Need an easy way to install Google Analytics on your WordPress site?
Google Analytics is used to track specific data on your website visitors. It tells you how many visitors you have, where they’re coming from, and plenty of other metrics. It’s a powerful tool that when used to it’s fullest extent, can greatly improve your website and internet marketing.
This method of installing Google Analytics is code-free. This means instead of messing with the Google Analytics tracking snippet, you’ll only have to copy and paste a short tracking number (your UA number) into a certain field. And thankfully, there’s WordPress plugins to do that for us.
Estimated time: 3 minutes
What Does Google Analytics Measure?
Here’s just a few examples:
Number of website visitors
What source they’re coming from (social media, SEO, email)
What cities and countries your visitors are from
Traffic from SEO
Top keywords people use to find your site
What keywords are the most effective
Traffic from social media
Traffic from each social network
Top content shared on social media
Top view pages, least viewed pages
What pages people exit your website the most
How long people spend on a particular page
Step 1: Sign Up With Google Analytics
Go to the Google Analytics signup page and signup using an existing Gmail account, or you will need to create a new Gmail account. You will eventually get to a page where you can enter your website info:
Step 2: Grab Your UA Number
Your UA Number is your tracking code in the form of a simple number (eg. UA-35669384-1) . Both can be used to install Google Analytics on your WordPress website. In your Google Analytics account, click the “Admin” button on the top right of the screen. You should see a tab that says “tracking info.”
Make sure you have your code set to asynchronous tacking then copy that UA number.
Step 3: Use a WordPress Plugin to Install Google Analytics
Go to your WordPress dashboard and add a new plugin using the menu on the left of your dashboard. Search “Google Analytics” and you will see the Google Analytics plugin by Kevin Sylvestre (shows up as the 1st result for me). Install and activate the plugin. This is my favorite WordPress plugin to install Google Analytics because it makes it so simple.
Go to the “settings” menu in your WordPress dashboard and click “Google Analytics.” You should see a field where you can paste your UA number:
Step 4: Login to Google Analytics After 1-2 Days
After installing Google Analytics, you’ll need to wait 1-2 days until it starts tracking your data.
In the meantime, you can login to your Google Analytics account and setup some custom Google Analytics dashboards. Custom dashboards should help you organize your data in a more digestible format. If you setup dashboards before the couple days it takes for Google Analytics to start tracking, you won’t see any data. But don’t worry, it will be there shortly.
Were you successful in installing Google Analytics on your WordPress site? Leave me a comment and let me know how it went. I also offer Google Analytics consulting if you need more insight on how to use Google Analytics.
If you enjoyed my article, please share it with a friend who might like it too. I would really appreciate that.
Then I’ve got 5 Google Analytics SEO dashboards for you. These give you useful data on your SEO traffic, content, and geographic/mobile visitors. Use the download links to import these directly to your Google Analytics account so you can collect data about your site. You may need to change some filters to do this, which I provided instructions where this is needed…
1. General SEO Dashboard
Get a glimpse of your overall SEO campaign.
Total visits from SEO
Non-branded visits from SEO (change filter to your brand name with variations)
Top known keywords (same thing)
Most viewed pages from SEO
Main search engines used
All search engines used
Cities finding website through SEO + load times (use a CDN if slow)
This dashboard needs some explanation but it is so useful. If you have a specific topic you want to segment (a product, service, blog topic, etc) and want see how it’s landing page(s) are performing, this SEO dashboard will help you do that.
For example, two main topics I write about (or offer) are WordPress SEO and WordPress Themes (I write about themes and use affiliate links to make a commission off purchases). The left side of this dashboard tells me about pages/posts on my site containing “WordPress SEO” and the right side is the same for “WordPress Themes.”
You can change this to whatever products/services/topics you want to measure. Just edit the filters to change the wording (click on the pen icon in each widget to do this).
Top viewed pages related to any topic on your site (change words in filter)
Top keywords related to any topic on your site (change words in filter)
Learn how mobile content is performing for SEO visitors. If your site is not responsive, the easiest way to fix this is to use a responsive theme. WordPress users can check out my list of SEO-Optimized (Responsive) themes which are built in the notorious Genesis Framework.
Devices sending most SEO traffic
Top viewed Ipad content (change filter if you want)
Top mobile keywords (known, unbranded – change to your brand name)
Top viewed mobile content (SEO only)
Slowest loading mobile content (SEO only, use my CDN link in the widget to fix)
Last week I found a page on my site was taking 25.4 seconds to load for people in Seattle. Embarrassing, but I made the fix. I found this using my Google Analytics custom dashboards.
These dashboards can help you see the big picture, but they can also help you make improvements in very specific ways. Like which pages have the slowest load time, pages that are being viewed from mobile (so you can make sure there are no errors), or even which pages people exit your site the most (so you can do a better job at converting them).
A couple things to know before you start:
Use the download links to add these dashboards to your own GA account
For widgets that say “non-branded,” edit the filter to include your own website name
1. General Analytics Dashboard
Get a glimpse of everything: SEO, social, referral traffic and more.
Unique visitors from SEO, social media
How people find your website: organic, referral, direct
Top keywords (non-branded)
Top vewied pages
Social networks sending the most traffic
Referral websites (excludes major websites like Google and social networks)
My Google Analytics SEO dashboard is good for getting a glimpse at your SEO, but the absolute best way to get SEO analytics is through the “landing pages” tab in Google Analytics as well as the “Search Analytics” section in Google Search Console. See instructions below…
Unique visitors from SEO
Top keyword (non-branded)
Chicago keywords (for local SEO, change this to your city)
Keywords related to “WordPress SEO” (a service I offer – change this to one of yours)
Landing Page Metrics
To get better SEO metrics (like click-through rates, ranking position, and bounce rates by page) see the left side of Google Analytics and go to Acquisition → Search Console → Landing Pages.
Search Analytics (Google Search Console) Google Search Console does a MUCH better job at showing SEO metrics like all your keywords, rankings, click-through rates, etc. Use the search analytics tab to see this (and see my full Google Search Console tutorial if you’re using Yoast’s WordPress SEO Plugin) which shows you how to use search analytics, fix crawl errors, and identify errors on your website.
3. Social Media Analytics
Learn what social networks drive traffic, plus other useful social data. This dashboard breaks down most main social networks into their own widget. Most of widgets were taken from Sharon Hall’s Google Analytics dashboards. And, I know, mine is a pretty weak right now.
What percent of your visitors are mobile? Are they on Ipad, Iphone, or Android? Are mobile users finding what they need or which pages are they bouncing away from? You should also visit the mobile usability section of Google Search Console since this finds ALL mobile errors on your website (while Google’s Mobile Testing Tool only shows errors for one single page).
Where do people enter your site, and where do they leave? Use this custom Google Analytics dashboard to find pages where people leave your site the most. This indicates you need to improve the content by improve the design, internal links, call to actions, or the actual content.
Want to setup your own custom Google Analytics dashboards? Login to Google Analytics and look to the left on the main menu. You will see the Dashboard section where you can add new custom dashboards. Add a dashboard and create a few widgets with your metrics.
✅ Where can I import other Google Analytics dashboards?
The Google Analytics Solutions Gallery has the largest collections of custom dashboards, otherwise you should check out other blog posts.
✅ How do I create my own dashboards?
Go to the Dashboards tab and click Create. The rest is pretty self-explanatory. Select whether you want to use a pie chart, table, bar, etc. Add the metrics you want and you're done! You can create multiple widgets in your dashboard.
✅ Where can I find definitions of all the metrics?
When creating a widget within your dashboard, each metric will have a question mark icon. When you hover it, it will show the definition of that metric.
If you found these dashboards helpful, please share. I would appreciate that!
Ready to rank higher in Google Maps and local search results?
We’ll follow Google’s local search ranking factors which Moz reports every 2 years. I broke these down into factors on and off your WordPress site. Citations (online directories like Yelp, Superpages, and Axciom) are about 11% of local SEO, so it wouldn’t be fair to leave these out.
This guide assumes you’re using the Yoast SEO Plugin. If you don’t have Yoast, I suggest installing it then configuring my recommended Yoast settings. It also assumes you have a physical address in your targeted city which is not mandatory, but is the #1 factor in Maps.
To find even more keywords, try using different variations of the keyword, like plurals…
Use different word ordering to get even more ideas…
Target Specific Services – if “Chicago Wedding Photographer” is your primary keyword, try also targeting Indian and Gay Wedding Photographer. Same thing with web design… you can target both Chicago Web Design and Chicago WordPress Design which both show up in Autocomplete. For dentists, you may have Chicago Dentist, Chicago Dental Implants, Chicago Emergency Dentist, etc. Relying on 1 single keyword for ALL your traffic is never a good idea. You need to research Google Autocomplete for all your services, then create a page for each.
Moz Keyword Explorer
Next, use Moz Keyword Explorer to make sure you’re not missing keywords. This is similar to Google Keyword Planner only it’s completely free (you don’t have to sign up for AdWords), plus you can group related keywords so you’re not browsing through the exact same ones.
Once it runs, click keyword suggestions –> see all suggestions. You should see a nice list of keywords and the volume (monthly searches). Note phrases you DIDN’T find in Autocomplete.
Estimating Local Keyword Competition
More Autocomplete results + broad phrases = more competitive…
Less Autocomplete results + specific phrases = less competitive…
You can also use the MozBar Chrome Extension to Google any keyword and learn it’s competition. The higher the PA (page authority) and DA (domain authority), the higher the competition and the more effort needed to rank for it. Try to stay within your own DA range.
3. Blog Post Keywords
Blog posts usually attract the most links to your site (a huge ranking factor) since people naturally link to USEFUL content (not promotional service pages) which benefit the rankings of your entire WordPress site. Just like we researched keywords for pages, find as many informational, non-promotional blog keywords as you can, then write a post for each topic.
4. Geo-Targeted Pages
Create a page for each keyword – target your primary keyword on your homepage, then create a separate page for Chicago Indian Wedding Photographer and other specific services. Average Cost Of Wedding Photographer In Chicago would be a good article on your blog.
Optimize content with Yoast – you can get green lights all you want, but designing a nice (ideally lengthy) page with awesome photos, testimonials, video and other useful content – is the heart of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so if you use “Wedding Photographer in Chicago” instead of “Chicago Wedding Photographer” in your content… that counts as a keyword. So even if that specific light isn’t green (eg. keyword density), you can ignore it as long as a variation is present. Synonyms are actually encouraged.
Presence of NAP – each location page should have your business name, address, and phone somewhere on the page. If you only have 1 location you can add this in a footer widget or your copyright area at the very bottom of your website (like I do) so it’s present on every page. For multiple locations you’ll usually want to add it somewhere in the actual content body.
Short Permalinks – use short permalinks with your keyword in it.
Keyword Density – include your keyword in the first couple sentences and a few times in your content body (naturally). Sprinkle LSI keywords (synonyms) in your content instead of using the same keyword over and over. These can be secondary keywords you want to rank for.
Alt Text – label your images before uploading them to WordPress since the visual editor automatically uses the image file name as the alt text. This should simply describe the image – don’t stuff keywords. Images in widgets and page builders may not do this so check the HTML:
Internal / External Links – Google follows links on your page to learn what your content is about. The important thing is linking to useful content your visitors will actually find helpful (like a blog tutorial). Interlinking blog articles/pages is also a natural way to build links to your own website but outbound links are good too since it’s kind of like citing sources to Google. Finally, always use descriptive link text (called anchor text)… never use words like “click here.”
SEO Title – use a modifier to spice up your headline so more people click on your link in search results… “Award Winning Chicago Wedding Photographer – Tom Dupuis” is a good example. Also make sure your SEO title has a decent length (the bars in Yoast should be green).
Meta Description – the main purpose of the meta description to entice people to click on your link. This and the SEO title are the first thing people see in search results so spend time writing these. It should include your Yoast focus keyword, plus a secondary keyword if you have one.
Post Long Content – Google measures “average time on page” which is why videos and other engaging content is key. Long, organized content generally ranks higher than short content.
Social Media Optimization – this ensures your page will display a properly formatted image when shared on Facebook and Twitter. Click the “share” link in Yoast and upload custom images where it tells you to. If you don’t see the tabs, check your Yoast social settings to enable Facebook and Twitter meta data. Yes, this means you need to design 2 separate images for Facebook (1200 x 630px) and Twitter (1024 x 512px). I leave the other fields blank which let you write a custom headline and description when it’s shared on Facebook/Twitter.
Rich Snippets – make your snippets stand out in search results by adding rich snippets to your content. You can do this with events, reviews, recipes, articles, products, organizations, restaurants, and videos. I use the premium WP Rich Snippets plugin which supports all rich snippet types except for events (use All In One Schema.org) and videos (use Schema plugin. However if you’re doing any other type of rich snippets, WP Rich Snippets looks way better and has more options, plus they have awesome add-ons. Here’s my WP Rich Snippets review which is definitely worth the money if you have content on your site that can be marked up.
Example Geo-Targeted Landing Page…
5. Google My Business
Optimizing Your Google My Business Page
*Google is increasingly taking into consideration activate business owners who: post on Google Posts, respond to reviews, keep special hours updated, answer questions, make it convenient for customers to take direct actions on GMB using business URLs.
Create a GMB Page (no duplicates – check Moz Local)
Since citations are 11% of local SEO, this step will help you create and fix your top 15 citations. Just like you did with Google My Business you will make sure profiles are 100% complete, duplicates are deleted, and ensure consistent information is present. Run your website + zip code through Moz Local and look under “choose the most accurate listing.” Go through each one and see their recommendations. Yes, you will need each profile’s login info.
Correct Incomplete, Inconsistent, Duplicate Citations
Once you click your listing you will see incomplete, inconsistent, and duplicate tabs. Go through each one and fix all items. Incomplete profiles are often fixed by uploading more photos or adding categories. Inconsistencies can be as easy as correcting the www website version or using “st” instead of “street” in the address. Duplicates are fixed by deleting them. Moz Local includes links to your profiles which makes it easy to fix, delete, and report profiles.
Sometimes you will only have 1-2 categories (eg. photographer + wedding photographer) so it’s not always possible to get your profiles 100% complete. Just do everything you can.
To conquer those #2, #5, and #14 ranking factors in Google Maps (citation consistency, quantity, and quality), we need to build even more citations. The more competitive your keywords are (eg. Chicago Wedding Photographer) the more citations you should build.
Whitespark has lists of top citations by city, country, and category, or use their citation building service for $4-5 per citation which saves a LOT of time. Google ‘Whitespark Canada‘ and you’ll see they have over 120 reviews with a 4.9 star rating. I’ve invested over $2,000 in their citation building service and have jumped from #8 to #3 in Google Maps. Read my Whitespark citation building review to learn the process, but you basically fill out an intake then wait 2-3 weeks for them to send a report of the new citation URLs and 1 universal login.
Free citations can cause spam emails and sometimes spammy phone calls. They improve rankings, but it’s a tradeoff. Here’s a response I got from Darren Shaw, owner of Whitespark:
@TheDupMan When you build citations, you’re going to get sales emails and calls. No way around it. The listings are free for a reason.
Most businesses doing local SEO have a good amount of mobile visitors (you can check in Google Analytics under Audience –> Mobile –> Overview). If you haven’t read my W3 Total Cache tutorial which shows you how to configure the performance tabs, Cloudflare, and MaxCDN, I would start with that. Then you can optimize images and make other optimizations from my WordPress speed guide. This helps you fix items in your GTmetrix report (the speed testing tool I recommend using) and improves page load times for both desktop and mobile.
You’ve heard this before so I’m not going to state the obvious. But you should know that Google My Business is usually the best place to get reviews since these appear directly in search results, and you need about 5 of them for the review stars to start showing up…
Avoiding The Yelp Review Filter – Yelp reviews can get filtered even if they’re legitimate. You can avoid this by doing a Google search of “business name Yelp” and sending them that link. If you send them the direct link to your Yelp profile, Yelp will know and could filter it. Ideally you would ask existing Yelpers since they are more likely to get their review posted (another factor is if their profile is filled out and Facebook is connected). You should friend your reviewers too.
11. Local Link Building
You know links are super important for your rankings, and it doesn’t have to be a pain in the ass. But yes, you WILL need to reach out to people to get these links. Here are some tips…
Ask partners to link to you
Ask sponsors to link to you
Ask suppliers to link to you
Get published by local newspapers
Get included in list articles (eg. best pizza in Chicago)
Make sure these articles include a link to your site
Find business directories and organizations who promote green businesses
Turn your business relationships into links, that’s what it’s all about
12. Targeting Multiple Locations
Create Multiple Location Pages On Your Site – sometimes you should create 1 page per city (if only 1 keyword is being search in that city), or multiple pages per city (if multiple keywords are being searched). It depends on how many keywords people search and whether you need content about different services (miami dentist vs. miami dental implants is a separate page).
Add Location-Specific Content To These Pages – your Chicago page might have photos of your Chicago office. Or testimonials from your Chicago customers. Or a Google Map showcasing your Chicago location. Avoid creating ‘search and replace’ pages (identical pages only you simply change the city name) since these are duplicate content and will not rank.
If you want to check out a great example of localized landing pages, check out Seda Dental.
Create Citations For Each Location – each location should have it’s own Google My Business page, Yelp, Facebook, and other citation profiles you can use Moz Local and Whitespark to create (see steps 4, 5, and 6). Whitespark’s citation building service will save you a LOT of time. If you do this yourself, list the specific location page (website.com/locations/chicago) when listing your website. Photos and business information should be unique to that location.
13. Measure Keyword Rankings
Google Search Console’s Search Analytics – see keywords (queries) you rank for. This ONLY measures Google’s organic rankings, not Google Maps or other search engines. So if Google Maps appear when you search your keywords, you need to measure those too (see below). You can still get very helpful data in Search Analytics using filters: click-through rates, impressions, top pages, devices used, countries, and compare your rankings to the last 28 previous days.
Whitespark Local Rank Tracker – track rankings in Google Maps, Bing pack, Google organic, Bing organic, etc. Sort by city names across multiple locations. User-friendly design and starts at $20/month for measuring up to 100 local keywords. Easiest way to measure local keywords.
14. Bonus Tips
Google Search Console – I mentioned this a couple times in this WordPress local SEO guide, but you really should take advantage of this tool. My video and Google Search Console tutorial show you how to set it up, submit your Yoast XML sitemap to Google, fix crawl errors (broken URLs), and quite a few other site optimizations. You can use it to test AMP pages, rich snippets, and find indexing, mobile, and security issues. Once signed you will need to wait around 1 week for the data to populate. But definitely revisit it and take advantage of it’s features.
Mobile Click-To-Call Button – if you’re running a website where many people call you (eg. a pizza business), adding a mobile click-to-call plugin can improve conversions but is also a ranking factor if you look at “Behavior/Mobile Signals” in Google’s local ranking factors.
Security – run your site through Sucuri security checker and the security section of Google Search Console to make sure you have no errors. Either way the best 2 things you can do is change the generic “Admin” username in the your WordPress login, then install WordFence.
Social Media – just make sure you’re active on social media, it’s 2.8% of local SEO.
Time To Get To Work
Hopefully this WordPress local SEO guide gives you some ideas! Just remember it’s not all about optimizing your WordPress site – there are many off-page factors that are just as important like Google My Business, citations, and reviews. Start cranking some of this out and within a couple months hopefully your organic searches go up (let me know in the comments)!
Need help? Drop me a line. Looking to hire someone who actually knows what they’re doing? Check out my WordPress SEO consulting services. I love when people read my tutorials so if you have a question about regarding WordPress and local SEO, I’m glad clarify your questions.
Frequently Asked Questions
✅ What are Google's local search ranking factors?
Moz reports Google's local search ranking factors every 2 years. They emphasize geo-targeted pages, directories (citations), links, and reviews.
✅ How do you optimize websites for local SEO?
Research local keywords using tools like Google Autocomplete, create geo-targeted content around those keywords, make your mobile site load fast, get relevant links, and show NAP on localized pages.
✅ What is NAP and why is it important?
NAP stands for business name, address, and phone number. This should be consistent throughout your website and citations. Google uses NAP consistency as a ranking factor.
✅ Where should I build more directories (citations)?
Moz Local analyzes 15 top citations and shows you which ones are incomplete, inconsistent, or duplicates. Whitespark also has lists of top citations for different industries and locations. Google My Busienss, Yelp, and Facebook are some of the most important, but you should built more using Moz Local or Whitespark.
✅ How do I optimize my GMB Page?
Fill out everything including including NAP, categories, descriptions, photos, categories, attributes, hours, menu, services, etc. Verify your page and answer customer questions + respond to reviews. Get a custom URL and post updates on your GMB page.
All these plugins are lightweight as I’m also obsessed with WordPress speed optimization. I use nearly every plugin in this list and my site still loads in under 1 second in Pingdom. Still, if you don’t use plugins at certain times and only need them once in a while, it’s a good idea to delete it, then only reactivate it when needed. Here’s my list of important WordPress plugins:
I know most of you already have Yoast, but you probably have not configured the proper settings, researched the best focus keywords, or optimized content to it’s full potential. Use my guides below to sharpen your skills and start ranking pages/posts higher in search engines.
Configure the Yoast Settings – fill out your business information, configure Google Search Console and other Webmaster Tools, set the ideally structure of your SEO titles, prevent duplicate content in your sitemap, fix broken pages (crawl errors), and tweak all your Yoast settings to be optimal for SEO. My Yoast settings tutorial has been used by 50,000+ people.
Content / Green Light Optimization – people obsessed with getting green lights in Yoast don’t fully understand the big picture of content optimization. Yoast only detects exact keyword matches so green lights are not always possible, plus there are TONS of ways to optimize content outside of Yoast (videos, rich snippets, adding a table of contents, and more). Use that tutorial to get ideas for optimizing YOUR content instead of obsessing over Yoast green lights.
The most popular tutorial on my site is my recommended W3 Total Cache settings which has helped multiple people reduce their page load time to under 1 second (read the comments). It includes a pre-configured zip file you can upload directly to your own W3 Total Cache plugin.
This is one of the best cache plugins out there and will improve your speed scores in tools like GTmetrix and Google PageSpeed Insights. However just like Yoast, many people don’t configure the settings properly. Use my tutorial to configure the difference “performance” tabs on the left of your dashboard W3 Total Cache is installed. This plugin integrates with Cloudflare (free) and MaxCDN ($6.75/month with my 25% off MaxCDN coupon) which you can use the Cloudflare and MaxCDN section in my tutorial to further improve your load times. When you’re done configuring W3 Total Cache (and hopefully read my entire WordPress speed optimization guide), hopefully your GTmetrix scores will look something like this…
Losslessly compress images to load faster (in bulk). Imagify is free until you hit a monthly quota of 25MB per month or it’s $4.99/month for 1GB (which you can usually use one-time for all existing images during the first month, cancel, then just use the free account). This plugin is MUCH better than other completely free plugins since these can often break images, not actually compress them, or they can have bugs. With Imagify you just sign up, install the plugin, enter your API in the settings, go to your “media” section to bulk optimize all your images.
You probably heard iThemes, WordFence, and Sucuri are 3 of the top security plugins for WordPress. I like iThemes Security because you can run the 1 click security check and go down a simple checklist of vulnerabilities. Click the “fix it” button and each should be pretty easy.
UpdraftPlus lets you take backups manually or automatically. It has a 5 star review and is very easy to use and configure the settings. Don’t be the person who loses their website because you didn’t take a backup. UpdraftPlus could save you from losing hundreds of hours of work.
Diagnose slow loading WordPress plugins hurting your site speed so you can delete them or find alternative, lightweight plugins. Too many plugins (or just 1 large plugin) can kill your site speed. I also like to run the P3 Plugin whenever I install a new plugin to see how it affects my load time. If you haven’t run P3 before and have a lot of slow plugins, you will need to research alternative plugins that are lightweight but provide the same functionality as the old plugin.
If you publish a page/post and change it’s URL (permalink), you need to setup a 301 redirect to direct the old URL to the new URL. Otherwise it will become a 404 page and you will lose any links that used to point to that page. You can either do this using Quick Page/Post Redirect (the free method which I will show you) or the premium version of Yoast which is $69/year.
To find these crawl errors on your website, you will first need to setup Google Search Console in the “Webmaster Tools” section in Yoast using the HTML verification option. Then go to Yoast’s “Search Console” and authenticate Yoast with Search Console. You should see all your crawl errors. If you just setup Search Console it will take a few days for the data to populate.
To setup a 301 redirect using Quick Page/Post Redirect, install the plugin then go to Quick Redirects –> Quick Redirects in your WordPress dashboard. Enter the old broken URL shown in Yoast, then the new URL of the (most relevant page on your site) you want it redirected to…
Lets you control which widgets show up on different pages, posts, categories, and archived pages. This helps you show the most relevant content in your widgets depending on what type of content your reader is viewing. Once installed, you will see a “widget logic” section at the bottom of each widget where you will enter a conditional tag to control where it appears.
While it’s always best to insert your Google Analytics tracking code manually into your footer, you can use this plugin to verify Google Analytics on your WordPress site. Just copy your UA code from Google Analytics and paste it into the plugin under Settings –> Google Analytics. Wait a couple days for activation, then head over to your Google Analytics account to get data.
You can download these free custom Google Analytics dashboards to segment traffic from SEO, social media, mobile, referral traffic, and other helpful data on your visitors. While there is tons of data in Google Analytics the first thing you should do is look at your low performing pages (pages with low avg. time on page + high bounce rates) and improve content on those.
Use this 5 star review plugin to create tables on your WordPress site. The CSS and styling can be completely customized to match the colors/branding of your WordPress site. This specific table show you why you shouldn’t remove stop words in Yoast because it can make your permalinks look weird. The plugin adds a “TablePress” option to your main dashboard tab on the left, you would create the table, then you will use a shortcode to add the table anywhere.
This plugin should ONLY be used every couple months to run a scan of your broken links. Otherwise it will use a ton of server resources and can cause your website to run slow (which is why this plugin is banned from hosts like Godaddy). However if you can run this plugin once every so often, fix your broken links immediately, then delete it, there shouldn’t be an issue. It is the best plugin for this and makes it very easy to fix broken links directly in it’s interface.
Once you installed the plugin it will immediately scan for broken links. Let it run and populate for a few minutes, then head over to Tools –> Broken Links to find a list of broken links on your site. Go through each one and you can choose to fix the link, unlink it, or dismiss it. Like I said you can fix all broken links in this dashboard without having to go through each page/post.
Leaving the WordPress dashboard up for long periods of time can slow down your website and suck up server resources from your host (potentially causing CPU overages). Heartbeat control lets you to manage the frequency of the WordPress heartbeat API which prevents this. You can change the frequency to 15-60 seconds, or disable it completely. Once installed go to Settings –> Heartbeat Control and change override heartbeat frequency to 60 seconds.
You have a new WordPress site, now you want it optimized for search engines.
My 12 step WordPress SEO checklist will help you do that. I’ll walk you through keywords, Yoast’s SEO plugin, Google Search Console and other ways you can optimize your site. There’s a lot of good stuff here (and I know it can be overwhelming) but take it step-by-step and please do NOT hesitate to leave me a comment if you have a question… I’m here to help.
I’ll keep my intro short and sweet because I know you will find something you didn’t know before, and I’d rather you spend time working on improving your own Google rankings.
Here’s what to do…
1. Research Your Keywords – this should ideally be done before building your website so you can align the content with your keywords – though you can always go back and make changes. Start by using Google Autocomplete (see that article to learn the “complete the phrase” and “fill in the blank” tricks I use)… to find long-tail keywords. These are very specific phrases with 3+ individual words and have lower competition + higher conversion rates. Use Autocomplete to create a list of long-tail keywords for all phrases you want to rank for… if you’re a photographer in Chicago your keyword list might include: Chicago wedding photographer, Chicago newborn photographer, Chicago family photographer, etc.
2. Configure Your Permalinks – a few common examples are /services/website-design, /team/john-doe, /locations/chicago. It depends on your pages but consider doing this if you have multiple items under a category. Use permalink settings and parent pages to do this.
3. Configure Yoast WordPress SEO – Yoast can be broken down into 3 steps: configuring the settings, researching keywords, and optimizing content. This will be a core part of your SEO and I suggest anyone writing content on your site be knowledgeable on Yoast. For $295 you can do a training session with me and know it like the back of your hand – or just read those articles. Just be aware that any SEO plugin does not magically shoot up your rankings.
4. Write (And Design) The Content – only target 1 keyword per page and focus on the type of content people want to see when they search a keyword (testimonials, videos, etc). This can be SUPER beneficial for both SEO and website design. For ideas, check out these 21 ways to spruce up your WordPress content. Seriously, doing this has helped me sooo much.
5. Optimize The Content – go to a page you want to optimize. Scroll down and use Yoast to set a focus keyword. Refresh the page and scroll down again to Yoast. Now use the keyword where it tells you to. Writing descriptive SEO titles and meta descriptions is a big part of this since these appear in Google’s search results. Don’t forget to use the “page analysis” tab to see more content optimization tips… getting green lights means you’re on the right track.
6. Create Internal Links – this is an item you’ll see in Yoast’s page analysis tab but I want to put some emphases on it since links to a page are 20% of a page’s SEO. Using internal links in your content means you’re linking to relevant pages/posts on your website/blog and is the best way to create natural links. Some people don’t like using links for styling purposes (even though you can style them in the CSS) but 20% makes this very, very important.
8. Use Rich Snippets – these make your site have “enhanced” information in search results. You see these with reviews, recipes, even event times. If you have pages that include certain data types you can use my WordPress rich snippets tutorial to markup those pages/posts. Aside from having the best content, these may be the best way to stand out in Google.
9. Configure Google Search Console – setting www vs. non-www, submitting your Yoast sitemap, and checking for HTML improvements in SEO titles/meta descriptions are just a few ways to improve SEO with Search Console. Also check for mobile and security issues.
10. Setup Google Analytics Dashboards – taking 5 minutes to install these 7 Google Analytics dashboards helps you measure traffic from SEO, social media, mobile, referral websites and more. Use these to find specific improvements to make in your website and content. It’s one of those things that is super easy, yet helps a ton. Google’s Page Analysis Chrome extension can also help you see where people are clicking on a page.
12. Setup Redirects (If You Migrated Your Site) – if you recently redesigned your site and your permalinks (URLs) have changed, you want to do this ASAP. Setting up 301 redirects will direct visitors and search engines from each page’s old URL to the new one. You can do this with the Quick Page/Post Redirect Plugin then go to quick redirects –> quick redirects. Add both the old and new URL and this plugin will take care of the rest. Easier than it sounds.
Ongoing SEO Maintenance
These are the core parts of your WordPress SEO so before you move forward, spend some time making sure everything is setup correctly and that you’re knowledgeable about each section. I linked to a ton of articles which break down these topics quite nicely, but if you’re stuck you can hire me for a couple hours of SEO consulting and I can work with you 1 on 1 to get your SEO on track – or just leave a comment and I’ll answer them fo’ free!
For ongoing maintenance you’ll want to continuously add new, keyword-targeted content to your website/blog. Use your keyword list for your content development strategy and remember, you’re better off writing 1 AMAZING piece of content than writing 3 mediocre pages. Give people something to share and link to because that is what SEO is all about.
If you need help, leave me a comment and I’ll usually respond within 2 days.
Looking to get better analytics about your WordPress site?
Then you want to use Google Analyics dashboards. These will help you segment your analytics into more useful data about SEO, social media, and other areas. As a WordPress user myself, I create these dashboards with WordPress in mind. In case you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your WordPress site, use Yoast’s Google Analytics plugin.
What Is A Google Analytics Dashboard?
It’s made of multiple widgets that show specific data. Each widget tells you about a specific area of your traffic. An SEO dashboard might have keywords, search engines used, etc.
Probably my favorite Google Analytics dashboard for WordPress, this tells you about your keywords, what search engines visitors use, and tons of other details about your SEO. If you’re looking for more Google Analytics dashboards to measure SEO, hit that link.
Total visits from SEO
Non-branded visits from SEO (change filter to your brand name with variations)
Top (known and unbranded) keywords (change filters again)
Top viewed pages from SEO
Highest engaged content
Top countries finding website through SEO
Top countries finding website through SEO (world view)
Top US cities finding website through SEO (change area if needed)
Search engines used
Top Chicago keywords (change to your city if you’re doing localized SEO)
I don’t do much social media, but this Google Analytics dashboard measures what social networks are sending you traffic. It also tells you a few things about your content – what content is being shared on social media and what content gets traffic from social media.
Traffic from major social networks
Most socially shared content
Top socially referred pages (what pages get traffic from social media)
What percent of visitors our viewing your content from a mobile device, which mobile device are they using, and how is your website/content performing on those devices? Introducing the mobile analytics dashboard.
These WordPress plugins will help you design, optimize, and add functionality to your site.
I included links to helpful tutorials and resources for each plugin. All are free but #4 (Gravity Forms) which is $49 but worth it if you want an advanced contact form. I’ve gone through a lot of plugins through my 5 years of WordPress design, SEO, and blogging, and these are the essential WordPress plugins I use most – hopefully they can help you too. Check them out and leave me a comment below if you have any questions or need help with setting them up.
Use Yoasts’s Google Analytics Plugin to verify the UA code (or just add the tracking code to your footer without a plugin). Google Analytics is a big program and I recommend filtering your IP address so your data doesn’t get polluted when you visit your website (same with employees). I would also download these Google Analytics dashboards to segment data into specific metrics, then use those metrics to make improvements to your website and SEO.
If your page load time is bad in GTmetrix (look to see if the caching, minify, and gzip item is not 100%), you need to install a speed optimization plugin. Install it then see my best W3 Total Cache settings to configure the performance tabs on the left menu of your dashboard. Improving load times is one of the best things you can do to improve your site’s performance.
Not your average contact form plugin. Gravity Forms can create everything from a simple contact form to a pizza ordering menu with conditional logic (certain fields show up if you select a specific option). Think “if this then that.” There’s a lot of form examples on the Gravity Forms website but my favorite is the pizza demo which shows the advanced add-ons.
Free plugin that controls where widgets appear (specific pages, posts, categories, tags, etc). Once installed, go to your widgets and in each one you will see a “widget logic” field. Here you will enter one of the following conditional tags to control where that widget appears.
One thing many people forget on their blog is to show the face of the person writing articles. This plugin adds an author profile box below each post. I used this before I switched to the Genesis Framework and now I use the Genesis eNews Extended Plugin instead, which is the first sidebar widget you see on the top right of this article. It combines a newsletter box with an HTML space where I added my photo/bio, but the eNews Extended Plugin is only for Genesis Themes only. Regardless of which theme you’re using, show your face on your blog!
If you changed your permalink structure, individual permalinks, or a website migration caused your permalinks to change, you need to setup 301 redirects to direct visitors (and search engines) from the old URLs to the new URLs. Install this free plugin then go to “quick redirects” where you can add old URLs and new URLs. The plugin will create the redirects. You can find many broken pages in the crawl section of Google Search Console – do this!
This free plugin detects broken links so you can view and correct them. It is blocked by some hosting companies like WP Engine but I’ve never had trouble with it (though I delete it once I’m done using it). Install it, scan for broken links, correct them, then delete this plugin.
If you’re on a cheap shared hosting plan, chances they won’t take automatic backups – I would check with your hosting to find out. If they don’t, you can use this free plugin to schedule an automatic backup to be taken once a month, once a week, or whatever you choose. Please don’t be the person who lost their website because they didn’t have a backup.
You must be an administator of the account to do this, or at least be able to “manage users” in the user permissions. If you installed the tracking code and setup Google Analytics yourself, this shouldn’t be a problem. If someone else setup your Google Analytics, you will either need to contact them to request the ability to manage users, or you will need to setup Google Analytics under your own account. Method 2 will cause you to lose all previous data.
Depending on how much control you want that person to have in Google Analytics, you can grant them different levels of permissions. Here is a quick summary of each option…
Add, delete, or edit users within the account.
Add or delete accounts, properties, other functions. Can also view Google Analytics reports and perform some administrative functions. Can not manage users, but can collaborate.
Edit Google Analytics reports, for example, editing Google Analytics dashboards. Can create and share personal assets. Includes option to read and analyze.
Read & Analyze
See and manipulate reports. Can also create and share personal assets.
Google Analytics has their own tutorial on how to add users, or feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I’ll be glad to assist. If you’ve had success, try downloading these Google Analytics dashboards which will give you more insightful data about your SEO, social media and other data about your visitors. These can be VERY helpful for improving your website.
And if you enjoyed my tutorial, please share it up. I would appreciate that.
Tom Dupuis started OMM in 2011. He falls asleep to serial killer documentaries and pukes in Mobil garbage cans. Read his bio to learn 50 random and disturbing things about Tom and the story of Online Media Masters.