WordPress SEO Checklist
20 WordPress SEO Tips
One of the reasons for choosing WordPress as your website CMS is that it is SEO-friendly. WordPress has many features that follow SEO best practices. You will have to understand how to implement SEO settings in WordPress.
You can easily tailor WordPress as per your need and you also extend the core functionality by using the various plugins available. WordPress helps you out with many of the SEO basics which can help your website rank higher. You can consult a WordPress SEO agency to help you with your SEO.
WordPress SEO basics
You should select a reliable hosting provider. If you choose the cheapest option, your website may suffer from performance issues. Site speed directly affects your SEO performance and if there are poor uptime and security vulnerabilities then it will result in site quality issues.
When you first install WordPress you will find the default ‘Twenty Twenty’ theme. There are thousands of themes available on WordPress and you should select the right one you need for your site. Always select an SEO-friendly theme for your website.
Before installing a theme you can run a demo through Google’s web.dev tool to get insights into the performance and the SEO issues.
Before you optimise your WordPress website you need to install some plugins. A plugin makes it easier for you to optimise your website. Some popular plugins are Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack.
To install the plugin you can go to the WordPress admin panel and navigate to the ‘Add New’ plugin page. Once there you can search for the plugin you want to install and hit ‘Install Now’. You have to activate the plugin once it is installed.
Your website should be accessible through one of these https://domain.com or https://www.domain.com, as Google considers them to be different websites. You can choose your preferred domain and the other domain version will be redirected to your preferred domain.
You should make sure your website has an SSL certificate so that you can run your website using HTTPS.
WordPress offers the option to discourage the search engine from indexing your website. This is required while developing a website and pages and the content are not complete. You need to check your website visibility settings once it is ready. For this, go to Settings → Reading and untick the search engine visibility box.
WordPress gives you many different options to structure your URLs and you should use SEO-friendly ones. The URLs should be able to tell what the page is about. You can create customised URLs.
You can go to Settings → Permalinks and choose a ‘Post Name’ for your permalinks.
You will have to verify your website with Google Search Console. Complete the verification steps and select the ‘HTML tag’ method. Once you have verified your website you need to submit your XML sitemap.
Optimising pages and posts
You will have to find out the search terms you want to optimise your website for. Do keyword research to find the search terms relevant to your business. You can use the Keyword Overview tool or Semrush to identify the keywords you need to optimise for.
Use an SEO writing assistant while creating content. As you write content the plugin will guide you to write it in an SEO-friendly way and will give recommendations. It will also provide analysis based on your top 10 rivals on Google for a given keyword. It will recommend additional keywords which you can use in your copy.
You should spend time analysing content that already ranks for the search terms you are planning to target. You should understand what content is ranking before you create your own.
By default, WordPress uses your page title to create the URLs and they can turn out to be lengthy and sometimes truncated on the SERPs. You can choose to overwrite the default URLs and use your main keyword in them. You can create a custom permalink for your page.
The page title also defines the H1 heading. This heading is used to give context on what your page is about to the users and the search engines. It is a best practice to use one H1 heading per page and use H2 - H6 headings to structure your content. You can include your page’s main keyword in the page heading but you should use it naturally.
The title tags tell the users and the search engines what your page is about. It is the clickable page title you see on Google search results.
A plugin like Yoast automatically sets your page’s title by using your page heading and also provides you the opportunity to overwrite it. You can use snippet variables and add custom text to your title tag. When you rewrite your page titles you can add variants that define intent or location.
Meta descriptions define your website's organic performance therefore you should write enticing meta descriptions.
You should use internal linking to establish topical relevance between the different pages on your website and pass the authority earned from the external links.
Adding internal links in WordPress is easy. All you have to do is highlight the text which you want to link and click the ‘Link’ button on the toolbar. This will allow you to paste a URL or search for pages within your website.
You may be using rich media and images in your content. You should use optimised filenames for your images as it helps to deliver further context to the page.
For example, Instead of /image12.jpg, you should use /small-dog-beds.jpg. The file names of images should reflect what they show.
While using images in your content make sure you use Alt-text with all of them. The Alt-text helps visually impaired users with screen readers and also describes the images to search engines. Use unique Alt-text for each image.
Advanced WordPress SEO
You can improve your website speed by using a cache plugin. You can easily cache your posts and pages as static files. The static files are served to the users rather than generating them dynamically each time. This can significantly improve performance.
WordPress recommends one of these: W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache or Cache Enabler.
Another way to improve the site speed is to optimise your images. Images contribute to slow site performance. You can easily optimise the WordPress media libraries and any of the images you upload using the Smush plugin.
WordPress offers many different page taxonomies and categories and tags. Tags are smaller and focus on specific topics. Categories are useful for grouping content together. Tags are useful for those users on your website and from the SEO perspective, they do not add any value so you would not want to send any traffic to them. The same applies to media pages and other posts format that WordPress uses.
You can add the ‘Noindex’ tags within the Yoast plugin to the page you do not want to be indexed.
Schema Markup allows you to add context to your content and data and helps to enhance your SEO efforts. It helps Google to understand your content and improves the searcher’s experience. Adding schema markup to your pages will not only help you to rank higher but will also help you get clicks when the page receives impressions.
For WordPress, Yoast 11.0 helps to build a structured data graph for every post and page for your site. It also allows you to markup specific blocks.
You should regularly update your evergreen content to ensure it is always current and relevant. You can use ‘Last modified’ or ‘Updated on’ to show the users and the search engines when the content was last updated. This will give them the confidence that the information is current and relevant.
In WordPress pages and posts you can easily add this information using the WP Last Modified Info plugin.
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