Like building a house, the first step to building a solid SEO platform begins with laying a solid base. This means going into the back end of your wordpress site and making sure that all of the technical details are properly configured and in place.
Permalinks: Setting up permalinks is fairly easy but ABSOLUTELY critical. To begin, go to the Dashboard and scroll down to the “Settings” tab on the left. Select “Permalinks” from the menu that pops out. Permalinks are important because they determine how your site URL’s look. For example, when you set up a WordPress site for the first time, you default URL’s will be: www.yoursite.com/?p=1234. Leaving the “?p=1234” after the “/” means you are losing a TON of SEO value. Fortunately, wordpress makes it extremely easy to change this, simply by selecting the bubble that corresponds with the proper URL format. This bubble is going to be “Post Name” (the URL should look like: www.yoursite.com/sample-post/)
WordPress SEO (by Yoast): This plugin is an all-in-one SEO toolkit and will be most useful for editing the meta data for each of your posts and pages. Once it’s installed, it is extremely easy to then add and change the meta data for each of your pages (it also shows you a preview of how that page will appear in the search listings.)
Google Webmaster Tools: Webmaster tools are available to owners who verify their site with Google and who use the asynchronous tracking code in their site. As to what Webmaster tools does for you…well that would take days to lay out. The important thing is to make sure that you get access to it. Start here: google.com/webmasters, and follow the instructions for verification.
XML Sitemaps: Sitemaps are critical to any website because they help direct Google to the pages that you want the search engine to index. Typically when Google crawls your site, it allocates only milliseconds to go through all your pages. Submitting a sitemap will help direct which pages it goes through. Installing the sitemap plugin to your wordpress site makes it easy to generate a sitemap and submit it through your webmaster tools.
Redirections: This plugin helps to manage any redirects that your site needs. Once you install the plugin, any time you change the link or a page, the plugin will make sure that you do not trigger any soft 404 errors.
W3 Total Cache: This plugin helps improve the speed of your site by making sure that it gets properly cached. It’s important to remember to install this plugin only after you’re done developing the site. If you’re still working on the site and making changes to the design, caching your pages will make tracking the changes very difficult.