Beginner’s Guide: Common sense WordPress SEO strategy


WordPress SEO tutorial

It seems there is an epic, never-ending battle out there in the interwebs between those that argue Search Engine Optimization Matters and those that preach that Content is King. Of course, as in most things, the truth is likely somewhere in the middle.

You don’t need to waste precious hours on complex SEO tactics that provide little benefit. You also don’t want to ignore it altogether.

Let’s take a bird’s eye view and walk through some common sense steps to conquering SEO for WordPress.

Get setup with an SEO plugin

Install the WordPress SEO plugin, because it will do most of your SEO grunt work.
WordPress SEO snippet
Pay the most attention to your home page and post titles, and get familiar with the meta data preview in the post editor that really makes this plugin shine.

Be structured

Is your blog new? Think about your site structure. Make sure the flow of your site fits the path you want the visitor to take.
WordPress site structure

Don’t weaken links

Links are probably the most important thing you can get from other people. It’s great for someone to tweet your post, but it’s absolutely fantastic if they reblog it.

Make sure that they only have one way to get to that content. Don’t give users an opportunity to waste valuable links on duplicate content.

Permalinks are important

WordPress does an amazing job to make your permalinks pretty. Take advantage of it.
pretty permalinks
Short, memorable, relevant permalinks are awesome.

Around here, we try to make our permalinks as a sentence to make them easier to remember.

Write consistently

If you don’t write consistently, noone will read consistently. If you are the place to read about WordPress news, then post WordPress news, alot.

A stale blog isn’t the type of blog I’ll share.

Even if someone finds a one-off “evergreen” article in search, if it was a decent article, they’ll click to your homepage and look for more recent content.

Don’t disappoint them.

Be yourself when you write

You’re not the AP news, so don’t act like it. Be real. Be yourself.

Write like you’re talking to another human being, because you are. If you don’t talk to them, they won’t talk back to you.

Write relevant content

People don’t want to hear your personal stories all the time. Give them answers to problems. Offer them a product for what they searched for. Don’t waste their time.

Create specific content

If you want to be the number one source on the internet for a term, then make your content about that term.
sad topics
Don’t write about WordPress one day and politics the next.

Be specific. And don’t be unrealistic. You can probably start a blog and in time become the go-to source for something like Alabama politics or Auburn football banter, but you will almost certainly never rank for “sports” or “politics”.

Be shareworthy

If you follow the steps above for creating valuable content, people will want to share it.

Social is becoming more and more important to search. We all see what our Facebook friends are liking online. We’ve seen blog posts go crazy on Twitter. Tools like Google’s new +1 button will apply weight to what others in our network have already said is good content.

And the search engines are integrating these things into their results.

So if you’re writing great content, people will want to share that. When people share it, the search engines are listening.

So if for some reason you aren’t set up for social, do it. Check out Jetpack or Twitter and Facebook Connect and give your readers ways to share your content.

Great resources

You’ll notice I’ve included some links so you can go and learn more from the real experts. My resources are blogs about the technical side of SEO and the emotional side. After all, as I’ve said, engaging your audience in a way that makes them want to share your content with others is extremely important.

Gone are the times where keyword stuffing and sub-standard tactics will get your content found.

I highly recommend Joost de Valk’s blog, It is my go-to source for learning the best practices of optimizing WordPress for search engines.

I also would guide you to Social Triggers, by Derek Halpern, where he focuses on “what makes people tick online.” It’s a great resource for diving into user psychology so that you can sell yourself and your products effectively.

Finally, I’d recommend you start following Tentblogger, where John Saddington gives great tips to help you connect on a personal level with your audience. He also has interesting things to say about SEO, and he absolutely loves WordPress.

I’d love for you to share more resources in the comments, as these are simply my resources.

Wrapping it up

Yes. SEO is important. And it is not a one-click thing. I haven’t even touched on some important aspects like site speed, site maps, and plenty of other things in this article. But I have tried to give any beginner, and maybe some more advanced users, enough to stay busy for a while.

SEO takes planning your strategy, taking the extra step to get the most out of WordPress, and working extremely hard to create incredible content.

It can be tough, and time consuming. But it’s not rocket science.

So if your goal is to rank higher, and you don’t know why you’re not on the front page of Google for your desired topic, it’s time to get set up for better SEO and off your butt and writing great content.

33 thoughts on “Beginner’s Guide: Common sense WordPress SEO strategy

    • The misspelling of the word “Strategy” (stragegy) in the graphic atop this blog post was the first thing that caught my eye too… please fix this, Brian! Thanks!

  1. Thanks very much for the above. I am new to internet marketing and to WordPress too. I am trying to learn as much as I can to help me get my business off the ground.

    I appreciate the fact that you take the time to help people like me with very useful tips and resources.


  2. Thanks for that introductory article on basic SEO for WP. It will be better if WP gives the basic SEO settings it has applied for along with Jetpack so that the beginners need not be confused. And yeah, google has been getting better – so, great content will be discovered!

  3. Hah by this post, my blog is definitely not focused 😛 But then again I’m not trying to be. Just BEIN’ MYSELF!!

  4. I found the “SEO or Content” mention interesting, as I had never even heard of SEO until well after I started my website. I did stick Google Adsense on my site in the hope it would cover my site hosting fees. What happened surprised me. I think that someone offering to buy my website caused me to consider what could happen if I tried harder, and sure enough, I now earn each week, what I was offered for my site 🙂

    I actually still know very little about SEO, and maybe should try that plugin… I just looked up “PageRank leakage” and am now totally confused with a headache…

  5. I think you did a great job with just some common sense advice on WordPress SEO. In addition there are some great plugins that automate some of the boring things about SEO. The being consistent and being yourself are the big eye openers for me.

  6. A lot of people think that reaping the true effects of SEO are going to happen over night. However, since crazier things have happened, it isn’t a very realistic goal. The items listed in this article are very useful in obtaining the results you’re striving for on your web site or blog. I really enjoyed reading about the permalinks. This is an area that people tend to think isn’t that big of a deal. But when we try and refer others back to a page we viewed, it’s so much easier to remember http :// than http: // Right? Great post. Thanks for sharing this!

    Take care,


  7. Good stuff. Writing about the same thing everyday gets old though. I keep my blog all over the place, otherwise I probably would of killed it off long ago. Besides most users come from search engines, so unless you are a expert or gain a voice in a certain niche from repeated posts and focus, no one is going to subscribe to you anyway.

  8. I know that this post is supposed to be SEO for beginners, but you give very little information on what SEO is, and only link a single (and the most advanced) WordPress SEO plugin. I think everyone should know the basics of what SEO is, and how it works (even if they are beginners), and at the very core you need at bare minimum the following:
    1. The best SEO plugin for your technical level
    2. An XML sitemaps plugin
    3. Registration and submission of your sitemap to the search engines
    4. A basic understanding of how and where to put keywords

    Content IS king, and if you write things people want to link to you WILL get more traffic. But without some very basic SEO knowledge – you won’t get much targeted keyword traffic at all. We did an in depth presentation about 3 months ago at WordPress Ann Arbor that might benefit some people Best Practices for WordPress and SEO. Having read your post here (which I really appreciate by the way), has made me decide to break down that presentation into a series of posts on my site as well.

  9. This is a great article especially for someone like me who is still learning about SEO and trying to drive traffic to my blog. I appreciate it!

  10. Great article. I think you strike a great balance between making thing easy for the user (with nice permalinks) and some solid SEO tricks to get your site found. I’m going to post a summary of this post on y blog 🙂

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  12. google likes wordpress and that is true, when we are using wordpress to blog, google spider will always pay a few visits daily after we have published our blog post. It seems like the author has forgotten to mention one most important point, and that is to ping every sites so their bot can come and index our new post. As for the seo plugin, I don’t really into this because I think as long as our keywords are there, our new post will get indexed pretty fast and if the keyword we are using is a hot keyword then getting a few visits from search engine should be no problem, but to get thousands of visitors or even hundreds of visitors per post per day is simply impossible, I have been in seo research for nearly a year now and I think instead of wasting time on seo it is better for us to write more rich information content and get the non search engine traffic. There is only one way our blog can get 100 visitors per day through search engine and that is through mass daily article production (like 15 to 20 articles per day) which can only be done using autoblogging plugin (I don’t think I like that concept but if you guys are really looking for traffic then maybe you can consider about that) :() <– yes I am laughing…

  13. I agree that SEO can be really time consuming but very worth the time spent on it. Using the WordPress seo pluggin I got on the front page for a keyword that had so many competitors. Great article

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  15. Thanks for putting this list together. I already use a few of the plugins listed here but there are still some that sound interesting and useful, too. There also some quite interesting plugin links in the comments. Need to browse through them when I have some more time. Worth bookmarking this page. 🙂

  16. Hi Brian, Kevin Stacey here..

    First off, this post is extremely thorough! I don’t see too many bloggers doing into detail like you have…that’s the mark of a blogger who knows his plugins. For optimization, free plugins like All in One SEO Pack are really great as it lays down the basic SEO foundation for a WordPress site, but every blog is different and nothing works best for everyone.

    I always suggest looking at a side-by-side comparison of the best seo plugins for WordPress in order to make an informed decision of what the best plugin is for that blogger and their website’s specific needs.

    Here’s my most recent write-up on the subject:

    SEO Pressor vs Easy WP SEO vs Scribe SEO

    You also don’t want to overload/bog down WordPress resources with too many bulky plugins as well.

    Great article btw…I’ll be referencing this post on my main blog.

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  18. Great article. Kevin is right. Aviod using to many plugins. If you do that your site will become to slow. And your page speed has influence on Google rankings. But its really hard how select good plugins. Im using 21 plugins at the moment. And I still need to use at least 5 more. How many plugin do you all use for your blog?

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