WordPress provides a complete suite of tools and plugins that makes website creation easy, even for beginners.
However, despite that, it’s not a guarantee that your website will perform well, especially when it comes to SEO. You need to do WordPress SEO right, and it starts by using the right tools and the right techniques.
In the following sections, we will discuss a few WordPress SEO best practices to help you boost your site’s ranking.
Important note: This guide is best reserved for WordPress.org users. To know more about the difference between WordPress.org vs. WordPress.com, we have created a brief guide here.
1. Start with basic WordPress SEO settings
1.1 Checking your site’s Search Engine Visibility
This can be done by going to the admin area of your WordPress.org site:
- Choose Settings → Reading → Search Engine Visibility.
- The checkbox next to Discourage search engines from indexing this site should be unchecked.
The default setting for this checkbox is usually set unchecked. However, when your site is under construction and you need to hide your site from search engines before it’s ready to go public, this can be mistakenly enabled.
1.2. Choosing between www vs. non-www
Basically, choosing between www (e.g., https://www.example.com) and non-www (https://example.com) isn’t that important in boosting SEO, but it can essentially matter because search engine bots may consider them as two separate websites. You need to choose one and stick to it.
- Go to Settings → General Page.
- Add your preferred URL in both WordPress Address and Site Address.
1.3. Making URL structures SEO-friendly
What makes a URL SEO-friendly? It should contain relevant keywords, in a decent length (not too short, not too long), and should give the reader an idea what the content is about. Examples:
However, when you’re just starting on WordPress, the default URL structures will look like the following, which are essentially not SEO-friendly:
To change the settings of your permalink structure:
- Go to Settings → Permalinks.
- From there, choose Post name as the default permalink setting.
- You can also use a custom structure.
2. Optimize your content with a focus keyword
If you use the Yoast SEO plugin, it’s best practice to always input a target/focus keyword into the tool and to use it properly throughout your content.
Your focus keyword should be placed in:
- Your post title
- The first sentence of the first paragraph
- The middle paragraphs (mention it once or twice)
- The last sentence/conclusion
To optimize your content further, make sure to use the focus keyword on your URL, meta description, and image ALT text as well.
3. Internal link your content
Another best practice is to make internal linking a habit. By doing so, you:
- Improve user experience by providing easier access to relevant content within your site
- Increase the time users spend on your site
- Help search engine bots crawl your website easier by giving them access to other pages and posts on your website
Here’s how to insert links on WordPress:
- Highlight your chosen anchor text, then click the Insert/edit link → gear icon.
- From the link options, choose Link to existing content, then choose the most relevant post or page from the list.
4. Use proper header tag hierarchy
Header tags help search engine bots understand your content better and thus improving SEO.
Typically, header 1 (h1) is reserved for the title, and the rest of subheadings and respective sub-subheads use header 2 (h2), header 3 (h3), header 3 (h4), and so forth. Use header hierarchies that make sense to your post.
It’s pretty straightforward to add header tags on WordPress: open the drop-down menu next to Paragraph and choose the appropriate header tag.
5. No-follow affiliate and sponsored links
Affiliate and sponsored links are viable ways to generate income from your website. However, too many of these types of links are not good for SEO, as it gives search engines like Google the impression that your site is selling spammy links.
For affiliate and sponsored links, it’s best to add a no-follow attribute. It’s a bit difficult to add no-follow attributes on WordPress, but you can use a plugin like Pretty Links to make it simpler for you:
- After installing and activating the Pretty Links plugin, go to Pretty Links → Links → Default Link Options.
- From there, check Enable No Follow.
6. Add your site to Google Search Console and Analytics
6.1 Adding your site to Google Search Console
Search Console, Google’s webmaster tool, helps you monitor your website’s performance as well as alerting you when there are errors in your website, such as an indexing/crawling error, duplicate content, etc.
To add your site to Google Search Console:
- Go to Google Search Console and enter your Domain or URL prefix.
- Verify your website by using the Yoast SEO plugin. When prompted by Search Console, choose HTML tag under Other verification methods. This will give you a meta tag that you can use for verification.
- Using Yoast SEO, go to Webmaster Tools and simply add the meta code to the respective field.
6.2 Integrating Google Analytics
Google Analytics gives you in-depth insights into your website’s SEO performance. You can easily integrate Google Analytics to your WordPress site by using the MonsterInsights plugin:
- After installing MonsterInsights, go to Insights → Settings.
- Under General → Google Authentication, select Connect MonsterInsights.
- Follow the prompts thereafter, and you should be good to go.
7. Install plugins for security and site speed optimization
Having a secure website not only safeguards it from cyberattacks; it also boosts your SEO, as it signals search engines that your site can be trusted. Install plugins like Sucuri Security — one of the most trusted security plugins for WordPress.
Another key aspect of SEO is site speed. Plugins like WP Rocket and W3 Total Cache can help you optimize your WordPress website’s speed, as well as give you an easier option to enable page and browser caching settings.
WordPress SEO: In Summary
There is a lot involved in WordPress SEO and search engine optimization in general. Choosing the right plugins and the right WordPress settings can go a long way in optimizing your website and in making sure it performs well. For more information about website creation, content marketing, and SEO, visit our blog at https://www.ilfusion.com/blog.