From baking bloggers to Fortune 500 companies, WordPress has become the CMS of choice for some of the web’s largest (and smallest) properties. A simple UI and some of the best plugins available make this content management system one of the most versatile and effective on the web.
As well as its user-friendly interface and massive power as a content management system, WordPress has a key advantage for bloggers and businesses alike: it’s very easy to optimise for SEO. We have prepared this simple yet effective ten-step guide to WordPress SEO to help you get the most from your WordPress blog:
Step 1: Install the WordPress SEO Plugin
While WordPress is a very SEO-friendly platform right out of the box, it’s even easier to optimise for SEO with a few plugins installed. WordPress SEO by Yoast is a helpful plugin for bloggers and businesses alike that makes optimising WordPress easy.
Tip: Yoast, the company behind the WordPress plugin above, has a detailed guide to WordPress SEO that’s perfect for advanced users.
Step 2: Use SEO-Friendly Permalinks
By default, WordPress uses a permalink structure that is far from ideal for SEO. The first thing you should do after installing WordPress (yes, even before you write any posts) is to change your permalink structure for optimum on-page SEO.
Go to the Settings menu in your WordPress Dashboard and click Permalinks. Choose “Post name” for simple on-page SEO, or enter a custom permalink structure if you’d like more flexibility.
Step 3: Use Custom Post and Page Titles
WordPress’s default page title system is great for organisation, but terrible for user-friendly SEO. By default, post titles will have your blog’s name first and your content second – not a good structure for optimal SEO.
Using the SEO plugin listed earlier in this guide, navigate to the Titles & Meta section and adjust your title structure so that your content title comes first, followed by the name of your blog.
Step 4: No-Follow Unimportant Links
Got a login page that doesn’t need any link juice? By default, WordPress will make all of your internal links “follow” – a value that tells Google to pass PageRank from one page to the next.
Since login pages and administrative areas are rarely targets for SEO, you’ll want to convert links that point towards these pages into “no-follow” links. The plugin listed earlier will automatically “no-follow” links to admin pages and other on-site areas.
Step 5: Important Content? Make a Page, Not a Post
WordPress will automatically make your blog posts appear as categorised and dated blog content. While this is great for creating an archive of useful blog content, it isn’t the best way to ensure that your content reaches the widest possible audience.
If you have an important topic to discuss or an article that you’d like to optimise for search engines, try creating a page instead of a post. Pages are easier to organise on your website, giving you more power from an SEO perspective.
Step 6: Create an XML (and HTML) Sitemap
XML sitemaps let Google (and other search engines) quickly and easily find content whenever they index your website. Using the SEO plugin linked earlier, set up XML sitemaps for all of your WordPress websites to keep search engines in the loop.
If your website has hundreds of pages of content, you may also wish to develop an HTML sitemap to assist visitors in navigating your website.
Step 7: Fight Back Against Spammy Blog Comments
Spammy blog comments are easy to spot – they typically use generic names (or, in some cases, obvious SEO keywords) and offer very little value to the conversation.
While it can be tempting to auto-approve blog comments to increase activity, doing so dilutes your website’s keyword density and makes it possible for your website to become a ‘bad neighbourhood’ for SEOs.
Keep your content (and your rankings) safe by approving comments manually and participating in the Akismet anti-spam service.
Step 8: Focus on One Concept on Each Page
While readers might be happy to read about two or three different topics in a single post, search engines like their content to be straightforward and focused. Stick with one topic (which could mean two to three keywords) per blog post or page for ideal SEO.
A great way to structure your posts for optimum SEO is to use your main keyword in the headline of your post (which will cause it to appear in search results), and your secondary keyword in a subheading within the post. Your other SEO keywords can appear naturally in the text – they’ll still help to ‘theme’ the content for Google.
Step 9: Tag Your Images Accurately
While most people search using Google’s standard search engine, some people like to use Google Images to find new content. Tag your images accurately and you’ll be surprised by how many visitors stumble onto your website from Google’s image search engine.
Step 10: Write for Readers, not Google
A final point for dedicated SEOs – write for readers, not for Google. It’s easy to think in terms of SEO at all times, sneaking keywords in here and there without thinking about how it could affect your readers.
With the above tactics implemented, you’ll have no problems optimising your blog content for Google and other search engines, even if it’s slightly below the ‘perfect’ keyword density.