Search engine optimization (SEO) is integral in marketing and maintaining your online presence. It covers procedures you can take to guarantee that your business website is indexed by major search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo. Also, SEO will help you rank higher organically on search engine results pages (SERPs).
As a content management system (CMS), WordPress’s structure is built to create SEO-friendly sites. It enables you to make HTML pages with varying vital elements, such as permalinks, hyperlinks, tags and descriptions, among other website must-haves. And good WordPress SEO helps boost SERP ranking.
In this post, we feature the definition of WordPress SEO and the most beneficial steps to optimizing your WP sites for search engine users.
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What Is WordPress SEO?
WordPress SEO makes search engines detect your website to make it more visible for searchers. Doing it right will help increase the quantity and quality of organic traffic.
Google, for instance, has “crawlers” which are bots crawling the internet to evaluate each available web page. They follow criteria set by Google for deciding if a web page should be indexed and listed.
These processes of listing and indexing change constantly in real-time. That is why it is impossible to execute manually. As such, the search engine giant employs proprietary programs and algorithms to crawl the world wide web and run updates on its indexes.
So, why does this matter to you?
This is where SEO optimization for WordPress steps into the picture. Through WordPress SEO, Google’s crawlers can collect information on your site and then organization this information accordingly.
WordPress SEO Best Practices Checklist
In 2023, let us revisit how you approach WordPress SEO. Equipped with several optimization pointers to take into account, you can more effectively organize a powerful SEO strategy.
These will increase your chances of ranking better on SERPs moving forward:
1. Review Your Meta Tags
Checking and optimizing tags are two of the most fundamental steps for on-page WordPress SEO. This is because tags include one of the essential SERP ranking factors, i.e., the title tag.
With optimized title tags, you ensure your targeted keywords are present while strategically scattering them within engaging copies. This will drive more clicks. In addition, optimizing meta tags also mean optimizing meta-descriptions. While these are generally not considered in overall rankings, they play a significant role in increasing click-through rates (CTRs).
Neglecting meta tags may lead to unwanted crucial errors.
For example, a no-index tag may affect a page rank because this transmits a negative message to search engines, telling them not to show a particular page on the search results listing. Resolve this by utilizing a robot exclusion checker extension to check your page’s meta-robots attribute more efficiently. This will abandon the need to examine source codes manually.
2. Fix Duplicate Content
Duplicate content on your site causes two issues.
First, search engines can flag them as spam.
Second, it can water down the keywords used on the web pages.
Remember that duplicate content does not only refer to long-form pieces and the body of an article. It can also be identical meta tags and subheadings—both putting your site in a bad light on SERP ranking.
For eCommerce sites, it may not be possible to veer from duplicate or near-duplicate items on product pages. In this case, you can still avoid a drop in your ranking by using canonical tags. These HTML code snippets will help delineate the main product versions from similar ones and variations.
3. Prioritize Search Engine Intent
Optimizing both new web pages and existing ones is a must for a thriving WordPress SEO.
List all the keywords you are targeting, and find the ones that do not show yet on the initial search results. Then, manually search these keywords on Google. Note how Google is rewarding their usage. This is a recommended way to help you determine a keyword’s intent.
Once you understand the correct intent of your keyword choice, you can revert to your content to adjust and improve it as necessary.
If the top results on Google display images, you should also optimize for imagery on your website.
Moreover, the overall word count of your content is incredibly important, too. When your content satisfies this search intent for keywords, you will likely outrank other web pages.
4. Augment Old Pages and Posts
Updating existing posts and pages is a powerful SEO tactic that effectively helps up your website’s organic traffic.
One way to do this is by examining older posts and pages that used to perform well and may not have dropped off. A reason for this may be outdated details. And newer up-to-date content on other web pages using the same keywords currently outrank yours.
While it is easy to overlook this and concentrate on generating new posts, your previously published assets can save you time and effort as well as enhance WordPress SEO.
The process of updating old content will differ. There are posts that will need to be entirely overhauled and those that require minor updates. Regardless of the situation, it is a fantastic method to bring in more organic traffic. You only have to make the time for it.
5. Check All Internal Links
Internal links are of utmost importance to your WP structure and search rankings. The highest-performing pages and posts should contain several relevant internal links to push for traffic even further.
These links are key to helping online users navigate through your website properly, expectantly processing to convert readers into paying consumers.
Plus, using anchor texts will help search engines understand better the context of your content—similar to using anchor texts in backlinks.
Double-checking your internal links will also help you discover any non-existent old pages. Or if you may be linking independent URLs that have redirects. 404 errors will stop link juice flows, wasting opportunities for conversion.
6. Create and Submit a Sitemap
After setting up and verifying the Google search console, you have to submit extensible markup language (XML) sitemaps to assist the search engine in crawling your site properly. This is especially essential as Google favors more frequently crawling URLs that are part of a structured site map.
While URLs not integrated into a sitemap can be crawled, they will not be prioritized.
For larger WordPress sites, it is advisable to build several organized sitemaps. It is the same for images. You need to build an image sitemap for imagery optimization.
7. Upgrade to Google Analytics 4
The advanced Google Analytics 4 (GA4) has more enhanced AI technologies that give you smarter insights into your SEO and overall online marketing efforts.
It lets you integrate Google Ads while giving you the ability to understand customers’ purchasing life cycles.
It is best to move all your analytics accounts to GA4 so you can get the most out of the advantages that come with the tool. While it may take time to adjust to the newer version of the platform, adapting to this change will be worthwhile.
8. Improve Your Web Pages’ Loading Speed
Before making major modifications to your website, you should first check your live site’s loading performance. Google’s PageSpeed Insights is a reliable way to do this.
To check the speed of a staging site or a local host server, you can use Lighthouse instead as PageSpeed Insights may not retrieve accurate results in these environments.
9. Ensure Site’s Mobile-Friendliness
The success of your WordPress SEO initiatives is also dependent on how well your site functions and displays on mobile devices.
In the age of digitalization where most people are occupied with their gadgets on the go, a great amount of internet traffic is initiated from mobile.
In this case, you should ensure that your business website is optimized for mobile responsiveness. This means that your pages resize according to the screen they are displayed on and work properly across varying monitors.
10. Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)
AMPs are open-source systems that automatically reduce web pages to a bare minimum, retaining only the headers, content and images.
This provides mobile users with the best possible experience with your site, owing to faster loading times.
You can install and run the official WP AMP plugin. Then, select the areas on your site with AMP versions. This is quite easy and will not require any specific type of technical knowledge.
Final Thoughts: Navigating Through WordPress SEO
Mastering WordPress SEO will not happen overnight. But getting the hang of it or even perfecting it over time will come with major rewards—like having your content land on the first SERP on Google.
This post has covered the best practices to optimize your content, images, site map hierarchy and loading speed for higher ranking.
We have discussed the value of having a responsive website as well as several things that may hurt your SEO programs and how you can avoid them.
If you have not already done so, you can hire the services of professional web design companies that offer WordPress web design and SEO services. They can help customize your websites into strongly performing business pages with robust SEO strategies.