WordPress Website SEO

WordPress is a very user-friendly content management system (CMS), but as a digital marketer, you’ve probably asked yourself, “can I do more to optimize my WordPress site?” The short answer is yes – and there are multiple ways to optimize the posts and pages of your website so you rank higher, which translates to higher ROI. 

We have collected 25 of the best tips to optimize your WordPress site in the search engine rankings.

Technical SEO Elements

1. Do Your Research Before Choosing a Host

Google takes speed into account for ranking, and online audiences become impatient notoriously quick. According to Sweor, 47% of website users expect a maximum of two seconds of loading time for an average website. Finding a host that doesn’t slow your website down is vital. This won’t always be the cheapest or most popular option, but you don’t want your website to be just like everyone else’s anyway, right?

Top 25 Tips for WordPress Website SEO Optimization- very user friendly

2. SEO-Friendly Theme

Many WordPress themes advertise a ton of functions you’ll probably never use. As a rational consumer, more seems to be better, but it’s not. Clunky iframes and excess PHP will only slow your site down. Find a WordPress theme that will keep things quick and you’ll find your site moving up in the search results.

3. Manually Change Default Permalink Settings

Permalinks are the permanent URLs for your site’s content. WordPress offers a variety of options for permalink structures, including using numbers, dates, and page titles in the URL. There are a few different philosophies on which is best, but it’s widely accepted that the title or main keywords, at least, should be included in the URL to send signals to the crawlers about the content’s main point, so choose one of the options that automatically includes the title.

4. Upload .xml Sitemap

Though not as important for search engine crawlers as they used to be, sitemaps are important for categorizing content, especially for larger sites – say 250 pages or more. An .xml sitemap also lets Google know which content is new, which is helpful as fresh content gets an edge in the search engine results pages (SERPs).

5. Customize Robots.txt

Robots.txt files give crawlers guidelines for what they should crawl and, more importantly, what they can and cannot index. Pages that you would not want to be accessed through search, such as pages that require logins or contain private information, can be noindexed in your robots.txt.

6. Noindex Duplicate Pages

Besides using the robots.txt, you can noindex pages right in their HTML headers using <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex, follow”> in the </head> section.

7. SEO Plug-Ins

A good plugin will often be able to take care of multiple SEO functions. Yoast SEO is one of the most trusted comprehensive plugins – we’d say a must for any WordPress website –  but there are also many plugins that are specific to various functions.

8. Maintain Plugins

Want to do everything you can to prevent your site from getting hacked? Keep your plugins updated. Along with being faster and more optimized, the latest versions of plugins are going to be less vulnerable to attacks.

9. Speed Up Your Site with Caching

Caching will increase your page loading time and WordPress provides a variety of plugins for this purpose- just make sure you choose one without too many extras you don’t need, but if you do, manually turn off the extraneous functions.

Top 25 Tips for WordPress Website SEO Optimization- website speed

10. CDN to Increase Speed

Content delivery networks (CDNs) are networks of proxy servers that are distributed large distances from one another. These can increase your websites speed by being more spatially relative to users accessing your website from different places.

11. Optimize Database

Optimizing your database gets rid of unnecessary data that can slow down the WordPress software. This can be done manually in the PHPMyAdmin tab or with a plugin that will delete old revisions, spam comments, previously saved drafts, and other bits of data that you don’t need.

12. Optimize Widgets

Many widgets render by loading javascript or CSS from external sources. By uploading the scripts or CSS directly to the server, thus serving them up from your own server, you don’t have to rely on external servers, which can improve speed.

13. Rel=canonical

Use the rel=canonical function to reduce duplicate content. It is best to have unique content for each page, but there are certain cases when that is unrealistic or even impossible. For example, most websites will have a www. and a non-www. version, so one will need to be canonical to the other to prevent the appearance of duplicate content.

Top 25 Tips for WordPress Website SEO Optimization-prevent spam

On-Page Elements

14. Prevent Spam in the Comments

Bots leaving links to nefarious sites in the comments makes users annoyed and paranoid that your site isn’t secure. It can also have the whole page flagged as spam. You have your basic nofollow plugins to help with the later problem, but if you want a next level solution that will prevent bots from posting at all Cookies for Comments won’t let users that can’t be cookied to comment, as they are flagged as bots.

15. Optimize Images

I personally find optimizing images important, because alt text allows visually disabled users to have a full online experience by informing them of what the images are. But it also doubles as a great way to send more signals to the search engine about the theme of the page and can make the images searchable. Win win win!

16. Social Media Buttons

Posts that receive positive reactions from social media are favored by search engines and are more visible to users of social media, which results in more traffic, so integrate your social media buttons to make the whole transaction easier for your users and they will be more likely to do so.

17. Optimize for Mobile

Responsive Web Design creates flexibility in your web pages so that they can smoothly transition between desktop and mobile devices. Accelerated Mobile Pages are optimized for speed. Having your website optimized for mobile is more important than ever and can’t be overlooked.

18. Use Proper Headings

Header Tags are another ranking factor that benefits both users and crawlers. People skim articles, so making the information easily accessible can only help. Crawlers prioritize headers as more important, so be sure to include main keywords in them.

19. Rel=author Tag

With an account through the website you are publishing on or a verified Google+ account, implementing a rel=author tag can help you to get rich snippets for your posts, which increases the number of users that click on your link versus the others on the SERP. Here is the code, with the blank for the Google+ profile URL: <a href=”_____”?rel=author?Google</a>

Content Elements

20. Long-Form Content When Possible

Since you’ve put this much effort into making a good WordPress website, it stands to reason that you’ll probably want to add content to it. This section will give you the skinny on what you should include in your blog posts.

21. High-Quality Content Ranks Better

SEO best practices dictate that content that is at least 600 words, well edited, and useful to your readers tends to be ranked better by search engines and maintain a longer time on page of the users.

22. Focus on Keywords

Research keywords that are specific to the topic you want to write about. You can choose 1-3 main keywords and then use a variety of similar keywords to round out your content without “keyword stuffing” your piece.

23. Internal Links

Internal links are links leading from one page on your website to other pages on your website. These are important because they allow search engine crawlers to understand the hierarchy of your website and users to find more information easily. The anchor text should include a keyword that is important for the page you are linking to.

Top 25 Tips for WordPress Website SEO Optimization-link building

24. External Links

Adding high-quality external links can improve the credibility of your website and potentially earn you a link back.

25. Frequent Posts

As mentioned above, search engines value fresh content, so make sure you update as frequently as possible to reap the benefits. This doesn’t mean you should post low-quality content, though. Content is king, so keep your posts high quality and your SEO game will be on point.



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