7 Essential WordPress SEO Tips to Boost Your Site Ranking (Today!)
Looking for powerful WordPress SEO tips? (that works really well in no time at all). Keep reading
As of 2020, WordPress powers more than 35% of the entire internet.
That’s huge …
… for a single platform (CMS)
WordPress is undoubtedly the best CMS (Content Management System) in the world. Not just because it’s free, but also because it can be used to make any sorts of websites.
WordPress can be installed, and configured in 5 minutes (or less).
Hence, most of the businesses all over the world use WordPress as a CMS of their choice to build their website.
And, every business owner knows that building a website is not enough …
… we need traffic.
And, nothing can beat SEO in terms of bringing traffic to your website (in the field of digital marketing)
Here are some of my all-time favorite WordPress SEO tips and techniques to make sure that your website is optimized for SEO:
1. Make Your Site Visible to Search Engines
2. Permalinks (Use Short URL)
3. Start Using Yoast SEO Plugin
4. Increase Website Speed
5. Connect Google Search Console to WordPress
6. Submit XML Sitemaps to Google Search Console
7. Remove “No Value Adding” Pages From Index
Make Your Site Visible to Search Engines
In order to rank in Google, first search engines need to index your website.
And, if your WordPress site is not letting you do that, every effort would go in vain. Most of the time, it’s the thing you consider when you install WordPress itself.
If you have installed the WordPress already and having crawling issues, make sure to check this on your website.
Here’s where you should look at:
Go to the “Settings” tab on the left menu on your dashboard, and then click on the “Reading” section to visit the setting page.
Make sure that the checkbox “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is unchecked. Or else, you will have crawling issues.
In order to request indexing individual pages to Google, you need to connect your website to Google Search Console (more on this later)
Permalinks (Use Short URL)
One of the most powerful on page SEO techniques is to use short URLs.
In fact, Google prefers a short URL (over a longer one).
Hence, a WordPress site should be configured so that the URLs for the upcoming blog posts and pages are clean and readable.
Here’s what it should look like:
Here’s what it should not look like:
“https: //googleblog.blogspot. com/2009/12/making-URLs-shorter-for-google-toolbar.html”
In the above example, google bot can clearly recognize what the article is about. That is – “On-Page SEO”. Which in turn, helps the bot know about the context of the web page as well.
Given that every other factor is equal, the first one will rank higher.
The good news is that it’s really easy to start configuring URL in WordPress to make it similar to the first one.
Here’s the simple step to do that.
First, go to the “Settings” tab on the left menu of your dashboard, and then select “permalinks” to open the setting page.
Make sure that you select “Post Name” and save the settings.
Now, after you write a blog post or make a new page, WordPress will generate a clean URL for you. Something like – “website.com/target-keywords”
Always be using target keywords in the URL section.
Start Using Yoast SEO Plugin
Yoast SEO plugin is the best WordPress SEO plugin I have used to date. It’s an easy-to-use tool, which makes your job as an SEO a lot easier and time-saving.
Here’s what I mean:
After you write a single blog post, here are the few checklists that you need to care about for SEO purpose:
- Page Title
- Meta Description (less than 160 characters)
- Image Alt attributes optimization
- Using 1 focus keyword per page
- Focus keywords in headings and paragraphs
and so on …
All these lists for a single page, it’s a true fact that without something there to help, you’ll miss out on optimizing a few of these things.
Well, that’s where Yoast has it’s advantage.
Yoast brings all the SEO recommendations and necessities in one place for you so that you save time and energy while doing on-page SEO.
In order to install “Yoast SEO Plugin”, just go to “Plugins” >> “Add New” and search for Yoast in the search box.
After you install the plugin, it automatically appears on every page when you edit the page (or post).
Here’s how to use Yoast SEO to it’s fullest potential:
#1 Use it to optimize your page title and meta description
Probably, the basic and most important elements of SEO are “Page Title” and “Meta Description”
In SEO, things change a lot (faster than the speed of light – just to joke )
However, these 2 elements have not changed for a long time – because these things matter. After all, users will see the page title and the description to decide whether or not to click on the result.
As a general rule of thumb :
Title tag: should be less than 60 characters
Meta Description: should be less than 160 characters
However, with the help of the Yoast SEO plugin, you should not remember every one of those numbers for every single post you write. Yoast SEO is there to help you every single time.
Here’s what I mean:
After you’ve written the article, scroll down to the end of the content editor, you’ll find the Yoast section.
Click on the “edit snippet” button to edit the page title and meta description.
After your title will cross the limit than what’s normal – the green mark will turn to red. And, then you should understand that the title (or the description) is getting longer.
#2 Use it to optimize around “focus keyword”
Set a focus keyword for your page.
The focus keyword should not be anything random – it should be a phrase that you choose after you’ve done keyword research.
[Pro Tip: It’s always a good idea to conduct keyword research before you write a blog post. In fact, the idea for your blog posts should come from keyword research itself]
Once you set the focus keyword for your page, Yoast will give you all the recommendations that you need to follow to rank better for that focus phrase.
Here’s how it looks like:
Note that the Yoast structures all the recommendations in the form of tabs. Here are those tabs:
- Good Results
The “problems” tab is where you should bring most of your focus. Try to minimize the number of recommendations in this tab and you’re well on your way to rank your site better.
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Increase Website Loading Speed
No one likes a slow loading website.
Not even Google …
After all, Google’s users don’t like to wait too long to get their information. And, when it happens – they’ll hit that back button and click on the next website.
Hence, Google bot (including users) value page speed more than we would expect.
Here are a few steps that you can take to increase your website loading speed in WordPress (right now!):
#1 Use Smush Plugin (Image Compression)
What this tool does is basically reducing the size of your image without much noticeable difference in quality.
For WordPress users, I recommend a plugin named “Smush Image Compression”
Installing it should be a no big deal …
Just go to Plugins >> Add New, and then search for the term – “smush”. After you install it, go to your media library and then start smushing your images.
Or, better go to smush dashboard – where you can smush the images in bulk.
Make sure to check “Automatically smush my images on upload” on. So that whenever you upload a new image, it smushes (compresses the images) automatically.
Of course, this is not just the only way to compress the images.
There are millions of other ways that you can do outside of WordPress as well. Check out this article to learn more about image compression for the web.
#2 Use W3 Total Cache (plugin)
Caching is an important part of increasing website speed for any WordPress site.
Although there are myriads of caching plugins out there, the most popular and the one we recommend is a plugin named W3 Total Cache.
Here’s what you can do with this 1 plugin:
- Enable caching
- Minify Js and CSS
- Integrate CDN
- Enable Future Header Expires
and so on …
As a beginner, it can get too overwhelming to learn more all the settings. However, you don’t have to mesh around every detailed settings for this plugin.
Just optimize few plugin settings (general settings) that are important to you!
Here’s an article that explains all the W3 Total Cache settings in detail.
Connect Google Search Console to WordPress
Google Search Console (or Webmaster) is a handy tool for any SEO specialists to view and manage how your website is performing on search. After you connect the website to Google Search Console, you’ll be able to request Google to index your web page.
[Note that it’s just a request, and Google may not index it if they don’t find it useful]
Here are a few simple steps to connect your WordPress site to GSC:
1. Visit Google Search Console‘s landing page. (and then click start now)
2. Login using your Google account.
3. Add a property
On the upper left side of your dashboard, you’ll find a list of your properties. Click on the drop-down button of the list and then go to add property.
After you do that, it’s time to submit the name of your website. make sure you select the right HTTP version (HTTP or HTTPS).
4. Verify the website
Now, it’s time to verify that you are the owner of the website. There are a lot of methods to verify site ownership.
Here are 2 of those easy ways:
#1 Verify uploading a file
For this, you need to have the Cpanel access to your website. And, should know how to upload the file to your root folder (Don’t worry – it’s not difficult)
Download the file that the GSC provides you and then upload that to your root folder.
#2 Verify using Google Analytics
The other easy way to verify the website is to use Google Analytics.
If you have a Google Analytics account for the same website you are trying to connect, you may opt to use this step.
All you need to do is 1 click.
Google checks in the background if you’re the owner of the website using your Google Analytics account.
Enough with the verification, now let me show you how to request indexing using Google Search Console.
On the search bar of the GSC’s dashboard, write the full address of the web page that you want to be indexed (and hit enter …)
GSC (in the background) checks whether the page is already indexed or not. In case, it’s not indexed, it provides you the message – “URL is not on Google”.
All you have to after this is to click on “REQUEST INDEXING”.
Google Search Console is not just for indexing, though. It can be used to remove indexed pages, submit sitemaps, gain insights on performance and so on.
Submit XML Sitemaps to Google Search Console
For this step, two of the tools we have used before comes in handy – Yoast and GSC.
Sitemaps are an amazing way to let Google know the overall map of the website. With Yoast tool in hand, you don’t need to worry much about making a sitemap for a WordPress site.
In order to generate a sitemap for your site, you need to turn that feature on within your Yoast dashboard.
Go to the Yoast dashboard. And then, click on the “Features” tab to see which of the Yoast features you are using. Make sure that the XML Sitemaps option is checked on.
Now, click on the link – “See the XML sitemap” to go to your sitemap page.
Now, it’s time to copy that link to Google Search Console.
Sitemaps can be generated in 2 forms – XML and HTML. Learn more about the difference between XML sitemaps and HTML sitemaps here.
Here’s how your URL of sitemap (generated by Yoast) should look like:
In order to submit the sitemap to Google Search Console, go to the sitemaps tab using the link on the left side of your dashboard.
Next up, paste the link that Yoast generated for you. Note that you should only use the phrase that’s after the website’s name – generally it’s “/sitemap_index.xml”
After you submit, Google will take some time and then start crawling and indexing your website’s pages.
In case, you have pages that you don’t want search users to see, either disable them through Yoast plugin settings or use robots.txt file.
Remove “No Value Adding” Pages From Index
Here’s a myth – “More pages indexed, the better”.
In fact, these days SEOs have come to realize that less is better for indexed pages. When you have a lot of pages ranked, you have a lot of unnecessary pages on Google’s index.
Brian Dean calls them – “Zombie Pages”.
Because they are killing your ranking in Google.
Search using “site:website.com” to see what pages are being indexed currently.
If the number is higher than you expect, then there’s something you need to consider. It means that Google bot has indexed a lot of unnecessary pages (like archives and all) – which adds no value to the user.
Here’s how you remove the pages from the Google index.
Once again, Google Search comes in handy for this task. Go to the old version of GSC (i.e Google Webmaster tools). On the left pane of the webmaster tool, click on the “Google Index” >> “Remove URLs”
Now you can remove the pages one-by-one.
If you have a whole directory to remove, you can do that right here.
Note that this is a temporary removal.
After you remove your page from the index, you need to remove that from the sitemap as well – or else, Google will index it once again after some time.
Few of other quick tips that are not mentioned in details:
- Add SSL / HTTPS to Your Site
- Use LSI keywords (On-Page SEO)
Now, it’s your turn
WordPress has allowed many business owners to save thousands of dollars on website development.
However, not optimize it for the search …
… and you lose money once again.
Nevertheless, with all these tips at your toolkit – you should be able to upgrade your SEO efforts on WordPress website. All these techniques are beginner-friendly and do not require much technical knowledge.
What are the techniques you use to boost ranking for your WordPress site? Which of the tips will you apply as soon as possible?
Let me and our readers know using the comment section below