WordPress SEO: How to Optimize Texts for Search Engines

10 Min.
Best SEO Plugins for WordPress

If you want to achieve top rankings with WordPress, you should try to write texts optimized for SEO. Search engine optimization alone will not get you the top rankings in Google, but it does help immensely in the long run. In this article, I explain step by step exactly what SEO depends on and how WordPress SEO can help you.

Many website owners aren't aware of it, but WordPress already offers good assistance for SEO optimization. SEO begins with the writing of a high-quality post. Well, actually already way before that. With the help of some useful plugins, you can take WordPress to another level. This will make it easier for you to create posts that will later achieve good results.

SEO begins even before writing

It's important to understand that search engine optimization is a very complex area in online marketing. It's not done with creating a text and placing a few search terms (keywords) in it. Even before writing an SEO optimized article, you should know who exactly your target audience is. This also means knowing what interests your readers have and what kind of content interests them.

In technical jargon, SEOs talk about target group analysis and keyword research. Using these practices, you determine the focus of the content and discover the frequency of search queries in the search engines. HubSpot has published a great post on determining your target audience. To roughly plan the topic of your text, I recommend using some SEO tools.

Research target groups and keywords

How exactly do you find out which keywords appeal to your target groups? Read our tutorials Keyword research step by step, Measuring success for content and Testing content ideas in advance.

Identify potential with keyword research

Unfortunately, there are only a few free tools for finding keywords. For example, Google Search and the other information provided there (including similar questions, rich snippets, Q&A). To a limited extent, you can also use Ubersuggest, the Keyword Tools or the Google Keyword Planner (in Google Ads).

Limited in the sense that such tools - if they are free - are usually limited in scope. Ubersuggest only allows three queries without registration. With Keyword Tools, you're limited to ten.

The alternative would be an SEO suite, which usually includes a corresponding module for keyword research. There you enter the main topic and further search terms will be suggested to you. Of course, these tools have their cost, which may or may not fit into the budget of every blog.

The structure of SEO optimized texts

Let's get to the practical part; how you create an SEO optimized text with WordPress. Basically, it doesn't matter whether the text is created via WordPress or other software. The basic features of high-quality content and its structure are the same everywhere, even if you program the homepage yourself. Of course, it differs slightly depending on the interface or tool.

In the following section, I show you what makes a great text. Besides that, I want to give you some insights into WordPress SEO and how you can make adjustments.

Create a clear heading structure

First level headings (H1)

One of the most important elements in a text is its headings. Headings can be used to structure the post and highlight important things. The reader will find it easier to "scan" your content with headings. This is becoming increasingly important because most visitors only skim the text. They tend to select relevant paragraphs using the headings.

Google also looks at headings when evaluating how relevant or good the content is. The lower headings, however, have become less important in recent years. Because Google, as the largest search engine, can partially understand contexts even without keywords.

The highest heading, the so-called H1 heading, has the biggest significance. As a rule, this is the title of your article, which you use not only to describe the content. Here you can see the H1 heading in the Gutenberg editor:

WordPress  H1 Gutenberg Title
The H1 heading in Gutenberg

You should consider the H1 heading as an instrument with which you want to catch the attention of the visitor. That's why the title has to be convincing! Because it will be displayed everywhere, including on the homepage of your blog and when the post is shared on social media.

Caution: Only use H1 once

The H1 heading should only be used once on a subpage. Unfortunately, there are templates and WordPress themes that do not implement this rule correctly. Often, for example, the logo or the title in the header gets an H1 tag. This leads to duplicate H1 headers, which can negatively impact your results. This is something you should definitely avoid doing!

Second and third-level headings (H2, H3)

I also advise you to focus on the second and third-level headlines (H2, H3). In search engine optimization, these play a lesser role than the previously mentioned H1 heading but should certainly still be used.

By the way, WordPress offers a great feature that allows you to monitor the correct structure of your headlines. You can find this easily in the backend in the Gutenberg editor directly when writing. Take a look at the screenshot below:

WordPress  Headings Structure Gutenberg
Structure of the headings in WordPress Gutenberg

For an SEO optimized text, elements of the fourth heading level are no longer very relevant. However, you can use them to structure your text for a better overview. This makes sense for very long and detailed articles in particular.

With Google, for example, this has little or no effect if you use relevant search terms. The smaller search services such as Bing or Yandex etc., however, still evaluate them to a certain extent.

Use a table of contents for a better overview

In addition to a good structure of the headlines, a search engine optimized article is characterized by a table of contents. Especially with long texts, it helps your readers to keep track of the relevant sections.

It is best to include markers in the table of contents so visitors can jump to the respective section with one click. This also contributes to the usability of your website, usability also being something Google considers as a ranking factor.

In WordPress, you can easily use a plugin to do this. A large number of such plugins make it possible to automatically display a table of contents. Alternatively, many offer shortcodes that can be used to manually determine its contents. I use the plugin Easy Table of Contents for most of my blogs. This is available for free and relatively easy to use.

A table of contents is then displayed in my posts which can be expanded or collapsed via an icon. The heading can also be freely determined. This is shown in following image with the button to open/close the table of contents marked in red:

Table of Contents WordPress  Plugin
Table of contents with a WordPress plugin

Images and videos lighten up your text

Media has become important in search engine optimization. Besides headings, they're almost the only other elements that can be used to prevent text sections becoming too dry and lengthy.

In SEO, it's usually advised to use a different element every 300 words. This could be, as described above, a heading. But at some point, your text will contain enough headings and you don't want there to be too many. That's why you should always include media such as images or videos.

You also have another advantage. You can be found via the media in an image and video search. And not just on Google. Pinterest marketing would be another alternative or, if you use them at all, a YouTube video.

Optimize images for SEO for a WordPress post

An article with a focus on search engine optimization doesn't just include any old images, however. The images should be high quality, use the keywords at the same time and, of course, be relevant. It's recommended to use keywords both in the name of the file and in the meta information.

You can adjust the metadata in the backend with WordPress. To do this, you only have to select the image file in the media overview and adjust it according to the screenshot below. The important entries are marked in red in the following image:

WordPress  Image Meta Description SEO
Important metadata for images in WordPress

Also, you should avoid using the same image in multiple posts. Because the name and the meta files are optimized for one article. In another text, the search terms are unlikely to fit as well.

You can, of course, upload the image again and give it a new file name, description and alternative label. This way, the media is optimized for SEO for each text. Or you can at least manually change the metadata of the image from the media library in Gutenberg.

Customize subpage metadata with a WordPress SEO plugin

To achieve the best possible rankings in search engines, you can't get around using an SEO plugin with WordPress. This is because the blog software is only slightly optimized for search engines by default.

Which plugin you use is not that important. Yoast SEO, RankMath and other providers improve the findability of your content. We've already published a comparison of exactly these SEO plugins in our magazine.

It's much more important that the corresponding data is available at all. Only then can they be evaluated and used by search engines. Google doesn't need quite as much information anymore but their competitors still rely on it to a larger extent.

Improve meta information with Yoast SEO

But let's take a look at it using Yoast SEO. I've been using this plugin for several years on many of my blogs. But I also know many bloggers who achieve equally good results with RankMath and wpSEO. There the approach may differ slightly.

First, you should optimize the basic information. This allows you to define how the plugin should behave and how your website will appear in search results. You can also set the appearance for the social networks. And you should also make use of this. First, adjust the information for the homepage:

Yoast SEO WordPress  Options
Homepage options in Yoast SEO

The important data is outlined in red. In any case, you should add a meaningful meta description, i.e. the description of your website. In addition, you select below whether you're a company or an individual and then add the information accordingly or upload a logo (or select this from the media library).

You can also predefine the meta description for sites and posts. But that doesn't make much sense because you should always adjust them individually. But more about that in a moment.

Do not index categories and tags in WordPress

In my opinion, it's important not to let the category and tag pages be indexed. These usually offer no added value for your readers. Sure, they help you find your way around a site. But they don't offer enough quality to achieve good rankings in the search results.

That's why it makes sense not to let Google include them in the index. Which in turn can lead to better overall results for your blog. In Yoast SEO, you only have to make two clicks. In the settings, go to the Categories menu item. There you can simply switch the indexing of tags and categories to No:

Category Tags Pages WordPress  Yoast
Exclude categories and tags from indexing

Recheck and adjust each content

Regardless of the preset options, you should still check every single post again. Yoast SEO offers useful hints below the editor. You don't have to blindly follow all hints. But they show you roughly what to look out for. In the following image, I haven't added any text, so almost all analyses are red:

Yoast SEO Blog Analysis Overview
SEO analysis of a post in Yoast

Especially the focus keyword and the description should be edited manually for each post. The keyword helps you to not optimize multiple texts for the same search term.

The description or the text passage behind it is displayed by Google in the search results. However, Google replaces bad descriptions with its own. Here is an example:

Yoast H1 Heading SEO
The meta description in Yoast

As you can see, at the top is how the information appears in a Google search. Below you can see the link or slug (under the bar in orange).

Directly below comes the entry of the description. If you want to create an SEO optimized text, this must be included. However, it must also have a certain length and contain the keyword.

In the example above, Yoast SEO believes I have done a good job of optimizing. You can see that from the green bar in the results. That means the length is optimal and also the keyword "marketing" appears. The red smiley is due to the fact that I have no written text in the editor and thus most of the analyses fail.

A text optimized for SEO isn't only great wording and a high-quality structure, supplemented with images and videos or other media. Besides that, you definitely need links to other sites. Both internal and external links are used in high-quality texts.

Anyone who completely forgoes the use of topic-relevant links is ignoring a huge amount of potential. Linking can be positive in many ways. With the internal links, i.e. the links to other posts in your blog, you show the search engines how important the individual subpages are. Therefore, it can be a measure to link the best content in the navigation and additionally in other posts.

External content usually underscores a point you've made. Or it can show other opinions. These are called trust links by experts. Credible websites are especially popular, e.g. Wikipedia.

In the Gutenberg editor in WordPress, you can add links quite easily. All you have to do is select the words you want to link to and click the link icon. A search will open where you can either insert a link or search for internal posts. You can see this better in the image below:

WordPress  Links
Add links in WordPress

WordPress SEO is worth the effort

If you want to run a successful blog, website or online shop with WordPress and WooCommerce, then there's no getting around optimizations for Google and other search engines. Writing an SEO optimized text isn't as hard as you might think.

You should always have your readers in focus. They are the most important thing. Especially since Google usually rates a website that is optimized for visitors as well. Nevertheless, you shouldn't lose sight of the keywords. It's also important to pay attention to the structure of your headings. Supplemented with a table of contents, media and the appropriate links, your chances of good rankings in the search engines increase immensely.

One problem many blogs have is a lack of awareness. WordPress, just like WooCommerce, isn't SEO optimized by design. At least not in all areas. That's why you need at least one SEO plugin to help you. Furthermore, it's important that you stay on the ball. Good results in search engines usually occur weeks, months or even years after the creation of an article. Because then backlinks exist and the article has been expanded frequently.

Your questions about WordPress SEO

What questions do you have about the topic? And which tips can you recommend? Feel free to use the comment function. You want more articles about WordPress and SEO? Follow us on Twitter, Facebook or via our newsletter.

Ronny Schneider is an SEO & WordPress professional. He regularly writes about how blogs and online magazines can be made successful on his blog. In addition, he offers help with setting up blogs with WordPress as well as optimization services.

Related articles

Comments on this article

Shane McEvoy
Shane McEvoy

Excellent post Ronny, a lot of great tips on writing an seo optimised post which I know a lot of your readers will find useful. Also a great idea to add a table of contents as it provides the benefits you mentioned but also can be used as a snippet to answer questions directly on Google's search results.

Post a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *.