Make Your WordPress Website SEO Proof

Dave D   44

Updated on December 23, 2019

How can I get my website on the first page of Google? 

That's the question that opens the door into a deep rabbit hole called SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Soon you'll discover that it's not push button easy to get on the first page of Google...​

Where should you start? What should you do first? What is actually important? And what is not important anymore?

All these questions and more are covered in our new Thrive University course: "SEO if You Don't Want to Learn SEO".


Action Over Theory

This course is written with the beginner in mind. In the first lesson you'll get the exact steps to optimize your website (even if you don't understand the first thing about SEO).

When you follow these steps, you'll have a website that is optimized for search engines (and humans !).

The goal here is not to teach you everything there is to know about SEO but rather to get you started and to take immediate action.

Wait But Why?

If after following the first lesson you find yourself asking: Why am I doing what I'm doing? What's the theory behind this?

You can check out the second lesson​. Here we go deeper into the different concepts. You'll discover:

  • What "Link juice" means and how you can use it to your advantage. 
  • What the best website structure is and if the silo-structure is still a thing today.
  • How keywords work and why you should optimize for humans rather than for search engines.

After following this lesson you'll understand the big SEO picture.

But I'm not a Beginner​

No worries, we have a third lesson that puts the focus on SEO for established websites.

Here you'll learn how to look at your results and do more of what's working.

You'll discover what content is doing well (on SEO level) and how this can spawn new opportunities to update existing or to create new content.​

Start Today

Go ahead, sign up for Thrive University (it's free!) and pick the SEO lesson that fits your needs.

Do you have questions? You can leave them in the comments below!​

PS: If you already have a members account, you can simply login to get access to the course!​

by Dave D  January 2, 2017


Disclosure: Our content is reader-supported. This means if you click on some of our links, then we may earn a commission. We only recommend products that we believe will add value to our readers.

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  • I did tweek everything that you describe on your first lessoen. 1. SEO by Yoast has already XML generator, so while I wanted to instal google xml site map, it gives me a message that this plugin will ineterfer on the speed of my website, so I removed it again.
    2. when I did test the speed, it shows something around 60% on computer and 47 % on mobile, and the main corrections to bring are CSS g files generated in the Theme itself, ( I use Pressive) I cannot change that because i do not know anything about CSS to bring the corrections.
    3.My website was registered as HTTP, and since a while i changed to HTTPS. So id did add this change in the google mastertools, and added the XML sitemap generated by SEO by Yoast… but when I want to change some things it says that I have to confirm that I am the owner of the site… I do not where I do that and if this is an automatic procedure coming directly from google..?
    an idea someone ?

    • Hi Gerald,

      1) The important thing is that you have a sitemap. Feel free to use either the Yoast or Google version. You can test each one to see which one is the fastest for your site, but my guess is that neither will have too much of an impact compared to things like big images.

      2) I would need to look at your actual results to be sure about this (if you reply with your website I can check), but while the speed test might say the main corrections are CSS related, I imagine they aren’t causing you to get a 60% on computer and 47% on mobile.

      3) Try using this resource to help you verify ownership –

      Hope this helps 🙂

  • Thank you Dave. Any other tools you can recommend for Key Word research that Thrive Theme Family uses and/or recommend? Thank you.

    • Hi Levi, we don’t too much deep level keyword research here at Thrive, so when I need to do some quick research Ahrefs works fine for me.

      However, when I was really in the game a few years ago my go to tools were SECockpit and SEMrush. Not sure how these tools have grown over the years so do your due diligence before making any purchases!

  • Good article! I have a problem with broken links. My website existed under another company between 2010-2014, after which that site was changed to a new name. When I have now relaunched the original website there appears to be a number of old links in Google’s index. Is there a way to get rid of those, because they have never existed on my current site?

    • Hi Tomas, I’m not sure exactly what you mean here.

      If you mean Google’s index is showing search results for pages that don’t exist anymore there’s not much you can do except to wait for the crawlers to re-crawl your site and update their results.

      If you mean you have broken backlinks–meaning other sites are linking to pages that no longer exist you can contact the website owners and let them know and ask them to update the link to something that does exist OR you can set up redirects to content that does exist on your site.

      • Hi Dave,

        thanks for answering. It could be the latter actually. My former partner and I ran a joint company for almost 7 years. After changing the name of the company and website, there may be remnants of the many links included in numerous blog posts over the years. He is running that site now, so I guess I should ask him about it.

  • Hi, Even though I have Thrive automatic image compression (Lossy),, the speed checker still says images are too large. Also, I have the website and WordPress URL the same; however, on google webmater tools, it won’t let me make them line up – says I have to verify and I have many times. Still won’t recognize. What do you think?

    • Hi Robert, while a Thrive Theme will automatically compress images, it won’t optimize the image for speed. What I mean by this is that if you upload a huge image, the theme will compress it, but the compressed image might still be slow to load because it’s still a large file. You should only upload images at the resolution you need them, so check to make sure this isn’t the case and hopefully this will help your load speed.

      For the Google issue, it might just take some time before Google catches up to the changes as most of the time it’s not instant.

  • I liked so far. I would like me to learn more about site structure, topic in the second lesson. When I want to edit a page in WordPress, the item “page attributes” has the option parent and no parent and order. Do I have to add my thrive theme pages to the homepage “main parent” or what is the ideal way to use this instruction? Will the page I link with the homepage “main parent” lose SEO or rank in Google? Thank you.

    • Hi Juan, glad to hear you’re enjoying the course. As a default the parent page is the homepage.

      Think of parent pages as a way to better organize your pages when you have a lot of them.

      Lets use this SEO course as an example. I would create the main sign-up page and the URL might be

      Now, when I create the individual lesson pages I have two options:
      1) I can use the default parent page (which is the homepage)
      2) I could select the main sign-up page above as the parent page.

      The resulting URLs would look like this:
      1),, etc.
      2),, etc.

      While it doesn’t look like much of a difference, it will keep your pages much more organized in your backend as WordPress will organize the childpages under the parent page.

      If you’re creating pages from scratch this shouldn’t have an impact on your SEO. But if you’re changing the permalinks of pages you’ve had published for a while THIS WILL IMPACT YOUR SEO and you will need to install redirects or hire someone to make sure everything redirects correctly. I talk about this in the course, but I recommend NOT changing permalinks of pages you’ve had published for a long time.

      Hope this clears things up!

  • Thanks Dave, Its great information,
    I have one question regarding the SEO, If my site is bilingual how the algorithm will work, and do I need special tools or I can choose the key word for each page in different language ? appreciate if you illustrate more on this

    • Hi Mohammed, glad you’re enjoying the course.

      I’m not 100% sure how the Google algorithm will work with bilingual sites. If you have two different versions of each page (English version and Spanish version) then you should be able to choose different keywords for each version.

      But again, I have zero experience with SEO when it comes to bilingual sites, so I’d do more research on your end. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help!

  • I must be missing something or your post on January 2 is already outdated by Feb 6. When I go to webmaster tools to submit my sitemap, you show a picture of menu on the left.

    At the top is says “Search Console”. Under that is “Dashboard” then Messages, Search Appereance, Search traffic.

    My search Console has none of that. I have only 3 options: HOME, ALL MESSAGES, and OTHER RESOURCES. Since I’m on the Home page already, I only have 2 options. When clicking OTHER RESOURCES it takes me to a page with Structured Data Testing Tool, and others but no way to CRAWL or even upload a sitemap.

    What gives? Do I need to have a paid version of Webmaster Tools? I can’t find the one you show in your post.

    • Hi Will,

      Seems like you’re looking at the wrong screen. You’re almost there though. When you’re on the screen that has home, all messages and other resources. Look to the right and you should see your website listed there. If you have more than one website you should see them all listed.

      Click the site you want to add a sitemap for and then you should see the menu I show in the course to add a sitemap!

      Hope that helps, let me know if you can’t find it.

  • Hi Dave ! I just learned the course but i don’t understand why do you prefer using tags and not the sub-category ? Because of the duplicate content ? I don’t think so because there are a lot of websites that generate a lot of trafic using sub-category. And if it is well done, have category and sub-category don’t pose a problem. Thanks for your answer 🙂

  • Just a question regarding installing a Social Sharing Plugin.
    1. You said ‘If you’re using a Thrive Theme, go to your Thrive Dashboard > Thrive Options > Social Media > Use Thrive Social Options’. However I could not find that in the settings, only the ‘Use Thrive Social Button’ instead, which I turned on. Is that correct?
    2. Can I add an Instagram button here? Or where can I do that?

  • G’day Dave. Thanks for the course – interesting and educational! I have a question about affiliate links – should all affiliate links be NO FOLLOW in copy since these are essentially PAID Links potentially. Is this what you mean by that? An affiliate link is a referral however not necessarily a paid link – though it has the potential. Your comments on this appreciated and definition of what you mean / example of PAID links

    • Hi Maurice, there seems to be a bit of confusion here…

      When I say PAID links I mean someone gave you money to put a link to them. This is against Googles Terms of Service so I HIGHLY recommend NOT accepting money for links, even if you “nofollow” them

      When you use affiliate links you don’t need to “nofollow” them, but the ethical thing to do is to let your visitors know that they are affiliate links and that you will get a commission from them purchasing based on your recommendation.

  • Hi Dave … great course thanks. I’m relatively new to optimization and trying to get it going. My speed test was not good, and I will go through all the suggestions there that I can. One of the suggestions involved server speed … so my question is…. can my hosting account have an impact on my speed. I’m using host gator with a standard baby account. Is this something I could improve upon…. I want to have a good base before doing all the little stuff. I’ll be working on images as well but really want to know about the hosting account/server speed.


    • Hey Brett! Glad you enjoyed the course. The quick answer is that yes, hosting can have an effect on your speed. But, the advice is that you should scale your hosting as your business/traffic scales. No need to go all out on hosting when you still don’t have any traffic 🙂

      • I have a related question as well about hosting. I chose Hostgator as well (one of the best for beginners), but then I realized that I cannot make a .be domain name there and I read somewhere that it is better if the server is nearby you…. Then I was looking for the best hosting company which offers .be domain names. I want to set up a therapeutic practice in Belgium which is clearly bound to geographical location. Then I got confused, because I want to reach people in the surrounding countries as well (there are about 6 countries within 2 hours of reach in travelling). Should I have a .com domain name?

        What makes the situation a bit complicated is that I will use English on the website in a country (Belgium), where English is not an official language (simply because my Dutch is not good enough yet to create killing content). For the people it is no problem, they speak and accept English, but what about Google? I did a search and for English keywords it gives mostly Dutch but also English (so I am not the only one!!!!) local therapeutic practices (that’s almost obvious). It works also the other way around, if I use Dutch keywords, it gives both Dutch and English local results (with .com, .be, .nl and other domain names). So I concluded Google is smart enough to give the right results regardless of the language. Now I think I would choose the Belgian hosting and a .com domain name. What do you think would be the best choice?

      • I have never done research on this so I can’t give you a good answer. It sounds like you’re over complicating it though! Make the choice you think would be best given your research and go for it 🙂

      • Ok, thanks. Yes, maybe i make it complicated. But the question of languages is in itself complicated here. There are 3 official languages: Dutch, French and German. While in reality the FLemish speak Dutch, English and French. The people in Wallonia speak ONLY French. And almost nobody speaks German!!!! It is really so. Crazy!!!! 😉

      • Maybe I’ll do a bit more research, asking local experts. Should I choose Hostgator or One (the best recommended for Belgium)? The domain name will

  • Thanks Dave, your course is very useful. I am about to set up my kick-ass website with Thrive tools. I studied a bit more advanced SEO from Backlinko and Clickminded also to have a clear understanding what I definetely have to do for SEO already when I am preparing my materials and designing my site.

    I have one question about the descriptive text you place under videos on your website. I personally never read those, even though I am someone who looks at every detail (useful links and checklists are exceptions of course). So I consider repeating the video content under the video in text redundant and even annoying. I was wondering….why do professional(ly-looking) websites do that? Does it matter for SEO? I haven’t found any tips on that. Or is it useful for the visitors (I strongly doubt that)?. I know in You Tube it is especially important to write the description under the vid well, but what about vids on a website? Please, enlighten me! 😉

    • It’s because people enjoy consuming content in many different formats, so the idea is to try to appeal to everyone. Also, it’s helpful from an SEO standpoint because crawlers can’t understand the content of a video, only text. Further, if you have someone who is hearing impaired reading your site, they won’t be able to consume the video content.

  • Hi Dave,

    I followed your course and picked up some great info from search console.
    Just wanted to ask about the average rankings Google shows in search console. For some keywords it say position #1 but actual incognito search shows it to be on page 2.



    • Hi Kas, yes, this will be due to Google storing information about the sites you visit and then using that information to determine search results. When you browse in incognito this no longer happens.

  • Hi Dave,
    I just discovered your course — a little late to the game, I know! 😉

    I’m actually already doing everything you list in Lesson 1 (much to my surprise!) but I’ve always wondered about something image-related…

    I like using WP’s “featured image” for posts and pages, but it seems rather pointless to try to “describe” or add other information to those images, with the exception of ALT text for visitors with visual impairment…

    Besides the ALT text, what’s your advice for handling this on “featured images?”

    Heading to Lesson 2 next! Great information!

    Thanks! 🙂

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