You’ve probably heard the term “search engine optimization,” or “SEO” for short. It’s the process of getting your site indexed via search engines, such as Google and Bing, for specific terms. The first part of good SEO starts with setting up your site and establishing a sound foundation for optimization. That’s what I’m going to show you how to do in this article.
Before you do anything with your site in terms of search, you need to lay a solid SEO foundation.
In other words, there are things that need to be done to the site itself to start the optimization process and to give you the ability to properly optimize pages and articles that you write in the future.
We can also notify Google and Bing about your site ahead of time and give them a dynamic index of your site’s content so they can crawl it faster and [hopefully] index your site faster.
Note: I’m using a WordPress website as an example. If you’re on Squarespace or Wix or one of the alternatives, the process may be a little different (but the principles are the same). And yes, WordPress is better than Squarespace for SEO.
First, Install & Setup the Free “SEO Framework” plugin.
WordPress doesn’t have a way to control the SEO Title and Meta Description of your pages and articles out of the box. For that, you need a plugin.
A plugin is just an add-on for WordPress. It adds functionality that WordPress doesn’t have by default.
There are a lot of available plugins for controlling SEO on your site. The most popular is the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
I’ve used that plugin on many sites, but it’s a very heavy and bloated plugin that has way too many options and it uses too many server resources.
The one I’ve been using lately is The SEO Framework. It’s free, lightweight, and easy to use.
Installation is simple. Log in to your WordPress admin and go to Plugins, then click Add New.
Type “SEO Framework” in the search box and then click “Install” on the proper search result.
You’ll now see an “SEO” link in the left navigation bar in your WordPress admin (you might need to refresh the page).
Click that link and you can setup the global settings for your site.
Here are the main areas you’ll want to set up that aren’t set by default…
Home Page SEO Settings
Create a title and description default for your home page. Note that these will be overridden as you’ll be using a separate page for your home page, but it’s good to set them anyway.
For basic SEO, you’ll want to target specific keywords. In my example, I’ve purposefully done a mediocre (but passable) job.
A terrible (but common) title would be, “Home Page | Six-Figure Grind”
The title you put in the title box is the exact title Google will use in the search results listing, so it shouldn’t just be keywords. It should be a title that makes people want to click.
The description is the exact description text Google will use as well. This needs to contain keywords but also needs to make people want to click.
If I wanted to improve mine, I could think about targeting certain keywords like “online business” instead of “lifestyle business,” for example.
These decisions shouldn’t be made by guessing, by the way. They require doing “keyword research” to identify things like: search volume, keyword difficulty (competition), related keywords, etc.
If you don’t know how to do the proper keyword research on your own then I’d recommend you sign up with Keyword Cheetah, an awesome keyword research service that’s an amazing value for what you get each month.
Schema Settings: General
Choose a representation type and then type in your brand name.
Schema Settings: Presence
Make sure the settings are equal to what I’ve shown in the screen shot and then add all your social profiles to the boxes in that section.
Ignore the sample data I’ve put in.
Webmaster Meta & Site Ownership
You’ll want to verify the ownership of your site with Google and Bing, for sure.
If you click on the “?” icon next to each of those, it’ll take you to the exact place you need to go to do this.
Once you add your site to Google Search Console and Bing, they’ll give you a verification code. Paste that verification code into the appropriate boxes as shown in the screengrab above.
This is a very important step as Google and Bing Search Console give you a ton of great data about your site and your rankings. You also need to do this step to do the next step, which can potentially speed up the indexing of your site on Google and Bing…
Output a Sitemap
You can [potentially] speed up the indexing of your site by submitting a sitemap to Google and Bing. The SEO Framework will automatically generate your sitemap and keep it up to date.
Copy the URL to your sitemap and then log in to Google Search Console.
Choose your website from the list and click “crawl” and then “sitemaps.”
Click the red “add sitemap” button at the top right.
Once your sitemap is submitted, do the same for Bing.
Bing asks you for your sitemap URL as soon as you add your site to their system. After that, they give you your verification code.
Great job, now your site is all set up in Google and Bing. This should help you get indexed faster and will give you a ton of valuable data going forward.
Set Up Your “Permalinks.”
Another important part of prepping your site for sound SEO practices is establishing standard permalinks.
A permalink is a URL to a specific page or article on your site.
Because WordPress is a blogging platform first and foremost, it defaults to putting your articles into categories and date folders.
For SEO purposes, we want to avoid all that. We want your articles to be found at “domain.com/sample-post/” rather than “domain.com/2017/11/19/sample-post/”.
This is very easy to do in WordPress. Just click on Settings and then Permalinks in your WordPress admin.
Next, click the “Post name” option and then click “Save Changes.”
WordPress and Divi Do All the Other Heavy Lifting for You.
All of the basic HTML code stuff that’s necessary for SEO is already done for you if you used WordPress and the Divi framework that I recommended earlier in this guide.
Divi sets up all your pages with the proper H1 heading tags and lets you use H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags throughout the page at your discretion.
It also adds the proper TITLE and ALT tags to all of the images you enter into a page. Of course, you have to fill in the details for each image you upload – that’s something I’ll explain when we start publishing articles.
WordPress gives you the ability to use internal links, categorize content, separate posts from pages, accept comments, and so on. All of these things are elements of basic SEO.
Advanced SEO is beyond the scope of this article, of course, but those techniques and strategies are available to you in Six-Figure SEO: How to Get Traffic, Leads, & Sales by Outranking Your Competition on Google.
Of course, if you don’t want to learn how to do SEO yourself or bother with the hours of advanced research it requires, there’s a TON of value in hiring an SEO specialist or a keyword research service.
Kevin Michael Geary is the founder of Digital Ambition. After building three successful online businesses in three separate niches in less than five years, he turned his attention toward helping men and women all over the world start an online lifestyle business so they can escape the rat race, make an impact, and live life without limitations.