We have highlighted how you can improve – independent of which CMS you use – the ranking for your website in an earlier blog post.
Now, we would like to specifically show you how to optimize your WordPress website for search engines.
WordPress SEO Plugins
In the Top 10 of the most downloaded plugins for WordPress you will find two tools that are often recommended for SEO:
Both plugins offer a good SEO package. While All In One SEO Pack is known for being friendly for inexperienced users, it offers less features in the free version than WordPress SEO by Yoast, which offers all features for free.
Due to the wider functional range, we will focus on WordPress SEO by Yoast in this blog post.
Installation of WordPress SEO by Yoast
To install the plugin in WordPress go to the admin section and click on “Plugins” and then on “Add new”. Search for WordPress SEO by Yoast and click on “Install Now”.
Now, the plugin is installed in your WordPress. To activate it, go to “Installed Plugins”, then click on “Activate”. The plugin is now ready to be configured.
SEO of your WordPress Website
Now, we start with the optimization of your WordPress website.
Indexing: First, you need to make sure that you are not prohibiting search engines from adding your website to their index.
In the admin section go to Settings > Reading. The option “Search Engine Visibility” should be disabled.
URL Structure: To generate user-friendly URLs go to Settings > Permalinks in the admin section. Enable the radio button at “Custom Structure” and fill in the following text:
The URL structure will be defined as: domain / content category / content title.
If you prefer not having the category in the URL structure fill this in instead:
Title Tag: The ranking in search engines is positively influenced if every page has a unique title tag that contains keywords. By default, WordPress is well configured regarding title tags but you should double check these settings.
You will find it at SEO > Titles & Metas > Post Types in the admin section. The contents of the text fields should be as in the screenshot. With these settings title tags will be generated according the format “content title – your page site name”.
Content Creation: Before writing new content, you should define a keyword per page and reuse that keyword in all sections of the page. Before publishing your content, you should scroll down in edit mode and make sure the keyword is used in the H1 tag, page title, URL, content and meta description.
H1 Tag: Every page of your website should have exactly one H1 heading tag. Check if your template does contain a single H1 tag and edit it if necessary.
You may structure your content with H2 – H6 tags but refrain from using H1 tags there.
XML Sitemap: Sitemaps make sure that search engines find all relevant content on your website. The plugin will regenerate the sitemap for you if content is added or deleted, so you will not have to do that manually.
In the admin section navigate to SEO > XML Sitemaps. By default, the sitemap should be generated already. But make sure the box is enabled and have a look at the sitemap by clicking on the button next to it.
Internal Links: Breadcrumbs improve internal linking and make navigation for users easier.
In the admin section go to SEO > Internal Links and enable breadcrumbs.
Page Speed: Search engine ranking is influenced by page speed. The plugin W3 Total Cache will optimize the page speed of your WordPress website. Since the configuration for this plugin is extensive we recommend you read the detailed post by wpbeginner.com. As an alternative you can use WP Super Cache, which is easier to set up but offers less features.
To measure performance gain, we recommend using Google PageSpeed Insights. Just compare your results before and after activating the plugin.
- With or Without www.: Lots of websites are accessible through www.domain.com and domain.com as well. This creates problems with duplicate content. Therefore, we recommend implementing a 301 redirect to forward visitors from domain.com to www.domain.com – or the other way around.
Source header image: VerticalSwitch