Following some good general search engine optimization (SEO for short) guidelines is good for any WordPress blog. You need to know what to do, and sometimes what not to do, to make your website perform better in the search engine rankings. Did you know there are a few specific things you can do within WordPress to make sure you rank higher in the search engines?
Here are our top ten SEO tips for your WordPress powered blog.
1. Write Tons of Quality Content
WordPress, at its core, is a publishing platform – so use it as such. There is no problem with pumping out a lot of great articles, as long as they are great articles. The internet already has tons of fantastic content on just about every topic imaginable. What makes your post better than any other post out there about a topic? You need to create quality content and try to make it 400 – 1,000 words long at least. Short posts from random sources on the internet do not rank very well.
2. Make Permalinks more SEO Friendly
By default, WordPress does not do a good job with permalinks. A lot of people use a date structure to their links, like year/month/day/name-of-post. Most SEO experts agree you need to shorten that. Change your permalinks to simply show the post’s name /postname/ or you could also toss in a category before the post name. This can be modified in WordPress by going to Settings > Permalinks. This helps your search engine optimization and makes the domain look more aesthetically pleasing.
3. Short but Rich Headlines
You want your blog post titles to be short but rich in keywords. The common rule of thumb is to keep your title in or around 50 characters. Why limit it? This is due to the fact that Google will cut your title off if it gets too long. Use keywords that describe the topic you are talking about – but do not go overboard with it. You should be able to include at least two keywords in any blog article title.
4. Optimize Your Images
It is always a good idea to include a couple of images in with your blog posts. However, SEO-wise – there are a couple of details you should always remember. Include two or three keywords in the name of your image. This should be done before you upload it and include it in the post. You also need to make sure you fill out the alt text details and the description of the image. Once you have uploaded an image, its alt text and description can be edited by going to Media > Library and clicking on the image in question.
5. Include a Meta Description
This is a topic I have seen debated a lot. Should you include a meta description with your WordPress blog posts or not? I would say you should. This gives you more control over what your description will most often look like on Google, Bing and other search engines. Keep it under 156 characters long with your keywords near the beginning of it. This can often help you stand out in the search engine results page.
6. Learn the Differences Between Tags and Categories
I see people confusing these two a lot. Tags and categories are great ways to organize your content but a lot of the times, people use them incorrectly. This tip will indirectly help you on search engine result pages because your content will be better organized and easier for the search engine bots to travel through. Categories should always be much broader terms to organize your post under. Tags are where you include your specific keyword terms.
7. Establish a Regular Update Schedule
One of the worst things you can do for a WordPress blog is to add a handful of articles and then only update it once every few months. Write as regularly as you can. If you do not – search engines will eventually see you as a dead or irrelevant website and could possibly rank you lower because of it. Now, I am not saying you need to blog ten times a day either. Find a regular update schedule that works for you. Weekly, daily, and every other day are all good schedules to try out.
8. Use a SEO Friendly Theme
There are thousands of WordPress themes out there. Not every theme is great for search engine optimization. When you build or find a theme to use, you need to make sure it loads quickly and does not have a bunch of code. You want more content than code or it might hurt your keyword density. Google and other search engines will always try to skip the code and go directly to the content but you should not make this job harder for them. Stay away from themes that embed a ton of code to make a pretty design before you can get to the content of the WordPress post.
9. Use Sitemaps
When you start running your own website, you tend to need to learn a lot of new words. Sitemap is one of them. A sitemap can be set up with any number of WordPress plugins. It acts as a guide for search engines to quickly crawl through and find your content in a very organized way. Once you have a sitemap, make sure you also submit it to the Bing Webmaster Tools and the Google Search Console. This will tell these search engines your content is there, now go get it.
10. Don’t Request to Index Worthless Pages
I wanted to make sure I mentioned this after I mentioned sitemaps because these two tips are somewhat related. In many plugins, you can choose which pages are or are not included in the sitemap. For example, you want your blog posts indexed, however it might not be so important to index a “Thanks for Contacting Me!” page that is created when you submit a message via your contact form. If the page has content and value to a searcher – include it. If it does not – do not include it.
These are ten of the smartest SEO tips you can enable on your WordPress powered blog right now. A lot of these have to do with how you set your structure up at the beginning. Like building a house, you need to make sure your blog’s foundation is stable. By doing so, you can help your website perform better on just about any search engine out there. Know of any other WordPress SEO tips? Make sure you share them in the comments!