7 ways to improve your WordPress site’s SEO
These days, it’s incredibly easy for almost anyone to spin up their very own website. That’s a great thing, but it also means that your content has a lot of competition in the digital world. So, how do you help your site climb to the top of the charts? One of the best ways to make your site stand out is to establish a solid SEO plan.
Of course, sometimes that is easier said than done. Best practices can frequently change and search engines update their algorithms, but there are a few ways to prep your WordPress site to make sure it’s always a step ahead of the competition.
Ready to be at the top of search engine results? Start with these seven tips!
1. Use specific permalinks
Permalinks are incredibly important, as they’re how people discover your content. If you’ve never changed how they’re structured, they probably look something like this:
By looking at that link, your users can’t really tell what content lies within the link. By using a more specific link with human terms, such as
http://getflywheel.com/pricing, your users (and search engines) will have a better idea of what they’re clicking on.
While you edit your content (regardless if it’s a page or post), you can always change the permalink at the top of the Editor.
If you’re looking for a more permanent solution, however, you can update the default structure in your settings. Simply go to Settings > Permalinks and you’ll see a bunch of options to structure your links.
The one you choose is completely up to you, but I’d recommend one with the post title (sample-post) in the name – these will be the most specific to the content on the page, which will your site get discovered.
2. Think about your titles
The title of your content is like its first impression – it fully impacts whether your users will continue to click through or if they’ll turn to the next thing on their screen. Because of this, titles are not to be taken likely.
Let’s start with your site title. Some themes may prompt you to update it within the Customizer, but you can always access the option via your site’s settings. Go to Settings > General and you’ll see the Site Title text field. Type in your site’s name.
Next, take a look at any existing page and post titles on your site – do they fully describe the content within? If not, take a moment to edit those to maximize their information.
Going forward, make a conscious effort to always a choose a title that sounds interesting, will make users want to click on it, and fully describes the post or page.
3. Craft your content wisely
To maximize the impact of your content, be strategic about the way you write it. For example, if you write an article about cinemagraphs, you’ll want to be sure to use the word “cinemagraph” a few times in the copy and definitely in the title. Think of it as your keyword, and surround all the supporting copy around it.
It’s important not to get too focused on this concept, however. Don’t go overboard trying to flood your content with keywords – focus on quality, not quantity. The more your users enjoy the content (which leads to engagement), the more search engines will, too. If your content isn’t authentic, users will notice and your rankings will decline.
Related to quality, focus on producing detailed articles that go into useful tips and actionable items. Short articles are fine, but longer content typically performs a little better. Try to aim for about 1000 words for every article you write – if you don’t meet that goal, it’s not the end of the world, and if you exceed it, kudos to you!
4. Don’t ignore your images
Images are great for breaking up blocks of text and sharing visual ideas. Especially in WordPress, however, it’s easy to add media to a page and then forget about it. Don’t fall into this trap!
When you add images to a post or page, take a look at the Attachment Details.
Remember how important titles are? Image titles are no different – give it a specific description. Additionally, you should add Alt Text to every image, in the event that they can’t be displayed properly for your users. This will help your site visitors and search engines know what type of visual your image displays.
5. Set up a sitemap
Having an up-to-date sitemap is crucial for any SEO strategy. A sitemap is a document that lists all the URLS of your website that search engines can crawl. In other words, it helps search engines navigate your website and discover (and rank) its content.
To create a sitemap, there are several routes you can take. If you have a small site (less than 500 URLs) tools like XML-Sitemaps can work well. You can also use plugins such as Yoast SEO, which has some additional SEO benefits as well.
6. Make your site look good on mobile
As you might remember, in 2015 Google made a major change to its search engine algorithm based on one specific data point – whether or not your website was mobile friendly.
This hasn’t changed, so it’s more important than ever to make sure your website looks good on every device. Of course, you can always manually test your site if you have several devices at your disposal. If you’d rather save a little time, you can also check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test (and since they’re the ones judging your site, it’s probably a good idea to use this free resource, either way).
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If you’re using a pre-built WordPress theme, your site is most likely fine – it’s hard to come by a theme these days that isn’t responsive out of the box. Just pay attention so you don’t accidentally invest time (and money) into a rare exception.
7. Redirect your retired links
Not all links are meant to live on your site forever, but that doesn’t mean you have to lose the SEO brownie points from well-performing older posts. If you change a permalink without first setting up a redirect, anyone linking to the old link will find a 404 page, which is less than ideal.
By using redirects, you’ll be able to direct users to the exact page you want them to go and always serve up the content they’re looking for. Plus, setting up a redirect is incredibly easy on WordPress – all you need is a plugin! This article will help you redirect those old links.
Although this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to SEO, by following these tips, your site will start crawling to the top of search engine results in no time!
Have another tip? Help us grow our list by adding to the comments below.