At its core, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the practice of helping search engines know exactly what your website is about. If you have a WordPress.com Business site, be sure to access the SEO tools in your Traffic settings. They will help you share your site’s information directly with search engines. Ready to get a solid start on your SEO strategy? Dive in with these steps.
What is SEO?
Some of the tools mentioned are available only to WordPress.com Business plan subscribers, but we’ve also included a few tips for everyone.
SEO is the practice of translating content that’s written and formatted for human eyes to something search engines can clearly understand. Doing this helps search engines know exactly how to surface your site in search results — and can lead to your site ranking higher and attracting more visitors. You can achieve this with metadata: the extra descriptions, categories, and tags you add to content and images that spell out the nuances of each page and post on your site.
Before you get started, know first and foremost that you need to have clear, quality content on your site. You should add the following polishes only after you’ve created great content for your audience. These tips will work best if you apply them regularly; for SEO success, you need good habits before moving on to more advanced practices.
Tip #1: Add your site’s SEO description
Be sure to add a site-wide SEO description, which summarizes the content of your site as a whole. In your description, you can use around 160 characters — it’s okay to go over, though, as this number is an estimate — and write in complete sentences to capture the essence of your site’s purpose. Add or update this description at My Sites → Settings → Traffic, under Front Page Meta Description.
Tip #2: Set SEO descriptions for pages and posts
Note: The SEO items you add shouldn’t be a bunch of keywords that you paste onto every page or post’s metadata — only use keywords if they’re reflected in the content you’re optimizing.
When you’re ready to publish a page or post, click on the SEO Description module under Post Settings at the right. Use complete sentences and up to 300 characters to summarize this particular piece of content.
What you write here will appear in search engine results, so it’s also for human eyes. Never repeat this content from one page or post to another — search engines frown on duplicate content! When this summary is done well, it serves as an introduction to search engines on what you’re writing about. For example, it’s ideal to use specific terms, cities, or places reflected in your content.
A note on tags: Treat tags like keywords or keyword phrases, but only add ones that are specifically reflected in a particular blog post.
Tip for everyone: For posts, use the Categories & Tags module to organize content and add extra metadata. Use up to a combined 15 categories and tags, and always use at least one custom category (even if every post is assigned to the same one). Otherwise, they’re automatically assigned to “Uncategorized,” which doesn’t do much for your SEO.
Tip #3: Make your images more search-friendly and accessible
Tip for all: Consistently add image alt text to enhance SEO on any WordPress.com site, regardless of your plan.
You might upload lots of images to your site, but do you add metadata to them? When you add an image to a post or page, it’s good practice to edit it first and add an Alt Text description. Be as specific as possible: describe what’s in the image itself, including places and people.
This is key for a few reasons. First, this extra metadata enhances the SEO of every page or post the image is displayed on. Second, adding alt text makes an image eligible to appear in search results — which then directs people back to your site. Finally, some of your visitors may rely on screen readers to read digital content aloud to them. If you don’t have alt text or any description for the image, the screen reader can’t tell what the image is supposed to represent. By adding this piece of information, your images become more accessible.
Edit an image in your Media Library by going to My Sites → Media, selecting the image, and clicking Edit.
Tip #4: Maintain a blog
All WordPress.com sites, regardless of plan, can have a blog.
Adding a blog to your site enhances its SEO. Every time you publish a new post, search engines know to take a look at your fresh content (and re-scan your archives). Publishing just once a week has a cumulative impact, so if you don’t have a blog for your business website or professional portfolio, consider sharing news, insights, or even introducing resources you’ve found elsewhere that can help your audience. Here are a few ideas to get started.
By incorporating these tips, you provide more information to search engines on what topics your site addresses and the value it offers. The more you add content and polish the metadata of your site — and the more consistent you are — the better the results.
Already mastered the basics? Check out our comprehensive guide.
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