The following is a detailed look at some of the key items that should be configured after installing Elevate SEO and using the configuration wizard.
Install the SEO Plugin
WordPress isn’t too bad out of the box in terms of SEO, at least for the main page. But beyond that, it doesn’t give a person very much control or ability to influence search rankings. For example, Google typically looks at some information buried in your website called the “title” and “description” meta tags. Google doesn’t have to use the information in them, but it often does. So it’s a good to make sure they reflect what your content actually represents.
In addition, social media is huge now, it’s important to have your website look optimal when shared on Facebook or Twitter. Ever see someone share a post on Twitter that has an image? Or if not, wonder why? Twitter doesn’t grab an image from your content automatically – your website needs to tell Twitter what image to use and how it needs to be displayed. If you don’t have that set up properly, you’ll never have an image associated with your content when shared.
You can get these types of important features with a combination of plugins, or you can simply use Elevate SEO, a plugin we wrote to help address all of these important issues. In addition, it performs a lot more than just those items, which will get to shortly.
But the very first thing you should do is install Elevate SEO for WordPress. It’s absolutely free, and available in the free WordPress.org repository under the name “Elevate SEO”. Simply follow the instructions for installing the Elevate SEO plugin for WordPress, and then continue on.
Configure Your Site’s Primary Title and Description Information
Once installed, you’ll be immediately presented with the configuration wizard. Simply go through each page one by one and answer the questions listed there. During this process, you’ll be able to configure the main search related title and description for your website, which is important for helping Google index your site properly. Elevate SEO will ask you for the name of your website, which is the primary branding for it. For example, if you had an automotive repair shop called “Joe’s Auto”, you would set that to “Joe’s Auto”. That information will be used on the next few pages, and will be automatically inserted into the search descriptions for the rest of your content.
On the next page, you’ll configure the primary search title for your site – this is important, as it’s likely what will show up in Google when people search for your site. Often you’ll want to set this to be as descriptive as possible. For example, if your customer base is primarily located around Vancouver, Canada, you might want to set this to “Joe’s Auto – quality automobile repair located near Vancouver, Canada”. If you only service BMW vehicles, you’d likely want to add BMW there too, which will help bring traffic from people who search for BMW in Google.
Once that’s done, you’ll want to configure an informative description for search engines as well. The description represents what visitors can expect when they visit your site, and what the nature of your business is – what is your unique competitive advantage? Imagine your site being listed with all your competitors? What type of description would help drive someone to your site and not your competitors? This is the type of information you may want to convey to people who see your site in search results, and you can modify that by changing the content in this field.
Set Up Your Social Media Presence
There are two areas that you need to configure for social media during Elevate SEO’s installation process. First, you need to specify a default image that Elevate SEO will use whenever your content is shared on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. If you have some type of unique branding for your website, then this is a great place for it. If you don’t, check out some of the free images on Unsplash.com and find something catchy to use.
The second thing you need to do is specify the Twitter account associated with your business. This will make sure when someone shares some of your content on Twitter that it’s properly associated with your account – this will help drive traffic to your website, and also your Twitter account.
Set Up Google Search Console and Google Analytics
One of the best ways to obtain feedback about how your site is doing in Google is via their Search Console tool. Surprisingly, many of the client sites I’ve looked at over the years, even ones that have a SEO plugin installed, don’t have this set up properly. So head on over to Google Search Console and create an account if you don’t already have one.
The next thing you should do is head on over to Google Analytics and sign-up for an account there. While Google Search Console will give you information about who is searching or your website, Google analytics will give you information about who is actually visiting your website. It’s an important difference, and it’s good practice to start monitoring both going forward. So if you don’t have an account, sign-up for an account now on Google Analytics. There’s no need to configure your website on analytics at this stage – Elevate SEO will do that all automatically for you shortly, as you’ll soon see.
The next step is to add your site and verify it on Google Search Console and also configure it on Google Analytics. In other plugins, this is mostly a manual process. But with Elevate SEO, this will happen automatically via the installation wizard. Once you authorize Elevate SEO for WordPress to have access to your Google account, it will set up your website on Google Search Console, verify your site if necessary (which involves putting a special text file on your server so Google knows you actually own it), and also setting up and configuring Google Analytics.
One of the primary features most SEO plugins for WordPress offer is the ability to automatically generate an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap includes a detailed list of all the content on your website, and can be used by search engines to obtain a very accurate layout of your website. Without a sitemap, Google has to try to figure out your website layout by visiting each page and following the links embedded there. But if you have some content that isn’t very well linked to, Google and other search engines may have a hard time finding it. So the XML sitemap ensures that search engines will find all the content on your website.
Normally a person would have to manually submit an XML sitemap to Google Search Console. But if you went through the Elevate SEO installation wizard, you can login to Google Search Console and see that it was already generated and and submitted.
Completing The Wizard
At the end of the wizard you’ll be presented with an option to sign-up to our mailing list – we recommend this for everyone as you’ll automatically receive information about new Elevate SEO versions. Once done, Elevate SEO is configured on your site.