Some might lead you to believe “SEO is dead.” Far from it. It’s more alive than ever. It’s just harder because Google is smarter.
In this in-depth post, you will find 45+ WordPress SEO tips. These will help skyrocket your organic search traffic.
All the tips come from the direct experience of the authors of the post, Kinsta. It’s a managed WordPress hosting service. They have implemented everything below, and got some nice results out of it:
571% growth of organic traffic in less than 13 months.
And now, the tips!
(Check the article for very detailed descriptions for each)
1. www vs non-www Domain.
Just use one or the other. It doesn’t matter which. But don’t use both.
2. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
Go for Yoast SEO.
3. Setup Friendly Permalinks
Instead of this: http://wp.dev/2016/11/03/hello-world/
Have this: http://wp.dev/hello-world/
4. Always Use a Focus Keyword
Keywords still matter in 2018.
5. Importance of Title Tags
It is important that you have your main “focus keyword” that you want to rank for in your blog post or page title tag.
You can manually set a title tag in the Yoast SEO plugin.
6. Increase CTR with Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions have no effect on your WordPress SEO when it comes to rankings. However, meta descriptions do affect your CTR.
Again, you can set your meta description manually in the Yoast SEO plugin.
7. Should You Use Meta Keywords?
The simple answer is no. Meta keywords are really a thing of the past.
8. Header Tags – H1, H2, H3
The Google crawler (bot) checks HTML header tags such as H1, H2, H3, etc. to determine the relevancy of your site content. The best practice is to have a single H1 tag per post or page and then multiple H2s and H3s underneath that.
9. Image Alt Text
You should always add ALT text to your images. And if you haven’t been, go back and do it now.
10. Image Title Text
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.
However, image title text does allow you to add tooltips to images.
11. Focus Keyword in First Paragraph
The first paragraph of your post and pages content in WordPress is very important! It is always recommended to add your focus keyword within the first paragraph if possible. The reason is that Google crawls content from top to bottom, and if it finds your keyword there it can help deem your article as more relevant to the topic.
12. Content is King (Word Count)
It is much better to publish higher-quality and longer-form content than it is to publish shorter content more frequently.
13. Use Short URLs
Google likes WordPress sites that are clean, organized, and structured; this includes using short URLs. They can also help improve your CTR.
A study and discovered that people 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
14. Use Smart Image File Names
Always name your image files with actual words related to your content before uploading them. For example, instead of DC0000.JPG, name it wordpress-seo.JPG.
15. Importance of Dofollow vs NoFollow Links
Building up a backlink profile of a good ratio of dofollow and nofollow links is the best and safest approach.
16. Add Interlinks
Interlinks are links that point from one page or post on your WordPress site to another page or post on the same site.
You should aim at adding at least 3-5 internal links on each post or page you write. And depending upon the length of your content, possibly even more.
17. Add High Domain Authority External Links
Just like adding interlinks above, you should also add some external links to high domain authority sites. This helps by letting Google know that you are linking out to high-quality content that is relevant to yours and improves the user experience by providing them with additional information.
18. Affiliate Links
To safely use affiliate links, they should always be nofollow.
You should always utilize a sitemap file. It’s not required, but it helps a lot with rankings.
20. Submit Sitemap to Google Search Console
In Google Search Console click into “Sitemaps” under the Crawl section and then click on “Add/Test Sitemap.” It will show you how many pages/posts have been submitted and then how many are actually indexed. Google will now automatically crawl your sitemap file on a regular basis.
21. Submit Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools
Same as for Google. But for Bing Webmaster Tools.
22. Submit Sitemap to Yandex Webmaster Tools
23. Force Crawl for Faster Indexing
To force crawl a WordPress post or page simply click into the “Fetch as Google” option under Crawl in Google Search Console and input the URL. Click on “Fetch.” Then click on “Request Indexing,” and your URL will be instantly indexed in SERPs.
24. Utilize Social Signals
Tweets, shares, upvote sites, etc. Do they help?
Many SEOs will debate this, but Kinsta guys have seen this happen first hand quite a few times. You hit the front page or Reddit, and immediately you are ranking page one for a very competitive term. The next week, the post settles back down and you’re at the middle of the second page in SERPs. This then requires you to go back and further optimize the post, build backlinks against it, etc.. to work your way back up.
25. Do Keyword Research
91.5% never venture past the first page of search results. – Search Engine Watch
Keywords are still alive and well in 2018. That is why ranking matters.
There are many great tools out there to help you do keyword research. A couple of our favorites are KWFinder, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. The trick is finding a good keyword with search volume while also not picking something that is too competitive.
26. Build Backlinks
Generally, a good sign is seeing that the number of referring domains linking to you is on an upward trend. This means that over time you are getting more and more websites linking to you. And in fact, the number of unique referring domains is the strongest correlation. The websites that have more referring domains are the ones with higher rankings.
27. WordPress SEO HTTPS Advantage
Just use it. It’s important now and will only get more important in the future.
28. Schema Markup
Ever seen those stars next to a review in SERPs? Well, the stars are a result of schema markup. Schema markup means you can achieve special spots in SERPs as well as a dramatic increase in CTR.
To add schema markup to your WordPress site check out the free Schema plugin.
29. Social Markup
You know those thumbnails that appear on Facebook and Twitter when you share a blog post from your WordPress site? Well, those are generated using social markup.
Go into the “Social” options in Yoast SEO and fill everything out.
30. Last Updated Date in SERPs
Should you remove the dates on your WordPress posts or change them to “Last Updated?” It depends on the type of site that you run. If you have a lot of evergreen content then yes, you might want to change the dates to last updated.
31. Evergreen Content
Evergreen means that it is content that is always relevant no matter when you read it. Usually, when it comes to publishing evergreen content, it requires the writer to occasionally update it as most industries always change slightly over time.
32. Google Knowledge Graph
Have you ever seen that box appear at the top of Google? That is called the Google Knowledge Graph.
Adding schema markup and also using headers and bullet lists as they were meant to be, can help you achieve the coveted Google Knowledge Graph. Structure your posts in an organized fashion with markup, and you should be on the right path.
33. Negative SEO
You should be monitoring your backlink profile. That is the only way you will know that no negative SEO is happening against your business.
So if this does happen to you, Google has what they call the Disavow tool. This allows you to create a list of domains that you want Google to ignore.
34. Claim Social Profiles
Claim all of your social media profiles ASAP. Typically businesses should do this immediately after launching their website.
35. Local SEO
Local SEO is a huge topic.
Quick tip: local businesses should immediately register their site with Google Business and Bing Places.
36. Google Image Search
Traffic from images can add up to quite a bit over time, so it is important to verify that your images are getting indexed. You can click into “Sitemap” under the Crawl section in Google Search Console and check the status.
37. Don’t Index Image Attachment Pages
Whenever you upload an image and insert the normal way, it creates a separate WordPress attachment page on which the image resides on. Don’t index those.
There’s an option for that in Yoast SEO.
38. Multi-language WordPress SEO
Google won’t penalize you for duplicate content as long as you have the correct hreflang and canonical tags installed.
39. Website Speed
Website speed is huge. Optimize it as best as you can.
40. Fix Broken Links
Simply check for them in Google Search Console and fix them.
41. WordPress SEO Audits
SeoSiteCheckup is a great free tool that has over 50 checks to let you know how you are doing.
42. Mobile Usability
Google just recently announced the testing of their mobile-first indexing which means their algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages.
If you don’t have a responsive site yet, drop everything you are doing and get on that immediately. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly tool to see if your current WordPress site passes the test.
43. WordPress Categories
This is optional, but indexing categories in Google can also increase the relevancy of your content to boost page rank and increase your traffic.
44. Google Analytics
Integrate it with Google Search Console and monitor the keywords you rank for.
45. Track Keyword Rankings
This allows you to monitor the progress of your “focus keywords” in your SEO campaigns.
A great strategy is to monitor your keywords that are at the very top of the 2nd page on Google. Spend some time on those, add content, add images, build backlinks, etc. And before you know it, that content is now on the 1st page!
Do all of the steps above and prepare to open the floodgates of traffic!
WordPress SEO Checklist – 45 Tips to Increase Traffic by 571% in 13 Months