Search engine optimization (SEO) in WordPress can be divided into on-page and off-page optimization, and you are about to learn the best on-page WordPress SEO practices. With good SEO, the search engines will index your site quicker, and your site will appear higher in the search engines.
In some of our other posts, we discussed some HTML tips for web designers to make their code clean and maximize search engine visibility on Google. Now we are focusing on your search engine position with WordPress.
What You Need for WordPress Optimization
WordPress SEO by Yoast is another great plugin you can use instead of the All-in-One SEO. However, do not use more than one SEO plugin simultaneously. The search engines could label you as a spammer, so choose only one.
1. Target Specific Keywords
Targeting keywords are the foundation of good on-page SEO. All other WordPress SEO methods become useless if you fail at this step. If you target keywords nobody is looking for; you won’t get any traffic.
Use the Google Keywords Tool to find out what people are looking for in your niche. Use one primary keyword for each article you write.
Avoid keyword stuffing in your articles. A keyword density of 2% per article is enough to make your content look relevant. Also, using your keyword in the meta title, meta description, and subtitles of each post is more useful for rankings than spamming your readers.
2. Meta Description and Title
Use the All-in-One SEO plugin to fill out the ‘Title’ and ‘Description’ fields every time you write a post. The title should be shorter than 60 characters, and the description should be shorter than 160 characters.
The title you choose will display in the search engines results along with the description.
You should use the main keyword of your article in both fields. Keep the keyword closer to the beginning of your title if possible.
You can use two keywords in the title or description if it looks natural. Otherwise, target one keyword.
3. Use Heading Tags
Search engines recognize the difference between your paragraphs and headings.
Your post title on any single post page should have the H1 tag. Use only one H1 tag per page.
Under the ‘Appearance’ tab, choose the ‘Editor’ section. In the right-hand menu, find the ‘Single Post’ file (usually single.php). You should find a section that looks like this:
If the theme shows H2 tags by default, change them into H1 tags:
Make sure there are no H1 tags in the ‘Header’ file (usually header.php). If you leave them there, there will be two H1 tags on single post pages, and your site could get penalized by the search engines.
When writing your posts, use the H2 tags to break the text into more sections. Click on the ‘HTML’ tab in the upper-right corner, and use the H2 tags on your subtitles:
You can use multiple H2 tags per page. You should use your keywords in them but avoid keyword stuffing.
4. Customize the Permalinks
The default permalink settings in WordPress are terrible. For example, ‘http://yoursite.com/?p=123′ is the default permalink WordPress chooses for you. Change your permalink settings as soon as you install your WordPress platform.
Under the ‘Settings’ tab, click on the ‘Permalinks’ section. Click on the ‘Post name’ button under the standard settings. Another option is to choose the custom structure and type in ‘/%postname%/.’
If you want to display the category names in your permalinks, choose the ‘Custom Structure’ option and type in ‘/%category%/%postname%/’. The WP No Category Base will keep your URL short if you choose this option.
You can also edit your permalink when you write your posts. It is a good idea to change your keyword slightly in the permalink. That way, you improve your chances of ranking for two keywords.
5. Update Your Sitemap Frequently
A good sitemap gives you better rankings in the search engines. If you are doing WordPress SEO, you do not have to worry about the sitemap. The Google XML Sitemap automatically builds your sitemap and submits it to the major search engines.
However, it will rebuild and submit your sitemap every time you post or update an article. When uploading or editing more articles at once, you should deactivate the plugin to prevent spamming the search engines.
6. Practice Internal Linking
Internal links are not as valuable for search engine rankings as external links. However, they give your single posts a slight boost in rankings. Also, they will decrease your bounce rates. A lower bounce rate gives you more credibility with the search engines.
7. Display Related Posts
For some reason, WordPress does not automatically enable you to show related posts. Rather than messing with your code, the YARP plugin will do that for you. Displaying related posts keeps your readers on the site longer, so the search engines will consider your site credible and compelling.
8. Use Image Alt Tags
Every time you add an image to your post, you should fill out the ‘Title,’ ‘Alternative text,’ and ‘Description’ fields. Use relevant keywords in all spheres, but avoid keyword stuffing. Images are sometimes powerful sources of traffic, so do not ignore those options.