How SEO Works Under the Hood of your WordPress Website

Let’s open up the hood of your website and see how SEO works in the background. We all know what to do but why are we doing it?

In this article I am going to assume that you are a smart person and you are using WordPress on your own webhosting. Well this would be true if you are serious about building a million dollar business. (Unfortunately I do not talk about lovely hobbies and rich people that never need to earn money from their blogging.)

How SEO Works

We all probably know that the search engines come and crawl websites using software called “spiders”. Yep a bit creepy. Anyway these spiders travel through links, indexing content and links they find.

Now you know why link building is important. Just say your website has a link on a really busy website that is constantly being crawled by the search engines? Well lucky you! Your link will be traveled to as well. So this is why we want to build links. This is still the process that happens today but search engines are just getting smarter and not following links on bad law or irrelevant  sites. Therefore there is no point creating crappy links that will not be followed.

The search engines love fresh content and regularly visit websites that provide new stuff all the time. These are also the best links to get, links on fresh content, relevant and new.

So the Search Engines Follow Your Links?

When the search engines follow your link, they are taking note of everything that they find. When they reach your website, this is where internal linking comes in handy. A spider will crawl your website for longer and index more if it finds links that lead to more of your pages. Hey but wait…Make sure your anchor text matches your content and everything is relevant. A website with content that is related in topic to link anchor text and the content where the link leads must also be related. So it’s all in the family.

If you have a lot of outgoing links then the spider will leave and crawl that website.

Also search engines hate dead end pages. You know the ones where you have to push the back button to get out? It is not a good idea to have these pages when you want all of your pages indexed on a website. This is why I am always building links on old pages as I do not want to have dead ends on my site.

So What Happens When a Human Follows Your Links?

This might be a link in the search engines themselves, or a link on another website. The aim of the game here is to have content that either matches your title or your anchor text. In other words you need to deliver what you are promising. This is a big part of how SEO works and in the past, many Webmasters have tried to deceive the search engines by delivering the wrong content.

I used to think that the search engines were really smart, however then I realized they were actually listening to the humans reactions. I have tested this theory of having the right content many times over. I have examined many articles on different websites, questioned whether the content was delivering what it promised, and then editing to suit. Each time I gained more search engine traffic because I was giving the humans and the search engines what they wanted.

How Do The Search Engines Know You Have The Right Content?

There are many clues that helped the search engine decide if your content matches what it is promising.

For example, your article might rank in the top 10 in Google, but not many people click on it because it is not inviting. Your ranking drops down further and further. Or maybe they click on your search engine listing and bounce right back to the search engines. WOW that definitely did not satisfy the human visitor.

On the other hand, if you are in the top 10 in Google and people love your content and click on your link, this is telling Google that you have the right content. Then if people stay on that page and interact and share your content, this is even better and will keep your ranking position safe for a little while longer.

So this is where the catchy SEO optimized title and the Meta description coming in. When people search in Google, the results show your fantastic post title and a description. This is not be ignored or taken lightly. I personally have manipulated my position in the search engines by optimizing my meta descriptions and titles.

For example someone searching for “computer tips” might be shown a few choices. You should examine your title and description to see if it is appealing and what people might want. (You should also check the spelling!)

What Can You Do To Make SEO Work For Your Website

There is no magic bullet here, just a process where you deliver what the human visitor likes and is looking for. But the key to all this is to get found somehow first. There are some often neglected SEO tasks that are usually hidden in the background, not to be thought about much at all. In fact Google itself states that there are at least 200 factors to consider when ranking a web page.. Therefore you can see why I am not mentioning them all here.

Register with Google

Google is not god but they do have some great tools for us to use. There are two places you should register with Google. Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. After registering it will take a few days for Google to gather some information for you, so be patient.

Google Webmaster tools where your website site map is submitted, which will be done automatically by a plug-in, however you need to register your website first for all this to work. You will also see all links to your site and where they are coming from exactly.

You will be asked to verify your website to make sure that you are in fact the owner prior to seeing all this information.

Google Analytics is where Google gives you all the fantastic statistics about your website. This is the most valuable information you can get, straight from Google itself.

People whine and have conspiracy theories about registering with Google, but get real, Google is the one sending the traffic. You should not be paranoid unless you have something to hide? Hmm, do you?

Register with BING

Shock horror! There are other search engines out there you know! I will even give the link to Bing webmaster tools as it is a great resource for you. I read their guidelines and I feel that I could have written these myself. They just sound like “so human” or something? Crazy to say, but true.

Make sure you verify your website to see the amazing features offered to webmasters here.

Get a Theme That Has Built-in SEO

So you have your WordPress website, but now you need a premium WordPress theme that has built-in search engine optimization. Is this really necessary? Yes it is!

I use WordPress with the Thesis WordPress Theme on this website. There are many good reasons why I use this theme.

  1. I can no follow and no index pages at the tick the box. I do not have to be a coding genius to stop the search engines from doing certain things.
  2. I can enter in the Title, description, and keywords for each page or post and even the entire site. I can also do this for categories.
  3. Thesis allows me to have less plugins.
  4. New versions of WordPress now make sure your URLs are canonical. But Thesis already did this.
  5. I can do a 301 redirect by just adding the URL of the redirected page into the post options. I used this option when moving my WordPress website. Amazing and simple!

Get Your SEO Plugins

I can do all my SEO manually but I choose to install a few SEO plugins to save time. The one that is really saving me the most time is SEOPressor. I use this to research my keywords and related keywords for my article directly from within my WordPress dashboard. Previously I used to go to the Google keyword tool and do the research, download a CSV with the keywords, and bring them over to my WordPress post. Now I just use the LSI keyword feature in SEOPressor and it brings the keywords to me. See my detailed SEOpressor review. I have been using this plugin since 2010.

If you do not choose to buy a WordPress theme that has search engine optimization included, you can also install a if you free plug-ins to help you.

For example the  All in One SEO Pack will let you add post title, Meta description, and keywords to each post. Also WordPress SEO is a great plugin that will submit your site map to Google, and many more SEO options.

Configure Your WordPress Settings

When you first setup your WordPress website you will need to configure your WordPress settings. One of the settings that are very important is your Permalink structure.

We have all head of search engine friendly URLs, well this is to do with the permalink structure.

Instead of having your URL look like this: you can make it look pretty for the search engines and the humans by having real words in the URL. You can find out more details about this is the free PDF report about WordPress setups.

No-index Some Stuff

I have certain pages that I want to NOT be indexed in the search engines. For example they might be private pages, sitemap pages, privacy policy pages, and so on. In Thesis you can do this easily by ticking the box that says “noindex this page” .

To manually prevent all robots from indexing a page on your site, place the following meta tag into the <head> section of your page:

<meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

You can also edit your robot.txt file to stop the search engines from indexing a page. One way to edit your robot.txt file is to go to Google webmaster tools or access it through your server.

All you have to do is add the URL of the page to the robot.txt file.

Disallow: /mypage.html

For example the real address of the page is but you only need to put /mypage.html as we already know what domain the robot.txt file is for as it is stored on the root domain.

No Follow Too

Some links and pages need to be nofollow. As you can see above, Thesis allows you to nofollow entire pages easily.

To no-follow actual individual links on your pages you can edit the HTML section in WordPress. In the screenshot below you can see a Dofollow link and a Nofollow link.

If you need to edit the HTML, here is what your link should look like to make it No-follow.

Format Your Content the Right Way

I absolutely hate content that is not formatted for both the search engines and the humans. I always say that writing SEO content is an art and so is the way you present it.

Heading Tags

We all know that you should be using H1, H2 tags and more, but where? This is what I do:

  • H1 is for the title of the page or post only. If this is the case then there is no need to add this tag within the content of your page.
  • H2 is for subheadings to break up your content. You should not use your keyword in every subheading and should always avoid looking spammy.
  • H3 is for sub subheadings that go under the H2 headings. I do not always use these but if I have headings under headings then I use H3.


I always add one image at minimum to every page or post. I also add a ALT tag to describe what the picture is about. This is simply a few words to describe the picture so it can help you get found on Google images.

What about keyword density?

I like to stick to 1 to 2% keyword density, which in fact is not that much at all. This leaves some people wondering how I actually get picked up in the search engines, but it is the use of related keywords as well, that does the job for me. This is all part of Onpage SEO.

I choose a main keyword and make sure I mention it at least five times in 500 words. That’s 1%. Then I look at the related keywords, finding them using SEOpressor, and also adding them into the mix. This tells the search engines that my content is about “my main keyword” and has related keywords to reinforce it.

Some Webmasters recommend 3 to 5% keyword density, but I have seen articles like this and they look terrible.

I cover most of this in my post about What is quality content. I would really love for you to check that article out as it took me a long time to work out what quality was..

Also here is a quick video to explain more.

How SEO Works Video

Are You Starting To Understand How SEO Works?

When I write about SEO people comment and say “Oh yeah I have been meaning to do that!” What the? Why are you meaning to do anything. This is how it must be done for SEO to work for you and generate free traffic.

I just want you to know that SEO still works if done the right way.


  1. says

    Wow Mitz! I’ve read many articles on SEO, but this is by far the most informative I’ve come across. I appreciate the way you’ve laid all the steps out. I follow a lot of your stuff on comluv and it’s always excellent. I’m going to give some of the plugins you’ve mentioned a try and see if I can gain better control over my keywords. It’s not something I’ve been meaning to do, I just wasn’t fully aware lol :)
    Robert recently posted..Parents Beware of Road Trips with tha Kidos

    • mitz says

      Hi Robert
      Thanks for reading! I used to read articles about SEO myself but they were far too technical to understand… I like to think of keywords from the searchers point of view and not the technical side. When we realise how they are used we then know why they are still important. :) SEO rocks when good stats show your campaign or experiment worked! :)

  2. Vivek says

    Hello mam..once again. In your post you have asked your readers to maintain the keyword density to 1 o 2 percent. So if my article is of 1000 words, then I should repeat keywords for atleast 10 different types. Then you also ask your readers not to usually use keywords in the headings.
    Instead of all those works, I will suggest to use LSI words and synonyms.
    Vivek recently posted..Best Google Adsense Alternatives For 2012

  3. says

    Amazing stats Mitz. these things were still uncovered to me. Thank you so much. SEO still works and will be working if its done correctly.


  4. islam says

    its a very nice nice.they have a good knowledge for seo…I really like it …Its full of information and given a good ideas for us…Thanks for this posting and article for sneering …..

  5. Winnies says

    SEO is very important to build a link and your article provide a great information on seo and how it works under word-press. Thanks for sharing this great information with everyone.

  6. JD Edwards says

    SEO is very important for any type of website or blog. If any one creates a website he must go for SEO for a better business.. Thanks for share

  7. says

    This post is really significant and includes many useful and helpful pieces of advice. Many thanks for sharing it

  8. SEO Experts says

    Very informative article ,all information is very important and helpful.
    WordPress Website is helpful to creating link building in help to increasing traffic on the site, by creating blogs we can increase traffic on websites and its very easy way to increasing traffic on sites.
    SEO Experts recently posted..Top Rated SEO Apps for iPad Users

  9. Edille says

    Hi Mitz,

    Thanks for sharing these infos. I have question to ask and hopefully you can clarify this to me.

    I am also a webmaster but I don’t care too much on keyword researching and in fact I don’t do keywords analyzing. I just write article for my visitors, giving it the proper meta tags and published it then promote it to social media sites. In short, I do not plan on how to write my articles for Search Engines. Can you call me a blogger if I am not caring with keyword research?

    I feel I lack something as a blogger because most of the bloggers do keywords research before they write articles which is I don’t do myself.

    Even if I don’t do keyword research, at the age of my site I feel I get the rank and traffic I deserve. What do you think?

    PS. BTW, how do I know if someone reply to this post? I can’t find a subscribe to comment tick button.
    Edille recently posted..A New Android Tablet from Asus: Transformer Pad Infinity TF700 [Review]

    • Mitz says

      Hi there
      If you do keyword research you will definitely get more search engine traffic, however if you do not it is not the end of the world.. You might have to work harder or post more content to accidentally get the search engine traffic. IF you did SEO and researched a keyword or two it would help you get more traffic why not do it?

  10. CHRIS says

    I’m still learning from you, but I’m trying to achieve my goals. I absolutely enjoy reading all that is written on your blog.Keep the tips coming. I liked it

  11. Derek Maak says

    Hi Mitz,

    I think keyword density is one of the biggest myths in SEO. If you just have your keyword in your title and a couple times throughout your article and stay on topic than Google will pick you up and rank you well. I hate reading articles where every other sentence has the keyword in it or where you can tell someone just “fudged” a keyword into a sentence because it doesn’t quite read right.

    I also don’t pay much attention to bounce rate. Even Matt Cutts has said Google doesn’t use it. Of course he could be lying, but it’s a totally flawed statistic. Why?

    Because on one hand someone might leave your site right away because it’s total crap, but on the other hand they might leave your site right away because you have really good content that gives them exactly what they were looking for so they have no need to go to any other pages on your site. Both a bad site and a really good, targeted site could have high bounce rates because of that so it’s not a very good statistic to try to determine quality.

    Google knows this and they aren’t going to punish a site that’s giving people exactly what they want.
    Derek Maak recently posted..Where Can I Buy Text Your Ex Back By Michael Fiore?

    • mitz says

      I agree Google will not punish but I feel this does, along with 200 other factors, affect rankings.. If absolutely no one stays on a site then it needs to be investigated and not kept in the search engine rankings. Humans are the judges. I also take notice of bounce rate for my own tracking. I have worked hard and altered my bounce rates considerably which also bought up sales. When people stick around you are doing something right..

      I have also had content that answered a question for people asap and they left.. I struggled to find something to tempt them onto other pages.. testing helped me do this.

  12. Aditya says

    Hi Mitz,
    You have provided an admirable information About how SEO works.
    Registereing with the google analytics and webmaster tool is a must as its the only way to get listed in google top most pages and increasing the PR.
    Google Crawls through our links and look for the new content everytime so we have to choose a good theme and fresh content as well.
    Aditya recently posted..Android Application Development Company

  13. says

    Very nice info and right to the point. I don\’t know if this is actually the best place to ask but do you folks have any thoughts on where to get some professional writers? Thanks in advance :)

  14. kev says

    this is a really comprehensive guide on WordPress related SEO, it will definately help a lot of newbies! SEO is great but it does take awhile for everything to come into place

  15. Remon says

    Great article, with some good information about WordPress and SEO.

    I didn’t use internal linking so Google can easily stay on my website to crawl more and more. Will implement this as soon as possible on my website, thanks!
    Remon recently posted..Avocado Smoothie

  16. Gary says

    Thanks for this post. You have covered alot of information in this article much of which was extremely helpful. I was not aware that plugins existed for 301 redirects, I have always implemented these directly in the .htaccess file but a plugin makes it really simple and much more manageable. Thanks for the tip!
    Gary recently posted..Christmas Cards For Business Use

  17. says

    (a) Thesis is awesome! It does so much SEO for you on autopilot and gives you a lot of control as well in terms of SEO. Worth the money! (b) Installing Google Analytics is one thing. Putting it to use is another! It never ceases to surprise me how many people have Analytics installed, but have never even opened its dashboard once, or in ages!
    Dan recently posted..How to Get Organic Traffic from Google

  18. Sania says

    I like your information. I have been looking for this type of information that is interesting and good about seo. This looks like a great resource.I’m very interesting to read your blog. Thanks for posting this.
    Sania recently posted..Chemotherapy

  19. Cervical Cancer says

    I like your information. I have been looking for this type of information that is interesting and good about seo thankss
    Cervical Cancer recently posted..Chemotherapy

  20. Jasmin Anderson says

    Super informative post here. Awesome! I like how you didn’t hold back anything, and you didn’t get a fluff answer. How did you put it, you said there is no magic bullet to the question What can you do to make SEO work for your site. Lol, very true, people often want the result without the work. As they say the only place success comes before work, is in the dictionary. Great post, thanks for sharing.

  21. Mariella Lombardi says

    Hi Mitz,
    thanks for the very useful Seo tips. I think doing SEO for your website is one of the hardest things and it takes quite a lot of time. This is why most businesses hire a professional to do this. I happen to know somebody that paid a lot of money to do an extensive SEO campaign and in spite of this he didn’t get the desired results.
    Mariella Lombardi recently posted..Forgive Me Glenn, For I Have Sinned…on My Luxury Vacation

  22. Jasmine says

    Great SEO tips. I also try to stick to the 1-2% keyword density just like what you have suggested. Anyway, it’s really hard to come up on the first few pages on Google… well, perhaps I am in a really competitive niche.

    What do you think, Mitz? Any personalized advice for me? Hehe…
    Jasmine recently posted..Free Web Hosting and Free Domain Name Giveaway

    • mitz says

      Yes.. go for the long tail keywords.. phrases and so on..that really does work when the main keywords are saturated. There are always long tails left to grab.

  23. Josh says

    Wow this is a really comprehensive article on the SEO internals. Thanks for the Thesis theme suggestion, I had to find a separate plugin to enable dofollow and noindex on articles. Good idea on using alt tags for images. If a page is very image heavy and there’s no alt tags, the google bot won’t see any actual text/content to pull from.

  24. says

    WordPress has some great SEO tools and plugins that make the process a lot easier. I’m fairly well versed in SEO but this post just reaffirms all the good practices I try to adhere to. Those new to SEO will find this post extremely helpful. Thanks for sharing Mitz!

  25. Richard says

    I believe the on page optimisation is going to become really important in the future. Great article Mitz
    Richard recently posted..Hello world!

  26. says

    Hi again Mitz,
    I am beginning an ejournal of the ‘bible of Mitz.’ I have learned so much from your articles. And, this is yet another educational tool that I’ll use constantly (until I am competent to try it solo). I can’t even tell you the number SEO tools and plug-ins that i’ve picked up from you to use on my website. (that is, to use correctly). Thanks for another great lesson.
    Ann recently posted..Michigan Debt Consolidation

    • mitz says

      ha ha thanks Ann you will give me a big head…. I really try to explain things easily and when someone tells me they understand I think it is fantastic!! :)

  27. Mark says

    Mitz… Take a look at the Thesis link in this post: I’m getting an error when I click. It’s not obvious where it’s coming from, either… But seems to be tied to something in your theme. Great post, once again (and as always), but this comment intended strictly for you, of course. I’m getting the error via Safari on an iPad.

    • mitz says

      Thanks Mark!! Really appreciate you telling me about that error..I have redirects setup manually on my server and this one must have an error.. No wonder I haven’t been selling any thesis?? LOL
      Also good to see you have an iPad. I do most of my commenting on my iPad..Very handy!! :)

  28. Pulkit says

    Great Post.. This post will help the newbies a lot. SEO is very important for any type of website or blog. If any one creates a website he must go for SEO for a better run of businessThanks for sharing

  29. C Shedwick says

    That is a pretty comprehensive guide on WordPress related SEO. Website optimization may be simple stuff, however, it is always surprising how many people disregard it whether through ignorance or lack of knowledge.
    C Shedwick recently posted..USPlabs Jack3d Review

  30. Becca says

    That is an awesome post. You have really layed out your points in great detail. Very easy to follow with good content. We should take get hold of this post, read and impliment the points outlined.
    Becca recently posted..Hello world!

  31. Caleb says

    Obviously the most important thing in getting people to click on your result in the search results is it is relevant to the query they are searching. There are things you can do though to get a higher click through rate in the search engines. The first thing you can do like you mentioned is having a catch and descriptive title under 60 characters to be safe. The second thing you can have is a meta description that is a brief description of what the page is about and under 160 characters. You can have URL’s that are concise, optimized for your keywords, and not a long random URL. Another thing you can implement on your website to get a higher click through rate is authorship which is having an author to the content and setting up correctly with your Google+ profile. The last thing you can put into place is having a place where visitors can review your pages and posts based on a five star system and with some coding that can be displayed in the SERP’s as well.
    Caleb recently posted..7 Steps for Creating Effective Social Media Strategies

  32. says

    before that i didn’t know how seo work under world press but now i understand how its work . your article is very knowledgeable thanks for sharing. runs on the Genesis Framework

Genesis Theme Framework for WordPress

When I changed to the Genesis Framework and the eleven40 Theme my page load score went from 58 to 79 instantly. This was without any optimization at all. The other thing about this framework and theme is that it was so simple to setup that I can highly recommend it to each and every person that visits this blog! Genesis is the smart choice for your WordPress website or blog.