HOW TO OPTIMIZE WORDPRESS SITE FOR SEO

Matthew Carter
Hello friends, my name is Matthew Carter. I’m a professional link builder for a large SEO agency in New York City.

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PORTFOLIO

Check out our guide to building an internal linking strategy to learn how to choose the most suitable pages to link to.

Adding in internal links to other pages in WordPress is really simple. All you need to do is highlight the text which you want to link (this will be your link's anchor text) and click the ‘link’ button on the toolbar, which will then allow you to either paste a URL or search for pages within your site.

Thankfully, since Yoast 11.0, a full structured data graph is built for every post or page on your site, but there are instances where you will want to mark up specific blocks within WordPress. You can do this when you create a new block by choosing a ‘Yoast Structured Data Block’, which you can read more about here.

Think carefully about how you write your alt text. If this is your image:

If you need to rename images after they have been uploaded, here is how.

14. Use Optimized File Names for Images.

Below, you will find our top WordPress SEO tips to help you optimize your website and enjoy SEO success. But just one quick word of warning first — these tips and tricks apply to those of you running self-hosted WordPress sites, not the hosted WordPress.com version of the platform.

Use alt text like ‘starry square dog bed’ rather than defaulting just to ‘dog bed.’ Be as descript as you can be, and use unique alt text for each image.

One of the reasons you have chosen WordPress as your website’s CMS might be because you have read that it is SEO-friendly out of the box. In fact, you only have to check out WordPress' own list of 'powerful features' on their homepage to see that they are proud that the platform is SEO-friendly:

Luckily, you can choose a custom URL structure at: Settings > Permalinks.

Best practices typically call for using one H1 heading (the page’s title), but you should also use H2 – H6 headings; they t give structure to your content, also to break up the text and make it easier to read.

Of course, it isn’t the right platform for everyone, and there are times when there may be other CMS options that are better suited to your individual needs. Commonly cited disadvantages and cons of WordPress usually relate to the need for frequent updates, potential vulnerabilities (if you are not keeping your site updated), and a little bit of a learning curve to launch bespoke themes. But for the most, it is an extremely powerful platform and one which also gives you great foundations for SEO success.

Example : You launched a recipe collection, and you want to use categories for different cuisines.

Before you start creating or optimizing the content across your site, install our SEO Writing Assistant plugin (also available as a Google Docs add-on). As you write (or review) content, the plugin will help you to ensure that it is written in an SEO-friendly way, and will give recommendations and an analysis based on your Google top 10 rivals for a given keyword.

Another proven way to improve your site’s speed and performance is to optimize your images, as these are one of the most common things which contribute to slow speed.

You can either use snippet variables, add custom text as your title tag, or use a mix of both.

13. Use Internal Linking.

It is more common than you would think to find that this block is left in place after launch. You need to check your site’s visibility settings under: Settings > Reading.

Site speed has a direct impact on your WordPress site’s SEO performance, and both poor uptime and security vulnerabilities can result in site quality issues. Don’t be tempted to go for the cheapest option, as you are more likely to suffer from performance issues.

By default, WordPress uses your page’s title to create the URL, meaning that these can end up being lengthy and sometimes truncate on the SERPs.

Once you have implemented the WordPress SEO basics, you are ready to get started optimizing your site and working through the things that will make a real difference to how you rank.

Whether you choose your preferred domain as https://domain.com or https://www.domain.com won’t have an impact on your SEO, but you need to make sure your site is accessible on just one of these, as these are considered by Google to be different URLs.

However, you know that the main keyword which you are targeting with the content is "best dog beds". The good news is that you can choose to overwrite the default URL and choose a custom permalink for the page.

If you are using lots of images and rich media within your content, the size of the page can increase noticeably, but this is often because images not being properly optimized. A common image issue is using one that is much larger than the size than the image will actually display at — this is a sign that the image was not optimized.

20. Use ‘Last Updated’ Dates.

This should at least give you the confidence that you are choosing a theme that is not going to hold you back.

While many themes claim to be SEO-friendly, it is not uncommon for themes to come bundled with scripts and plugins that you will not use, and that will slow your site’s performance down. Before installing a theme, run its demo through Google’s web.dev tool to get insights on potential performance and SEO issues.

The good news is that you can quickly optimize your WordPress site’s entire media library, as well as all future images you upload using the Smush plugin.

WordPress started out as a blogging platform in 2003 but quickly pivoted to become a powerful and flexible solution to run entire websites, and in 2020, it is also capable of being used as an eCommerce solution.

As another note here, head to the ‘Media’ tab and make sure that the ‘Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?’ option is selected as yes, as this helps to prevent an issue which occurred in Yoast back in 2018 where individual attachment URLs were being indexed.

Simply click the "edit" button, and you can enter your preferred URL.

For the purpose of this guide, we will be using Yoast, but take a look at our best WordPress plugins for SEO guide for both free and paid options.

It s simple and easy to use. You don’t need to be a developer to launch a WordPress website, and it is extremely user-friendly, even for beginners.

When you start overloading your WordPress website with plugins, you bring all their baggage with them. Too many plugins can cause unnecessary code bloat, heavy markup, and non-semantic code that can cause a drop in page speed.

I get it – the visual designs and interactions are much more exciting to think about when designing your website.

Simply go to Yoast SEO > Search Appearance > Breadcrumbs > Enabled .

When it comes to playing around with your robots.txt file, there is a line. And any SEO marketer knows that crossing that line feels like an 11-hour trip on a tequila train – a hot mess.

So, what about all of the other elements that Yoast does not control?

6. Choose SEO-Friendly Plugins.

But when it comes to improving SEO efforts on WordPress, I’m often left scouring blogs for a few hints and tips that all center around the Yoast plugin.

If your robots.txt file looks like this, no one will find you in the search results.

Even Search Engine Journal is built on WordPress. And we get over 2 million organic visitors per month.

Are you looking for other ways to improve your WordPress SEO outside of Yoast? Here are 7 actionable tips you can implement.

When choosing your preferred domain, you’re choosing between two things:

I don’t use www on my personal website (https://annaleacrowe.com).

Let’s be real. When you’re choosing your WordPress theme, SEO is usually at the bottom.

If you flip a coin, you have a 40.6% chance of a website being built on WordPress. That’s a lot.

In short, it’s up to you to decide whether your site vision is coupled with comments.

Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter, “The SEO effect of keywords in the URL is minimal once the content is indexed.”

1. Choose a WordPress Theme Best for SEO.

Are you looking for other ways to improve your WordPress SEO outside of Yoast?

Do you enable or disable comments in WordPress? This is a tough decision and depends on the current state of your WordPress website.

The key to editing your robots.txt file is understanding the basics.

Now that I’ve started digging into WordPress myself and implementing the changes, I can smell the victory baking in my metrics.

If you’ve got the Yoast SEO plugin installed, implementing breadcrumbs can be done in less than 5 minutes.

I’d say it’s a pretty good bet that there are tons of us WordPress users out there trying to clean up our page speed or choose an SEO-friendly theme.

If your robots.txt looks like this and you want your site indexed by search engines, stop everything you’re doing right now to fix your robots.txt.

5. Decide to Enable or Disable Comments in WordPress.

Maybe that’s why websites like TechCrunch, Star Wars blog, Beyonce 👑,, Playstation, Facebook’s Newsroom, eBay, etc. use it.

I’m not a psychic. I’ve just been in the same situation before.

I mean, WordPress is used by 64% of all websites whose CMS is known. That’s 40.6% of all websites.

While you may see a teeny tiny impact, it’s worth it to the user experience.

To enable or disable comments in WordPress, head over to Settings > Discussion .

So, when it comes to choosing SEO-friendly plugins for WordPress, keep it simple.

But while choosing an SEO-friendly theme for WordPress may be easy to overlook, having an SEO-friendly theme is vital for the success of your website.

If you don’t have comments enabled, you may want to keep it that way. Google’s Matt Cutts shared that comments with bad spelling and grammar can affect rankings.

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