How to Improve SEO on a fresh WordPress blog

How to Improve SEO on a fresh WordPress blog

WordPress makes SEO incredibly easy. Part of this is because out of the box it is set up with a good sitemap structure, and pings the Pingomatic website with new posts so search engines can find your website. Much more can be done to improve the SEO of your WordPress website, though. This is how to set up SEO on a fresh WordPress blog.

Permalinks

Permalinks in WordPress by default are numbered, and this is not good for SEO. You want the title of your blog posts to make it into the URL for the page. So the first thing you can do to improve the SEO on your WordPress blog is set up permalinks so they are the title of your blog and not just some random number. You can change this setting in Settings > Permalinks.

Website URL

You want to make sure your website URL in WordPress matches Google’s search settings so there are no conflicts in the sitemap WordPress produces. So go to Settings > General and make sure the web URL listed is exactly the same as it shows up in Google’s Search Console. If you haven’t set up Google’s Webmaster Tools yet, do this as well by clicking here and following the step-by-step instructions.

Stop Words

Stop words are unnecessary words like “the”, “a”, “for”, etc. These words aren’t needed or wanted in your permalink structure because they make your blog URLs longer without adding any type of SEO benefit. When you make a WordPress post, make sure you are removing these words from the permalink structure before you post. If you already have existing posts with stop words in them, leave them alone if there are already websites linking to them.

Titles

Your page’s title is the number one most important factor in your SEO ranking. It is the first line people see when they do a search on a search engine, and it’s also the first words they see when they visit the website page. Search engines factor this in highly when ranking websites. So make sure your post’s title has a keyword or two in it to improve your WordPress SEO.

Install an SEO Plugin

An SEO plugin is almost vital to improving the SEO of your WordPress website since WordPress does not give you access to the meta keywords and description by default. Yoast is probably the most popular SEO plugin, but so is the All In One SEO Pack. These plugins grant you greater control over the metadata for your website so you can fully optimize it for search engines.

Meta Descriptions

Once you have a WordPress SEO plugin installed, you can edit the meta descriptions on your posts. Meta descriptions are used by search engines to describe what your page is about after the title. They are also frequently used in social media shares for the same purpose. You will want to make sure that the meta description accurately summarizes what your post is about. Don’t fall in to the trap of relying on your SEO plugin to fill the meta description with the first few lines of your post. This may not be a good summary of what your post is about at all.

Images

How you handle your image titles, descriptions, and alt tags is important as well. Good image tags will help you gain more traffic from image search engines, and it also helps out people using screen readers to know what they’re missing out on. Make sure your image tags are not only descriptive of the image, but also make smart use of your article’s keywords as well.

Sitemaps

While WordPress creates an okay sitemap by default, your SEO plugin can help you further by creating an excellent, more detailed sitemap for you. Yoast has this feature listed in SEO > Sitemaps. Make sure it is enabled and click Save.

NoFollow

If you have any links that are distrusted or relatively off topic, you can use the “rel=nofollow” attribute in your link to make sure a search engine doesn’t index it along with your page’s content. This also keeps the linked to page from gaining website rank for being linked to from your website. This should be used with caution though and only applied to links that genuinely offer no use to your post or to search engines.

Caching

Google ranks websites partially according to how fast they are, and a WordPress caching plugin can help with this by creating static pages out of your dynamic WordPress content. This greatly reduces the amount of processing your server must do to serve up your WordPress pages, making your WordPress website render faster.

Image Optimization

You can also help give your website an extra speed boost by compressing the images you use on it. This can be done with just about any image editor through a slider that indicates the percentage of compression you would like to use. Also, make sure that you are using compressed image formats like PNG and JPEG so you will be given the option of compressing them when you save the file.

CDN

You can also use a CDN to speed up your WordPress website’s performance. Content delivery networks cache copies of your website on to their servers, and then take over serving your content to users. They can even continue to serve your content when your website is down, giving you 100% uptime as far as users are concerned. Cloudflare offers a free account for caching services to everyone, and it’s a great way to get started on learning all that CDNs can offer you in terms of improving your SEO.

Web Hosting

Some web hosts are slower than others, and one of the things you can do to speed up your site and improve your SEO is switch to a faster web host. Hosting Review is a great place to start on learning how fast your web host is comparatively to others. It features user ratings, user reviews, and professional reviews to help you figure out which web hosts are the best.

Spam

Spam comments are like leeches, sucking away at your website’s SEO by adding useless, unrelated links and keywords to your posts. The first thing you can do to stop these is install the Jetpack plugin and activate Akismet spam protection through Jetpack > Akismet anti-spam. The second thing you can do is disable pingbacks on blog comments in Settings > Discussion.

Link Back to Relevant Posts

Another thing you can do to improve your WordPress website’s SEO is link back to old posts of yours that visitors may be interested in seeing for more information on your current topic or after they finish reading your current post. This helps search engine index your posts better by connecting them with other topics on your blog. Jetpack is actually capable of doing this automatically if you go to Jetpack > Settings > Traffic.

Give Importance Posts A Boost

You can also improve your WordPress SEO by linking directly to posts in your sidebar or navigation menu that have great importance to you. This lets search engines know these posts deserve special attention. You can also link to them more in your other posts to help give them an extra boost of attention from the search engines.

Social Media

Make sure that you are also giving users the chance to share your posts by integrating social media sharing into your website and are sharing your posts on social media either manually or automatically. Jetpack includes these features by default. To add social media sharing buttons to your WordPress website and start automatically sharing your posts, go to Jetpack > Settings > Sharing and enable them.

Themes

Make sure you are using a theme that not only loads quickly, but utilizes a responsive design as well. Search engines actually give a small boost to the ranking of websites that utilize a responsive design. A responsive design adapts to the size of the user’s screen so they get a more fluid performance no matter what device they are using, and no matter what their screen size is.

Post Frequently

Frequent posts will also help your WordPress website’s SEO by showing search engines that you’re updating your site frequently and that the content is fresh and new. Make sure your posts are consistent as well, so search engine crawlers will know to keep you on a schedule.

Use Keywords First

Make sure your main keyword is used within the first 100 words of each post. Some ways you can do this is by summarizing your post before you delve into its content, and linking to other important internal posts related to the keyword at the beginning of your article.

Fix Broken Links

Broken links are no good for SEO, because it makes your website appear unreliable and error prone. The Broken Link Checker plugin can help with this by marking broken links as “nofollow” so search engines crawlers don’t try to visit them.