It is a goal for all site owners to aim for the first position in Google and other fast developing search engines. They customize sites using various SEO strategies to accomplish this and constantly track their performance. Once you have published your new WordPress site, you’re prepared to receive the masses of potential customers but no one can find the new site. This is where SEO–search engine optimization comes into play. It has been such a crucial subject for site owners and content providers in recent years.
The SEO technology is totally unpredictable and continues to change occasionally due to unexpected Google algorithm updates which show how visitors respond to different website content that is being deployed. This issue comes with a demerit to WordPress site owners such that they have to be consistent in changing the SEO strategies in accordance to the ongoing search engine algorithms.
Most SEO tactics provide general web maintenance, whereas other strategies involve attention to detail of the pages, posts, titles and images on the website. It may look like it’s hard to achieve, but SEO for WordPress is not all that complicated, if you’re capable of putting some little practice into it. Which is why this list of SEO tips, tricks, and strategies has been put together.
A crack-down to best SEO wordpress tips and practices
- Fast web hosting & CDN
- Good and responsive site design
- Use SEO friendly themes
- Install a good WordPress SEO plugin
- Have Creative Content with no duplicate
- Page Title, Tagline, and Permalinks optimization
- Include header tags, H1 to H5
- Keyword optimization for posts
- Include internal and external linking
- Optimize image titles
- Use social media
- Create an XML sitemap
- Build on Backlinks
Fast web hosting
The web hosting provider you select generally defines the overall quality of the website experience you offer to the organic traffic. The assurance of your host uptime is probably the most significant aspect to determine if your site is SEO-friendly.
Basically, uptime is the amount of time the website is accessible online. If your host’s uptime is high, potential visitors will less likely be disappointed since the web host is fast and available. On the other hand, in case the hosts’ uptime is low, most people will more likely bounce back to the search engine they came from after realising your site is down. This causes most site owners to lose when it comes to page ranking of their sites due to high bounce rates marked from google analytics.
To achieve good rankings on search engines ensure you go for a host provider with a guarantee of at least 99.99% uptime. Needless to mention that, the hosting server must also be fast and close enough. Moreso, the host is supposed to increase performance via a Content Delivery Network (CDN) which will contribute to an overall fast hosting service.
Read more on CloudFlare CDN and how it can improve your site
Responsive site design
Responsive design is not an invention any more. Actually, this has become a basic element of any SEO initiative, irrespective of the CMS being used. Responsive web design blends into custom display layout sizes as users move from mobile to laptop. However, mobile web access has overtaken all other devices as the best option for internet users. Therefore, when it comes to SEO, Google would prefer websites with a mobile responsive design which are entirely optimized for people using smartphone devices.
Google accepts ‘time on page‘ from their analytics, as a crucial site value metric for a particular function. Responsive web design enables easier reading and navigation of your website for the visitors. The goal for this, is to enhance good customer experience and generally a longer time on-site for users.
SEO friendly themes
A question commonly asked by website owners is if their wordpress theme can affect the SEO rankings. The shortest answer to this is simply YES, and here is why. A key thing to note is that SEO friendly themes are designed appropriately to have good structured code, most of them have features that promote usability and provide a responsive, mobile interface.
The most crucial element of SEO friendliness for a website theme is the HTML or schema.org markup. The HTML markup is the key factor in the SEO friendliness of a theme. It is the foundation of what search engines are looking for. WordPress themes must ensure that search engines like Google or Bing are able to easily retrieve the websites’ contents.
HTML5 tags must be used wisely and addition of the schema.org to your sites theme is important as it highlights the most key parts in the website content, say a page or post. By highlighting them severally, it makes search engines to easily identify your site. A good example of a very SEO friendly multipurpose theme is the stable Kleo theme which you can check out.
Install a Good SEO Plugin
When it comes to SEO, WordPress is still fairly good out of the box. Even so, we still suggest when working on your WordPress website, always have a SEO plugin in place. The benefit of this is that you will gain total control when optimizing or changing on what search engines get from your wp site. The commonly known and free Yoast SEO and All-In-One SEO pack plugins get this award due to their full optimization capabilities. For most key aspects discussed here, these plugins can help you achieve a robust amount of work and at the end you will get good results in your SEO optimization. Below is a list of common capabilities that some of these SEO plugins can handle:
- Manage SEO redirects
- Control index settings
- Automatically generated meta tags
- Generate sitemap
- Google AMP support
- Built-in API and compatibility with a lot of other plugins
- Advanced canonical URLs
- Google Analytics Integration;
- Webmaster verification options for Google, Bing, and Pinterest
It is however important to note that All in one SEO pack is an alternative to the Yoast SEO plugin and many other SEO plugins. Remember, always ensure that in your website, you only have one WordPress SEO plugin.
Have Creative and Unique Content
The creative content will make a significant contribution to bring organic traffic as well as increase engagement through reviews, comments, shares and forum discussions. Google and other search engines could also improve your search results and increase your rankings, whether in your location or internationally.
Creative content includes fresh and unique content. Dominating this type of content on your own WP site could help elevate it to those SERP places. Timely content that relates to a developing topic often lets you capture this wave with impressive results by using interactive media techniques. Interactive media like infographics, custom illustrations, and videos, are just a few of these high-impact content formats that content marketers love. Normally they do have a great impact on your SEO since most visitors are able to spend more time on your page.
Every kind of duplicate content can indeed lead to punitive measures and appear contrary to your SEO strategy. Make sure you mark your content as Evergreen as it often needs web creators to update it from time to time because most industries keep on changing a bit over time. In this case, Evergreen means that the content is still relevant irrespective of the time you read it.
Page title, tagline and permalinks
Nearly all configurations of WordPress provide the default site title, tagline and website URL for WordPress. Go to Settings >> General under your WordPress admin dashboard.
From this, you’ll find the fields for Site Title and Tagline. Site Title is the first configuration you’ll see. The title of your site should be very simple and clear and should include the name of your brand / domain. The tagline is far more robust. This field should be used to display your common keywords. You certainly want to have both a site title and a tagline so that search engines can learn more about your site.
Permalinks are simply the settings to check if the URLs in your pages and posts are shown on your site. Permalinks have to be developed before pages and posts are written. By navigating to Settings > Permalinks option, you will be able to configure the permalinks for your site. Permalinks impact your SEO, and you can modify your default Plain permalink structure to a postname, numeric, date or month or just create a custom structure like /%/post/%/postname/%/ which also adds a category for your permalinks.
The ideal permalink length should not exceed 100 characters. Use the core keywords and do not over-stuff them with permalinks. Separate the words in the link with hyphens terminology and ignore terms such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘but’, ‘if ‘, ‘at’, etc.
Include Header tags, H1 to H6
Section headings are indicated by the six heading components, H1 up to H6. Although HTML doctype declaration does not constrain the order and appearance of the headings in your WordPress posts and pages, you should not bypass levels (for instance, from H2 to H4), since it’s always a problem to interpret these publications into other representations.
Headline Tags have numerous qualities for user-friendly websites, but search engines use such specified headings only to index the architecture of web pages and other contents, like blog posts. Nowadays with the new HTML5, the developer is allowed to use multiple H1 tags in a single web page depending on the web page design requirements.
The name / title of the article or post should contain the H1 heading. One may use headings H2 and H3 for the introduction of various sections when writing your post. Consider H2 headings as book/article chapters. Other separate parts may also use more common headers for the implementation of subsections that are the H3 tags and H4 tags, and so on.
Structure of the content is the key role here for both users and search engines. The benefit to users is that they are able to navigate through your content easily while search engines are able to find detailed content easily rather than crawling the entire site.
Keyword optimization for posts
Keyword optimization is generally an on-page SEO technique which can be very tricky especially if there is much competition in the same market who have already ranked for the same keyword. The best way to perform this is by using keyword targeting in various sections of your page. These sections include:
- Page Title: It is recommended that the primary keyword phrase should be used at least once in the title of the page and ideally as near as possible to the start of the title tag / section. This section covers the most important part for both onpage and offpage SEO.
- Headline: As mentioned in the earlier point on headline tags, ensure that they have targeted keywords especially the H1 heading tag. It is almost assured that a google searcher who will click on a specific result search would expect to see the page they visit with a related headline.
- Content: You must use your targeted keywords in your body text if you really want to rank appropriately and engage with the searchers. Search engines use powerful conceptual optimization algorithms almost certainly to determine relevance or even quality too. This ensures that the content should be detailed, meaningful, and as important as possible rather than just a keyword reference.
- URL: Make sure SEO keywords are included in the slug urls of your posts or pages. This not only specifically supports search engine significance, but also uses URLs as web-based anchor text.
- Meta Description: Nowadays it’s said that the Google algorithm does not use meta description directly in search engine ranking. However even with this once a keyword is deployed in this section which briefly describes your content, the keyword normally shows up in the search results. This is what will make the searchers consider whether to click on the specific page or not.
Finally, you can optimize the keywords which are most searched for when you want to draw the most traffic to your site. The more common a keyword, however, the tougher it will be to rank for in search engines.
It may seem very easy to implement these common keywords, but this can only favour a new website as the best strategy. It is quite hard to compete against established Websites which have gained credibility and trust in competition rankings for these common keywords.
Use of internal and external linking
Internal links are inbound hyperlinks that take the visitor to a specific target page on your website, while external links are outbound hyperlinks that drive the visitor to a relatable and reputable website from the content he/she is reading.
You should incorporate keywords optimization in your link building approach. The most targeted keywords should be in internal links, breadcrumb links, and navigation links.
Internal links on a site enable your audience to keep being more engaging with your website and with other visitors. They can then become a customer or fan which may be very significant. Such links makes it easier for visitors to navigate and boosts the trust level of your web post and the entire website.
The standard and amount of the external links you use is essential. Increasing the trust level and using reliable links to your posts will improve the reputation of your website. However, it will ruin your website by the use of poor-quality links. Linking to third party sites (rather than your site) does not affect your page rank so long as the appropriate content to which you link comes from reputable websites.
The words no-follow link simply means that, while it offers access to your website, on the other hand from the search engine it holds very little significance. On the contrary , do-follow links instruct the search engine to follow the link which associates with the site, producing so-called link juice, since there is some value which is passed from one page or site to another.
Optimize image titles
Use of descriptive text and even captions do help when it comes to SEO and page recognition. Alt text (alternative text) gives a brief description of the image. This is what is shown to users who use screen readers.
In order to understand the context of the image, Google uses alt text together with software image algorithms and page contents. When determining the alt text, concentrate on providing relevant and insightful content that appropriately uses keywords in a meaningful manner of the page’s contents.
Avoid using keywords to replace alt attributes because they contribute to a poor user experience, which can make the site considered as spam.
WordPress enables its users to change or edit the alt text, the caption and titles of images from its default image edition block which appears on the left.
It is also recommended that users should use descriptive alt texts rather than the usual generic alt text which are normally two to three words. This makes it easier to rank for than using two words.
When it comes to saving images ensure that you use file names related to your content. In this case you may opt to use keywords for your filename and also be more specific as it helps crawlers identify your image and know if it adds value to your content.
Use of social media
Although social networks can not affect the SEO rankings completely, they can have impacts on your rankings. Social media has always been a good technique to drive traffic. You will send more traffic to your page by sharing links from your page in your Social Media profiles.
Content is also boosted by social media. The development of content is one of the most important ways to improve your SEO distinctions. Users will spend more time exploring your content and at the end of it they will also keep re-sharing it until search engines discover it. More time spent on your website sends a signal to Google that your website is relevant and appealing.These signals are commonly known as social signals. This will boost the page rankings so that more visitors can find your content.
Create an XML Sitemap
A Sitemap from your website provides a blueprint which helps search engines locate, grab, and index all content from your site. Search engines are mostly directed by sitemaps on which pages are most significant to your site.
Four different types of sitemaps are available:
- The standard XML sitemap: its most common type of sitemap used. It’s typically in the context of an XML file linking to various website sections.
- Video Sitemap: Specially used to help Google understand your page’s video content.
- News Sitemap: Lets Google find content on Google News websites.
- Image Sitemap: Helps Google to search your website for all images hosted in your site.
Sitemaps are not very significant since google can easily crawl through your site to identify various valuable sections and grab their links for indexing. However it is always recommended you provide search engines with a sitemap.
There are various ways to generate one but would recommend the best practice would be preferably using a plugin for instance the Yoast Seo plugin or Google XML sitemaps.
Once you have generated your sitemap it is also essential to submit it to search engines for instance in google search console there is a section for that under index >> sitemaps. Simply enter your sitemap’s URL and click on enter. Refresh the page later to see if it has been accepted by displaying a “success” message or “Sitemap index processed successfully”which means that google has crawled your site appropriately.
Build on Backlinks
Backlinks are simply links from an external website that link to your site. Backlinks should only be built to your site when you have a strong foundation which is well optimized or when your site has no many problems.
Talking of problems, I mean that there should be no link redirects within your site, commonly the redirect chains of 301s and 302s. 302 redirects are normally accidental. It’s therefore suggested that one can change 302s to 301s since the 301s do not affect the page rankings.
Other issues affecting backlinking include broken external links which normally result in 404 error pages. There are various ways to which users create backlinks which include:
- Guest blogging on other relatable sites
- Creating links using infographics
- Commenting on blogs
- Using the Skyscraper technique
- Niche Forums
- Email content to influencers
When it comes to building backlinks, you must do so with precision and expertise if you really want to profit your site from this. You need to monitor and ensure that each backlink has some SEO value. Do not obtain backlinks from sites that you can not have control from.
Within this article we have covered some of the SEO tips and checklists. SEO is continually evolving.
Carrying out the above practices should push your site a notch higher. However, for a good ranking you would need to exercise some patience as the results are not instantaneous.