Learn WordPress Website SEO Step-by-Step: A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

Learn WordPress Website SEO Step-by-Step | SEO Agency In Essex.

Want to get found online organically in 2024, but are unsure where to begin with SEO for your WordPress website?

WordPress, as one of the best and most popular CMS (Content Management System), makes SEO tasks easier.

You’re not alone; optimising for search engines can seem daunting at first.

However, implementing the right strategies doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming.

Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is the process of getting traffic from search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing in an organic and sustainable way.

SEO has never been more important for websites, especially those powered by WordPress.

Today, search engines are becoming smarter and updating their algorithms more frequently.

To remain visible and drive targeted traffic to your website, you need to implement the right SEO strategies.

According to recent surveys, over 50% of all website traffic in 2024 is expected to come from organic search results.

Having good SEO means that more people will find your business through search engines, resulting in more leads, customers, and sales.

SEO also improves the authority and brand awareness of your website, builds trust among online users, and establishes you as an expert in your industry.

In 2024, search engines will continue to prioritise mobile-first indexing, page speed, and providing users with the most relevant and high-quality content experiences.

Gone are the days when keyword stuffing or unoptimised websites could rank.

To succeed, you need to have an SEO-friendly website structure, publish optimised content regularly, and engage with online audiences.

This ultimate WordPress SEO guide will help you optimise your website for both desktop and mobile searches using the best technical, on-page and off-page optimisation strategies.

From setup to analysis, we will walk you through each step to help search engines understand, index, and rank your pages.

By following these tried-and-tested techniques, you can expect increased organic traffic, visibility, and ultimately more leads and sales.

Table of Contents

Setting the Stage for a Successful WordPress Website

The foundation you build determines how tall you can make your structure.

When it comes to SEO, the stage you set in the beginning severely impacts your long-term success.

Here, we will learn about three crucial preliminary tasks that form a strong base for your WordPress website optimisation efforts.

2.1 Choosing the Ideal Hosting Environment

Hosting is one of the most important factors affecting your site’s SEO. To create a WordPress website, you primarily need a good domain name and hosting.

Imagine you are hosting your site on a slow, unreliable server – how would search engines view it?

They are likely to ignore sites that are slow to load. Google has also emphasised site speed as a major ranking signal.

PageSpeed Insights reports that 53% of users abandon slow-loading pages.

So for the sake of both user experience and SEO, you need a fast and robust host.

While free hosts can work for simple personal blogs, I do not recommend them for websites you want to optimise seriously.

Cheap hosts often lack resources like SSDs which results in slower loading speeds. When it comes to SEO, you get what you pay for.

Some reliable hosting providers for WordPress sites include SiteGround, Bluehost, A2 Hosting, and DreamHost. They offer affordable plans starting at $3-5/month.

Beyond the price, check out real customer reviews, uptime guarantees, 24/7 support, automatic backups, malware protection, CDN integration, and other value-added services.

SiteGround, in particular, is optimised for speed with free SSL, CDN, one-click installs, and regular backups. They have a great WordPress optimisation centre as well.

Being one of Google’s recommended hosts also sends positive signals during crawling.

2.2 Securing Your Site from the Start

A secure site builds trust, both in the eyes of search engines and users.

Having an SSL certificate ensures all data exchanged with your site is encrypted end-to-end.

This gives users confidence that your site is legitimate and safe to interact with.

Google considers HTTPS as a ranking signal, and SSL-secured sites tend to rank higher than unsecured ones.

Starting in July 2018, they began warning users on non-HTTPS pages and may fully downgrade the rankings of non-HTTPS sites in the future.

Let’s Encrypt provides free and automated SSL certificates.

However, for business sites, I suggest using a commercially supported certificate from names like Comodo, Symantec or GeoTrust – they tend to inspire more confidence.

Whether you go for a free or paid certificate, be sure to install it correctly by following the developer documentation.

Also, redirect all HTTP traffic to HTTPS to avoid duplicate content issues.

HTTPS is a no-brainer for any website serious about user experience and SEO.

2.3 Selecting an SEO-Friendly Theme

Choosing the right theme is crucial since it shapes your website’s structure from a technical perspective.

An outdated or poorly designed theme will negatively impact the visitor experience and search engine optimisation.

Some red flags to watch out for include – slow performance, lack of SEO features, improper coding, and the inability to modify HTML/CSS.

Stick to popular premium themes from reputed developers that are regularly updated.

I’d recommend Astra, OceanWP, GeneratePress or Neve – they are lightweight, customisable and integrate well with SEO plugins.

Look for features like Schema markup, optimised code, built-in accessibility, responsive design, and documentation/support when choosing a theme.

Load speed should be a top priority. Leverage PageSpeed Insights to compare how different themes affect your site’s speed.

Primarily aim for a performance score of at least 50 for mobile and desktop.

Learn WordPress Website SEO Step-By-Step - A Comprehensive Guide | SEO Agency In Essex.

Technical SEO for WordPress

Now that you have set up the foundation for your WordPress website, it is time to optimise it from a technical standpoint.

Search engines use various technical signals to understand your website better and how to appropriately index and rank it.

3.1 Permalinks

Permalinks allow your content to be easily shared as URLs.

By default, WordPress uses ugly-looking IDs in URLs like example.com/index.php?p=123 which are almost meaningless for users and search engines.

It is important to structure your permalinks in a more user-friendly and search engine-optimised way using categories, tags, or post titles.

For example, example.com/blog/how-to-optimise-wordpress-for-seo/ is much more descriptive and shareable than example.com/?p=123.

To change your permalink structure in WordPress:

  • Go to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard.
  • Select the Post Name option, which uses the post title for permalinks.
  • Alternatively, you can customise it further by selecting Custom Structure and adding your desired rules like /%category%/%postname%/
  • Keep it simple, avoid special characters, and always use hyphens instead of spaces for separators.
  • Save the changes and check if your permalinks work as expected before indexing.

3.2 Robots.txt and Sitemap

Robots.txt is a file that tells search engines which pages are available for indexing and which should not be indexed.

An XML sitemap, on the other hand, provides a list of all available webpage URLs to search engines for efficient crawling.

To create robots.txt and sitemaps for your WordPress site:

  • Install a plugin like Yoast SEO, XML Sitemaps, or Google XML Sitemaps. They automatically generate sitemaps without any code changes.
  • Go to the plugin settings to submit your sitemap to Google, Bing, and other search engines for indexing.
  • Check your XML sitemap at domain.com/sitemap.xml and see that it lists all your pages.
  • For robots.txt, check domain.com/robots.txt and configure any disallow rules if needed.

3.3 Mobile-Friendly Website

As search engines prioritise the mobile experience, your website needs to be optimised for mobile users.

Conduct a mobile-friendliness test using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

Some ways to make your WordPress mobile-friendly:

  • Choose a responsive theme designed for all devices.
  • Install plugins like WP Mobile Detect or WPtouch to detect mobile and serve optimised layouts.
  • Favour smaller images and lazy-loading for faster loading.
  • Enhance touch and tap targets for better usability.
  • Ensure all core functionality loads well on mobile.

3.4 Website Speed Optimisation

Over 50% of users will abandon slow-loading pages, according to Google.

Speed also positively impacts user experience and conversion rates.

Run your website on PageSpeed Insights and GTMetrix to identify optimisation opportunities.

Speed up WordPress with:

  • Caching plugins like W3 Total Cache to cache generated pages.
  • CDN integration from services like Cloudflare for fast image/file delivery.
  • Database optimisation with plugins like DB Cache Reloaded.
  • Minifying CSS/JS files and deferring non-critical assets.
  • Image optimisation to reduce file sizes.
  • Leverage browser caching for static assets.
  • Host on fast servers close to your target locations.


Implementing these foundational technical SEO elements will help search engines understand your website structure better while ensuring an optimised user experience.

Keep tweaking and monitoring using tools to speed up load times and improve indexing through the sitemaps and robots files.

On-Page Optimisation for WordPress

On-page optimisation involves tweaking individual website pages to make them more user-friendly and search engine-friendly.

It is one of the most crucial internal SEO factors that search engines consider while evaluating your website and content for ranking.

With the right on-page SEO techniques, you can significantly boost your chances of ranking higher in organic search results.

4.1. Keyword Research

Thorough keyword research should be the starting point of any on-page optimisation effort.

It helps you understand the intent behind searches and determine the most relevant and commercially viable keywords for your niche and business.

Some important aspects to focus on during keyword research include keyword volume, difficulty level, trends, and related keywords.

There are various free and paid tools available to conduct keyword research effectively.

Some top tools include Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest.

Google Keyword Planner is entirely free to use and allows you to get search volume data and monthly search estimates for specific keywords.

The goal of keyword research should be to compile a long-tail keyword list targeting different purchase intents and difficulty levels.

This keyword list will then serve as a guide for optimising content, title tags, descriptions, and more on-page elements.

Try to target keywords with at least 30-100 average monthly searches to start generating decent organic traffic.

4.2. Content Creation

Content is king in SEO. To rank well, it is essential to have a robust content strategy in place.

Some best practises for SEO-optimised content creation include:

  • Conduct thorough keyword research before finalising topics to ensure relevance.
  • Choose keyword-optimised but conversational titles that entice clicks.
  • Include the target keyword within the first 100 words.
  • Optimise images with descriptive alt text containing keywords.
  • Use properly formatted and correctly placed H2-H6 headings.
  • Maintain a readable 600-800 word length for articles.
  • Include relevant internal and external links for better user experience.
  • Publish high-quality, unique content on a consistent schedule.


Creating several pages of high-quality, well-researched content takes time but it is indispensable for establishing domain authority and attracting long-term organic traffic.

Guest posting on other relevant sites also helps build off-page authority signals.

4.3. Image Optimisation

Images play a vital role in storytelling and user experience on the web.

They can improve click-through rates when optimised correctly.

Descriptive alt text is essential for image SEO as it provides context to images for visually impaired users as well as search engines.

Some tips for on-page image optimisation include:

  • Include target keywords naturally in alt text descriptions.
  • Use descriptive, keyword-rich file names for images.
  • Compress images without losing quality for faster page speeds.
  • Use alt text for decorative images, like “decorative image.”
  • Include images at the beginning of articles for social sharing.
  • Add image metadata/captions containing focused descriptions.


Optimising images can boost rankings by making pages more useful for users.

It also helps convey page content effectively to search engines.

4.4. Using SEO Plugins

WordPress comes with limited inbuilt SEO functionality. This is where specialist SEO plugins play a huge role in filling these gaps.

Currently, the two most popular SEO plugins are Yoast SEO and All In One SEO Pack.

Key features of Yoast SEO include title and meta description analysis, XML sitemaps, RSS optimisation, image SEO, internal linking suggestions, and more.

It comes with a beginner-friendly interface and is actively updated.

On the other hand, All In One SEO Pack (AIOSEO) is a powerful all-in-one SEO solution for WordPress websites with features like sitemaps, image SEO, automatic localisation, individual post type schemas, and priority hints.

Both plugins have free and premium versions.

The paid versions unlock more advanced features like rank tracking, keyword density analysis, a notification centre, and support.

Some factors to consider while selecting a plugin include features, ease of use, and individual website needs. These plugins make on-page SEO setup simpler.

Learn WordPress Website SEO Step-by-Step Process. Top 10 Guide from "SEO Agency In Essex".

Off-Page SEO for WordPress

Off-page SEO involves activities beyond your website that help boost its visibility and credibility in search engines.

While the techniques discussed previously focused on optimising individual pages, off-page factors depend more on outside links and mentions pointing to your domain.

5.1 Backlink Building

Backlinks, or incoming links from other relevant websites, are one of the most important off-page SEO signals.

Search engines view backlinks as a vote or endorsement of your content quality and keyword authority on a given topic.

According to Moz, backlinks account for approximately 10-15% of a website’s search ranking power in Google’s algorithm.

There are many types of backlinks, like dofollow links, nofollow links, author bylines, internal category/tag links, sponsorships, etc.

However, only dofollow links influence rankings positively.

Some effective ways to build quality backlinks for your WordPress website include:

  • Guest posting on authority blogs and websites in your niche. This allows you to earn dofollow links while providing value to readers. Always reach out with unique and well-researched content.
  • Contribute to online communities with insightful comments and answers on forums, Q&A portals like Quora, and social discussion sites like Reddit and Hacker News. Provide valuable context links to relevant pages.
  • Pitch your long-form blog articles to niche-specific link directories, databases, and resources to gain additional exposure and authority.
  • Build relationships with influencers through personalised outreach and link partnerships. Collaborate on cross-promotional content.
  • Find broken links from competitors and request a considered link exchange after fixing them to provide more value.
  • Promote your content to journalists, bloggers, and podcasters for potential third-party coverage and links from publications and citations.
  • Leverage social bookmarking and social tagging websites for additional contextual links and shares.


A steady stream of 5-10 high-quality backlinks per month over 6-12 months is ideal for link profile diversification and search engine trust.

Monitor and disavow any unnatural or automated links to stay safe from Google penalties.

5.2 Local SEO

Local SEO becomes crucial if your WordPress website targets clients in a specific geographical region and provides local services.

It helps expand your reach and attract searchers intent on local keywords. Here are some ways to optimise locally:

  • Claim and verify your business listing on Google My Business, Facebook Local, and other local directories. Provide complete information on services, contact details, business hours, etc.
  • Use local intent keywords in titles, descriptions and throughout the site. However, also optimises globally for broader traffic.
  • Geo-target your Google Ads campaigns and use local keyword insertion like “[city]” or “[state]” where possible.
  • Publish hyperlocal content with a marketing strategy that caters to your immediate community via blogs, photos, and videos.
  • Track local citations and optimise them by adding your business information to reputed sources like Foursquare, Yelp, Yellowpages and more.
  • Engage with the local community through sponsorships and events to gain brand exposure offline.
  • Analyse local search analytics tools like Google Trends and keywords related to your service area for better opportunities.


Implementing the right local SEO strategy alongside general optimisation helps improve awareness and visibility among potential customers near your business.

Monitor local rankings using “Google My Business” or search console.

5.3 Social Media Marketing

Social networks serve as a gateway to new audiences and links.

On average, content shared on social platforms receives 97% more total shares than content discovered through other channels, according to the Social Media Examiner.

Optimising your social presence boosts off-page SEO signals in a natural way.

Some effective social media marketing tactics for your WordPress website include:

  • Post engaging, optimised content consistently across networks like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest based on your target demographic.
  • Cross-promote long-form blog posts from your site to these networks using clickbait headlines and compelling images/videos.
  • Engage with your followers through relevant replies, hashtags, and mentioning their handles to drive social proof.
  • Leverage Facebook/Instagram advertising and promoted tweets to generate traffic on selected campaigns.
  • Track shares, likes and comments to identify high-performing types of posts for future reference.
  • Promote industry trends and the latest guides to position yourself as a thought leader.
  • Build backlinks passively through shares, mentions, and retweets linking to your content.


Regular contribution and engagement on social channels help expand organic reach while providing off-page signals over time.

Monitor and adjust accordingly using built-in analytics.

Off-page SEO through link building, local visibility, and social marketing creates a halo effect that boosts the discoverability and ranking potential of on-page optimised websites.

Remember to stay natural, provide value and monitor progress through its journey.

Monitoring and Analysis

Regular monitoring and analysis are crucial to measure the success of your SEO strategy and identify any issues that need improvement.

It allows you to keep optimising your WordPress website effectively over time.

6.1 Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool provided by Google that helps you track how your website is performing in Google search results.

It provides invaluable data like search queries, clicks, impressions, and pages or posts not indexed by Google.

You need to verify your website ownership in the Search Console.

For WordPress, simply add an HTML file or meta tag to your site.

Then you can view reports on search traffic, see errors preventing indexing, and use the URL Inspection Tool to submit URLs for recrawling.

Pay close attention to the keywords you are ranking for and how your organic traffic is changing over time.

Check your ‘Indexed’ report regularly to ensure Google is crawling and indexing all pages properly. Resolve any blocking errors to boost indexing.

The Search Console is especially useful for monitoring your SEO campaigns.

You can compare stats before and after making on-page changes to see the immediate impact.

It gives instant feedback on what’s working and what needs adjustment.

6.2 Other SEO Analytics Tools

While Search Console covers core SEO, Google Analytics and third-party tools offer deeper insights.

Google Analytics tracks user behaviour metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, and traffic sources in detail.

Ahrefs and SEMrush are popular external SEO tools that audit backlinks, detect keyword opportunities, and benchmark against competitors.

They gather more comprehensive off-page and technical data than the Search Console.

For example, SEMrush and Ahrefs’ site deep Audit analyses every on-page element to identify technical issues hurting SEO, like duplicate titles or broken internal links.

Some tools offer real-time keyword position tracking to monitor keyword rankings over time.

Use these tools alongside the Search Console for a holistic view of organic performance.

They paint a clearer picture of what’s driving traffic and engagement, so you know where to focus next.

Regular monitoring keeps SEO progress on track.

6.3 Setting Performance Goals

To constantly optimise and set specific SEO goals, such as ranking in the top three for target keywords within 6 months or increasing organic traffic by 25% a year, these goals must be measurable through analytics.

Review analytics quarterly or biannually to check goal achievement.

Takeaways may include keywords not performing as expected or site sections receiving less traffic than hoped.

This feedback helps prioritise future optimisation tasks.

Be ready to experiment and adjust goals over time based on changing market conditions.

For example, after exploring new ones, certain low-traffic keywords are dropped or replaced by alternative long-tail searches.

This keeps your SEO strategy dynamic and evolving.

Regular monitoring also guards against sudden drops in rankings or traffic that may indicate algorithm updates or technical issues.

Quick fixes help bounce back faster to continue growing organically.

Never stop analysing to learn what resonates best with searchers and leads them deeper into your site.

By continually improving content, user experience, and off-page growth, you progress step-by-step towards your performance targets.

6.4 Continuous Learning and Improvement

SEO is a continuously evolving process of trial and error.

Monitor analytics and website performance closely to understand what strategies are most effective.

Be ready to test new techniques and promptly abandon techniques that do not generate results.

Stay up-to-date with SEO best practises by regularly reading blogs from industry leaders and Google’s Webmaster Central Blog.

Connecting with other digital marketers on forums is also a great way to learn new tactics.

Gather and apply feedback from website users to refine your content and site structure.

User testing helps identify pain points and ensure the website delivers an optimal experience for searchers.

If certain upgrades require developer assistance, maintaining an ongoing list of actionable improvement tasks allows working on them methodically.

Continually optimising and learning from results is key to succeeding in SEO long-term.

Thoughtful analysis converts raw analytics data into actionable optimisations.

Regularly tracking metrics, setting performance targets, and applying lessons learned to future-proof your SEO efforts amid evolving algorithms.

Monitoring fuels continuous progress towards your organic visibility goals.

Conclusion

Optimising your WordPress website for search engines is a continuous process, but following the right strategies can help you succeed in 2024 and beyond.

In this comprehensive guide, we have covered the essential on-page, technical, and off-page optimisation strategies needed to successfully optimise WordPress websites for SEO in 2024.

From choosing the right hosting and theme to optimising content, images, and plugins – we discussed each aspect in depth to help you build a solid foundation.

Implementing these techniques requires ongoing effort, but will surely boost your organic visibility over time.

Some key takeaways to remember from this WordPress SEO guide are:

  • Conduct thorough keyword research and competition analysis before starting any new project. This will ensure you focus your efforts on keywords with good commercial potential.
  • Pay close attention to on-page elements like meta titles, headings, internal links, and descriptions to better communicate with search engines and users.
  • Focus on creating valuable, easily digestible content consistently while optimising images and multimedia to engage readers fully.
  • Set measurable performance goals and track progress over months using Google Search Console, Analytics and third-party tools. This will help assess success quantitatively.
  • Be open to continuous learning from the results. Monitor what strategies work best, and don’t hesitate to experiment cautiously with new ideas.
  • Developing a consistent backlink profile from relevant authorities and domains sharing your niche interests signals authenticity to Google.

While SEO is an ongoing process, following these time-tested tactics can help newcomers properly set up and grow their organic visibility.

We encourage you to keep learning about the latest developments, refine your strategy periodically, and stay motivated towards achieving your online marketing goals.

If you have any other questions, please feel free to reach out – I’ll be happy to discuss further.

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