Optimizing your WordPress site for search engines is not an easy task. Also, it can be difficult to know where to start the optimization process. Should you start by focusing on keyword research, page speed, or something else?
That’s why we’ve put together this complete WordPress SEO guide to help you.
First, we will guide you through the basic steps of website optimization. Next, we’ll go over the basic tips for improving various aspects of your WordPress site, from URLs to images.
If you’re looking for a quick answer to a specific problem, use our handy table of contents to jump right to the topic you need help with. You can also watch our video below for a visual tutorial.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is a content management system (CMS) used to create, manage, and publish a site. Used by over 40% of all websites on the internet, it powers a variety of platforms, such as personal blogs, online directories, e-commerce stores, and more.
Some popular WordPress websites include WIRED, Vogue, Martha Stewart’s Blog, and TechCrunch tech post.
Thanks to the use of themes and plugins, WordPress is also extremely flexible: it is not difficult to match a website with your vision, since all the tools are accessible from the beginning.
If you are unfamiliar with WordPress but want to use it, our WordPress beginner tutorial will help you get started.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization. It is a practice to make a web page visible and rank higher in search engine results pages (SERPs).
To understand exactly how a web page appears in the SERPs, you need to know how search engines like Google work. Generally, your process can be summarized in three steps:
- Crawling: The search engine launches bots to crawl the web and find new and updated content.
- Indexing :The collected web pages are stored and organized in the database.
- Classification : When a user enters a search query, the engine displays the pages she has indexed and determines her SERP position using more than 200 ranking factors, such as backlinks, load time, and site structure.
SEO aims to increase the chances of a website ranking in the top positions by helping search engines perform these tasks.
The main benefit of good SEO is that it generates organic traffic to your site.
HOW TO OPTIMIZE YOUR WORDPRESS BLOG
1. Make sure search engines see you
Have you just launched your blog? WordPress has a built-in setting that, if enabled, discourages search engines from viewing your site. This can be useful for development or private sites, but should always be disabled otherwise.
Go to Settings / Reading and find the “Search Engine Visibility” setting. Make sure it’s off and everything will be perfect!
This is probably the most important of all the essential SEO settings for WordPress.
2. Adjust permalinks
In case you don’t know what it is; Here’s the permalink for that same article, the underlined part, “Essential WordPress SEO Settings”:
However, by default, your blog does not allow you to set permalinks in this custom way. To activate good permalinks, go to your WordPress dashboard → Settings → Permalinks. Select the structure titled “Post Name”, like so:
At this point, you can assign custom permalinks to each of your blog posts and pages. Additionally, WordPress predicts the best permalink for a given post and assigns it automatically.
Lately WordPress has gotten smarter and filters out unnecessary words from permalinks by default. Until recently, an article titled, Say, “Ten Essential Ecommerce Website Plugins” reportedly used Ten Essential Ecommerce Website Plugins. Depending on how you want to target your article, you may want to use essential plugin ecommerce websites or even essential ecommerce plugins. Either way, the word “for” is completely unnecessary here.
You can adjust the permalinks below the post title. If you don’t see a permalink, be sure to save a draft, it should appear after the page reloads.
The main idea here is to put the main keyword of the post in the permalink.
3. Focus on the quality of the content
First of all, the foundation of any blog is its content. Before tackling other things like image optimization, keyword structure, or link building, it’s critical to understand the basics. For blogs, content is the backbone. So before you spend time (and money) optimizing your WordPress blog for SEO, make sure you have your content under control.
Google loves original, high-quality, and well-researched content, so take the time to increase the quality of your content. Use genuine resources, avoid regurgitation, and get first-hand material if you can. Also beware of typos and grammatical errors, as they diminish the value of your post.
4. Optimize site speed
Another crucial factor that affects the user experience is the speed of the site.
Research shows that the ideal loading time for a website is less than two seconds. If it takes longer, visitors are more likely to leave the website without doing anything, resulting in low conversion rates.
Google prioritizes two ranking metrics to measure website performance. The first is the Largest Content Paint (LCP), which marks the point where the main content of a page is likely to have loaded. The ideal LCP is within 2.5 seconds of starting the page load.
The second is the first input delay (FID). It tracks the time between the user’s first interaction with a website, such as clicking a link or pressing a button, and the browser begins to process the response. A good FID score is less than 100 milliseconds.
Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for checking your website speed performance. Enter the website URL and it will analyze the loading time on mobile and desktop platforms. It will also recommend practices to improve results.
Here are some common methods to improve site speed:
- Make sure that the resources provided by your web hosting plan, such as bandwidth, disk space, CPU power, and memory, can meet the size and needs of your website.
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) to accelerate content delivery to your visitors’ browsers.
- Update your WordPress software and PHP version.
- Look for plugins and themes that may overwhelm you on your site. Update them and uninstall the ones you no longer use.
- Enable GZip compression to reduce the size of the site file.
- Minimize your website code. In other words, reduce the amount of whitespace and newlines to reduce file size and load faster.
- Reduce DNS lookups, which is useful for content-rich WordPress sites.
5. Define your categories and tags correctly
WordPress uses categories and tags to help you organize your blog content.
The general idea with categories and tags is:
- use categories to group your posts under a common theme
- use tags to highlight individual aspects or subtopics of your posts
- To make this a little clearer, consider the following example:
If you’re blogging about the hottest topic of all – food (!), Here’s how you can organize three sample blog posts:
- “Spanish paella recipe” – category: recipes, tags: dinner, rice, Spanish
- “How to make scrambled eggs” – category: recipes, tags: breakfast, eggs
- “How to combine wine with food” – category: drink, labels: wine
- It’s just an example, but you get the idea. The categories are more general and are one level above the labels.
The main SEO benefit of this way of organizing content is that WordPress creates separate archive pages for your categories and tags. If you create a good category and tag structure, these automatic tag and category archive pages will become valuable assets in their own right.
If you want to see what this looks like in practice, head over to the WordPress tutorials category on this blog.
6. Use a dedicated SEO plugin
If you are new to WordPress, you may not be familiar with plugins yet. These are little plugins that you can install that add new features to your site. There is a plugin to help your site do almost everything, including ranking higher in search engines. In fact, there are many plugins specifically designed to improve your site’s SEO.
These plugins can provide small and specific functions, such as creating a sitemap (we’ll talk about that in a moment). For even better results, you can also go for a full-featured SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, which will add a full set of optimization-focused features to your site.
7. Optimize your media files
Google generally frowns on websites that provide a bad user experience. Slow loading pages are massive UX killers and will often increase your bounce rate, the rate at which visitors leave your site without compromise. One of the main causes of a slow blog site is poorly optimized media files.
For example, your image files may be too large. This puts pressure on the server when it tries to retrieve files. Reducing them to a suitable size can increase page load time. The same can also be done with videos. Find out how to optimize WordPress images here. Other techniques include giving them an appropriate title and inserting alternative text.
8. Improve your mobile user experience
In 2015, Google put on its armor and waged war on websites that were not mobile friendly. Mobilegeddon, as it was known, has seen many unresponsive sites drop significantly in search rankings. This action paid off, as many websites changed quickly to avoid falling under the hatchet.
However, although most websites are optimized for mobile devices, they do not always present a comfortable user experience for users. Google’s new war aims to penalize guilty websites. For example, if your blog site has a large (or interstitial) popup before users can read the main content, you may experience a drop in SERP rankings. To optimize WordPress for mobile devices, move your proposal ads to the end or present them after the user has read the content.
9. Pay particular attention to the titles of your posts.
Headlines are the most important part of your page. This is what search engines see first and also what users see first. For users it should be attractive, for search engines it should be keyword driven. Try to find a good balance between the two.
While I am a bit hesitant to say it in front of an SEO crowd, I would lean towards the user if the going gets tough. As you will see below, you can set the meta title of your page that provides information to search engines about the page. In my opinion, the actual title is more for the user’s consumption.
10. Use essential SEO metrics for your posts.
If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, you will see a “Yoast SEO” box below each post. Use the Snippet Editor to control how your result looks on Google. Also set keyword focus to get an assessment of your post’s compliance with current SEO guidelines.
It’s a great way to write better search engine-oriented content and get additional visitors along the way.
I like to edit the snippet for each article, even if an automatic snippet is generated. Those little touches are what can separate the serious sites from the shaky sites.
11. Test your site to see if it is mobile friendly.
Another thing Google likes to do with websites when it comes to essential SEO metrics is an optimized layout that looks great on mobile devices. The reason? Easy; Today, there are more people accessing the web through cell phones than through desktop and laptop computers combined.
The case is simple, if your site does not load on mobile, it will lose its rank. Not much, true, but safe nonetheless!
Okay so how do you make sure it’s safe? Fortunately, Google provides us with a tool where we can test our sites and make sure everything is fine. It’s simply called a mobile optimization test. You can access it here.
Test your site with it thoroughly. Make sure there are no problems with your homepage, posts, and blog pages.
If you see something concerning, follow Google’s troubleshooting tips.
SEO encompasses a wide range of strategies and techniques, so it can be a bit intimidating. Fortunately, you don’t need to become an SEO expert to help your site rank higher in the SERPs. If you want to start seeing results, you just have to follow a few simple tips.
Of course, choosing WordPress as your platform is the perfect first step in creating a well-optimized site. Next, you will need to choose the correct host, select an appropriate theme, and consider choosing one or more specific plugins. By implementing these strategies (along with the rest of the suggestions on this list), you are on your way to improving your site’s visibility and traffic.
Have a question on how to improve your WordPress site’s SEO? Feel free to ask in the comment section below.
What is a good page rank?
The PageRank Score
Perhaps unsurprisingly, PageRank is a complex algorithm that assigns a score of importance to a page on the web. … A PageRank score of 0 is typically a low-quality website, whereas, on the other hand, a score of 10 would represent only the most authoritative sites on the web.
Are blogs good for SEO?
Blogging helps boost SEO quality by positioning your website as a relevant answer to your customers’ questions. Blog posts that use a variety of on-page SEO tactics can give you more opportunities to rank in search engines and make your site more appealing to visitors
Is WordPress good for SEO?
WordPress is extremely SEO-friendly from the outset. It only gets better when you install an SEO-friendly theme and start using the awesome suite of SEO plugins WordPress offers. … Using WordPress as your site’s content management system (CMS) is one of the best ways to do that.
Does Google use PageRank?
Does Google still use PageRank? Yes, Google does still uses PageRank. While it may not be a metric that website owners have access to, it is still used in their algorithms. A tweet by John Mueller, a Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, solidifies that PageRank is still used as a ranking signal.