Do WordPress SEO plugins work

WordPress SEO Tutorial: 2020 Edition

As mentioned earlier, the Installing an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO is just a tiny part of WordPress SEO. In the following, you will learn the most important basic settings in WordPress yourself to get your Google optimization on the road to success.

In this video I show you the 7 Most Important WordPress SEO Basics for a new website:

Important: If your website has been around for a long time and is accordingly in the Google index, then you will have to set up appropriate 301 redirects for all URL changes. Otherwise you would generate 404s (not found). This is not only bad for the user experience, but also sends the Googlebot into the void. In addition, backlinks that point to the URLs not found do not count towards your domain authority.

Search engine visibility

As long as there is a tick here, Google is locked out via the robots.txt and will not index your website.

So that Google your WordPress site at all crawl, index and tendril you have to give Google access. If the checkmark is set, Google is locked out via the robots.txt.

Before you have defined your URL structure and published around 10,000 words on the entire website, I would not let Google on the website. The chances are high that you will still adjust URLs, which would result in the need to set up redirects. That makes everything complicated again. Therefore: Only activate your website when you have the feeling that you are ready to go and nothing is going to change that much.

Subdomains or directories

Subdomain:shop.evergreenmedia.at

Directory:evergreenmedia.at/shop/

Click here to jump to the talk about WooCommerce SEO talk from September 2019!

If you don't know what subdomains are and when you should use them, you can ignore the issue and solve everything via directories. From a search engine optimization perspective, directories are the best solution anyway.

All those who want to separate their project with subdomains have to understand that for Google each subdomain is a separate entity for which search engine optimization has to be done. To put it simply: life with subdomains is usually more difficult than it is easier.

Here you can see what happens to the traffic when you switch a project from subdomains to directories:

Google counts each subdomain almost completely as an independent entity. That is, the authority is distributed and not bundled.


Use directories instead of subdomains unless you have a very good reason.

With or without www

Again and again I am asked whether it is one from an SEO point of view Difference between www and without www gives. The answer is no. It doesn't make any difference at all.

The only important thing is that you do not suddenly changewithout setting up the necessary redirects, because then it comes to an SEO apocalypse.

When you have made up your mind, you should let Google know which version you prefer in the Google Search Console. You can find the official instructions here. If you have not yet set up the Google Search Console for your WordPress website, there are great instructions from lunapark here.

From a technical point of view there is a difference: A domain with www gives you more flexibility with regard to DNS, the possibility of restricting cookies between different subdomains and so on. For my part, I have a www in front of the domain on all my websites because it is "normal" for users too.

SSL / HTTPS

In 2020 is SSL from an SEO point of view Mandatory for every website. As Google announced here in the Chromium Blog, Chrome will even be in the new version Websites without SSL as "not secure" identify what is of course not particularly reassuring for your visitors.

To what extent HTTPS improves visibility on Google is difficult to say. Yes, HTTPS is one of hundreds of ranking factors, but most websites already run on HTTPS. This means that you should equip your website with an SSL certificate right from the start.

You can find out which SSL certificate is the right one for SEO in this video:

How to switch your WordPress website to HTTPS, explains Ellen from Elmastudio at https://www.elmastudio.de/wordpress-webseiten-auf-https-umstellen-leicht-machen/ step by step.

Permalinks and the URL structure

According to Moz, a URL is human-readable text designed to replace the numbers (IP addresses) computers use to communicate with servers. That's nice to know, but what are you really talking about Urls in general and yours Permalink structure need to know is:

  • Hierarchies should be clearly mapped. Example: test.com/seo/onpage/title-tag/
  • URLs should be short be
  • URLs should speaking be. This means that the user should already recognize what the page is about from the URL
  • Make sure the URL is the Main keyword the respective page contains
  • Use "“To separate words from each other and the Readability to increase the url
  • Use exclusively Lower case in urls

You can also find many more tips for optimizing URLs in this blog article by Rand Fishkin and in this video:

So that we can also follow these guidelines in WordPress, we go to the WordPress backend on Settings> Permalinks and set the following:

You can play with the permalinks setting a little at the beginning until you have found the URL structure that is ideal for you. It is important that you never change them afterwards without setting up redirects.

Yes, other settings are also possible and valid, but you should only think about them once you really know. For my part, I only use the ones listed Permalinks settings.

Multilingualism

If you are with a multilingual website want to get started, you should be aware that the additional effort will be gigantic. Every page should be translated. Whenever you change your content, it must be changed in all languages. You are hereby warned.

International SEO is also a chapter of its own. You will learn more about this from me in this one-hour SEO seminar.

From a WordPress SEO perspective, these plugins are recommended for multilingual content:

  • Polylang (free)
  • WPML (paid but with good support)

The plugins generate the ones you need for Google Hreflang tags. If you're new to Hreflang, read this comprehensive guide from Sistrix.

It is very important that you know the different languages ​​in Directories instead of subdomains or even pack parameters. This is crucial because you bundle your authority (via backlinks) in one entity.

Have your content translated by a professional translation agency. Anything else is not acceptable to your visitors. No, neither Google Translate nor DeepL provide you with high quality content. I can guarantee that machine translation will ruin your Google rankings.

Sitemap

There should be two sitemaps, one in the XML format for the Google Search Console and on the other hand one HTML sitemapthat you link in the footer or socket of your WordPress website. The sitemap in XML format is generated by your SEO plugin, regardless of whether it is Yoast SEO, wpSEO or The SEO Framework.

For the HTML sitemap, I trust WP Realtime Sitemap, because the WordPress plugin offers many valuable setting options, but Table Of Content Plus can also generate your HTML sitemap for you.

You should only ever send Google to pages that are indexable and of high quality.

When your WordPress SEO project is halfway up and you've made your website visible to search engines, it's time to submit the XML sitemap to the Google Search Console:

In order for Google to know exactly about your content, you should submit your XML sitemap to the Google Search Console. Then you can also see how much of your pages and images are indexed.

.htaccess

What is a .htaccess?

The .htaccess is a Configuration file for use on Web servers with the Apache Web server software. If a .htaccess file is stored in a directory that is in turn loaded via the Apache web server, the .htaccess file is recognized and executed by the Apache web server software.

Template / example

You will be wondering why I didn’t insert this .htaccess as code for copying… Well, it’s not that simple and I want to force you to really deal with this important file. A lot can go wrong: D

robots.txt