WordPress SEO Tips
- SEO, WordPress, WordPress SEO

WordPress SEO Tips: How To Optimize WordPress To Improve My Ranking In Google

You were lucky if you have chosen WordPress as a platform for your blog or web project. To be honest, despite the popularity of this blogging platform, WordPress possesses some lacks. However, if it comes to SEO, WordPress is your optimal choice. Since I kicked off many wide-scale projects ran on this platform, I know a lot about its benefits. However, unlike other authors, I’d like to emphasize the weak spots of WordPress as well.¸

It’s almost unreal to compete with Joost de Valk since I respect him. Besides, his guide to WordPress SEO is perfect. His primary goal is to promote the Yoast SEO Plugin, which I use, and recommend thereby you to install it. But I have my personal view on the WordPress optimization for search engines. Therefore, unlike Joost de Valk, I’d like to focus your attention on practice, not a theory.

So if you’re ready to improve your SEO visibility thanks to the features of WordPress, let’s get it started.

In my opinion, SEO is a comprehensive term, which combines a lot of separate subterms.

Each author claims that you have to start the optimization of your WordPress by paying your attention to permalinks, etc. But I want to go another way. My goal is to explain to you the in-depth principles of SEO optimization.

So, let’s take a look at my WordPress SEO checklist:

  1. LEMP stack + WordPress
    1. The difference between LAMP & LEMP
    2. The benefits of the LEMP stack for WordPress
    3. GZIP everything
    4. Reduce the server response time thanks to PHP FastCGI caching
    5. Lock the WordPress backdoors
  2. What is out of the box?
    1. Allow the search engines indexing your website
    2. Tune up your permalink structure
    3. Disable pingbacks and trackbacks
    4. Tune the Privacy Policy page
  3. Semantic Core (Categories + Tags + Custom Taxonomy)
    1. Categories
    2. Tags
    3. Custom Taxonomy
    4. Custom Fields
  4. Create or tune up your WordPress theme
    1. The Timestamp
    2. Breadcrumbs
    3. Correct the implementation of JS and CSS
    4. Reduce the number of requests to the database
    5. Control the number of inbound/internal links
    6. Improve the page speed
    7. Remove all the unnecessary add-ons
  5. Install all the essential plugins
    1. Yoast SEO Plugin
    2. Microdata markup
  6. On-page optimization
    1. Read my comprehensive post on the subject
    2. Combine the features of the built-in WordPress SEO functionality with the power of the Yoast SEO plugin
  7. Speed up your WordPress installation
  8. Take care of mobile devices + AMP
    1. Optimize your layout for mobile devices
    2. Use AMP to increase your page speed
  9. Built-in vs. external commenting system
    1. WordPress commenting system
    2. Disqus, Facebook Comments, and other third-party solutions
  10. Finishing touches
    1. XML & HTML Sitemaps
    2. Tune up the 301 redirects
    3. In-depth analyses of your WordPress structure
    4. FeedBurner
  11. Content marketing
    1. The basic rules for creating quality content
    2. How to interact with your audience
  12. Conclusion

As you may see, my list differs from those of the other authors. Each option of this list consists a lot of subitems. And I promise you, my WordPress SEO tips are unique.

LEMP stack + WordPress

Wow, have you faced a term you never heard before? Right now, I’m going to explain to you how the WordPress magic happens. Have you ever asked yourself, how all the popular websites which use WordPress cope with millions of visitors every month/week/day?

I bet you pay $100/month to host about 10,000 unique visitors per day. What if I say to you that I could reduce your expenses up to 95%? Is it possible? Is it real? How it relates to SEO? Well, it’s time to turn your idea of life upside down.

The vast majority of famous websites use LEMP stack for their WordPress installation.

What is the LEMP stack?

A LEMP is an abbreviation which means Linux + NGINX + MySQL + PHP. As you may have guessed, the key word here is “NGINX.”

NGINX Logo

NGINX is a web server invented by Igor Sysoev, a Russian software developer who introduced his product yet in 2004. Since then, NGINX has become the must-have web server each respectable website should install.

I don’t want now to focus my attention on all the benefits of NGINX. But I want to tell you that this web server is the most sacred secret which is unseen for a freshman.

The most notable advantage of NGINX is that it accelerates your website several times. If you were lucky to tune up the NGINX web server correctly, you might handle 10K and even 50K visitors per day for only $5/mo.

What is the difference between the LEMP and LAMP stacks?

A LAMP is an abbreviation which means Linux + Apache + MySQL + PHP.

The LAMP is what almost every hosting provider offers to you. Of course, among the readers, there are those webmasters who adore LAMP since they are used to it. However, I’d like to try to convince you to try the LEMP stack first.

In my opinion, the primary benefit of LEMP versus LAMP is that in the first case you need just a single string of code to solve a complicated issue.

NGINX looks a bit intricate at first. But I promise you that over time you would find that this web server perfect for all your needs.

The benefits of the LEMP stack for WordPress

Most experienced webmasters know that WordPress is heavy. This blogging platform is the most popular in the world, no doubt. But honestly, WordPress is slow. I bet all other SEO experts have recommended you to install various caching plugins for WordPress. Thanks to my configuration, you don’t need to use any of them.

Why is such a bundle as LEMP + WordPress beneficial for SEO? As I have mentioned above, SEO is a comprehensive term. Google evaluates your website speed and changes your ranking you depending on this indicator. Besides, I want to reduce your expenses.

I use WordPress for a web project which receives about 200K unique visitors every day. I pay $80 to host such amount of organic traffic. In fact, I could g pay less. I’ve changed my hosting plan due to numerous DDOS attacks. Furthermore, I needed a bit faster server for other needs. For instance, I have to send emails to my 700,000 subscribers. But I claim that if everything has been set up correctly, you might host 100K unique visitors per day using a $10 hosting plan from Digital Ocean.

> 700K subscribers

Summing up, I suggest you use the LEMP + WordPress bundle, to accelerate your WordPress installation and reduce your outlay. I want to repeat it one more time that my WordPress SEO tips are all about practice.

By the way, I wrote an article about how to start a blog with no money from scratch. You can read here about how to set up your WordPress installation using a $5 hosting plan from Digital Ocean. Despite the fact that I described a LAMP stack there, I made it, to simplify the article for beginners. Nonetheless, I have left a link to the instruction how to do the same things with the LEMP stack.

GZIP everything

Sooner or later, you will have to face the Google PageSpeed Insights tool. As mentioned above, if you use the LAMP stack with WordPress, I doubt that you might see excellent results in this and other speed tests.

However, thanks to NGINX, you could speed up your WordPress installation and see the astonishing results. The first thing you need to do is to turn on the GZIP.

I’ll show you how doing that:

  • Go to /etc/nginx/nginx.conf
  • Uncomment the GZIP Settings

You are done.

I told you before, NGIX is simple.

Reduce your server response time, thanks to PHP FastCGI caching

The beauty of NGINX is that this web server allows you to cache everything. I bet you had no idea how to reduce the server response time. I spent two years to cope with this task. It turned out that thanks to NGINX this issue could be solved within minutes. All you need is to enable the PHP FastCGI caching.

The current article is about the SEO optimization for WordPress. Therefore, I will leave a link to the instructions here. If you don’t like to use the FastCGI caching, I’d suggest you use VARNISH instead.

In any case, thanks to the LEMP + WordPress bundle, you could increase the page speed up to 100/100 in the Google PageSpeed Insights test.

Lock the WordPress backdoors

Do you remember, I was talking about the DDoS attacks to my sites? Unfortunately, the hackers mostly choose the webmasters of WordPress websites to undertake their attacks.

A sad fact, but WordPress has a lot of backdoors. I don’t want to focus on all of them. But I want you to lock at least the one which is the most common. I’m talking about the WordPress XML-RPC DDoS Attacks.

Fortunately, it’s easy to lock this backdoor thanks to NGINX. All you need to is to write a single string in your NGINX config:

location = /xmlrpc.php {
deny all;
}

Look at this string. Isn’t it the magic?

What is out of the box?

Now it’s time to take a look at your default WordPress installation. Fortunately, WordPress allows you to tune up your web project to fit the highest standards of SEO. Unlike other CMS, WordPress possesses an essential toolkit for a webmaster who is about to optimize his website for search engines.

Allow the search engines indexing your website

As a rule, all SEO experts advise you to check the box “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” since they believe that you are not ready to publish your project.

However, this SEO trick may cost you a lot of wasted time. The reason is that Google wants the things to be natural. Tell me please, is it natural when a search engine discovers a website which consists of 10,000 pages?

To be honest, the GoogleBot visits your site right after you purchased a domain. I suggest you thereby to prepare about 15-100 articles before buying the domain for your website. In such a case, your project won’t be empty for Google during its first visit. On the other hand, such an approach doesn’t seem suspicious.

The best practice is to create the offline version of your website thanks to the local installation. But even if you can’t cope with this task, you could write 15-30 articles offline before purchasing your domain name.

Summing up, I’d recommend you to leave this checkbox unchecked.

Remember, never use the date/time format for your permalink structure in WordPress. Otherwise, you could face the misunderstanding from the side of Google regarding the date of publication of any content on your web project.

Use only the “Post name” option or “Custom Structure.” You need that your URLs to be clean. Don’t include any additional data into your URL structure unless you created the news website. In that case, you need to append a unique number to each of your URLs.

Avoid any other techniques or methods, even if some experienced SEO expert recommends to do it somewhat differently.

Disable pingbacks and trackbacks

I don’t know why other SEO experts opted to omit this option while I consider this point essential. You need to forbid anyone to have a chance of spamming on your website. All these pingbacks and trackbacks are nothing but the opportunity to get backlinks from your WordPress blog.

Never allow anyone to get backlinks from your website for free and even for money unless some reputable webmaster is about to write a guest post.

Next, check the box “Comment must be manually approved” if you are going to use the built-in commenting system. It’s a big SEO mistake if you don’t control the content on your website. You will have to moderate each comment if you use the basic functionality of WordPress. Otherwise, you could face the Google Panda penalty.

Tune up the Privacy Policy page

WordPress recently introduced the new feature called “Privacy Settings.” Although this function seems to be unrelated to SEO, Google is currently seriously concerned about the privacy of its visitors. As a result, I’d suggest you create this page. If you don’t know how to do that, type in the Google search string “privacy policy generator” or a keyword similar to it.

In the future, you should face with the EU GDPR issue. But I don’t want to touch such a matter within this article.

Summing up, I’d recommend you to create all the necessary pages (about, contact, privacy, etc.) right after you made your first WordPress installation.

Semantic Core (Categories + Tags + Custom Taxonomy)

Now, I want to introduce you the primary functionality of WordPress from the side of SEO. Though many webmasters call these features not enough for the search engine optimization, in fact, such tools are more than enough to create your semantic core.

The semantic core is the term which is applied to explain what is your website precisely about. Many webmasters underestimate these built-in WordPress SEO tools. That’s why few of them could tune categories and tags correctly.

Why is it essential?

The primary thing any search engine is attempting to realize is why is your website special. In other words, what is the difference between your site and those of your competitors?

To explain Google the peculiarity of your website and to showcase your project’s structure to the search engine, you need to create the so-called Semantic Core.

Categories, Tags, and Custom Taxonomy are the indispensable assistants for such a necessary task.

Categories

Many webmasters can’t define what the difference between the categories and tags is. However, for SEO this matter is essential. Generally speaking, you should create the structure of your website thanks to the categories, while you need to mark your content by using tags.

Despite the seeming simplicity of this task, it’s critical to avoid all the possible mistakes at this stage. Don’t use my website as an example since SEO is a complicated term. In fact, I don’t know even now, how to structure all these data. But this issue is not the illustration of the lack of experience. Indeed, SEO is a bad example for explanation of this matter.

Let’s better take a look at the entertainment websites. Perhaps you know the site called Den of Geek. I think this example would be better than to talk about SEO.

Though Den of Geek uses Drupal as their CMS, the principle of the semantic core is the same.

Let’s take a look at the categories:

  • Movies
  • TV
  • Games
  • Books
  • Video
  • Culture

That is what Den of Geek is about.

Each category separates the content of the site. The same article can’t exist in both Games and Books categories.

However, as for the tags, the situation is different.

Tags

Each tag is just an element of navigation, which points out the unique topic and collects the items inside it. For instance, the “Men in Black” is a tag on the Den of Geek which includes all the data about this movie.

All I need is that you started to realize that Men in Black can’t be a category in no way unless your website is about Will Smith, and you have a lot of data about the movie The Men in Black inside it.

Unlike categories, you may use as many tags as you want. However, your tag archive can’t be empty. Otherwise, Google could consider such pages as thin content.

Custom Taxonomy

Sometimes you can’t connect the subject of your article with tags or categories. In that case, WordPress allows you to create the custom taxonomies. This possibility is useful when your website represents a database with many subjects. However, in such a case, I’d instead, suggest using another CMS such as Drupal.

My experience allows me to claim that WordPress is suitable for a project which works with a vast database. However, this is not what WordPress is created for.

In the case, if you want to use a lot of structured data in WordPress, I’d recommend you to pay your attention to the custom fields functionality.

Custom fields

Few webmasters know about this built-in feature of WordPress. However, this instrument is powerful for the implementation of databases in WordPress.

Thanks to the custom fields you may add the additional data to your articles. For instance, if your website about movies, you may append your blog post with all the essential data about the feature-length film, its director, release date, box office, etc.

Google uses these data to estimate the value of your content. As a result, if categories, tags, and custom taxonomies are still not meet your needs, it’s time to use the custom fields.

Create or tune your own WordPress theme

As a rule, all the SEO issues you could face on the way while using WordPress depends on your theme. If you weren’t lucky to tune it up correctly, Google could penalize your website and decrease its visibility in the SERP.

Therefore, it’s essential to be accurate while you are choosing or working on a template for WordPress.

What things to pay attention to:

  • The Timestamp
  • Breadcrumbs
  • How the theme enqueues JS and CSS
  • How many requests the theme does to connect to a database
  • Check up the number of inbound links in the sidebar and footer
  • What is the speed of your template?
  • Remove all the unnecessary add-ons

The Timestamp

This point is incredibly necessary for your WordPress SEO. You need to explain to the GoogleBot when your page is created and what is more important, when it is updated.

Why do I pay your attention to the timestamp? The reason is that, as a rule, the webmasters who install WordPress don’t care about this necessary detail, while its use is vital.

Let’s imagine that your website has a lot of news content. For you thereby it’s crucial to be the first who announced the sensation. You need to explain to the GoogleBot that your content has been updated.

There are a lot of techniques how to deal with such an issue, including the last-modified header. But bear in mind, Google can only see the one date on your page. This date must be the “modified date.” Otherwise, Google will always show the time when the page has been published. How can it look like for a visitor? He might consider your content out of date.

Breadcrumbs

Most theme authors use the so-called “breadcrumbs” to simplify the navigation on your website. By the way, GoogleBot is capable of crawling this type of microdata if you implemented it correctly.

Fortunately, even if your theme doesn’t have the breadcrumb functionality built-in, you may use the Yoast SEO plugin to tune up the additional navigation. We will talk about this plugin later. For now, I want you to know that Google regards the breadcrumbs as the extra point to your website’s usability.

How your theme renders JS and CSS

It’s a big issue for GoogleBot when it can’t access the content instantly. The thing which pauses the process of indexation is when your theme first renders JS/CSS in the header. In such a case, both GoogleBot and a browser must first render your styles and scripts, and next get access to the main content.

To avoid it, you better load these resources asynchronously or delay the access to these data.

I will show you how to deal with this task:

  • Go to Appearance -> Editor -> Theme Functions
  • Find the string “wp_enqueue_script”
  • At the end of this string paste the parameter “true.”
  • Such action will allow you to enqueue your scripts in the footer
  • Don’t do that with jQuery
  • Don’t apply this technique to your CSS files
  • Instead, implement CSS directly into the HTML code, if possible

In fact, you need at least the basic knowledge of CSS/JS/PHP to use this technique. My goal right now is to showcase you how your theme may slow down the access to your content and affect your visibility in the SERP thereby.

Go to the Stack Overflow community to ask all the technical questions.

How many requests does your theme make to connect to the database?

The Achilles’ heel of WordPress is how this CMS interacts with the MySQL database. Your goal is to reduce the number of connections. One may object that this point doesn’t relate to SEO. But I claim that the speed is one of the most important ranking factors. Perhaps this factor is not the first on the list; however, I doubt that you could cope with your rivals if your website works slowly.

WordPress as a PHP framework makes a lot of requests to the database. Just take a look at your Header template.

  • <?php language_attributes(); ?>
  • <?php bloginfo( ‘charset’ ); ?>
  • and more and more useless requests depending on your theme

The more time WordPress spends to retrieve the data from the database, the more time a visitor, as well as GoogleBot, require for getting access your website. Why don’t simplify this task for them both?

All you need to do is to eliminate these useless requests, and your website will be much faster.

To get rid of this issue, I would recommend you to install the Query Monitor plugin for WordPress.

Do you need all these useless data in your sidebar as the tag cloud or and other stuff? Why not get rid of these dozens of links in your footer?

As you know, Google counts the number of both inbound and outbound links. If you overuse both internal and external links, Google might consider such situation as over-optimization of your page.

As a result, your goal is to avoid the excessive quantity of internal links in the sidebar and footer.

Instead, I’d suggest you use some internal links right in your articles. But remember, all these references must be helpful for a visitor. Otherwise, GoogleBot might consider them as spam and punish your website.

By the way, the same relates to your comments. Don’t allow anyone to spam in your comments even given that these links are NoFollow. If some page has a lot of outbound links, it may look suspicious to Google. But we will talk about the WordPress built-in commenting system later.

What is the speed of your template?

You may have noticed that I pay a lot of attention to the performance of your website with WordPress. But you must understand that aside from the backlinks and necessary on-page SEO optimization, the next thing Google cares about being the so-called behavior factors. You can’t succeed in the Google SERP if a visitor spends a little time and browse a few pages on your website.

That’s why I want to convince you to pay more attention to the speed. I bet you know about the PageSpeed Insights tool. However, there are much more effective tools you need to use to evaluate your website performance.

I’ll give you links to some of them:

Use these tools in the respective order. In my opinion, the Pingdom test is the most accurate.

Remove all the unnecessary add-ons

If you use free or paid theme for WordPress, its authors were trying to make it suitable for any purposes. That’s why, as a rule, your WordPress theme contains a lot of unnecessary add-ons. In the best case, these pieces of code negatively affect your website performance. In the worst, these add-ons could destroy your entire SEO strategy.

Your theme from scratch

The best solution for the WordPress SEO I might recommend is to create your theme from scratch. Unfortunately, you must be the experienced coder to cope with such a task.

Nonetheless, there is another solution called the starter theme for WordPress. As a rule, I use the Underscores template by Automattic. This theme is entirely blank. However, it consists all the necessary pieces of code, which is useful for the further development.

Despite the fact that such approach looks complicated for a beginner, in the long term, your efforts would be rewarded.

I’ll show you a small list of benefits to create your theme from scratch:

  • You control every detail
  • This approach reduces a lot of unnecessary code
  • Your layout will be working faster
  • You can embed microdata in your PHP code
  • In that case, it’s not essential to use any third-party plugins
  • You don’t need to do any on-page optimization since you’ll make it natively
  • It’s easy for you to control the number of inbound links
  • and more and more advantages

Install all the essential plugins

It’s time to talk about the third-party solutions that could help you improve the SEO visibility of your WordPress website. Luckily, WordPress is the CMS which gives you access to the broadest repository of plugins in the world.

There are a lot of add-ons that care about your SEO. However, I want to highlight the two of them that are the most vital.

Please install these plugins:

When we are talking about the WordPress SEO, our goal is to explain to the GoogleBot how to crawl our website correctly. We can’t be wrong in the case of SEO. That’s why these third-party solutions must be proven.

As you remember, I’ve recommended the Yoast SEO Plugin yet at the beginning of my article. Of course, there are other add-ons able to cope with the same tasks such as All-in-one SEO pack. However, Joost de Valk is an experienced guy. So I believe him, and I want you to trust him as well.

Yoast SEO Plugin

YOAST SEO Plugin Report

No doubt, I can’t describe the plugin better than its author. Nonetheless, if you don’t want to read his over a 6,000-word article on the subject, I’d like to emphasize the most crucial details of his product.

Why is the Yoast SEO Plugin necessary?

  • It’s free (there is a paid version as well)
  • There is none other SEO plugins which might assist you with the on-page SEO better
  • This plugin does a lot of dirty work
  • Joost de Valk updates his product very often
  • This add-on allows you to insure yourself against the SEO mistakes
  • 40 million downloads and a 4.9 out of 5 stars in the rating
  • The de-facto standard in SEO

What are the main features of the Yoast SEO Plugin?

  • Keyword optimization
  • You can preview your page as Google sees it
  • This plugin is a powerful tool which analyzes the readability of your content
  • If you have no breadcrumb functionality, the Yoast SEO Plugin provides you the one
  • The plugin sets the canonical URLs to avoid the duplication of your content
  • It controls robots.txt, permalinks, sitemaps
  • The plugin is updated every two weeks

Needless to describe all the features of this plugin within my article about the WordPress SEO tips. It’s much better to install it and see everything with your own eyes.

Microdata markup (JSON-LD)

Generally speaking, the microdata markup it’s a topic for another colossal article. However, this point is so essential in the search engine optimization that I can’t omit such factor within current blog post about the WordPress SEO.

There are various microdata syntax markups among the HTML standards. However, it’s worth noting that Google adores the JSON-LD syntax markup among all of them. Therefore, I strictly recommend you to install any JSON-LD markup plugin. I use the Markup (JSON-LD) structured in schema.org. However, maybe you might discover the best one.

First, use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool to check your website for the possible errors. In fact, WordPress includes some elements of the microdata markup built-in. However, the CMS prefers the itemprop markup style. Also, you can see the possible errors in the search console, in the structured data report.

Unlike other SEO principles of optimization, this one looks hidden. In fact, few webmasters know about such an essential technique to mark up your data for search engines.

What can the plugin do? The JSON-LD markup plugin can willingly show the GoogleBot the following data:

  • Post title
  • Date of publication
  • Date of modification
  • Post description (excerpt)
  • Post type
  • Permalink ID
  • Image type, height, width, URL
  • Person/Company name
  • Organization name
  • Publisher logo

This functionality seems to be evident. However, in the case of Local Business, Event, News article, and Video content such extended data could be useful for Google.

Summing up, I’d recommend you to use one of such add-ons since it gives all the necessary data about your page for the GoogleBot. Google rapidly interacts with such kind of data that gives you a lot of advantages over your rivals.

On-page optimization for WordPress SEO

First, I wrote an article on the subject. Secondly, the Yoast SEO plugin would assist you with such process. Nevertheless, I’m forced to emphasize the essential SEO on-page features of WordPress and what mistakes you need to avoid.

  • Don’t count your keywords
  • You don’t need to care about your meta description; add it only if it’s necessary
  • Focus your attention on your titles
  • Use at least one subheader
  • Never write thin content; your article must contain at least 500-700 words
  • Avoid long ALT tags; don’t double the data in the ALT tag, title, and description of your images
  • Use DoFollow outbound links conjointly with NoFollow
  • Don’t make your blog NoFollow only; it looks suspicious for Google
  • Link to reliable websites if you want Google to believe that you’re serious about your content
  • Avoid duplication of your URLs, Titles, Descriptions, Archives
  • Create all the necessary legal, contact, and about pages
  • You need to use internal links inside your blog post not only in recommended and related articles
  • Avoid the massive sidebars and footers; don’t spread lots of useless inbound links
  • Don’t use dozens of tags for a single blog post
  • Call a visitor to action; use at least a subscribe form

I focused your attention on the most vital points. If you want some details, please read my article on the subject. I left the link above.

Summing up, you need to combine both WordPress built-in functionality and Yoast SEO plugin to make your content readable for both visitors and search engines. If you were lucky to cope with this task, I bet Google will reward you with favorable positions in the SERP.

Speed up your WordPress installation

Speed, speed, speed. All you need is speed. I wouldn’t take care so much about the speed of your website if I know nothing about it in practice. Recently, Google started to take into account this factor in their ranking algorithm. If you see dozens of media outlets with weak performance in the TOP 10, it doesn’t mean that this factor is not crucial.

On the contrary, turn speed into your advantage. If you were lucky to optimize your WordPress installation to the speed of a rocket, you deserve a place under the sun.

By the way, I wrote a comprehensive article on the subject. But since we are talking about the WordPress, I need to repeat some basics for you.

How to speed up my WordPress website?

  • Use LEMP stack + WordPress (50% of your success)
  • Deactivate all the plugins that slow down WordPress; use custom PHP code instead (there are a lot of free tips how to do some stuff from scratch)
  • Move all your JS files in the footer, excluding jQuery (if you have enough experience move it in the footer as well)
  • Paste your CSS code directly in the HTML structure
  • Create your theme for WordPress
  • GZIP everything thanks to NGINX
  • Cache everything thanks to NGINX
  • Move to a cloud hosting instead of your shared hosting (I recommend Digital Ocean; the $5 is enough for your needs)
  • Reduce the number of ads
  • Try to avoid the Twitter quotes, YouTube video, etc.
  • Reduce the number of requests to MySQL

To be honest, your speed mostly depends on the server setup. However, even if you are not experienced in LINUX, but you followed all the other steps, it might accelerate your website by two-three times.

Mobile optimization & AMP

You can’t surpass your rivals if your website is not mobile-friendly. Besides, Google uses this ranking factor as essential. Moreover, the company has recently rolled out the mobile-first index. Isn’t it a reason to optimize your WordPress site for mobile devices?

One may object that almost every theme for WordPress is mobile-friendly. Well, why, in such a case, you can’t find your website in the green area in the page speed test? You must have at least a B rating on Pingdom in order to appear in the TOP 10 SERP. However, it’s better to have the A score.

Honestly, Google is not accurate while estimating your page speed. Sometimes its speed test tool surprises me with the results. So, I’d recommend you use these alternative tools to define your actual speed.

How to make your WordPress website mobile-friendly?

The best way to avoid mistakes is to create the responsive theme for your WordPress blog. I’d recommend avoiding the creation of the mobile version of your project.

Many webmasters used to install snazzy but complicated layouts that serve as a universal solution for everyone’s needs. Instead, use the blank templates with a minimum of features. As a rule, such themes are fast and mobile-friendly since there is nothing to optimize.

You must avoid complex frameworks since they are unnecessary for you. You’ll have to spend years while figuring out how a single feature works. So, the easiest way to be mobile-ready is to install a light-weight template, which contains the only necessary functionality. All the additional functions you need, you could append thanks to the plugins. Am I wrong?

Use AMP, especially, for the news content

AMP (or The Accelerated Mobile Pages) is the project introduced by Google back in 2015 and implemented in February 2016. This technology allows your visitors to access your website as rapidly as it is only possible.

Fortunately, as a WordPress user, you can easily cope with such a complicated task as the AMP technology is. All you need to integrate your WordPress website with this new feature is to install the AMP for WordPress plugin by Automattic (to be honest, a lot of companies worked on it).

To see your AMP page, you need to use any link on your website + “/amp/” in the URL.

Unfortunately, AMP is a crude technology. As a result, your AMP page won’t be so perfect as the mobile page. Nonetheless, such technology is your chance to fit all the Google modern standards.

However, I want to warn you that you must regularly check the AMP error report in the Search Console. Also, I’d recommend you to use the tool I described above to check your AMP implementation for the possible technical errors.

Built-in vs. external commenting system

WordPress has its built-in commenting system which allows you to interact with your target audience. The usage of the native feature has its pros and cons. Let’s take a look at them more in details.

Aside from its direct function, the commenting system hides dangers since it opens the best way for the spammers to obtain free backlinks from your website. That’s why I asked you to turn on the checkbox which allows you to moderate the comments.

Dealing with spam is one of the tedious issues each WordPress webmaster faces while administrating the website.

To avoid spam, you can use only two solutions:

Of course, you have an option to moderate the comments by yourself. However, in that case, you should spend most of your free time on the fighting with spam.

There are free solutions on the market that allow you to get rid of this tedious everyday job.

I would suggest you use these two options:

The main benefit of such an approach is that you don’t need to moderate spam comments anymore, thanks to the built-in spam filter.

As for the cons, any third-party solution slows down your page speed since a visitor need to wait when your web server loads the external resource.

I use the third-party solutions, as a rule, if it comes to the thousands of comments for a single blog post. However, for a personal blog, I think it would be enough to install the Jetpack plugin.

However, also worth noting that Jetpack slows down your server as well since it makes a lot of requests to your MySQL database.

As a result, I leave this choice to you.

Finishing stroke

Now your WordPress website is ready for SEO. All you need is only to use some basic and hidden tricks.

  • Create XML & HTML sitemaps
  • Tune up the 301 redirects
  • In-depth analyses of your WordPress structure
  • Add your RSS feed to a FeedBurner

Create XML & HTML sitemaps

If you take a look at the log files of your web server, you could see that GoogleBot first crawl the XML sitemap of your website. As a result, it’s an essential step to create the one.

Since you use WordPress, there are two possible variants:

  • Use the built-in sitemap functionality presented by the Yoast SEO Plugin
  • Install another plugin capable of generating the sitemaps

In the case of Yoast, go to:

SEO -> General -> Features -> XML sitemaps

Make sure that the tumbler is on.

As an option, I would recommend you to use the XML Sitemap & Google News feeds plugin. This tool allows you to generate the Google News sitemap as well.

It is also recommended to generate the HTML sitemap for your blog. I never use this option. However, there is a widespread opinion that such a technic speed up the process of indexation. I can’t agree or refute the advice. My goal is to mention this trick.

Tune up the 301 redirects

If you make some changes in your URL structure, you need to explain this action to Google adequately. The best way to do that is to use the 301 redirects.

All you need is to install the Simple 301 Redirects plugin which will assist you with this task. The settings are simple. So, I don’t think that you will face any troubles.

In-depth analyses of your WordPress structure

This WordPress SEO technique is for advanced webmasters. Be extremely careful in an attempt to implement it.

I emphasized this step in your WordPress SEO optimization since the CMS possesses some bugs you can’t avoid. Most of the lacks relate to the duplication of the content.

Let me give you some examples:

  • WordPress duplicates the author archives and front page if you’re the only author of your blog
  • The CMS reproduces meta titles & description for the archive pages if you have more than one page in your tags or categories
  • Google can punish you for a thin content because of numerous empty tags (and especially categories)
  • There are some bugs with the pagination
  • Also, there is an opinion that the abundance of comments negatively affects your SEO

I will leave these questions unanswered right now to write the additional article on the subject in the future. For now, I only want you to take the data above into account.

Add your RSS feed to a FeedBurner

Finally, there is a trick which allows you to invite the GoogleBot to your website. First, I want to showcase that WordPress has the built-in function which facilitates you to ping Google and other search engines once you’ve published a blog post.

Go to Settings -> Writing -> Update Services

And you will see here that WordPress notifies Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. about your new articles.

However, there is another advanced tool to cope with this task better. This trick is hidden from your eyes.

Go to FeedBurner. If you don’t have an account, do it right now. Register your RSS feed in the system.

Next, go to Publicize -> Publicize Your Feed -> PingShot -> Activate the function “Notify interested services when my feed changes.”

Now, each time your feed is updated, Google and other search engines know about your changes.

Content marketing

Finally, I want to talk with you about the content marketing. This topic doesn’t relate to the WordPress SEO directly, but it affects your visibility in the Google SERP most of all.

The basic rules for creating quality content

I will write a comprehensive article on the subject. But for now, I want you to know the following things:

  • Avoid the so-called thin content
  • Write your texts for your visitors, not for Google
  • Invent sexy and attractive titles
  • Don’t borrow even a small piece of someone’s content
  • Create viral content which can attract the backlinks
  • Simplify your articles since they are not the scientific works (even for a schoolchild is must be easy to read your writings)
  • Don’t try to obtain the backlinks for your content artificially (blog commenting must be enough; all the rest backlinks should arrive naturally)
  • Try to publish at least one article of 500-700 words per day (it would be better if your text contains more than 1000 words); however, I’d recommend publishing 3-5 blog posts each day

How to interact with your audience

The easiest way to engage your target audience is to convince them to subscribe to your newsletters. Fortunately, some astonishing add-ons might assist you with this task.

I would recommend you to install the MailPoet Plugin for WordPress. Over 300,000 webmasters use this add-on to interact with their target audience.

Why the newsletters actual for SEO?

The answer is that the direct traffic improves the behavior factors of your website. Google regards such a kind of traffic as a signal that your project is a favorite among the target visitors. As a result, the search engine boosts your visibility.

> 700K subscribers

I was able to gather over 700,000 subscribers for one of my projects in the entertainment niche. I wrote this not to boast of my results. The only thing I want you to know that WordPress is capable of coping with such a massive audience.

Summing up, use email subscription and other interaction with your audience to improve the behavior statistics of your website.

Conclusion

Now your WordPress SEO setup is completed. If you follow the instruction, Google will reward you by including your website in the TOP 10. If you have chosen WordPress as your CMS, half of your SEO work is completed since this platform ideally fits any SEO needs.

I hope my WordPress SEO tips were useful for you. At least I’ve been trying to cover the subject thoroughly.

Of course, there are some details I forgot to mention. Fortunately, my entire blog is about SEO. Therefore, I’ll cover all the rest subjects in the future. Good luck with your WordPress SEO. I hope to see your websites in the Google TOP 10 SERP.¸

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