Think about this — when was the last time you searched something on Google and went to the second page to see the results? A quick glance at the latest SEO statistics will tell you that only a meager 0.63% of searchers click on results from the second page of Google. This should put in perspective why you need to rank on the first page of search engine results.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the easiest and most economical way to put your website on the top of search results and attract more visitors. If you’re selling a product or service, this would mean more qualified leads with a stronger purchase intent than you’d get from pay-per-click ads alone.
In this guide, we’re sharing some of the most effective WordPress SEO strategies that you can put into action now to leave the competition behind and rank higher every time. Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 1 1. Optimize Your Website Experience
- 2 2. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
- 3 3. Make Your Site Indexable and Noindex Insignificant Pages
- 4 4. Choose the Right Keywords and Follow Best Practices
- 5 5. Take Advantage of Metadata
- 6 6. Set Up WordPress SEO-Friendly URLs
- 7 7. Optimize Your Images
- 8 8. Ensure Unique Content Across All Pages
- 9 9. Avoid Spam Through Manual Comment Approvals
- 10 10. Link Internally to Other Pages on Your Site
- 11 11. Link to High-Authority External Sites
- 12 12. Build Quality Backlinks and Monitor Them
- 13 13. Regularly Audit Your WordPress SEO Performance
- 14 Set Your WordPress SEO Up for Success
1. Optimize Your Website Experience
Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines emphasize the concept of E-E-A-T (Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust) which have become the golden considerations for Page Quality (PQ) rating and WordPress SEO in recent years. The most central of these is the ‘Trust’ factor, which is an evaluation of the honesty, safety, and reliability of a page.
Websites that focus on enhancing user experience with the E-E-A-T concept increase their organic traffic influx, engage visitors for longer, and generally rank higher on search results. Here are some of the ways you can do this:
a. Improve Your Website Speed
40% of shoppers abandon a website if it fails to load within 3 seconds. Google also confirmed way back that website speed is a crucial ranking factor, so it’s clear that speed matters to both visitors and search engines. The fastest way to improve your website speed is to install a lightweight WordPress SEO-friendly theme such as Astra or OceanWP that has been specifically designed for WordPress.
To check your website’s current stats, use PageSpeed Insights, a free tool by Google that provides a detailed analysis of your website’s performance on both mobile and desktop, along with improvement suggestions.
Another way to speed up your website is by compressing text and images. Both eat up significant amounts of bandwidth, negatively affecting the page load speed. Even a 25% compression rate will help you reduce the bulk and noticeably improve your website’s loading time and WordPress SEO ranking and increase organic traffic.
b. Structure Your Site to Establish Hierarchy
Search engines work by sending out bots that read the content on a website through a process known as crawling and then storing that information in an organized manner through indexing. When your site is organized, it makes it easier for the bots to crawl through it and rank it. A well-structured website also makes it easier for visitors to navigate different pages with ease. Here are some ways you can make your WordPress SEO crawl-friendly:
- Group posts and pages using tags and categories.
- Format the content with appropriate H1, H2 headers.
- Flesh out key pages (contact us, about us, T&C, etc.).
- Add essential links to the header and footer.
c. Ensure Your Website Is Secure
Secure Sockets Layer or SSL certificate is a key component of a secure website that encrypts data such as credentials and banking details between the server and your browser. If your website doesn’t have one, forget about ways to increase organic traffic because your visitors will see a warning sign prompting immediate bounce off. The lack of an SSL certificate is a major hit to the website’s trustworthiness and search ranking.
Most reputable hosting providers offer an SSL certificate along with the domain, but if yours doesn’t, Cloudflare offers a free one that you can install on your website in minutes by following the instructions. After successful installation, you’ll see a lock icon as well as https:// instead of http:// next to the URL as in the screenshot below.
2. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
If you’re a beginner, an SEO plugin will make setting up your website for SEO success an effortless task. While they have their limitations, the best SEO plugins will still help you generate XML sitemaps, optimize content and metadata with quality keywords, control your site’s breadcrumbs, leverage Google Analytics, and add schema markup. Some plugins also offer additional features to improve your website’s functionality and increase organic traffic.
All In One SEO, Yoast SEO, and MonsterInsights are three of the widely preferred options for WordPress SEO. Read the documentation for each or watch their tutorial videos for quick installation and setup.
3. Make Your Site Indexable and Noindex Insignificant Pages
Every website has a search engine visibility setting that can be turned on or off to allow or prevent Google from indexing your site. It is typically checked when the website is in development but should be unchecked after it’s live.
Before turning on indexing, you should’ve already generated an XML Sitemap which is a file that lists your website’s essential pages to make it easier for Google to crawl through them. It can be created using your WordPress SEO plugin and can be viewed by adding sitemap_index.xml to your site’s main URL like so: https://mysite.com/sitemap_index.xml
Here’s our sitemap for example:
You should also noindex unimportant pages such as archives, tag pages, and category pages from your site to prevent them from showing up on search results. Searchers won’t be interested in seeing your November 2016 posts archive after all!
The URL Inspection Tool in Google Search Console is helpful for checking if pages on your site have been correctly indexed or not. The Search Console also has a tool for requesting faster indexing of your site.
4. Choose the Right Keywords and Follow Best Practices
Keywords are the backbone of WordPress SEO and SERPs. When someone looks up “chocolate cake recipe”, Google’s algorithm sifts through websites with the most relevant results for these keywords and displays the best ones at the top of the search results page.
You should always have one primary keyword followed by a secondary keyword for every piece of content. Tertiary keywords are optional but are recommended for that additional bit of search engine exposure. Ahrefs and SEMrush are a few popular tools for finding good keywords.
While researching keywords for your WordPress SEO, consider market trends, relevancy, target audience intent, and search volume. Keywords with extremely high search volume are hard to rank for because of increased competition. Low search volume keywords won’t help you increase organic traffic in a major way due to fewer searches, unless you are able to rank for quite a number of them.
91.8% of search queries are long-tail keywords, so you should select a balanced mix of head terms with a length of one to three words and long-tail keywords with four or more words.
Here are some other best practices for keywords:
- Incorporate the keywords naturally because Google doesn’t crawl pages for identical term matches. See the instance of the keyword “chocolate cake recipe” highlighted in bold in the example below.
- Don’t try to game the system by overstuffing your content with keywords because it will get flagged by the algorithm.
- For blogs, place the primary keyword in the title if possible. If your audience is searching for “chocolate cake recipe” and stumbles upon an article titled “How to Bake a Cake”, they might bounce off.
- Space out all your keywords evenly. Don’t use the same keyword in one sentence after the other.
- Include your keywords in headers to make it easier for search engines to index your site for those keywords.
- Choose unique keywords for content on different pages of your site to prevent the pages from competing with each other.
5. Take Advantage of Metadata
Metadata provides additional information about the content on your site. The title tag and meta description are two essential components of metadata and on-site WordPress SEO that you should take advantage of to boost your search ranking and increase organic traffic.
In the image above, “10 Best WordPress Themes in 2023 (Compared & Ranked)” is the title tag, whereas “Of the ten best WordPress themes….” is the meta description. This is the first result we got while searching for “best wordpress themes”. Notice how both the title tag and meta description include this keyword highlighted in bold.
Metadata isn’t just a place to insert your keywords but is also crucial for your click-through rate (CTR). A well-written title tag and description present relevant information and set the right expectation for the searcher so they don’t bounce off after clicking.
The best practice is to keep your title tag between 50-60 characters and meta description between 150-160 characters including spaces. Anything more than that might get cut off on some devices.
6. Set Up WordPress SEO-Friendly URLs
WordPress uses your content’s title to assign a URL or Permalink for it by default, which could look like “www.mysite.com/how-to-become-a-self-published-author-using-amazon-kdp/” for a blog on self-publishing through Amazon KDP. Although there’s nothing wrong with this URL, something like “www.mysite.com/amazon-kdp-self-publishing” delivers the same information to the reader in fewer words.
Clean up your permalinks to make them reader and WordPress SEO-friendly. You’ll find the ‘Permalinks’ option in your dashboard settings. Also, make sure to add the primary keyword for a little boost in ranking.
7. Optimize Your Images
Visual content such as images and graphics are helpful for engaging users, breaking down content, and providing additional context. Optimizing your images is therefore a quick WordPress SEO technique to increase organic traffic for your site.
For starters, you should only use high-quality and relevant images that add substance to the page. Try to keep the sizes small to reduce your website load time.
Secondly, name your files correctly. Instead of “0001.jpg” for a picture of a dog, name it “golden-retriever-wagging-tail.jpg” to make it readable. Keep all words in lowercase, separated by a hyphen. Avoid special characters and numbers.
Lastly, add an ALT text to all your images. Alternative text or ALT text is an accessibility feature that gives visually impaired people information about the contents of the image. It’s a good WordPress SEO practice to write descriptive ALT texts to increase relevance. It also helps your page gain visibility when someone is performing a Google Image Search.
8. Ensure Unique Content Across All Pages
It’s not uncommon knowledge that duplicate content gets penalized by Google’s search algorithm. However, most people don’t realize that this applies to their own website too. If two pages on your website have the exact same or even similar content, they will get flagged and hurt your rankings. Google might deindex those pages or even penalize your whole website if the issue is widespread. So if you want to increase organic traffic, make sure your content is unique everywhere.
9. Avoid Spam Through Manual Comment Approvals
Leaving your comments section open to everyone is a recipe for disaster in multiple ways. It can expose your readers to inappropriate or malicious links, and invite spammy bots that leave links directing to irrelevant sites. The latter is a black hat WordPress SEO technique used for backlinking that will harm your website’s E-E-A-T.
Prevent this by going to your admin dashboard > Settings > Discussion and then checking “Comment must be manually approved.”
10. Link Internally to Other Pages on Your Site
Internal link building facilitates navigation within your website and builds authority, passing value from one page to the other. At Coalition Technologies, we add 2-6 internal links per 500 words for most of our clients’ on-site pages with an anchor text that describes what the linked page is about.
You can implement this WordPress SEO technique manually with the link button on your text editor or use the search feature built into the editor to look up and link pages on your website.
11. Link to High-Authority External Sites
External linking is another way to build your website’s authority and increase organic traffic because they tell search engines that your content is a valuable resource worthy of the top spots. You can use Nofollow external links which prevent search engines from following the URL to the site you’ve linked. It’s a piece of code rel=”nofollow” that can be added with the help of plugins or manually to the end of the hyperlink.
If you want to start a conversation with the brand and have them possibly share your post to attract more traffic, we recommend using Follow links instead. Whichever one you choose, ensure they open in a new tab or window and that you only pick well-known websites that already rank and aren’t your direct competitors.
Backlinks are links leading to your website from another website and are yet another WordPress SEO strategy that establishes your site as being trustworthy and authoritative. Interacting with other brands through podcasts, submitting guest posts, and blogging actively are three ways you can generate high-quality backlinks for your website and increase organic traffic. In fact, companies that blog frequently receive 97% more backlinks according to HubSpot. If high-authority pages link to your site, share the posts on your social media to generate buzz.
One thing to keep in mind with this WordPress SEO strategy is that it’s a double-edged sword. Since you have no control over who links back to you, they can be easily misused to sabotage your ranking by malicious people. Cleaning up negative SEO is a major task if you have millions of sites linking back to you, but with regular monitoring of backlinks, you can keep most of it in check and address spammy links on time.
13. Regularly Audit Your WordPress SEO Performance
SEO isn’t something you can set and forget. It needs to be monitored and optimized on a regular basis to ensure everything is running smoothly. You need to keep an eye out for old content that needs to be updated, low-value content that needs to be removed, crawl errors caused by issues such as broken links, track your keyword performance, and a bunch of other efforts that impact your SERP ranking.
SEO analytics tools like Ahrefs and SEMrush are worth the investment because they let you automate regular audits and alert you when something needs attention.
Set Your WordPress SEO Up for Success
Search engine algorithms are constantly evolving and at Coalition Technologies, we stay on our toes to deliver incredible results to our clients time after time. We’ve helped thousands of clients across a diverse range of niches increase their organic traffic and boost their revenue through data-driven SEO implementation.
If you’re eager to level up your business through organic traffic that never stops flowing in, contact our team today. Let us show you why we’re the experts in WordPress SEO.