WordPress is one of my favourite platforms to get a website up quickly. It is very easy to learn and WordPress plugins allow you to extend its capabilities with custom functionality.

If you are wondering how to SEO WordPress, here are 5 things you can do to gain more traffic from Organic search.

1. Install an SEO plugin

Many WordPress themes give you custom SEO options, but most have limited capabilities.

A popular SEO plugin I have used on many WordPress sites is WordPress SEO by Yoast. This plugin also provides functionality to complete most of the following recommendations in this post.

From your WordPress Dashboard go to:

-Plugins->Add New

-Type “wordpress seo” into the search box and click Search Plugins

-Click the Install Now link under the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin

After installing you can find the new SEO options in the side menu.

Check out the plugin site for more information on the features available:

http://yoast.com/wordpress/seo/

2. Write custom titles and meta descriptions for your pages and posts

The keywords you want to target should appear in the title, page content, heading (h1) tags, and if applicable also in the alt tag of your images. Be careful not to overuse keywords and use synonyms if possible to avoid over-optmisation of keywords.

Constructing a well written meta description can help sell the page to a searcher and increase your click through rate. Write the description in plain English and keep it to less than 156 characters or your description will be cut off in search results.

Page titles are a bit trickier as they don’t have a set character length. Usually less than 70 characters will fit, but the entire title will not display if your title is wider than 512 pixels on screen.

If your title is around 70 characters, or has wide characters, you can use this tool to double-check if it will display within the pixel limit:

SEOmofo’s Snippet Optimizer Tool

3. Verify with Google Webmaster Tools and Bings Webmaster Tools and Submit Your Sitemap

Setting up Google Webmaster Tools should be done for every website you own. It provides important information on website health, search activity, and tips to improve your site.

You will need a Google account or GMail login to setup Google Webmaster Tools and a Microsoft account or Hotmail login to setup Bing Webmaster Tools.

Google Webmaster Tools:

http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

Bing Webmaster Tools:

http://www.bing.com/toolbox/webmaster

After creating these accounts choose the verify with a meta tag option and copy the generated meta tags into the Yoast SEO dashboard section (SEO->Dashboard):

then go back to your Webmaster Tools accounts and complete verification, now you can submit your Sitemap file.

The Yoast SEO plugin will generate an XML sitemap of your pages. Simply copy the URL of the sitemap file into the upload sitemap sections in Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.

From the SEO by Yoast options:

-Click on XML Sitemaps

-Make sure the tick box is checked and click on the XML Sitemap button to open your “sitemap_index.xml” file

-Login to the Webmaster Tools and add your sitemap by going to (Crawl->Sitemaps) and clicking Add/Test Sitemap button

4. Verify Authorship

Implementing the rel=”author” tag on your site will verify you as the author of the posts you write. This also pulls in your profile picture from your Google+ page to create a rich snippet when your page appears in search results. Rich snippets can also increase your click through rate and sometimes provide a small boost in ranking.

Navigate to the Users section in WordPress (Users->Your Profile) and edit your profile. Enter your Google Plus page URL into the Google+ section if your theme provides this functionality. If you cant find your Google+ setting you can install the “Google Author Link” plugin: http://wordpress.org/plugins/google-author-link/

To complete authorship verification you also need to add your website URL to the “Contributor to” section on your Google Plus profile:

-Login into your Google Plus page

-Go to “About”

-Find the links sections and click Edit

-Click Add custom link in Contributor to section.

You can check that the tag is correctly setup by using the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

5. Add Social Sharing

Social metrics are becoming a stronger ranking factor, they help signal the popularity of your content to search engines.

You can add Social Sharing to your pages and posts with plugins like ShareThis to help promote your content onto Social Media platforms.

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