WordPress SEO Guide: Actionable Steps to Increase Organic Traffic

SEO Strategies For WordPress: Increase Organic Traffic The Easy Way

a person typing on a black laptop

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 optimize your WordPress SEO strategy – your website needs to be ranking on page 1.

What is SEO? Why Is It So Important for WordPress?

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. It is essentially a set of practices that improve how search engines rank your website relative to your competitors. 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.

The benefits of SEO strategies for WordPress websites make it a necessity in today’s digital landscape:

  • Increased Organic Traffic: By ranking higher in search results, you get more free visits from people searching for what you offer.
  • Building Authority: Ranking high on search engines suggests your website is a valuable resource. This builds trust and credibility with potential customers and even Google.
  • Long-Term Growth: SEO is an ongoing process, but the benefits compound over time. As your website ranking improves, you’ll see a steady increase across most major metrics, including conversions and a decrease in bounce rates.

In this guide, we’re sharing some of the most effective SEO strategies for WordPress that you can implement now to leave the competition behind and rank higher every time. Let’s dive in!

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 optimizing WordPress sites for SEO in recent years. The most central of these is the ‘Trust’ factor, which evaluates a page’s honesty, safety, and reliability.

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 with an SEO strategy for WordPress:

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 performance analysis, making it easier to implement your WordPress SEO strategy for your website.

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 to help you optimize your WordPress site for SEO.

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. 

Here are some ways you can make a crawl-friendly site with an SEO strategy for WordPress:

  • Group posts and pages using tags and categories.
  • Format the content with appropriate H1 and 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 them to leave. Security needs to be a priority in any SEO strategy for WordPress. A lack of an SSL certificate is a major hit to the website’s trustworthiness and search ranking. 

Optimizing security for WordPress SEO is easier than you might think. 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.

site security information tab in Google Chrome

d. Mobile Optimization

Mobile optimization should be a massive priority for your WordPress SEO strategy. The majority of web traffic now comes from mobile devices. If your website isn’t optimized for smartphones and tablets, users will have a frustrating experience and likely bounce off quickly.

You can make optimization easier by using plugins that resize images automatically, and be sure to test your website on multiple screen sizes and devices to create a consistent experience for your users.

2. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin

If you’re a beginner, a plugin will make implementing your SEO strategy for WordPress effortless. While they have limitations, the best plugins to optimize WordPress SEO 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

Technical details can make all the difference in an SEO strategy for WordPress. 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:

an XML sitemap generated by Yoast SEO

To properly optimize your WordPress site for SEO, you should also noindex unimportant pages such as archives, tag pages, and category pages to prevent them from showing up in search results.

Plugins can make indexing for WordPress SEO strategies easier. The URL Inspection Tool in Google Search Console is helpful for checking whether pages on your site have been correctly indexed. The Search Console also has a tool for requesting faster indexing of your site.

4. Follow Keyword Research Best Practices

The Importance of Keyword Research

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. Keywords help the algorithm make those decisions, which is why it’s the backbone of any WordPress SEO strategy for ranking well.

For every piece of content, you should always have one primary keyword followed by a secondary keyword. Tertiary keywords are optional but recommended for an additional bit of search engine exposure. Ahrefs and SEMrush are a few popular tools for optimizing your WordPress SEO keyword research.

While researching keywords for your WordPress, 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 for your WordPress SEO strategies can actually help you increase organic traffic in a major way despite the fewer searches–because you are more likely to easily rank for many of them quicker than you might a high volume, high competition keyword. 

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. The example below highlights the keyword “chocolate cake recipe” in bold.
a Google search for chocolate cake recipes
  • Don’t try to game the system by overstuffing your content with keywords; the algorithm will flag this. Cheating never pays when it comes to SEO strategies for WordPress.
  • 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 when optimizing sites for WordPress SEO. 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. On-Page Optimizations: Take Advantage of Metadata

Metadata provides additional information about the content on your site, and it’s crucial in SEO strategies for WordPress. 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. 

a Google search result for WordPress themes

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.

Be careful when optimizing metadata for WordPress SEO. 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 in SEO strategies for WordPress 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. On-Page Optimizations: 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 SEO-friendly when you’re carrying out your SEO strategy for WordPress. The ‘Permalinks’ option is in your dashboard settings. Also, make sure to add the primary keyword for a little boost in ranking.

7. On-Page Optimizations for WordPress SEO: 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. This might seem like a minor detail in an SEO strategy for WordPress, but it makes a difference. 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.

a WordPress plugin for optimizing images

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, when they optimize for WordPress SEO. If two pages on your website have the exact same or even similar content, search engines will take note and potentially hurt your rankings for both pages. 

Google might deindex those pages or even penalize your whole website if the issue is widespread. So if you want to increase organic traffic with SEO strategies for WordPress, 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 technique used for backlinking that can reflect poorly on you if left public on your blog articles.

You can prevent this by going to your admin dashboard > Settings > Discussion and then checking “Comment must be manually approved.”

10. Internal and External Link Building Strategies for WordPress SEO

Internal link building facilitates navigation within your website and builds authority, passing value from one page to the other. At Coalition Technologies, we add internal links naturally throughout almost all content we create for our clients’ on-site pages with an anchor text that describes what the linked page is about.

External Link Building

External linking is another way to optimize WordPress SEO and build your website’s authority, since it tells 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 also be added with the help of plugins in WordPress.

You can also use social media in SEO strategies for WordPress:

  • Engage in relevant online communities and contribute actively to show your domain expertise.
  • Share your latest WordPress blogs on your social media pages to encourage new readers to engage with your site and gain new backlinks.
  • Make sure you’ve added social sharing options to your WordPress content.
  • Engage with your audience. This can include replying to their comments and creating polls for them to participate in.

11. Monitor and Maintain Quality Backlinks

Backlinks are links leading to your website from another website, establishing 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 to optimize WordPress SEO. In fact, companies that blog frequently receive 97% more backlinks, according to HubSpot. 

SEO Strategy tip for WordPress: 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, malicious people can easily misuse them to sabotage your ranking. 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.

a backlink profile for Forbes

SEO strategies for WordPress aren’t something you can set and forget. A strategy 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 many other factors that impact your SERP ranking when optimizing WordPress SEO. 

The first step is setting up Google Analytics. You’ll need to set up your account and get a tracking code. Using a plugin can help speed up the process here, but it’s not necessary. Once you’re ready, you can use user behavior data to perfect your SEO strategy for WordPress.

  • Tracking Metrics: Monitoring metrics like bounce rate can show you exactly how to improve your WordPress site. Let’s say conversions have fallen after a design change. Instead of guessing, you can look for pages with higher bounce rates and focus on improving them.
  • SEO Tools: Tools like Ahrefs can make monitoring even easier by automating many processes. These tools can collate all that data and generate reports that summarize your website’s performance at a glance.

13. Focus on Security and Spam Prevention

A successful SEO strategy for WordPress requires constant maintenance, which includes focusing on your site’s security. 

Search engines like Google penalize websites with security vulnerabilities or spammy content. This can lead to being blacklisted, meaning your site won’t show up in search results at all. Strong security prevents malicious attacks that could trigger blacklisting. Here’s how you can ensure your website stays protected when optimizing it for WordPress SEO:

  • Security Plugins: Many WordPress security plugins, like Wordfence, can help protect your site from malware, brute-force attacks, and other threats.
  • Enable Spam Filtering: Most comment sections have built-in spam filtering. Use it and consider additional anti-spam plugins for stronger protection when implementing SEO strategies for WordPress.
  • Updates: Outdated software often has security vulnerabilities. Updating WordPress themes and plugins regularly helps plug these holes.

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 time after time. Through data-driven SEO implementation, we’ve helped thousands of clients across a diverse range of niches increase their organic traffic and boost their revenue.

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.

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