SEO is crucial for a successful website, and with user-friendly content management systems (CMS) such as WordPress it has never been easier to develop your SEO. But how can you boost your WordPress SEO? Well, it’s not as hard as you might think, and we’ve put together this list of 24 tips to give you a head start.
How to boost your WordPress SEO
1. Use a great web hosting service
Your choice of web hosting provider will directly impact the speed of your website, its security and its overall SEO performance. When choosing your hosting provider, consider the options carefully – don’t just go for the cheapest.
Try and pick a web hosting service that is optimised for the type of website you are running. This will result in even greater page speeds. Choosing a reputable hosting service will be much more reliable and result in less downtime, and improved SEO rankings.
Some great web hosting services approved by WordPress include Bluehost, Dreamhost and SiteGround.
2. Set a preferred domain
When choosing your domain name, keep in mind accessibility. Whether you plan to use https://domain.com, https://www.domain.com or https://www.domain.co.uk remember that from Google’s point of view, these are separate URLs.
If you are launching a brand new WordPress website, you have a lot of freedom when choosing your domain name. However, if you are updating or replacing an existing website, make sure to use the same domain name you previously used.
3. Choose the right WordPress theme
Your choice of theme is a make or break decision and must be carefully considered. It can determine everything from the colour scheme and layout of your site to the user experience and SEO. There are thousands of free and paid themes available, so make sure you choose carefully to avoid a non-SEO-friendly WordPress theme. If you’re in any doubt, speak to a web design agency who will be able to help you choose the best theme for your requirements.
Complicated themes with complex code can cause multiple issues related to page speed and the ability to boost SEO on WordPress. Make sure that you are choosing a well-written theme that is SEO friendly. Plus, search engines rank mobile-optimised content more favourably, so choose a theme with responsive design to ensure it is optimised across all devices.
4. Install a WordPress SEO plugin
If this is your first rodeo, you may be asking yourself, can you do SEO on WordPress? Well, the answer is yes! WordPress plugins make SEO accessible for all abilities. Our favourite WordPress SEO plugins include Yoast SEO, Redirection, Smush, Contact Form 7, Title and Nofollow for Links.
Keeping your plugins updated is essential, and with the arrival of WordPress 5.5, you can now automatically update them. However, if you are using an older version of WordPress, remember to continually update your plugins manually for the best results.
5. Ensure your site is visible to search engines
WordPress gives you the option to ‘discourage search engines from indexing’ your site. If search bots can’t crawl your website due to its technical setup, it won’t rank in the search results. Disabling visibility is a technical feature more commonly used by web developers while they are building a website to stop an incomplete page or domain being indexed. However, it is extremely common to find out that this feature has been left selected, even after launch!
Don’t let visibility affect your WordPress SEO. Check your site’s visibility settings by heading to Settings > Reading.
6. Create your sitemap
A sitemap is a list of all the pages and content on your website. This is usually organised into a hierarchy based on the importance of pages. A sitemap’s primary use is to communicate information to search engine bots, enabling crawlers to quickly understand how your website pages relate to each other. Ideally, your sitemap will be in .xml format as this helps search engines to index your site content faster.
Once you’ve spent time working on a great sitemap, you want this to be recognised by the search engine. So go ahead and submit your most up-to-date sitemap on the Google Search Console. While you’re there, make sure that you have verified your website domain.
There are many useful WordPress plugins for sitemaps such as Google XML Sitemaps and Yoast SEO. Simply install the plugin, download your sitemap and then upload the file to Google Search Console.
7. Optimise your URLs
Your page URL is a fantastic opportunity to aid the indexing of your site for relevant search queries. For example, if your website page is about high heels and this is also your chosen keyword, then make sure your URL slug contains /high-heels.
As with your keyword choice, make sure that your URLs do not cannibalise each other, You can do this by making sure each page URL is unique, as well as user and search engine friendly.
8. Follow the canonical brick road?
Make full use of your canonical tags for pages. The rel=canonical element, referred to as a canonical link, is an HTML element that helps to prevent duplicate content issues. It does this by telling the search engine that the URL with the canonical tag is the ‘preferred’ and original version of a web page.
If you have multiple versions of the same content, your canonical tag will point search engines to the tagged version as opposed to the others. Therefore, in the eyes of the search engine, there is only one version of the particular page. This avoids issues with duplicate content where search bots don’t know which version to show in their results.
9. Fix broken links and page errors
Technical issues on your website are one of the biggest problems for WordPress SEO. Broken links and page errors can affect the search engine bot’s ability to crawl your website and index your pages.
To identify technical issues that may be impacting your WordPress SEO, you will ideally undertake an SEO audit. Some SEO agencies offer free SEO audits which cover technical site issues, on-page SEO opportunities, domain and authority, site performance checks, mobile user experience and keyword rankings.
10. Make full use of your schema markup
A schema markup is a piece of code added to your website that helps the search engines return more informative results for users. Schema markups can increase WordPress SEO efforts by helping Google to understand your content and present it in value-adding ways.
By adding context to your pages, it is more likely that you will rank higher and increase clicks through to the page. Plus, it can also pull information through to the SERPs.
11. Avoid penalisation using WordPress’ best practices
Keep in mind best WordPress SEO practices when managing your website. Search engines can penalise websites that do not adhere to best practices, so a few simple tactics you can follow to avoid penalisation include:
- Making important site updates in a test environment to avoid accidental website crashes
- Updating your theme and plugins regularly to ensure you are running the most up-to-date versions
- Ensuring your website is mobile-friendly
- Ensuring you have an SSL certificate, especially if you have an eCommerce site
12. Keyword research
Here at Tillison, we are often asked ‘how do I rank my WordPress site on Google?’, and the answer for us starts with keyword research. Keywords are the foundations on which your website should be built, so spend time finding the best, most relevant ones for your site. Make sure that the search intent behind your chosen keywords matches your ranking goals for the page. There are several types of search intent, the main being ‘informational’ and ‘transactional’. Keywords with informational intent may contain words such as:
- Can I
- How to
- Best way to
Keywords with transactional intent may contain:
The Google search bar is a great way to see what people are searching for. Start typing a query and Google will autofill commonly searched terms.
You can also use dedicated tools to boost WordPress SEO, such as the Yoast WordPress plugin and Ubersuggest, which is an online keyword search tool. To use these tools, enter a word or phrase into the search bar. You will then be able to view a range of data such as related keywords, and search volume.
Avoid cannibalisation by choosing unique keywords for each website page. Cannibalisation negatively affects your search rankings as your pages compete for the same terms.
13. Communicate your WordPress SEO strategy
The key to successful WordPress SEO is having a written strategy. Once you’ve completed your keyword research, put your favoured terms into a structured plan. A written SEO strategy is great for referencing back to, as well as ensuring multiple people working on your website understand and follow the same blueprint.
14. Create awesome meta that contains your keywords
When referring to meta, there are three key areas to consider:
- Meta keywords attribute: your chosen keywords that are relevant to the page
- Meta title: the text that appears at the top of your browser. Search engines will see this as the ‘title’ of your page
- Meta description: a short description of the page that appears underneath the title in a search result
You can boost WordPress SEO by optimising your meta with relevant keywords. There are several tools and plugins you can use to increase WordPress SEO, the most popular being Yoast.
15. Monitor WordPress SEO rankings for keyword ‘quick wins’
It goes without saying, but the key to increasing SEO on WordPress is monitoring the changes in your rankings. By monitoring your website, you can find new keywords for your pages which may be more relevant. We also recommend searching for SEO ‘quick wins’. Quick wins are keywords with a good monthly search volume and low competition.
There are several free tools you can use to do this such as SEMrush and Google Analytics. You can also use tools like Google Search Console to identify the search queries that present your content to users. Often, these can differ from the keywords you are already optimising your page for and can open up further optimisation opportunities including quick wins.
16. Keep WordPress SEO in line with algorithm changes
Google is very focused on content quality and regularly reviews its algorithms. Occasionally, it releases significant updates that have a huge effect on the current search results. For example, algorithm updates such as Google Panda and Google Penguin greatly impacted low-quality domains and content farms.
Keep abreast of algorithm updates, and adjust your approach if necessary.
17. Remove and block spam comments
Spam comments don’t add value to the topic of your blog and can affect the user experience for other blog readers. Plus, search engines won’t like references to random subjects with irrelevant external links.
The latest versions of WordPress can actually detect spam comments and apply no-follow links to them. Plus, you can install helpful plugins such as Akismet and Cookies For Comment to help prevent spam comments. WordPress also has a handy manual approval option, which can be found in the settings under ‘before a comment appears’. Once this option has been selected, comments will only appear on your website once you have approved them.
18. Include author bios to boost WordPress SEO
Author bios are a great tactic to increase WordPress SEO. They tell the user and search engine why the author is qualified to be discussing the topic. In fact, if you are talking about subjects that can have a direct impact on readers’ happiness, health, financial success or wellbeing, author bios can have a massive impact on your search ranking.
From a user perspective, author bios are a great way to put a ‘name to a face’. This will increase the trust between the user and the author, as well as their overall relationship with your brand.
19. Use relevant internal links
Internal linking is an extremely effective way to boost your WordPress SEO. Adding internal links will support your keyword strategy, help to pass authority throughout the website, and aid the flow of traffic. All of this helps to improve your SEO.
You should continually look through your web pages to find new internal lining opportunities which will aid your current keyword priorities.
20. Optimise your image file names and add alt text
As the saying goes, a picture is worth 1,000 words, and in the case of SEO, this is also true. Not only do alt tags increase accessibility for visually impaired users, but they help search engines to make sense of the image and its relationship to the page content. Remember, search bots can’t ‘see’ the image like you can!
Adding image file names and alt text is a simple task, and can be accessed using the image settings on WordPress. Ensure that your image file name and alt text contain the keywords you want your page to rank for.
21. Create awesome, keyword-rich content
To boost SEO on WordPress, your content needs to be built around your keyword strategy, as well as being engaging and share-worthy. Whether you are writing a blog or adding a section of text to a page, keep your keywords and audience in mind.
Awesome content is more likely to be shared, and Google considers engagement when ranking search results. Where possible, aim to write longer, richer content to discuss a subject in depth. This isn’t to say that shorter content won’t rank highly, but it gives you more opportunity to optimise with keywords and add value to your audience.
Text used within your headline is considered to be the most important of all, so make sure to optimise this with your chosen keywords. Subheadings (H2-H6) are lower in hierarchy to your headline (H1), however, they are still great at providing structure to your content, and informing search bots of keywords.
Make the most of your heading tags throughout your content and always have readability in mind. Ask yourself if you can make it into a list or use subheadings to break up the text. Using keywords in your heading tags can help search engine crawlers to see how your page is organised. Plus, headings aid readability and improve engagement.
Remember that duplicate content will do you no favours. In fact, it can negatively impact your WordPress SEO, so make sure that each page is unique. A useful tool for content writing is the Semrush Writing Assistant, which provides content optimisation recommendations based on the current best-performing articles on Google. The Semrush Writing Assistant is a handy extension that you can add to both WordPress and Google Docs.
22. Consistently publish content
While engaging, keyword-rich content is essential to boost SEO on your WordPress website, Google’s algorithm will also consider the frequency of posting. This is because the search engine will look for the newest, freshest content that it considers to be relevant to the search query. High-quality, older content can still perform well, though.
You may be wondering how often you should publish content, but a ‘one size fits all approach’ doesn’t always work in this situation. Most digital marketers will suggest posting at least once per week. However, the frequency of content ultimately depends on your company, and what you do.
For example, if you work in an industry which rarely changes, then you may be able to publish content once a week, or even once a month. However, if you operate in a fast paced industry which regularly changes, then you may find yourself uploading content multiple times per week.
The key to finding your sweet spot, is to monitor your website traffic. If you increase your posting to twice per week instead of the usual one time per week, and see double the monthly website traffic then continuing to post twice per week would be beneficial. However, If you increase the frequency of posting and don’t see a great deal of change to your website traffic, then it’s worth sticking to your original posting schedule.
23. Develop your backlink profile
Backlinks are a great way to increase WordPress SEO. When a website with a high domain authority links to your website (a backlink), it can help to raise the domain authority of your website and signals to search engines that your content is ‘better’. Think of this as a ‘referral’, and the better the ‘person’ referring to you, the more authority you can obtain.
When it comes to backlinks, you must remember quality over quantity. It is much better to have fewer backlinks from a whole domain than hundreds from the same page.
While backlinks from high-authority domains can increase WordPress SEO, low-authority and spammy backlinks can harm it. Try to regularly check which external sites are linking to yours using handy backlink audit tools such as Semrush. Disavow spam and low-authority domains through Google Search Console to ensure they aren’t affecting your WordPress SEO.
24. Integrate WordPress SEO with social media activity
Google ranks content more favourably if it is being engaged with and talked about across the internet. So, help out by sharing your content across your social media channels. You can also add social sharing options to your page content for easy sharing.
Remember to use engaging text in your posts, use keywords within the post text and add relevant hashtags for better visibility.
There are many tools you can use to share your content on social media such as Hootsuite and Buffer.
SEO covers a broad range of tactics and strategies that can seem very intimidating if you’re just starting out. But there are a variety of helpful techniques and tools that can be used to help increase WordPress SEO and page rankings.
Take some time to implement some of the suggested tactics and monitor your rankings to see improvement. No matter your starting point, by implementing just a few of our WordPress SEO tips, you’ll be on your way to improving your search rankings in no time!
Still need help with your SEO? Take a look at our expert SEO management services to significantly increase your organic traffic through sustained and effective SEO tactics.