10 WordPress SEO Tips to Grow Your Organic Traffic
It’s been a while since a conversation about creating a website could have passed without mentioning the terms “WordPress” and “SEO.” The former is arguably the most popular content management system in the world, responsible for powering over a third of the internet. If you’re making a website, you have to give WordPress at least a thought.
As far as search engine optimization goes, its importance is really all the evidence you need about the power of search engines. A whole industry was built around search engines and the way people use them, all for the purpose of getting your website the kind of visitors you want.
That’s what you do when you want to create a website — you pick a content management system to build it, and then use search engine optimization techniques to get it the traffic it needs. And if you want to play it really smart – you also analyze competitor’s WordPress site, as there’s always a lot of useful stuff you can learn from your competition. If it happens that you’re using WordPress for your website and are in need of some SEO tips, you’ve come to the right place. Here are ten tips that are bound to make a difference.
1. Set your website’s visibility.
WordPress comes with a built-in option for hiding websites from search engines. It can come in handy when you’re building a website and you’re not ready for the world to see it, for example, but you still want to have it online.
The option is called “discourage search engines from indexing this site,” and you should only use it when you need it. So if your website is ready to go live, ensure that the box next to it isn’t checked.
2. Set the permalinks.
The URLs you use on your website are among the most important SEO signals search engines look at. Google uses them as a ranking factor and is a big proponent of the whole “set permalinks for people, not computers” idea.
What does that look like in practice? Well, here’s an example of a bad, non-SEO and non-user friendly link:
And here’s how an SEO-friendly permalink looks like:
As you can see, it’s also user-friendly, providing information about the contents of the page. So be very careful when creating permalinks and slugs in WordPress because it’s a pain to replace them. Simply changing them will wipe the page’s social media share count clean. It might also have other repercussions on your search engine rankings.
3. Optimize the media.
Every piece of non-textual content you add to your website could contribute to its quality. People like to see images and video, and they like audio files too — these are all elements that can increase your website’s engagement power. Search engines know it, and they’re getting better at reading this type of content and rewarding websites that go through the trouble of creating and publishing it.
So you want your media optimized. If you’re looking to optimize images in WordPress, for example, you have to make sure that the balance between quality and size is just right. Low-quality images might load faster, but they won’t look nearly as good as high-quality images. The higher the quality, however, the bigger their size, and the slower the page’s loading speed. And while you’re at it, make sure your edits include adding titles and alt text.
4. Use categories and tags.
Categories and tags serve the simple purpose of helping you organize your content. They do it in different ways — categories are used to group similar content under a single broad label. Tags, on the other hand, help users find content that contains particular mentions and topics, regardless of the category it belongs to.
Mix them together, and categories and tags are a great way for your users to navigate the content on your website. For maximum SEO effect, however, you should ensure that the categories and tags you use contain all the juiciest keywords. Just make sure you’re not duplicating your keywords by naming both tags and categories the same.
5. Optimize the header tags.
Just like categories and tags are used to organize the textual content on your website, the headers are used to organize the contents of a single piece of content. We use them to split articles into logical and manageable chunks, and to guide our readers through the page fluently.
So while headers might not be as important a search engine cue as some other features might be, placing keywords in them is as good a strategy as any. It certainly can’t hurt, and you get the benefit of search engines understanding the structure of your article better. The readers would thank you for it, too.
6. Use a mix of internal and external links.
Your website doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s only natural that you’ll eventually want to direct its visitors to other websites for information they can’t find on yours. Or, at the very least, you’ll send them to another page on your website. You do this by adding a link in WordPress that leads away from the page and towards another website (external links) or another page on your website (internal links).
Search engines will take into account your efforts to connect content across your website and others. To make sure that you’re not necessarily leading people away from your website, make sure that all external links open in a new tab. Also, figure out which ones will be no-follow links, and which will be do-follow links.
7. Facilitate content shareability.
The saying that you should always go where your audiences are is pretty warn-out, but it’s true nonetheless. These days, that means having a social media presence. One of the ways you can use social media is as a channel for content distribution.
Those social media icons you see around content on websites serve the purpose of making it as convenient as possible for website visitors to share the content. You can add those buttons via social media sharing plugins. It’s not a complete certainty that social shares help with SEO, but they will get more traffic to your website.
8. Use SEO plugins you can rely on.
One of the most annoying things about SEO is that there are tons of little things you need to check on every page on your website. If you’d do it all manually, optimizing your website for search engines would become an incredibly tedious task pretty quickly.
Luckily for all of us, there are WordPress plugins for SEO that make it all a lot easier for you. The popular choices include Yoast’s WordPress SEO and Squirrly SEO. If you don’t think they have what you need, look around a bit — there are plenty of others to choose from.
9. Produce top-notch content.
They don’t say that content is king for nothing. Who’s they, you might ask? Everyone. Everyone is saying that content is king because high-quality content is your website’s ticket out of obscurity and into the ranks of websites people actually want to visit over and over again.
Search engines know it — they understand that the quality of your content has a direct correlation to the quality of the user experience of your visitors. Because search engines are in the business of giving its users the best possible experience, it’s very much worth the effort to be seen as a really good result. And you do that will high-quality content.
10. Make the website’s sitemap.
When search engines encounter your website, they have to index a whole lot of it before it appears in search engine results. Having a big and complicated website makes this job a lot harder for search engines. And you guessed it — making things harder for search engines usually isn’t the best SEO practice.
To make things easier for search engines, which is a good SEO practice, you can create an XML sitemap for your website. It’s incredibly easy to do with the right sitemap plugin, and it can make your website drastically search-engine friendlier.
Let’s Wrap It Up!
You can’t take advantage of the full potential of having a website without catering to search engines. Sure, there are other ways to get people to visit your website, but they are either more expensive or less effective than simply doing what search engines expect from you.
So play nice with search engines, and make sure you get it right from the very beginning by choosing an SEO optimized WordPress theme. These ten bits of advice will point you in the right direction. As you become more experienced with search engine optimization, you can start adopting some of the more advanced techniques. For now, however, what you’ve read here will surely get the job done.
Last but not least important, bear in mind that this is an ever-changing industry. Therefore, make sure to keep up with the latest SEO trends by following advice from experienced SEO experts like Ryan Scollon, who we have recently had the chance to talk to.
We hope this article was helpful. If you liked it, feel free to check out some of these articles as well!