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17 WordPress SEO Tips to Improve Rankings in Google

17 WordPress SEO Tips to Improve Rankings in Google

Managing a website can be tricky, especially when you want to rank on Google’s first page consistently. To make things easier, you can use a CMS (Content Management System). 

One such CMS is WordPress, which is the backbone of more than 35% of the world’s websites.

In this blogpost, we will help you with easy to follow WordPress SEO tips so that you can start working in the right direction from day one.

What is WordPress?

WordPress is to the internet world what Android phones are to the mobile world. Both are open source platforms, supported by an expert developer community.

The popularity of WordPress stems from its plugin based architecture and template based page website management system. 

Add to it the ease of doing SEO within WordPress, without the need to have technical resources by your side.

This CRM is an open source and free platform with a user-friendly interface that can be operated by anyone.

You can implement any dynamic web functionality using its myriad plugins that can boost your website’s performance.

You can also customize your website using drag and drop themes and implement on-page SEO with the help of the plugins. 

Here’s an image that showcases the rising popularity of WordPress:

Image Source: HostingTribunal

WordPress met all the requirements for developers and marketers, and within no time, a basic platform for managing blog sites became “the” WordPress we all know today. 

WordPress SEO Tips 

WordPress SEO refers to the special techniques/settings available within WordPress that, if followed/implemented, can give a positive boost to your website SEO.

Most of these SEO tips are focussed towards building a user friendly experience for your website visitors.

A. Getting Started: How to set up WordPress for Optimal SEO performance?

1. Install an SEO-friendly WordPress theme

Of all the WordPress themes available online, the default one that you’ll get would scare you for a second.

However, you have the option to install any WordPress theme of your choice from the internet. This includes both – free and paid. 

You’ll surely get the colors you want, and even the design templates would match your requirements. But that’s not all. The “optimum” theme should also be SEO-friendly. 

You can use Google’s own web.dev tool to measure the performance of the theme you select.

If it doesn’t perform to your expectations, it is better to search for a new one because a non-SEO-friendly theme will:

  • Slow down your website
  • Worsen its user experience
  • Increase the bounce rate

2. Install a WordPress SEO plugin

An SEO plugin will help you monitor the performance of every single content that goes on your website. The most preferred and widely used WordPress SEO plugin is YoastSEO. 

Yoast is used by more than 7 million websites. It allows you to analyze the overall performance of your website and gives keyword-specific results as well.

To install one such plugin, you need to select the WordPress “Plugins” section on the left hand side. After that, click on “Add New”.

After entering the name of the plugin, you need to click on “Install Now.”

Install an SEO Plugin

Once the plugin is installed, you can activate it from the WordPress “Plugins” section. The same section would serve the purpose of deactivation as well.

3. Select your preferred domain (WWW vs non-WWW)

Google has made it clear for all website owners to stick with either a WWW or a non-WWW version of the URL.

This is to avoid domain confusions. Here’s an example for better understanding:

Website A – www.onpagechamp.com

Website B – onpagechamp.com

The inclusion of “www” doesn’t make any difference to the website’s SEO performance.

However, Google might treat them as separate web links. Therefore, ensure that your website is available only on one of these domain structures. 

You can add your website’s URL in WordPress Address box found under Settings -> General:

Website's URL in WordPress

Since WWW has no impact on SEO, you can choose any domain, i.e., with or without WWW for a new website. 

In case your website opens on both the links (A & B), set preference as per the search engine redirects (shown more often by Google). This will help in converging the traffic.

4. Integrate Google Analytics

Google Analytics is an incredible tool provided by Google to monitor all the details of your website’s traffic and SEO performance.

You will have in-depth information on each page that you have on your website.

The ones that drive increased traffic are a green signal to your content, and you can modify your content calendar accordingly. 

To integrate Google Analytics with your WordPress account, you need to create an account on Google Analytics.

Open the account after successful creation and look for “tracking code” under “tracking info.” 

If your theme sports a direct paste option, then the task is done. If not, there are several plugins like MonsterInsights, HeadersAndFooters, etc., that you can use for account integration.

5. Verify with Google Search Console

When you verify your website with Google Search Console, you get critical insights into your website’s functioning. 

You can then rectify the existing errors and find better ways to improve the performance. To do so, you need to register on GSC’s home page. Then, follow their instructions to verify your ownership of the concerned domain. 

Post successful evaluation, you can monitor the website’s performance.

To verify any URL prefix property, you have numerous options. They include HTML tag, Tag Manager, Tracking code, etc. 

For ease-of-process, select the HTML tag option and hover to YoastSEO plugin. Then, open “Webmaster Tools” under the “General” settings.

Here’s what it looks like:

Verify website with Google Search Console

Post verification, submit your XML sitemap. You can find an auto-generated sitemap by Yoast, and the same can be used for submission.

Submit sitemap in Google Search Console

Submit the sitemap to conclude the Google Search Console verification process.

6. Select a user-friendly permalink structure

Permalink comes from “permanent” and “link,” and it’s the URL of any web page. Since the same link is used to share and access the page, it’s crucial to keep it user-friendly.

Consider an example of two web pages. They have the following URL structure:

Web page A – https://demo.com/2020/07/08/how-to-perform-SEO-on-Wordpress/

Web page B – https://demo.com/Wordpress-SEO-tips/

Clearly, web page B has a more organized and easy to remember link address.

Moreover, permalinks have substantial SEO benefits. According to Google, shorter URLs with focus keywords rank better on search engines. 

To manage permalink, go to Settings -> Permalink and select the “Post Name” option.

Select a SEO friendly URL structure in WordPress

Click on “Save Changes” after selecting the “Post Name” permalink structure.

B. WordPress SEO Tips to optimize your content

Follow the tips mentioned below to enhance your website’s SEO performance.

7. Use OnPage Champ to optimize content

Content in its raw form isn’t capable enough of driving organic traffic and achieving better SERP rankings.

You need to upload optimized content filtered to its best presentable form with all SEO implementations done.

For a new website, managing it all might not be feasible because there are several other aspects you need to take care of.

You can, therefore, use OnPage Champ, a handy tool that analyzes your website from top to bottom. 

Through its various audits, fallen website ranks can be recovered. It performs 30+ on-page SEO checks to improve the overall performance. 

Another vital aspect it covers is competitor monitoring. With this, you can analyze your competitor’s content changes and optimize your content to always stay a step ahead.

8. Write custom URLs for pages/posts

The default URL that WordPress proposes for any post is neither user-friendly nor SEO-friendly. So, you should develop the practice of using custom URLs.

Ensure that you keep it short and include the focus keyword or keyphrase. You can find the “Edit” option just beside the permalink box and type in your optimized custom URL.

Write custom URLs

9. Optimize the Titles & Meta description for each page

Titles used to dictate ranking terms when Google search engines was first released.

But today, you need to frame a title that best describes the forthcoming content and is catchy enough to attract visitors. 

We all have read chapter summaries after the end of each chapter in our school books.

Meta descriptions also summarize your content for the reader, and if they find it interesting enough, you gain a visitor.

So you have to make it a practice of optimizing your titles and meta-descriptions for any content that you put across your website to rank better. 

YoastSEO plugin has separate sections for title and meta descriptions.

Use informative and keyword-rich words and phrases in your meta description to gain the edge over your competitors. This also increases the associated CTR (Click-through-Rate).

10. Optimize the Heading Tags

Optimizing the heading tags refers to the usage of appropriate title tags and properly classifying headings and subheadings.

Ideally, the H1 heading option is used for your content’s title, and subheadings and other points come under H2 – H6. 

Search engines focus on the phrases that you have mentioned under H1.

So, refrain from using multiple H1 heading tags because you don’t want to confuse the web crawler. To emphasize subheadings, use header tags like the H2, H3, and their sub-points can use even smaller tags. 

Here are all the available tags for writing your content on WordPress:

Headings H1-H6

11. Optimize the images

A survey by BrainRules suggests that a combination of information coupled with relevant images increases its remembrance by 55%. So, it’s a no-brainer that you should include visual media in your content.

The best part is that image optimization doesn’t take a lot of time. You can start by renaming the image names from their default name (say, img101) to a descriptive one (like website-stats-data). 

Further, don’t skip image alt texts and assign appropriate alt texts to all the images you use.

If the web browser doesn’t load a particular image, the alt text is displayed. On an even better note, visually-impaired people who cannot see the image can read the alt text to understand the context.

Image below shows the “Alt text” section in WordPress:

Alt-Text-Wordpress

12. Interlink your content

On-page time is a critical aspect of SEO. One of the best ways to increase visitors’ on-page time is by navigating them to another content you’ve written. 

This is done through internal linking.

By performing internal linking, you can redirect visitors to another web page of yours, and thus increase traffic and on-page time for that page as well.

A case study by NinjaOutReach details about the tremendous rise in organic traffic (more than 40%) with internal linking.

It also speaks of your knowledge as you impress the visitor with your in-depth analysis of various inter-related aspects.

13. Use Schema markups

Technically, schema markup is a type of add-on code that assists the search engines to deliver quality data to the users.

One such schema makeup is the review section, where a website can be rated out of 5 stars. 

You should also use FAQs in your content. An individual web page for FAQs is even better.

You can divert traffic from an FAQ page to your detailed web pages, and after clearing all the queries of users, the chances of conversion rise exponentially. 

A FAQ search result is shown below:

FAQ Schema

C. WordPress SEO Tips for Technical SEO

Time to take your WordPress SEO implementation to the next level with the introduction of various technical SEO hacks.

14. Compress & lazy load images using SMush

When you include images in your content, you ensure that the readers have clarity of information, and the look is attractive.

But, it’s essential to optimize the images by compressing them and also enabling lazy load. 

Compressed images decrease the website’s loading time, and it is one of the primary factors that directly impact the bounce rate. 

As per a report by BlueCorona, your website should load within 3 seconds, or you’ll end up losing a visitor. Use SMush, an award-winning WordPress plugin for compressing images and implementing lazy load.

Lazy load is an advanced SEO strategy where images are loaded section-wise.

So, if a user is satisfied with the content, say half-way through the blog, the images that would have followed in the other half won’t be loaded. 

This provides a convenient experience for visitors as the section that they view is fast and responsive.

15. Lazy load YouTube videos

Embedded YouTube videos in your content is another beneficial SEO practice.

The time a user spends in watching that video also adds up to your on-page time and increases your SEO score. 

However, just like images, embedded videos also impact the page-load time.

Use lazy load plugins for these videos to take care of page-load time. You can use several plugins like Smart4Y lazy load, A3 lazy, and many more available for free. 

If you don’t want to use plugins, you can modify the embedded video code. Here’s how:

Default video code:

Modified video code (after adding data-src):

Modified video code (after adding data-src)

Finally, add the below code just before your “end body” tag:

Insert code before 'end body' tag

This “switches-on” lazy load for YouTube videos and reduces the page-loading time.

16. Make affiliate links as Nofollow

Affiliate links are intermediate links that many use as referral URLs to other websites. It aids them in boosting their sales, and you get your referral commission for the same. 

But Google isn’t the biggest fan of affiliate links, especially when you have too many of them.

So, ensure that affiliate links within your post are always “nofollow.” With plugins, the task of managing affiliate links becomes a cakewalk.

17. Fix duplicate content issues using Canonicals/No Index Tag

If you run an identical piece of content on two different web pages (hopefully, by mistake), you diverge your internet traffic. 

That’s not good for your website’s performance, and to fix this, implement the No index and Canonical tags.

With no index, you ensure that the search engines don’t index a web page.

Use it to protect testing pages from being indexed and hiding the duplicate web pages from web crawlers.

For canonicalizing a web page, you need to set a URL preference.

As a result, the crawlers are informed of your indexing preferences in case duplicate web pages show up. 

YoastSEO has the option to manage both these tags:

Canonicaal tag and no index tag

Select “No” from the drop-down option in case you want to activate “no index.” Conversely, paste your preferred URL into the “Canonical URL” box to clarify your URL preference.

Final Thoughts

Before WordPress, implementing SEO required technical expertise along with polished coding knowledge.

However, prospective marketers and website owners loved this revolutionary CMS and its easy-to-use features. 

With each version, WordPress continued to address SEO factors. With exclusive plugins, WordPress today is single-handedly dominating other content management systems.

All the tips mentioned above have a combination of SEO knowledge, coupled with similar WordPress features (default and plugins). It’s time for you now to optimize your website by following these WordPress SEO tips. 

2 thoughts on “17 WordPress SEO Tips to Improve Rankings in Google”

  1. thought SEO is a “set-and-forget”…..

    I was wrong… I stopped blogging for a while and I can really see that my traffic is going down a little bit ! Is this normal ???

    • This is generally true, though there can be more reasons. e.g. the content is obsolete and that’s why Google stopped ranking you on the top. You need a thorough analysis to come to a conclusion.

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