WordPress might proclaim that it has great SEO right out of the box, but let’s face it – you still have to adopt certain practices to optimize your SERPs and increase traffic to your website. This does not mean that WordPress lacks in any way as a CMS; it is a great platform that offers unlimited opportunities, is SEO-friendly and has a lot of potential for optimization. It can help you earn thousands of dollars per month and millions of websites around the globe are powered by WordPress.
So what makes your WordPress website stand out among your competition? Why should Google rank you higher than the other websites that serve the same industry as you?
Here are the best of the best practices for optimizing your WordPress website and making it more powerful than ever before:
Use Easy to Read and Understand URLs
WordPress generates URLs automatically that contain special characters such as question marks and numbers that are just meaningless. Customize your URLs to your post names so that search engines can see your keywords if used in your post titles. For this, you need to enable permalinks by going to Settings > Permalinks and checking the radio button next to ‘post name’.
Pay Attention to your Post Slugs
A post slug is the last part of your post title on WordPress.com. You can edit it and make it short and easy to read so that it reflects the content of your post. WordPress automatically generates post slugs from the title of the post and it is visible if permalinks are enabled. You can use your post name if it is short like discussed above, or you can edit your post slug. For example if your post is about ‘Choosing the best wedding location in New York’, the slug ‘/wedding-venues-newyork’ is better than the complete post name ‘/choosing-the-best-wedding-location-in-new-york’ or ‘/7?456’ (which is even worse because it has no meaning).
Optimize your Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions
Construct your meta titles and descriptions in simple and easy to read sentences, but don’t make them too long. Make them information and very relatable to your content. Users mostly click a search result based on the meta description of a page, so you should not take this lightly. You can categorize your posts in articles and in WordPress, when you go to Posts > Categories in the admin area, a description field is available for each category. The description field is actually taken as the meta description of the category by WordPress.
Optimize your Images
By the ‘title’ and ‘alt’ tags in your images, search engines can understand what your images are about and will include them in the SERPs. For example, if your alt tag is ‘clothes-at-low-prices’ and the phrase is not used in the rest of your content, it could still show up in the results for ‘clothes at low prices’. If typing a title and alt tag for all your images is an arduous task, then you can install a plugin that will automatically use your post title for the alt and title tags.
Optimizing Headings for WordPress SEO
By using appropriate heading tags, you can optimize the content of your WordPress blog. Use the <h1> tag for the titles of your post, and <h2> and <h3> tags for further headings and subheadings. This will permit the search engines to index you’re the important information on your webpage. Most WordPress templates have these settings for as default, but if not, customize your theme to do so.
Featured snippets is a recent feature of Google that shows a snippet of text from a website that answers a user’s search query or question.
The thing is, Google chooses the snippet itself from the numerous results available to answer the question in SERPs. Such websites have a huge advantage over others as they get to display some of their content on the SERPs. You can also try to do so by doing the following:
Summarize answers to questions or queries in a small paragraph.
Position it towards the beginning of your content
Focus on direct answers
Have a solid back link profile
Use appropriate structure tags (<h1>, <h2>, <p>, etc.)
But bear in mind that getting a featured snippet is not guaranteed as Google selects the content itself from websites that are in the top five rankings. If you want to be featured, you need to first improve your search rankings.
Build Traffic in Organic Ways
Be a part of your community and industry and interact with other bloggers and users in your industry. Leave comments at their blogs, share relevant posts and ideas of others on your blog and promote your blog on social media. Use social media buttons and use the ‘Publicize’ option in WordPress for blog promotion. You can also engage with the WordPress community by participating in The Daily Post challenges.
Canonicalization is to pick the best of the available URls, especially for your homepage. The following URLs would appear the same to many:
As similar as it may seem to you, for a web server these are totally different as it can return different content for each of them. For Google, canonicalization is to pick the URL that is the best representative of the webpage.
So if you don’t tell search engines the exact version of your page for indexing and ranking, then Google is going to do it itself. So to stop search engines from choosing multiple URLs that represent the same webpage, do the following:
Tell WordPress how you want to represent your page (http://www.mysite.com/, or http://mysite.com)
Tell Google the type of URL you wish to use through Webmaster Tools
Define canonical URLs on every page of your website. You can use a plug for it too
Use Rich Snippets
Rich snippets represent rich results that are more meaningful for users. You might have encountered them in SERPs.
The first is a featured snippet, while the first result contains rich snippets – the rating, number of reviews and the time required to make red velvet cake. These features make results much more informative and interesting. Many websites also include the number of calories per serving. You can do this by programming rich snippets in your code, either by your programmer, or using a plugin.
In addition to the above, you can use back links and interlinks to increase traffic to your WordPress website, engage with the blogging community, go for guest posts, be a blogger buddy and so much more! The practices listed here will help you better optimize your website to improve your SERP ranking.