Why WordPress for SEO?
WordPress remains the most popular CMS (Content Management System) on the internet. According to Built With, It is currently powering 39% of the internet, with over 28 million websites live.
WordPress offers what no other platform can match, with over 50,000 plugins and countless themes and designs available. WordPress is SEO friendly at its core, with dedicated SEO plugins to make your life easier. Improving your WordPress SEO is made simple so that you can maximise your online efforts.
Here are 10 ways to improve your WordPress SEO:
1. Get an SEO-friendly theme
The WordPress default theme is installed by default, and chances are that you will not use it. As mentioned before, there is no shortage when it comes to themes, with most themes claiming they are “SEO friendly” and “Mobile-friendly”.
What to look for:
- A responsive design, meaning a theme that scales well on desktop, mobile and anything in between.
- A lightweight theme, it’s best to avoid a theme that is bloated with other plugins and scripts that you will not use.
More factors affect theme performance, such as hosting and server location so results may not be the same with your application.
2. Install your preferred SEO plugin (Yoast vs Rank Math)
Although WordPress is SEO friendly, it helps to have a dedicated SEO plugin to guide you when optimising your website. A dedicated plugin allows you more options than handle basic WordPress SEO automatically.
The two most popular SEO plugins at the moment are Yoast SEO and Rank Math. Yoast seems to offer a simple design, making it easy to understand and configure. Rank Math comes with more options and more inbuilt features, making it a bit more complicated when compared to Yoast. But there is no wrong option and depends on what you are looking for.
3. Use an SSL certificate
SSL or the thing that makes your website “HTTPS” is a security certificate installed on your host to provide better security to your audience. Google confirmed in 2014 that SSL would become a ranking factor. As well as looking good in browsers, it will help increase your website ranking.
SSL will protect your websites customer information and keep it secured. I cannot stress enough how critical SSL is for your website. Not having an SSL may cause search engines to give your website visitors a warning before they can enter your website. A warning message on a users screen will most likely deter visitors from clicking through to your website.
4. Set your preferred URL (www vs. non-www)
Websites either start with a www or they don’t, but Googles views both versions of a website. No matter what domain URL prefix you choose, it will not make a difference ranking wise. On WordPress, you will find this setting in the General section under settings.
5. Use Google Search Console and Bing Tools
Google and Bing have developed tools to help website owners monitor their website health, provide tips and other website tools. These tools allow you to view how search engines interact with your website and flags technical errors. Google and Bing want to provide users with the best possible results, so using these features will help increase your search visibility.
6. Use custom URLs and permalinks
The permalinks settings are in the reading section in the WordPress settings, and you will want to use the “Post name” settings. The post name setting is SEO friendly, as it allows you to set up a relevant URL for your blogs.
Custom URL’s give a user an idea of what the page and you can include your keyword.
7. Set up manual approval for comments
You will find users commenting on your blogs asking questions or how much they enjoyed reading your post. However, blog spam is a real problem that your site may face. WordPress by default will come with an automatic anti-spam plugin for your comments, but that may not be enough.
To comment on a WordPress blog, you only need to add a name and website, with most of these comments will be spam. Spammers use software to post comments on thousands of websites with their link in hopes that they will link back to their website. Manual approval is the best way to filter out the spam and making sure you only see what you allow.
8. Optimise your images
Image optimisation will not only speed up your website but help with your WordPress SEO. Unoptimised images, in particular PNG files, can lead to some serious speed issues. Although you can use the Smush plugin to optimise your images, using dedicated image editing software together with TinyPNG will make sure you save even more space.
However, speed is one thing, a fully optimised image will also need some alt text. Alt-text is a description behind your image, and it gives more meaning to your image for search engines and users.
9. Use a Caching plugin
Caching is stores copies of files in your browser cache so that pages are accessed quicker when users load the page again. Browsers store these files for a set amount of time before it expires, or your cache is full.
In short, website caching will make your website load faster, and that will make both Google and your users happy. There are plenty of free caching plugins you can use, with some extra features with the premium versions.
9. Update your content reguarily
Your content is what makes you rank on Google and other search engines. It is important to frequently update your content to serve relevant and fresh to your target audience.
There is no set guideline for updating your content, but I would suggest going through it at least once a week. If your content is updated, it will make sure to attract new users. Google will also pick up on this and crawl your website more often.
In conclusion, optimising your WordPress SEO will give you more visibility and a better experience for your users. Ensuring your website is SEO friendly will ensure you maximise your online efforts. Be sure to check your website and see if you are using these WordPress SEO practices.