Want better search rankings? Search engine rankings majorly pivot around a strong SEO strategy. If you have chosen WordPress to build and manage your site, your website will benefit from WordPress’s SEO-friendly features. WordPress is a great CMS, perhaps the best right now. It is not just for novice developers or individuals but there are giant corporations that have their site on WordPress. BBC America, TechCrunch, Sony Music, MTV News, The Walt Disney Company are just a few names out of hundreds of big names who use WordPress for their websites. Even the White House's website is powered by WordPress.
WordPress is so proud of its SEO friendly features that it boasts it on their official features page.
Does it mean WordPress has you covered?
It’s important that your CMS makes it easy for you to implement advanced SEO techniques, especially if you’re inexperienced. WordPress has many in-built features to help you improve SEO and its user-friendly interface makes it even easier. However, this does not mean that there is no effort required from your side.
It is important to create a comprehensive SEO strategy beforehand. SEO is not just about keywords, but rather a more inclusive way to make your website richer and optimized for search engines. In this guide, we will cover a wide range of tools and techniques that you can use to create a comprehensive SEO strategy for your WordPress website.
Choose Your Hosting Wisely
First things first, we should begin from where it all starts. A good hosting provider. Wondering how hosting affects your SERPs? Since 2019, Google uses page load speed as a metric for rankings. Be sure that your hosting provider is fast and secure. A web host influences the downtime of your site and the distance between the server and visitors.
Not all hosting providers have useful features, affordable prices, and great infrastructure. There are a few great hosting providers you can research a bit upon.
- WP Engine
Hosting yourself on SSD Drive based servers can also boost your speed and rankings. You must have seen some sites with http:// and some with https://, this extra ‘s’ means added security and Google gives a slight boost to websites with https://domains. One could go through various reliable hosting reviews in order to find the best hosting provider that has lower downtime.
SEO Optimized Themes & Plugins
The next thing which should be a part of your overall SEO strategy is your site theme and the plugins. If you are developing a new website, you can take a word of caution from us right now. Theme developers sometimes create themes with sloppy and complex code without investing the necessary time and try to sell it for cheap prices. To you, it might seem lucrative but don’t get too hyped up with just the looks of it alone.
Choose a theme that has a clean code and is SEO-friendly. How would you know if a theme works for you? Simply go to Google’s web.dev tool and run your theme’s demo prior to purchasing it. It lets you check for any performance or SEO issues.
The same goes for the plugins. A lot of people install plugins that they rarely use. Shred your site off plugins that you don’t need. It takes some weight off your site. While installing new plugins, make sure they don’t have odd code or security issues. Also, make sure that the plugin receives regular updates.
Site Visibility Settings
Once you are done with themes and plugins, quickly check if your website has search engine visibility enabled. This means that you allow a search engine to index and crawl your website. In case you are in development and don’t want it to get index, you can simply turn it off.
You can check your site visibility by simply going to Settings > Reading. You can see a simple check box titled Search Engine Visibility. By default, this box might be ticked, you just need to untick it.
How to Optimize Images & Visual Content for SEO
The visual appeal of your content matters.
Install A SEO Plugin
For any further optimization that we do, we will need to have an SEO plugin installed. This is important because not all SEO features come by default with WordPress. We recommend using Yoast SEO because it is free and is as good as any premium plugin. Yoast SEO adds many new functions and features to the website.
You can simply install the plugin by either manually downloading it and then uploading it to your WordPress directory or by clicking on the Add new plugin button on your WordPress dashboard and search for Yoast SEO.
Create A XML Site Map
The next thing you might want to do is to create an XML sitemap of your website and Yoast SEO lets you do that with ease. A sitemap is basically an index of all the pages and content of your website organized based on hierarchy.
A sitemap communicates the information of your website to the search engine bots. Uploading your sitemap lets the crawlers easily index your website and allow relevant results to show in user searches. You can use Google XML Sitemap to create sitemaps or even use Yoast SEO to make it more simple.
All you need to do is to go to the Webmaster Tools tab in your Yoast SEO Plugin. Put the verification code for each search engine in the boxes and save changes. Once your website is verified, simply submit the XML sitemap by going to the ‘Sitemaps’ tab.
Set SEO-Friendly Permalinks
Permalinks are basically the URLs of your pages and posts. There are various ways you can structure your permalinks; just choose the structure which is most SEO-Friendly. The default URLs like the one below make no sense and are very difficult to identify what this post or page might be about from the URL itself.
However, you can choose custom permalinks by changing the default settings. You can opt for post names as permalinks as it is easier to understand for search engines. For doing this bit, search engines give you a little boost in rankings.
You can change your permalinks by simply going to settings > permalinks.
Content Based SEO Tips
It is majorly through your content that you create strong SEO for your website. Let’s see what all you can do with your content to optimize your site for better rankings.
The keyword research should be the foundation of your website. Before putting anything on your website, do your homework.
There are various tools like Google keyword planner and SEMrush that gives detailed insight into keyword planning. Once you identify which keywords you want to focus upon, then you can begin thinking about its placement throughout your website strategically.
Use Heading & Subheadings
Heading tags let the search engines know the hierarchy of the page helps the search engine make better sense of the page. It lets the search engine know how the page is organized.
Media on your website should be properly organized as it’s a huge factor in SERP. It not only allows for better SEO but also improved site performance. Follow these simple rules to have highly optimized media on your website.
- The dimensions of your images and videos should be the same as their actual display size on a page. This means that you will have lighter pages.
- Each media file you upload must have a distinct file name. Do not use random names, but names that are meaningful. It helps crawlers know what the file is about.
- Add alternate text to your images. A crawler cannot interpret what an image is. Thus, write briefly what the image is in the Alt Text for the crawler to make sense of it. you can simply do this by going to your image settings.
- Add transcripts to audio and videos. This is just like alt text but for videos and audios. It serves a similar function.
Add Title Tags & Meta Description
Title tags and Meta Description tells the search engine what your page is about and further helps in indexing. Use the Yoast SEO plugin to add Title tags to your posts and pages.
However, the meta description is no more a direct ranking factor for SEO, it still impacts the ranking indirectly by increasing CTR.
Create Internal & External Link
It is good to leaves internal links to other pages and posts within your website. This is a great way of creating an internal network and navigation. It also allows visitors to go to relevant content and increase time spent on your website.
Earning backlinks is perhaps the most valuable authentication and popularity of your site. Search engines respond very well to websites that have a lot of organic backlinks.
Having clean code on your website, optimized media, fast loading pages, and great hosting takes you the way forward in search rankings. These are a few things that you must do once and a few that needs to be done repetitively so that you maintain the best standards for search rankings.
If you publish great content consistently, then it will add to the effort you have put into your SEO strategy. We tried covering site optimization in all its entirety but still, there is always much more that you can do to go one step forward.