What are some best practices to improve SEO with WordPress?

Biz Cook

It is hard to know where to start when trying to make your website show up at the top in search engine results. I’ve outlined a few areas for developers to focus on as they try to improve SEO on their website.

  • Our first order of business is making sure the Search Engine Visibility checkbox is unchecked. This is located in the left Sidemenu > Settings > Reading.
    • If checked, WordPress changes the robots.txt file that basically tells the search engine to not crawl any of the content. It is very damaging to SEO, which makes sense!
  • At the beginning of a project, make sure you are selecting the permalink structure that is the most friendly to SEO
    • This means not using urls that include random numbers—because you should be able to guess what you’ll see on the page just by looking at the URL text.
    • The best Permalink structure to use in WordPress is using Post Name. To change your permalink structure go to Settings > Permalinks > Choose Post Name
  • Add Yoast SEO plugin (or some other SEO plugin)
    • This plugin automatically creates an XML sitemap. While an XML sitemap doesn’t boost your site’s searching rankings, it does help search engines find the pages quickly and start ranking them.
    • Yoast also allows you to add a title, description, and focus keyword to every blog post and page on your site. It gives you a preview of what users will see when they google your website. Yoast also shows you where you can improve your content. In general you want your focus keyword to be in the article heading, the page title, the page url, the content, and the metadescription.
  • Sort your content using tags and categories. This makes content more digestible as well as helps website crawlers with website structure.
  • Use summaries or excerpts instead of full articles when referencing blog posts outside of the single-post template. Duplicating content on another page results in search engines not knowing which URL to show in the search results.
  • Image optimization— this allows the site to load faster. Ex: Don’t load the full size image, when you’re looking to only display a thumbnail. Additionally, use descriptive title and alt tags. This is also good for web accessibility for users using screen readers.
  • If text can be used instead of an image, use text since it is crawlable.
  • When developing the site, use semantic markup like these HTML5 tags:  <header><footer><nav><section><article><main>

Those are some quick tips to help improve SEO on your website. Feel free to comment on how you improve SEO!

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