10 Simple WordPress SEO Tips

10 simple wordpress tips discussed by two ladies

When you’re designing and building your WordPress website, it’s easy to focus on the look and feel of it first. But a website is pretty useless if it doesn’t get seen. In order to increase its visibility, you need to pay attention to search engine optimisation (SEO). Help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) by following SEO best practices for WordPress sites.

Many people choose WordPress as it’s known for being SEO friendly, but it only does the basics. There are more SEO tips for you to action in order to optimise your website properly. In this step-by-step guide, we’ll take you through our top 10 WordPress SEO tips to boost your site’s ranking.

How can I make my WordPress site rank higher on Google?

Every website owner wants to see their site rank highly on Google. It takes time, effort and a good SEO strategy.

Whether you’re building a new WordPress site from scratch, or updating one that isn’t ranking well on search engines, these steps will improve your site’s search engine optimisation. Improve your site’s SEO and you’ll increase organic traffic to your website which is so beneficial for your business. Follow this 10 step WordPress SEO guide to boost your search engine visibility.

1. Choose a reliable hosting provider

Your choice of hosting provider is really important. It can seriously affect your website’s performance, its security and site speed in particular. You need to ensure you’re using a reputable hosting platform that is super secure, reliable and offers a quality service.

A few points to look out for:

  • Ensure they support the latest WordPress hosting requirements and are compatible with it.
  • Check they have decent uptime. Downtime can’t be avoided altogether, but you want it minimised.
  • They must offer a free SSL certificate to enable secure HTTPS website encryption.
  • Make sure the hosting platform server is local rather than based overseas. A CDN can help with this.
  • You want decent customer support on offer. If there’s an issue, you need to know that they’ll help you to resolve it.

Our recommendation is WPEngine, the most trusted WordPress platform with an ‘excellent’ Trustpilot rating.

2. Use a custom theme

It can be worth investing a bit more money to have a web developer create a website with a custom theme. Pre-made WordPress themes, and drag and drop plug-ins (such as Elementor), can really slow down a site. You can end up using up a lot of time tweaking things on an ongoing basis to try to improve website performance and getting it the way you want it to look. Look for a WordPress theme that performs well and has good website rankings and recommendations.

3. Keep plugins to a minimum

Each WordPress plugin you include on your website will add extra code. That extra code slows down the site and increases its load time. Multiple plugins can become unruly to manage and can adversely affect functionality. A developer will keep your WordPress site efficient and streamlined, ensuring you use a minimum amount of plugins.

4. Use the best SEO plugins

We’re not totally against plugins though. Some are really helpful, particularly the SEO tools. The best WordPress SEO plugins will help you to configure settings and optimise your website. We recommend the Yoast SEO plugin or RankMath. All in One SEO is also a valuable SEO plugin.

5. Use categories, but don’t use tags

Quite simply, stay away from using tags. Just don’t use tags ever. Categories are fine, if they’re well planned out.

Create an organised hierarchy of blog posts. Each category should contain at least 5 to 10 posts. By grouping posts together within a topic, you encourage users to discover more content and help them to navigate between pages. A category becomes a content hub with internal linking between pages on a related topic. This is particularly handy for large or ecommerce sites.

A well-organised site has clear navigation from your homepage to your posts and pages. Adding categories and subcategories orders this all the more. Breadcrumbs add another layer of navigation, and provide additional opportunities to incorporate SEO keywords.

6. Make your website indexable

This simple, yet vital step makes a huge impact. If your site isn’t indexable, search engines will ignore it and won’t include it on their search engine results pages. You certainly don’t want that (unless your site is still in development and shouldn’t be for public display).

To check your WordPress site’s visibility settings, go to Settings > Reading. You’ll see a Search Engine Visibility option. Next to that is a check box that reads, “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” Make sure this box is not checked so that Google (or Bing) can index your site.

7. Enable SEO-friendly urls

Using target keywords in your url structure is a great SEO tactic. However, WordPress generates a default url structure that’s pretty meaningless. Adding a descriptive permalink can help search engines and your users to understand your pages better.

Default url structure – https://mgx.digital/blog/?p=7277

Descriptive permalink – https://mgx.digital/seo-strategy-for-new-website

To improve the permalink format, head to the WordPress dashboard and pick the “Post name” structure in Settings. That will use the title of the post in the url. If you want to customise it further (to make it easier to read, for example), go to Settings > Permalinks and select “Post name.”

Just remember that if you’re changing the permalink structure on a live website, you may cause broken links. You’ll need to create redirects from the old url to the new one.

8. Submit your XML sitemap

An XML sitemap provides a structured data map of all of your web pages. It’s different to an HTML sitemap that you include to help users navigate your website. It’s in a format that search engine crawlers can read easily. It helps search engines to index pages effectively.

Submit the XML sitemap file to Google Search Console and Microsoft Bing Webmaster Tools. WordPress generates an xml sitemap automatically. Yoast creates a slightly more sophisticated version. The data in this file provides search engines with useful information, such as how recently the content was created or updated.

9. Don’t index unimportant pages

There’ll be webpages on your site that you don’t want or need people to find. It may be a ‘thank you’ page after people have submitted data, an archive index page that isn’t useful for users or a form of duplicate content (such as a www and non-www version of a page). If the page’s content doesn’t offer value to your user, and if it’s not high quality content, restrict the page’s visibility.

You can prevent Google from indexing these pages by setting them to ‘noindex’. This is particularly easy if you use Yoast SEO. Simply click on ‘search appearance’ and you’ll see ‘noindex’ settings under each of the tabs (such as ‘taxonomies’ and ‘content types’.)

10. Don’t forget image optimisation

If you’re website has a slow load time, it creates a really poor user experience. Many people will simply click away from your website if it doesn’t load quickly. Large image files will increase site speed as they take several seconds to load. This will negatively impact your SEO ranking as well. Page load times are a Google ranking factor, so it pays to optimise them,

Whilst you want images to look great on your website, you have to prioritise the user experience and site speed. A few key things to look at:

Compress image sizes to below 100kb and resize it down from it’s original size (1,400px wide should be plenty)

Use web-friendly file types like webp, jpg or png rather than gif

Add alt text to describe the image. Incorporate keywords to boost SEO. It’s also helpful for accessibility and screenreaders

Use lazy loading to decrease load times.

Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that provides page speed and performance metrics. Check it regularly and it’ll help you to identify areas to improve. Consider a caching plugin to help improve site speed too.

You’ll find more information in this helpful WordPress video tutorial

Remember SEO best practices

These tips are specific to WordPress sites. Implementing them will improve your chances of ranking well on search engines. But there are many other SEO best practices that apply to all websites which need to be applied as well. Key elements include:

On-page SEO – incorporate descriptive, relevant keywords into meta descriptions, title tags, headers and image alt text. Remember, descriptions feature on Google snippets so need to be appealing to users rather than simply keyword dense for bots.

Keyword research – a fundamental part of your content and SEO strategy. This will inform the topics to write about and words to include in your content. Keyword research tools like SEMrush are really efficient at this.

Linking – internal and external linking is impactful. Use keyword rich anchor text and internal links to encourage navigation with your website. Developing backlinks from social media and other websites can boost your SEO.

Technical SEO – we’ve already talked about crawlability, page load times and indexing. But it’s important not to overlook aspects like using specific schema markup and structured data to enable bots to understand your content.

Find out more in our SEO strategy advice for new websites blog, explaining everything from keyword research to technical SEO. It’s a step-by-step guide which is particularly helpful for beginners, but really valuable to everyone who wants to improve their search engine rankings.

Find SEO help with your WordPress site

These steps will certainly help to improve your WordPress site with SEO rankings. However, it’s not comprehensive. There are other technical and content SEO efforts that can be implemented too. Take a look at our blog for more insights and advice.

If you’d like professional SEO expertise, we’re here to help. Whether you want to focus on international, national or local SEO, we can help your business reach your ideal audience. We can answer your SEO FAQs. Get in touch to find out more.