WordPress is perhaps the most popular website platform available today. Countless tools and features make it one of the most versatile and yet one of the simplest platforms for building and hosting your website. But, how do you optimize your WordPress site to be search-engine friendly? What do you do if you want to organically increase website traffic?
WordPress provides several options for on-page SEO adjustments, and we will explore many of the most popular here. Follow this guide to optimize each of your pages and new content posts for search. We’ll examine three different categories of SEO help:
- One-time blog setup adjustments – do those just once, reap the benefits forever
- Plugins – these tools provide optimal WordPress on-page SEO
- Things to do for every new post – go through this part whenever you’re just about to hit the Publish button
One-time Setup Adjustments
Be sure these optimization settings are correctly chosen for your entire website. Then, you never need touch them again.
Enable Indexing Settings
Google will only index your site if WordPress allows them to do so. There’s a small setting in the Settings > Reading section of the wp-admin. It’s called Search Engine Visibility. Make sure that the box is deselected. If it’s enabled for development purposes, or any other reason, Google will not crawl your site.
Permalinks represent how WordPress structures every URL on your site. You can set those in Settings > Permalinks. Be sure to include keywords in your posts’ URLs, which is very important for WordPress on-page SEO.
Make Sure Your Site is Responsive and Mobile-friendly
Over 80% of internet users own a smartphone and use it frequently to access the internet. Moreover, Google announced some time ago that they’re now favoring mobile-optimized sites over those that are not. You can check how mobile-friendly your site is at Google’s dedicated tool. If you get negative results, you’ll need to change your WP site theme to a fully responsive one.
Check How Your Theme Handles H1, H2 Tags
H1-H6 tags are a critical part of your on-page search engine optimization structure. These headings are used to notify the reader (and search engines) about your page hierarchy, and what’s more or less important.
H1 – main, top-level heading – it’s what the page is about. Only use one H1 tag per page.
H2 – secondary heading – it’s what a section on the page is about.
H3 – third level heading – subsections under secondary headings
Make sure all your H1, H2, H3, etc. tags make sense and present a good structure of the document.
Recommended WordPress On-Page SEO Plugins
WordPress plugins work to fill the gaps in your on-page SEO. We recommend three of the most popular and easiest to use.
Yoast is the most popular WordPress on-page SEO plugin of all. It gives you all the basic settings you’d need, and also lets you in on some of the advanced stuff, should you want to experiment. This is the one on-page SEO tool that you cannot do without. Install and explore the features, changing settings as needed.
Sumo is a social media plugin/tool, and social sharing is paramount when considering on-site SEO. Social media metrics are something that Google measures when ranking your site pages. This plugin allows site visitors to share your pages on social media simply and quickly.
The WPtouch Mobile Plugin switches between your standard design and a mobile-optimized version based on the device that the visitor is using to access the site. The plugin works on autopilot and it’s completely free. The mobile design it delivers is clear and good-looking. In short, a great free solution if you don’t want to rebuild your whole theme to achieve a responsive website.
Things to Do for Every New Post
These are the things worth doing with every new post to make it search-engine friendly. Follow this checklist repeatedly for each post until these on-page optimizations become second nature.
Use Two-fold Headlines for Improved Keyword Targeting
Construct your headline from two parts: the keyword-rich search engine optimized part, and a twist. This sets the right tone, both for users and for search engines. The great thing is that you can use your primary and secondary keywords in the headlines.
Always Set Titles and Descriptions Manually
WordPress will fill out the meta title and description fields for you, but their auto-generated texts aren’t always the best, both from a keyword optimization perspective and copywriting perspective. Use your main keyword for the post, and also some related keywords in the description.
Include a Keyword in the First Paragraph
The first paragraph is the most important part of the post’s content from an SEO point of view. Let Google and your visitors know what your post is about by using the primary keyword or phrase somewhere in the first paragraph. Always.
Pay Attention to Keyword Density
If you want to rank for a certain keyword, you need to mention that keyword a number of times in the body of the post. The Yoast plugin has an on-page SEO checker that evaluates your current keyword density score for that page. Use them throughout the text and be sure they occur naturally and do not sound forced.
Use Related Keywords
Related keywords can be just as important as your main keyword for the post. Basically, Google wants to see some range of words and phrases alongside your main keyword if you expect them to be convinced that your post is indeed on topic.
Link Your New Post with Older Posts
For every new post you’re working on, find at least 3 existing related posts on your blog, and then link to them from within the body of that new post. If possible, see which of your posts get the most organic traffic, and link to other sites you want to rank, from those posts.
Use Alt Text for Images
Yes, you should use images in your blog content. Posts with images get more clicks. But Google has no idea what’s on them until you find a way to tell them directly. In WordPress, you can set alt text very easily for every image you have on the blog. Use a short 2-5-word description of what’s in the picture, plus include a keyword whenever it makes sense.
Wrapping Up –
Are you working on your WordPress site’s on-page search engine optimization? What other tips and tricks do you have to share with our readers? Record them in the comments below, and thanks for sharing your wisdom!