In recent years there is so much talk about the virtues of WordPress in terms of SEO (an abbreviation of the English term Search Engine Optimization), that the least experienced user may have the feeling that just by installing this content manager your website will appear well positioned in search results. In fact, Matt Cutts, director of the department against spam at Google, said at a conference held in San Francisco back in 2009 that WordPress takes care of 80-90% of the mechanics of search engine optimization.
Does this mean that by default WordPress will correctly position my website ? The answer is simple: no . While it is true that WordPress offers a series of very important options that will be of great help: how to choose the structure of the permanent links, edit the title and description of the site, create categories and labels to classify the content, choose the title of pages and posts, editing the URL, etc., will be of little or nothing if you do not take into account:
- The optimal WordPress settings.
- Choosing the right plugins for SEO.
- Optimized development for search engines.
- Create and publish well-structured and quality content
Optimal WordPress settings
After installation, a series of adjustments are necessary to have at least minimal optimization for search engines:
- Define the title of the site, trying to include the main keywords in the Settings> General section. It will normally be the name of your brand, which can be complemented by the services that you offer. You should not exceed 55 characters, which is the maximum that Google will show in search results.
- Customize the description of the site, also from the Settings> General section. It should be a brief explanation of what the user is going to find on the website. Keep in mind that if you do not edit this field, by default it will be ‘ Another site made with WordPress ‘, which does not contribute anything or have any relation to your content. Also, depending on the theme you are using, this text may appear next to the title in the page title, in the description, and/or as a subtitle in the header. So now you can get an idea of the importance of changing it.
- Set up permalinks. This is a fundamental aspect of any WordPress installation. By default, URLs display the ID of posts, pages, and categories, which is not readable. To fix it, go to the Settings> Permanent links section and select ‘ Entry name ‘. With this small change, you will have made the URLs readable for users and also favor SEO by including keywords from the title of your article/page.
- Disables folder organization of uploaded files. By default, WordPress organizes all multimedia files into folders based on month and year. If you disable this option from Settings> Media you will get much cleaner and more manageable URLs for each file you attach to pages and posts.
- Delete the posts, comments, and example pages. When you install WordPress, it automatically creates an entry titled ‘ Hello world! ‘, a comment to that entry, and a page titled’ Example page ‘. My recommendation is that you delete all this to avoid later mixing with your content.
Suitable plugins for SEO
Completed the previous points, you have managed to take a step in optimizing your WordPress. However, there are still limitations, since WordPress does not offer options to conveniently manage the SEO of the pages and entries of a website. That is why you will have to resort to the installation of plugins that help you overcome these limitations.
In this case, I recommend you install one of the following:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast: This is a very complete plugin, with many configuration options and the one I usually recommend for any WordPress installation.
- All in one SEO Pack: good plugin also to help us optimize pages and entries for search engines. It is easier to configure than the previous one and more recommended if you do not have much knowledge.
Optimized development for search engines
You already have a WordPress installation with a basic configuration designed for SEO and you have also installed one of the previous plugins to have greater control over each page. And now that?
Depending on your level of knowledge and/or resources, you can go to a professional company that is in charge of developing your WordPress-based website or choose to install a theme from the thousands that exist on the internet. I’m not going to go into the advantages or disadvantages of using themes, which we already developed in a previous article analyzing the other side of WordPress themes, but I should make sure that in both cases the development covers the following aspects:
- Well laid out and programmed: without Html and CSS errors, without excessive scripts and well placed at the end of the document, clean and minimized code. All this can make the difference between having a fast or slow site. The loading speed of a website influences not only SEO but also the user experience.
- Compatible with modern browsers.
- Use of the WordPress hooks wp_head and wp_footer, otherwise there may be functions and plugins like those already mentioned that do not work properly.
- Use of headings and hierarchical order. H1 should be limited to page titles.
- Well-labeled images (ALT text).
- Display category and tag descriptions on file pages headed with an H1 tag containing the category name.
- Support the use of ‘crumbs of bread ‘ that apart from helping the user in navigation, is a simple way to create a good internal link structure.
- Make use of the excerpts, as they are the perfect complement to the title of the article to stimulate their reading and it also helps you to include keywords.
- Support for widgets: where we will be able to show navigation by categories, tags, etc.
- No hidden links considered a bad practice.
- Prepared to be viewed on mobile devices.
Well structured and quality content
With everything done so far, you have managed to have the necessary tools so that you can improve the SEO of the website. Now is when the hard work begins, because it will depend on your good work with the contents to achieve better positioning.
Determine your keywords
This step is the first one that you should take into account in your SEO strategy. Analyze what keywords users are going to search for you, if they have traffic, also think of possible synonyms. Our selection of free SEO tools can be very useful for you.
Write engaging titles that appeal to the reader
But don’t let the obsession with a good title lead you to write something that has nothing to do with the content of the article. Also take advantage of incorporating the main keyword.
In many topics the title text will be used as the meta title text . Thanks to plugins such as WordPress SEO and All in one SEO Pack, which we discussed earlier, we can edit the title and optimize it for search engines and differentiate it from the title, more thought to attract the attention of the audience.
Incorporate the keyword in the URL of the page or post
Thanks to the way you left your WordPress configured, URLs will contain exactly the title you assign to the page or entry in question. However, you have the possibility to edit them and delete some words that do not contribute anything like “the”, “of”, “in”.
Deliver quality content
Write your own original content that contributes something different so that you can differentiate yourself from what already exists; and that it is of quality, that it can be interesting and useful for your audience.
Using headings to structure content and give relevance
The internet user does not read in the traditional normal way, as he can with a book, but instead scans the content on the screen. That is why it is recommended to structure the content well, with short paragraphs and divide the content by using headings h2, h3, etc., following a hierarchical structure. In addition, headings give relevance to the text they contain, as search engines use these tags to extract relevant information from content.
Assign the appropriate category and tag
When creating categories and labels, it is advisable to think calmly to avoid duplication and make the most of keywords. Take advantage of the Description field to provide some more information to the user about what will be found under that category.
Correctly label images
Images can also generate a lot of traffic to your website from search engines, in addition to making the content of your page or entry more striking and attractive. For all these reasons, its use is not only recommended but also its correct labeling and edition. Every time you upload a new media file, you should fill in the following fields:
- Title : By default WordPress will obtain this data from the name of the image file and will use it in its corresponding title tag. So it is recommended to edit it and write a descriptive title.
- Alternative text (ALT) : helps search engines to know the content of the image itself. In addition, this text will be shown on the screen if the image does not load for whatever reason. Try to be descriptive and integrate keywords.
It is also essential that you optimize the weight of the images before uploading them to your website. There are some plugins, such as WP Smush.it or EWWW Image Optimizer, that allow you to perform this optimization during the file upload process, although my recommendation is that you use some editing tool focused on this purpose (such as RIOT ) and free process overload to WordPress.
And don’t forget to conveniently name your image file. Try to be concise and descriptive, because this name helps explain the content of the image itself. Also, include a keyword and separate the words with hyphens. I recommend that you name your files before uploading them to your website and thus avoid names such as “foto.jpg” or “23613DP.jpg”. In the event that you have already uploaded a badly named image, we can make use of plugins like Media File Renamer to rename it appropriately.
Avoid broken links
Because they generate a very bad user experience and will also constitute an indication for the search engines of the quality of your website. In order to check the links and avoid problems, you have a very useful plugin for these purposes: Broken Link Checker. If you don’t want to install too many plugins, you can find a good alternative in the Screaming Frog tool.
A bombo and a platillo
Assuming that you have followed all these tips and already have quality content well worked, structured and labeled, you need to make it known. Install a plugin that allows you to share your content on Social Networks and thus generate extra traffic to your website.