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The Complete Guide to WordPress SEO

Disclosure: This content is reader-supported, which means if you click on some of our links that we may earn a commission.

Ready to drive more traffic to your WordPress site? This guide will show you some immediate actions that you can use to improve WordPress SEO today. We’ll also cover the importance of WordPress SEO and dive into some long-term SEO strategies for WordPress. 

Why WordPress SEO Is So Important

Prioritizing SEO is the best way to generate website traffic for your WOrdPress site without paying for ads. 

Aside from being expensive, ads typically only generate short-term results. As soon as you stop running the ads, your traffic decreases. But with a good WordPress SEO strategy, your traffic will continue to grow exponentially over time with little to no monetary investment required. 

Think about the way people behave online—it’s rare for them to navigate directly to a website unless they know exactly what they’re looking for.

93% of all internet experiences start with a general search using a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo. Furthermore, page one of SERPs (search engine page results) generates 75% of all clicks. So there’s only a slim chance you’ll get organic traffic if your site isn’t one of the top results for a given search.

Without that traffic, you can’t generate leads or conversions—and your business and revenue will suffer.

An effective WordPress SEO strategy helps your website dominate a particular industry, niche, or category in the search results. It’s a cost-effective way to drive lots of traffic to your site, and the return on investment (ROI) is exceptional.

Even if your conversion rates remain the same, imagine how much more money you could make if you doubled, tripled, or quadrupled your site traffic. What would happen if you 10x your site traffic? All of this is possible by implementing a great WordPress SEO strategy.

Many websites across a wide range of industries have had success with WordPress SEO.

A WordStream case study tells the tale of one site that increased its traffic by 600% by focusing on content strategy, backlinks, and keyword research. The site went from 20,000 visitors per month to over 100,000 visitors per month in just two years.

Anil Agarwal from BloggersPassion used WordPress SEO strategies to get a new blog post ranking on page one of Google in just 52 days. 

These are just a couple of the countless case studies and examples of people using SEO to drive organic traffic to their WordPress websites. You can replicate their success by following the tips and best practices below.

Quick Tips to Improve WordPress SEO Today

While SEO is generally a long-term game, there are some quicker actions you can take to boost your rankings today. These tips are easy to implement, even if you’re a complete beginner.

Tip #1 — Install a WordPress SEO Plugin

The easiest way to get started with WordPress SEO is by installing a plugin. Yoast SEO is by far the best option in this category. 

With more than 300 million downloads worldwide, it’s one of the most popular WordPress plugins in existence.

There are two versions of the plugin—free and premium. The premium version costs $89 per year and is well worth the minimal investment. 

Yoast comes with built-in keyword optimization tools, SEO analysis, readability analysis, and other exceptional features to make your life easier with minimal effort. All of this is displayed directly from your WordPress admin dashboard, so there’s no need to use third-party tools or platforms in other tabs. 

For those of you who aren’t super technical, Yoast SEO automatically handles the technical components of your SEO strategy like meta tags, canonical URLs, and advanced XML sitemaps. 

Installing Yoast SEO will have an immediate impact on your site’s organic search performance. That’s because Yoast automatically adds schema data for faster indexing and rich results. This essentially tells Google and other search engines exactly what each page is.

Your website will also experience faster load times due to the way Yoast manages your data in WordPress. Faster load times translate to better site performance and improved SEO rankings.

Tip #2 — Page Titles and Meta Descriptions

Page titles and meta descriptions have a significant impact on how your WordPress site ranks on search engine results. In addition to ranking positions, these components tell visitors what your pages are each about.

If your page title and meta descriptions look more appealing than other sites in the SERPs, you’ll generate more traffic. This traffic increase tells Google that visitors like your content, which boosts your rankings even higher.

With Yoast SEO, you can write high-quality page titles and meta descriptions in a matter of minutes. You’ll even be able to preview how your pages will appear in Google’s SERPs.

You can compare the way your pages look on mobile vs. desktop results as well. To make any changes, just click the Edit snippet option directly in WordPress. Yoast will let you know whether your titles and meta descriptions are too long or too short as you’re writing.

Without a tool like Yoast and previewing it, your titles and meta descriptions might get cut short when they appear on Google. This makes your pages less appealing to prospective visitors, as they won’t have a firm grasp of what your page or site really is.

Yoast SEO also helps you work the right keywords into your page titles and meta descriptions, so crafting the text is a breeze. 

Tip #3 — Install an SSL Certificate

SSL stands for “secure sockets layer.” Simply put, this is a digital certificate that encrypts information sent from the site server to the end-user. It prevents criminals and hackers from modifying the site in an attempt to steal personal information or sensitive data. 

Google penalizes websites that aren’t secure. So a fast way to immediately improve your WordPress SEO strategy is by installing an SSL certificate.

The best way to install an SSL certificate is by obtaining one directly from your web host. All of the top WordPress web hosting services offer a free SSL when you sign up. However, there might be an extra step required to install the certificate on your site.

Either way, this process shouldn’t take more than a click or two. You’ll be able to fully install the certificate on your site within an hour or two at most. 

For a step-by-step tutorial, check out our guide on adding SSL and HTTPS in WordPress

Tip #4 — Internal Linking

Internal linking is exactly what it sounds like. These are links that go from one page of your site to another internal page. 

In terms of SEO, internal links help establish a hierarchy for your site navigation. They also spread link equity and keep visitors on your site for longer, ultimately boosting your SEO rankings.

Yoast SEO automatically gives you internal link suggestions as you’re writing content. Plus, you can add proper hierarchical links using Yoast’s internal linking block tool. 

While the results of internal linking may not have an immediate impact on your site, it’s still a fast and easy way to improve WordPress SEO with minimal effort. 

Long-Term Strategies For WordPress SEO

Most WordPress SEO strategies take time to develop and see the results. Actions you take one day might not impact your overall site performance for several months, but the following strategies are the best approach to long-term WordPress SEO success.

Strategy #1 — Blogging

Blogging is arguably the single best way to increase organic traffic and SEO rankings for any website. Blogs allow you to target a wide range of keywords, and new content tells search engines that you’re constantly updating your site.

Unlike other types of website content, blogging helps you naturally discuss relevant topics that people already search for. You’ll be able to use titles, headers, internal links, images, videos, and other components in your blog posts to drive traffic to your site. 

The biggest hurdle with blogging for WordPress SEO is time. First, it’s going to take you a while to write your blog posts and publish a good number of them. 

Longer posts are better. You should be aiming to publish posts in the 2,000 to 4,000+ word range. Depending on your writing skills, a 2,000-word blog post could take you anywhere from two to five hours to complete. 

Publishing frequency is another factor for success here. The more you post, the more significant the impact will be. 

But even if you’re publishing ten blogs per week, you likely won’t see the results for at least a few months. So don’t get discouraged if you’re not ranking on page one immediately—blogging for WordPress SEO takes time. 

One note on blogging: Make sure it is relevant to your audience. If you are running an ecommerce business but your blog posts are random recipes and lifestyle content, it will not help traffic over time. You want relevant, useful content that is directly aimed at your target audience. 

Strategy #2 — Link Building

Link building is the process of having other websites link out to your site. When this happens, Google and other search algorithms recognize your content as an authority page—boosting its ranking in the SERPs.

For example, let’s say you’re running a sports blog. You publish an excellent blog post on “How to Play Football” that covers simple and advanced topics for the sport, including the rules at each level.

If high-authority websites like ESPN.com, NFL.com, or CBS Sports link out to this page, it tells search engines that you’re doing something right. If Joe the sports fan, a small-time blogger getting 100 site visits per month links to your page, the link won’t have the same impact.

So how can you build links to your site? There are several approaches to consider.

Guest blogging is one of the best options. Websites are always looking to publish new blogs, and you’ll usually be rewarded with a link back to your own site as a guest contributor. So take some time to research websites in your niche that publish guest posts, and reach out to them for opportunities and to pitch your ideas. Guest blogging is typically unpaid but can provide you and your site with additional exposure.

Making an effort to always publish high-quality content will also improve your link-building strategy.

Let’s say you create an infographic or in-depth case study on a hot topic of interest within a particular industry. Other websites may use your study as a reference and include a link to give you credit for the statistic.

Most link-building strategies involve some hard work and outreach. But this strategy can pay off dividends in the long-term as you start to get links from high authority websites. 

Strategy #3 — Keyword Research

Keyword research is a two-part process. First, you need to identify the keywords you want to target. Then you need to implement those keywords into your content strategy.

This process takes some time and involves a little bit of trial and error.

You can use online tools like Ahrefs to get started. These tools will help you identify keywords with high search volumes and tell you how easy or difficult it is to target a keyword.

Long-tail keywords are always better. For example, it’s easier to target a keyword like “high-top waterproof hiking boots” as opposed to just “boots.”

When you’re conducting keyword research, look for the low-hanging fruit. These are keywords with a decent search volume but a low amount of competition. It will be much easier for you to climb the search rankings with this type of keyword strategy for your WordPress site.   

Strategy #4 — Keep Pace With Google Algorithm Updates and Changes

WordPress SEO is constantly evolving. Strategies that worked five or ten years ago don’t necessarily work today. WordPress SEO best practices for today may not work next year or the following year.

That’s because search engines are constantly changing the way websites get ranked. Certain factors are added or removed from algorithms, while other elements might hold a greater weight than they did in the past.

For example, in November of 2020, Google announced that it would be rolling out a new algorithm update starting in mid-June 2021. 

Known as the “Google Page Experience Update,” this algorithm change will focus on new factors related to user interactions with web pages. Google’s goal is to ensure that users are getting the most enjoyable experience when browsing the web.

The update includes factors like Google’s core web vitals—loading time, interactivity, and visual stability.

While this shouldn’t change your approach to blogging, link building, keyword research, and other WordPress SEO tactics, it forces websites to prioritize page performance and user experience. These types of factors weren’t always used in ranking algorithms.

This is just one example of a recent algorithm update—there were many in the past, and there will be many more in the future. 

To truly have a long-term WordPress SEO strategy, you must keep up to date with the latest news surrounding algorithm updates. You’ll need to adjust your strategy accordingly to ensure you’re not using outdated SEO tactics.  

Next Steps

Once you’ve implemented a WordPress SEO strategy, it’s time to start looking at your site from the perspective of your visitors. All that new traffic is useless if you can’t do anything with it.

Focus on website design. Many website design elements have a significant impact on SEO and the user experience on your WordPress site.

Next, prioritize landing page optimization. This helps ensure that your organic search traffic will turn into leads and conversions. 

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