Search engine optimisation (SEO) for your blog or website can be tricky. Luckily, choosing WordPress is a good start to your search engine success. WordPress is a very customisable, flexible and search friendly platform out of the box. These are all big ticks. This list compiles a list of actionable, simple WordPress SEO tips you can implement for your blog or business site right now.
#1 Install SEO by Yoast for WordPress
Let’s start off with one of the easiest ways to set yourself up for SEO success.
SEO by Yoast is in my opinion, the best SEO tool available for WordPress.
It’s famous for it’s traffic light system, which as you create a blog post or page will constantly monitor your copy and content whilst displaying actionable tips to improve the search potential of that page. If you haven’t used enough images in your post, Yoast will tell you. Mentioned your focus keyword (the word or phrase you want to rank for) too many time? Yoast will tell you.
Yoast also contains tools to let you directly set details like meta titles and meta descriptions easily. It’s extremely important to get your on-page SEO up to scratch, so go ahead and install Yoast now if you haven’t already.
#2 Fix your Permalinks
The permalink is a phrase used to describe the URL of a blog post or page after your main domain. For instance, on this page:
/simple-wordpress-seo-tips/ is the permalink.
It’s important that this URL structure is set correctly from the beginning. WordPress by default configured your permalinks to be related to their post ID. So you’d have a URL like: /?p=123 if you haven’t changed this yet you should immediately.
A better option is to change this to use your post name. The setting can be changed by visiting the WordPress admin panel, and navigating to Settings > Permalinks > choose ‘Post Name’.
#3 Customise your Permalinks
Whilst your post name is immediately better than using a random number as your URL structure – it’s not the best structure if you want to maximise SEO potential.
Keyword dense short URLs perform better in Google search than long URLs.'Keyword dense short URLs perform better in Google search than long URLs.'Click To Tweet
So a better practise than just using your post name, is to customise your URL and keep it short. On WordPress, you can change your URL by clicking the edit button next to the permalink and underneath the post title.
Notice the URL on this post. I’m intending to rank in Google for “simple wordpress seo tips”, so that’s what I’ve used for my URL. There’s no need for extra words or phrases, keep it simple and descriptive.
#4 Consider using the Genesis WordPress Framework
I’ve previously written about why the Genesis framework for WordPress is awesome.
If you haven’t chosen a WordPress theme yet, fantastic. You can get off to a great start by looking into the Genesis framework, and then choosing one of their great child themes. If you’re already set with a WordPress theme, consider Genesis the next time you change.
The core reasons to choose Genesis are that it’s super quick, so Google won’t penalise for site speed. Pitch perfect mobile compatibility, along with super clean code.
#5 Make your posts shareable with ClickToTweet
Scroll up to #3 in this post – see that click to tweet button? Consider using a click to tweet plugin on your blog. They’re very easy to set up, and as soon as your posts become shared on social Google can see and will recognise that.
A shared post is a popular post, so from Google’s perspective it is likely to contain great content. Therefore implementing a quick tool like a click to tweet is a step in the right direction.
#6 Submit an XML Sitemap to Google
In simple terms, an XML sitemap is something that tells Google when new pages or posts are present on your site and where they are located.
You can create an XML sitemap through Yoast, quickly and easily. Once you’ve done so, you’re sitemap URL will be:
Now you’ll need to submit this using Google Webmaster Tools. If you haven’t signed up yet, sign up using your Google account and verify your site ownership. On the left panel navigate to crawl > sitemaps and click on the add/test sitemap in the top right. Paste the link to your XML sitemap in this field and hit verify!
#7 Write for users, not for search
Google is constantly getting smarter.
Almost all improvements that Google have made in the past couple of years put usability at the heart of their ranking algorithms. If you focus on building your blog posts and pages with good readability and flow, they’re much more likely to succeed in search.
This goes for your website design too. Minimise the use of pop ups, make sure your site speed is up to scratch and for goodness sake make sure your website work with full mobile compatibility.
Bad user experience can be a killer for search optimisation. Be sure you’re not falling victim to any of these user experience fails.
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#8 Conduct Keyword Research
If you’re a new blog or site, which if you’re reading a simple wordpress seo tips guide, I’m assuming you are, you’re probably new to keyword analysis.
Keywords research is too large a topic to cover off in one listicle item like this – but I’ll describe it as a top level overview. For new websites, Google has almost nothing to base your website’s authority from. This means there’s no chance you’re ever going to rank for huge search terms like ‘photoshop tips’ or ‘web design’.
This means you have to go after what’s known as ‘Long Tail Search Terms’.
Take a look at the graph below.
Imagine the dinosaur’s head is a search term like ‘photoshop tips’ whilst the end of his tail represents a term like ‘easy beginner photoshop tips 2016’.
The aim is to rank higher and higher, further and further towards the left of this graph, until your site dominates the long tail search terms and pushes you more towards the generic search terms that deliver higher traffic.
Tools like Google Keyword Planner will give you an idea of search volumes for your keyword ideas. This fantastic guide by Backlinko will tell you everything you need to know about Keyword Planner.
#9 Include this focus keyword regularly throughout your blog post…
Once you’ve nailed down that all important focus keyword, be sure to include it regularly throughout the body of your post.
I know this seems like a simple tip – but it’s crucial for Google to see the topic for the article featuring regularly throughout.
Nothing worse than a keyword stuffer.
#10 … But be careful not to keyword stuff
Take the above with a pinch of salt. Just because you need to repeat your focus keyword throughout your post, doesn’t mean you should be writing and including these keywords every few sentences. It’s going to make your content clunky, and won’t make for pleasurable reading. Try to work your keywords into your content in a natural way, don’t mention them for the sake of it.
After all, we talked earlier about how if you write for users, eventually search will follow.
#11 Interlink your own posts and pages
Probably the most actionable seo tip on this page, interlinking your own pages and posts is an optimisation goldmine.
When Google can see that you are linking to other areas on your site, outside of the navigation and sidebar, it tells them that there’s relevant content throughout your site. It’s also excellent for users and will contribute to lowering your bounce rate.
You can very quickly go through your older posts (which probably have better rankings!) and link through to newer posts.
#12 Use your keyword early in your post title
Google puts more weight on words earlier in your meta title, than the words at end.
This is an extremely simple opportunity to jiggle your meta title to behave better on search than it might have otherwise. For example, whilst my post title for this article is ’21 Simple WordPress SEO Tips You Can Use Right Now’ I’ve edited the meta title using Yoast, so that my focus keyword appears at the beginning of my title.
#13 Add a related posts plugin
A low bounce rate and higher dwell time on your site should be a main objective when it comes to your site.
One of the easiest, most effective ways to reduce bounce rate on a WordPress site is to use a related posts plugin. These add 3-4 related posts, often these are posts within the same category, below the post. This way when a user finishes one of your articles they can immediately click onto another.
A great example of related post goodness can be found from Kaitlyn at TheCrownFox.
Bounce rate and dwell time are two signals that tell Google that your content is banging. Make sure you’re doing everything to keep users on your site.
#14 Use multiple images per post
Bonus for these being unique / created by you.
The internet is becoming more and more visual. This is even true in search. Whilst Google can’t actually detect what an image is showing – they use your alt tags for this – pages with lots of imagery consistently rank better than those without.
Use images within copy to regularly break up the monotonous flow of text.
#15 Make those image alt tags work
Google uses your ‘alt’ tags for your images to understand what the content of your image displays. Consistently accurate alt tags will improve your ranking over time because Google will still give you credit for those images instead of ignoring them.
If you can, include relevant keywords inside your alt tags.
The easiest way to think of the alt tag is that is should feature like a figure caption. For example, here’s the alt tag for related post image used above.
#16 Bump up that word count!
Adding more useful content per post is extremely beneficial towards a good search ranking.
Posts around the 2000 word mark are the sweet spot. Obviously you’re not going to be able to accomplish this with every post – but try not to publish many articles that exist below the 1000 word count.
Be careful! Notice how I’ve mentioned that you must be still including useful content. It’s no good adding words for words sake, make every sentence count.
#17 Make your pages easy to share with Social Warfare
Did you catch those snazzy sharing buttons at the top of this blog post?
Those are created using Social Warfare.
Social Warfare is a WordPress plugin that makes it super easy for your content to be shared. And as we know, shared content is popular content, and popular content is much more likely to rank in search.
#18 Encourage shares using Infographics
Whilst we’re on the theme of social sharing, nothing is shared more on social than Infographics.
If you’re able to, creating a partner infographic for a post is a fantastic way to encourage more social shares.
#19 Consistently use H1, H2, H3 etc.
Heading tags tell search engines what is the most important content on your post or page.
For a WordPress website, the H1 tag is automatically assigned to the post title that you entered. This means you’ll definitely want to include your focus keyword inside the title.
Make sure you’re consistently using a strategy for heading tags. For example, all of the headers inside this post are H2, which tells search engines that they are all of high importance, but not as important as my title tag.
#20 Use a CDN to speed up your WordPress site
When we’re talking about SEO, page speed matters.
If you’re confident you’ve taken a lot of steps to reduce your page load times, it might be time to look into using a CDN to serve your WordPress site. A CDN essentially distributes your site across the world, meaning that when users load it, it can be delivered from a server much closer to them thus reducing load time.
MaxCDN is a great choice for WordPress if you want to look further into configuring this.
#21 Leave a trail of breadcrumbs
Seen the term breadcrumbs before and wondered what the heck it means in regard to a WordPress blog?
Well, when someone mentions breadcrumbs they’re not referring to the things left by your morning toast. They are, however, referring to a trail of them! Breadcrumbs is the common term used for a collection of links often found at the top of the page, that tell you where you are on the site.
Here are the breadcrumbs for the page you’re on at the moment.
This tells not only your users, but also search engines that there is a structure to your pages.
Genesis handles breadcrumbs like a dream, so if you’re using Genesis you’re golden. Otherwise if your WordPress theme doesn’t handle breadcrumbs by default you may need to use a plugin like like Breadcrumbs NavXT.