WordPress is the market’s leader among content management system, and SEO is one of the main reasons why. Put this way, you’d probably think there is no need to get yourself involved improving SEO, but that’s not exactly right. There are many best practices, such as the one outlined in our article that you can use to help your rankings improve and to drive more traffic to your website.
1. Basic SEO for your WordPress
Before doing whatever, you need to change the permalink structure. The way to do it is to click on Settings and thank Permalinks.
WWW or non-WWW
This depends on whether you want to display your website as sample.com, or www.sample.com. For the purpose, choose the appropriate version in Settings-General.
The thing, however, doesn’t end up here – you must check Google Search Console, and set the preferred domain correctly. Click on Settings, and then Preferred domain, check it, and it will be done.
Using stop words
In order to improve WordPress SEO, the worst thing you can do is to remove stop words. By stop words, we are referring to ‘a’, ‘at’, ‘the’, ‘and’, and others.
Still, we don’t recommend you to do this once the post has been published and went online, because people already used it, and there is a risk they won’t be appropriately redirected to the new one. It is WordPress that does the redirecting process, but in case it doesn’t. it will be up to the user to do this manually. That’s simply devastating for traffic.
SEO optimized titles
The content’stag, the same as the title itself, are the main ranking factors that can affect your SEO position. The mistake many website owners make is to neglect the first line that appears after the snippet and the URL, namely the date-related meta description which also stands for a title, and can help your optimization the same way the title can (read further How To Write Some Great Headlines).
There are many blogs, where titles still look like this: ‘Title of the Blog – Blog Archive – Keyword rich post title’ or ‘Title – Keyword rich post title’. In the WordPress case, the other way around will be better, and there are two reasons for that:
The ‘early’ keywords matter more to search engine, so don’t expect the last among them to make your website rank better.
The first words will also be the ones to appear first when people are searching for your website, and they dictate your chances to get more clicks.
Optimization of individual posts
The title mentions the name of your brand and does so in the end so that people would depict it in their consecutive search. The first words are always keywords because they help people detect your posts in future. Everything else included in the title should be an additional motivation for readers to choose your post over the others.
Optimization of descriptions
The meta description of your posts is just as important as the title because search engines are about to display it in the snippet, in the form of bolded text accompanying the URL. However, the meta description is only relevant when it contains potentially researchable keywords, and in case you don’t include such, the engine will pick them automatically from the document you’re trying to post.
Optimization of images
Images are often neglected when handling WordPress SEO, even if all it takes to distinguish your images from similar file searches is to tag them, write a good description, or think of an interesting name. (Find out more How To Use Images In A Proper Way). This way, you are enabling readers to depict information that the screen reader is hiding from them and notice your post regardless of the device they’re using.
2. Templates optimization
Breadcrumbs are important for all of your pages and posts. They represent links added above the post’s title, displayed in the following order: Home-> Articles -> The Title of the Article. Breadcrumbs have two essential functions: they ease the website’s navigation and help search engines understand its structure in a breeze.
Headings are probably the easiest WordPress hint because all you need to do is to put your post title in <h1> brackets. What you need to remember is that you have to do this for every category page and post, instead of keeping it on the front page only. Avoid cramming the sidebars with extra headings, such as <h2>, <h3>, and so on.
Not all websites need HTMP sitemaps, in particular, such that function as blogs. HTML sitemaps were designed for complex corporate sites, where pages are divided into different levels. In their case, it is exactly an HTML sitemap that helps search engines and users detect a particular post.
3. Advanced SEO tips and handling duplicate content
After handling all of the basic SEO tips we mentioned, the remaining problem will be duplicate content. The challenge of handling duplicate content is a serious one, as WordPress has several types of taxonomy:
- Based on date
- Based on categories
- Based on tags
In addition, the WordPress logic is that users would switch between pages from the front page (namely the first post you’ve ever done). Another problem that may arise is that authors have their personal archives stored as /author/, meaning that content is automatically duplicated on their blog.
What we are trying to say here is that in conditions of total negligence of duplicate content, your post will appear on 5 different pages except the one where it was created.
4. Optimizing comments
Bloggers love comments, not just because they reveal how people like their content, but also because they are a precious source of critics and mistakes that need to be corrected. At the same time, they are the nicest and most successful way to engage clients, and motivate them to link posts o your content: in the eye of the reader, responding to a comment means you genuinely care about you’re the conversation, and you are trying hard to build a relationship with him.
If you want readers to perform a certain action on your website, go ahead and ask for it. You can do it in many ways, as for instance creating a poll, asking opinions, motivating users to share similar stories, etc.
5. Evaluating your SEO results
It is not enough to update your website in order to examine the quality of your SEO strategy – you need to measure the effect of the changes you’re making, and extract both best practices and negative trends that should be altered.
A great way to measure success is to recheck your position on the search engine, even if this can be a cumbersome process. You will have to distinguish localized from personalized rating unless your traffic has confirmed you that you’re doing a good job.
6. Optimizing SEO
The main tool for SEO optimization is keywords and key-phrases, which are in fact the words people would use to reach your content on a specific topic.
This practice reveals information but also helps you tailor your content to the requirements of different search engines, and give you an idea of how to write your posts to make them more popular.
Google offers an amazing keyword tool that depicts the most popular options, but also measures the search volume of those keywords, and determines their relevance to the competitiveness of your website.
In order to be effective, your titles must be optimized according to SEO practices, so that search engines will discern them, and offer them to readers as ‘compelling content’.
Another element to consider here is permalinks (URLs), which you can find right under your title box. Here, all terms to be included in the URL will be denoted, and unless you alter it yourself, WordPress is probably going to include all of the words mentioned in your title. While this is a good practice for ‘Eat Healthy!’ posts, it can be detrimental for the ones with larger titles.
You also need to consider categories, as they indicate the post is a part of a larger group. Tags, on the other hand, continue describing the topic and the post. You should use the preview option in every case because it will reveal the mistakes you neglected at first sight.
7. Great SEO practices for the current year
The main purpose of SEO is to drive traffic to your website, but in order to make this happen, you need a proper plan and a checklist to save you time and efforts.
The challenge that must be taken into account here is the mobile optimization, now that mobile usage is slowly taking over the desktop one.
By mobile-optimized, we mean not only mobile friendly but responsive as well. The way things are now, you should first consider the mobile version of your website first, and only then draft the desktop one.
Luckily, there are many strategies and tips you could use for better optimization. Videos, for instance, help a big deal, because they are more interesting than plain text and engage users into your B2B and B2C marketing strategy. If you skip videos, you will fall behind your competitors, and there is no exception to this rule.
Another practice is that your website content nowadays is by default social content. Social media is given incredible real estate on all search engine ratings, and we believe they will soon be treated as the same thing. For you, this will mean that you have to optimize your content with keywords for social media (prepare separate posts for it, or alter the ones you have), and index them to become relevant on all important platforms.