How does SEO work in WordPress

Optimize WordPress SEO in 2020

You use WordPress and want your GoogleImprove rankings?

Easier to be found in search engines like Google?

Then this guide is for you!

Here you will learn:

  • Search engine optimization in 2019
  • WordPress SEO Basics & Plugins
  • SEO trends in 2020
  • and much more!

Here we go!

WordPress is by far the most popular CMS in the world with a market share of 60%.User-friendly, flexible and light customizable the content management system offers many advantages and is completely free of charge.

At the same time, WordPress is known for strong SEO and high rankings on Google and Co. It's not for nothing that it has always been the go-to CMS for bloggers.

But: Is a website already SEO-optimized by using WordPress?

Unfortunately, no!

WordPress itself is in no way better or worse for search engine optimization than other content management systems.

The good news:WordPress can easily be SEO optimized without any coding knowledge.

All you need are the most important, basic, SEO knowledge, as well as a few plugins.

How to optimize your WordPress website from scratch and thus achieve higher rankings on Google and Co.,are you learning now!

Important WordPress SEO basics

Before you can start optimizing, a few basic things must be clarified and adjusted.

In Chapter 1 you will learn how to analyze your WordPress website and how to find optimization potential.

You learn:

  • The right URL structure
  • Set visibility
  • www vs. non-www

The right URL structure

Google uses over 200 factors to determine the ranking of a website. A very important, because fundamental, factor is the permalink structure of a website.

An effective permalink structure follows a few important rules:

  • It contains your page's keyword
  • It provides information on the subject of the page
  • It has great potential for backlinks with the same anchor text

Check out this link:

This permalink structure does not provide information about the topic of the page, nor does it contain a keyword. This structure is not ideal.

Unfortunately it is the default setting on WordPress. If you want to optimize your WordPress website for SEO, you have to change this structure.

Now check out this link:

Here users as well as search engines know directly what WordPress SEO is about. The URL contains the keyword and shows the user what it is about - that's ideal.

So that your permalink structure is ideally set, you have to select the menu item “Permalinks” under “Settings”. Here, instead of “Plain”, the selection “Post Name” should be made.

This means that your permalinks are ideally set.

NOTE:If you have already created pages with a different permalink structure, you have to make sure that existing pages are redirected correctly. Otherwise, it can lead to 404s and poorer rankings. You can use the redirection plugin for redirects.

In addition to the permalink structure, we have identified the most important Google ranking factors for you.

Adjust visibility

By default, a WordPress website is usually automatically set so that it is not indexed by search engines. The reason for this is that you have enough time to build your page - and then add it to the Google index.

If your WordPress website does not appear in Google search, it may be due to this setting.

To change your page visibility you have to select the menu item “Read” under “Settings” and remove the tick for “Search engine visibility”.

www vs. non-www

Web pages can be displayed in two ways, with or without a www addition.

So either:


It is important that your WordPress website only uses one of these versions, ideally without the www addition. Most hosters switch this over automatically, but you should still select the menu item “General” under “Settings” and set the desired version here.

You can then check directly whether the www version redirects to the non-www version.

Optimize content on WORDPRESS SEO

The foundation has been laid, now it's time to start important SEO optimizations. SEO works as a combination of many factors.

One of the most important factors is your content.

You learn:

  • Optimize title tags for SEO
  • Optimize meta information for SEO
  • Link optimization

Optimize title tags

The title tag has long been seen as one of the most important SEO ranking factors. Last but not least, it shows search engines (and readers) what the page is about and it does so to this day.

While the actual impact of the Title Tag is debatable, one thing is for sure, it has a huge impact.

In WordPress you can enter the title tag at the top of the blog post in the Gutenberg editor.

When determining the title tag, you should consider the following:

  • Contains the keyword on which the blog post was optimized.
  • Invites you to read
  • Not too long

Every title tag should adhere to these 3 principles. In particular, including the keyword is ESSENTIAL.

also, if it makes sense, the title can be used to lengthen the keyword.

Here is an example:

Let's say you optimize your post for the keyword "WordPress SEO"

Here it makes sense to use the title tag “WordPress SEO optimize”.

So you not only rank on “WordPress SEO”, but also for “WordPress SEO optimize”

Optimize meta information

When doing a Google search, Google usually gives you 3 pieces of information:

  1. The meta title of the page
  2. The link of the page
  3. The meta description of the page

So when it comes to convincing users that your site offers the most value, you have these three means to convince.

Meta information is not a direct ranking factor for Google, but it doesenormous influence on your click ratewhich in turn has a huge impact on your rankings.

Therefore these MUST be optimized.

You should note the following:

  • Encourage reading (secret tips, benefits, etc.)
  • Keep it short: meta titles can be 50-60 characters long, meta descriptions approx. 155 characters long)

Good meta information encourages you to click, it is NOT a click-bait.

To create this in WordPress, I recommend the Yoast SEO or Rank Math plugins. Here, meta information can be easily created in the Yoast SEO box under each post.

You can check which of the two all-in-one WordPress SEO plugins is better in our comprehensive comparison, Yoast or Rank Math.

Optimize links

With the right permalink settings, your post's link is automatically like the title.

While this setting is better than the WordPress basic setting (you remember:, it is still often not optimal.

You should note the following:

  • As short as possible
  • Contains the keyword
  • Describes what it is about

This article is titled “Optimizing WordPress SEO - The Complete Guide”, hence the link as follows:

Optimal? No. Way too long.

With the Yoast SEO plugin you can convert links on a post basis, here would be ideal:

Short, concise, contains the Keyoword - Top!

Use the alt attribute

If you use images on your WordPress website, they shouldALWAYS be provided with the alt-text attribute.

The alt text should describe what can be seen in a picture. This is primarily intended for users with a visual impairment so that they can understand what a picture is about.

At the same time, the alt-text can be used to include your keyword (where relevant).

You should keep this in mind:

  • Describe the picture as best you can
  • Use your keyword
  • Don't write "A picture of a ..."
  • Keep it short

Alt texts can be set directly in WordPress when uploading an image.

Optimize WordPress site structure

SEO is not just about the actual content of a page, but also about the entire domain.

You will only rank highly if the overall picture is right.

You learn:

  • Optimize domain structure
  • Use internal links
  • Use breadcrumbs
  • Use XML sitemap & Robot.txt

Optimize domain structure

The effective structure of your site lays the foundation for strong SEO and high rankings on Google and Co.

As an SEO expert I have worked with many clients and am always surprised how often the page structure is overlooked.

The page structure has a significant influence on SEO and user experience.

I recently restructured a customer's site, here you can see the before / after comparison.

Many links were more than 5 clicks away from the homepage, others more than 4 times on the homepage.

Do you see the difference?

How can you optimize your site structure?

You have to pay attention to the following points:

  • Keep the hierarchy flat (content should be accessible with a maximum of 3 clicks from the start page)
  • Work with categories (blog, services)
  • The starting point is ALWAYS the start page

If you follow these points, an ideal page structure looks something like this:

Use internal links

The importance of backlinks - external links to your site from other websites - is well known.

The influence of internal links is often underestimated.

Internal links are links within your website.

Similar to backlinks, these are essential. The best thing about it?

You have 100% influence on it.

How can you get the most out of internal links?

Articles should link back to the homepage or a suitable service and blog posts should not only be reached via the search function but with a maximum of 3 clicks from the homepage.

In general, internal links are important and should always be used if they make sense.

Use breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are another part of an SEO optimized website.

Breadcrumbs, "breadcrumbs," lay a trail from the home to a specific bottom.

These can look like this, for example:

Home > Blog > WordPress SEO

With the Yoast SEO plugin, breadcrumbs can be used on WordPress.

To do this, the single.php and page.php files must be adapted.

A detailed explanation can be found in the Yoast SEO plugin under "SEO" and then "Search appearance

XML sitemap & Robot.txt

XML sitemaps show Google where certain sub-pages are, for example. Blog posts that can be found on your website.

You should use them to make sure that new posts get into the index as quickly as possible and thus rank on Google and Co.

You can also create these with the Yoast SEO plugin.

Under "SEO” -> “Search appearance”An XML sitemap can be created automatically.

Once the sitemap has been created, you should enter it in the Google Search Console.

The Robot.txt file can also be created automatically by Yoast SEO.

Under "Yoast SEO” -> “Tools” -> “File editor”The Robot.txt can be created and adapted.

For most pages, the standard generated Robot.txt by Yoast SEO is sufficient.

Technical WordPress SEO Tips

Technical SEO deals with aspects that are not directly related to your content, but have a great influence on a good user experience and thus SEO.

You learn:

  • Loading time for WordPress SEO
  • Structured data for WordPress SEO
  • SSL for WordPress SEO
  • AMP for Mobile SEO

Loading time for WordPress SEO

Loading time is essential for strong SEO.

You can imagine the impact of load time on SEO like gasoline for cars.

Even the best car, the newest Ferrari, won't drive a meter without petrol.

It is similar with SEO, here short loading times - especially on mobile devices - are a prerequisite for high rankings.

Even the best SEO-optimized content will not rank without loading time optimization.

You have to understand: Google’s biggest goal is maximum

User satisfaction. The search giant knows that loading time has a huge impact on the user experience, especially on mobile devices. At the beginning of 2018, the company announced that loading time would be a decisive factor for SEO.

The problem?

WordPress websites in particular suffer from a "teething problem": long loading times. This is also shown by a new study by Backlinko.

At our online marketing agency YOYABA, we specialize in WordPress loading time optimization.

A complete guide is beyond the scope of this article.

Don't worry, here you will find a complete guide to optimizing WordPress for loading time.

Structured data

Structured data has gained more and more importance in the field of SEO in recent years.


Structured data is one way of providing the Google bot with additional information. This enables them to better classify your website and understand, so to speak, what the page is about.

For example, you can do the following:

  • Mark service pages
  • Identify and star reviews
  • Identify articles
  • Add a picture to the recipe
  • much more

There are many advantages to using structured data. Especially because some of them are visible in the Google search.

You have certainly seen stars or pictures for recipes in the search ad, this worksthanks to structured data.

In my experience, structured data increases the click rate enormously - and helps to rank better on Google and Co.

To use structured data on WordPress, I recommend the WP Schema Pro plugin.

With this plugin you can easily provide different pages with the corresponding structured data.

SSL for WordPress SEO

I'll be honest: SSL is not going to have a significant impact on your search engine rankings.

The actual impact of SSL on SEO is still controversial to this day.

BUT, SSL doesn't do any harm, but brings you many advantages that can also affect SEO:

  • SSL is mandatory for GDPR compliance
  • SSL shows reliability and can therefore affect click rates

In addition, thanks to Let's Encrypt, an SSL certificate is now free, so there's nothing wrong with it.

So far so good. How do you set up SSL on WordPress?

As soon as you have an SSL certificate and your website can be accessed via, all you have to do is install a plugin like Super Simple SSL and it will take care of everything else.

AMP for WordPress SEO

AMP - Accelerated Mobile Pages - is Google’s project to optimize websites for mobile devices.

Do you remember how important charging time is, especially for mobile devices?

AMP can help tremendously here.The average loading time with AMP is less than a second.

Using AMP removes unnecessary JavaScript and CSS from your site - and it loads much faster.

AMP has the following advantages:

  • Improves SEO
  • Improves the user experience

To use AMP for WordPress, you can use the official AMP plugin.

The plugin switches your site to AMP practically automatically. Disadvantage: Pages are difficult to customize.

So you have to decide for yourself whether AMP suits your site.

Additional SEO tips

In Chapters 1 to 4 we covered all the essential WordPress SEO optimizations.

In Chapter 5, I'll give you additional, general tips for better SEO.

You learn:

  • Influence of word count on SEO
  • Eliminate 404s
  • No Follow for unimportant pages

Influence of word count on SEO

Long articles usually rank better -Yes.

So does each article have to be at least 2000 words long? -No.

Even if long pieces of content often rank better, there are two important factors in particular:

  • The user's search query is completely satisfied
  • Create the best content on the topic

Some topics - such as. “WordPress SEO” - allow many subtopics - and thus a high number of words. It is not always possible.

Nothing is worse than "thin content", in German: Much BlaBla about nothing.

So when it comes to the length of an article, one consideration should be paramount:

"Is the reader getting all the information they need?"

That is what matters - above all else!

Eliminate 404s

404s can often not be avoided, that is, toono problem at first.

It becomes problematic when a lot of 404s accumulate - especially when these 404s have link authority, which you then lose.

You can further use this link authority by redirecting 404s to other relevant pages.

With a tool like Screaming Frog, you can easily scan your page for 404s.

Found 404s can be redirected to relevant pages with a plugin like Redirection.

No Follow for unimportant pages

On almost every website, not all subpages are relevant for Google search.

So it makes sense for Google to focus on the most important, the pages that should actually rank.

With the Yoast SEO plugin you can easily assign a NoFollow attribute to unimportant pages (e.g. imprint or data protection), then they will not be included in the index.

If you need support on the topic of WordPress, please contact us - as an SEO agency and WordPress agency, we are happy to help.