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WordPress SEO Checklist – 45 Tips to Increase Traffic by 571% in 13 Months in 2020Some think that “SEO is dead.” Google the term and you will see 800,000 results. However, just because SEO has changed dramatically in the last decade does not mean that it is dead simply means that it has changed. Businesses now have to take a new and unique SEO approach to succeed in the endless game in SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Position). Many companies and emerging blogs build their entire business from the beginning in the organic search. While this may be risky, it shows that the organic search is alive and well. In this detailed article we will share with you more than 45 WordPress SEO tips to boost your traffic and help you dominate the competition.

RELATED Why bloggers need SEO in 2020

WordPress SEO tips for 2020 (Our results)

WordPress SEO tips for 2020 (Our results)

70-80% of users ignore paid ads and focus on organic results.

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the set of methods and / or strategies used to rank a website and higher content in search engines such as, Bing and Yahoo to lead to more organic traffic. SEO has two sides, the first is the technical part and the second can sometimes be more of a natural brand game among online businesses.

 

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To be among the first through SEO, it depends on offering a superior website experience and really great content. For companies this winning game comes along with the basic ingredients of WordPress SEO best practices. And how well have we done? Well, the proof that pudding exists is to eat it! Below you can see a screenshot of our “organic” analytics. By organic we mean that it comes from search engines (and excludes social media and paid ads, etc.). As you can see,  we increased our traffic by 571% in 13 months .

RELATED Creating a blog for beginners – A detailed guide in 17 steps

 

Increase in organic traffic in 13 months

Increase in organic traffic in 13 months

 

We have tripled the number of organic keywords by which our site is ranked by following the tricks and strategies below. It must not be a space scientist, it is hard work and consistency.

 

Organic keywords

Organic keywords

 

Check out these 45 WordPress SEO tips and frequently asked questions for 2018 to get better results in SERPs. Be sure to bookmark this post as we will be constantly updating it with true and approved strategies that worked for us.

 

A good #SEO strategy involves sharing tips that are useful! See your benefits! 👍

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  1. Domain www Vs non-www

If you have just launched your website the very first question you may have is whether to opt for www or not and how this affects your WordPress SEO. It is very simple: having www in your domain will not give any benefit in terms of SEO . It will not affect your ranking in any way. But this does not mean that you should stop using www. So why do websites still use www? For several reasons:

 

The use of www as part of your domain used to be a standard in the past. But that is no longer necessarily true. Even we at Kinsta do not use www. One of the reasons why it is still used is because its change after using it for years can be complex and causes problems. Thus many of the old brands simply continue to use it.

Another reason why large companies with a lot of traffic want to use it is due to DNS . Naked domains (without www) cannot technically have a CNAME record used in order to redirect traffic by switching. However, there are alternative solutions  to this problem.

So when it comes to www or non-www it is rather a personal preference. Maybe you prefer shorter URLs and in this case you would opt for no-www. Remember, no matter which version you choose, you can configure redirects to make each one accessible. For example if you visit  www.kinsta.com you will be redirected to kinsta.com .

 

In Google Search Console you can configure your preferred domain to appear with www or without www. We recommend that you check this option however if you use a WordPress plugin such as Yoast SEO (which we detail below) this option is not technically required since the plugin automatically adds canonical tags to allow Google to recognize which version to index.

 

google search console preferred domain

 

  1. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin

Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

WordPress is quite well prepared when it comes to SEO. However we always recommend that people install an SEO plugin when they are working with your WordPress site. Its use allows you to have complete control regarding the optimization of everything Google sees from your website. In terms of popularity  Yoast SEO and All-in-One SEO Pack steal the show with its full optimization capability. We highly recommend the Yoast SEO plugin and in fact many WordPress SEO checklists have examples using this plugin.

The Yoast SEO plugin allows you to write better content by analyzing the page and keywords automatically generates XML sitemap, activates navigation paths, adds social and schematic specifications as well as lots of other optimizations. At the time of writing this article the plugin has more than 1 million installations with an evaluation of 4.6 on a scale of 5. You can download the free plugin from the WordPress repository or follow the steps below to install it from your WordPress control panel.

 

Step 1

Under the plugins section of your WordPress control panel, click “Add New.” Search Yoast SEO and click “Install Now.”

 

Install Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

Install Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

 

Step 2

Click on “Activate”.

 

activate Yoast SEO plugin

Activate Yoast SEO plugin

 

Step 3

You now have an SEO menu where you can access the plugin settings. We will see the Yoast plugin options in more detail a little later.

 

Yoast SEO settings

Yoast SEO settings

 

And remember  the plugin does not do SEO for you . It simply offers recommendations for further optimization based on data.

 

  1. Configure Friendly Permalinks

By default WordPress offers and creates rare permalinks (URL structure) that are simply not very clean. The default moment structure currently inserts the day and name in the URL as can be seen below.

 

http://wp.dev/2016/11/03/hello-world/

Google likes links that contain your title and / or keywords in the post but shorter links are generally better. We recommend using the permalink configuration “Publish Name” as it is clean and you can benefit from using the title or your keyword in the URL. The format is like this:

 

http://wp.dev/hello-world/

You can change the structure of the permalink “Publication Name” by clicking on “Permalinks” in the configuration menu on your WordPress control panel. Select “Publication Name” and click “Save Changes.”

 

default wordpress permalinks

WordPress permalinks by default

 

It is important to note that changing the structure of the permalink after the post goes live can make all the previous links useless and people who share these links on their social networks will be unable to drive traffic to your site. If you are changing the structure of the permalink in an old site, be sure to redirect the previous links to the new permalink by editing the .htaccess file or taking advantage of a third-party plugin such as Change Permalink Helper . Be sure to read our detailed article on permalinks in WordPress.

 

  1. Always Use Focus Keyword

Speaking about WordPress SEO it is important to remember that Google is still a computer algorithm and that’s why keywords are still important in 2017 and 2018 . You should definitely write for your visitors and customers as recommended by Google but write intelligently. You can easily write for your audience, as well as keep the best SEO optimizations in mind. And remember, other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo sometimes rely even more on what some may call outdated SEO practices.

 

Every time you write a blog post or publish a page on your WordPress site you should always have a focus keyword in mind. Pulique a publication not only for the sake of more content out. Using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can easily set the focus keyword you want to write about. For example, for this article we use the keyword “WordPress SEO”. You can see that Yoast SEO is analyzing the keyword density and reports that it is a bit low for this post. Generally 0.5% or more is a good result. So we must find a way to include our keyword a few times more naturally within our content.

 

wordpress seo keyword target

Focus Keyword

 

  1. The Importance of Title Labels

It is important that you have your focus keyword that you want to rank in your blog post or page title tag. Brian Dean, an SEO expert, recommends even placing your keyword at the beginning of the title if possible since it will have more weight in the search engines. For example, the title of this blog post in English is “WordPress SEO Checklist – 50 Tips for 2018”. We put our keyword at the beginning.

 

This may not always be possible but it can give you a small incentive. So you can configure a title tag manually in Yoast SEO plugin that you can see below. Remember that Google has a limitation of 65 characters if it exceeds it may not appear. They are really very limited by pixels now but Yoast SEO uses characters and takes full advantage of this limitation. And remember that title tags not only affect SEO but the click-through rate (CTR) as well. Some  have reported a 20% increase in CTR simply for having made minor modifications to their titles.

 

WP SEO Title

WP SEO Title

 

Testing your titles by division tests and A / B tests can be another effective way to increase the CTR and in a sense help Google see its content as more relevant. There are WordPress plugins such as Title Experiments and Nelio AB Testing that can help you run your own tests.

 

It seems that Google continues to rely on our well-optimized H1 and title tags and that their smaller, data-driven and well-researched changes can make a difference in organic search performance. – Distilled

 

What about using your company name at the end of the title tag ? This won’t hurt you, but you should ask yourself if you make the most of the space. Having your company name may not always be the best decision in terms of increasing the CTR or relevance to the content.

 

  1. Increase CTR with Goal Description

Meta descriptions have no effect on your WordPress SEO regarding ranking. However they do affect your CTR. A well-written meta description can attract the user to click on his post instead of on top or bottom of SERPs. As we have already said, the higher the CTR has the more relevant Google will consider your data and rank you higher. That is to say in a certain way meta descriptions can affect the ranking but not in the traditional sense. You can configure them manually in Yoast SEO plugin. Before there was a limit of 156 characters.

 

However, since December 2017, Google has increased it to 320 since then they have modified 150 and 170 characters again . Anything longer will not appear in the SERPs. They are really very limited by pixels now but Yoast SEO uses characters and takes full advantage of this limitation.

 

wordpress seo descriptions meta ctr

Meta description

 

It is worth including your keyword focus in the meta description because Google will highlight the search term in bold. For example, if we search for “coolest car” in Google, KBB coincidentally has “coolest car” in the meta description so Google shows the keyword in bold as it is relevant to its search term. So including your keyword focus in your meta description can stand out a bit more.

 

Google meta description

Google meta description

 

Don’t forget that Google automatically rewrites some meta descriptions . So what you enter will not always appear in the SERPs.

 

In this video by Brian Dean, you can see how to increase CTR in your meta descriptions by using words that appear competitive in AdWords as well as using what he calls “the power of words.”

 

  1. Should I use the Meta Keywords?

Meta keywords are things of the past really . We are including them in our list for those who are undecided whether to use them or not. The simple answer is no . Google and Bing previously relied heavily on meta keywords in their ranking algorithms but no longer used. It seems that Yahoo continues to use them but we do not recommend using them simply for that reason. However, depending on where your site is, it is worth knowing that both the Russian search engine Yandex and the Chinese  Baidu continue to use the meta keywords.

 

According to  Yandex , <meta name = “Keywords” content = “…” /> – it can be used to determine the relevancy of the page in search queries. If you want to add meta keywords to the entries and pages of your WordPress site you can activate the option in the Yoast SEO plugin by following the steps below.

 

Step 1

Click on the “Title & Goals” section of the plugin and click on the “Other” tab. Here you can enable the option “Use the meta keyword tag”.

 

enable meta yoast keyword

Enable Yoast meta keyword

 

Step 2

Now in its posts and pages the Yoast SEO plugin has a section to enter the meta keywords as you can see below.

 

keywords yoast seo goal

Meta keywords in Yoast SEO

 

Once again: we do not recommend wasting much time with the target keywords unless you use a search engine that continues to use them. The keywords became obsolete since neither Google nor Bing uses them when trying SEO.

 

  1. Header Labels – H1, H2, H3

The Google Bot verifies HTML headers such as H1, H2, H3 etc. to determine the relevance of the content of your site. Generally the best practice is to have a unique H1 tag per post or page and then several H2 and H3 below. Think of it as if it had a hierarchy of importance. The H1 tag is one of its most important headers and should contain your focus keyword. Additional headers could also include variations of keywords or long queues of the keyword. However, do not abuse the headers. These are used to divide your content to make it easier for the visitor to read.

 

Most WordPress themes, if encoded correctly, will automatically assign the title of your page or post as the H1 header. Then, you can assign headers H2, H3, H4, etc. within your post or page. You can create a header using the drop-down list of the visual editor. This automatically assigns the text block to the <h2> or <h3> HTML tags that Google will read.

 

Header Tags

Header Tags

 

You can also use the hot keys in the visual editor to more quickly apply the headers.

 

ALT + SHIFT + 2 (H2 header)

ALT + SHIFT + 3 (H3 header)

  1. Alternative Text of the Image

ALT tags refer to the attribute or alternative text that is applied to the images on your WordPress site. ALT tags are used by Google to see how relevant your image is in the content that surrounds it. They are also used by screen readers for people with visual impairments. For example, if someone was using Dragon NaturallySpeaking software, alternative tags can actually help you navigate pages better. You should always add alternative tags to your images . And if you haven’t done it until now, come back and do it now.

 

<img src=”image.jpg” alt=”image description” title=”image title”/>

Fortunately with WordPress you don’t need to know any code to add the new tag, simply add when uploading images to the media library or by clicking on an image inside the visual editor. Follow the steps below to quickly add an ALT tag to an existing image.

 

Step 1

In the visual editor, keep the mouse on the image and click on the “Edit” button.

 

Step 2

You can then enter the description of the ALT attribute in the “Alternative Text” field. In general it is beneficial to add your emphasis keyword if applicable to the image. However, do not add your keyword as an ALT tag to all images as SEO moderates all things and Google does not like spamming.

 

Add alternative tag to the image

Add alternative tag to the image

 

  1. Text Title Image

Image title texts are not used by SEO objectives and are not tracked by Google or Bing so you are not required to use them. In the example below you can see what a title tag is like.

 

<img src=”image.jpg” alt=”image description” title=”image title”/>

However title tags allow you to add suggestion to images. This can be a great way to simply add a little CTA (wake up call) when you move your mouse over the image. So technically they won’t help you rank your site better, but they will offer a better user experience. As in the case of ALT tags you don’t need to know any code to add the title tag but you can add them when uploading images to the multimedia library or by clicking on an image inside the visual editor. Follow the steps below to quickly add title text to an existing image.

 

Step 1

In the visual editor, place the cursor on the image and click on the “Edit” option.

 

edit image in wordpress

Edit image in WordPress

 

Step 2

You can then enter the description of the title text in the “Image title attribute” field in the advanced options.

 

Image Title

Image Title

 

Then, you can see the title text in action as a tooltip if you hover your cursor over the image.

  1. Focus the Key Word in the First Paragraph

The first paragraph of your publication and page content in WordPress is very important! It is always advisable to add your focus keyword within the first paragraph if possible. The reason is because Google crawls content from top to bottom, and if you find your keyword there can help you consider your article as more relevant to the topic. The Yoast SEO plugin even has a check to this to make sure they are keeping on with this best practice.

 

The keyword is in the first paragraph

The keyword is in the first paragraph

 

  1. Content is king (word count)

The old saying “Content is king” is still alive and well. Google and visitors love high quality content. Overall, it is much better to publish content better quality and longer so that shorter publish content more frequently. This may vary, of course. If you have a news site, this could be really the opposite. But the long -form content has proven time and again winning in SERPs. Capsicum Mediaworks published some statistics about the  importance of content length .

 

Content Length

Content Length

 

As you can see the websites that occupy the top positions have much more content. In fact, 2,000 words or more should be your new minimum these days.

 

Neil Patel, a popular internet marketer, has a great post from 2016 on  how long-form content can help increase your ratings . And you can probably see that we have seen the same results here in Kinsta, otherwise we would not spend much time posting content this long!

 

CanIRank published its findings in a study in early 2017 on the effectiveness of content length . They analyzed everything, such as seeing if longer content generates more backlinks and what happens with the rankings of the third and fourth pages. In summary, they found that the length of the content, even with other possible factors at play, is still better.

 

Content Length

Content Length

 

Another advantage of long-form content is that it will also begin to rank over time not only for your focus keyword, but also for many long-tail keyword variations, sometimes hundreds of keywords. And sometimes the traffic of all long tail variations will be more than that of your focus keyword. Therefore, it is really a win-win when it comes to content in a long way!

 

  1. Use Short Links

Google likes WordPress sites that are clean, organized and structured; This includes the use of short URLs. They can also help improve your CTR. MarketingSherpa  conducted a study and found that executives are 250% more likely to click on an organic list if:

 

It had a fairly short URL and

It appeared directly below a list with a long URL

So keeping your URLs as short as possible can be a huge competitive advantage. The only thing to keep in mind is that WordPress automatically creates a URL for you based on the title. For this publication we end with the following:

 

https://kinsta.com/blog/wordpress-seo-checklist-50-tips-2017/

Then we can change it and simply use the target keyword. Follow the steps below to shorten a URL of a WordPress post or page.

 

Step 1

Next to your URL (known as slug) click “Edit.”

 

wordpress seo edit URL

Edit URL in WP

 

Step 2

You can then type the URL you want to use. Be sure to separate your keyword with hyphens. Then, click on “OK”.

 

wordpress seo short URL

Short URL

 

Then we finish with the following URL, which is much more pleasant.

 

https://kinsta.com/blog/wordpress-seo/

It is also important to remember that each URL or slug in WordPress has to be unique. Therefore, you cannot have two publications or pages that use the same URL. So keep that in mind when writing.

 

  1. Use Smart Image File Names

This is one thing that many WordPress site owners do wrong, and that is to name their images correctly! With good WordPress SEO practices you can really see a nice little boost in both SERPs and Google Image Search.

 

Always name the image files with real words related to the content before loading them. For example, instead of DC0000.JPG, name it wordpress-seo.JPG.

Always include hyphens between words in the image file names. For example, if you appoint wordpressseo.JPG wordpress_seo.JPG or Google you can not read this. Google reads files with scripts as individual words, so you’ll want to name it as wordpress-security.JPG.

Include your focus keyword, if applicable, at least in your featured image. We always name our featured image in our blog posts in the same way as our focus keywords.

  1. The Importance of Dofollow Links vs. NoFollow

There are two basic types of links on the internet when it comes to WordPress SEO; These are the dofollow links and nofollow links. Here are the basic differences between the two:

 

Dofollow links 

By default, every link you create on a WordPress site is dofollow. Google crawls the websites and when it finds dofollow links it passes link juice between them and the site to which they are linked. This helps create authority and affects your ranking on Google. You have probably heard people say that you need more backlinks, well, they usually refer to dofollow links from other high-authority sites. In general, the more dofollow links you get, the better!

 

Nofollow links 

Nofollow links are links that contain the nofollow rel attribute, as seen below:

 

<a href=”https://kinsta.com” rel=”nofollow”>my link</a>

Nofollow links tell Google that they should not pass any link juice and that they should simply be ignored. That does not mean that nofollow links are not important, however. Remember that nofollow links can still generate traffic, even if they don’t pass the link juice. For example, the link on your Twitter profile is nofollow as seen below. However, this link can still generate a lot of traffic and therefore remains important. Read our tutorial on different ways to add nofollow links in WordPress .

 

link nofollow twitter

Nofollow links

 

Creating a backlink profile of a good balance of dofollow and nofollow links is the best and safest approach . Read this post about other easy ways to find out if a link is dofollow or nofollow .

 

  1. Add Interlinks

Interlinks are links that point from a page or publication on your WordPress site to another page or publication on the same site. Usually, this is when you are referring to other content that you have written or possibly linking to your own landing page. Moz has a great article on why internal links are important .

 

They help people navigate within their own website and increase the time on their site.

They help establish a hierarchy of their information and structure.

They help spread the link juice through their own website, as they are dofollow.

 

Andy Drinkwater

@iqseo

From 2nd page to position 2 – now to get their competitor off that top spot. Shouldnt take too long 😉

 

Internal linking is an absolute must

 

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We always  recommend adding at least 3-5 internal links  in each post or page you write. And depending on the length of its content, possibly even more. Follow the steps below to know how to easily add a link.

 

Step 1

To create a hyperlink click on the link button at the top of the visual editor, or highlight the word and press CTRL + K. Then click on “Link Options”.

 

wordpress link

WP Link

 

Step 2

Next, select the recent article to which you want to link it. You can also use the search to search for the internal page or publication.

 

wordpress seo internal link

Internal link

 

  1. Add External Links of High Domain Authority

Like adding interlinks above, you should also add some external links to high domain authority sites. This helps your WordPress SEO by letting Google know that it is linking to high quality content that is relevant to yours and improves the user experience by providing additional information.

 

It can also be a great way to start conversations with another brand. If you link to another company in your publication, send them a quick email or tweet after publishing it and request a share. If you share it on your social profiles this may be instant free traffic for you! We use this approach a lot and it works very well.

 

We  recommend adding at least 2 external high domain authority links within your content. And remember, adding external links a nice little trick to keep people on your site is to open the link in a new tab or window. Some people may argue that they don’t like this, but it can help people come back and browse your site later, while they might otherwise have forgotten you. Follow the quick steps below to make a link open in a new tab or window.

 

Step 1

To create a hyperlink click on the link button at the top of the visual editor or highlight the word and press CTRL + K. Enter the external URL and click on “Link options”.

 

wordpress link options

Link options

 

Step 2

Then, select «Open link in a new tab». This adds the HTML equivalent of target = “_ blank” to your posts, as seen below:

 

<a href=”https://kinsta.com” target=”_blank”>Kinsta</a>

Open link in another window

Open link in another window

 

Another popular approach that many bloggers take is to establish external links to open in new tabs and internal links go directly.

 

  1. Affiliate Links

A lot of WordPress bloggers and even some companies use affiliate links on their websites. Affiliate links are generally used when you want to follow a commission or potential customer of a product or subscription between websites. The downside is that Google normally disapproves affiliate links. Some sites have even been penalized for having a lot of affiliate links. To safely use affiliate links, they must always be nofollow . A great way to keep track of your affiliate links and always make sure they are nofollow is to use an affiliate plugin such as Pretty Links .

 

Pretty Links allows you to create easy and short affiliate links that are always nofollow and also redirect with a 301. For example, a link can be https://domain.com/go/kinsta. This links internal redirects so you can access report data on how many clicks are made on each link.

 

affiliate pretty links

Pretty links

 

  1. Sitemaps

Sitemaps are used by search engines such as Google, Bing and Yandex to grab the hierarchy and structure of your WordPress site, as well as ensure better tracking. Are sitemaps necessary? No, search engines will crawl your site without it, but creating this file also allows you to get more data from reports on your site. That’s why we recommend always use a Sitemap file : thanks to him, you can provide a clear picture of the structure of your site to search engines, which, among other things, increase your chances of getting links from sites of Google. The Yoast SEO plugin really has the ability to automatically generate your sitemap file for you. Follow these steps to enable this function or check.

 

Step 1

Click on “XML Sitemaps” in the Yoast SEO options and enable the XML sitemap functionality.

 

wordpress xml file sitemap

Xml sitemap file

 

Step 2

It is always good to verify that your XML sitemap file is actually being created. You can click on the XML Sitemap button and it will launch the file itself, usually located at the root of your domain:

 

https://domain.com/sitemap_index.xml

It should look like this below. Later we will see more details on how to send this file to Google and Bing to index and track quickly.

 

xml file sitemap

Xml sitemap file

 

Take a look at our detailed tutorial on using a WordPress site map .

 

  1. Send Sitemap to Google Search Console

Now that you have an XML sitemap file, it is recommended to send it to the Google Search Console so you can access additional data about the status of your WordPress site. We’ll assume you already have a Google Search Console account if not, take a look at this more detailed post on  how to submit your site to Google .

 

In the  Google Search Console,  click on “Sitemaps” in the tracking section and then click on “Add / Test Sitemap”. Enter the location of your sitemap file that you set up in the previous step and click on “Submit”. It will show you how many pages / publications have been sent and how many are really indexed. Google will automatically track your sitemap file on a regular basis.

 

send google sitemap file

Send sitemap file

 

  1. Send Sitemaps to Bing Webmaster Tools

As with Google Search Console, it is also recommended that you submit your WordPress site to Bing Webmasters Tools. Check out this in-depth tutorial on  how to submit your site to Bing .

 

  1. Send Sitemaps to Yandex Webmaster Tools

As in the case of Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools it is recommended to send your WordPress site to Yandex. This is a Russian engine but if you have global traffic it can help you! See this detailed tutorial on how to submit your website to Yandex .

 

  1. Force Tracking for Faster Indexing

Typically when you publish content on your WordPress site Google will determine the frequency of crawling at which you will index your content. This may take from a few minutes to hours and days. However, did you know that there is a solution to index your content instantly on Google and Bing? This is a practical trick that you can use to see how you can stand out against your competition in SERPs.

 

Force Tracking in Google Search Console

To force the crawling of a WordPress post or page, simply click on the “Fetch as Google” option on the “Crawl” option in the Google Search Console and enter the URL. Click on “Fetch”.

 

force crawl on google search console

Force crawl in GSC

 

Then click on “Request Indexing” and your URL will be indexed instantly in SERPs. Please note that Google does not guarantee  that you will index it immediately. However, in our tests this always works. Some recommendations for faster indexing include making sure your WordPress site loads quickly and nothing prevents Google from tracking it.

 

Request indexing

Request indexing

 

Force Tracking in Bing Webmaster Tools

You can do the same in Bing Webmaster Tools. Simply click on “Submit URLs” under “Configure My Site”, enter the URL and click on “Submit”.

 

force track bing webmaster tools

Force Bing Webmaster Tools crawl

 

  1. Use Social Signals

Do social cues help your WordPress SEO? Such as tweets, actions, upvote sites, etc. The answer is unfortunately not black or white. However, we have seen firsthand that they may temporarily affect your classification in SERPs. We have noticed this from both Reddit and Y Combinator. In the past we have seen trend messages on these sites immediately starting ranking on page one of Google. After the trend stops, the rankings tend to fluctuate and the publication is set to where it will really rank in the longer term. So what causes this to happen? Our theory is that due to the massive amount of traffic and social signals combined, Google considers this page very relevant and gives a boost in SERPs.

 

Many SEOs will discuss this, but we have seen this happen first hand a couple of times. You arrive on the first page of Google or Reddit, and immediately you are the ranking page one for a very competitive term. Next week, the post stabilizes again and you are at the center of the second page in SERPs. This then requires that you re-optimize the publication, the backlinks of the structure against it, etc. to return to the first page.

 

Below is an example of something we wrote with a decent volume of keyword that was shot in SERPs the next day, because we sent a lot of social traffic to it.

 

Traffic on social networks

Traffic on social networks

 

The biggest contribution is simply the shares, social signs and more traffic that does influence your rankings so we recommend taking advantage of social networks as much as you can. Here is a great article on how social signals affect your SEO .

 

  1. Do Keyword Research

91.5% never venture past the first page of search results. – Search Engine Watch

 

The keywords are still alive and well in 2016 and will be in 2017. That is why ranking is important. Remember that as mentioned before, Google is still a computer algorithm. You have to look at something to calculate rankings, and keywords are still a big part of that. This is an example of a customer site that started in October 2015. In less than a year they grew their website on a property that now receives more than 120,000 visitors per month, and 95% of the traffic is organic. And the incredible part is that we only spend 2-3 hours per week on it. How they did it? They found a good niche and did research on strategic keywords .

 

Keyword Research Traffic

Keyword Research Traffic

 

There are many great tools out there to help you do keyword research. A couple of our favorites are KWFinder ,  SEMrush , and Ahrefs . The trick is to find a good keyword with the search volume, while also not choosing something that is too competitive.

 

Never assume that people are looking. Write natural, but write smart.

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And don’t forget multilingual SEO! Keywords in other languages ​​are sometimes much less competitive. The English market is very saturated when it comes to content marketing and SERPs. For example, in English we search for the term “marketing strategies.” We can see that it has a volume of around 40,000 searches per month. And it will be difficult to classify. If you look at SERPs, it immediately goes against huge domains with high domain authority. If you’re smart, you probably won’t try to address this keyword.

 

Keyword Volume

Keyword Volume

 

Now if you take the same term in Spanish, “marketing strategies”, we can see that you don’t have so much search volume, only around 15,000 per month. And guess what? The difficulty is not difficult to classify. Domains that are competing against all have low domain authority of less than 40. That is now something I could address. When it comes to other languages ​​you will find a lot of search terms that are simply easier to rank.

 

Keyword volume in Spanish 

Keyword volume in Spanish

 

Be sure to read our  multilingual WordPress guide  to start mastering SERPs in other languages.

 

  1. Build Backlinks

Backlinks are still very important when it comes to WordPress SEO. Backlinks are used by Google to pass link juice as discussed above and to demonstrate that there is another relevant or important site that has similar information. When a high domain authority site makes a link to you, it does much more than people think. Brian Dean at Backlinko analyzed more than a million search results  and the conclusion was that backlinks remain an important ranking factor.

 

Generally, a good sign is to see that the number of referring domains that link to you is in an upward trend. This means that over time you are receiving more and more websites that link to you. And in fact, in Brian’s study, the number of unique reference domains was the strongest correlation in the entire study . The websites that had the most references to domains were the ones with the highest ranking. And the conclusion was that backlinks remain an important ranking factor.

 

referring domains

Reference Domains

 

Matthew Barby also did a 1 million URL analysis and found that yes,  backlinks do matter . On average, the first two results on page 1 of Google were equivalent to having 38% of all backlinks of the pages on the first page.

 

A good tool to get an overview of your backlink profile is Ahrefs . You can see the total number of backlink links to your site, the number of referral domains, organic keywords, etc. Another great feature is backlink notifications. We’ve tried a lot of backlink tools and Ahrefs definitely takes the cake for accuracy. The “new backlink links” feature allows you to see when new websites have been linked to your WordPress site. Below is an example of someone linked to our Google Amp article in the last two days.

 

seo new backlinks

Backlinks new

 

A little tip: Help share the content when people make a link to you. This helps build social cues for them on that page which in turn can help build their page authority. And you want higher page authority links. So in a sense you can help yourself by sharing the content of third parties that have taken the time to link to you.

 

  1. The HTTPS SEO WordPress Advantage

Google has officially said that  HTTPS is a ranking factor . While it may only be a small ranking factor, would you not take any advantage that can beat your competitors in SERPs? And because of Google’s push for everyone to migrate to HTTPS, you can bet that the weight of this ranking factor will probably increase in the future. Here is a great article about the  impact of TLS / SSL on rankings . And just look at some of the other data surrounding SEO and HTTPS! Matthew Barby did an analysis of 1 million URLs and found that more than 33% of all pages that occupy 1, 2 or 3 on Google use HTTPS.

 

Matt Cutts

@mattcutts

Reading “HTTPS as a ranking signal”: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal.html …

 

HTTPS as a ranking signal

HTTPS (HTTP with SSL/TLS) is a now a very lightweight signal — carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content. Over time, we may decide to strengthen the signal, because we’d…

 

webmasters.googleblog.com

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And, just to see some more data about SEO and HTTPS! Matthew Barby did a 1 million URL analysis  and found that more than 33% of all pages with a ranking of 1, 2 or 3 on Google use HTTPS.

 

use of https vs google ranking

Use of HTTPS vs Google ranking

 

So what do you expect? Check out  our detailed article on the migration from HTTP to HTTPS in WordPress .

 

  1. Schema Markup

You have probably heard the crazy term “schema markup” or “structured markup” spoken around the web. The schema markup is basically additional code that helps search engines like Google deliver more and better data to visitors. Have you seen those stars next to a SERPs review? Well, the stars are the result of the schema markup. The schema markup means that you can get special points in SERPs, as well as a spectacular increase in CTR.

 

How much do stars help in SERPs? The CXL Institute did a study and both companies that used stars for reviews experienced a significantly higher CTR by 35% in organic search. His conclusion was that this strategy does produce better results.

 

Many WordPress themes have schema markup encoded in them, but there are also those that do not. You can test your website or blog post with the Google  Structured Data Testing Tool . Generally what you want to see are 0 errors and receive something instead. If it is completely blank on the right side, it means that your WordPress site has no schema markup added to it.

 

google structured data scheme

Google structured data scheme

 

To add schema markup to your WordPress site, we recommend the free Schema plugin  . This will automatically add the necessary marking. You can then run another test in the Google Structured Data Testing Tool.

 

  1. Social Markup

Like the schema markup, there is also a social markup. Do you know those thumbnails that appear on Facebook and Twitter when you share a blog post from your WordPress site? Well, those are generated using social markup. Fortunately, again the Yoast SEO plugin comes to the rescue. This plugin adds the social markup necessary for you. Although it is unknown how much they affect WordPress SEO, Google never hurts to know what social media profiles are connected to your brand.

 

We recommend going to the “Social” options in Yoast SEO and filling in everything. You can change things like the default thumbnail that appears when your website is shared and the type of thumbnail Twitter uses.

 

yoast social markup

Yoast social markup

 

This is an example of the code that is automatically added to you by the Yoast SEO plugin. Facebook and Google use what they call OG tags to get information and Twitter uses its own meta information.

 

<meta property=”og:locale” content=”en_US” />

<meta property=”og:type” content=”article” />

<meta property=”og:title” content=”How to Install WordPress Locally the Easy Way” />

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Sometimes it can be more convenient to work with WordPress on your own machine. Check out how to install WordPress locally the easy way with DesktopServer.” />

<meta property=”og:url” content=”https://kinsta.com/blog/install-wordpress-locally/” />

<meta property=”og:site_name” content=”Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting” />

<meta property=”article:publisher” content=”https://www.facebook.com/kinstahosting” />

<meta property=”article:section” content=”Development” />

<meta property=”article:published_time” content=”2016-11-03T03:15:35-08:00″ />

<meta property=”article:modified_time” content=”2016-11-06T18:55:53-08:00″ />

<meta property=”og:updated_time” content=”2016-11-06T18:55:53-08:00″ />

<meta property=”fb:admins” content=”1407415661″ />

<meta property=”og:image” content=”https://kinsta.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/install-wordpress-locally.jpg” />

<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”summary_large_image” />

<meta name=”twitter:description” content=”Sometimes it can be more convenient to work with WordPress on your own machine. Check out how to install WordPress locally the easy way with DesktopServer.” />

<meta name=”twitter:title” content=”How to Install WordPress Locally the Easy Way” />

<meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@kinsta” />

<meta name=”twitter:image” content=”https://kinsta.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/install-wordpress-locally.jpg” />

<meta name=”twitter:creator” content=”@brianleejackson” />

  1. Last Date Updated in SERPs

This is a controversial issue for some, and you should delete the dates in your WordPress messages or change them to “Last Update?” Some say that the dates shown in the posts may be the signal of a direct or indirect ranking.

 

Dan Shure

@dan_shure

This is what accidentally reverting to an old publish date (and having the old one display in SERPs) did to rankings on a high volume / high competition keyword – fixing the date fixed rankings

 

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It really depends on the type of site you run. If you have a lot of content that is always green, then yes, you may want to change the dates to “last update.” In fact, in Kinsta we use the latest update in our blogs because we spend many hours updating old content. Follow the steps below to implement this on your WordPress site.

 

Step 1

Note: this may vary depending on the WordPress theme. First you will need to edit your single.php file and find the following code:

 

<?php the_time(‘F j Y’); ?>

Step 2

Replace the code above with this code:

 

Last updated on <time datetime=”<?php the_modified_time(‘Y-m-d’); ?>”><?php the_modified_time(‘F jS, Y’); ?></time>

Now, your blog posts should show an updated date. The above code is validated in the Google Structured Data Testing tool and the updated date will appear in SERPs. As you can see in this example, we published this article 5 days ago. However, we have added an update 2 days ago. Google re-tracked it after our update and it looks so fresh in SERPs. This can help increase your CTR.

 

Last data update in SERPs

Last data update in SERPs

 

Remember however, update its contents. You may lose the ability to display those date lines if you try to trick Google by falsifying the date so that it looks newer than the actual date / time it was published.

 

  1. Always Green Content

The content is always green can be very important when it comes to WordPress SEO and organic traffic long term. Always green means that it is content that is generally always relevant, no matter when you read it. In general, when it comes to publishing always green content, it requires the writer to update it occasionally since most industries always change slightly over time. See some  evidence about the power of evergreen content .

 

Another advantage of the ever green content is that you can share it again and again and continue building backlinks and social cues against it. If you have the option of publishing always green content vs. news, you should definitely opt for the long-term strategy!

 

  1. Google Knowledge Graph

Have you ever seen that box appear at the top of Google? This is called the Google Knowledge Graph or featured snippets. If you get this it essentially means that you can qualify twice for the same keyword and publish in SERPs. How do you get this? Unfortunately, there is no magic recipe to achieve this 100% of the time, but from our personal experience by adding outline marking and also using bullet headings and lists as they were meant to be, it can help achieve the quoted Graph of Google Knowledge . Structure your messages in an organized manner with marking and you must be on the right track.

 

Google Knowledge Graph

Google Knowledge Graph

 

  1. Negative SEO

Negative SEO is a very important issue since many people do not know how to deal with it. Normally, with SEO you will want to get backlinks from other people, as this helps build your domain and authority of the page by passing link juice. However, this strategy can also be reverse engineering to damage your website. Check out this article by Ryan Sullivan,  SEO Negative: Destroy Business with a Spammy Backlink .

 

This is the reason why you should monitor your backlink profile. That is the only way you will know that no negative SEO is happening against your business. Take a look at this case in which a business was attacked  and the next morning he woke up with more than 200,000 bad backlinks against them, all with viagra and pharmacy terms. And guess what? It took more than 2 years to clean up the mess. That is the bad thing that negative SEO can become.

 

bad negative SEO backlinks

Backlinks bad and SEO negative

 

At first this doesn’t seem fair, since you can’t stop someone from sending a bad backlink against you. So if this happens to you, Google has a tool what they call Disavow tool . This allows you to create a list of domains that you want Google to ignore. So at least there is a way to protect yourself. We recommend you read our related article on how to debug a negative SEO attack on Kinsa.com. In addition, we have another interesting case study: How to diagnose the decline in rankings (The craziest SEO problem we’ve seen)

 

  1. Claim Social Profiles

Another tip is to claim all your social media profiles as soon as possible. Normally companies must do this immediately after launching their website. The majority of social network profile backlinks are not to follow, however, they can send you a lot of traffic. Another great advantage is that social media profile pages rank very well in SERPs! So for the brand this can be huge. Take Kinsta for example. If you Google our name «Kinsta» you can see that our Facebook page and our Twitter profile rank on the first page. And our LinkedIn page is at the top of the page. Using social media profiles is almost an instant victory for your brand and requires almost no effort on your part.

 

Classification of social media profile

Classification of social media profile

 

You can use a free tool like  Namechk to see what names are available on all social networks. Be sure to claim all of yours today!

 

  1. Local SEO

Local SEO is a huge topic. Much more than we can cover in this publication only. Some quick tips are that local businesses must immediately register their site with Google Business  and Bing Places . These are completely free and will help you appear in SERPs locally. For example, I looked down food “organic Italian” and Picazzo’s, a local Italian place came out on top of the list.

 

business-local-seo

SEO Local Business

 

Check this  guide Local SEO in-depth of friends at TheSiteEdge. This is a great way to start and stay ahead of your local competition.

 

  1. Google Image Search

An important reason to set up your Google Search Console account  and submit your sitemap file as discussed above is so you can monitor the status of your image index in Google Image Search. Image traffic can actually increase up to a little more over time so it is important to verify that your images are being indexed. According to Jumpshot data , Google images accounted for more than 22% of web searches in 2018.

 

You can click on “Site Map” in the tracking section in GSC and check the status.

 

Google Image Search indexing

Google Image Search indexing

 

You should also ensure that your images are indexed with Google when moving to a CDN . Yoast SEO plugin users should add the following code to the bottom of their functions.php file. Replace the domain and domain of the CDN with yours obviously.

 

function wpseo_cdn_filter( $uri ) {

return str_replace( ‘http://yourdomain.com’, ‘http://cdn.yourdomain.com’, $uri );

}

add_filter( ‘wpseo_xml_sitemap_img_src’, ‘wpseo_cdn_filter’ );

If you do not do this, it may turn out that your images are de-indexed (as follows), which means that you will lose all the benefits of Google Image Search. You can always verify this in Google Search Console.

 

Images are not indexed in CDN

 

In September 2018, Google changed the operation of its algorithm.

 

Ross Hudgens

@RossHudgens

Google announced a change to their image search algorithm. Notable points: 

 

-They prioritize freshness

-Images higher on pages rank better

-Topical authority matters more 

 

Relevant SEO paragraphs from the article shown below, found via @CyrusShepard https://www.blog.google/products/search/making-visual-content-more-useful-search/ …

 

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  1. No Indexe Image Attachment Pages

Each time you upload an image and insert the normal form, create a separate page of WordPress attachments on which the image resides. If you are not careful, Google could start indexing these pages, which is sometimes not a good thing. If someone clicks on an attached image page, all you will see is the image, and not the content that is in the post. This will most likely result in them leaving the page immediately simply by causing their bounce rate to rise. If you see this on your WordPress site, the Yoast SEO plugin has a redirect option to fix this. Simply click on the “Advanced” Yoast SEO settings and enable “Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL”.

 

redirect attachment URLs to the main URL

Redirect attachment URLs to the main URL

 

  1. Multilingual SEO WordPress

Adding additional languages ​​to your site can be a huge change when it comes to WordPress SEO and traffic. Neil Patel experienced a 47% increase in traffic  after translating its site into 82 languages. Of course this will not work for everyone and depends on your business and geographic location, but definitely something to think about. When it comes to actually implementing this on your WordPress website, Google will not claim duplicate content, as long as you have the correct hreflang and canonical tags installed. In the following example, these tags basically tell Google that the English version is the original and that this is a secondary version only in Spanish.

 

English Version

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://kinsta.com” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://kinsta.com” hreflang=”x-default” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://kinsta.com/es” hreflang=”es” />

Spanish version

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://kinsta.com/es” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://kinsta.com” hreflang=”x-default” />

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://kinsta.com/es” hreflang=”es” />

There are plugins that you can use to translate your content, such as WPML or translation services for WordPress, such as Weglot . Remember, no machine translation tool will beat having a real person translating for you. We recommend hiring a native speaker or using a translation service.

 

  1. Site Speed

The speed of the site is important when it comes to WordPress SEO. Google already announced in 2010 that speed does affect the rankings . The speed of the page matters to Google and do you know why? Because speed is important for visitors! Some statistics:

 

1 out of 4 visitors  leaves a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load.

46 percent of users do not revisit low-performing websites.

Website owners have only 5 seconds to attract visitors before they consider leaving.

74 percent of users who access the mobile site leave it if it takes more than 5 seconds to load.

Each one-second delay in page load time could lead to $ 1.6 billion in annual losses  for online merchants as large as Amazon.

A couple of ways to solve this is to use a very fast WordPress managed host like Kinsta, implement CDN and optimize your site correctly.

 

  1. Fix Broken Links

Nobody likes broken limes. Google either. There are several ways to fix broken links on your WordPress site. The first is simply to verify Google Search Console . This is another reason why you should use it. If you click on “Crawl Errors” in the “Crawl” section, you can see that no errors were found. You can then click on each error and see where the broken link is.

 

broken links google search console

Broken links in Google Search Console

 

There are broken link plugins for WordPress, however, we do not recommend them as they will impair the performance of your site. If you want to analyze your site by broken links it is better to do a one-time scan with a free online tool like Online Broken Link Checker  or use a site audit tool that we will go into detail below.

 

  1. WordPress SEO audits

A great way to instantly check how well your WordPress site was optimized is to do a quick audit of WordPress SEO. There are great free and premium tools out there to help you. SeoSiteCheckup  is a great free tool that has more than 50 checks to let you know how it goes. Varvy also has an excellent SEO tool in which you can run your site. This checks Googlebot access, mobile usability, security, accessibility, site speed etc.

 

varvy seo tool

SEO Varvy

 

SEMrush  is a premium service that also has a great SEO audit tool. It lets you know if ALT tags are missing, has pages with a low proportion of HTML text and even warns if the word count is low. While these tools are quite basic, they can be a good way to start.

SEMrush SEO inspection

 

  1. Mobile Usability

Google has just announced the tests of its mobile-first indexing  which means that its algorithms will mainly use the mobile version of the content of a site to rank the pages. This is a big change in the way Google will index the content. This means that the mobile is now more important than ever. If you still don’t have a responsive site, leave everything you are doing and get it immediately. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly tool  to see if your current WordPress site passes the test.

 

Google mobile test

 

Another option is the implementation of Google AMP which is an open framework that allows you to build superlight web pages. However, AMP is not for everyone, be sure to check our AMP case study and why we remove it from our site.

 

Always be sure to check Google Analytics to see how much traffic your user site receives with mobile devices. This will help you determine what priority you should give to this. If you are a Kinsta client, you can see the traffic generated by desktop and mobile users in MyKinsta Analytics .

Mobile vs desktop traffic

 

  1. WordPress categories

This is optional, but the indexing categories in Google can also increase the relevance of your content to increase the page rank and increase your traffic and improve your WordPress SEO. Many of the default WordPress themes do not show the category description. Follow the steps below to index your categories and display them on your site.

 

Step 1

To verify that your categories are ranked and displayed on Google, click on “Titles and Goal” in Yoast SEO options. Click on the ” Taxonomies ” tab and make sure that the target robots are set in the “Categories” index.

 

Indexing of categories in WP

Indexing of categories in WP

 

Step 2

If your WordPress theme does not display the category description in front-end you can use the following code and add it to the top of your archive.php file. This varies depending on your current topic.

 

<div><?php echo category_description(); ?></div>

Step 3

Then, enter the description of your category in the specific Publication category you want to index.

 

Description of categories

 

  1. Google Analytics

The best way to know how well your WordPress SEO is working over time is to set up a free account with Google Analytics . One of the first things you should do is link your Google Analytics account with your Google Search Console account  . Under the configuration of your domain properties, click on Search Console Settings and it will guide you through the process of linking them.

Google Search Console and analytics

 

This will then add an additional section to your Google Analytics account that will allow you to view search queries and your best landing pages.

 

Search queries in Analytics

 

Another section that you pay attention to is the “Organic Search” channel in acquisition. This is the traffic that comes from Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.

 

  1. Track Keyword Rankings

And last but not least, we recommend keeping track of keyword rankings. This allows you to monitor the progress of your “focus keywords” in your SEO campaigns. If you spend time optimizing your messages, then you also need to monitor your long-term progress. A great strategy with which we have succeeded is to monitor the keywords that are at the top of the second page of Google. Spend some time on them, add content, add images, build backlinks, etc. And before I know it, that content will now be on the first page!

 

We highly recommend  AccuRanker . It is a great tool, with awesome developers.

Additional Reading

When talking about SEO there are optimizations that can be done on the page and outside it too. We have shared some of the most important ones above. If you want to dive a little further we recommend reading this list of optimizations on page  (together with an automated template to save time) by Robbie Richards.

 

WP Buffs also has an excellent post about the 9 best SEO forums . If you need SEO help or maybe you are just getting started and you are confused, these can be good places to request additional help, for free!

 

Summary

As you can see there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to the SEO of your WordPress site. If it is just beginning it can be overwhelming especially because not everything is black and white. I hope the list and tips above will help you in the future! Have we forgotten something important, or have questions? Leave a comment below!

If you liked this article, then you will love the Kinsta WordPress hosting platform. Accelerate your site and receive 24/7 support from our veteran WordPress team. Our infrastructure powered by Google Cloud focuses on automatic scaling, performance and security. Let us show you the difference with Kinsta! Get to know our plans.

WordPress SEO Checklist – 45 Tips to Increase Traffic by 571% in 13 Months in 2020.

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