algorithms to rank them based on features like website user experience, keywords used, quality of content and more.

Put simply, SEO helps websites show up on search engine rankings. The higher the ranking on search results pages, the more likely people are to notice and engage with your website.

Let’s say you run a local bakery. Would you want your website to show up on the first page when someone in your geographic area Googles a phrase like “cupcakes near me” or would you be content with your website showing up on the third or fourth page? That’s right, failing to optimize your WordPress-based website can give your competitors the edge, as they may end up ranking higher than you — thus garnering more eyeballs and clicks from potential customers.

Pro Tip: Try WordPress SEO Plugins 

The good news is that you don’t need to be an SEO wizard with years of experience to maximize your website’s chances of visibility on search engines. While doing some research into what search engine algorithms favor when it comes to high rankings — especially keyword research — is highly important, there are strategies you can employ to automate some of this SEO work.

Finding the best SEO plugins for WordPress is a start, as these tools help outsource many SEO-related tasks in a way that entrepreneurs just starting out often appreciate. As Yahoo Small Business outlines, some of these tools automatically optimize your website for you. Other plugins are more geared toward walking you through how to optimize different areas of your website, particularly when it comes to writing all kinds of content.

Some of the areas that will need to be addressed by SEO plugins — or by you, as the website creator, if you decide to tackle SEO manually — include:

  • Generating and using keywords in headlines, body content, tags, meta descriptions, etc.
  • Making your WordPress website as fast as it can be to improve user experience
  • Helping you track changes in rankings on search engines to monitor your SEO efforts

A Few More Tips for Small-Business WordPress SEO

How else can you make sure your company’s WordPress website is performing as well as it can in terms of SEO?

Choosing an SEO-friendly theme with intuitive navigation is really the first step. Consider the hierarchy of your website. Is it easy for first-time visitors to navigate? Are the drop-down menus and links organized in a way that makes sense? Do any pages lead to 404 error messages that could be bogging down your rankings?

These efforts, in combination with one or more plugins, can help you optimize your WordPress website for SEO.