If you have a blog or website, you need to pay attention to WordPress SEO. Why is it important?
WordPress SEO is essential because it helps you get more organic traffic on your website. With more visitors, this can, in turn, increase your sales and business profits. Additionally, it helps boost the ranking of your website or blog on search engine result pages (SERPs).
In this blog post, we’ll explore some WordPress SEO basics to help you get started and look at how to optimize your site to get better search engine rankings.
- SEO plugins like Yoast SEO can help you optimize your WordPress site for search engines
- To improve your WordPress SEO, you should optimize headlines, create high-quality content and include images with alt tags
- Optimize your website or blog content for keywords to be successful in WordPress SEO
- An effective internal linking strategy can boost your WordPress SEO
- Guest posting and outreach can help you create quality backlinks for your website
Basic SEO for WordPress
SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. It refers to a practice website owners use to increase traffic by ranking higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Therefore, if you have a WordPress site, you need basic SEO to improve your website’s visibility and increase conversion rates.
Most websites get a lot of traffic from search engines like Google. Each search engine uses some advanced algorithms to rank pages on the search results.
However, you need to know that the algorithms are not always correct; you have to help them understand the content on your WordPress site. To achieve this, you have to optimize the content using SEO.
As a business owner, you need basic SEO for WordPress to make the website search engine friendly. Here are the key aspects to consider when optimizing your WordPress site for the search engines.
1. Choosing the Right WordPress Theme
Before adding content to your WordPress site, you need to select a theme. Thousands of WordPress themes cater to different markets; therefore, you need to pick the right one according to the type of business.
WordPress themes are a core building block of your website. Because of this, you need to choose one that works well with WordPress plugins. While some themes can make your website look great, they could also make it quite slow. A slow website will negatively impact the user experience, affecting website traffic and search engine rankings.
Before selecting a WordPress theme, consider whether you can easily customize it. The theme is the face of the site, so it plays an important role in how search engines and users perceive your site.
Here are the key features to look out for when selecting a WordPress theme for SEO.
- Whether it has a simple design
- Easy to customize and add changes
- If it has a high-quality codebase
- The appearance of the site and responsiveness
- Compatibility with WordPress plugins
- Whether it’s optimized for search engines
2. Configuring WordPress Settings for SEO
The first step to optimizing your WordPress site is to configure the settings. Typically, WordPress comes with an in-built option that hides the website from search engines. When your website is ready to go public, you can disable this feature to make it visible to search engines.
To configure your website:
- Log in to your WordPress dashboard
- Open “Settings” and then “Reading Page”
- Scroll to the “Search Engine Visibility” button and uncheck the box
- Click “Save Changes” to keep the new changes
Some of the key settings to consider during configuration include permalinks, your preferred URL, discussions and comments, and the last updated settings.
3. Optimizing Content for Keywords
Your WordPress visitors find content by entering a query on search engines. Finding your content becomes easier if you have the proper keywords. To boost your WordPress SEO efforts, you need the right keywords to increase your chances of ranking higher on SERPs.
As you optimize content for keywords, keep in mind that there are two main types of keywords.
- Long-tail keywords: The keywords are longer than three words. Although they often attract less organic traffic, they have a better chance of ranking higher on SERPs because of low competition
- Short-tail keywords: They are up to three words. They have a bigger organic traffic potential and higher search volumes
Keyword optimization is essential for WordPress SEO. Ensure that you conduct proper keyword research. This will help you discover words users enter into search engines to get content and information about products and services. Additionally, understand the search intent to help you determine the type of keywords to use in your content.
4. Using SEO Plugins For WordPress
A WordPress SEO plugin can help you optimize your website by improving your pages’ appearance on search engine results. For instance, they provide tools that you can use to enhance your WordPress site. You can access tools such as schema markup, sitemap generator, and on-page analysis to boost your SEO efforts.
There are several WordPress SEO plugins, the most popular being Yoast SEO and All in One SEO (AIOSEO). Since its establishment in 2008, Yoast SEO has been used on millions of websites to help them rank higher on search engines. Some of the key features of Yoast SEO include:
- Meta title and description templates: This improves branding and provides consistent snippets in search results
- Schema.org integration: This feature helps search engines understand the content, increasing the chances of finding rich results
- Automated technical SEO improvements such as meta tags
- Advanced XML sitemaps: This makes it easy for Google to understand your WordPress site structure
- Faster loading times: Data is well managed in WordPress, increasing the speeds on all the pages
On the other hand, AIOSEO is used by over 3 million WordPress websites. You can install this freemium WordPress SEO plugin from the dashboard. Here are some helpful features of AIOSEO:
- Competitor site analysis: You can get information about how other websites are optimized and get suggestions to outrank them
- Website audit: This audit analyzes your SEO actions and gives suggestions
- Schema markup support: This in-built feature allows you to create appealing rich snippets that will appear on Google search results
On-Page SEO for WordPress
Once you set up your WordPress site, the next step is optimizing the site’s content – known as on-page SEO. This involves optimizing specific website elements for your website visitors. Let’s explore some of the on-page SEO practices you can use for your site.
Creating High-Quality Content for Your WordPress Site
You can improve your site’s authority and boost rankings on search engines by adding high-quality and SEO-friendly content. High-quality content is important because it’s trustworthy, authoritative, relevant, original, insightful, factual, or original. Google and other algorithms will prioritize such content for users.
As you create content pieces for your WordPress site, here are some best practices.
- Structure the content well with headings to separate the blog posts into sections
- Write original content that’s valuable to your visitors
- Ensure the content pieces are well-researched and meet a specific search intent
- Use simple language and shorter paragraphs to make the content readable
- Optimize the word count to stick to the suggested length based on the keywords and other competing posts
- Have a focus keyword in your content to help it rank better
- Publish new and updated content regularly to keep the visitors engaged
To maintain the quality, avoid adding too many keywords – keyword stuffing. This could rank your content lower in SERPs. In addition, you can also use tools that help you improve the content quality, such as Hemmingway Editor, Grammarly for editing, and a WordPress plugin like Semrush SEO Writing Assistant to boost your SEO efforts.
Optimizing Headlines and Meta Descriptions
Although meta descriptions won’t affect your WordPress SEO directly, they can impact the click-through rate. A well-written headline will convince users to click on your page. To get the best out of your headline, keep it under 60 characters, include the primary keyword, and make it unique and relevant to the content.
The search engine looks for relevance between the search query and the meta title. Optimizing the headline ensures that your page appears among the top results.
On the other hand, the meta description summarizes the content of your website. These descriptions are usually visible on the search engine results; therefore, you need to craft them well. To optimize the meta description,
- Use active voice
- Keep it short, between 120 to 160 characters
- Include the primary keyword
- Add a call to action
- Keep it unique
Adding Images With Alt Tags
Images can help break the monotony in your content. They also capture your reader’s attention; therefore, they need to be well-optimized. One of the ways to optimize images is by adding alt tags or alternative text.
Alt tags provide more information and context about the images. In addition, they can be used by visually-impaired users to understand the pictures. WordPress comes with in-built features that you can use to add alt tags. For instance, you can add the text directly to the media library so that it attaches to the media.
Here are the best practices when adding alt tags:
- Keep it short, between 80 to 125 characters
- Add relevant keywords
- Pay attention to sentence structure using proper grammar
- Write a proper description that everyone can understand
Internal Linking Strategy
Your WordPress SEO plan should include an internal linking strategy. These internal links direct your visitors to other pages on the same website. You can incorporate these links when you want to highlight landing pages, product pages, or other relevant blog posts.
Internal linking is important for SEO because of these reasons:
- It makes navigation easier: Your WordPress visitors can stay on the site longer and purchase more products
- They spread authority: Users can move from one page to the next, which builds authority for your website
- It provides information to search engines: The search engines can understand your website much better when users open more internal links
When adding these links, add at least three to five links to each post. Furthermore, identify the authority pages to get quality links. You should also use anchor texts containing primary keywords to highlight the content.
Technical SEO for WordPress
Technical SEO ensures that the WordPress site runs at its best to provide your users with the best experience. Let’s look at some ways to optimize technical SEO for your site.
1. Optimizing Site Speed
According to a study, 1 in 2 visitors will abandon a website if it takes more than 6 seconds to load. Therefore, your website needs to load fast for users to spend more time on the site. If the site is slow, this affects the user experience, reducing engagement which in turn affects your visibility and SEO.
You might be getting slow speeds if your hosting provider is not offering the best hosting plan for your website. To improve the site speed, use a fast WordPress theme and optimize the site accordingly by using the right tools and plugins. Additionally, you should consider investing in a quality WordPress web hosting provider.
2. Ensuring Mobile Responsiveness
Google is increasingly using the mobile version of the site to develop ranking algorithms. Optimize your WordPress content for mobile to make it more visible to Google during indexing. Additionally, the site should be responsive to create an ideal user experience.
The more mobile-friendly the site is, the more visitors you might get. You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to determine if your website is up to standard. Once you get the results, you can improve the site’s responsiveness.
3. Fixing Broken Links and 404 Errors
Broken links and 404 errors create a bad user experience. They also break the flow if you have internal links within your WordPress content. When users have a bad experience, your traffic will be affected, ultimately affecting how your pages rank on the search results.
Broken internal and outbound links mean that your users won’t be redirected to the other pages on your site or other websites. Therefore, you’ll lose out on this traffic if you have linked to authority sites.
However, there are different ways to fix these links:
- Use Google Search Console to check for errors and invalid craw results
- Get free or paid tools such as Ahrefs to scan your WordPress site for any broken links
- Fix the broken links as soon as you discover them
4. Implementing Structured Data and Schema Markup
Structured data refers to the standardized format used to classify and provide website content. It uses schema markup to convert your content into code which helps search engines deliver better data to website visitors.
With structured data, Google can understand your content much better. This is because schema markup helps provide more information on the content snippet. The search engines will display your site above the other regular results, thanks to rich results. This could increase your click-through rates and visibility.
You can easily implement structured data and schema markup in your WordPress. To add WordPress schema markups, you can use a WordPress SEO plugin or manually add them using JSON-LD. If you choose to go the manual way, you need to have coding knowledge or hire a developer to help you.
Off-Page SEO for WordPress
Now that we’ve looked at on-page and technical SEO, how does off-page SEO work?
With off-page SEO, the efforts are outside the website. You take these SEO strategies externally to improve your rankings and website visibility.
1. Building Backlinks to Your WordPress Site
Backlinks are important for WordPress SEO because they show your content to more users. Google uses backlinks to gauge whether your website is authoritative. Therefore, when a high authority domain links to your WordPress site, it signals to Google that your content is valuable. This improves your visibility and rankings on the search results.
If you are looking to build your backlinks, you can achieve this by finding unlinked mentions with tools like Ahrefs. You can see all the backlinks to your site, organic ranking, and the number of referring domains. With this information, you can start building links with other sites.
Additionally, you can reach out to website owners, especially if the content is positive.
2. Guest Posting and Outreach
You can boost your off-page WordPress SEO by posting on other websites and external publications. Create high-quality content and have it published on a site that has related content or an industry website.
Guest blogging is good for your WordPress site because it allows you to build backlinks which you can use to improve your site’s authority. When you write for a renowned website, you can pass link juice to your WordPress site. Additionally, you can increase the mentions linked to your brand to increase visibility on Google.
To successfully use guest posting and outreach:
- Create high-quality content, especially on topics the website has not covered
- Add an author bio or a link to the website if possible to generate leads
- Use Google Analytics tools to monitor whether the guest posts bring traffic to your website
3. Social Media Promotion and Sharing
Social media platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Medium can help with your off-page SEO. Sharing your content on social media exposes your content to more people, which can increase engagement. Additionally, it also creates quality backlinks when users are directed to your WordPress site.
Google indexes social media platforms; therefore, when users search for your brand, it might appear at the top of the search results. So, how can you use social media to boost your SEO efforts? Here are some tips:
- Post content regularly with captions and links to your website content to boost traffic.
- Interact with your followers to answer questions about your content
- Optimize all the social media profiles by adding valuable details such as website, contact information, and industry-relevant keywords to increase the page’s ranking
- Get a WordPress social media plugin that makes it easy for your audience to share your social media posts on their profiles
4. Creating a Community Around Your WordPress Site
Building an audience for your website increases traffic. You can engage audiences on social media, forums, and other online communities related to your industry.
Additionally, you can reach out to more people by sending out a newsletter to your company contacts with content and links from your site. These newsletters will drive traffic by notifying your subscribers when you publish new content.
As more people are interested in the brand, you’ll have reduced bounce rates and higher session time. Additionally, newsletters can increase your chances of getting quality backlinks. You can boost your SEO efforts by using WordPress plugins that can help with the newsletter campaigns.
With a community around your website, Google will rank your site much higher than other high-authority platforms.
Search engine optimization is critical for the success of your WordPress site. To get the best results, you need to implement several strategies, including on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO. Building your WordPress SEO strategy will require effort and time using these tips to improve your visibility on search engines. To get started, you can work with a web hosting SEO provider to help you manage your SEO tasks.
Next Steps: What Now?
Further Reading – Useful Resources
Here are some useful resources to learn more about WordPress SEO
- Best Website Builders for SEO
- How to Install and Setup WordPress Manually?
- 10 Ways to Improve Your WordPress Website’s Accessibility
- The Best Ever SEO Optimization Tool Online
- SEO and Web Hosting — How Are They Connected?
- How to Boost the SEO of your website using these 10 simple to follow methods
- Find the Best High Traffic Hosting WordPress Providers