Over the last 10 years, SEO (standing for Search Engine Optimisation) has witnessed substantial development. And with the fact that the WordPress market just keeps growing more and more, people are looking for new ways to improve the SEO of WordPress pages.
With the tough competition of today’s digital marketing space, businesses must find original, out-of-the-box methods to reach the front of SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). If you were under the wrong impression, thinking that SEO is dead as many are led to believe, know that it actually remains quite relevant in our day in age. Proof of that is that many blogs and bootstrap companies build the entirety of their businesses and brands on organic search and WordPress (even the White House’s website uses WordPress, can you believe that?), as risky as that may be in some aspects.
So with that being said, this guide is all about giving you a handful of SEO tricks that we used ourselves to build the regular organic traffic we get at our agency. With the pieces of advice we provide, there’s no way you won’t notice a significant increase in traffic on your WordPress page that will help you up the bar of the competition.
We have a lot to go through, so let’s get to it!
If you’re newly getting into the WordPress territory, but you’re still not quite sure what it’s all about, well, you’ll have to have a general understanding of it before moving on to improve the SEO of WordPress pages.
WordPress is the most popular content management system (CMS) available today. According to Hubspot, it’s responsible for 43.2% of all websites on the Internet. Many of the websites you may be using on a daily basis, such as TechCrunch, Time.com, The Rolling Stones, and BBC America, use WordPress. So, you can rest assured. If it’s working great for these big businesses, then it’s a tool worth investing in for anyone looking to bring their business, big or small, local or global, to the web.
It started out in 2003 as a blogging platform. Since then, WordPress has reinvented itself quickly into a flexible and robust solution that runs numerous websites. In 2020, it also became a viable tool to be used as an eCommerce solution.
Now before moving on to how to improve SEO of WordPress websites, we must first ask, “what is SEO?”
SEO is short for Search Engine Optimisation. It’s basically a bunch of steps, tips, and tricks for website owners to follow in order to garner more traffic by pushing their pages higher to the top of search engine results.
Unlike what many business owners believe, SEO is not a dirty little trick to outplay the system or fool search engines into bringing you to the top. It’s just a strategy to follow in creating a website with well-optimised code and proper formatting, and it makes it easier for search engines to find your page and bring it to people who may be looking for it.
If someone is doing a search about a topic that you have written about on your website, having it follow SEO standards and norms will make it easier for people to spot, click on and browse through.
Most of the time, people access websites through a search engine.
A search engine (such as Google) relies on complex algorithms to discern and rank website pages according to their relevance to the search you make. But these algorithms still require some help from you in order to understand what kind of website you’re running.
Your content needs to be optimised because if it’s not, the search engine won’t be able to rank it appropriately. And this will result in your website not appearing so easily, if at all, to people who search for things you write about, and that will cost you a lot of clicks.
That’s why it’s of hyper-importance that you make a search-engine-friendly website if maximising search traffic matters to you (it should!).
10 tips to Improve SEO of WordPress
Now that we got the basics out of the way, let’s move to what this article is really about, which is how to improve SEO WordPress-wide. Here are our top 10 tips:
1) Check the WordPress site visibility settings
First things first, you must check the settings for the WordPress site’s visibility.
WordPress comes with a feature that stops search engines from indexing your website. By default, this feature would be disabled, but we recommend that you double-check it.
- Navigate to Dashboard → Settings → Reading.
- Look for the Search Engine Visibility checkbox and make sure that it is disabled.
2) Install an SSL Certificate to secure your site
Another important way of improving SEO of WordPress websites is by improving their security. Websites use a security technology called Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that encrypts the connection between a user’s browser and the website they’re accessing. This technology stops sensitive information on any given website from being accessed by unauthorised parties.
Not only does an SSL-certified domain improve the ranking of your WordPress website on search engines, but it also improves its security.
Instead of the URL starting with HTTP://, an SSL-certified domain’s URL starts with HTTPS://. You’ll also notice that the browser adds a padlock icon next to it in the address bar.
Search engines also take HTTPS into consideration in determining a website’s page experience. So that’s another perk of having an SSL certificate.
On the other hand, pages without an SSL certificate are often labelled as “not secure” by some web browsers. These web browsers also advise users against accessing these pages. So, if you don’t want to drive away potential visitors to your website, hurting the conversion rate of your website, you should definitely get an SSL certificate.
You can find the steps needed to install an SSL certificate on WordPress here.
3) Improve SEO WordPress: Choose an SEO-friendly WordPress theme
WordPress comes with a default “Twenty Twenty-Two” theme when you install it for the first time. But, truth be told, it might not be the theme that you’d want to stick with for your site. Yes, it is beautiful, and yes, it is kind of optimised, but there are better options when it comes to optimisation and customisation.
Thankfully, WordPress comes with thousands of free themes, which are ready to be used right from the Dashboard, not to mention all the other more premium themes. But you have to pick wisely if you want to have an SEO-friendly one.
You’ll find quite a few themes that claim that they are SEO-friendly, but many of them are bundled with plugins and scripts that you’ll end up not using. This will cause your site to slow down in performance. So before settling on a theme, you should check the reviews it has to see if there are any major issues that can be deal=breakers for you.
At least, through this process, you’ll be more confident in your choice of theme.
4) Get yourself a nice SEO plugin for WordPress
Installing an SEO plugin is important before starting your website optimisation. The good news is you have two primary options that are quite recommended, and they’re both free to use:
KEEP IN MIND: These plugins will not optimise your website for you. But they will make doing blog SEO and adhering to SEO-friendly practices much easier.
Installing a plugin on WordPress can be done as follows:
- First, you must log in to your admin panel
- Once you do, find the “add new” plugin page at the bottom of the left-hand menu (Plugins > Add new)
- After doing that, you can then search for whichever plugging you want to use and click on “install now”
- After installing it, you must activate it
Every web page on the Internet is associated with a permanent URL structure unique to it, also called a permalink. A well-put-together permalink structure goes a long way in making it easy for search engines and users to navigate your WordPress web page, and that is only improving its SEO.
Additionally, when you use a search engine, it would most likely show the URLs of websites in the search results. And more often than not, users find websites that have clean and easy-to-read permalinks safer and more trustworthy than ones with random symbols, letters, and numbers.
In the case of WordPress, the permalink for any given page is determined by its ID number (For example, https://example.com/?p=123). But this permalink structure can be changed to other predetermined choices or an entirely custom permalink.
To do so, follow these steps:
- Go to Dashboard → Settings → Permalinks
- Select the Custom Structure feature and include the needed tags
The tags must be chosen according to the type of website you’re running. Here’s an example: For news sites, the title and the date are usually included in the URL of the site. As for permalinks of online stores, you usually find them, including the category and the name of the post.
If your WordPress page happens to already be online, you must remember to redirect your old URLs. Keep in mind that live WordPress websites are at risk of losing existing referral links when the permalink structure is changed.
6) Submit a sitemap to search engines
It’s true that search engines automatically index web pages (if they’re visible as shown in the first step, of course). But if you want them to include updated and accurate information on SERPs, you’ll want to submit a sitemap.
What’s a sitemap, you ask?
Well, a WordPress sitemap is a list that includes all public URLs on a website. HTML and XML are the two types of WordPress sitemaps out there.
The one you want to submit to search engines is an XML sitemap. What it does is make the importance of pages and their relationships with each other clear. This would ultimately assist crawlers in easily finding specific content.
To do this, you need to first use a WordPress SEO plugin to generate the XML sitemap. AIO SEO, Yoast, or any other WordPress SEO plugin will allow you to do so.
Just to be clear, you don’t have to submit your webpage’s sitemap to other site engines such as DuckDuckGo or Yahoo! Because those engines actually utilise Bing Webmaster Tools indexing data.
7) Improve SEO WordPress: Use optimised page headings
Now that we got the technical SEO part out of the way, let’s talk on-page SEO.
The page title not only determines the page’s default URL but also determines the H1 heading. Let’s find out what that’s about.
An H1 heading is used to provide context as to what your website is all about, not only to users but also to search engines. It’s no different than what a title represents in a book.
It’s recommended to use one H1 heading, which would be reserved for the page’s title. But you’ll also find a need for H2 to H6 headings to give a clear structure to the content of your page. Thus, creating clear and easy-to-read sections for your visitors. Just take a look at how we do it on our agency’s website.
Assuming the H1 represents the book’s title, then the H2s would be the book’s chapters. And the rest of the headings would be reserved for sub-sections on your webpage. The headings represent a suitable spot to put the primary keywords and variants of your site. Although you should be careful not to overindulge in the description. Also, don’t try to cram keywords in places where they don’t fit organically.
Including H2 – H6 tags in your content is as easy as clicking on a specific block, choosing “Heading” as a style, and then choosing the type:
The title tag is the way that people and search engines come to know what your website is exactly about. It’s seen as a highly influential ranking criterion. It’s the thing that determines the clickable title you see in search results for every page on there.
Yoast, for example, sets the title tag of your page by default using the page heading. But it doesn’t stop you from manually overwriting it if you feel it can be improved by incorporating other variations of keywords that may not be present in your page’s heading:
It allows you to either add custom text, incorporate snippet variables, or even have a mix of both in your title tag.
For optimising the title tag of each page, you’ll want to use keyword research and let it inform the process. You might also want to learn good practises in structuring this very significant page element by reading the following guide by SEMRush.
According to John Mueller, Meta descriptions may not be the direct ranking factor that they once were. That doesn’t mean that they don’t influence your website’s performance indirectly through CTR (Click-through-rate). Spending some time to write attractive descriptions can be a good investment. These descriptions can vary in length but would typically be around 160 characters. In the same section with the title tags, you can even include a meta description:
9) Improve SEO WordPress: Add alt text to images
Take time to add alt text to every image you include on your website. They provide the proper description and context of images to search engines, plus they play a significant role in web accessibility for the visually impaired.
Make sure that the alt tags you use provide a clear and accurate description of the images you use. For adding alt text to images, you can go to the “Image Settings” section in the “blocks” menu in WordPress.
10) Linking your website internally
To improve SEO of WordPress, increasing the site’s authority is a good move.
How to do that, you ask?
Well, the amount you internally link to blogs, posts, pages, and other types of content is one significant factor that search engines take into consideration in determining your site’s authority.
A good practise to follow is to highlight the words that you want to have, acting as backlinks to other content. To do so, navigate to the WordPress toolbar, click the link button, and paste the URL you’re linking to. When that’s done, the words containing the URL you’re redirecting your readers to will be highlighted in blue (or any other colour, depending on your website’s theme).
Leave the heavy lifting to us
SEO has a steep learning curve; there’s no denying that. And if you have a business to run, going through that curve may not be productive. Worry not, though, as we can help. Book a discovery call with us, and we’ll show you how we can boost your SEO efforts.