By improving your WordPress SEO you can quickly increase your website traffic and revenue.
The default installation of WordPress has better SEO than other counterparts, but there is a lot you need to do to improve the SEO of WordPress.
In this beginner’s friendly tutorial, I have shared everything you can do to optimizing your website for WordPress SEO.
How do I’m sure of that?
Well, ShoutMeLoud (this blog) runs on WordPress and we receive more than 1 million page views every month.
However, one thing that you should know, there are rumors that WordPress has the best possible SEO options. But this is not entirely true!
Let me elaborate.
WordPress is not SEO friendly.
At least, the default WordPress installation is not.
If you, like many others, believe that your stock installation of WordPress will get you excellent, or even good rankings on search engines, you are misinformed.
WordPress needs to be SEO optimized for search engine bots to understand your WordPress website and rank you appropriately. Luckily, making your WordPress blog SEO friendly is rather easy with the help of this guide and with combinations of WordPress SEO plugins.
Here, I will outline some of the default settings of WordPress which are not SEO friendly, and what you should do to make it SEO friendly.
Basics of WordPress SEO:
WordPress SEO can be categorized into 3 levels:
- On Page WordPress SEO
- On-Site WordPress SEO
- Off-site WordPress SEO
On page SEO and On-site SEO, are something that you can easily take care of with the help of your content, plugins and a bit of discipline.
Off-Site WordPress SEO consists of generating backlinks to your website. This can be achieved by outreach, broken link building or by utilizing other techniques.
In this guide, we are more focused on On Page and On-Site aspect of SEO.
Let me explain these two with a simple example:
This technique will help you to optimize any post/page on WordPress for a target keyword. This helps search engine understand what your content is about and help you rank for the right keyword. If you like to learn more about this, read our guide on On page SEO.
These are more technical SEO settings where you help search engine bots effectively crawl and index your website. Factors like page speed, Robots.txt, and others play a major role.
Again, if you understand the basics with the help of this WordPress SEO tutorial, you will have no problem optimizing your WordPress website.
11 Steps to make WordPress site SEO friendly
1. Add your WordPress Website to Search console
Google search console is a free SEO tool by Google that you should use from day one. Even if you don’t know how to use it, you should add your website to Google search console.
This will help you to collect all important data and as you move forward with your WordPress SEO learnings, this data will help you in faster optimization of your WordPress website.
Here is a detailed tutorial on how to submit your website to Google search console.
2. Implement WordPress Sitemap
Let’s start with Sitemap, which is an XML file containing an index of all important link (Posts, Pages, Tags, categories) of your WordPress website. This sitemap file will help search engine bots like Google bots to effectively find all the pages of your website.
There are many WordPress Sitemap plugins out there, but I prefer using Yoast SEO Sitemap feature which is one of the oldest and reliable one out there. All you need to do is install and activate the plugin and go to plugin settings and generate a sitemap for your blog.
By default, your sitemap link will be http://domain.com/sitemap.xml (Ex. sitemap)
- Bonus tip: Also add a Sitemap link at the footer of your Blog and also in the Robots.txt of your Blog.
The WordPress default permalink is not SEO friendly, and you need to change that as well.
The SEO friendly URL is one which is easy to read. Example:
Whereas non-friendly URL’s uses the numbers and it’s hard for a normal user to understand the content.
Here is an example of non friendly URL’s:
You should always use a search engine friendly URL structure.
If you have read my WordPress essential setup guide, you might avoid making this mistake. But if you are still doing this, it’s time to change your permalink structure to a more search engine friendly version.
I have already covered this in detail in my earlier guide:
Update: In the latest versions of WordPress, the permalink is search friendly. You may not need to make any changes.
4. Prevent duplicate content penalty:
Duplicate content is another major issue that affects the overall WordPress SEO score. The cause of the duplicate content issue is when more than one URL of your webpage shows the same content.
This usually happens when you set your archive pages (category, tags, dates) to index and instead of showing excerpt, you should the complete content. This confuses the search engine and causes a duplicate content penalty.
Broken links are the dead end for search engine bots and add the negative score to your overall search engine optimization effort. Broken links can be easily taken care in WordPress using plugins like:
You should periodically scan your WordPress website for any broken links and fix it with new links. The above two plugins will help you do the same.
6. Use Structured data markup:
Structured data helps the search engine understand more about the data of your content. For example, you can markup a blog post as an article, an event type as an event page and add data like event start date/end date, and this shows in SERPs.
Similarly, for review articles, you can show the star rating in the search engine.
IMO structured data is the most underutilized WordPress SEO technique that you can use to outperform your competitors.
For this, you can use a plugin called Schema pro plugin.
7. Use SSL and HTTPS:
Using an SSL certificate (free or paid) let you use the HTTPS protocol. This ensures the data between your website and visitors browser are encrypted.
Google has already made it official that HTTPS is a ranking signal and something you should not miss using.
Most of the WordPress hosting companies now offer free SSL certificate which is idle for any information based or non-transactional WordPress website. If you are using WooCommerce or any other e-commerce platform on WordPress, you can consider using a paid SSL certificate.
8. Replytocom and Other URL Parameters
This is another big SEO issue with WordPress.
If you check out your comment box reply link, it will show something like:
There are many fixes for this. You can use the WordPress SEO by Yoast permalink options to fix it, or you can use URL parameter settings in your Google Webmaster tool.
There are many other such URL parameters which are used by WordPress (usually because of new WordPress plugins and/or theme settings), and you should use the Webmaster tool’s URL parameter settings to make sure your blog never gets victimized because of this WordPress SEO issue.
9. SEO Title and Meta Description
Whenever we talk about SEO friendly blogs, we can’t miss out on one of the most common optimization techniques: SEO titles and meta descriptions.
Matt answered by saying they want these things to be optional because there are so many plugins out there, and the user should pick the one that suits them the best.
Though, in my opinion, it would be good if Automattic added an SEO feature to the stock WordPress installation. This would help new users make their on-page SEO stronger. But for now, you can always use any WordPress SEO plugins to add an SEO meta title and SEO meta description.
- Check out: Best WordPress SEO plugins
10. Image Alt tax and Image Sitemap
I’m not sure how many of you are utilizing images to improve the presentation of your content, but if you are not doing it, you should start adding images in your Blog post. If you are asking Why you should?
- It will make your post presentation better
- It will make your content Pinnable on Pinterest
- It will help you drive more organic traffic via Images search.
These are some of the advantages which I listed and now lets stick to the main topic and that is: Optimizing your WordPress images for the search engine. Unlike text content, Search engine bots use Alt tag to understand and rank an image.
You can use SEO friendly images plugin to create auto ALT tag for all your images but make sure your images name are meaningful. Use simple naming convention like WordPress-SEO.jpeg instead of DSC001.jpeg.
Also, if your blog has lots of images, you can consider creating a sitemap of WordPress images and submit it to Google search console for deep indexing. I have tried this method, and this not only helped me to rank fairly high for some competitive Keywords but also helped me to drive targeted traffic.
12. Optimize WordPress Loading Speed
The loading time of your pages is one of the factors in search engine ranking, and WordPress is one of the most memory-hogging platforms out there.
Well, not exactly.
The stock version is okay, but when you keep adding new plugins and themes, your database grows over time. When this happens, your site slows down.
There are a few things you could do from day one to improve the loading speed of your WordPress site. Here are a few things that could help:
Use a cache plugin:
Currently, I use the WP Rocket plugin for caching and improving the performance of my WordPress blog. I highly recommend you try it too.
Especially if you are embedding videos from YouTube on your posts/pages, your load time will be really high.
I used Google analytics Site speed feature to find out that some of the popular pages of ShoutMeLoud have very slow loading time, as there are embedded videos from YouTube. (See analytics screenshot below)
By utilizing the lazy load videos feature of WP-Rocket, I was able to improve the loading time of these pages significantly.
Here is the setting that I used to achieve lazy load videos in WordPress:
Take your time to configure the cache plugin properly and this will drastically improve the loading time of your WordPress website, which in turn will improve WordPress SEO significantly.
Use an Image Compression plugin:
This is another underutilized technique which is highly recommended for every WordPress users.
Images are important but they decrease load time. The solution is to compress your images which degrading the quality. Thanks to the advancement of technology, now there are plugins that automatically compresses the images on your WordPress website.
ShortPixels is one such plugin that I use here at ShoutMeLoud which works out of the box.
You can use this plugin for compressing all existing images on your WordPress website and new images as well.
Here is a ShortPixel video guide, if you like learning by watching videos:
Also, work on limiting your plugins to make your blog load faster.
From time to time, keep deleting your post revisions, and Optimize your database for any redundant tables.
These are just a few features which make standard WordPress blogs non-SEO friendly.
There are many other things which every WordPress user should do to make his/her blog optimized for search engines.
- Create A Sitemap For Your WordPress Blog
- Control Indexing Of Tags And Categories Pages
- Write SEO Articles
Here are a few more WordPress SEO articles, which will help you in making your WordPress blog more search engine friendly:
Check out this WordPress SEO training video:
Do let me know what other practices you follow to make your non-SEO friendly WordPress blog SEO friendly.
Share your tips in the comments below!
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