WordPress SEO is a set of measures taken by the webmaster to achieve the maximum possible position of a WordPress site in the search engine results.

The SEO landscape of the future is a volatile place. Do you know why? Google, Yandex and other search engines, are doing their best to create a better, faster and safer web for all of us. Sure, they benefit ten times over, but who cares? Well, you do, as long as you’re reading these lines. That’s exactly why we’ve created this, if you’ll allow me to say so – Mega-super-duper-extensive WordPress SEO guide, in which we’ll share best practices!

WordPress SEO – WordPress Search Engine Optimization, or in Russian “WordPress Search Engine Optimization”, further in the article as “WordPress SEO”.

We know for a fact that if you have a WordPress site, you’re definitely hungry to rank high (well, or at least well) on your topic. But you see, in order to offer enhanced search capabilities (and earn billions in future profits), search engines must constantly update their search algorithms, much to the dismay of SEO experts (yes, including you).

In the recent past, you could easily skyrocket to high positions in the SERPs (search engine results pages) by literally “pumping” keywords into your content. What? Yes, yes – that’s exactly how SEO experts worked. You might not even have had any coherent link-building strategy, but sites took off like “eagles on steroids.”

Then there was a swing of the whip, and keyword phrases were pointed at the door. No doubt site rankings plummeted like Icarus, but that’s beside the point. A new era in WordPress SEO was born-the era of relevant and valuable content, alt tags, attributes, etc.

Nevertheless, search engines kept updating algorithms and denying SEOs and webmasters all the useful information that would definitely help your SEO campaign.

Today you need to go beyond your usual thinking, to achieve acceptable results!

Still, there is hope that Google and other search engines are telling us all what and how to do in order to confidently rank in the top 10 in the serps. These are the best SEO optimization techniques for a WordPress site that we’ll outline in this post, so here we go…

1. So what are the best methods of WordPress website SEO?

Before we get into WordPress SEO methods, let me mention a few very important things for newbies.

First, SEO involves two strategies, namely “On-site” and “Off-site” optimization.

On-site optimization consists of all the optimization activities you do on your site. This includes creating content, adding keywords, and optimizing the title and meta tags.

Off-site optimization is any other SEO activity that involves third-party websites. Commenting on blog posts, guest posting, directory registration, link building and social activity.

Second, there are white-hat and black-hat SEO techniques. The first is an SEO strategy that adheres to the SEO rules set forth by Google and other search engines. Black methods, on the other hand, involve “flirting” with the search engines, which will ultimately lead to failure. You should try to create an SEO strategy using white methods and not even think about manipulating search engines with questionable techniques.

Simply put, don’t try to use dirty tricks that are not contained in, for example, this SEO Guide from Google.

Now let’s move on to the WordPress SEO techniques you need to consider and apply in 2020.

Do full keyword research

Maximizing keyword stuffing used to work as a “white-hat” SEO technique, but now Google disapproves of this practice. At the same time, keyword research as a ranking factor is not dead. Yandex and other search engines still rely on keywords to rank websites, which means that your SEO strategy should be guided by as much research as possible.

Selecting keywords through Google – Strategy and SEO Optimization of WordPress

Let’s say you’d like to rank highly for the keyword query “WordPress Themes” or “WordPress Plugins”? Tools such as Google AdWords Keyword Planner can help you determine competitiveness, and identify keyword options to use in your content, which will be needed when further SEO optimizing your WordPress site.

For each keyword, try to find ten alternatives. For example, if you chose the keyword or phrase “WordPress themes”, you can find alternatives such as “Adaptive WordPress themes”, “Best WordPress themes”, “Premium WordPress themes” and so on.

When doing your research, pay attention to keyword phrases consisting of 3-4 words, in which case you will have a better chance of getting a good ranking for single-word keywords. For example, the phrase “WordPress Themes” is more difficult to seo promote a WordPress site than “Adaptive Themes for WordPress”, which means that it will be much harder to get the first phrase to the top than the second.

Proper WordPress website SEO optimization is to add a few of these keyword phrases to the body of the page, and you’ll notice positive shifts in about a month or so. Yes, that’s right! SEO, not just for a WordPress site, but for any other site takes time – you won’t get instant results – that’s a fact. Any SEO expert who promises you a coveted position in Yandex or Google in a couple of days is just a scam. WordPress website SEO optimization is a long-term and ongoing process that lasts for the entire lifecycle of your website.

Going back to placing keywords and phrases on your website pages, we’ll talk about keyword density as part of WordPress SEO best practices, so don’t worry.

2. Content is the head of everything!

Unique, valuable and relevant content is what’s needed. In addition to being the best signal for search engines, as the most significant part of WordPress website SEO optimization it is, above all, the lifeblood of your website.

A website without content is, well, not a website. In the same vein, a website with poor content is like a blunt knife – it can get the job done, but you have to put in more and more effort each time. A website with outdated content is dead to both search engines and visitors. Decreased user engagement and lost SEO rankings are the most common result of a poor content strategy.

We just mentioned that your content needs to be unique, valuable and relevant. What does that mean? First of all, your content should be unique – search engines don’t like plagiarized or duplicated content. Your content has to bring something fresh to the web – it has to be completely unique if you want to get ranked high.

No doubt you can quote other sites, but copying the whole page will get you in trouble.

In other words, eliminate duplicate content on your site, including URLs. Search engines see no difference between http://site.ru and http://www.yoursite.com, to them it’s the same thing, which means your rankings will be shared between both URLs. You may even be fined for this.

We ran into this problem once and solved it easily. If you know how to handle files and folders on your server, add the following code to your .htaccess file.

RewriteEngine On
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^site.ru [nocase,OR]
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.site.ru [nocase]
RewriteRule ^(.*) http://www.site.ru/$1 [last,redirect=301]

Replace “site.ru” with your domain name. The above code will redirect all site.ru and www.site.ru requests to http://www.site.ru.

The unique content you create should be valuable, not just water designed to fool search engine spiders. Wait … what spiders? Google and other search engines use special software (scripts) known as crawlers or spiders (note Web crawler) to find and index content on all sites.

But since our goal is to rank high in search engine rankings, how can we create unique and valuable content that is not aimed at attracting or “tricking” the now smarter search engine spiders? The answer is simple – you should never be in the business of creating content for search engines. Instead, create content for your human readers and the search engines will love you. Do your best to provide truly valuable content, because …

Search engines are quickly developing their “AI” and distinguishing between sites that are truly valuable from sites that create the illusion of value!

Don’t get us wrong. You shouldn’t create content just because search engines are getting smarter. Create valuable content to help your real visitors.

Speaking of writing for people first (and then for search engines), your content should be relevant to your target audience. This is one of the reasons why you need to define your target audience from the beginning. Again – create unique and valuable web content that is relevant to your target audience. Write in their language, use terminology they understand, and if you’ve done your keyword research well, you should have no problem adding those very keywords to your content body.

If your content is well-written and carries some value, your readers will share the same with family and friends, increasing mentions of your brand online, which, if you’re wondering, is another ranking signal.

When adding keywords to your content, you should do it naturally – don’t overuse it. That’s why it’s so important to have at least ten alternative keywords and phrases. If one keyword doesn’t fit in a particular phrase, do you have nine other alternatives?

We start with keyword research and identify several alternatives for the main keyword. But instead of writing content first and adding keywords later, we do it simultaneously. We fix our main keyword and a few alternatives in memory, and then we start writing. This way, our keywords will flow seamlessly into the body of the content without any damage. Just make sure your keywords appear naturally in your content.

How many times should you mention your keyword in your content for it to be search engine ready? 2.5% is the standard density of keywords and their alternatives, but you can bring it up to 4% at any time. This means that if your post is 2,000 words long, your main keyword and alternate phrases should appear fifty times.

In addition, add your keyword to your post and page titles, which will quickly let search engines (as well as visitors) know what the post is about. As an illustration, “WordPress SEO Optimization” is prominently featured in the title of this post, which states that this post is about WordPress and SEO. If your post/page has headings or subheadings, add keywords to them as well. It should look natural and you’ll be fine.

When creating engaging and shareable content, don’t forget to mix it up by adding different media such as videos, images, presentations, infographics, podcasts, etc. to the body. This increases user engagement dozens of times and adds value to your content, both of which are important for SEO optimization of your WordPress site.

Google love WordPress blogs (regularly updated) – so give it as much attention as possible. Try to update static web content, such as “About”, “Services”, but also don’t forget about product pages. Of course, some webmasters need to hear the whistle of cancer on the mountain in order to start updating the content of their static pages. In this case, the blog feature in WordPress allows you to regularly fill your site with fresh content. Use a blog!

Publishing new posts once or twice a week is enough to earn a decent search engine ranking in about two months. You can also publish new entries daily, but make sure you don’t compromise quality in the name of quantity, since the latter is not considered as important as the former in 2020.

When creating your entries, add SEO-friendly tags and categorize your entries accordingly. We have a great article about categories and tags and their importance to SEO optimization of a site on WordPress. If you use SEO plugins like Yoast SEO, you’ll get fields to add meta descriptions, SEO titles and keywords to your post or page. Use these features to optimize your post. When optimizing your content, the Yoast SEO plugin will also help you give an SEO score to your article long before you click publish.

Adding keywords to meta tags such as description and title does not mean that adding keywords to your content should be ignored.

3. Image, video, and other media data in the body of content as proper SEO optimization for a WordPress site

Before we move on to the next section, I’d like to mention a few things you’ll use in your content to boost SEO.

To begin with, adding images and videos to your content is one of the best optimization techniques. It’s sad, but not everyone realizes this, and after all, optimized images and videos will bring you a lot of traffic.

First, you should start by physically optimizing your images to load quickly. Don’t use heavy images, which will only slow down your site. If you need a 650×300 image for your post, upload it at 650×300, not a couple of pixels larger.

Second, make sure your images are directly relevant to your content. In addition to boosting your rankings, images should enhance your content, which is actually their original purpose.

Third, give your images appropriate file names. Is this image about seo optimizing a WordPress site? Well, call it that – don’t leave your images looking like IMAGE001_2020.jpg. Why? It’s a “such-and-such” solution for UX and SEO, since search engines don’t see images like readers do.

Speaking of what search engines “see” in your images, you should add an “ALT” tag to them to make them more understandable to spiders. The “ALT” text is alternative text. Text that is displayed if the image does not load for some reason. The “ALT” tag has another purpose. It is supposed to help screen readers “see” your images. Screen readers are used by people with visual impairments. Search engine spiders also use the information contained in the “ALT” tag to “see” your images.

Optimizing images in WordPress is not difficult. Just add the appropriate block if you’re using the standard block editor in WordPress. Once the image is selected, you’ll see areas to the right that allow you to add “Title Attribute”, “ALT Attribute – Alternative Text” and a description. Pay more attention to the “ALT” tag, but feel free to fill in the other meta data if you have time?

Alternate text is great for WordPress SEO purposes, provides full HTML code validation, and helps readers with disabilities perceive your content fully. So, make alternate text descriptive (relating to the image and post), but short.

4. Use only SEO-adapted WordPress themes and plugins

WordPress is very popular today because you can create a blog, a website, or an online store in the time it takes to have a mug of coffee. Thanks to WordPress themes and plugins, anyone can create a professional website in no time at all. But that’s only true if you choose the perfect theme and plugins. From a WordPress SEO perspective, the plugins and themes you choose must be “SEO friendly” from the beginning.

Obviously, you can start with any theme and with any set of plugins, but some of them give you the edge you need to take Google and Yandex by storm. What should you look for when choosing WordPress and plugins?

First, your choice should fall on a theme that uses clean and proper HTML. If your theme is disgustingly structured, you will not only have problems with your WordPress SEO, but also with your design. Look for themes that use canonical URLs as one of the meta tags. A canonical URL is just a fancy term for one of the meta tags that determines which page is the main page among its several variants on your site. If it’s a home page, the canonical URL meta tag will store your domain name. If it’s a blog post, the tag will store the URL of that post.

The theme should also support proper use of headers (h1, h2, h3h6) and title tags. You should also look out for WordPress themes that have an “Open Graph” meta tag, which is very good for sharing links to your post on social media.

How do you determine all these factors? You can read the description on the developer’s website, contact them directly, or check out the demo. What to look for? Right-click on the demo and select “View page code” (CTRL+U). You should focus on the top of the code – the area between the <head> and </head> tags to find the <meta> tag:

<meta name="description" content="Some description"/>

or

<meta property="og:description" content="Other description"/>

“OG:” in the second case is what “Open Graph” means.

It’s not fundamental if your theme doesn’t have these areas, yet. You can always add their tags later, using the WordPress SEO plugin or manually by editing the code, but if that’s not enough for you, here’s an article in which we described how to choose the right WordPress theme.

Search Engine Optimized URLs

SEO-oriented URLs, also known as “Beautiful Permalinks” or “Humanoid URL” in WordPress, are a key component of WordPress SEO practices as well as user interaction. For example, which URL is easier to remember:

  • https://site.com/article-123
  • https://site.com/?p=3424
  • https://site.com/uslugi

Which of the three URLs do you think will “excite” the search spiders? The third URL on the list is the absolute winner. It’s frustrating to see webmasters using URLs like http://www.site.com/?p=123 when WordPress has the ability to simplify the creation of SEO-oriented default URLs.

Just go to SettingsPermalinks and select “Post name” in the Common Settings block. Do this before adding content to the site to avoid broken links. If you had no idea, broken links are bad for the SEO promotion of a WordPress site.

Optimization for mobile devices as a factor when promoting a WordPress site

The scary and creepy hairy bug must have bitten someone at Google, because in case you haven’t noticed, they’ve already added special icons to the search results symbolizing about optimizing your site for mobile devices.

What does this mean? If your website is not suitable for mobile devices, it will rank lower than optimized sites. Your readers will also know that your site is not mobile-friendly long before they reach your homepage, which reduces the number of clicks in search results.

Google recommends the use of responsive web design (RWD), a web design method that allows developers to create Web sites following a mobile-first approach. Websites created using “RWD” methods will always look and function perfectly on all devices.

If “RWD” doesn’t work for your business model, which is unlikely, you can opt for a hybrid mobile solution. Just make sure that visitors from smartphones and tablets get to your “mobile site” and there are no content conflicts (or URLs) that will ultimately ruin the SEO performance of your WordPress site. There’s a whole section in this SEO guide for Google that explains how to do this.

Otherwise, just choose an adaptive WordPress theme and plugins from the beginning, check out your existing site here.

Signals from Social Media

The rise of social media has created a new and lucrative channel for WordPress SEO. Everyone understands that you can expect a lot of (potential) traffic from social media. It also provides an opportunity to build a community around your brand, products or services.

Search engines use brand or content mentions to determine the ranking of the entire site. The reason for this approach is simple: If a large number of people retweet, link-share, like, etc. your content, it is apparently valuable and has some value to them.

Use social media to build your own audience, and work hard to encourage conversation and interaction with users. The more mentions, the better.

Know and fight your competition

When you type a keyword into a search engine, the first ten sites that come up are your toughest competitors. To get that coveted first position, you have to beat them all.

Spend time researching your competitors.

Get answers to questions like:

  • Why is he on top of me in the rankings?
  • How is he different?
  • Do they implement any additional white-hat optimization techniques that I don’t know about?

Maybe they’re not as good as you imagine – maybe their content is outdated, for example. This could be your opportunity to rank higher. Study your competitors and beat them at their own game. A little competition is cool. Also, if the reward is improved rankings, more traffic, and ultimately better conversions, such a challenge is worth taking. Wouldn’t you agree?

Improve the page load speed performance of your WordPress site

If it takes a good “hundred years” for your site to load, you lose prospects left, right and center. In addition, you’re dividing your site’s WordPress SEO scores by zero!

Yes, WordPress site SEO optimization is not a simple matter! Slow pages lead to higher bounce rates, loss of traffic and customer trust, so please reduce your page load times.

If you want to do a quick check of your site to see how fast it is, you can use the Google Page Insights tool to check your site and see what recommendations Google has for you to increase your site speed.

Your site’s page structure depends on many micro-optimizations, which sometimes don’t make much sense in principle, or it won’t affect yours as much as just changing your hosting or pricing plan. The most important factor is the actual load time, so you should compare load times with your major competitors and make sure your site is faster!

HTTPS protocol as a signal for higher ranking

It was mentioned at the beginning of this article that search engines are doing everything they can to create a better, faster and safer web for everyone. By updating their search algorithms, they’re improving its capabilities. And now they need every webmaster to switch to encrypted HTTPS instead of regular HTTP to improve the security of the whole web.

Although HTTPS is not a major ranking signal, Google and Yandex are still running tests and may decide to strengthen them in the near future. Google even has an article about protecting your site with HTTPS. It talks about the importance of site security, best practices and how to set up HTTPS on your HTTP site in case you haven’t already.

Geo-dependency when promoting a WordPress site

Geo-dependent optimization is similar to regular (organic) SEO. The only difference is that you need to make additional changes to the regional SEO campaign. For example, don’t forget to add your city or region in the meta tags, headers, content, URL and alternative text to the images. Also, don’t forget to query the Google My Business page. It’s free, so don’t wait.

Add your site to the search engines

As mentioned, search engine spiders scan the web for content. They then index the content according to various ranking signals. Adding a site to the search engines manually, if not increases the chances of faster indexing, it certainly gives you full control of the situation.

The best part is that the process is quick and easy. To add your site to Google, you can use the Webmaster Tools page.

A sitemap as an integral part of WordPress site SEO optimization

A sitemap is literally a map of your site, showing all the pages, posts, headings, and more. You should create a site map for both visitors and search engines. Publish a sitemap on your site so readers can find your content in case they lose it. You can even link to your sitemap from a 404 error page. You can create your sitemap manually or use the Google XML Sitemaps plugin.

Although search engines can find the sitemap on your site on their own, you should submit it using Google Webmaster Tools discussed in the previous section to improve your chances. This is the right thing to do, especially if you have a new site.

Regardless of what the SEO folks say, link building is an important part of WordPress SEO practice. This is how Link Building works: You publish high-quality content, and “Site A” links back to you in a link exchange. If it’s a reputable website, search engines mark your site as “With a higher link portfolio” and the ranking goes up. Then, if you share a link to “Site B” on your pages, you also share part of your ranking. However, if “Site B” is completely outside your subject line (spam) or contains low quality content, you will only tarnish your ranking and possibly get penalized.

Only accept links from quality sites in your niche or from reputable sites. Only link to high quality websites (content) that add value to your site too.

The future of SEO is in the importance of link quality. The linked site must be socially active and have an active user base.

Learn to build your link mass naturally. If you buy links, Google will know and punish you. You should strive to create great content that earns links naturally. The wrong approach will get you in a lot of trouble.

Also, use natural anchor text in your links. Avoid anchors like “Click here” and use text that gives value to the link. Need an example? Just look at the link template used in this article. Finally, if you want to link to a website but don’t want to share “link juice” you can use the rel="nofollow" attribute in your links.

Read the article about <a href="https://zolin.digital/guides/how-to-create-online-store-in-wordpress/" rel="nofollow" title="How to create an online store in WordPress">creating an online store</a>, it's all there...

And lastly…

Keep in mind that WordPress SEO takes time. You need to devote quite a bit of time to see results. It’s too bad there’s no “do-it-and-forget-it” type SEO solution yet. In addition, you have to constantly optimize your SEO strategy for your WordPress site according to changes in the industry. Remember to follow established SEO rules to avoid penalties.

We hope we’ve given you enough food for thought, now it’s up to you. Did we miss something important? And what is your WordPress SEO practice and what do you use? Please share with us in the comments.

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