The great thing about WordPress is that it is a good platform to use for your website's search engine optimization (SEO). Running your site on WordPress means that you will have plenty of valuable SEO tools at your fingertips upon installing the WordPress software including everything from title tag and page redirect tools to mobile-optimized and fast loading website themes that are available to download for free.
Search Engine Journal has named WordPress the “best platform for SEO.” But how do you compete against all the other WordPress sites out there? Well, you can start with the obvious and install a quality SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast. Once you’re familiar with that plugin, you can dig deeper and incorporate the following 6 WordPress development SEO tips.
1. Edit Your Permalink Structure
Search engines look at your URLs and the keywords present in them to get an idea of what a page is all about. However, the WordPress’ default permalink structure doesn’t include the ability to display keywords in your URLs.
You can make your URLs more search engine friendly by going to Settings > Permalinks in your WordPress dashboard. Choose an option that lists the post name, such as “Day and Name,” “Month and Name,” or “Post Name.” If you’ve used appropriate keywords in your titles (which you should use for SEO purposes and for a good user experience), then those keywords will now appear in the URL as well.
2. Redirect Old Links
If you’ve moved your site to a new domain or have deleted an old page, this can have a poor effect on your search engine rankings. However, there’s a way to preserve your rankings and improve the user experience.
Setup 301 redirects by redirecting the traffic from a non-existent old URL to a new page on your website. For example, if the page has moved to a new URL, redirect the old URL to the new one. If the page is gone, redirect the non-existent URL to your home page. That way, if Google bots run across a link to your page from another site, they end up finding the right content instead of hitting a wall with a broken 404 error page.
So how can you redirect URLs that are no longer in use? A handy WordPress plugin will make the process simple. You can either use .htaccess file editor to manually setup redirects or you can try the free redirection plugin.
3. Use Canonical URLs
If you have pages on your site that can be reached through multiple URLs, or if you syndicate content through multiple domains, it can present challenges and result in a duplicate content penalty when search engines index your pages.
Through canonical URLs, search engines can consolidate the information they have about your page. It also makes it easier for you to track metrics on a single page or product. One way to choose a preferred domain is to add a rel=”canonical” tag to the <head> section of the page, so it looks something like this:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://artdriver.com/blog/6-tips-boost-wordpress-seo” />
Make sure to use absolute paths rather than relative paths when using the rel=”canonical” link element.
Other techniques that aid in this process include:
- Setting your preferred domain in your Google Webmaster Tools
- Using a sitemap to set preferred URLs
- Using 301 redirects for URLs that aren’t canonical
4. Optimize Your Images
People often focus on their written content for SEO, but they forget about the importance of images. Optimizing your images can impact your search engine rankings and boost your SEO.
Start by compressing and resizing your images to the way you want them to appear on your WordPress page. If you upload large images than you need and allow WordPress scripts to resize them, you may end up increasing your page size and page loading times, which is a significant ranking factor in Google. If your images are not optimized for WordPress, you can install a plugin like WP Smush – Image Optimization that will automatically optimize images when you upload them.
It’s also important that you add alt tags to your images. These are words or phrases that describe your image. Since search engines only read text, this gives them an idea of what your image is all about. When you incorporate relevant keywords in your alt tags, it helps to boost your SEO.
Luckily, WordPress makes adding these alt tags to be an easy job. When you upload an image, you’ll see an option on the right-hand side where you can input your alt tag keywords.
Also, for making your site load faster, it is highly recommended to choose a reliable web hosting provider.
5. Link to Other Content on Your Site
Internal linking - or linking to other pages on your own site - is a great SEO tactic that can be used on any site. It helps by defining a website’s hierarchy while distributing page authority and ranking power throughout the site. It also creates a clear path for spiders and a network of pages and posts for them to follow. Internal linking is easy, but it requires a bit of thought and strategy. Start with these tips:
- Utilize the power of anchor text. Anchor text is the word or phrase that hyperlinks out to another page. Choose natural sentence fragments that give readers and search engine bots an idea of what the page you’re linking to is about. Focus more on internally linking through anchor text than through images.
- Link deep. Avoid linking back to your home page or your contact page too often. When you point too many links to your top level pages (pages that are on the navigation menu), then you miss opportunities to strengthen the overall SEO of your site. Instead, link to deeper pages like blog posts.
- Link to natural, helpful, and relevant links. Don’t link to another page on your site just to link to it. It has to provide value to the reader. The SEO benefits will follow.
- Be reasonable. You don’t need to point every link to a page on your own site. In fact, it’s a good SEO tactic to link out to other relevant, useful sources. How many internal links are appropriate, though? However many will be useful to the reader. Usually, this is around three to four internal links per blog post.
6. Nofollow Useless Links
Search engines look at your outgoing links as an indicator of your content quality and topic. However, you might have links on your site that aren’t useful for search engines, such as the links in paid advertisements. You can make sure these links don’t impact your search engine rankings by using the rel=”nofollow” attribute when you place those links on the page. The rel=”nofollow” attribute looks like this in HTML:
<a href=”http://www.example.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
This concludes my blog post and now, hopefully, you have something to get started on improving your WordPress SEO. Please share your thoughts in the comments area below on what techniques you prefer to use to make your WordPress site optimized for search engines.
Catherrine Garcia is a web developer and blogger. She enjoys reading books and watching fun movies.