Optimizing a WordPress website for search engines, also known as search engine optimization (SEO), can help improve the visibility and ranking of the website in search engine results pages (SERPs).
Here are some best practices for optimizing a WordPress website for search engines:
1. Choose a responsive and mobile-friendly WordPress theme
It is important to have a website that is easy to use and navigate on all devices, including smartphones and tablets. Google gives preference to websites that are mobile-friendly in its search results. This is called mobile-first indexing.
Some best practices for optimizing a website for mobile-first indexing:
- Provide a mobile-friendly website. If you haven’t already, create a mobile-fiendly website so your users visiting your site through a mobile phone can have a stellar experience.
- Make sure that Google can access and render your content.
- Make sure that content is the same on desktop and mobile. Even with the equivalent content, differences in DOM or layout between desktop and mobile page can result in Google understanding the content differently. However having the same content on the desktop and mobile version ensures that the two versions can rank for the same keywords.
- Check your structured data: If you have structured data on your site, make sure that it’s present on both versions of your site.
- Check visual content. Make sure that the images on your mobile site follow the image best practices.
- Check your videos. Make sure that the videos on your mobile site follow the video best practices.
You can check our own collection of niche WordPress themes, all of which are responsive and mobile-friendly.
2. Pay attention to Evergreen Content
Evergreen content is a type of content that remains relevant and useful over an extended period of time, rather than becoming outdated or irrelevant soon after it is published.
Examples of evergreen content include:
- How-to guides and tutorials: These types of content provide step-by-step instructions on how to do something, and they tend to remain relevant for a long time because the basic steps and principles involved are unlikely to change.
- Definition and explanation articles: Articles that provide definitions and explanations of concepts and topics are likely to remain relevant over time because the definitions and explanations are unlikely to change significantly.
- Lists: Lists are a popular format for evergreen content because they provide a concise and easy-to-read overview of a topic.
- Industry research and data: Research and data-driven articles are often evergreen because the data and findings are unlikely to change significantly over time.
- Historical articles: Historical articles can also be considered evergreen because they provide information about events and people that are unlikely to change over time.
In general, evergreen content is useful for SEO because it can continue to attract traffic and search engine rankings for an extended period of time, making it a valuable asset for any website.
3. Use SEO plugins
There are many SEO plugins available for WordPress that can help optimize the website for search engines. These plugins allow you to easily add and edit page titles and meta descriptions, as well as analyze the content for SEO.
I have previously reviewed and ranked the Top 5 SEO Plugins for WordPress. If you’re starting a new WordPress website then you should consider all available options.
4. Use descriptive and relevant page titles and meta descriptions
The page title and meta description are the text that appears in the search results for a particular page. Make sure to use descriptive and relevant titles and descriptions that accurately reflect the content of the page and include relevant keywords in your content.
Use unique titles and descriptions for each page: Each page on a website should have a unique and relevant title and meta description to accurately reflect the content of the page and help search engines understand the context of the page.
5. Avoid keyword cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization is a situation in which multiple pages on a website are competing for the same or similar keywords, resulting in a dilution of the website’s search engine rankings for those keywords.
This can happen when a website has multiple pages targeting the same or similar keywords, or when different pages on the website use the same or similar titles and meta descriptions.
If you suspect that your website may be suffering from keyword cannibalization, you can revise the titles, meta descriptions, and content of your main pages to ensure that each page is targeting a unique and relevant set of keywords.
6. Use header tags
Header tags, such as H1 and H2 tags, help to structure the content on a webpage and make it easier for search engines to understand the hierarchy of the information. Use header tags to break up the content into sections and sub-sections, and make sure to include relevant keywords in the header tags.
7. Use alt text for images
Alt text is a text alternative for images that is displayed when the image cannot be displayed. Alt text is important for accessibility because it provides a text alternative for images that can be read by screen readers and other assistive technologies.
To ensure that alt text is effective for accessibility and SEO, it is important to use descriptive and relevant alt text that accurately describes the content of the image. Avoid using alt text that is too long or that simply repeats the file name of the image.
It is also important to use alt text for all images, including decorative images, to ensure that the webpage is fully accessible to all users.
8. Use keyword research
There are many different keyword research tools available that can help identify the most relevant and popular keywords to target in the content and meta tags of a website.
Some popular keyword research tools include:
- Google Keyword Planner: Google Keyword Planner is a free tool provided by Google that allows users to search for and analyze keywords. It provides data on the search volume and competition level of keywords, as well as suggestions for related keywords.
- Ahrefs: Ahrefs is a paid keyword research tool that provides a wide range of data and features, including search volume and competition data, keyword suggestions, and information on the performance of specific keywords.
- SEMrush: SEMrush is another free/paid keyword research tool that provides a range of data and features, including search volume and competition data, keyword suggestions, and information on the performance of specific keywords.
- Keywordtool.io: Keywordtool.io is a free keyword research tool that provides keyword suggestions based on a given seed keyword. It also provides data on the search volume of keywords.
9. Use internal linking
Internal links are links that point from one page on a website to another page on the same website.
Internal linking helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of a website and can also help improve the user experience by making it easier for visitors to navigate the website. Use relevant and descriptive anchor text for internal links to help search engines understand the context of the linked page.
Internal links can help in SEO by:
- Providing a clear hierarchy and structure for the website: Internal links help search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of a website, which can improve the visibility and ranking of the website in search results.
- Improving the user experience: Internal links can help improve the user experience by making it easier for users to navigate the website and find related content.
- Passing link equity: Link equity is the value that is passed through links to other pages on a website. Internal links can help distribute link equity throughout a website, which can help improve the visibility and ranking of the website in search results.
10. Use external linking
External linking, or linking to other websites, can help improve the credibility and authority of a website in the eyes of search engines.
External links can be beneficial for SEO for several reasons:
- External links can help demonstrate the credibility and authority of a website: By linking to reputable and relevant sources, a website can show search engines that it is a reliable source of information and that it has a strong understanding of the topic. This can help improve the visibility and ranking of the website in search results.
- External links can help improve the user experience: By linking to relevant and useful sources, a website can provide additional information and resources to its users, which can improve the overall user experience.
- External links can help distribute link equity: Link equity is the value that is passed through links to other pages. By linking to other websites, a website can distribute some of its link equity to the linked websites, which can help improve the visibility and ranking of those websites in search results.
To maximize the benefits of external linking for SEO, it is important to use descriptive and relevant anchor text for the links and to link to reputable and relevant sources.
It is also important to avoid overusing external links or linking to low-quality or spammy websites, as this can have a negative impact on the visibility and ranking of the website in search results.
By following these best practices, you can help improve the SEO of your WordPress website and increase its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages.