We’ve seen a lot of great WordPress SEO tips and tricks out there, but not all of them are practical and easy to apply. In this article, we are going to change that and head straight for the actual, practical steps you can do to make your WordPress site search engine optimized. Ready to get started?
Tip #1: SEO-friendly Permalinks
One of the first things you need to do when you want to make your WordPress site more search engine optimized is to actually use an SEO-friendly permalink. The standard WordPress permalink, the one that ends with the post or page ID as a string, just wouldn’t cut it.
Switch to a more readable permalink for better SEO performance. You should also consider adding the category of the post to your permalink. Many SEO experts believe that category slugs are more effective than year and date combination.
Tip #2: Take Control of Your Tags
When it comes to SEO, most of the work is done on thesection of your page. Unfortunately, not all WordPress themes are optimized for SEO purposes. Instead of modifying the theme you use, it is much more efficient – and much easier – to just use a plugin to help you optimize your posts and pages.
All-in-One SEO and WordPress SEO from Yoast are the two most commonly used plugins when it comes to search engine optimization. With one of the plugins installed, you can start modifying how thesection of your page looks like.
- Start by optimizing the title of your pages. You can use strings to create a template for every post and page. Use the title of the page, a separator and the name of your site or blog as the standard form for SEO.
- Add tags that will help you keep the overall SEO performance of your site high. An excerpt, a set of keywords and other elements can be added just as easily with these plugins. You can even add strings from a custom field to the Meta tags.
- As with other parts of an SEO campaign, never overdo it. Avoid stuffing keywords to the Meta section of your page; this will not get you the level of SEO performance you are aiming for. Instead, focus on one main keyword and use long-tail variations whenever possible.
Tip #3: Optimize Your Images
A lot of WordPress site owners still don’t optimize their images for SEO; this is among the most common SEO mistakes I regularly see every day. Yes, WordPress makes it very easy for you to add images to your posts. However, that doesn’t mean you should let WordPress do everything.
When adding images, be sure to add a proper description and ALT tag to them. WordPress makes adding these details just as easy to do as uploading the image, so there is no reason not to.
Since search engine crawlers can’t review images, they rely on the attached tags to know what the image is about. By optimizing your images for SEO, you will get better SEO performance and may even appear on the results of image search to gain more exposure.
Tip #4: Create (and Maintain) a Sitemap
The SEO plugins we talked about earlier have built-in XML sitemap generator to use. Creating a sitemap (or sitemaps) and submitting it to search engines will help boost your SEO performance greatly. If you rely on your theme to do SEO, you can also install a separate plugin just for creating and maintaining XML sitemaps.
Don’t just rely on the plugin, though. Take a look at the sitemaps created by the plugin of your choice and review them carefully. Remove pages, archives and other elements that don’t support your SEO campaign. You should also screen for double posts and check if external URLs are properly marked (i.e. follow or nofollow).
Tip #5: Leverage Social Networks
Social media can really help your site gain traction. The backlinks you get from social networks don’t really matter as much as they used to – since everyone can share your pages just as easily – but you will still be able to get some SEO impact from social sharing.
Be sure to add Open Graph and Twitter Cards tags to thesection of your pages for better social sharing experience. Your users will certainly appreciate being able to see a featured image and an excerpt from the post on their social media streams, which means the chances of them clicking on the link to read the full article is also increased.
Tip #6: Do It Properly
Lastly, do SEO the correct way. There are a lot of black hat SEO tactics out there; some of them may give you a quick boost over a short period of time. In the long-run, however, these tactics will only get you punished by search engines. If you’re doing SEO, do it right!