WordPress SEO is often an overlooked area on the average blog or website. A lot of folks go ahead and setup a website and then months later, when their traffic is still minimal, they go ahead and look for reasons why they aren’t getting any visitors. What they often discover is SEO or Search Engine Optimisation, the not so secret success sauce in any website.
WordPress is a very powerful CMS (Content Management System) and as some people know, runs an incredible portion of the interwebs. Out of the box WordPress claims that it’s SEO friendly, but in truth there are a few things you need to setup and configure before WordPress is truly SEO friendly.
In this article we’ll go through each of the following in detail, so that you have all the information you need on WordPress SEO. Feel free to skip ahead to any of the following by clicking on the links:-
Get a decent SEO optimised WordPress theme
The most basic thing you can do to improve your WordPress SEO game from get go is to find yourself a proper SEO optimised WordPress theme. How do you do this? Well simply hop along to a site like Elegant Themes or ThemeForest and find a theme that is:-
1. Good looking – Sites that don’t look good have a high bounce rate and that can affect the way Google ranks you.
2. Optimised for speed – The creators of the theme have designed it with the latest web technologies. The theme should be as fast and bloat free as possible, to ensure a fast loading time.
3. Built with SEO in mind – The theme should be designed so that it can be easily crawled and understood by all the web crawlers such as the GoogleBot, BingBot, etc. That means that when you create a page and write some content, the headings, anchor text and content are all readable by web crawlers.
4. Fully responsive – Many folks surf the web on their mobile and tablet devices these days, so it makes complete sense to get yourself a theme that works on all devices and orientations.
Before you buy it makes sense to test the themes speed
Page Speed Test
First off let’s test the speed of any potential theme before you buy it by putting in the demo themes url into https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/
Once you’ve hit ‘Analyze’ Googles mechincal web wizards will test the sites speed and give you a results page such as this:-
As you can see you can toggle the results from Mobile to Desktop on the top right hand side as indicated in the red rectangle.
The results go through an entire range of aspects that can affect your page speed. They even give you tips on ways to improve the issues currently slowing down your site. Isn’t that nice of Google?
Once you’ve found a theme which ranks greater than 80 for desktop and greater than 50 for mobile (yep, mobile rankings are more lenient) you can checkout with that nice shiny new theme.
Decide whether you want to use www or non-www
From a SEO point of view and it really doesn’t make any difference at all whether you decide to go with a site with www in front or it or not.
All search engines use keywords and keyphrases to determine the subject and relevance of your content.
It’s important to include keywords and keyphrases which are connected with your topic, in the body of your content. These keyphrases should have a decent amount of search volume and low competition.
The best way to determine the volume and the competitiveness of a keyword or phrase is to use tools like Ahrefs, Googles Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest.io. Each of these can give you an accurate idea on what keywords you should use in your article. Note that some services are more accurate than others, our favourite being Ahrefs, but that’s quite expensive.
Get quality backlinks to your site
So once you’ve gone ahead and created some useful, shareable content, it’s time you go ahead and try to get backlinks to your site. This alone is probably the single most effective way to improve your WordPress SEO game and boost your search engine rank.
Firstly let’s explain how search engines rank sites in the most simple terms. Say two sites in the same niche have similar content and SEO practises; site A has 500 backlinks from decent pages; site B has 10 backlinks from equally decent pages, Google determines that as site A has more backlinks, the site is more relevant and useful therefore shows it higher in the search results than site B. Pretty simple right?
The structure of a link has two components the url and the anchor text which is outlined below:-
As you can see the target link is the url and the anchor text is the text that appears in the content, like so, Hide your IP
Image SEO best practise
Naming image files
Image alt text
Utilise WordPress plugins that help with SEO
Once you’ve installed Yoast it’ll appear when you go to the EDIT section of your posts.
Then you’ll get a page like this (ours is different as we are using Elementor)
Now down the bottom there in the green rectangle you’ll see Yoast and the start of things it can do for you, which we’ll hop right into now.
Firstly you’ll see the Snipet Preview
This is how your page will show up in search engines, as you can see currently we haven’t entered in a proper Meta Description, which we’ll fix shortly. The beauty of Yoast is that it enables you to edit your Snippet so it will appear as you wish. This is super important for SEO as search engines use these ‘labels’ to work out what is what.
With Yoast you can elect for the plugin to generate the page title based on certain characteristics. For example in the above image Yoast is using the title of the article which we have called ‘WordPress SEo explained’ + WP Setup + our website.
The page title should have the following characteristics:-
1. Include your target keyword for us it’s ‘wordpress seo’
2. Be catchy and ‘clickable’ so that when people see your article in the search results they click it 😉
The ‘Slug’ is the unique string which comes after your domain name and in the case of our site wpsetup.org the slug for this article is
The slug will help the search engines know what your page is about. Having a slug that is suited to your article is far better than one generated by WordPress. For example:-
Is far better than
Keep your slugs relevant to your article, short and memorable.
Meta description comes after the Page Title and Slug in the search result display and gives a summary of your page.
To increase your chances of getting Google love, the Meta descriptions should:
1. Include your target keywords in the first sentence
2. Be around 150-160 characters, anymore will be chopped off
3. Catch the readers attention and make them want to click!
4. Give a summary of the page that the user is about to visit
Submit an XML sitemap (with help from Yoast)
Go into the settings section of Yoast as follows and make sure the XML sitemaps is turned on.
Now click on the ‘?’ and you bring up the following links, click on See XML sitemap to see your sitemap
A site map is a list of different links your website has and looks like this
If XML sitemaps is already turned on, Yoast would have already created an XML sitemap of your site to make it easier for web crawlers to find their way around and index your site.
Use an image compression plugin (ShortPixel)
You might be wondering why we mention using an image compression plugin under SEO plugins? Well it’s simply because speed is a critical ranking factor and images are one of the main culprits when it comes to slowing websites down. An full high resolution image from an iPhone X can be anywhere from 1.5-6MB depending on the image itself so that is a super hefty load for a website. When you see an image online it is never in it’s original form and has been put through a compression algorithm to significantly reduce the file size.
The easiest way to do this is to use an image compression plugin like ShortPixel which automatically scans your WordPress site for images and compresses them down to a more manageable size. This might not seem like much but if your website has a bunch of images they all add up to something quite considerable. So hop on and give ShortPixel a try.
Ways to improve WordPress speed
Use a fast and reliable web host
It should be pretty self explanatory that the speed of your site is determined by the speed of the web server, which ‘serves up’ the people who visit your website. If you’re running your site on a shared host or one that does not have the latest tech and know how, you’re at an immediate disadvantage from the get go. We have reviewed a bunch of WordPress hosts here but without getting into all the specifics we recommend using Kinsta as it’s the best all rounder and is super super fast and reliable to boot.
Use a CDN or Content Delivery Network
We’ve tested the following CDN which you can read about here.
SSL (Secure Socket Layer) Encryption
Another simple way to get a few extra SEO points from G daddy is to simply get yourself sorted out with some proper security. That means getting an SSL certificate. SSL is that padlock thing you see on various websites. You can get a free SSL cert from Let’s Encrypt or you can also use a faster paid SSL certificate from someone like NameCheap. Sites with the lock get the G love and G love is what you want. The more G love the more SEO web cred you get.
There are no easy ways or shortcuts to nailing WordPress SEO, but the above will definitely help your WordPress site to rank better on Google and other search engines. SEO is a game played over time, not a quick 5min thing you do on the side. So thanks for reading and we wish you all the best in your WordPress SEO journey to page one, good luck!