Setting up WordPress for the first time can be intimidating, especially when you want to set solid SEO foundations.
Here is how to set up your first WordPress site with SEO in mind.
Settings >> General Settings.
Update the Site Title and Tagline. You do NOT want to have “Just another WordPress Site.”
This area is to provide something descriptive for your readers to understand your website’s purpose.
Settings >> Reading.
Double-check that “discourage search engines from indexing this site” is NOT checked.
If it is checked, search engines (Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo) will not index your website.
Settings >> Permalinks.
Enable pretty permalinks.
You want to have short, concise URLs for readers. Try to avoid using URLs with “plain” or dated URLs. You want to use “post name” URLs.
Install Yoast Plugin
Plugins >> Add New.
Install Yoast or a similar SEO plugin (e.g., RankMath).
An SEO plugin will help to optimize your website for better SEO.
Check your XML Sitemap
At your-domain.com/sitemap_index.xml, check to see what is listed. Take note of any sitemaps that aren’t valuable to a reader (e.g., Sliders, Empty plugins links, )
You can disable them in Yoast under Search Appearance.
Setup Yoast settings
Yoast comes very close to out of the box ready, but you’ll need to adjust a few settings, shown below.
SEO >> Search Appearance.
Add your company name and logo. The Name and Logo are used for Schema information on your website.
SEO >> Search Appearance >> Content Types.
In the meta description, add the code:
The excerpt code pulls the first paragraph as the meta description. If this tag isn’t added, your meta description will be left empty.
Follow that process through on pages, posts, categories, tags.
SEO >> Search Appearance >> Media.
Ensure Media & Attachment URLs is set to “Yes.”
If you set it to “No,” every image will have a separate page added per image, which will create hundreds, if not thousands, of thin content pages, and send mixed search intent.
SEO >> Search Appearance >> Archives.
If you are one person blog, set Author archives to “Disabled.”
Disabling the Author archive prevents your articles from being listed twice in the XML sitemap.
SEO >> Social.
Add your social links to the social tab; these settings help Google to add social media links to your GMB (Google My Business) profile and create Google Knowledge Graphs.
After the WordPress SEO optimization, its always best to run an SEO Audit. I highly recommend SEMrush SEO Audit.