WordPress is the most popular CMS out there, even though there are other popular platforms like Squarespace’s all-in-one offer. In 2016, WordPress powered 27% of websites, taking up 58.7% of the CMS market share. It’s flexibility, custom themes, and easy-to-change posts and pages is perfect for small and medium businesses. And no, WordPress didn’t pay me for the plug. A lot of successful sites operate with WordPress CMS and it doesn’t need to hinder your quest to get more organic traffic to your site.

In fact, in a lot of ways, WordPress is one of the easiest platforms to use if you want to invest in SEO.

cms-usage-stats

Even though WordPress is a great platform, you need to make a few easy adjustments to optimize your site for search. It’s really common for site owners to abandon SEO, but with a few tweaks you can set yourself up to compete against some of the bigger players in your industry.
 
If you implement these five tips after your WordPress install, you’ll have a chance at beating out your competitors.
 
1) How to Discourage Google from Crawling Your WordPress Site
 
Each default WordPress theme comes with sample pages, which you probably don’t want indexed by Google. If you forget to discourage Google from crawling your site, then pages like the ‘Uncategorized’ category page or tags you’ve chosen to remove will show up in search results.
 
Do yourself a favor, tell Google to go away until you’re ready to launch your site. Don’t forget to change this setting once your done with development or Google won’t be able to find your site.

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Settings.
  2. Select Reading and scroll to Search Engine Visibility.
  3. Check the box for Discourage search engines from indexing this site.

discourage-search-crawlers

This will add noindex and nofollow tags to your pages, telling Googlebot to leave your site out of the index.
 
2) How to Change Permalinks in WordPress
 
The default permalink structure in WordPress is known for not being SEO friendly. Before creating any new posts, change your permalink structure to include the post name or the category and the post name. Simple, human-readable URLs are the best to use and you don’t want search engines and people shying away from your content because it was published in 2014.

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Settings.
  2. Select permalinks and change to desired settings (Post name recommended).

edit-wordpress-permalinks

3) Select an SEO Plugin for WordPress
 
It’s not enough to set the permalink structure for your content. Every WordPress website that performs well in search should have an SEO plugin installed. There are two popular SEO plugins that the majority of users rely on: Yoast SEO or All in One SEO. A note about these plugins — I think they’re great because they give you the ability to edit the title tag, meta description, integrate with Google Search Console and a whole lot more.
 
seo-yoast
 
The one feature of these plugins that I tend to ignore is keyword targeting. I find that this section really encourages you to keyword stuff your content and to optimize content that is not for the purpose of SEO. I say — use the technical parts and leave the optimization to yourself.
 
4) No Index Duplicate Content Pages
 
Creating duplicate content on your website is bad for SEO, so you want to prevent that by no indexing your category and tag pages. These two types of pages are made up of your existing content. The content, therefore, exists in two places: in it’s whole form as a post and in a roundup version on a tag or category page.
 
configure-yoast-no-index
 
If a content piece has multiple tags or categories, then the amount of duplicate content on your site can quickly add up. To prevent this from happening,

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to SEO (after installing SEO Yoast).
  2. Select Taxonomies and then under ‘Categories’ and ‘Tags’ select noindex Meta Robots.

5) Create Breadcrumbs for Your Site
 
SEO Yoast also gives you the ability to set-up breadcrumbs for your site. This will help Google understand your site hierarchy and make sure that your posts are getting indexed. Breadcrumbs are the perfect way to help Google understand different content categories that you write about and flow PageRank to your posts. To set-up breadcrumbs using SEO Yoast:

  1. Login to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to SEO (after installing SEO Yoast).
  2. Select Advanced and Enable

configure-yoast-breadcrumbs

Now that your site is all set-up for search (note: don’t forget to turn off discouraging Google from crawling your site), you’re ready to start publishing content. With these tips you should be able to improve your SEO for wordpress and set your site on the path to raking for some high-value keywords.