Websites 101: DIY SEO for WordPress — Top 3 Tools for Ranking

Did you build your website using WordPress? If you have, then you’re not alone.

There are billions of sites in existence today. Of this number, 455 million and counting are WordPress sites, according to Tech Jury. With these figures, there’s some good news and potentially concerning news in store for you.

The good news is that by choosing WordPress, you’ve set yourself up for success by choosing one of the most popular CMS platforms today. However, the popularity of WordPress as a code-free CMS platform can spell disaster for you.

Why? This is because, due to its popularity, you’re up against some stacked competition.

Websites left and right are competing for visibility on search engines. And, so should you since the search engine results pages (SERPs) are where you’ll get up to half of your traffic.

According to Search Engine Journal, most traffic to any website comes from search engines — Google, in particular.

“How do you climb up the SERPs?”, you ask? You achieve this feat (and it’s a feat) with SEO for your WordPress site.

Read on to learn more about SEO for your WordPress site and some tools you can use to dominate the SERPs!

What is SEO?

Before going into how you can rank your WordPress site, let’s cover the basics. When we talk about search engine optimization or SEO, we refer to a set of practices that make a site more visible for search engines.

Optimizing your WordPress site for search engines involves several practices. These practices include:

  • Using a user-friendly theme
  • Making your site more mobile-friendly or responsive
  • Creating site content around the right keywords
  • Making changes to your site that will make it more “indexable” for Google and other search engines
  • Making sure that your site loads quickly (preferably, within a matter of seconds)
  • Getting other sites to link to your content (backlinking)

These are just some of the things you need to do to optimize your WordPress site for search engines.

In a nutshell, SEO’s main goal is the visibility of your site on search engines like Bing or Google. By visibility, we’re talking about search engines identifying your site and your site ending up on the first pages of the SERPs.

The importance of making your site recognizable to search engines is pretty straightforward. But, you might be wondering why it’s a big deal to get your site on the first pages of the SERPs.

Let’s address this in the next section!

Why Your DIY WordPress SEO Efforts Need to Get Your Site on the First Few Pages of the SERPs

Why Your DIY WordPress SEO Efforts Need to Get Your Site on the First Few Pages of the SERPs - PERC
Why Your DIY WordPress SEO Efforts Need to Get Your Site on the First Few Pages of the SERPs – PERC

Central to SEO is the ranking of a website in the SERPs. A higher rank in the SERPs means being on the first few pages of the results. Why is this important? Here is why:

When you go online to search for a product or service, you type in a search query. You’ll then be redirected to a page displaying a bunch of sites that are relevant to your search.

There are many to choose from. There are so many sites that the SERPs extend as far as 15 pages sometimes.

The first page is what you’ll likely see first. And, if you’re like most people, you’ll probably choose from the first few results on the SERP’s first page.

You and more than 90% of online users tend to do this, according to Backlinko’s most recent statistics.  So, if you want to get the most out of your WordPress site, you need to make sure it climbs up the SERPs.

How do you do this? You climb up the SERPs by tweaking your site to be more palatable for search engines and users.

In the next section, we’ll talk about some of the things you need to do to DIY WordPress SEO.

What You Need to Do to DIY WordPress SEO

What You Need to Do to DIY WordPress SEO - PERC
What You Need to Do to DIY WordPress SEO – PERC

SEO involves a set of processes and practices that optimize your site and its content. And, it doesn’t matter what CMS you’re using.

Since you’re DIY-ing your SEO, we’ll focus on on-page SEO. You can leave the off-page and technical SEO to the professionals (like the ones we have here at PERC).

The actions you’ll learn about here are the basics. Hence, never skip any of these when you DIY your WordPress SEO:

Keyword Research

Users end up on the SERPs after they type in their search queries. The words that make up the search queries are keywords.

Keywords are important when you’re trying to create engaging content. Also, using keywords in various places on your WordPress site tells search engines that your site is a relevant result for a search.

To get the right keywords to base your content around, you’ll need to figure out what users type as search terms. Of course, these search terms need to be relevant to the type of business you’re in.

You learn the keywords used by users as well as the ones that lead to conversions via keyword research. You can conduct keyword research by using WordPress SEO tools like SEMRush and Ahrefs.

Keyword-Based Content Creation

Keyword-Based Content Creation - PERC
Keyword-Based Content Creation – PERC

Once you’ve determined your keywords, you’ll have to create your content around these keywords. Content doesn’t just mean your blog posts. It can also include your landing page copy as well as any text you’ll find on your home page.

In addition, the keywords you’ve found need to be in your meta tags and maybe even your URL if you can fit it in.

Your meta tags are:

  • The titles of your blog posts as they appear on search engines
  • Meta descriptions for each article

On-Page Monitoring

Sure, you can check how your content is likely to perform after you’ve written it. But, wouldn’t you rather see your content’s ranking potential as you create it?

On-page content monitoring allows you to create your content around keywords and the right word count. Also, you can see what you or your writer is doing right (or wrong).

The way to do this (and the other two tasks just mentioned) is with WordPress SEO tools.

WordPress SEO Tools

If you paid attention, you’ll notice that we recommended the use of SEO tools. There are many available today on the interwebs. But, for WordPress, there are some that we’ve specifically had excellent results with.

As well, these tools come in the forms of plugins or extensions you can easily access and activate from your WordPress Dashboard.

So, without further ado, here are our recommendations:

For Beginner On-Page DIY SEO: Yoast

For Beginner On-Page DIY SEO Yoast - PERC
For Beginner On-Page DIY SEO Yoast – PERC

Yoast has been in the SEO game for more than a decade. It has come a long way since its inception in 2008, improving with each update and patch.

Yoast is a great tool for just about every SEO function the SEO novice can think of. It’s particularly great for tasks that involve on-page content monitoring. Yoast even has several operations and functions that allow you to detect if there are broken links in your content.

Yoast comes with a free trial on WordPress. To get the best out of Yoast, we at PERC recommend signing up for Yoast Premium.

Yoast Premium has all the features and functionality you can want in a WordPress SEO tool. It has everything from content optimization to keyword research capabilities. It even creates an XML sitemap for your site.

For Keyword Research: Ahrefs

For Keyword Research: Ahrefs - PERC
For Keyword Research: Ahrefs – PERC

Ahrefs prides itself on having multiple functions for on-page SEO. It also has several functions that help you get a handle on off-page SEO like backlinks and some analytics. Ahrefs can help you monitor traffic to your site as well.

Ahrefs is particularly useful for keyword research and keyword-based content optimization. One of its features for WordPress SEO is its on-page content editor. It allows you to create your content and see whether or not you’re hitting the ideal keyword density for a certain topic.

The Ahrefs plugin is free for download for WordPress. Other features come with the tool but, these are available for free only for a limited trial period.

Best Bang for Buck and PERC’s Top Pick: SEMRush

Best Bang for Buck and PERCs Top Pick SEMRush - PERC
Best Bang for Buck and PERCs Top Pick SEMRush – PERC

If SEO for WordPress was a camping trip, you can think of SEMRush as being a Swiss Army Knife. SEMRush is an amazing tool that can help you take care of your on-page SEO and other things that go on off-page.

Like SEMRush and other keyword research tools like Frase, Raven, and Ahrefs, SEMrush has an on-page content editor for on-page content optimization. SEMRush also has numerous off-page functions like a backlink checker and an analytics function.

The analytics function helps you monitor traffic to your site as well as what pages do well. Of course, a function as important as this requires a paid subscription.

For what it does, you’ll find that the subscription is worth the investment. If we at PERC had to single one tool out, it would be SEMRush.

We’ve used this tool for our content as well as for our clients. It has yet to disappoint!

Be sure to try their free backlink tool, it’s amazing!

Get free access to the largest backlink database for a limited time only!

Wrapping Up

WordPress is arguably the go-to CMS platform for most sites today. For this reason, if you’re using WordPress, know that you’ll be competing with millions of other sites.

WordPress SEO done correctly with the right tools can help your site land on the first pages of the SERPs. While a DIY approach is possible and can bear fruit, it can be tough especially if you’re new to SEO.

Get in touch with a team of SEO experts to help you. We at PERC offer SEO and web design services that take the guesswork out of ranking and site optimization.

Let us at PERC give your WordPress site the online visibility and notoriety it deserves!  


Xavier Berkness

Xavier Berkness is the President of PERC, a renowned Digital Marketing Company. With an impressive career spanning over two decades since 1996, Xavier has earned a reputation as a leader in the field of digital marketing. He has leveraged his deep understanding and expertise in building websites to author a highly-regarded book, 'Mastering On-Page Optimization - The Secret Sauce of an SEO System.' Xavier's impactful contributions to the industry have been recognized in a Star Tribune feature, where he was hailed as a 'Mover and Shaker.' Outside the professional realm, Xavier is a nature lover who cherishes time spent near the ocean. He continues to fuel his passion for digital marketing, relentlessly seeking new knowledge and strategies every day. His combination of professional prowess and personal charm make Xavier a trusted authority in the digital marketing industry.