BEST 18 WORDPRESS SEO TIPS TO BOOST RANKING & INCREASE TRAFFIC
WordPress is a great CMS (content management system),
An SEO optimized WordPress website is even better.
Want to know how to optimize your WordPress based website for SEO? Then this post is full of WordPress SEO tips you can easily implement yourself.
WordPress helps you create a great WordPress based Blog, magazine or newspaper website. However, even if your WordPress website offers great content and is faster than a Ferrari, without search engine optimization (SEO), it will not attain first page on Google search results if you haven't optimized your WordPress website for SEO, and users.
I hope this WordPress SEO tutorial will help make your WordPress based website blazing fast, optimized for search engines and your users.
When it comes to website speed, everything starts with:
- Finding a good home for your WordPress website
- Improve your WordPress website speed through technical SEO for optimal page load time
However, when it comes to WordPress and SEO, you'll need to...
- Know the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org and choose the right option
- Offer great quality and relevant content
- Implement on-page SEO techniques,
- and last but not least, use the best WordPress SEO plugin (if you are not familiar with SEO)
Let us now start optimizing your WordPress website for search engines (SEO) and speed.
TIP #1 - FIND THE BEST HOSTING FOR WORDPRESS
When searching for a good home for your WordPress website, I highly recommend to never look at the cheap hosting cost, but at reliability, customer support, hardware and software setup, and so on.
If you are just starting out with your WordPress based website and want your readers to find your blog or services in Google search results and on other major search engines, then you have to do your utmost best to design the best WordPress site humanly possible and one that offers high quality content - A content that will actually help someone resolve a problem, or learn about something new.
Plus, making sure your website and every page loads at optimal speed.
Again, when looking for a web hosting for your website, don't look at the cheap monthly hosting cost but at;
- How knowledgeable is the support? - The more expertise they have on WordPress, the better they can help you with any WordPress related issues that might kick in once in a while.
- Do they use SSD (solid State Drive) or the old mechanical hard drives?
- Do they keep their software up to date, or are they still using PHP 4 or PHP 5 (like a hosting company I dealt with but don't want to mention its name)
- Does their cheapest hosting package include a cache software/tool such as SuperCacher, Gzip?
- How reliable are they - When your site is experiencing issues such as 500 error or your site is extremely slow and you need help, you want it right now and not several hours from now or tomorrow
- I never recommend a hosting company that doesn't include their contact phone number on their site/pages, or doesn't offer a chat feature
- Do they focus solely on hosting websites based on WordPress, or a multitude of other CMSs and site builders?
- Local support - If you must speak to someone, where is the support person located at physically? I would ask this because when my site is experiencing slowness or can't be loaded, I need to reach out to someone who can understand me, and I can understand them, plus, understanding your problem right away instead after spending 15 minutes on the phone trying to explain to them the issue.
Trust me, I had that experience where I had to ask to speak to someone else because I could barely understand the person at the other end of the phone.
In summary, when it comes to hosting your WordPress based website, it is important that you focus on the quality of the hardware and software used, on the service and support offered.
TIP #2 - CHOOSE WORDPRESS.ORG OVER WORDPRESS.COM
When it comes to designing a website based on WordPress, I always recommend to...
- Download the WordPress installation file from WordPress.org
- Host your website on reputable hosting companies, and not WordPress.com
Both WordPress.com and WordPress.org have their Pros and Cons and depending on your needs, and whether you want to get your hand a little bit dirty, and are not afraid of contacting your hosting company support, then I would highly recommend to go on your own and install WordPress from WordPress.com
With WordPress.com, you'll be limiting yourself to only using WordPress.com themes, plugins. You won't even be able to make changes to PHP code if you need to.
So start off your WordPress website right - self host it and install the WordPress.org version.
TIP #3 - MAKING YOUR WORDPRESS SEO FRIENDLY
Once you've installed WordPress, you'll need to properly setup your new site and make sure you've configured WordPress with SEO Friendly URL Structure.
Note: Now, WordPress uses the 'Post Name' permalinks structure by default, which is the most SEO friendly URL structure.
TIP #4 - DISCOURAGE SEARCH ENGINES FROM INDEXING YOUR WordPress SITE
Because I am sure you'll put your new WordPress based website on a publicly available server, I recommend you set it up so not to allow search engines to index your website while you're working on content and such.
You can easily instruct search engines not to index your new WordPress based site by going to Settings > Reading and check the:
'Discourage search engines from indexing this site - It is up to search engines to honor this request.' option.
Important Note - If you purchase your domain from someone, then know there could be pages that have already beein indexed by search engines and existing on SERPs. In this case, you'll have two options;
- Set your WordPress based website into 'maintenance mode' by going to Settings > WP Maintenance Mode. Under the 'General' Tab and next to 'Status', you'll need to check the 'Activated' option
- In Google search box, enter 'site:domain.com' and hit Enter. You'll be presented with a list of all indexed pages (if any). If you already have a good idea of your site's structure, you can 301 redirect each page to a desired URL
Note - I was never fond of purchasing an existing domain because of the problems that might surface later on such as banned domain due to link farming, and such.
TIP #5 - INSTALL AN .XML SITEMAP PLUGIN
Some argue that an .xml sitemap is not required for SEO, and they would be right...
Why not make it easier for search engines to learn about your pages and index them. For more about Sitemap, check out Using Sitemaps to help Google find content hosted on your site video.
I recommend installing an .xml sitemap plugin, or you can just use an online tool to generate an .xml sitemap and then upload it to the root directory of your WordPress based site.
If you are going with an .xml sitemap generator plugin, then I would recommend 'Yoast SEO' which I talk about next.
TIP #6 - INSTALL IN SEO PLUGIN FOR YOUR WORDPRESS WEBSITE
Even if you are an SEO expert, there is nothing wrong with installing an SEO plugin that can make your SEO life easier.
The best SEO plugin for WordPress I've seen, tested and highly recommend is...
YOAST SEO PLUGIN
As far as I am concerned, Yoast SEO is the #1 WordPress SEO Plugin.
Yoast SEO comes in two flavors, the 'Free', and the 'Premium' version. Below is a comparison between the 'Free' and the 'Premium' version.
- Free - You can only optimize for 1 keyword per page
- Premium - You get up to 5 keywords per page
Previewing Your Page
- Free - Only Google review
- Premium - Google, Facebook and Twitter preview
- Free - Yoast SEO will analyze the readability of the copy you wrote and calculate the Flesch Reading Ease score
- Premium - Save as the Free version
Control over your Breadcrumbs
- Free - You'll be able to set a primary category for your post, and determine the taxonomy for every page on your WordPress based website
- Premium - Same as the Free version
- Free - Will help you avoid duplicate content (and have Google put you in his Dislike box) by setting up canonical URLs
- Premium - Same as the Free version
Easy Robots.txt - .htaccess & Permalink (or Sitemap) Configuration
- Free - SEO Yoast will help you easily configure your robots.txt, .htaccess files, gives you clean permalink URLs or sitemap
- Premium - Same as the Free version
Internal Linking Suggestions
- Premium - Yoast SEO will offer you suggestion for internal links as you're writing your content
- Free - Not Available
- Premium - Yoast SEO will show you 5 words/phrases you use the most and see if they match the keyword you're targeting on that page
- Free - Not Available
- Premium - Don't get your visitors/readers stuck on '404 Not Found' page. Yoast SEO helps you easily redirect old URLs to new ones
- Free - Not Available
- Premium - With this version, you'll get round the clock email access to the support team
- Free - You'll need to use the FAQ and Knowledge base pages
- Premium - There will be no Ads in this version of Yoast SEO
- Free - You'll get to see Ads related to other products and services offered by Yoast
TIP #7 - INSTALL JCH OPTIMIZE SEO PLUGIN FOR WORDPRESS
JCH Optimize SEO plugin for WordPress is another great plugin I recommend for any WordPress(the developer also has a good professional version for Joomla!) base website that offers great features that can help speed up your website.
The features JCH Optimize offers are (Professional version);
- Compresses the combined files using Gzip for further reduce page size and improve page speed
- Allows you to combine images into sprite to, again, improve site speed
- Helps eliminate CSS Render-blocking
- Optimize your images for optimal page load time without loosing visual quality
- Helps you implement CDN and load static files from your CDN or cookie-free domain without the need of a separate CDN Plugin
- Defer loading your images until they are scrolled into view through Lazy Load image
And when it comes to support, I give JCH Optimize developer a 10/10 score.
If WordPress speed is important to you (and it should), I can say your website can't live without JCH Optimize for WordPress plugin. Go for the professional version if you want the above listed features and more - You won't regret the money you spent on something that WILL make your site fast again.
TIP #8 - MARKUP (JSON-LD) PLUGIN FOR WORDPRESS
No one likes to inject schema.org syntax in every page - And why would you want to do that when there is a great WordPress plugin that can help you do just that, plus, make extremely easy to implement Schema.org markup into your WordPress based website.
In order to help Google, and other major search engines understand what every page of your WordPress based website is about, a Schema Markup plugin is a must have.
The JSON-LD plugin for WordPress makes it easy to markup important elements and include schema.org JSON-LD syntax markup to your website/page such as your blog article, breadcrumbs, event, Local Business, and so on.
When it comes to JSON-LD WordPress plugin...
The sky is the limit.
Note - It can also work, and works well with Yoast SEO.
JSON-LD for WordPress plugin is...
- Easy to install and configure
- Has a clean UI (User Interface)
- Again, works great with Yoast
- Integrates well with WordPress
- Highly customizable with a lot of Schema.org options
- Did I mention 'it's Free'?
Do you want to get found in Google search results and be ahead of your competitors? Then you must optimize your WordPress for SEO with Structured Schema Markup
TIP #9 - CREATE QUALITY & RELEVANT CONTENT
This goes without saying - Offering quality content to your readers/customers will make your WordPress site a successful one, provided you follow all of the SEO guidelines.
When they say 'Content Is Kind', I say 'Quality Content Is God', and when they say 'Build It and They Will Come', I say 'Build It Right and They WILL COME RUNNING'
Offering relevant content to your readers, especially content that will help someone build something, like a WordPress website, or help someone optimize their WordPress website for speed and search engines (I hope this article will), and implement all of the On-page SEO techniques (mentioned below) while making your web page load fast, will fall under the realm of 'quality content'.
If your page follow the above recommendations, I can say you might not even need to work very hard in trying to get inbound links.
TIP #10 - ONLY USE THE BEST WORDPRESS SEO PLUGINS YOU MUST HAVE
Beside the above mentioned Yoast SEO, JCH Optimize for WordPress plugin and .xml sitemap plugins, I would recommend adding a security plugin to your WordPress based website arsenal.
Note: Try to avoid installing too many plugins/themes. Since I know you can't help testing plugins and themes, my recommendation is to...
Always uninstall any plugin/theme you tested and found out you don't need, instead of just disabling it. This will help speed up your WordPress website.
TIP #11 - IMPLEMENT ON-PAGE SEO TECHNIQUES
After setting up your WordPress website, have installed and properly configured the above mentioned SEO plugins for your WordPress based website, you'll need to focus on your on-page SEO elements.
Just in case you didn't know...
Content IS NOT KING...
Unless it is 'Quality Content'
Important to know - When you think you're done optimizing your WordPress website for SEO, know that you've just started with the process that feels like peeling an onion, layer by layer.
You need to take more steps in making sure that you've covered everything when it comes to search engines and your WordPress website if you want to be found above your competition in Google search results.
First and foremost, you just can't start writing content without performing keyword research.
The best way I found to write content for my blog is to look at the Trend, specifically at Google Trends and see what is trending this month, within my niche and what is not.
I also check many websites for questions asked by users looking for help or answers related to SEO. Once I've found a topic I know I can write about and that can help someone or answer a question, I start researching keywords based on that topic.
Once I have my list of keyword, I filter out the ones that have extremely low monthly search.
Note that I am not worried about how high the competition is because I know that if I offer a high quality and good read and optimize all of my on-page SEO elements, I can beat my competition. Maybe not today, but tomorrow is another day and I am fine with that.
TIP #12 - OPTIMIZE YOUR PAGE TITLE & MAKE THEM ENTICING
Crafting a good page title is not an easy task, but it is worth the effort. I can spend hours on just the title of the page, and sometimes, I even go back and rewrite the title again.
So when it comes to page title, don't rush in because only fouls do. Take your time, look around (your competition included) then write that title you think will bring high relevant traffic to your page.
If you have to tweak your title, try to avoid changing the URL of the page because you don't want to have your readers meet your custom 404 error page.
When I write my first page title, the next thing I look at is the page URL and ask myself:
- Is is short or is it too long?
- Does it contain my targeted keyword?
If I believe the URL length is good (not too short and not too long) and it contains my keyword, I usually stick with it even if I have to rewrite the page title.
Also, make sure that your Page Title is not too long that it will get cut off in SERPs (search engine result pages).
To avoid that, I always make sure I asses my page title length using the Pixel Length tool, versus going by the old and unreliable maximum character limits of the page title.
Simply because some letters uses different pixel length in lower case then in uppercase.
- The letter 'L' in uppercase is 10 pixel length
- While the same letter but in lowercase 'l' is 4 pixel length
TIP #13 - WRITE GOOD HEADLING (H1 - H6)
Headings (H1 - H6) are tags used to help improve the page layout or structure and readability. Some will argue that heading tags have no SEO value, however, At BuzFind, we love using them because we want to help search engines have a good idea about the main topic.
The most important heading tag is the H1 tag, then comes H2, and so on. You don't have to use all the heading tags that exist on your page. For example, for our BuzFind website, we decided to only use one H1 tag, multiple H2 tags (when and where needed) and H3 tags (again, only when and where needed) on any page.
It is recommended that you use your heading tags in a proper hierarchy, and not nilly willy...
- an H1 tag
- Then your H2 (usually multiple ones on a page)
- and so on.
TIP #14 - INSERT YOUR MAIN KEYWORD EARLY
Again, you just can't optimize your WordPress based website without performing keyword research first to get a good idea what your main target keyword, and secondary keyword should be.
When it comes to how and where to use your keyword, we always like to adhere to the following rules (some might not agree but we like this rule and it proved us correct)
- It is recommended that your main keywords shows up as early as possible in the first paragraph.
- Your secondary keyword at the end of your first paragraph
- Your main keyword, again, throughout your copy - Make sure you don't spam your main keyword and depending on the length of your copy (word count), you can use your main targeted keyword multiple times throughout your copy.
- The use of semantic word and synonyms throughout your content
TIP #15 - USE STRUCTURED DATA MARKUP - SCHEMA FOR YOUR WORDPRESS
Schema and Structured Data Markup are important for your WordPress based website's SEO campaign because it introduces rich snippets that can improve your site's click through rates (CTR)on SERP. However, the process of implementing structured data markup on your WordPress website can be complicated no matter how experienced you are in SEO.
Fortunately, there is a good structured data schema plugin available for WordPress SEO that can help you add Schema to:
- Your articles
- Blog posting
- Organization or business name
- Products (for eCommerce sites)
TIP #16 - OPTIMIZE & SIZE YOUR IMAGES BEFORE YOU UPLOAD THEM
I've seen many WordPress based websites with great images, however, those great images had two negative side effect when it comes to SEO and site speed
- Images using img001.jpg as the filename, instead of embedding the page's main targeted keyword
- Image file size where above 200KB in size which will slow down the page load time, instead of reducing the image file size first before upload
- Images where resized within the HTML instead of uploading images with the desired dimensions (width & height) for improve speed
- Images with poorly written title that didn't describe the image
Below is a screenshot of GTMetrix Performance result for our WordPress SEO page before we included the dimensions on some some of images (to keep the images responsive) within the HTML.
The second test run decreased the 'Fully Load Time' from 2.1s to 1.6s after we included the dimensions of similar images within the HTML.
Note: Before I uploaded the above image, I made sure I reduce the file size for optimal page speed.
So before you upload that image, think of speed and search engines first and always follow the above recommendations
TIP #17 - IMPROVE WORDPRESS SPEED THROUGH TECHNICAL SEO
This is the part I've always loved - Technical SEO. BuzFind receives a lot of calls and email request from website owners looking to learn as to why their site is either:
- Slow as a snail, if not slower
- Not achieving top ranking in search engines
To me, speed is an important part of SEO and a ranking factor no matter how small the signal strength is. When performing a Technical SEO audit, I look at the following areas that, when left out, could affect your site's speed and prevent it from achieving top position in Google search results.
- We look at whether the hosting company is affect the site SEO due to slow speed
- If the site uses iFrame and Flash
- Whether the site/page uses @import for CSS
- Whether the site has avoided 'document.write'
- Whether there are redirects (301 redirects included), or not
- Whether Gzip compression is enabled or not
- Were images optimized for speed, and where the image dimensions embedded in the HTML?
- Were images optimized using CSS Sprite?
The above are just a few of many Technical SEO elements I look at when optimizing a website for search engines and speed.
TIP #18 - BOOST YOUR WORDPRESS SPEED & SEO EVEN FURTHER THROUGH CDN
Just in case you weren't aware or don't believe CDN can have a huge impart on your WordPress SEO, let me tell you that site's page load time speed does impact its ranking in search engines search results, and according to Google, page speed matters.
What is CDN
Simply put, CDN, or content delivery networks are a set of servers setup throughout the world specifically to deliver data, or website pages to a web searcher in a specific location.
How can CDN improves your WordPress based pages?
Let's say you live somewhere in Pennsylvania and are looking for an SEO company. depending on what device you're using and the location you're at, the SERP (search engine result pages) will list search engine optimization companies located near you, plus other SEO firms that have done a good job in optimizing a page matching your search query. Now, the search engine marketing company might not be in Pennsylvania and could well be somewhere in California for example.
If you've taking care of your page technical SEO and have setup CDN for your WordPress based website, when the searcher in California clicks on your link on SERP, he/she will be downloading the requested page from a server that is the closest to her/him, and not the one possibly located in Pennsylvania.
Again, a CDN will improve your WordPress based site page load time by delivering the page stored on a server closest to the searcher.
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