In this article, we’ll discuss in detail how WordPress SEO is done to rank well on search engine results effectively. So, are you ambitious about scaling your business and ranking your website? Everyone is; we, too, are! Online storefronts can improve their website’s ranking in Google and increase organic traffic using specialized SEO practices and website content marketing.
Medium and enterprise-level businesses benefit from combining SEO and content marketing to improve their brand’s visibility. New and improved content allows potential customers to follow the brand’s sales funnel more efficiently and progress from awareness to interest to desire and purchase. Businesses can also use Local SEO to increase their website’s visibility.
By all means, local areas web businesses, such as dentists, trades, lawyers, and accountants, can use local SEO to increase the visibility of their websites on Google. By targeting a specific language, demographic, niche, industry, region, city, or town, people in their coverage area will see the business at the top of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) for those locations.
Almost all types of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) focus on increased ranking on Google, Bing, or whatever search platform your audience uses. The goal is to increase organic traffic and, as a result, gain more website conversions and sales. For this reason, if you own a website or are a webmaster, this WordPress SEO guide is for everyone — beginners and experts.
Understanding What WordPress SEO In Website Content Audit Entails
In web content audit, we define WordPress SEO as testing in isolation on the CMS root system to increase and improve the ranking of its built-in website. Regarding a great Content Management System (CMS), WordPress is best known for website ranking. But, even though it gets a lot right “out of the box,” there’s still so much more you can do to improve your website.
A WordPress SEO strategy involves technical work, analysis, and creative input. Your lead team works on your campaign to reflect the diversity of all these tasks. From the research, planning, and technical on-site optimization to creating new content. While, at the same time, targeting ideal buyer personas at different stages of the buyer journey.
In other words, improving your WordPress SEO is crucial for getting more organic website traffic and converting potential storefront visitors into active buyers. Sadly most WordPress SEO guides are too technical for new users to start. If you are serious about increasing your website traffic, you need to pay attention to the WordPress SEO best practices.
You might have heard experts saying that WordPress is SEO-friendly. This is why many people choose WordPress to start a blog or a website for their online business or digital brand. While WordPress ensures that the code it generates follows the SEO best practices, there is a lot more you need to do to maximize your content SEO audit efforts.
We’ll discuss these items:
- High-Quality Content
- Web Content SEO Auditing
- Targeted Keyword Research
- Website Analytics Practices
- How To Schedule Blog Posts
- Website Backlinks Analysis
- Strategic Technical SEO Plan
- Competitive Market Research
- Editorial Links Building
- User Experience Research
Ultimately, every exposure SEO campaign is designed specifically for the client based on what’s required to get the fastest ROI. Bearing in mind, significant organic web traffic growth can be quite transformational. But, this sort of growth requires time, patience, and a wide variety of techniques.
It would be best if you ingrained proper techniques for your WordPress SEO and all aspects of your online marketing and PR campaigns. As such, this guide covers quite a lot of ground! Of course, it’s quite a long read, yes! But we’ll make sure to boil everything down to something more understandable.
The Steps To Do WordPress SEO Effectively With Or Without A Plugin
Before we start, it’s good to mention that this article assumes that you’re using either the All In One SEO (AIOSEO) Pack or the Yoast SEO Plugin, just in case. These are two great plugin tools that add significantly more features and SEO tools to WordPress. If you’re not already using it, you can set it up right away with the complete beginner’s guide to Yoast SEO in detail.
If you’re using another SEO plugin, most of the principles will still apply. Of course, we’d prefer you to switch over and make use of the potent WordPress SEO plugin. For this reason, that’s why there’s a written migration guide for you. Furthermore, it’s a very straightforward process!
Related Topic: Content SEO Audit | How To Improve Your Web Presence
Out of the box, WordPress.com is a pretty well-optimized content management system. A basic setup can provide a strong foundation without extensive customization, theme optimization, and plugins. That said, you should do a few things to increase your chances of ranking, refine your workflow, and ensure your website is perfectly optimized.
Putting the correct basic settings in place and applying simple techniques ensures you have a solid foundation to build upon! That said, let’s now have a look at how WordPress SEO is done in simple steps. We’ll start with getting your essential WordPress SEO right.
Step #1: Get Your Basic WordPress SEO Strategy Right
WordPress 5.2 introduced a brand-new feature called Site Health. This is a tool that monitors the health of your site and notifies you of any issues or improvements to make. It is essential for you to keep an eye on this page as this is where all significant plugins will drop their notifications as well. It’s very important to check your WordPress Site Health to know how things are.
Before you make any changes to your site, it is good to see where you are now. There’s a lot to gain from getting it right. For instance, by running your website on a server with updated software at a web host that offers excellent performance. And at a well-known web host that fine-tuned its servers for use with your WordPress site.
1.1. Website Health
WordPress Site Health is a tool in WordPress that helps you monitor how your site is doing. It consists of two parts: a Status screen and an Info screen. You can find the Site Health tool via Tools > Site Health in your WordPress backend. In addition to WordPress checks, plugin developers can also integrate with Site Health.
In WordPress 5.4, the team added a Site Health Status widget to the dashboard — this makes it a lot easier for users to discover all site issues. Just as you should care about your own health, you should care about the health of your site. You could see Site Health as a kind of doctor — it finds problems and proposes solutions.
These improvements range from upgrading your PHP version to deactivating unused plugins for security reasons and from implementing HTTPS to checking if the REST API is available. Simply click on a notification to see additional steps to take or more information about the check. You’ll also see which plugin notified you of the improvements.
- On what hardware and software are your sites running?
- What is your hosting plan?
- Are you using a budget-shared hosting provider?
- Have you invested in a dedicated hosting plan?
To find out what’s going on behind the scenes of your site, you can visit the ‘Site Health‘ section in WordPress. You could also choose to install the Health Check plugin straight in your WordPress website dashboard.
This plugin gives you loads of technical insights and helps you get information that outside parties can use to help you improve your site. Eventually, all features of the Health Check plugin will move to WordPress core.
In the future, Site Health will be the go-to place for these checks and notifications. Increasingly, WordPress plugins will put relevant reviews and reports on the Site Health dashboard. This makes it a critical part of your journey toward building an excellent, secure, and up-to-date site. You can learn more about Yoast SEO & Site Health for more valuable details.
1.2. Suitable Hosting
According to WordPress’s technical requirements page, the recommended hosting plan to run WordPress should include a modern version of PHP, MySQL, MariaDB, and HTTPS support. Working with older server software is possible, but that is not recommended. If you check your Site Health, you can see the technical details of your installation.
In addition, if you open the dashboard of your hosting provider, you should be able to see what type of plan you are on. Remember, paying for good WordPress hosting pays dividends. Upgrading your hosting plan is one of the easiest improvements you can make.
1.3. PHP Version
One of the most important things you can do to improve the performance and security of your site is to upgrade your hosting environment to a modern version of PHP. While the numbers are going down quickly, many WordPress sites still run on outdated versions of PHP.
WordPress stats reveal that around 15% of the sites still run on a PHP version in the five series, while PHP 7.0 and up have been available for years. Backward compatibility is excellent, but it’s holding WordPress as a technology and website owners from getting the most out of their sites.
These old PHP versions don’t receive any more security fixes and are thus increasingly vulnerable to attacks. Luckily, the WordPress team has dropped support for anything older than PHP 5.6. As of today, the project recommends running WordPress on at least PHP 7.3.
There are a lot of benefits to this:
- PHP 7 offers an incredible speed boost.
- It runs a lot more efficiently, meaning less stress on your server.
- Bring loads of modern development features.
- It’s a much safer and more secure environment.
- It’s future-proof.
Now, this is something we all want. If you’ve checked your current hosting set-up in the previous section, you have an idea of what your site runs on now. If this shows outdated server software like PHP 5.5, it is good to update this, if possible.
1.4. SSL & HTTPS
Historically, adopting SSL (getting an HTTPS URL and a green padlock icon in the browser URL bar) was an optional tactic. Arguably, many sites didn’t need the extra security that SSL provides. Today, installing a valid SSL certificate is mandatory — search engines may ‘penalize’ sites without valid SSL certificates and setups.
At times, such sites may show warnings next to their search results. Google has mentioned that HTTPS is a ranking signal to consider. In addition, it’s generally good practice for all websites to use SSL to prevent hackers and third parties from intercepting requests and data.
Many modern site speed performance and performance techniques also require a valid SSL/HTTPS setup. To take advantage of new, faster web technologies like HTTP/2 and the upcoming HTTP/3, browsers like Google Chrome and Firefox need the website to have a valid SSL certificate.
If you want to move to SSL and ensure that your site is served correctly over HTTPS, there’s a guide with tips & tricks for moving to HTTPS. Now that in version 5.7, WordPress has an essential tool to make detecting and moving to HTTPS easier. Our Uniform Resource Locator (URL) Components guide for beginner webmasters offers all the best practices.
Step #2: Check Your Website Settings Like Permalinks
It’s worth spending some time clicking through all of the sections in the WordPress Settings menu, as many of the options there can impact the SEO of your WordPress site. In particular, it’s worth double-checking your visibility settings in Settings → Reading to ensure you’re not accidentally preventing search engines from indexing your website.
That’d hurt your visibility! You should also ensure that your Writing and Reading settings are all set correctly; these control your default categories and what should be displayed on your homepage. Don’t forget to give your site a strong tagline in Settings → General, too!
For example, your permalink settings define what format your page and post URLs will take, which can significantly impact SEO. So if you’re creating a new site, one of the first things you should do is change your permalink settings, which you can find in Settings → Permalinks.
If you don’t change your settings from the default, all of your pages and posts will have URLs that look like
example.com/?p=123. While this is perfectly okay, it’s not particularly nice, and it might impact how users and search engines perceive the quality and relevance of your pages.
2.1. Permalinks Structure
Changing the permalink structure alters your website’s URL components, ordering, and layout structure. Therefore, selecting a suitable format when setting up your website is essential, as changing it later can cause SEO issues.
We usually recommend that people use a structure that creates URLs that look like
example.com/category/post-name/, depending on how much importance they anticipate placing on categorizing their content. Choosing either option for most WordPress sites will be perfectly suitable.
For the first option, you can change the permalink setting to
/%postname%/, so to say. To include the category, you can select “Custom Structure” and change the value to
/%category%/%postname%/. If you previously had
?p=<postid> as your permalink, WordPress will take care of all the redirects for you.
This is also true if you change from
/%category%/%postname%/. If you have an established site and change from any other permalink structure, you might want to check out the article on changing your WordPress permalink structure and the tool you’ll find.
2.2. WWW or non-WWW
Surprisingly, the World Wide Web (WWW) and the Internet at extensive work like a charm in a way. You need to think about what you want your website to show up as
www.example.com, or simply
example.com. Make sure that in your settings in Settings → General, the version you want to show up is properly reflected.
On one side, from an SEO perspective, there’s little difference either way. Additionally, most hosting and server setups automatically redirect requests for the ‘wrong’ version to your selected performance version. That makes this primarily a branding consideration — which approach feels best for your site?
Conversely, from a technical perspective, there’s not much difference. Some setups might have minor headaches if they omit the ‘www’ component, but these are increasingly rare.
Step #3: Optimize Your Overall Website Content
Your site should provide the best content on your chosen subject — period. People seek engaging, authoritative articles and trustworthy answers to their questions. Writing high-quality content for your WordPress site begins with your unique ideas or distinctive take on a particular topic. But it also means presenting these ideas in a well-structured and accessible manner.
Together, this will help you attract the audience you’re looking for and keep them engaged. Sometimes, Search Engines may ignore your meta description if they think it’s unsuitable for the page. Or they might choose to show a custom description from the page content if they think it’s a better fit. There’s no way of forcing them to use your specific snippet.
Before writing your content, consider the search terms for which you want to be found. Then, you should optimize every page or post for a specific key phrase. But how can you determine what keyphrase you want to be found for? To find out, you need to do keyword research to fine-tune what will work best. In this process, you should ask yourself a few questions.
Such questions include:
- What terms do I want to rank for?
- How realistic is it that I can rank for these terms?
Within a given niche, you can become an expert. Your expertise enables you to create content beyond your competitors. You can go deeper than others or shed light on different angles of the same topic. For this, you’ll want to avoid relying more on short-tail keywords and instead focus your efforts on long-tail keywords.
For example, long-tail keywords might be [how to make a low-calorie vegan blueberry cheesecake]. A key phrase like this is more specific and easier to rank for. Also, it’ll be more suitable for your particular niche topic. It’s also essential to consider what your audience wants to achieve by searching for a specific term. This is called search intent in marketing.
For example, they could be looking for the answer to a particular question, and you can provide the necessary information. Or they might want to buy a specific product you can offer them. Think about the needs of your visitors and address them accordingly.
Step #4: Write Great Content For Your Lead Website Users
After you’ve done keyword research and know the topics you want to write about, you need to get to the actual writing. Most of the time, that’s easier said than done. To get from an idea to a great piece of content, most likely, you’ll have to follow a cycle of drafting, writing, editing, and rewriting guide that offers more useful and relevant details to beginner webmasters.
Your first draft can be an outline of your structure. You don’t have to write out everything in perfect prose at this point, but make sure that you follow a logical structure. Most pieces will include an introduction, your main points of argument, and a conclusion. Of course, this will vary per genre – a recipe will have a completely different structure.
You can further flesh out the points in the writing phase, where you try to develop a first complete version of your text. Finally, you should check whether your piece is engaging and easy to read in the editing phase. You might be an expert on your topic, but your audience probably isn’t (yet). So, try to make your writing as accessible as possible. But a readability score is essential.
Fortunately, the readability analysis in Yoast SEO helps you improve your writing. When in doubt, asking a friend or colleague for feedback is always best. Another helpful trick is to read your text out loud to yourself. You can even let your computer speak it. It will give you a better idea of whether everything flows nicely.
4.1. International Support
To optimize your website for audiences in several countries or language regions, your content and technical setup must be optimized. Let’s start with the content aspects of including International SEO in your strategy. Similarly, target keyword research and writing fresh content for each audience are crucial in content auditing. Take items of clothing, for example.
An American vest is an entirely different garment from a British vest, a Dutch vest, a French vest, or a Spanish vest… you get the point. We don’t recommend using automated translations. Invest time and resources in proper research and translations to optimize your keywords and copy.
Another important aspect of international SEO is picking the proper domain structure for your website pages and blog post content. Generally, a different ccTLD (e.g.
www.yoast.de) for every variation is only a good option for substantial companies with big budgets. In most cases, subdirectories (e.g.
www.yoast.com/de) are the way to go.
Regarding WordPress SEO, search engines want to display the correct language version of your site to each visitor, whatever country they’re from. To help them, you need to implement
hreflang is code that tells the search engines what language variations of a page are available and helps prevent duplicate content problems.
It’s quite a complex piece of code, but this hreflang guideline helps you along the way — or, you can take a Multilingual SEO training to help you even further. Notwithstanding, this course is part of the Yoast SEO Academy, free with a Yoast SEO Premium subscription.
Step #5: Optimize Your Website Pages And Blog Posts
When writing or editing your post, you must consider some elements to make it SEO-friendly. These elements include your subheadings, title, and meta description — all of these need to reflect the topic of the specific post. Don’t forget that being SEO-friendly doesn’t just mean it’s easy for a search engine to grasp a page’s topic.
More importantly, it means that your visitors can get the gist of your page at a single glance. Your meta description and your title might decide whether visitors click on your page in the search results in the first place. And once they’ve visited your site, elements like subheadings can be critical for visitors to decide whether they want to stay on your site.
5.1. Focus Keywords
One important rule is not to use a focus keyphrase on more than one page of your website content, especially on your blog posts. Otherwise, you might end up cannibalizing yourself. Most of the time, you don’t want to rank for multiple pages on the exact keyphrase because it means you’re setting yourself up as your competition.
It’s also essential to include the focus keywords in crucial elements of your post, such as the title, the introduction, subheadings, and meta description. All of these elements are signals for what your post is about. Since your focus keyphrase is, in fact, the main topic of your page, it’s logical that you should make sure this topic is reflected in all of these elements.
You can also use related key phrases to optimize a single page for similar, related terms. For example, if your keyphrase is [pumpkin soup], your related keyphrase might be [winter weeknight dinners]. This second, broader term gives additional information about your topic. It can also create coherence by linking to similar pages on your post.
5.2. Relevant Content
The same logic holds for your text overall: you need to ensure that you don’t stray off-topic; if you stay on-topic, it should follow naturally that you use your keyphrase multiple times throughout your text. But avoid stuffing your writing with your keyphrase just for the sake of it.
If you find it hard to include your key phrase in your text a sufficient number of times, it might be a sign that you should take a different approach to the topic. To avoid repetition, you can use synonyms. Synonyms mean the same or more or less the same as your key phrase. An example of this is the words film and movie.
Search engines will recognize that they have the same meaning, which you can check by looking at the search results: if you search for a movie, a film will also be highlighted in the results, and vice versa. Consider the Yoast SEO Premium to suit your needs to get even ahead. The Yoast SEO Premium analysis makes it easier to optimize your post.
All thanks to word forms, synonyms, related key phrases, and other special features it provides. Not only that, but Yoast SEO also comes with a Semrush Integration that helps you find relevant keywords out of the box — like data trends.
5.3. Permalink Rules
In most cases, your post’s URL should probably contain your focus keyphrase, so it’s obvious what your page is about from the link. That said, you should always try and keep your permalinks short, descriptive, and clean — don’t put unnecessary words in for the sake of it!
Before you publish new posts or pages, you may also wish to consider removing ‘function words‘ from your permalink. These are words like “a,” “and,” and “the.” When done carefully, this may make your permalinks more readable and easier to use or link to. Posts with exceptionally long titles may benefit from this approach.
We’d recommend being careful when changing permalinks for posts you have already published. Changing URLs may make a mess if people have already linked to your pages. Even though WordPress will sometimes redirect users to the new location. Changing URLs can impact performance, but Yoast Premium’s redirect manager handles this automatically and reliably.
5.4. Page Titles
Each page’s title — the contents of the HTML
<title> tag — can be one of the most critical factors for ranking well in search results. Not only is it the literal title of the tab or browser window, but it’s also the first line people see in the search results. In terms of WordPress SEO, it describes what your page is or is about and acts as an advert that encourages users to click.
On many websites, the default structure for posts and pages isn’t necessarily the most optimal approach for SEO. A title like “My blog » Cooking » Carbonara recipe” isn’t as compelling as “My 20-minute delicious Carbonara recipe | My Blog”. It would be best if you thought about the structure of your titles and the content of the headings on each page.
It’s worth considering that:
- Search engines may put more weight on the early words — so trying to get your keywords near the start of the title might make you more likely to rank well.
- People scanning result pages see the early words first. If your keywords are at the start of your listing, your page is more likely to get clicked on.
Did you know? You can use Yoast SEO to structure your titles! You can control the default structure of your page titles and descriptions in your SEO plugin. Two parts of the plugin contain these. Go ahead! Install and activate the Yoast or AIOSEO plugin, and then get on the ‘SEO’ section in your WordPress website dashboard to tweak features.
5.5. Content Headings
Headings are great for structuring your content and helping readers process information in bite-sized chunks. They can also help describe a page’s layout and focus on search engines. WordPress transforms the headings you put in your content into their respective HTML tags (
<h3> and so on).
That makes it essential to consider which type of headings you use and in which order. Getting that wrong can make your content harder to understand. Although most themes for WordPress get the basics right, it’s worth making sure that your template sets your post title is an
<h1> tag, and that you’re not using
<h1> tags anywhere else on your page or in your post content.
Your post content should then ‘flow’ naturally; for example, large, significant headings should use
<h2> tags, subsections should use
<h3> tags, and then subsequent new sections should use
<h2>. To learn why proper title headings are essential, please read this article on content topic headings and SEO to gather more useful and related information.
In addition, you can read and learn more from the article about the heading structure for your blog to gather more details — which applies to non-blog WordPress websites too. Not forgetting, for more explanations, you can read this post on how to use headers on your website to ensure that your website remains as responsive and user-friendly as possible to target users.
Step #6: Maintain Your Website Content Quality
Usually, before we forget, we don’t recommend automated descriptions. Some themes and plugins also try to produce post descriptions automatically by taking the first sentence or so of a post. This is a clever shortcut, but it rarely makes good descriptions. The first sentence of a post is often introductory information. Without an excellent summary or an enticing advert!
The only well-written description is a handwritten one, and if you’re thinking of auto-generating the meta description, you might as well not do anything and let the search engine pick and control the snippet. Writing compelling, informative post descriptions of your page content for every page on your website is the best practice and allows you to attract more visits.
6.1. Meta Descriptions
While crafting descriptions for every page and post might feel like a lot of work, it’s worth the effort. Search engines primarily use a meta description to describe your page in the search engine results, usually below your page title. Tailoring and writing a descriptive meta description can encourage users to click your results in the search engine.
More so, even if you’re not necessarily ranking in the top position. It’s an advert and your opportunity to impress. If you don’t provide a meta description, the search engine will generally try to find the keyword searched for on your page. And then, it’ll automatically pick a string around that — and highlight the searched phrase in bold on the results page.
In some cases, Google will generate its meta description for you. Automatically generated snippets (whether by plugins or search engines) are rarely as descriptive or compelling as hand-written ones. So, I recommend using the meta description field you find in the Yoast SEO plugin to write a meta description.
At all times, make sure that your meta description entices the reader to click through. And also, make sure that it contains the focus keyword of your post or page at least once.
6.2. Media Attributes
An often overlooked part of WordPress SEO is handling your images, videos, and media content. To ensure that search engines can understand your photos, you need to think about how you name and format your files. Make sure to pick the correct format and optimize every image.
Also, see if you can use next-gen image formats like WebP. Writing descriptive accessible text descriptions helps to make your images more understandable and can improve your performance significantly. As an added benefit, you’re also helping readers who rely on assistive technologies like screen readers.
Using the proper alt attributes for images and transcripts of videos is also something that is often checked in the content analysis functionality of the WordPress SEO plugin. Moreover, the Yoast team and our professional webmasters have an elaborate article on Image SEO and one on writing alt tags, which can give you more tips to fine-tune your image optimization!
6.3. Cornerstone Content
As Google strives to show its users the best and up-to-date information, you should keep track of your content and revise it regularly to make sure that the content stays as relevant and fresh to the target audience as possible, even more so because you don’t want to show the visitors of your website outdated, redundant or incorrect info.
This is easier said than done if you publish regularly and have hundreds or thousands of blog posts. That’s why we’d advise focusing on two specific areas for website content maintenance: updating cornerstone content and preventing keyword cannibalization. You should also try and update your cornerstone content.
Some pages on your site are more important than others. The most valuable content of your site is called cornerstone content. There’s a well-written and extensively clear article about cornerstone articles and how they can optimize your website for better SERPs position rank in detail. You’ll also have a glimpse at a few chops to help you increase organic website traffic.
In short, these posts or pages:
- contain essential information for your audience;
- are complete, up-to-date, and well-written;
- show authority;
- get the most links from related posts within your website;
- rank higher than your other articles on the same topic;
- get the most organic traffic to your site.
When you’re in doubt about where to start updating your site’s content, always prioritize your cornerstone content. Your business relies on them, and they should never go stale! Yoast SEO makes it a little easier to keep your cornerstones up to date at all times. If you use Yoast SEO on your site, you can mark a post as a cornerstone article.
In doing so, these articles will undergo a more rigorous SEO analysis. In addition, they’ll appear in a separate list in your post overview while making it easy to browse through them and check if they’re still up to scratch. If you’re on AIOSEO Premium or Yoast SEO Premium, keeping track of them is even easier. You will never have to worry about your website SEO again!
It’s also important to realize that the stale cornerstone content filter only shows your cornerstone articles that haven’t been updated in the last six months. You’ll find this filter option in your post overview. If it doesn’t show any posts, you can start publishing or updating your posts. And if there are one or more posts in it, make sure you check and correct them!
6.4. Keyword Cannibalization
By all means, keyword cannibalization means you’re eating away your rankings by creating too many articles for the same or similar keywords. For example, if you have a dozen articles on the same topic, search engines don’t know which one they should rank highest. As a result, you’ll be competing with your articles for a high position in the search engines.
If you frequently publish, as we do at Yoast, you will run into keyword cannibalization issues someday. That’s why we’ve created a framework for dealing with keyword cannibalism.
In short, you’ll have to:
- Find out for which keywords it’s happening;
- Analyze which content performs best for those keywords;
- Keep the best-performing posts;
- Decide if you should merge the other posts into the better-performing one;
- Or delete and redirect them.
Check out this detailed guide on how to fix keyword cannibalization issues on your website to learn how to do this.
6.5. Duplicate Content
Similarly, duplicate content issues arise when search engines encounter multiple URLs with the same or very similar content. As a result, search engines don’t know which URLs to rank higher, resulting in lower rankings. In the previous section, we’ve already addressed keyword cannibalization caused by too often writing about the same topic.
But, most of the time, the root of duplicate content is technical and can happen without you even noticing. For instance, some content management systems add session IDs or parameters for tracking URLs. Or, you might have www and non-www versions of a particular page indexed. Accordingly, you’ll have multiple URLs showing the same content.
Besides technical reasons, other parties can scrap or copy your articles. So, there are many causes for duplicate content, as you can read in this extensive article on duplicated post content. If you want to find out if your site suffers from identical content, you can use some of these best tools to track duplicate content so you can check your website for issues.
What are the solutions for duplicate content?
How you should solve your duplicate content issue depends on the cause of the problem. In general, there are three ways to go about this — in order of preference:
- Whenever possible, avoid creating duplicate content. If your system makes session IDs in the URL, try to turn that off, for instance.
- Can’t you avoid creating them? Redirect those URLs with a 301 to the original version.
- Need to keep a duplicate article? Make sure to add a canonical link to the original version in the
<head>identical blog post page section. It will show search engines what the original version of the article is so that they can pass the link juice on to the original version. In the next section, you’ll find out how easy this is with Yoast SEO.
To learn how to solve duplicate content issues, check out Joost’s ultimate guide on causes and solutions for the same content in detail. The next thing is to optimize your overall site structure for more straightforward navigation.
Step #7: Optimize Your Overall Website Structure
On the other side of WordPress SEO, a solid website structure helps users and search engines navigate your website. On top of that, it will make clear what pages on your website are most important. There are two pillars to a good site structure: organizing your site and internal contextual linking. To be safe, the first thing is to manage your website.
Organizing your site will help you set up a navigation path from your homepage to your individual posts, pages, and back. Adding categories and subcategories will bring order to chaos. Ideally, your site should be organized as follows: a homepage with a straightforward website menu, weblog tags & categories, blog subcategories, individual pages, posts, and the like.
You should always make sure your homepage is straightforward to navigate. Cluttering the homepage with too many options will make your website more difficult to understand. Adding a specific menu and breadcrumbs navigation helps your user navigate your website. Ensure your Call To Action (CTA) buttons are transparent, responsive, and user-friendly.
7.1. Canonical Links
With Yoast SEO, adding a canonical URL link to a post or page is straightforward. No need for a developer! Go to the Advanced tab in the Yoast SEO meta box below your post or page or the sidebar of the block editor. There, you’ll find the Canonical URL field where you can enter the URL of the original article — the one you want to point search engines to as such.
Yoast SEO will set a self-referencing canonical for you if you don’t put a canonical. This means that the article will point to itself. Learn why self-referencing canonicals benefit SEO and how they can help you manage your WordPress SEO audit.
7.2. Schema.org Data
Notably, Structured Data is kind of like a dictionary for search engines. By describing your content in code, you can make it instantly clear what that particular piece of content is about. Plus, you can tell who wrote it, on what site it was published, and when. Also, if this article featured recipes, FAQs, or how-to content, you could inform search engines about this.
This way, search engines like Google, Bing, Yahoo, and others better understand your site. They can use this to help your site get rich results. Considering WordPress SEO, structured data is essential in this day and age. Adding structured data to your site used to be challenging, but with structured data in the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll be all set at ease.
Today, unlike when unstructured data is a thing, search engines must automatically make sense of your website and its connections. You only need to make a few choices in SEO > Search Appearance. Select Person if your site is a personal site or Organization if it is a business or professional site. Don’t forget to pick or upload the correct logo or avatar.
That’s not all: you can also quickly build specific types of content pages with structured data blocks head-on. They work in the WordPress Block Editor (Gutenberg), and at the moment, there are two types: FAQs and how-tos to help you visually build the content while generating valid structured data in the background. Plus, the schema controls for specifying your page types.
7.3. Contextual Backlinking
While doing WordPress SEO, besides organizing your website, linking up your content within your copy is crucial. We call this internal contextual backlinking because these links always appear within the context of a text. Contextual internal links set up a network of pages that points your users to related content.
For example, in a post on a keyword search plan, linking to an article on SEO Copywriting makes a lot of sense. For search engines, these links provide insight into how pages are related to each other as well. Always make sure that the number of links to a page reflects the importance of that page. The ultimate guides get a lot of links from individual posts about related topics.
This helps users and search engines understand that these guides are crucial pillars of our site. When adding an internal contextual link, make sure the connection makes sense within the current page’s context. Moreover, always use anchor texts which accurately describe the page you’re linking to.
This gives users and search engines the context to assess whether the link is beneficial. The internal linking tool in Yoast SEO Premium helps you connect your content by automatically suggesting relevant links.
7.4. Categories & Tags
WordPress has two default ways of structuring your content: categories and tags that are crucial. In most cases, web categories will broadly add hierarchy to your content and group topics. On a website about cooking, pasta could be a category. Tags are non-hierarchical and can be used to describe your post in more detail. Dinner party themes, for example, could be a tag.
When setting up your site structure, pick several main categories. Adding them to your menu can be a good idea, especially if you only have a blog. A different setup might make more sense if you have a blog and several products. Make sure your categories are roughly the same size. If your categories become too big, make subcategories.
Your category pages can be great landing pages, especially for eCommerce sites. Tags are helpful for users exploring topics, but they are often misapplied. It’s essential not to use too many contextual tags and to use them more than once or twice. Remember, you want to group your content, not just describe it.
If you want to structure your content differently, WordPress also allows you to create custom taxonomies. Consider carefully whether your custom taxonomy groups content in a way that makes sense and helps your visitors.
7.5. Archive Pages
If you use categories and tags, you will automatically create archive pages. These pages contain a list of the posts and pages within a specific category or tag. Besides categories and tags, there are date-based archive pages and author archives. These archive pages need managing because they cause SEO problems if you don’t.
First, you want to prevent search engines from indexing your website’s archive pages that don’t make sense. You can use the Yoast SEO plugin for this. You do this under SEO → Search Appearance, where you’ll find the critical options on the “Archives” tab.
If your blog is a one-author blog, or you don’t think you need author archives, use Yoast SEO to disable the author archives. Also, if you don’t think you need a date-based library: you can disable it. Even if you’re not using these archives in your template, someone might link to them and thus break your WordPress SEO.
One type of archive is
noindex,follow by default in the Yoast SEO plugin: your internal search function result pages. Perse, you can learn more from the blog on the best practice from Google in detail.
Step #8: Speed Up Your WordPress Website Performance
If your website is slow, you risk frustrating your users. That makes them less likely to engage, browse, convert, or visit again. That, in turn, can make them less likely to share your content, link to your pages, or recommend your brand. In short, speed is an essential part of WordPress SEO and a huge part of the overall user experience.
That means measuring and managing your performance is critical — especially for mobile or slower connection users! With Google’s Page Experience update, page speed and user experience are front and center stones. Offering excellent performance will continue to become more critical by the day. Another sure deal is to consider your website pagination.
If you have many posts on your WordPress site, you might want to consider how your pagination looks and works. Otherwise, you might find that your best content is ‘buried’ deep in your site, and users and search engines may struggle to find it. It would help if you also considered customizing how your pagination looks and works to be more helpful for users and search engines.
8.1. Navigation Breadcrumbs
For your WordPress SEO strategy to be successful, you’ll probably want to add breadcrumbs to your posts and pages. Breadcrumbs are the links, usually above the title post, that looks like ”Home > SEO blog > WordPress SEO.” Breadcrumbs are good for two things: first, they allow users to navigate your website easily.
Secondly, they allow search engines to determine the structure of your site more easily. These breadcrumbs should link back to the homepage and the category the post is in. If the post is in multiple categories it should pick one. To get breadcrumb navigation to show you on your pages, you may need to adapt your single.php and page.php files in your website theme.
And then include the code for breadcrumbs from the SEO plugin in WordPress. You will find the settings and instructions on how to do that in the SEO → Search Appearance section. Also, the plugin has a unique breadcrumbs block for the block editor. Eventually, dropping breadcrumbs on any page is easy — without writing code.
8.2. XML Sitemaps
You can use Website XML Sitemaps to tell Google and the other search engines that your site has been updated. While WordPress finally has native XML sitemaps, our solution is more powerful. The WordPress SEO Plugin automatically configures your XML sitemaps, so you don’t have to worry about anything. It generates sitemaps for your different post types.
Including your images, and make sure that it generates and loads quickly. They intelligently split your sitemaps up into smaller bits. So that Google only has to fetch one new XML “sub”-sitemap when a post is published. You can check and manage which types of content, archives, and templates to include in your XML sitemaps in your SEO → Search Appearance settings.
Content types that are set to not show in search results will be automatically excluded from your XML sitemaps. Lastly, the Yoast XML sitemaps support has a pretty complete API. While simultaneously allowing developers to add or change functionality through their plugins and themes.
8.3. Speed Performance
Measuring the speed of your site can be confusing. Different tools give different scores and results and sometimes even provide conflicting information. That’s why there’s this helpful guide on measuring your speed — it’ll walk you through the basics of picking the right metrics and using the right tools for the job to monitor and diagnose issues.
Once you’ve identified what and where your bottlenecks are, the next challenge is to make hosting, theme, plugin, and performance tweaks to speed things up. Page speed optimization is a discipline in its own right and spans well-beyond WordPress SEO. That means that the most significant opportunities will vary from site to site and from situation to situation.
The next thing we’d like you to do is create regular backups for your WordPress website. In case your site gets hacked or something else goes wrong — for instance, when updating a plugin or theme — it’s essential that you revert that change in a heartbeat.
8.4. Hardening Settings
Hardening your setup starts with picking the right hosting company for your WordPress website. That’s just the start, as every host will do its best to help you, but it’ll still be your responsibility to harden your setup.
Also, tools like Cloudflare are good friends for any company/website in this. An easy first step is to limit login attempts. By limiting the number of times, people can try to log in to your website — closing your login form after five false logins, for example — you are hardening your install against brute force attacks and other malicious acts targeting that form.
The next thing you must do is ensure that your WordPress install, including plugins and themes, is always up-to-date. Updates might fix security issues as well. Make sure to check for updates and keep your WordPress installation up-to-date regularly.
Another vital thing to realize is that you deal with security whenever you add a new user or writer to your WordPress install. To gather more information, you should read an article in the WordPress Codex regarding Roles and Capabilities with more details. It comes down to giving permissions only to those that need it when they need it and only for the time they need it.
8.5. Monitoring & Logging
Besides WordPress SEO, overall site security is an ongoing process. You must keep a keen eye on any breaches and keep your website as secure as possible. For instance, you could put part of your WordPress security in the hands of a company like Sucuri so that they’ll fix this asap in case of a hack. You could check your website regularly with their check tool for your monitoring.
Some plugins can help you secure your WordPress site by, for instance, monitoring files on your server, like WordFence, iThemes, or Sucuri. Pick your plugin of choice as long as you ensure security is monitored. It can also be helpful to keep track of everything happening on your websites, like file changes and logged-in users.
There are several plugins and tools for that, like WP Security Audit Log, that you can give a try. Keeping track of these things makes sure that you can find irregularities in your installation and act on these or find what happened when in case of a security issue.
Step #9: Your WordPress SEO Should Cater To Mobile Visitors
Look around, and you’ll notice that our mobile devices are becoming the de facto way of browsing the web, even when we’re lying on our couch at home. But we don’t visit mobile websites — we visit websites. It would be best if you tried to see your mobile and desktop website versions as one entity to welcome the target audience. You, as a webmaster, need to cater to your visitors.
According to Statcounter, the mobile market share surpassed the desktop market share in almost 2018. This means that if you are only optimizing for desktop visitors, you are not optimizing for most visitors. Of course, it depends on your specific niche since those numbers could be different. Google Analytics can give you the exact numbers for your site.
With a market share like this, there is no way you can consider your mobile website an ‘extra.’ It’s time for Mobile SEO to help drive your business more traffic and product revenue sales. You should also make sure that your theme is mobile-friendly. After ensuring your website is fast, ensure your plugins or layout themes are mobile-friendly.
As a rule of thumb, optimizing a website for speed and ranking starts with ensuring the links are not too close together, and the buttons are easily clickable. Your font should be consistent and not too small, and your images should not be too big, both in file size and dimensions.
9.1. Mobile Devices
Take a step back and look at your website: what do your users want to do here? Define the four to six main tasks your user performs on your website and focus on these. Maybe even give the most crucial task a big fat call-to-action button. Here’s an example: If you have a local business, the two main functions might be calling you or finding directions to your business.
That means you could add these as a unique mobile menu, for instance — some bar that is always visible. Focus on your visitor’s main tasks and make their life easy. How to find these top tasks? Ask your visitors! Also, check Google Analytics for the most visited pages on your mobile website. More about Analytics further down this article.
9.2. Responsive Design
Generally speaking, Responsive Web Design (RWD) means that the design of your website adapts to the screen size your visitor is using. You can do this by using specific CSS media queries. The Yoast team wrote about responsive design way back when, but on the basis things are still the same. You have to address specific ranges of screen widths and design for those.
Most WordPress themes are now responsive. Depending on the part of the world you are targeting, no, depending on how fast their mobile internet is (2G? Already at 5G?), you might want to change a couple of things. Think about how you use images on your site. Are you using any text enhancements or font variations?
Well, you need to know that some of them might hinder the excellent performance of the mobile website. Responsive design helps you build a more focused website. Responsive design brings us to the following optimization element — AMP-ready and UX-enabled web design.
9.3. AMP Ready
If you are using WordPress, you could also serve Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) for your website. AMP is a 2015 initiative by Google and some major publishers. It allows for fast mobile pages by stripping some of the design. AMP these days is used for static and dynamic content like news articles. AMP has strict code requirements, so frequently validate your AMP pages.
As a website owner, one of the challenges you might have is to ensure the AMP version of your website aligns with your branding. Ensure your visitor — used to visiting your desktop/responsive website — still clearly understands that he or she is visiting your pages. Luckily, the difference between designs on all these platforms can be minimalized.
Be that as it may, if you want to kick-start the AMP version of your WordPress website, you can validate your AMP pages or check out the official AMP Plugin to get started immediately. It’ll add an AMP version of your website after installation.
9.4. Essential Tools
Of course, there are plenty of other beneficial WordPress SEO and web SEO tools to use for organic traffic, get valuable insights into your website, and find SEO opportunities. Everyone has their favorite tools, so it’s essential to start playing with different tools to find out what tool brings you what you need most.
There are all-in-one SEO tools that give you a complete overview of your performance and more in-depth tools that give you more specific data. Think about website speed tools, duplicate content, analysis, keyword research tools, etc.
Always remember there are so many other WordPress SEO and web tools that you can utilize for the wellness of your site ranking. You must do thorough online research, test, and settle on the ones that best fulfill your SEO audit needs.
Step #10: Analyze And Improve Your Website Performance
A good SEO campaign relies on implementing changes and measuring the impact of those changes, seeing what works, and doing more of that. Google has developed two fantastic tools to analyze your website’s results and identify new opportunities you could focus on in the future. The first one for analyzing results is Google Analytics for webmasters.
Adding Google Analytics to your website ensures all user data will be stored in your account. You can, for instance, check how many visits your pages get, how many of your visitors convert, how many visitors immediately leave your website after landing on a particular page, and much more. Within Google Analytics, you can see how visitors behave on your website.
Here is how to track your SEO with Google Analytics as a beginner webmaster. The second tool analyzes how your website performs and how visitors find you in the search engine. That tool is Google Search Console which is also free to use. By exporting and sorting through your search queries and impression data, it’s easy to identify opportunities where to focus.
More so in terms of improving clickthrough rates, content, and rankings.
10.1. Google Analytics
To start with Google Analytics, you must create an account for beginners. Click the ‘Start for free’ button to start. To set up your account, you must first add an Account Name. This could be your company name. However, when you add other websites to your account, we recommend choosing a more generic Account Name.
Also, you can always change your Account Name later when you want to. After setting up your account, it’s time to add a property: the website you want to add. Insert the Website Name and the Website URL. Ensure you add the precise URL: http:// or https:// and with or without www for collecting the correct data.
After setting up your property, you can enable some of the data-sharing settings. Each data-sharing option gives you a clear explanation of what you will be sharing, allowing it. And now, you’re almost ready to go! The last step to connect your website to your new Google Analytics account is adding the tracking code to your website.
After successfully creating your account and adding a new property, you’ll see a screen with your Google Analytics tracking code. This tag needs to be added to your website. The easiest way to do this within WordPress is by installing a Google Analytics plugin such as the MonsterInsights Plugin For WordPress that you can easily install and tweak the settings head-on.
10.2. Search Console
While installing the MonsterInsights plugin, you don’t need to touch the actual code of your website to connect with Google Analytics. You install and activate the plugin, insert your tracking ID, and you’re set! You can also use Site Kit WordPress Plugin By Google to get data from Analytics and Search Console in your backend.
For more technical readers, it’s also possible to manually add the tag to every webpage’s head or add the content tag to Google Tag Manager to start firing real-time and actual data metrics. Now your website is connected to Google Analytics, it will begin collecting data of your users. Start clicking around to see what can be found within the data.
In brief, these are the steps you’ll need to follow:
- Create or sign in to your Google Search Console account.
- Click ‘Add a property’ under the search drop-down.
- Enter your website URL in the box and click ‘Continue.’
- Verify your website — within the Yoast SEO plugin, you can easily copy and paste the meta tag to make it work.
After connecting your website to Google Search Console, it will start collecting data about the performance of your website.
Start Promoting Your Overall Website Business Reputation Presence
Now that you are through with the basic WordPress SEO strategy, it’s time to start promoting your site. Thanks to SEO, you put a lot of time and effort into your site’s content and ensure readers can find it via search engines. But there are other ways to get people to visit your WordPress site and read your posts.
But how do you get and grow such an audience? Simply writing posts and putting these out there won’t do the trick: you must promote your site! The first line is to grow your outreach. At all costs, Social Media Marketing is the best way to reach and grow your blog’s audience. You should be active on the social media channels where your (potential) audience is present.
Examples of popular social media include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. It might be a lot to decide on, so you can find out more in the blog post on social media strategy: where to begin?
A. Consider Users Engagement
Interacting with your readers is always fun, but how do you get them to engage? Engagement means all the different ways people can interact with your post. It could be leaving a comment, sharing it on social media, or taking action on the topic in general. But how do you get people to engage?
Well, you can always ask them! Write engagingly, and then ask your readers for their opinion. Then respond to these comments to keep the conversation going and build a relationship with your readers. Engagement also benefits SEO, showing that your site is alive and active. To dive deeper into blog engagement, read this post on increasing blog engagement for more info.
B. Amplify Content Creativity
The number of blog posts published daily is enormous, so it’s becoming harder to stand out. Your articles are likely to get lost in the vast sea of content. To help your content reach its full potential, you need to amplify it. You can probably reach new audiences if your content is original and well-structured.
Look at how you can reach new audiences and how they are behaving beyond your organic outreach. Maybe advertising on Facebook or Instagram might be an excellent way to reach new audiences for your content. Analyze what channels you already use and decide where you can do more to broaden your audience.
C. Utilize Newsletters List
In addition to using social media to promote your blog, investing in a digital newsletter (email subscribers list) is often a good idea. Let people sign up for it and send out emails with your latest blog posts and other fun facts. Ensure you offer a subscribe field beneath your posts and in other visible places on your website.
Make sure that your newsletter is mobile-friendly. But, most of all, make sure your newsletter is truly something special! That’s it! You now have a clear picture of how to go about your WordPress SEO audit. You have all the tools you’ll need to make your website rank higher in a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) like Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, DuckDuckGo, and the like.
Overall, this guide gives you a lot of stuff you can do regarding your WordPress SEO needs. It goes from technical SEO tips to conversion tips, to content tips, to conversation tips, and a whole lot in between. There’s a catch: if you want to rank for highly competitive terms, you must do most of it and create compelling content.
Rember, you compete with every other website and business for attention, visitors, and outcomes. You must put in much hard work and keep your site SEO fit. But don’t worry — we’re always here to help whenever need be.
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From eCommerce sites, service solution givers, SaaS businesses, WordPress SEO for local businesses, etc. We are sure you won’t find a team anywhere else that cares as much about your business as we do. We believe in building relationships with our clients based on trust, and we’re genuinely invested in getting you results.
Other More Related Resource Reference Topics:
- Why Plagiarism-Free Content Matters In SEO | 5 Basic Tips
- Using GTmetrix For Website Performance Testing & Monitoring
- How Keyword Stuffing Affects Site SEO | 5 Auditing Solutions
- Website Page Experience Is Now The New SERP Ranking Factor
- How Broken Links Impact Website SEO Rank Plus Best Fix Tools
- Motion UI Design | Why Its The Digital Content Future Trend
Finally, start optimizing your WordPress site using the topmost tactics and SEO Best Practices today with our consultation. We’ll help you improve your rankings, gain more subscribers or sales, and have a better website. Ensure you follow all our guides.
But, if you need more support, you can Consult Us and let us know how we can help you. You can share your thoughts, opinions, contributions, suggestions, or more search engine optimization-related questions in our comments section for free answers.