WordPress is already an SEO-friendly platform. But there are some additional steps to maximize your SEO efforts and get better search engine ranking for your content. You might be wondering what these steps are.
That is what I will discuss today. This post will introduce you to the essential steps to ensure the best SEO for a WordPress site. Let’s get started with the default settings provided by WordPress.
WordPress comes with several ready-made options to help you get better SEO ranking. Here are the SEO features readily available in WordPress –
a. Visibility Settings
WordPress has a default option to hide the website from search engines. You can use this feature to prepare your website before you are ready to open it to the public.
This option will be enabled when WordPress is installed for the first time. But you need to disable this feature so that search engines can find and crawl your website. To do that, go to Settings > Reading, find out the “Search Engine Visibility” option and uncheck the box.
b. SEO-friendly Permalinks
Using SEO-friendly permalink structure is another important step in optimizing your WordPress website. The best URL should clearly indicate what the page is about, look friendly to both the human and search engines.
For example, can you guess what the following URL will lead you to?
The URL makes it clear that the post is about optimizing images on your WordPress site. But how about these URL’s?
Can you guess what these pages are about? You can’t do that unless you visit the links. You should avoid this type of links and use clear a permalink structure. To do that, go to Settings > Permalinks, and choose “Post Name” as the default option.
Use an SEO Plugin
WordPress has thousands of plugins for different categories, including SEO. A quick search in the official directory will provide you with hundreds of SEO plugins for different purposes. Among these, two SEO plugins are the most useful – Yoast SEO and All in One SEO.
If you are a beginner, Yoast SEO will be the best choice for you. It offers a unique snippet preview to check out how your content will look like on the search results page. The page analysis tool will help you optimize the content by reminding you about adding images, heading tags, alt tags for images, meta description, keyword usage, and so on.
The plugin will also help you create and manage the sitemap, .htaccess, and robots.txt files. You will find separate options to work with social media integration, AMP implementation, breadcrumb, etc.
Optimize Your Content for SEO
Using an SEO plugin doesn’t ensure better SEO results for your content. You need to optimize your content and continue other ongoing steps to get better search engine ranking.
For each blog post, you should target a primary keyword. This keyword should be included in the title, URL, meta description, first paragraph of the post, and a few more times inside the content. You need to make sure that the keywords are positioned naturally without breaking the flow of the text.
It is also necessary to find some secondary or long tail keywords and use these on your blog posts.
Add A Sitemap
The sitemap is a special file that includes links to all the posts and pages of your website. This file helps the search engines to find all the new and existing content of your site. As a result, the new content will be indexed quickly.
Having a sitemap doesn’t have any direct impact on your website’s SEO output, but it plays a significant role in enhancing the visibility of your content. Most SEO plugins like Yoast SEO will create and update the XML sitemap automatically.
Add Your Website to Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a collection of some handy tools that offer in-depth information about the performance of your content in the search engine. For instance, you can check out how the posts look like in search results, track the search queries used by the visitors, how often your pages are visited against those search terms, and so on.
To add your website, go to the Webmaster Tools page, and click the “Add a property” link. Provide your website URL in the resulting pop-up and click “Add.” Next, you have to verify the ownership of the website. There are various ways to do this, you can choose the method that suits you.
The next step is to add the sitemap. Navigate to the dashboard and click on the website you just added. Then, go to Crawl > Sitemaps, and click the “Add/Test Sitemap” button. Provide the URL to the sitemap and click “Submit.”
Depending on the size of your website, it may take a while to finish the process. Once the sitemap is added, you can check out all the details about your content on the dashboard.
Use Proper Internal Linking
Linking to other posts on your site is an effective way to encourage the visitors to spend more time on your site, get more pageviews, and enjoy better page authority for your content.
You should make it a habit to interlink to at least three of your other content from each post. If you are running a multi-author post, add a rule to your editorial calendar that each author has to include at least three internal links in their posts.
There are some WordPress plugins that will automatically add links based on the tags, keywords, etc. But I don’t recommend using plugins for internal linking. You should do the linking manually to avoid excessive internal linking and maintain the quality.
Use SEO-friendly Resources
There are some other factors which also have some effect on the SEO of your website. For example, the loading speed of your website is a Google-recognized ranking factor. Besides the essential website optimization, you can enjoy better loading speed by choosing a professional hosting provider, using a dedicated or VPS server for your website. What’s more, you can enhance the loading speed by utilizing advanced techniques like lazy loading and CDN services.
What theme you use can also have an impact on your SEO result. You should choose a theme which features professional, W3C valid code. It is true that most modern WordPress themes are developed with SEO-friendly coding, but it won’t hurt to check it before choosing a theme.
Getting better SEO results is a continuous process. This article introduced you to the basic steps of ensuring the best SEO for your WordPress site. Get started with these steps and gradually move towards the advanced techniques to get better search engine ranking.