WordPress search engine optimisation: The Ultimate Guide


Imagine you own a delicious bookstore cafe in Boston. If someone searches “bookstore cafe near [insert a neighborhood in Boston]” on Google, you wish your WordPress website to pop up at the highest of the search results, right? You’ll be able to ensure your organization does so by implementing essentially the most effective WordPress search engine optimisation strategies. 

Having your website appear at the highest of a search engine results page (SERP) is something you’ll be able to achieve in the event you spend a while optimizing your site. By investing in WordPress search engine optimisation and implementing tried-and-true techniques, you’ll be able to stand out from the competition and garner more traffic. 

What’s search engine optimisation?

search engine optimisation, or search engine marketing, is the strategy of increasing your website’s free, organic traffic by improving your rating and visibility on serps resembling Google. While you optimize your content, the likelihood it is going to appear near the highest of the SERP for the keyword you are targeting increases.

Now that you just understand what search engine optimisation is, let’s dive into why it’s crucial for your small business.

Why is investing in WordPress search engine optimisation so essential? 

One essential note to kick things off: The importance of search engine marketing is not specific to WordPress web sites. No matter where — or how — you create your site, investing in search engine optimisation will prove worthwhile. Your WordPress website is not any exception. 

Optimizing your WordPress website and content makes you more prone to reach the people actively looking for details about services and products related to yours. Because this happens organically, you are not paying Google or one other search engine to position your content at the highest of the outcomes page.

Creating organic content that ranks on Google can be helpful because your website and knowledge usually tend to seem reliable and trustworthy for visitors (versus a paid commercial at the highest of the SERP). Anyone who owns a business website should improve their search engine optimisation because it is a straightforward and effective strategy to increase traffic and notability, variety of leads, conversions, and more.

A Guide to WordPress search engine optimisation: 13 WordPress search engine optimisation Best Practices 

Able to dig right into a dozen WordPress search engine optimisation best practices you’ll be able to enact to enhance your website, boost organic traffic, and increase your brand’s authority on serps? Here’s what that you must know to start. 

1. Check Your WordPress Visibility Settings

Rule #1 of determining how you can add search engine optimisation to WordPress: Check all of your boxes. By ensuring your visibility settings in WordPress are arrange accordingly, you are doing yourself an enormous favor. The software has a setting allowing you to cover your website from serps. This could come in useful when constructing or rebuilding your site; you don’t need visitors to see your work in progress.

The feature is in your WordPress dashboard under “Settings.”

wordpress seo: image shows the button where you can opt to discourage search engines from indexing your site.

Double-check that you just have not by accident turned on this feature, or left it on after completing your website. If it’s on, it doesn’t matter how much you put money into your search engine optimisation – your website won’t rank well. 

2. Update Your Permalinks

A permalink is a everlasting URL or link to a particular post, page, or blog in your website. Permalinks clearly state what your post, page, or blog actually is (within the URL itself) so visitors know what they’re clicking on. Nonetheless, they do have a second purpose, which is for search engine optimisation. 

You must change your permalinks to not only improve user experience but in addition to enhance your search engine optimisation. Because serps read permalinks to find out whether or not your website has answers to specific search queries, having long or irrelevant permalinks could possibly be tanking your optimization efforts. 

For instance, within the case of your bookshop cafe, in the event you had a page dedicated to the top-selling books of 2023, your permalink might look something like this: www.mysite.com/top-selling-books-2023.

wordpress-seo (2)

To alter your permalinks to incorporate an accurate content description, head to your WordPress dashboard, click “Settings,” after which “Permalinks.” 

3. Use Tags and Categories

Tags and categories can help you separate your website’s pages and blog posts into specific and broad groups, respectively. This improves your search engine optimisation because it is going to enable serps to grasp your website’s structure and content. 

Added bonus: The excellent news is that many WordPress search engine optimisation fixes also help improve user experience. Tags and categories also your website’s improve user experience by allowing visitors to quickly find the content they’re looking for and make it easier so that you can manage your entire website content.


Tags are like keywords which you can use to explain what a specific page or post is about. For instance, if we take into consideration your bookshop cafe’s website, the tags on one in every of your pages may include “books,” “beverages,” and “food.” 

So as to add a recent tag or view your current tags, go to your WordPress dashboard and click on “Posts” and “Tags.” 

wordpress seo: image shows tag page on wordpress site

You’ll be able to view current tags or “Add Recent Tag” here. For more information on tags, try this list of suggestions.


Categories are the way you broadly group your posts and pages. Regarding the bookshop cafe, your categories may include “cafe,” and “bookshop.” 

To create a category, go to your WordPress “Settings” and click on “Writing.” Here you will see your current categories in addition to an “Add Recent Category” button.

wordpress seo: image shows how you can add a new category to the website

For details on other ways to create categories, try this page.

4. Select an search engine optimisation Plugin

We love WordPress plugins for therefore many reasons. For starters, plugins enhance the functionality of your website by adding features that do not come standard with the software. Plus, they’re easy for beginners just beginning to learn how you can add search engine optimisation to WordPress. Tens of 1000’s of plugins can be found, a lot of which may make it easier to improve your WordPress search engine optimisation. When you are still determining which plugin you would like to implement in your site, you’ll be able to search the WordPress plugin library for options that suit your needs.

search engine optimisation plugins offer features to make it easier to construct XML sitemaps, implement tags and categories, optimize your titles and content with the usage of key phrases and keywords, control your site’s breadcrumbs, and make the most of Google Analytics support. Some popular options include  Yoast SEO, All In One SEO Pack, and SmartCrawl Pro

wordpress seo: image shows wordpress plugin directory for seo

You’ll be able to then download and install your WordPress plugin of selection to start improving your search engine optimisation immediately.

5. Use XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is a file of code in your web server that features each page of your website. XML sitemaps are used to assist serps find, evaluate, and rank the content in your site.

Unless you could have extensive coding knowledge and need to create your XML sitemap manually, your best bet to achieve this is by adding a plugin to your site, resembling Yoast SEO, or one dedicated to creating sitemaps, resembling Google XML Sitemaps, that makes your sitemaps for you mechanically.

wordpress seo: image shows wordpress plugin directory for xml sitemap.

For more details on why WordPress recommends using a sitemap, this page will help.

6. Internally Link Your Site

To enhance your search engine optimisation, you need to increase your website’s authority. Considered one of the foremost ways serps determine your site authority is by the quantity you internally link to your pages, posts, blogs, and other content.

To link to other content, you’ll be able to highlight the words in your page where you would like to insert the link, click the link button within the WordPress toolbar, and replica and paste the URL you want to link to. When you do that, your linked words get underlined and contain the URL you would like to redirect your visitors to.

wordpress seo: image shows what it looks like on wordpress' native builder if you add a link

For other ways to internally link your WordPress website, try this page.

7. Optimize Your Images

You’ll be able to optimize just about all the things in your WordPress website, including your images. To optimize images, use Image-Alt-Text. Serps read Image-Alt-Text, that are descriptions of your images, to rank your site and determine whether or not your photos have the data being looked for by users.

When you need assistance adding Image-Alt-Text to pictures, look no further than a helpful plugin like SEO Optimized Images. You’ll be able to read through the list of your current plugins’ features to make sure they can help you add Image-Alt-Text.

Regardless of which plugin you put in, the world through which you enter your Image-Alt-Text will look something like this:

wordpress seo: image shows how you can add an image to your wordpress site and add alt text.

You must enter your description within the “Alt text” section. If you end up adding Image-Alt-Text, and you could have an outline that’s multiple words long, use dashes to separate the words. This tells the serps that you just’re writing multiple different words.

For instance, in the event you’re describing an image of HubSpot’s WordPress Contact Form Builder plugin, your Image-Alt-Text should look something like this: “WordPress-Contact-Form-Builder,” not “WordPressContactFormBuilder” or “WordPress_Contact_Form_Builder.” When you do that, WordPress will read your description as one word.

We’ve got yet one more essential note about image alt text. A very powerful reason is because alt text is crucial for website accessibility purposes. Nonetheless, it could also profit search engine optimisation.

While you write your image’s alt text, include the keyword the page is targeting if possible. Remember, because alt text is to profit those with disabilities using your website, the copy must accurately describe what’s pictured.  

8. Use SSL

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a normal security technology that manages an encrypted server and browser link. With SSL, you’ll be able to rest assured that information shared between your website and visitors stays secure.

For instance, suppose someone completes your order form and lists all of their bank card information. In that case, SSL is how businesses be certain that information will not be intercepted by a hacker along the way in which. 

SSL improves search engine optimisation because serps like Google search for “secure and encrypted” connections when determining a web site’s rating. So, if there have been two an identical sites, but one had SSL and one didn’t, Google can be more prone to rank the positioning with SSL.

If you could have an account through WordPress.com, you do not have to do anything additional, because it mechanically adds SSL to your site. If you could have a special variety of account, resembling a WordPress.org site, requiring you to maintain your website’s security individually, you’ll be able to install an SSL plugin resembling Real Simple SSL.

wordpress seo: image shows ssl plugins in wordpress directory

Try this page for more details on WordPress SSL.

9. Use Nofollow External Links

While you internally link to the pages in your site, you might be giving yourself authority. While you externally link to your sources or other pieces of content you suspect your visitors should read or experience, you might be also helping them gain authority or giving those web sites “link juice.” External linking is a great thing to your search engine optimisation, nevertheless it also improves the search engine optimisation of those pages you mention in your website. 

Enter: Nofollow external links. 

These links serve multiple purposes. For starters, they prevent content spam in your WordPress website but in addition prevent serps from having the ability to follow those URLs to the sites you might be linking to in your website. Because of this, you simply improve your WordPress website’s rating. 

You’ll be able to manually add a Nofollow link to your WordPress site or just add “nofollow” within the “Link Relationship” form field if you add a hyperlink to your keywords or phrases.

wordpress seo: image shows how you can add the 'nofollow' attribute to your links

There are also various Nofollow plugins available to your WordPress site within the plugin library.

10. Manage Your Security

As mentioned in our discussion about SSL certificates, serps love secure web sites — so you’ll be able to count in your website’s authority and rating to enhance the safer your website is.

Depending in your WordPress plan, it’s possible you’ll or may not have security taken care of for you. When you need assistance, it’s possible you’ll consider adding a plugin, resembling Wordfence Security or iThemes Security, to reinforce your site’s protection.

wordpress seo: security plugins on wordpress plugin directory.

11. Optimize Your Comments

Comments on posts are a wonderful method to spice up engagement in your website. Engagement typically means more traffic, link sharing, and interaction, and, due to this fact, improved search engine optimisation. Nonetheless, spam in your comments could damage your search engine optimisation and rating. That is why that you must make sure you only receive comments from real people.

WordPress plugins resembling All In One WordPress Security & Firewall and Spam Protection, Anti Spam, Firewall by CleanTalk will block comments containing spam and stop other types of spam resembling faulty form submissions, subscriptions, orders, and more. A lot of these plugins even have features that block entirely the known spammers, in order that they cannot return to your site again. 

wordpress seo: image shows what you'd have to look for in wordpress plugin directory to find plugin to reduce comment spam

12. Select WWW or non-WWW

There are two foremost ways to access web sites by URL — you’ll be able to either search with the” www” (so your search would seem like this: www.mysite.com) or without the “www” (so your search would seem like this: mysite.com).

Serps see these two different URLs, or official domains, as completely different web sites, so it’s crucial that you just pick one and stick to it. There isn’t any good or bad option, and your decision won’t impact your search engine optimisation — it’s only a preference.

Once you decide an option, you will need to stick to it to start improving your site’s search engine optimisation. You’ll be able to do that by linking to your official domain name internally and externally on social media and email. If you end up consistent together with your domain and link to it often, serps are likely to provide you more authority and due to this fact the next likelihood at rating. Not to say this makes things more straightforward to your visitors, so it is a win-win. 

To choose an option, head to your WordPress dashboard, click “Settings,” and under “General Settings,” you will see the shape fields to your URL.

wordpress seo: image shows where in settings you can update your site address

13. Use a Fast Theme 

To enhance your WordPress search engine optimisation, look no further than page speed. We already know that your page load time can significantly impact your site’s user experience — take a look at the statistics that prove it. But did that serps also consider speed when determining where your website will rank? It’s true. For the very best results, use WordPress themes optimized for search engine optimisation or have a repute for being speedy. 

You need to use a page speed tester to work out how briskly your site is, resembling Google PageSpeed Insights. From there, you’re going to get suggestions into how you’ll be able to fix your site to make it faster. When you’ve done all the things you’ll be able to and your site continues to be slow, we propose ensuring your theme is not the issue. 

When you need assistance picking a fast WordPress theme, here are a few of our favourite suggestions. 

WordPress seo: image shows the google page speed insights tool

Improve your WordPress search engine optimisation today. 

Anyone can improve their WordPress search engine optimisation. By implementing some or all of the easy suggestions from this guide, you’ll increase your website’s authority and rating on all serps — and if you achieve this, you’ll experience a rise in website visitors, leads, and conversions.

Editor’s note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.



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