15 Sep 2018

WordPress SEO: 50 Bite-Sized Tips to Take WordPress Site on #1

How would it feel if you could implement one simple but effective SEO tip that improves the visibility of your WordPress (WP) website on the search engines and drives increased traffic?

Better yet, what if you could get 50 of these tips?

You would probably feel on top of your game, right?

Well, today you are in luck because the team at SmallSEOTools is bringing you, not one, but a whopping 50 surefire WordPress SEO tips to turbocharge the performance of your WordPress site in search engine result pages (SERPs), drive tons of traffic, and bring in all the sales.

What’s more, we’ve simplified these tips down to nearly bite-sized pieces that you can easily digest and actually implement.

Ready for the ride? Here we go:

1. Install a WordPress SEO plugin


WordPress is already coded with SEO in mind, however, you can take your optimization to the next level by using an SEO plugin. There are a couple of useful WordPress SEO plugins on the market, but we've found Yoast SEO to really stand out because of the enormity of the features it packs. It does more than handling titles and descriptions. The plugin takes care breadcrumbs, sitemaps, social markup, robots.txt, .htaccess, page readability, and duplicate content. That’s just the free version.



2. Use a CDN


The job of a Content Delivery Network (CDN) is to supercharge your WP website's performance. When you use a CDN, your content is cached and stored on servers at different locations around the world. When a visitor request for the content, the closest server to them delivers it. This takes the load off of your web server while speeding up the delivery of your WordPress site’s static (and sometimes dynamic) content such as images, CSS, JavaScript, and video streams to your visitors, resulting in better user experience and then rankings. Some reliable free solutions are MaxCDN and Cloudflare.



3. Set up a clean permalink format


When you first install WordPress, the permalink (permanent link of a page) structure of your site’s pages and posts will look disorganized. This default format won't cut it for SEO. The cleanest and most SEO-friendly URL format is the “Post name” setting. This setting allows you to include your keywords in the URL. To change this setting, go to Settings › Permalink on the WP dashboard.



4. Create a sitemap for your website

Sitemaps make crawling your WordPress website easier. No doubt, your site will still get crawled without one, but creating a sitemap allows you to report the data that you want the search engines to crawl, thereby controlling how your site gets indexed.

5. Utilize Google Analytics

Google Analytics will show you how well your SEO strategy is working by giving you an in-depth breakdown of your site’s traffic. To set up your GA account, navigate to this Google Analytics page. Additionally, you may want to use a WP plugin to integrate your GA account with your WP site.

6. Add your site to Google Search Console

Using Google Search Console will show you how your site is currently performing in the search engines, and alert you to any sitewide errors.



7. Use search engine optimized themes


While WordPress is SEO-friendly, that does not mean that all themes will be. The wrong WordPress theme can mar your WordPress site. Ensure that the theme you choose is properly coded and that the developer regularly updates it to be compatible with the latest WordPress core. Your theme should be flexible enough to meet your needs but also lightweight enough to not weigh down your site with unnecessary bloat.

8. Make your content shareable


When it comes to SEO, social signals play a big role. And what better way to generate social signals than to add sharing buttons on your WordPress site. With social sharing buttons, users will be able to to easily share your content.



9. Fix every security issue


Google and other search engines take security pretty seriously. Not only should you fix every impending security issues, but you should also continually keep an eye on it. Some of the most reliable WordPress security plugins are Wordfence and Sucuri.

10. Regularly update your theme, plugins, and WordPress core


Without keeping your WordPress up to date, you're opening your site to troubles, including SEO issues. Keep the trio updated on a regular basis.


11. Improve load time


Look for ways to reduce the overall load time of your site. This can be done by compressing images, reducing the use of external scripts, leveraging caching, minifying CSS and more.



12. Fix broken links


Broken links aren't just bad for your readers, they also make it harder for the search bots to crawl your site. The easiest way to check your site for broken links is to use our freemium broken link checker.

13. Block spam comments


Spam comments where random people leave nonsense messages on your site then leave a backlink to whatever, veto them. Those comments make up part of your site and Google frowns at them.



14. Disable author archives in single-author blogs

Author archive pages will be the same as your blog homepage, listing all the latest posts by the same author thereby passing for duplicate content. Thus, it's best to disable author archives in single-author blogs.


15. Switch to a responsive design


To do well on SERPs, you have to offer a great user experience. And a great place to start is making your site responsive.



16. Customize your robots.txt

If you don’t want Googlebot to crawl and index specific directories or pages of your WP site, you can block them straight from your robots.txt. Try our free robots.txt tool to get started.



17. Remove redundant plugins


Too many plugins on a WordPress website leads to site overload. Which means, slower load speed. If you don't need it, nix it. Get rid of plugins your site is not using to free up some space.


18. Set up AMP

Google’s AMP Project has made it easy to ensure that your WordPress website is mobile-friendly. Web pages and ads published in the AMP open-source format load nearly instantly, setting up your site for great SERPs performance.



18. Integrate local SEO


Local SEO has become more important than ever. You can use the Google My Business plugin to integrate local search into your WordPress site.


19. Remove defaults from your WordPress site


Besides permalinks, WordPress also comes with other defaults which aren't healthy for your site's SEO. For instance, most themes come with placeholders like dummy content, filler text, or lorem ipsum carrying old dates. You want to ensure you get rid of those.


20. Create schema markup (aka structured data)

Providing search engines with structured data is necessary for them to understand and index the data on your website correctly. Structured data also aids search engines for voice searches. Pretend keyboards will become non-existent by 2021.



21. Set up social markup


Apart from schema markup, there is also social markup, which is used to generate the thumbnails that appear on Facebook and Twitter when you share a blog post. While it is unknown how much these affect WordPress SEO, it never hurts to let Google know just which social networks are connected to your WP site.


22. Be careful with functions.php file


The functions.php file behaves like a WordPress plugin, adding features and functionality to a WordPress site. If you play careless with your functions.php file, there's a high chance you'll break your site if you're not well-experienced with WordPress coding. If a crawler tries crawling your site and finds the dreaded white screen of death, you run the risk of getting deindexed.



23. Optimize your WP for rich snippets


If you optimize your content for snippets, even if your post ranks #7 in Google, it can still get that coveted position #0 in SERPs. You then have two links ranking on the first page.

24. Set up breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are vital navigational elements for most web pages. But they don't stop there. They can help search engines navigate your site better, resulting in better rankings. Yoast SEO takes care of breadcrumbs, too.


25. Optimize your WordPress site for voice

Voice search and digital personal assistants are one of the biggest SEO trends in the new era. You'll first learn how to write more conversational content. Then you can integrate features like voice search capability to provide users with top experience.



26. Stay updated


SEO is really about what you know TODAY…not what worked yesterday. One of the best things you can do for your SEO strategy is to stay updated by following the best SEO and content marketing blogs and YouTube channels. We frequently post regular, up-to-date SEO information here on this blog. You can also sign up for our newsletter, where we share even more exclusive content on a regular basis.


27. Integrate Google+


Google+ is the highest correlated social factor for rankings on Google according to an in-depth study on the impact of social on rankings. Install a Google Plus plugin to integrate your WordPress site.



28. Turn on search engine visibility

There’s a built-in option within WordPress that will hide your site from the search engines. This is useful if you're still building you site and don't want search engines indexing it. But after you're done, don't forget to turn it on otherwise your site will not be visible on search results. To find this feature, go to Settings › Reading from within the WordPress dashboard.


29. Think bigger picture

It’s not just about getting ranked today. It's about building a solid content structure that you can manage and look for long-term gains. You won’t rank #1 today, but with the right content and SEO strategy, you can be #1 in a year.


30. Keep it simple

Google loves simplicity. No need to decorate your site with all kinds of bells and whistles. Keep your WordPress website clean, simple, and minimal.


31. Always use a focus keyword

With a focus keyword, your content misses its search direction. It's like driving without knowing where you are going. The Yoast SEO plugin makes it easy to create a focus keyword for each post you create.



32. Optimize your title tags

Your title tag refers to the name of your post or page as it appears on your blog and SERPs. Your title tag is your most important heading tag. It tells Google what your page is about, and will influence whether readers will click through to your result.


33. Increase CTR with meta descriptions

A well-written meta description can entice the user to click on your post in SERPs instead of the competitor's own. The higher CTR you have, the more relevant Google will deem your content and raise your ranking. Initially, meta description was staked at a 156 character limit. Google raised it in December 2017 to 320 characters, but then reverted back to 150 and 170 characters.


34. Assign header tags correctly

Googlebot checks HTML header tags such as H1, H2, H3, etc. to determine the relevancy of your site content. Generally, the best practice is to have a single H1 tag per post or page and then multiple H2s and H3s underneath that. On your WP site, you can create a header by using the dropdown in the visual editor. This automatically assigns the block of text the


HTML tags that Google will read.




35. Short URLs win the game

Google likes WordPress sites that are clean, organized, and structured; this includes using short URLs. They can also help improve your CTR. MarketingSherpa ran a study and they discovered that executives are 250% more likely to click on an organic listing if it had a fairly short URL and appeared directly below a listing with a long URL.


36. “Force-crawl” your WP site

Did you know you can “force-crawl” your site from your end? When you do, your site get indexed by the search engines instantly. You don't have to wait for days anymore. And this mean beating your competitors to indexation. You can force-crawl your content in Google Search Console and the Bing Webmaster Tools.


37. Optimize your images with ALT text


Running a WordPress site, there is a high chance that you will use images in your blog posts and pages. ALT text refers to the ALT attribute or alternative text that is applied on images on your WordPress site. ALT tags are used by Google to see how relevant your image is to the content around it. They are also used by screen readers for visually impaired people.


38. Don't waste your time with meta keywords

Originally, meta keywords were a ranking factor in search engines. But folks started abusing it. So Google and Bing stopped considering them. If you fill meta keywords in today's SEO, it might appear spamming.



39. Do keyword research

Keyword research will make or break your WordPress SEO strategy. Doing keyword research will allow you to create content your visitors are actually searching for. Once you determine your keywords, sprinkle them all over your WordPress site (pages and posts).



40. Avoid plugins conflict

While plugin conflicts are a reality in WordPress, you will want to minimize them. Plugins add several files to your site. Any conflict could slow down or even break your site. This is the exact kind of user experience Google is trying to avoid. Basically, avoid installing two different plugins that perform the same functions and deactivate unneeded ones.



41. Use a caching plugin

A caching plugin will generate static HTML files, instead of the PHP files normally required to run WordPress. This will minimize the number of requests between the server and your user’s browser, which will decrease your loading speeds. Some of the most common WordPress caching plugins include W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache.


42. Use quality web hosting

The quality of we host your WordPress site is built on cam determine to a great extent how well you do in search. First instance, misconfiguration from the server side can cause slowness. This is why choosing a correct web hosting environment is necessary. For top WordPress site performance, we recommend going with a WordPress-specific hosting package that’s custom-tailored to your site’s setup.



43. Add HTTPS

HTTPS is allows your WordPress site to make secure connections and encrypt data shared. But beyond that, HTTPS is officially a Google ranking factor.



44. Optimize for AI & machine learning

With Google’s release of RankBrain, search is quickly buying into the machine learning and artificial intelligence trends. In a couple of months, if your website is not optimized for AI, you'll be counted out and it has already begun.



45. Image title text

We've seen a number of people waste time “optimizing” image title text. Well, image title text isn’t used for WordPress SEO purposes and is not crawled by Google or Bing, and therefore you are not required to use them.


46. Interlinks are still vital


Internal links has always been an important part of on-page WordPress SEO and it'll continue to be. Be sure to interlink pages and posts within your WordPress website.


47. External links are important too


Just like internal links, you can't do a complete WordPress optimization without linking out to relevant authority sites.



48. Set up external links to open in new tabs


Don't lose visitors to the sites you link to. Longer dwell-time translates to better rankings. Also, setting up external links is good for your overall marketing strategy, visitors, and all.


49. Nofollow affiliate links

If you monetize your site with affiliate links to generate revenue, nofollow them for the best SEO performance of your site.


50. In the midst of all this, content is still the king of SEO


Quality content is the “warp and woof” of any SEO strategy. Without content, your SEO is dead no matter what you do within your WordPress dashboard. Continue to create and publish great content.




Those are 50 bite-sized WordPress SEO tips you can implement right now to take your WordPress website and blog to another level in search.

Did you find any tip here helpful? Let's continue the conversation on our Facebook page Twitter pages and if you have any questions, feel free to drop them on there.