Since 2003, WordPress has continued to grow and expand its reach into all corners of the interwebs, becoming an all-in-one content management system (CMS), publishing tool, and blogging platform. As one of the most popular and user-friendly content management systems, it’s no surprise that WordPress is SEO-friendly and features a vast selection of SEO plugins, too.
Below, we’ll give you premium access to our best WordPress SEO tips and tricks to help your business unlock the secret to maximizing performance and search engine optimization with the world’s most popular CMS.
SEO and Your Business WordPress Website: Tips to Drive Growth and Maximize Performance
Before we begin discussing WordPress SEO best practices, we have one quick note. As we walk you through each tip, keep in mind that the key to maximizing results is merging your business site’s SEO and infrastructure. They have a symbiotic relationship and provide mutual support to enhance and optimize the performance of your website.
While it takes some time and skill to get the hang of SEO, the long-term rewards are by far worth it. However, it’s not a one-time task. Effective SEO strategies need regular monitoring, testing, and improvements to drive the best possible results and a high ROI (return on investment). Now, let’s get started with our WordPress SEO guide.
Choosing the Perfect Domain Name
Picking the right domain name is an essential first step to your WordPress website. Although you could change it later on, it could hurt your branding efforts and rankings on the search engine results pages (SERPs). The ideal domain name should be:
- Short and sweet
- Cohesive with your brand
- Easy to spell, type, and pronounce
Even more important, your domain should include a primary or secondary keyword related to your brand. Spend some time doing keyword research and then narrow down your top choices.
Also, be sure to avoid names that are too trendy. Ideally, don’t use hyphens or double letters, and we beg of you: don’t use numbers to represent letters (like using zero instead of the letter “o”). And always, always write out the name to see what it looks like before you commit!
Examples of Good and Bad Domain Names
Let’s say you want to start a website that accepts user submissions of original art, illustrations, paintings, and other content. Your idea behind this website is to get people to appreciate the beauty and joy that art can evoke. Here are two examples of domain names: one good, one bad:
Good Example: www.originalartists.com
Bad Example: www.beautyofart.com
See the difference? More examples of poorly chosen domain names include itscrap.com (IT Scrap) and expertsexchange.com (Experts Exchange). Take the extra time to brainstorm some unique and on-message domain names. Another option is using a free online generator tool, which is an excellent way to find inspiration.
Finding a Fast and Reliable Hosting Site
Once you’ve chosen the perfect domain name, the next step is finding a reputable, reliable, and lightning-fast hosting provider. Speed is of the essence, as slow loading speeds can hurt your search engine rankings.
To help you find the perfect host for your WordPress site, start by defining your needs. For example, will you have high volumes of organic traffic or need additional security measures? Then, use that information to research and compare hosts. Take the time to read as many reviews as possible before narrowing down your choices.
Once you have your top picks, look for the best possible qualities, including:
- Five-star customer service support
- Intuitive and straightforward user interface (UI)
- Stellar reputation
- Adequate security features
- Budget-friendly pricing
Our Top Choice: At Connective, we’ve had experience with a wide range of WordPress hosting providers — the good, the bad, and the ugly. Our professional recommendation is WP Engine. Not only is it the fastest WordPress host out there, but it also has advanced security features and 24/7 global customer support.
Building a Strong Website Structure and Architecture
You can think of site structure as the foundation of your website. A strong, well-executed structure contributes to an exceptional user experience, establishes authority, and improves website performance. It also helps page visitors and search engines navigate, crawl, and index your site, boosting visibility in the SERPs and driving more organic traffic.
The core structural elements of web pages include:
- Posts and pages
- Navigation menus
- URL structure
- Headers and footers
- XML sitemaps
- Categories and subcategories
Don’t forget, you’ll need to optimize your structure so search engine crawlers can easily assess and rank your website, increasing your chances of a high ranking in the search results (aka, SEO). Below, we’ve included a few more tips for creating WordPress sites with an SEO-enhanced architecture:
- Add contextual internal links that direct page visitors to other relevant pages and posts
- Improve site speed and loading time
- Use a simple, easily navigable hierarchy with primary website content, pillar pages, subcategories, and an intuitive layout
Search Appearance: Is Your Website Indexable?
While other search engines like Bing and Yahoo are relevant, Google is the undisputed king and should be your main focus regarding SEO tactics. If your website isn’t indexable, Google won’t display it in the SERPs when users type in relevant keywords and search queries related to your specific site content. Also, issues like non-relevant archive pages can negatively affect Google’s ability to index your website.
First, check your visibility settings. Go to the WordPress Dashboard and click Settings, then Reading. Look for the box that says Search Engine Visibility, which should NOT have a check. Checking the box will prevent search engines from indexing your site!
Next, check your permalink structure. A permalink is a permanent link to a certain blog, post, or page on your website, and it should have a clear, accurate description of the page content.
Another way to increase indexability is by connecting Google Search Console to your WordPress site and uploading an XML sitemap. Then, log into your Google Search Console account. Click on the Sitemaps menu, paste your unique sitemap URL in the box, then submit. Don’t forget to integrate Google Analytics, too!
WWW vs. Non-WWW
Are you more of a traditional or modern person? Besides the text of your domain name, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want it to include the classic “www.” So, will you gain more SEO benefits from using the “www” or “non-www” domain?
Many people assume that a “www” WordPress address provides more of an SEO boost. But, we’re going to let you in on a secret: that’s just not true. Although, that doesn’t mean using a “non-www” is automatically the best choice. Actually, it comes down to your personal preference.
No matter which one you pick, you’ll need to set up redirects. Let’s say you chose the naked https:// domain. With redirects, users will land on your website even if they type in your site address using a “www” domain.
WordPress Themes and Builders
WordPress has thousands of different themes to choose from when building your site, and third-party providers offer thousands more. However, not all theme builders are created equal. Look for a WordPress theme builder with the following features:
- Comprehensive search engine optimization
- A responsive and mobile-friendly design
- Lightning-fast page loading
- Clean, streamlined code
- Wide-ranging support for WordPress plugins
- Regular developer updates
- Positive customer reviews
- Cross-browser compatibility
- No outbound links or malware
To optimize page speed, look for a theme that is lightweight and not too feature-heavy. Of course, factors like colors, layout, and format are also vital. As you have so many options, spend some time finding the perfect theme to fit your website or brand.
Leveraging a WordPress SEO Plugin
If you want to increase your website’s visibility in search engines (and who doesn’t?), then using a WordPress SEO plugin is absolutely essential. With an SEO plugin, you gain access to a cheatsheet that gives you tips, advice, and tools for checking and optimizing your content. We don’t have to remind you of the fierce competition fighting for those top spots in the search results. SEO plugins have additional features for SEO that aren’t standard with WordPress.
The most-used plugin for SEO on WordPress is Yoast. It has features like meta description and title templates, canonical URLs, automatic structured data integration, and readability analysis that ensures that both people and search engines understand your content. You can pick between a free version or pay extra for the premium plugin, which offers advanced features like blocks for internal links, social media previews, content optimization, and much more.
Creating High-Quality Content
Have you ever heard the expression “content is king?” Arguably the biggest aspect of successful on-page SEO for your website is high-quality, helpful content that provides value, solves pain points, and offers a unique perspective.
Recently, Google rolled out the Helpful Content update for its algorithm, which rewards “people-first” content. Essentially, Google wants content that is written by people, for people (instead of just for search engines). That means no keyword stuffing, link spamming, duplicate content, or other unethical SEO tactics. Of course, you should still incorporate SEO best practices into your content. Follow Google’s EAT guidelines for content creation: expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
In addition, you should be adding internal links, performing keyword research, creating pillar content, building quality backlinks, considering search intent, and using accurate meta descriptions. Don’t forget to include visuals like original photos, videos, infographics, etc.
You also need to have links in your content. Optimizing site links is essential to SEO, as they increase visibility and establish trust and authority for your website. Internal links direct users to other articles or pages on your own website. When creating internal links, use relevant, descriptive keywords and place them in highly visible and useful places.
External links go to other websites. You can use “nofollow” external links to avoid giving other websites an SEO boost and prevent content spam.
Using SEO-Friendly URLs
Another important aspect of WordPress SEO is optimizing your URL structure. Every URL should contain relevant keywords that clearly describe the content of the page, making it easier for people to read and search engines to understand.
Here are examples:
- Optimized URL: https://www.connectivewebdesign.com/blog/seo-website-design
- Un-friendly URL: https://www.connectivewebdesign.com/?p=3894294
The Dos and Dont’s of SEO WordPress URLs
- Keep URLs short and focused
- Use relevant keywords
- Separate words with hyphens
- Use consistent formatting
- Use uppercase letters or unsafe characters (<, /,},#, etc.)
- Include “stop” words (the, of, a, etc.)
- Use dates or numbers
- Stuff multiple keywords
Of course, don’t spend hours rewriting URLs. Instead, use a logical approach and boil your URLs down to the most relevant keywords without any unnecessary words or information.
Optimizing Title Tags and Page Headings
Every page or post on your website in WordPress should have a proper page title, headings, and an SEO-friendly title tag. Also known as meta titles, title tags consist of the text that users will see displayed on the search results and in the tab at the top of their browsers.
WordPress uses the H1 header as the default title tag. However, that may not always be the best option for your site. Instead, consider customizing each title tag, just like the meta description.
Title tags have a 600-pixel limit (approximately 50 to 60 characters) before the search engines cut off the rest of your text with an ellipsis. So ask yourself: how can you create a title that will entice users to click on your website? Keep your tags short, clear, and compelling, and use relevant keywords.
Headers and headings are different. Heading tags include H1 (the primary heading) down to H6. Properly utilizing headings in your content makes it easier for search engines to evaluate and categorize your content and improves its readability for users.
Image Optimization: Best Practices
The most successful SEO strategies for WordPress websites typically include visual content like videos, photos, illustrations, and infographics. However, blindly adding as many images as possible to your website and landing pages isn’t the way to go. Instead, spend time optimizing your images to avoid slow page loading and to make it easier for search engines to understand and categorize your visual content. Ultimately, that gives you a big boost in terms of ranking and driving more organic search traffic.
Here are some tips to help you optimize the images on your website:
- Use descriptive file names with text, not numbers
- Optimize alt text for every image and include a focus keyword
- Resize large images and videos for faster loading
- Choose the right image format (PNG, JPG, GIF)
- Create an image sitemap for Google Search Console
- Add structured data or schema markup for rich snippets
- Ensure that every image is responsive and mobile-friendly
Developing a Responsive, Mobile-Friendly Website
Did you know that 70% of web traffic comes from mobile devices? From social media and Google to online shopping, people all over the world are using their smartphones and tablets to browse the web instead of desktop computers.
Although this is an important reason why your website needs to be mobile-friendly and responsive, it’s not the only reason. Google recently switched to a mobile-first index, which means it crawls and indexes the mobile version of your website instead of the desktop version.
If your website doesn’t use a mobile-first design, you might as well flush your user experience down the drain. Ensuring a responsive layout that will adjust based on screen size is an important step. Also, if you have two different versions of your website, be sure that the mobile and desktop versions contain identical content, meta descriptions, and structured data.
Increasing Page Speed and Load Times
The speed at which your website loads significantly affects user experience, bounce rate, search rankings, and more. Unless you optimize your site for speed, you can expect users to quickly abandon your page for the next in the SERPs. For example, even a two-second lag in page load time can increase the bounce rate by 32%! Can you imagine losing 32% of your conversions every day?
You can use tools like Google Analytics to test the speed of your website and determine how much optimization it needs. Plus, we have some expert tips and tricks that can help decrease loading times for a fast, smooth website and user experience:
- Remove unused themes and plugins
- Optimize images for size
- Eliminate unnecessary redirects
- Avoid feature-heavy themes
- Cleanup your WordPress database
- Limit the number of post revisions
- Use a Content Delivery Network
WordPress SEO Tips from the Industry Experts
You can use the WordPress SEO tips we just listed above as your roadmap to building the perfect website. By incorporating SEO techniques directly into your website on WordPress, you can gain some significant benefits, like more search traffic, stronger lead generation, higher ranking in the SERPs, and more conversions. Fortunately, WordPress is one of the best content management systems for SEO techniques and offers a wide range of features, tools, and plugins that can bolster your efforts.
Of course, digital marketing and effective SEO is no easy task. If you have any additional questions, we’d love to help. For more WordPress SEO tips and to schedule an appointment, head to our contact page to connect with a team member.