How to make best SEO for your WordPress website?
Below you can find guide with list of essential tips and tricks from highly experienced SEO expert from ThemeMotive team. It is based on over 15-years of experience and includes best practices that allows you to be proficient in search engine optimization for WordPress in 2017.
Use best practices from this tutorial, make your website SEO friendly, boost search engines rankings and number of fully satisfied visitors.
1. Title, headline and meta tags
- 1.1. Add unique and for every single page on your website. In WordPress it is best to use to easily implement them for each of the page/post.
- 1.2. Each page should have unique titles and meta descriptions.
- 1.3. Avoid having title too similar to meta description. It can hurt the ranking.
- 1.4. Don't use meta keywords - source.
- 1.5. Put your most important keywords on the very beginning of page title.
- 1.6. Optimize your title and meta description for both keywords and users.
- 1.7. Slightly Diversify h1 and Title (especially when you use h1 as the main/first headline).
- 1.8. Optimize your meta description in order to get more clicks from search result page, use buzzwords, etc..
2. Content Quality
- 2.1. Add image for each of your post. Put your keyword in alt and description/caption under image.
- 2.2. Check your WordPress website with tools like Xenu for Windows and correct all 404 errors. for Mac and
- 2.3. Validate your HTML.
- 2.4. Use schema for article and breadcrumbs. Make sure breadcrumb code is compatible with Google Structured Data Testing Tool.
- 2.5. Upload great looking logo and favicon for your website.
- 2.6. Link out in your articles to reputable resources related to your content.
- 2.7. Use 301 redirect if you moved page to other destination.
- 2.9. Customize your 404 pages to make them friendly for visitors.
- 2.10. Don't put too big ads before your important content.
- 2.11. Reduce bounce rate on your website. You can for example speed up your website, add photos, improve website design and add related articles section.
- 2.12. Improve Text/HTML ratio by adding more text and choose theme with clean and semantic HTML code.
- 2.13. Add rel="nofollow" attribute to not reputable link resources or any commercial links/advertisements.
- 2.14. Add social media profiles on Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and link them with your website. Link to your articles (for example blog posts) from social media accounts.
- 2.15. Make your WordPress website looking astonishing to attract your visitors and make them stay longer on your website.
- 2.16. Extend your pagination links to show more than default 10 links per page. Better to have less pagination links and index more pages from regular pages (home/blog, etc.). You can extend to for example 25-50 posts per page and more depends on your website structure.
- 2.17. Feature/expose your most important, most popular post/pages. For example create custom menu with 5-10 most important links and put them in the footer or sidebar widgets under section (Featured/Most popular, etc.).
- 2.18. Add video/multimedia to extend time spent on your posts.
- 2.19. Build your audience with newsletter and improve your non search organic traffic.
- 3.1. Divide your text into paragraphs, add additional elements, formatting (like intro, "information box" shortcode, quote. This will make your body copy more attractive for users.
- 3.2. Use bold for better reading experience, not to highlight the keywords you want to rank for.
- 3.3. Write longer body copy, at least 300 words. Longer articles tends to rank better, but remember that quality is more important than quantity.
- 3.4. Use h1-h6 tags inside your pages, posts. In most cases for smaller websites h1-h3 will be enough.
- 3.5. Avoid duplicate pages, make your content truly awesome and engaging that can't be found anywhere else (not only just unique content that could be found somewhere else written in other form).
- 3.6. Link to your pages from the content of your posts (like for example WikiPedia is doing).
- 3.7. Use table of contents.
- 3.8. Surround your internal link with content (like for Wikipedia is doing). Links surrounded by text works better than just list of links.
- 3.9. Regularly update and extend content for your most important pages. Of course it depends on topic, but in general it will be signal for Google that you take care of those pages and keep them up to date.
- 3.10. Put your targeted keyword in your first 100 words of the article (first paragraph).
- 3.11. Integrate buzz words in your headlines and titles.
- 3.12. Add description for each of your post image (under the picture).
- 3.13. Use ul li list, em, bold, etc. to make your content easy to read and looking best.
- 3.14. Add description (for minimum 300 words) for each of your category.
- 3.15. Avoid thin or duplicate content (Panda).
- 3.16. Avoid too big number of external links.
- 3.17. Add unique photos to your blog posts. Stock images are easily recognized by search engines as duplicates, however well chosen stock image can improve user experience.
- 3.18. Focus on different key-phrase/top on each page. Don't optimize one page for too many key-phrases.
- 3.19. Update your website regularly. Set to add at least one new article per day to keep your website fresh and growing.
- 3.20. Attract people to leave valuable comments under your post.
4. Website Structure
- 4.1. Keep number of internal links under 100-150 links per page.
- 4.2. Divide your site architecture to thematic categories with subcategories with the targeted keywords.
- 4.3. Take care for link juice. Keep your website architecture well thought. Each page should be accessible in maximum 3 clicks. Most important content should be available in 1 click.
- 4.4. Always create clean and semantic code inside your posts, pages. Avoid using plugins, website builders that make complicated structures with lot of unclear code.
- 4.5. Content First - choose theme which shows your content with h1/content first and then sidebar and footer content (in the HTML source code).
- 4.6. Keep your main navigation well thought and short at the same time (5-7 links).
5. WordPress / Plugins / Theme Settings
- 5.1. Optimize speed of your website as much as possible.
- 5.2. Use breadcrumbs (schema ready) and subcategories.
- 5.3. Hide "category" slug from your URLs to categories (only for not indexed websites).
- 5.4. Display related posts. Best if related posts are from the same category as main post.
- 5.5. Use unique Categories widget (from ThemeMotive).
- 5.6. Use permalinks without date. Date in URL can harm your ranking - source.
- 5.7. Optimize images. You can use for example https://tinypng.com/
- 5.8. Use short URL and short domain name.
- 5.9. Don't organize your images in many subdirectories.
- 5.10. Use CDN to speed up your site’s performance.
- 5.11. Rename "uncategorize" category.
- 5.12. Use HTML 5 Doctype.
- 5.13. Avoid duplicating author info on each of post. Rather put short info with link to page with more details about the author.
- 5.14. Keep links to your related posts surrounded with text.
- 5.15. Avoid using too much tags in order to avoid duplicate content penalty (different tags showing the same posts). Use 1-3 different tags per post.
- 5.16. Make sure you don't block important content via robots.txt.
- 5.17. Generate and submit Google sitemap.
- 5.18. Enable HTML sitemap for your visitors and bots.
- 5.19. Avoid using inline styles (use child theme or put your styles inside Theme settings).
- 5.20. Use structured data markup.
- 5.21. Use assets of responsive website, but don't hide any content in responsive mode. Keep all content accessible regardless of type of device.
- 5.22. Don't use author archives if your blog is using one author. This can generate duplicate content issues.
- 5.23. Block spam comments.
- 5.24. Make your content easy to share. Use social sharing buttons, however be aware that showing counter with 0 shares/likes can result in negative social proof and harm your shares/likes, etc..
- 5.25. Use next/previous link or element. Can help both visitors and search engines bots to index your website better.
- 5.26. Don't use too much widgets in your sidebar. Avoid duplication.
- 5.27. Don't over-optimize your website. For example avoid putting targeted keyword as anchor text instead of "Home". It looks spammy and can harm your website.
6. Server / hosting side
- 6.1. Add SSL to your website.
- 6.2. Get unique IP for your website.
- 6.3. Standardize your website URL (with www or non-www).
- 6.4. Speed up you web hosting plan (try VPS if standard hosting plan is not fast enough).
- 6.5. Put your blog on main domain or subdirectory. Avoid subdomain if possible.
- 6.7. Server location should be in your country (your website TLD).
- 6.8. Check if your website HTTP response with for example http://web-sniffer.net/. It should be 200. If your domain is not configured right then it can show for example 302 redirect, which is very bad for SEO and could affect your rankings a lot.
- 7.1. Install web analytics. We recommend free GetClicky (easy to track each visitor path), StatCounter (very simple to use) or Google Analytics (with advanced possibilities).
- 7.2. Have a look at time spent on your website and bounce rate. Work on your content quality, website structure and layout to reduce bounce rate and extend time spent on your site.
8. UI / Design
- 8.1. Make your website design unique (customize colors, styles of buttons, title, social media, etc.).
- 8.2. Make sure your website looks astonishing.
- 8.3. Make sure your website is easily accessible across different devices without any important content being hidden.
- 9.1. Hide your affiliate deeplinks using deeplink hider shortcode (by ThemeMotive).
- 9.2. Submit your WordPress website to reputable web directories.
- 9.3. Monitor your backlinks. High percent of site-wide links or links with direct match keyword phrase can result in penalty. Disavow all spammy links.
- 9.4. Diversify anchor text, use branded words or domain name.
- 9.5. Create infographic to get your content goes viral.
- 9.6. Interview famous bloggers from your industry or pay them to write article on your blog. Let the bloggers share this article in social media and mention about it on their blogs then.
- 9.7. If you make content marketing then don't put just single link in sponsored article, but surround it with other links to other similar reputable resources.
- 9.8. Focus on quality of links. 1 great quality link can give you more boost than 100 lower quality links.
- 9.9. Avoid backlinks from low quality websites (especially with direct keyword match anchor text). This can result in penalty (Penguin).
- 9.10. Redirect 404 pages with incoming links to your existing pages.
- 9.11. Diversify internal link anchor text.
- 9.12. Link to your website with diversified anchor text. Avoid site-wide links and anchor text with keyword as this can harm your website.
- 9.13. Investigate and disavow low quality links.
- 9.14. If you want to rank local then submit your website and address to reputable regional directories related to your website topic.
- 9.15. Find similar blogs to your and cooperate with them (exchange links, etc.).
- 9.16. Focus on quality of your content, because natural and content driven links works best in long term.
10. Social media
- 10.1. Register Google Plus account and link it to your website.
- 10.2. Register Facebook Fanpage and link it to your website.
- 10.3. Register Twitter account and link it to your website.
- 10.4. Register Pinterest account and link it to your website.
- 10.5. Register LinkedIn account and link it to your website.
- 10.6. Register other social media profiles for your website. You can use service like .
- 11.1. Use short domain name, not necessary with keyword inside.
- 11.2. Remember the brand name is more important than keyword inside domain. Keyword in domain is no longer strong ranking factor.
- 11.3. Use .com or your country domain. .net, .info, etc. tends to rank a bit worse. Of course quality of content is crucial.
- 11.4. You can renew your domain for up to 10 years and show that you are serious about your business.
12. Things to avoid
- 12.1. Don't use any on-site black hat or shady techniques, like cloaking.
- 12.2. Don't buy any spammy/auto, low quality, auto-generated links.
- 12.3. Stay away from site-wide links. Use only if domain is very reputable and link can gain you traffic as well.
- 12.4. Don't use keyword spamming. Using too much keywords in your content can harm your website.
- 12.5. Don't link to your website with exact match keyword anchor text. Use brand name, domain name and natural words like, "here", "on this page", etc.
- 12.6. Don't use the same h1, title and URL and internal anchor. Diversify them all.
- 12.7. Don't use keyword you want to rank in anchor text for external link.
13. SEO Tools
- 13.1. Register account in Google Webmaster Tools.
- 13.2. Use Google Keyword Planner and search by popular domains to find low competitor keyword ideas with decent traffic. Alternative tool can be .
- 13.3. Check you backlink profile with , or .
- 13.4. Check your website speed with GTMetrix, Pingdom and PageSpeed Insights.
- 13.5. Check HTML validation with W3C Validator.
- 13.6. Check how your WordPress website looks on different devices with browserstack.com or
- 13.7. Use structured data testing tool from Google and check structured data on your post/website (for example, breadcrumb).
- 13.8. DiagnoSEO - quick check your most important on page SEO factors.
lightbulbDid you know...
One of the most important thing in SEO is to provide great user experience. Focus on quality of your content at first. Then make sure that your website can be crawled and follow all technical details to help search engines index your website smoothly. Great content can really help to generate natural and strong backlinks. Focus on on-page SEO factors more than on off-page factors, because you have got more control on your website. Use different SEO tools, because each of them can give you slightly different tips and data.
If you have SEO related question, please write e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org . Experienced SEO specialist/veteran will be happy to help you. Consulting cost: 30$ / 30 minutes.