Optimizing your WordPress SEO will benefit you with increased traffic to the website. Most people think installing an SEO plugin will be enough for them, but if you are serious about increasing your website traffic, you need to follow WordPress SEO best practices. In this post, you will learn how to improve your WordPress SEO and get more organic traffic.

What is SEO?

Search Engine Optimization or shorter SEO is a strategy used by website owners to get more traffic by optimizing your website for search engine crawl. When people search the web for the topics you write about, your search-engine-optimized content will appear higher in the search results, and you’ll get more people clicking through to your website. 

Basic WordPress SEO

WordPress is one of the best content management system when it comes to SEO, but following best practices will help you improve your rankings even more.

#1 Use an SEO-friendly theme

When searching for a WordPress theme, don’t just look for a better-looking one, make sure your theme is responsive and lightweight. Today, when more and more traffic comes from mobile phones responsivity, it is a must. To be sure, run the theme demo through Google’s Mobile‐friendly Test tool. Also, avoid themes that are bloated with third-party plugins and scripts that you don’t use. If you are developing your own theme, then you should definitely follow SEO best practices.

#2 Choose your URL structure

You can find those options under Settings > General.

You can choose to use www. or without www. It doesn’t make any difference which version you choose. It comes down to personal preference. But you should use https over HTTP protocol.

Also, remember to use SEO friendly URLs which contain words that clearly explain the content of the page, and that is easy to read by both humans and search engines. Example SEO friendly URL: www.example/blog/blog-post-title, and not-friendly URL: www.example/?p=107.

Using SEO friendly permalink structure improves your chances of getting better positions in search results. Here is how you can check and update your WordPress site’s permalink structure.

You need to visit the Settings > Permalinks page. Select the post name option and then click on the ‘Save Changes’ button to store your settings.

Permalink settings example

#3 Optimize your titles and meta description

Your page title, the contents of the HTML <title> tag, is one of the most important factors for ranking high in search results. Not only is it the literal title of the tab or browser window, but it’s also the first line people see in the search results. It describes what your page and acts as an advert which encourages users to click on it.

It’s worth remembering that search engines may put more weight on the early words, so trying to get your keywords near the start of the title might make you more likely to rank well. 

A meta description is primarily used to show a description of your page in the search engine results, just below your page title. Use the help of SEO plugins like Yoast SEO which provides a meta box where you can write your title and description for every page.

Yoast seo snippet preview

#4 Enable breadcrumbs

You’ll want to add breadcrumbs to your single posts and pages. Breadcrumbs are links, usually above the title post, that looks like “Home > Articles > WordPress SEO.” They are good for two things:

  • They allow your users to navigate your site easily.
  • They allow search engines to determine the structure of your site more easily.

You can set that up with some WordPress plugins: for example, we use the one generated by Yoast SEO.

#5 Add Sitemap to google search console

When updating your website make sure to use a sitemap. Sitemaps will tell Google and other search engines that your site has been updated.  SEO plugins will automatically generate an XML sitemap that we just need to add to Google Search Console. You need to start with Adding and verifying your site at Google Search Console. Google Search Console, also known as Webmaster Tools, is a set of tools offered by Google to give website owners a look at how the search engine sees their content.

While adding an XML sitemap does not boost your site’s search rankings, it does help search engines find the pages quickly and start ranking them.

#6 Speed optimization

Web usability experts believe that users decide whether they want to stay or leave within a few seconds of visiting a website. That means that as a website owner, you only have a few seconds to present your content and engage users. You don’t want to waste this precious time making your visitor wait for your website to load. Search engines rank faster websites higher than slow loading websites. 

You should start with :

  • Test your page speed
  • Optimize uploaded images
  • Cache and minify your resources
  • Use a CDN

Find which tools to use for these optimizations in our last blog post

These tips should get you started with optimizing your WordPress site for SEO. Go ahead and implement a few of these SEO tips, and within a few months as the search engines process your changes you should see an increase in your traffic.



Author

Ivan Jurković

Front-end web developer at Kontra and a car enthusiast.