WordPress SEO Tips & Tricks
Today, I will be discussing WordPress SEO tips and techniques and how to help your website run faster. If you follow these tips and techniques, your WordPress website will perform better and run more efficiently. So, here are seven quick tips for optimizing your WordPress website.
Choose the Right Hosting Plan
One of the first steps in optimizing your website is to choose the right hosting plan. The server response time measures the time it takes to load the necessary HTML from your site to begin rendering the page from your server. A server must be able to process HTTP requests quickly. The Google Page Speed tool is a useful tool for identifying server issues.
Hosting companies are not always the issue. Your hosting provider could be great, but you see poor response times because your chosen hosting plan is underpowered and not meeting the demand of your website. For instance, if you are using a shared hosting plan, you are more likely to face slow loading times as many websites are hosted on the same server.
Additionally, any hosting plan will not perform well from insufficient RAM and CPU throttling. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to what your website needs to run smoothly. Choose a hosting plan that can handle traffic spikes efficiently.
Choose a Fast WordPress Theme
A web design that has been coded poorly, or uses many images throughout the design, will add unnecessary weight to your page and increase the website's load time. Conduct some research into WordPress themes before making a final decision on which theme you want for your website.
A few things to take into consideration would be the number of files in the theme itself and how big those files are of course. The bigger that number gets, the slower the theme will be. Another thing to consider would be website requests. For instance, like JS files being pulled via URLs and the more requests, the slower the site will be.
Permalinks are the URLs of your pages and posts. They are what people enter into their browser address bar to view one of your pages. They are also what search engines and other websites use to link to your website. As a result, they are crucial.
By default, WordPress automatically enables the default option after you install WordPress, but this structure is not user-friendly. For example, post titles tend to look like powerdigitalmarketing.com/?p=35, but if you look at the URL for this post, you will see http://powerdigitalmarketing.com/wordpress-seo-tips/. I will let you decide which URL structure looks better.
Not only does this new format tell someone what your page is about before clicking on it, but the words in the URL will be highlighted in search engine results if your post is relevant to the search query. Google also makes it clear that a structured URL with keywords will make it easier for them to crawl your web pages.
To change your permalinks, go to the backend of your WordPress Website and go to Settings > Permalinks.
To have clearly structured URL’s on your WordPress website select the Post Name option.
However, if you have URL’s currently on the site and you change the permalinks structure to Post Name from another setting, you must transfer the old URL to the new URL to avoid getting 404 errors and damaging any current rankings you have to that particular page.
Yoast SEO Plugin
This Yoast SEO plugin is the most robust WordPress SEO plugin out there. However, it must be setup and used properly if you want to get the best results from it.
You can break Yoast down into three steps: configuring the Yoast SEO settings, researching focus keywords, and creating optimized pages with the lights. Your aim is to get all the lights to green. I will also show you how to fix crawl errors (404 pages not found) and optimize your website.
If you don’t have Yoast, go to plugins > add new > search Yoast SEO > install/activate. If you currently have Yoast installed, make sure you have it updated to the latest version as the plugin is constantly updating. Once you have activated the plugin click SEO > XML Sitemaps and click Enabled > Save Changes.
How to Add Your XML Sitemap to Google
- Go to SEO > XML Sitemaps on the backend of your WordPress website
- Click the XML Sitemap button
- Copy the last part of the URL of the sitemap
- Login to Google Search Console
- On the left, go to Crawl > Sitemaps
- Paste the last part of the URL (screenshot below)
- Test and submit
How to Fix Crawl Errors with 301 Redirects
Go to Search Console to view your crawl errors. Go to Crawl > Crawl Errors. Here you will see the errors (404 page not found, server errors, and soft 404s). The 404 errors should all get fixed by setting up 301 redirects which come with Yoast SEO Premium, but I recommend trying the free Redirection Plugin if you don’t have a Premium account with Yoast.
Setting up Redirects
To setup, a 301 redirect using the Redirection Plugin, install the plugin and go to Tools > Redirection (left tab in WordPress). Enter the 404 URL error, then enter the correct URL (the most relevant page or post on your website):
Our Technical SEO guide will provide you with more information on technological aspects for SEO.
Basic Rules of Yoast
Step one to optimizing your content is to research primary and secondary keywords. Then you can start creating content or optimizing existing content for those particular keywords.
Once you have conducted keyword research, you can then start optimizing your web page. To start optimizing a page go to Pages and select a page on your website to optimize. The green light in Yoast is an indication that your page has been optimized for a primary keyword (one focus keyword). But, if you are keyword stuffing (adding the same keyword throughout the content many times) to make Yoast happy and get that green light, stop it immediately.
Keyword density looks at the number of times the keyword is included in the content. Include your keyword in the first couple sentences and sprinkle it a few times in the content. Use synonyms instead of using the same keyword over and over. These can be your secondary keywords that you want to rank for. A good tip is to have one primary keyword for approximately every 300 words.
Yoast only detects exact match keywords, so if you are using synonyms, your Yoast lights will be red (which is fine). For example, if your primary keyword is SEO Consultant and you use SEO Consulting in the content, Yoast will not pick it up.
You don’t always have to use an exact match keyword. There is a fine line between writing a headline that sounds good, and writing a headline so it includes your exact keyword. Finding the right balance is important. Building a headline that visitors will click on is an essential part of content optimization.
The title tag has long been thought of as the most important on-site factor in telling search engines what your page is about. Include your primary keyword here. Aim to have the primary keyword in the very beginning of the title.
Use short permalinks and try to include the primary keyword.
Use a few internal links on your page. Internal links are useful because they keep people on your site and they also help with the site's architecture.
This is the short description below your SEO title that appears in SERPs (Search results). The primary purpose of meta descriptions is to inform visitors what your page is about. They should also entice visitors to click on your page. It is important to spend some time writing these. Your meta description should also include your focus keyword and a call to action.
Optimize Your Images for the Web
Images are ideal for breaking up long pieces of content and can help your posts be shared more often on social media. With that being said, they also take up a lot of storage. As a result, pages that contain many images can take more time to load.
It is, therefore, important to optimize your images before you upload them to your website. Most photo editing applications, such as Photoshop, allow you to do this via the “Save for Web” option. Images should be ideally less than 100kb.
A useful plugin to optimize images that are already on your website is WP Smush. Once you install this plugin, it will become visible in the Media section of the backend of your site (see image below).
To add alt text to your images, go to Media, click on your images and in the section labeled Alternative Text, add your primary keywords here.
Use a Cache Plugin
Caching plugins allow you to publish static HTML files rather than dynamic files. This significantly reduces the time a page takes to load as there are no PHP or MySQL commands to execute.
Caching your pages is one of the most effective ways of improving your page loading times, with many plugins promising an improvement of at least ten times. Popular caching plugins include W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, and WP Fastest Cache. All plugins are available for free. For more information on the W3 Total Cache click here.
Monitor Your Plugins
Before you install any plugin on your website, ask yourself “do I need this plugin?”.
Plugins are one of the main reasons for WordPress websites being slow. The more plugins you install on your site without conducting research, the more likely you will face performance issues. With that being said, the number of plugins you have installed is not the reason a WordPress website can slow down. Certain plugins are known for causing websites to be slow. It is important to read the reviews for each plugin. Choose plugins that have greater than three and a half stars.
A plugin called P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler) will show you exactly how much load time your plugins take. A breakdown is given which displays exactly how much load each plugin adds. It is a great way of seeing which plugins are slowing down your site.
If you follow these techniques and best practices, your website will perform better and load quicker.
Plugins to download:
- P3 (Plugin Performance Profiler)
- WP Smush
- W3 Total Cache
- Yoast SEO
Use primary and secondary keywords in your content, but have your primary keywords in the URL, title tag, meta description and alt text also. For more information on SEO, check out our blog post on the basics of SEO.