One of the reasons you have chosen WordPress as your website’s CMS might be because you have read that it is SEO-friendly out of the box. In fact, you only have to check out WordPress’ own list of ‘powerful features’ on their homepage to see that they are proud that the platform is SEO-friendly:
But that doesn’t mean that simply launching a WordPress website is enough to rank at the top of the search engines. You still need to understand the right SEO tactics to use and how to implement these, but the good news is that WordPress makes this easy to do and makes it easier for beginners to grow their traffic from Google.
The platform has many features that adhere to SEO BEST PRACTICES to make your life easier, meaning you can focus your efforts on the tasks which make a real difference to your rankings and organic visibility.
WHAT IS WORDPRESS
WordPress is the world’s most popular content management system, which runs 36% of the entire internetand powers many of the websites you likely browse every single day, including BBC America, Time.com, and TechCrunch. Even The rolling stones use WordPress for their official website. If it works for these global giants, you can see why it’s the go-to for many website developers.
WordPress started out as a blogging platform in 2003 but quickly pivoted to become a powerful and flexible solution to run entire websites, and in 2020, it is also capable of being used as an eCommerce solution.
What Is WordPress SEO?
WordPress on its own isn’t a replacement for a solid SEO strategy, and while there is no denying that the CMS saves you time and helps you to adhere to best practices without experience, you need to understand that you need to put in the effort to rank your website on Google.
Your choice of CMS doesn’t dictate whether or not you can rank well unless your site suffers from extensive technical issues that stop it from being crawled and indexed. You shouldn’t think that WordPress is a magic weapon without further effort; it requires time and effort. SEO can get technical very quickly, but the beauty of WordPress makes it easily accessible to those who aren’t experienced or even those who don’t class themselves as being technical.
Just because you are using WordPress doesn’t mean the SEO tactics you use will change. You still need to create great content, earn great links, and ensure that your site is well-optimized and free from technical issues that could hold it back. But WordPress helps you to take care of, out of the box, many of the SEO basics which help your site to rank, and what you will find below are tips and tricks which help you to implement growth-driving tactics specifically on the platform. Getting Started: WordPress SEO Basics
WordPress Benefits & Features
IQComputing builds websites on the best (and most popular) open source content management system (CMS) available today, WordPress, making it easy for you to manage your own website’s content. A proven and mature platform for more than a decade, WordPress enables you to manage your content quickly, intuitively, and with an easier learning curve than less-common open source website content management systems.
Our WordPress development gives you a platform that makes it possible to grow. New features, new services, and new designs can be applied on top of your website avoiding the need for complete “start from scratch” relaunches.
Easily Manage Your Website Content
Easily manage your website’s content as much as you want, whenever you want. With the intuitive WordPress content management system, you can login from any modern browser and make changes to your website without programming knowledge.
Unlimited Pages, Posts, Products & More
Don’t limit yourself – You can add images, text, files, links, and embed media right on the content areas of your pages anytime you want and we don’t restrict the number of pages, posts, or products that you can add.
Integrated News & Blog Posting
Take advantage of built-in blogging and blog category management by easily adding/editing/removing content as you need to. Add news articles on an ongoing basis directly from your browser!
Flexible Post Scheduling
Posts can be scheduled to display at specific dates/times so that you can create content ahead of time and schedule it to be published. Create pages and posts, keeping them as drafts until you’re ready to publish them.
Restore Deleted Pages & Rollback Versioning
You can easily restore deleted page content (before it is deleted permanently) and even roll back page text to previous versions using built-in version control features. Save pages so that only you can see what they look like or publish them live whenever you need.
Website Portability & Vendor Lock-in Avoidance
We don’t want our customers to be locked into any provider. By using an open source platform, we ensure that website can be moved to a compatible environment should the need arise. Using “proprietary” CMS platforms can result in a total project restart should a CMS developer stop support for a system or raise prices.
Easily Add Additional Website Editors
You can easily add/edit/remove additional editors to give others within your organization the ability to manage your website content. Self-service password resets and web-based content management make keeping your website fresh a snap!
Managed Website Security
A website that is constantly suffering from outages or that keeps getting hacked does you no good and can result in a loss of customer confidence, potential sales, organic search engine ranking and a negative image for your brand. We take care of your WordPresss CMS security, backups, core upgrades, and updates for you as part of our managed web hosting services!
Combined with our managed business hosting services, we make use of proven development approaches to building websites to help avoid break-ins often associated with CMS-driven websites. We lock down your website to remove potentially dangerous entry points commonly used by hackers as well as malicious visitors. Security practices are constantly evaluated to ensure that new threats are identified and mitigated before your website is affected. Web nodes are firewalled and upgraded on an ongoing basis.
Core Upgrades & Plugin Updates
We help to avoid software obsolescence by applying updates and core upgrades to your website’s CMS on an ongoing basis. This keeps your website on the current stable release development track so that you don’t have to worry about falling out of the CMS upgrade cycle as our team addresses this for you.
Stability & Reliability
IQComputing evaluates and implements technologies that help to keep your website running. On our managed platform, third-party plugins are subject to review and testing process to help prevent security risks and to minimize performance impacts on your website. Just because it’s the latest doesn’t always mean that it’s the greatest for your website.
Our managed website hosting services take automatic daily site-level backups as well as bare metal backups to help prevent the loss of data in the event of catastrophic failures.
Our diversified approach to infrastructure ensures that your website runs on a node that is dedicated to your website while mail, DNS, and other services run on nodes optimized for those environments.
WordPress Web Design
When we work with WordPress web design, our team can design custom websites that stand out and communicate your message. Your WordPress website can be responsive, easy to update, and can offer all of the features that a static website offers without sacrificing the benefits of a dynamic WordPress website.
Before you learn how to properly optimize your WordPress site and start to increase your organic traffic, there are a few basics that you need to make sure you have covered to be confident that you are working with a solid build.
1. Choose a Reliable Hosting Provider
You need to make sure you are hosting your site with a reliable provider — site speed uptime, and security are all key reasons to think carefully about who you will use as your host.
Site speed has a direct impact on your WordPress site’s SEO performance, and both poor uptime and security vulnerabilities can result in site quality issues. Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest option, as you are more likely to suffer from performance issues.
WordPress themselves recommend three hosting providers and it makes sense to consider these options if you are not sure where to start.
2. Install an SEO-friendly WordPress Theme
When you first install WordPress, you will almost certainly see the platform’s default ‘Twenty Twenty’ theme. However, chances are this isn’t one you will want to use for your site.
There are literally thousands of free themes available straight from the dashboard and many more premium themes, you need to choose carefully, or you could end up using one which isn’t SEO friendly.
While many themes claim to be SEO-friendly, it is not uncommon for themes to come bundled with scripts and plugins that you will not use, and that will slow your site’s performance down. Before installing a theme, run its demo through Google’s web.dev tool to get insights on potential performance and SEO issues.
This should at least give you the confidence that you are choosing a theme that is not going to hold you back.
3. Install a Free WordPress SEO Plugin
Before you begin to optimize your site, you need to install an SEO plugin. Luckily, there are a couple of main options which come commonly recommended, both of which are free to install:
- Yoest SEO
- All in one SEO pack
For the purpose of this guide, we will be using Yoast, but take a look at our best WordPress plugin for SEO guide for both free and paid options.
Please note, a plugin won’t optimize your site for you; it just makes it easier for you to do Blog SEO and to adhere to best practices.
One way to install a plugin on WordPress is to log in to the admin panel and navigate to the ‘add new’ plugin page down the left-hand menu: Plugins > Add new
Once you are there, search for the plugin which you want to install and hit ‘install now.’
Once it is installed, you need to activate the plugin. We will be installing additional plugins as we work through our top WordPress SEO tips.
4. Set Your Preferred Domain
Whether you choose your preferred domain as https://domain.com or https://www.domain.com won’t have an impact on your SEO, but you need to make sure your site is accessible on just one of these, as these are considered by Google to be different URLs.
Head to: Settings > General. Here you can choose your preferred domain:
The other domain version will then be redirected to your preferred domain. If you are launching a new website, feel free to choose either option, but if you are replacing an existing site, be sure to use the same version you have historically used.
As a side note to this, you need to make sure you have an SSL certificate in place and run your website use HTTPS. If you haven’t got a certificate installed, speak with your hosting provider or developer or explore the free Lets encrypt solution.
5. Check Your Site’s Visibility Settings
WordPress gives you the ability to ‘discourage search engines from indexing’ your site, which essentially means it won’t rank. This is commonly used by developers while a site is in development to stop it from being indexed while pages and content are not complete.
It is more common than you would think to find that this block is left in place after launch. You need to check your site’s visibility settings under: Settings > Reading.
Here, you will see a checkbox right at the bottom of the page:
If this box is ticked, you need to untick it.
6. Enable SEO Friendly Permalinks
WordPress gives you a number of different options for how URLs are structured, and you need to make sure you are using the most SEO-friendly option.
By default, WordPress uses URLs like this:https://domain.com/?p=123. These URLs are not search engine-friendly, and there is absolutely no way to even begin to identify what the page is about from the URL alone.
Luckily, you can choose a custom URL structure at: Settings > Permalinks
For most sites, you will want to choose ‘Post name’ for your permalinks.
7. Verify Your Site with Google Search Console & Submit Your XML Sitemap
If you’ve not previously done so, you’ll need to verify your site with Google Search Console.
Follow the verification steps listed and choose the ‘HTML tag’ method. From there, jump over to the Yoast plugin: SEO > General > Webmaster Tools.
Then enter the contents of the HTML tag into the ‘Google verification code’ box:
Once you have verified your site, you need to submit your XML sitemap by heading to the ‘Sitemaps’ tab. (Yoast generates an XML sitemap by default — check domain.com/sitemap.xml)
You can then submit your sitemap location (sitemap.xml):
WordPress SEO Tips: Optimizing Pages & Posts
. Carry Out Keyword Research
Without keyword research you are not going to know which search terms you should be optimizing your site’s content for. In fact, keyword research should come at the start of any SEO project and be used to plan your site content and on page optimization
Whether you are starting to optimize your site from scratch or are creating new content, knowing the keywords you are trying to rank the page for is essential.
Set Custom URLs for Pages & Posts
By default, WordPress uses your page’s title to create the URL, meaning that these can end up being lengthy and sometimes truncate on the SERPs.
Let’s say you have launched a piece of content which is titled ‘The Best Dogs Beds to Buy In 2020.’ Dependent on how you set your permalinks, you are likely going to end up with a URL of https://domain.com/the-best-dog-beds-to-buy-in-2020.
However, you know that the main keyword which you are targeting with the content is “best dog beds”. The good news is that you can choose to overwrite the default URL and choose a custom permalink for the page.
Simply click the “edit” button, and you can enter your preferred URL.
Use Optimized Page Headings
As well as creating your page’s default URL, the page title also defines your H1 heading. Not familiar with what this is?
A page’s H1 heading is intended as a way to give context on what your page is about to both users and search engines. Think of it the same as the title of a book.
Best practices typically call for using one H1 heading (the page’s title), but you should also use H2 – H6 headings; they t give structure to your content, also to break up the text and make it easier to read.
If your H1 is the book’s title, the H2s are chapters, with subsequent tags acting as sub-headings. Page headings are a great place to include your page’s main keyword and variants but don’t over-do this and never force the inclusion of a keyword somewhere that it doesn’t naturally fit.
You can add H2 – H6 tags into your content by clicking onto a block, selecting the style as ‘heading’ and choosing the type:
Use Internal Linking
You need to use internal linking within your content to help establish topical relevancy between different pages on your site, to pass authority earned from external links, and to help users efficiently navigate.
Adding in internal links to other pages in WordPress is really simple. All you need to do is highlight the text which you want to link (this will be your link’s anchor text) and click the ‘link’ button on the toolbar, which will then allow you to either paste a URL or search for pages within your site.
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