How to do SEO on WordPress and can it be done properly? Absolutely, yes! WordPress websites with search engine optimization done right can rank on first positions even in the most competitive niches. It usually takes some time, effort and knowledge to reach the first places on search result pages. Follow our WordPress SEO optimization tips and surpass your competitors in search engine results.
Introduction to WordPress SEO Optimization
It’s already been two decades since Google released it’s Page Rank algorithm and gave us the first guidelines on how to optimize web pages for better search results. Every year since then, SEO became a more and more important part of each web development project. With competition growing, the search engine algorithm was frequently updated with new rules on how to do SEO. Nowadays, SEO is not any more only about keywords. It comprehends the site structure and elements optimization, unique quality content, loading speed and a range of other factors. Our WordPress SEO optimization tips will cover all aspects and relevant factors to achieve high search engine rankings.
WordPress SEO optimization is not different than any non WP website SEO. The only difference is that WordPress provide us with useful tools that facilitate our job. Nevertheless, it’s not enough just to install a SEO plugin and expect that it will do all the work. It’s still very important to follow all the WordPress SEO optimization tips and guidelines covering both the web development process and content management. In order to learn how to do SEO on WordPress, firstly you have to identify the areas that search engine optimization comprehends. Those areas are the following:
- website <head> section meta tags optimization
- links optimization
- images optimization
- content optimization
- loading speed optimization
- using a sitemap
Now that we identified all the areas important for a high quality WordPress SEO optimization, we’ll give you all the tips on how to optimize each area. Let’s analyze each area in details.
WordPress offers extensive possibilities for a strong website SEO optimization. Follow our tips and guidelines as closely as possible to reach top positions in search results.
WordPress SEO Optimization of head section meta tags
Meta tags are elements of the website <head> section telling browsers and search engine important information about the current web page. Meta tags are not visible to visitors of the website, but some are displayed in search engine results. Therefore, the most important meta tags for WordPress SEO optimization are:
- <title> tag: tells search engines the title of the current page, which is also displayed in the first line of the search results snippet (keep under 60 characters)
- <meta name=”description” content=…”> tag: short description of the current web page, displayed in the search results snippet under the page title (keep under 130 characters)
The page title is the first place where search engine algorithms look for keywords and key phrases. Therefore, make sure to write a natural but well keyworded title for each page of your website. Try to keep the title under 60 characters because the search results snippet will cut the title there and hide the rest. Speaking of WordPress SEO optimization, plugins such as Yoast offer the possibility to write a title to display to visitors of the website and a different one to use as title meta tag.
There’s an ongoing debate on how to do SEO on WordPress meta description tag. Some say the description shouldn’t be keyworded and it should sound like a nice CTA encouraging the visitors to open the website. Others say it should be keyworded. Our opinion is somewhere in between, so we suggest to write a nice natural sounding description which will also include the keyword phrase. Keep in mind that if you don’t define the description tag, search engine robots will display the first text they find on the page, usually the first paragraph. Keep the meta description under 130 characters, because the search results snippet will hide the rest of the description.
Many developers still use the <meta name=”keywords” content=…”> meta tag when they do SEO optimization. This was one of the first search engine optimization meta tags. With years passing by, frequent updates to search engine algorithms and fresh WordPress SEO optimization tips and guidelines, the keywords tag become obsolete. There’s no need to use it in your website’s <head> section.
SEO optimization of links on the website
For a strong WordPress SEO optimization, all or at least most of the links on your website should be optimized. If you wonder how to do SEO on WordPress based website links, there’s one important rule. Use title attributes. No matter if links are internal or outbound, are they in the header, content or footer, make sure to use title attributes wherever it’s possible.
The title attribute content is shown in a popup tooltip when website visitors hover over your links. Therefore, you should not just drop a bunch of keywords in there, but write a nice, natural sounding sentence. Try to describe what’s the link about and what will visitors find when they click the links. Search engine robots also read title attributes to learn where’s the link leading.
When optimizing title attributes, don’t use the exact keywords or keyphrases you are ranking for. Try to use synonyms or keyword variations instead.
How to do SEO on WordPress images
Although often omitted from search engine optimization, images are an important element that should be carefully optimized. Website images have big potential for SEO and none should be left not optimized. To know how to do SEO on WordPress images, firstly we have to determine what should optimization of images include. To properly optimize website images follow those important WordPress SEO optimization tips:
- optimize the image file size
- keyword the image file name
- optimize the image title attribute
- keyword the image alt attribute
Keep the image file size as small as possible. Don’t use larger images than you actually need and try to compress them without significantly loosing on quality. Lightweight images lower the website loading speed, which is also an important ranking factor. Image optimization plugins are also available to further optimize images. Always give your image files names that include keywords and key phrases you are ranking for.
How to do SEO on WordPress images title tags is the same process as described for link title attributes optimization. Just follow the same WordPress SEO optimization tips we gave earlier in this article. Contrary to the title attribute practice not to use the exact keywords and key phrases, when optimizing the alt attribute content use the exact keywords and phrases you are ranking for. Of course, don’t just drop the keywords in there but write natural sentences that include your keywords.
WordPress SEO optimization tips for the website content
The content is the main and largest part of each web page or post. For quite some time now, it is also the most important element for search engine rankings. Search engine algorithms evaluate the quality of the content, determine keywords from it and rank the website accordingly. Therefore, great attention should be given on how to do SEO on WordPress web pages content.
The WordPress SEO optimization tips for the content are the following:
- optimize the page or post slug (url)
- make sure you use the key phrase in the main title <h1>
- write at least 300 words of text divided in paragraphs, the more the merrier
- use your keywords and key phrases to get a keyword density of 2-3% of the whole text
- break the content with <h2> and <h3> subheadings every 2 or 3 paragraphs
- use key phrases in approximate 2/3 of your subheadings
- integrate at least one internal and one outbound link into the content
- insert at least one photo into the content
- make use of WordPress SEO tools such as Yoast, that will check your content optimization in real time and suggest improvements
NOTE:To reach the keyword density of 2-3% you should use your keywords or key phrases 6-9 times inside a 300 words content.
Our WordPress SEO optimization tips won’t be 100% achievable in some cases. There might be cases where you have no photos to insert, no links, or just not enough content to reach the minimum of 300 words. In those cases do the maximum you can with what you have. Partial search engine optimization is always better than none.
Website loading speed optimization
Since Google added the Speed Update to it’s search engine algorithm in mid 2018., website loading speed become a major factor in ranking web pages. Together with taking in considerations all the other SEO factors, Google now measures the website loading speed and ranks higher the faster loading web pages. Therefore, the WordPress SEO optimization tips regarding website loading speed should not be ignored.
To make sure your website is properly optimized for loading speed, try to comply as much as possible with the following guidelines:
- use a lightweight base theme
- don’t use too many images and those you use try keeping as lightweight as possible
- uninstall all unnecessary plugins and remove scripts not in use
- there are often more plugins that can do the same task, use the one more lightweight
- choose lightweight fonts and don’t use too many fonts
- install caching and speed optimization plugins
- test and measure using tools such as Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights
Same as what we mentioned in the WordPress SEO optimization tips for the content, there will be cases where you can’t completely comply with the guidelines above. Nevertheless, try doing the best you can within the given circumstances. We got a couple more website speed optimization tips for you in our Speed up WP websites in 5 minutes Tutorial.
More WordPress SEO optimization tips
If you follow all the WordPress SEO optimization tips from this article as close as possible, you can be sure your website will have a strong SEO. There are always more possibilities for an even stronger search engine optimization, specially in very competitive niches.
Connect your website with social networks and share your content to gain more traffic. Search engine measure the traffic websites receive and push websites with more traffic higher in search results.
Don’t forget to add a sitemap to your website. Sitemaps help search engine robots to understand the structure of your website and faster index it’s content. There are great sitemap plugins available but if you’re using a WordPress SEO optimization tool such as Yoast, you wont need them. Yoast will automatically generate the sitemap and keep it updated with all new posts or pages you add to the website.