WordPress is one of the most popular and widely used content management systems. Many internationally and globally renowned websites run on WordPress. However, there is no denying that you can achieve better rankings on search engines with proper WordPress SEO. WordPress SEO takes time to show favourable results. But one of the benefits is that WordPress can handle various issues which hamper website rankings.
Mentioned below are some important and practical tips for improving WordPress SEO rankings:
It Is Best to Use a Focus Keyword
We all know that Google follows an algorithm to rank pages. The algorithm lays a lot of emphasis on keywords, and thus, you cannot undermine their importance.
Writing smart is the mantra for getting more visitors to your website. You should follow SEO best practices while creating content for your target audience. While publishing a page or blogging for your site, make sure you have a focus keyword in mind. Don’t create a post just for the sake of creating. Do your research and make sure that you include the target keywords in the content. Also, analyze the keyword density of the content. The point to note is too much keyword density can be detrimental. So, ensure to maintain a balance.
Installing a WordPress SEO plugin
When it comes to SEO, WordPress is quite good in itself. But, to get better results, it is highly recommended to install an SEO plugin. It provides total control on optimizing how search engines view your website.
There are many WordPress SEO plugins available on the internet. Among them, the Yoast SEO plugin is the most popular choice with web marketers. It has been downloaded million times for installation and comes with a 5-star rating. It is possible to edit meta-descriptions using the plugin. You can also add schema markup, generate XML sitemaps, and write better content.
Installing an SEO-Friendly WordPress Theme
With the initial installation of WordPress, there is a default theme that appears. Very few use this default theme since there are several different themes available, both free and premium. Frankly, you will be spoilt for choices when it comes to WordPress themes.
However, do choose an SEO-friendly theme for your website if you want to rank high. Though many themes claim to be SEO-friendly, they are not. Such themes have plugins and scripts that can lower the performance of the site. So, run the themes through the web development tool by Google to get insights on SEO issues and potential performances. Run your chosen theme through this tool before applying it to ensure that it will not hamper your website’s ranking.
Keyword Research Is Very Important
We all know how the ranking of any website depends on its content. What many don’t know is keyword research is the most crucial part of creating quality content. With proper research, you will have an idea of the search terms you should use for optimizing your website content.
Keyword research should be the first action item you should do, right at the beginning of any SEO project. Keyword research is not only required for the content of the website but also on-page optimization. Identification of the right keywords is crucial. It remains applicable whether you are looking to optimize your website or looking to create new content. The website or page will rank higher in search engines with the proper choice of keywords. There are countless keyword-research tools available for you to choose from.
Choosing a Reliable Hosting Provider
Another thing to be mindful of when trying to improve WordPress SEO rankings is the hosting provider. Ensure that you host the website with a reliable hosting provider. And check things like security, site speed, and uptime when deciding about a hosting provider.
You might not realize it, but the speed of your website has a direct impact on the SEO performance of your WordPress site. It is also good to know that security vulnerabilities and poor uptime might lead to quality issues. It is a general tendency to choose cheap hosting providers. But an unreliable hosting provider result in poor performance of the website. If you are new to SEO, follow the suggestions provided by WordPress regarding hosting providers.
Check the Website’s Visibility Settings
With WordPress, you have the option to “discourage search engines from indexing” your website. It means the website will not rank in search engines. During the development phase, the content and pages are still not ready and complete. Hence, the search engines shouldn’t index the site. It is interesting to note that many developers leave this option active, even after the website goes live, and therefore, the website doesn’t get ranked on search engines. So, check the visibility settings of your website. Ensure to uncheck the box next to “discourage search engines from indexing” by going to Settings and then to Reading to find the visibility settings.
Setting Preferred Domain
This point is a bit technical but is equally vital for your WordPress website ranking.
You can choose your domain as https://domain.com or https://www.domain.com. It will not impact the website’s SEO performance. At the same time, ensure that the website remains accessible on one of these domains. Google considers them as two different URLs.
For setting your preferred domain, go to Settings > General. The other domain version gets redirected to the preferred domain. In case of launching a completely new website, choose from either option. However, if you are replacing an existing site, use the same version that you previously used. And note that you need an SSL certificate for running your website using the ‘HTTPS’ protocol.
Setting up Friendly Permalinks Help
WordPress creates different kinds of messy permalinks by default, which are not clear and very confusing. In the default structure, the date and post name are included in the URL. However, Google has a different story. It prefers URLs, which contain keywords or the title of the content. Moreover, it has preferences for shorter URLs. Hence, use the post name permalink setting. It is not only clean, but it has shown excellent positive results for the website’s SEO.
Meta Descriptions Help in Increasing Click-Through Rates
Many SEO experts opine that the meta descriptions do not have a role in improving rankings of websites in WordPress SEO. It is not valid. Meta descriptions play an important role in affecting click-through rates (CTR).
A well-written meta description makes users click on the post/page in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERP). Higher the CTR, Google will find your content to be more relevant. The result is that the page will rank higher. So, meta descriptions do impact page rankings.
Meta descriptions can be set manually via various plugins used for WordPress SEO. For writing meta descriptions, there is a limitation of 150 – 170 characters. Anything more than that will not be visible on search engine result pages. It is best to have the focus keyword in the meta description. Google highlights the keyword in search results. However, if you don’t have a meta description, there are times when Google will create a meta description automatically.
Word Count Is Vital
High-quality content is not only appreciated by visitors and readers but also by Google. Along with quality, word count is also important. You should post long-form blogs with more word count rather than shorter pieces. Research reports show that websites with longer content rank high on search engine result pages. Content length influences various SEO factors. Longer posts also generate more backlinks. However, depending upon the type of content, the word count will vary. Readers wouldn’t want to go through a very long news article. Along with the focus keywords, you should also use long-tail keyword variations in the content. It will help Google in indexing the website quickly.
Using Proper Heading Tags
Google bots or Google crawlers check various HTML header tags like H1, H2, or H3. Such tags help in determining the relevance of the content on the website. In general, the best idea is to have one H1 tag per page or post. There can be many H2 and H3 tags beneath the H1 tag. It is evident from the hierarchy that the most important header of the content is H1. Preferably this header should contain the focus keyword. The keyword or long-tail variations of the keyword might be present in the other headers as well. Headers are a great way of organizing the content in a better manner for easy readability.
Adding Internal Links in the Content
It is a beneficial and valuable WordPress SEO tip. Insert internal links from your website to other blog posts and pages. It will enhance the interconnectivity, and search engines establish a connection between two related pages. It helps in better crawling. Internal links help in effective navigation as readers can find links of related contents of their interest. As a result, they end up spending more time on the website. Link equity is delegated to the most critical content. Thus, search engines give higher value to the pages and rank higher on search engine result pages.
Adding Alt Text to the Images and Adding Image Title Tags
Alt text stands for alternative text, which is applied for images on the website. Screen readers mainly use alt tags to obtain different contexts for images for visually impaired users. Adding Alt text to images is highly recommended, and in WordPress, it is a straightforward process. If possible, try adding the focus keyword to the image. However, don’t overdo anything and don’t start adding the focus keyword to all the images. Google will treat it as spam.
Mark up the Pages with Schema
Schema markup plays a vital role in enhancing all SEO efforts by adding context to data and content. Google can understand the content of the website in a better manner. Schema also presents the content in various practical ways. Hence a person looking for some information will have a great search experience. You will also get clicks when your page or website gets impressions.
Make Sure That Content Is Updated Regularly
The freshness of content is a crucial aspect when it comes to WordPress SEO. If a page in a website or a blog post contains old and outdated information, it adversely impacts the rankings. The page or the blog post loses its ranking if it isn’t updated. Hence, it is highly recommended to evaluate and revise your website page contents regularly.
While you are updating the posts and the pages on the website, there are few essential things that you must remember. Check the facts provided in the content and concentrate on the search intent. Also, along with quality improvement, ensure to add depth to your content to make the readers show interest in reading the content. It will attract more backlinks as well. Try including actionable tips and credible sources. Update the images in the website or blog post and think about changing the headlines. Lastly, ensure no broken links and the last modification date is displayed on the website.
Understand the Differences Between Do-follow, No-follow, UGC, and Sponsored Links
When it comes to WordPress SEO, there are different kinds of primary links available on the internet. It is essential to know them and understand their differences as well.
- No-follow links – The ‘rel’ attribute of “No-follow” is contained in this link. Such links send messages to search engine crawlers to ignore them. However, no-follow links play an essential role in generating traffic though they don’t impact rankings or pass authority.
Do-follow links – As a default feature, every link you create in WordPress becomes a Do-follow link. When your website is analyzed, these links are crawled by Google. If your website is compliant with all the SEO rules, ranking is boosted, and it also helps establish authority. Many marketers talk of increasing backlinks. It means that they are looking for Do-follow links from different high authority websites.
UGC links – UGC stands for ‘User Generated Content’ links. The primary purpose of these links is to show the time when a user initially created the link.
Sponsored links – It is pretty clear from the name of the link that sponsored links are generally used as a part of paid campaigns. The main ambition of the link is to drive traffic to the website.
Concentrate on Setting up an XML Sitemap
One of the most important things you must do is set up an XML sitemap when it comes to WordPress SEO. All the leading search engines use these sitemaps. They help in understanding the structure and hierarchy of the WordPress website. As a result, you can expect better crawling of your website. It is not that sitemaps are mandatory, but it is possible to obtain detailed reporting data about the website if you have one. You can turn on the XML sitemap setting from the WordPress dashboard to implement this feature.
Indeed, SEO can contribute to the success of any business. When you have a WordPress website, you must take care of the various SEO aspects. It will help in maintaining the quality and lifespan of the website successfully.