Building an SEO ready WordPress website requires work in 4 areas: keyword selection; content, meta data and site architecture. This guide walks beginners through the steps required to create a coherent site that ranks well in Google for certain keywords, while actively engaging a target market.
Assuming you have already purchased a domain name and server space, you should install a fresh copy of WordPress on your server. Then, follow steps in this article: they take you through keyword selection, content building, meta data construction and website architecture.
Part 1: keyword selection
Every aspect of a successful website is based on keywords. Google is an information retrieval machine. Its engines crawl around the web, storing web pages into keyword-based indexes. Each of these keyword indexes operates as an independent database centered around a particular keyword term or phrase. Example:
What are you trying to achieve with your website? If trying to sell something, suitable keywords would describe your product and your service locations.
After selecting your keywords, compare them to the best performing keywords of your competitor. Enter your top competitor’s URL into Semrush. It will give you a list of their top-performing keywords and top competitors in both organic and paid searches. Here’s some data we pulled for silversea.com, a cruise ship operator:
Define your project goals. Use the above data to define your keywords. Keywords should contain your product or service plus location details, if applicable. Conduct keyword research using Semrush, getting keyword ideas based off of your most successfully ranking competitors.
Part 2: producing content
“Content” refers to words, images and design elements. With your keyword strategy in place, you should know what to write about, and also have an idea of what elements to show on your website front page.
You can spend months coding your own design. Unless you’re a diligent pro, expect custom-made templates to be bloated and suffer mobile limitations over time. In addition, WordPress core updates frequently, custom templates do not. Over time, any custom code will bog down your site and get progressively slower.
Finally, design is one of those things that looks easy to do, but not everyone can make professional digital designs. For that reason, Planet Asia suggests using professional templates. They come with 1-click installs of demo layouts – you need only reverse engineer until you have the site of your dreams.
A good starting point is the list of best-selling templates on Themeforest. Browse templates, read reviews, check the sales numbers (more sales = more reason to trust) and check the demos. Find one you like, purchase, and install the demo layout of your choosing.
Reverse engineer by putting in your own text and images, and you’re done – in a matter of days.
Step 1: start organizing a content structure. Begin by creating ‘pages’, which are meant to show static content (not changing over time). Typical pages include Home, About Us, Our Products, Contact Us, Terms and Conditions.
Step 2: create blog categories. Less is more – creating dozens of categories will make your site extremely complex to manage. If you don’t plan on blogging regularly, a single category called ‘blog’ is sufficient.
WordPress Navigation Basics
The next step before writing your content is to create a menu structure. Create two menus: Main Menu and Footer Menu.
Main Menu: Home, About Us, Our Products, Blog Category 1, Blog Category 2, Contact Us
Part 3: build meta data
Search engines index pages into databases organized by keywords. Meta data contains the keywords that Google indexes, and it also contains data to compel human users to click on your pages in Google searches. Focus on the following:
- Page title
- Your Content Goes Here
- Post title (h1 title tag)
- Meta description
Step 1: install Yoast SEO and activate the plugin.
Step 2: modify some Yoast settings in order to prevent duplicate content issues. In particular, noindex tags:
Step 3: assuming you have already written your content, edit each post or page and scroll beneath the content window. You will find a Yoast data entry box. Enter an SEO title. Enter a meta description. Both should contain target keywords, but read in a natural manner:
Step 4: modify your post or page titles. These are your h1 title tags, one of the first points of contact for search engine crawlers. Make sure your titles are compelling and descriptive:
Part 4: review site architecture
Follow these steps to make sure your site is running at peak performance:
- Install WP Fastest Cache plugins to boost speeds.
- Set up Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics accounts and connect them to your site
- Submit Yoast xml sitemaps (for pages, posts, categories and attachments) to Google Webmaster Tools
- Create a favicon for your site. Upload it to your public_html folder of your site, or within your theme’s customizer.
- Finally, test your page speeds using GTmetrix and Google’s Page Speed Insights. Then, run your site through a free online audit using SEOsiteCheckup. Address any problems that you find.
By following all of these steps, you can have an SEO-ready website in a leisurely two weeks. Most of your time will be spent producing content. Once your content is ready, site speed looks good and it passes an SEOsiteCheckup scan, you should focus on two things:
Building backlinks is the very last step you need to do, in order to ultimately appear on the first page of Google searches. When building backlinks on an SEO-ready site, your rankings will soar.
When doing the same on a bloated, slideshow heavy site with poor navigation, thin content and raw meta descriptions, your purchased backlinks will have a significantly diminished effect.