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    WordPress SEO: 58 Tips to Grow Organic Traffic by More Than 123% in 12 Months

    Just because Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has changed drastically over the past decade, it doesn’t mean it’s dead. Actually, the more WordPress grows its market share, the more people look for ways to improve their WordPress SEO.

    Businesses now have to take new and unique approaches to win the never-ending race to the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Many bootstrap companies and blogs build their entire brands off of organic search and WordPress SEO. While this may be risky, it’s still a sign that SEO is alive and well.

    In this in-depth post, we are going to share more than 50 WordPress SEO tips that help us grow our organic traffic regularly here at Kinsta. I’m sure these will help you skyrocket traffic on your WordPress site as well and dominate your competition.

    There’s a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in!

    SEO has changed dramatically over the past few years but it’s just as important as ever.Click to Tweet

    WordPress SEO Tips for 2021: Our Results

    SEO includes the methods and/or strategies used to help web content rank higher in search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo. Better positions on SERPs result in more organic traffic.

    There are two sides to SEO. The first is the technical part, which involves playing to search engines’ ranking algorithms. The second involves more of a natural branding strategy for online businesses.

    Coming out on top with SEO depends on delivering a high-quality website experience with awesome content. For businesses, this winning comes by following the basic ingredients of WordPress SEO best-practices.

    Just how well does SEO work?

    Well, the proof is always in the pudding! Here’s a screenshot of our ‘organic’ analytics here at Kinsta. By organic, we mean only traffic from search engines (excluding social media, paid advertising, etc.).

    As you can see, we grew our organic traffic by more than 123 percent year-over-year (YoY):

    Kinsta organic traffic 2019 vs 2020

    And, if we compare it to two years ago, that’s a 422 percent organic growth increase:

    Kinsta organic traffic 2018 vs 2020

    We also grew by 125 percent in the number of organic keywords our site ranks for in the top 3 ranking positions in Google search, based on rankings between March 2020 and February 2021. This is thanks to hard work and consistency:

    Google rankings: Top 3 positions

    We did all of this by following the simple tricks and strategies in this SEO guide.

    Enough talking about what we achieved, let’s get to work! Check out the 58 WordPress SEO tips and frequently asked questions for 2021 below to help you achieve better results on SERPs and organic traffic.

    Info

    Make sure to bookmark this post, as we’ll be constantly updating it with tried-and-true strategies that have worked for us.

    1. Improve Your Core Web Vitals

    The Core Web Vitals represent a group of measurable performance indicators that analyze how well a website functions from a user experience perspective.

    You can check how well your pages perform using the Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console, which grades pages as ‘Good’, ‘Needs Improvement’ or ‘Poor’. The report provides results for Mobile and Desktop, but with mobile now being used as the primary resource for Google indexing, it’s probably best to focus on the Mobile report.

    What Are the Core Web Vitals Metrics?

    The report is made up of 3 factors:

    • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), which measures the time it takes to load the main content on a web page.
    • First Input Delay (FID), which measures the time it takes for users to be able to interact with elements on a web page.
    • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS), which analyzes how pages load and whether shifts in the layout could cause users to inadvertently click another elements on a page.

    This marks a significant step in how Google is shifting more towards including User Experience in its ranking algorithms.

    How to Check Your Core Web Vitals

    The Core Web Vitals report uses field data to show page performance based on actual user data. While it’s not currently possible to check all pages on a site, you will find example pages and selecting a page from the list of results often provides further results for other similar pages.

    Google Search Console Core Web Vitals Report

    Google’s other developer tools, including Lighthouse and PageSpeed Insights, also allow you to check Core Web Vitals for any page, using lab data, which can be useful in pinpointing issues.

    However, these tools base the results on data from your machine, which may not reflect the experience of your users.

    Google will be incorporating Core Web Vitals into its ranking algorithms from May 2021, meaning that your better-performing pages will get a ranking boost, while poorly-performing pages may see a drop in positions.

    How to Improve Core Web Vitals

    The Core Web Vitals report allows us to see how pages perform against each of the evaluated metrics, so this is where we can see what Google considers as ‘Good’, ‘Needs Improvement’ and ‘Poor’.

    As with all of the reports available in GSC, only a sample of URLs are provided, but this gives us a pretty good idea of the types of pages that have issues. For example, it may be that many of the blog posts on a website are being flagged as ‘Poor’, and on closer inspection, it becomes apparent that all blog posts include a ‘related posts section’ that’s negatively affecting the LCP.

    CLS issues may be more difficult to spot, so testing would be required.

    Additional Tools to Debug Issues

    You can use Google developer tools, such as Lighthouse and Google PageSpeed Insights, to dig into the reasons behind the low scoring URLs.

    Once you believe they have been sufficiently improved, you can use the ‘Validate Fix’ button in Google Search Console in order for the URLs to be re-evaluated.

    It’s worth noting that it can take some time for the results to show up in your Core Web Vitals report, so don’t panic if you don’t see results straight away.

    2. Choose Your Preferred Domain

    This is a two-sided tip:

    www vs non-www

    If you are just launching your website, the very first question you might have is whether you should include www in your domain or not. Some people are under the impression that this will affect your WordPress site’s SEO.

    Put simply, there is no SEO benefit to having www in your domain. It will not influence your rankings in any way. But that’s not to say you should always go with a non-www address. There are a couple of reasons you might still want to use it:

    • Using www as part of your domain used to be the standard. This isn’t necessarily true anymore. Even we don’t use www here at Kinsta. One reason you still might see sites incorporating it is simply that changing it can be complicated and cause issues. Many older brands simply continue to use it.
    • Large companies with a lot of traffic might want to use www due to Domain Name System (DNS) records. Naked (non-www) domains technically can’t have a CNAME record used to redirect traffic for failovers. However, there are workarounds to this issue.

    When it comes down to it, using a www vs a non-www domain is more a matter of personal preference. Perhaps you prefer shorter URLs, in which case you could go with a naked domain.

    Remember, no matter which version you choose, you should set up redirects so that only one version is accessible. For example, if you visit www.kinsta.com, it simply redirects to kinsta.com.

    Previously, you could set your preferred domain to appear in search results via Google Search Console. However, the platform discontinued this option in 2019. Now it can determine which version you prefer based on the information it gathers from your site, such as Schema markup.

    Submitting a sitemap is helpful as well. Make sure to keep reading to see how to do it properly.

    Avoid Duplicate URLs

    As mentioned above, you should only allow one version of your URLs to be accessed, with redirects in place to divert users and crawlers to the correct URL. This goes a step further when considering other factors, like the casing used in your URLs. For example, the following URLs will likely load the same content, meaning search engines could index them both as two separate pages.

    kinsta.com/about-us/
    kinsta.com/About-Us/

    The same goes for URLs that end with and without a trailing slash. For example:

    kinsta.com/about-us/
    kinsta.com/about-us

    And also based on the protocol. For example:

    https://kinsta.com/about-us/
    http://kinsta.com/about-us/

    This is bad for SEO, because each duplicate version is affectively competing with the original. Redirecting any duplicate URLs to the originals will ensure all ranking signals go to a single version, giving it a better chance of showing up in the search results.

    Redirect rules ensure anyone accessing the wrong version is directed to the correct version.

    If you want to make sure Google knows which page to use, you can add canonical tags to your site manually or with a plugin (more on this later).
    From sitemaps to schema markup, this detailed guide has everything you need to know about SEO 🔎Click to Tweet

    3. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin

    WordPress out of the box is pretty good already when it comes to SEO. However, we always recommend that people install an SEO plugin as well. This allows you to have full control over optimizing what Google sees from your website.

    In terms of popularity, the free Yoast SEO plugin is a clear winner (check out our Rank Math vs Yoast SEO in-depth comparison). That’s why much of this WordPress SEO guide will include examples using this plugin:

    The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin

    Yoast SEO enables you to:

    It provides a multitude of other optimization options as well. Yoast has over five million installations, with an impressive five-star rating. You can download the free plugin from the WordPress repository, or follow the steps below to install it from within your WordPress dashboard.

    Step 1: Search for Yoast SEO

    Under the Plugins section of your WordPress dashboard, select Add New. There, search for Yoast SEO:

    Searching for Yoast SEO in the WordPress dashboard

    You’ll see a card with the plugin’s name on it, along with an Install Now button.

    Step 2: Install and Activate the Plugin

    Click on the Install Now button, and it will be replaced with a blue Activate button:

    Activating the Yoast SEO plugin

    This will enable Yoast’s functionalities on your site.

    Step 3: Access the Plugin’s Settings

    Once the plugin is activated, you’ll see a new SEO section in your sidebar:

    The Yoast SEO settings in the WordPress dashboard

    Here you can access Yoast’s settings in order to optimize your site. We’ll refer back to this area in other sections of this post.

    4. Set Up Friendly Permalinks

    By default, WordPress creates messy permalinks (URL structures) that simply are not very clean (learn how to change your site’s URL). The default structure currently inserts the date and post or page name into the URL, like this:

    https://kinstalife.com/2020/03/31/sample-post/

    Google prefers URLs that contain your content’s title and/or keywords, but shorter URLs are generally better. We recommend using the Post name permalink setting, as it is both clean and can benefit your site’s SEO:

    https://kinstalife.com/sample-post/

    You can change to a Post name permalink structure by clicking on Permalinks under the Settings menu in your WordPress dashboard. Select Post name and click on Save Changes:

    WordPress permalinks

    It is important to note, however, that changing your permalink structure after posts go live can brake all of your previous links.

    If you are changing the permalink structure on an older site, make sure to redirect previous URLs to the new ones by taking advantage of the redirects feature in MyKinsta or leveraging a third-party plugin such as Permalink Manager Lite.

    If you’re on a different host, make sure to redirect previous URLs to the new permalink by editing the .htaccess file.

    5. Always Use a Focus Keyword

    When it comes to WordPress SEO, it is important to remember that Google is still a computer algorithm. For that reason, keywords still matter in 2021.

    You definitely should be writing for your visitors and customers, but write smart.

    You can write for your audience while still keeping SEO best practices in mind. Remember, alternative search engines such as Bing and Yahoo rely even more on what some may call ‘outdated’ SEO practices.

    Whenever you write a blog post or publish a page on your WordPress site, you should always have a focus keyword in mind. Don’t just craft a post for the sake of pushing out more content. We’ll talk more about keyword research further below.

    Using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can easily set the focus keyword that you want to write about. For example, for this post, we are using the focus keyword “WordPress SEO.” You can see that Yoast SEO analyzes the keyword density, and is reporting that it is a little low for this post:

    Example of the focus keyword

    While keyword/keyphrase density is by no means a ranking factor, it can still help you when it comes to making sure your content includes your target keywords.

    6. Incorporate Title Tags

    It’s important that you include your main focus keyword in your blog post or page title tag. In the past, SEO experts recommended to even place your keyword at the beginning of the title whenever possible, as this would carry more weight in search engines.

    In 2021, this approach is slowly losing advocates and, although having important keywords in early positions in title tags is still important, things are now moving towards more complex scenarios where click-through rate (CTR) optimization should be taken into account on top of keyword relevancy.

    Some have reported seeing 20 percent increases in their CTRs simply by making small tweaks to their titles.

    For example, we’ve placed our keyword “WordPress SEO” at the very beginning of the title of this blog post, not only to get a little SEO boost, but mainly to make it clear to readers what the blog post is about, hence improving our click-through rate.

    So, how do you add your focus keyword to your title tags?

    Titles are limited by pixels now, but Yoast SEO uses character counts, which is a close approximation.

    You can manually set a title tag in the Yoast SEO plugin, as seen below. Remember that Google has a viewable limit of 65 characters on desktop. If you go over that, searchers may not see your entire title on SERPs:

    Title tag in Yoast SEO plugin

    Split-testing your titles (also often called A/B testing) can be another effective way to increase your CTR and help Google see your content as more relevant. There are tools out there that allow you to A/B test title tags & meta descriptions in order to improve your CTR.

    Another factor to consider is whether or not to use your company name at the end of your title tags. This won’t hurt your SEO, but having your company name might not always be the best decision in terms of increasing your CTR or demonstrating the relevance of your content.

    It will also eat into your character limits, giving you fewer characters to play with and potentially cause your title tags to be cut short in the search results.

    Title tag cut short in Google Search

    7. Write Meta Descriptions to Increase Click-Through Rate

    Meta descriptions do not affect your WordPress SEO when it comes to rankings. However, they do affect your CTR. A well-written meta description can entice users to click on your post instead of the one above or below it in SERPs.

    Plus, the higher your CTR, the more relevant Google will deem your content, therefore ranking your page higher. So, in a sense, meta descriptions can indirectly affect your rankings. You can set your meta description manually in the Yoast SEO plugin by clicking on the Edit Snippet button below the editor:

    Meta description in Yoast SEO plugin

    Previously, there was a 156 character limit for meta descriptions. Google updated this in December 2017 to 320 characters but then reverted the change back to 150 to 170 characters. Anything over that might not be visible in SERPs.

    Also, it’s wise to include your focus keyword in your meta description. Google will highlight the search term in bold when displaying it in search results.

    For example, let’s say you search for “alternative search engines” in Google.

    Kinsta happens to have a blog post with “alternative search engines” in the meta description, so Google bolds this keyword as it is relevant to your search term. By including your focus keyword in your meta description, you can stand out a little bit more:

    Bolded keyword in meta description

    Remember, however, that Google automatically rewrites some meta descriptions. What you input isn’t necessarily what will always show up in SERPs.

    Check out this video from Brian Dean on how to increase the CTR on your meta descriptions by using words that appear in competing AdWords text, as well as what he calls “power words”.

    8. Don’t Worry About Meta Keywords

    Meta keywords are a thing of the past. We’re simply including them in our list for those who might be wondering if they should still be using them or not. The simple answer is no. Google and Bing used to rely on meta keywords in their ranking algorithms but that is no longer the case.

    However, according to Yandex, <meta name=“Keywords” content=“…”/> may be used when determining a page’s relevance to search queries. If you want to add meta keywords to your WordPress site’s posts and pages, you can do so manually by inserting the above tag in your site’s header.

    It’s unclear whether the Chinese search engine Baidu uses them.

    9. Use Proper Heading Tags

    The Google crawler (Googlebot) checks HTML header tags such as H1, H2, H3, etc. to determine the relevancy of your site’s content. Generally, the best practice is to have a single H1 tag per post or page and then multiple H2s and H3s underneath that.

    Think of this as a hierarchy of importance. The H1 tag is your most important header and should contain your focus keyword. Additional headers could also include your keyword or long-tail variations of it.

    However, don’t abuse headers. These should just be used to split up your content to make it easier for visitors to read, not as a means to stuff keywords into prominent places in your pages.

    Most WordPress themes, if coded properly, will automatically assign the title of your page or post as the H1 header. You can then assign H2, H3, H4 headers, etc. within your post or page.

    You can create a header in the Classic Editor using the dropdown in the visual editor:

    Adding a header in the Classic Editor

    This automatically assigns the selected text the HTML tags that Google will need to read your headers. In the Block Editor, you can use the header block to achieve the same effect:

    Adding a header in the Block Editor

    Of course, you can always add the HTML tags manually as well.

    10. Add Alt Text to Your Images

    ALT text refers to the ALT attribute or alternative text that is applied to images on your site. ALT tags are used by screen readers for visually impaired users, providing extra context for images. They are also used by search engines to get a better understanding of image content and how they relate to the content around them.

    For example, if someone was using the Dragon Naturally Speaking software, ALT text could actually help them navigate the page better. When viewing your site’s HTML, you can spot alt attributes within <img> tags, like so:

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

    You should always add ALT text to your images. If you haven’t done so yet, you can go back and do it now. With WordPress, you don’t need to know any code to add ALT text. You can simply type it in by selecting an image in your Media Library or by clicking on an image within the WordPress editor.

    In the Block Editor, you’ll find the Alt Text (Alternative Text) field in the Block tab of the sidebar under Image Settings:

    Adding ALT text in the Block Editor

    To add ALT text in the Classic Editor, follow the steps below.

    Step 1: Open the Image Settings

    First, open your post or page in the Classic Editor. Then, click on the image for which you want to add ALT text. You’ll see a toolbar appear above it:

    Opening the image settings in the Classic Editor

    Click on the pencil icon to open the image settings.

    Step 2: Add ALT Text in the Relevant Field

    If you’re running the latest version of WordPress, the Alternative Text field should be the first one in the resulting window:

    Adding ALT text in the Classic Editor

    Click on the blue Update button when you’re done.

    Usually, it is beneficial to add your focus keyword if it is applicable to the image. However, don’t just add your focus keyword as an ALT text across all of your images. As with all things SEO, do things in moderation. Google doesn’t like spamming.

    11. Add Image Title Tags

    The image title text isn’t used for WordPress SEO purposes and is not crawled by Google or Bing. Therefore, you don’t have to include it in order to achieve decent rankings for your content. You can see an example of a title attribute below:

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

    However, image title text does allow you to add tooltips to images. This can be a great way to simply incorporate a little Call To Action (CTA) when someone hovers over it on your site. While title tags aren’t technically going to help you rank better, they can help improve your user experience.

    Just like with ALT text, you don’t need to know any code to add title text. You can simply add it via the Media Library by clicking on an image and filling in the Title field:

    Adding image title attribute in the Media Library

    Alternatively, you can also add title text within the WordPress Classic Editor. Follow the steps below to do so.

    Step 1: Open the Image Settings

    In the Classic Editor, click on the image for which you want to add title tags. This will open a small toolbar like so:

    Accessing the image settings in the Classic Editor

    Click on the pencil icon to open the image settings.

    Step 2: Add the Image Title in the Relevant Field

    In the resulting window, scroll down and open the Advanced Options dropdown. There, you’ll find the Image Title Attribute field:

    Adding an image title via the Classic Editor

    Click on the blue Update button when you’re done. Note that this setting isn’t available in the Block Editor, so you’ll have to add image titles in the Media Library if that’s your preferred content creation method.

    Top-ranked sites choose Kinsta to handle the high volume of traffic they get from search. Check out our plans.

    12. Take Advantage of Videos

    There are two parts to this tip:

    1. Repurposing content into video format and including related videos in content
    2. Optimizing video visibility using structured data, to better surface them in video search

    1. Repurposing Written Content in Video Assets

    People like to consume content in different ways. Some are happy to read through long blog posts, while others prefer to watch video content. If you offer your users both options, you can target a wider audience.

    YouTube is a Google-owned platform that has grown rapidly in recent years, moving up to take the second spot in the Top 100 Most Visited Websites by Search Traffic. This means that adding video versions of your content will help you target new visitors across a new channel. Optimizing videos for YouTube (known as YouTube SEO) is a whole different discipline that you can read more about in our Guide to YouTube SEO.

    2. Optimizing Videos for Video Search

    The Video tab in Google allows you to search for video content. While Google is pretty good at pulling videos in from web pages, you can encourage Google to include your videos (or other people’s videos you’ve embedded in your pages), by providing more context using the VideoObject Schema.

    The VideoObject schema can be used to feed Google with more details about your videos, including the title, description, and thumbnail image.

    We have found that the videos we include, together with structured data, often perform well in Google’s video results, particularly for keywords that we also rank well for in Google Search.

    13. Avoid Keyword Cannibalization

    Keyword cannibalization occurs when two or more pages on your WordPress site compete for the same keyword. While this can sometimes result in both pages ranking, it’s usually easier to focus all of your efforts on a single page, rather than diluting page authority across multiple pages. This, in theory, will help one version rank even higher.

    If you’re lucky enough to have more than one page ranking in the first two positions, you can count yourself luck and move on to review another keyword.

    In the example below, we can see Yoast ranking with 2 results. By combining these two pages and the signals that go with them, they could stand a better chance of moving up in the rankings:

    Keyword Cannibalization Example

    Keyword cannibalization can also lead to unstable rankings, causing your pages positions to fluctuate, as it may be unclear to search engines which is the most relevant page to be used. This means one page may rank well for a few days, then the other page may take its place, but in a lower position.

    How to Check Keyword Cannibalization

    There are several ways to check whether keyword cannibalization is causing issues for your WordPress site. Using a tool like Ahrefs will allow you to check if more than one page ranks for your target keywords.

    You can quickly see any ranking shifts, where different pages jump in and out of the rankings.

    Keyword Cannibalization example

    You could also use Google Search Console to see when multiple pages rank for the same keywords.

    In the Search Results section, select the ‘Queries’ tab then filter Rows by Position, where Position is smaller than 20. This will show the first two pages in Google’s results.

    Next, select ‘Clicks’, ‘Impressions’ and ‘Average Position’, then review high impression keywords with a position greater than 1.

    By clicking each keyword and selecting the ‘Pages’ tab, you can reveal whether more than one page ranks for the selected query.

    You may want to add your target country to the filters at the top, particularly if you have your content translated into other languages.

    Below, you can see we have two pages ranking for the query ‘wordpress multisite hosting’. Notice how the average position has no consistency. Armed with this data, we may decide to merge the content into one ‘super’ page, or review the content to avoid targeting the keyword on one of the ranking pages.

    Checking Keyword Cannibalization in Google Search Console

    14. Include Your Focus Keyword in the First Paragraph

    The first paragraph of any post or page is very important. It is always recommended to add your focus keyword within the opening, if possible. The reason is that Google crawls content from top to bottom, and if it finds your keyword quickly, it’s more likely to deem your article as relevant to that topic.

    It’s also a matter of correctly “setting the scene” for your readers right from the start and improve your bounce rate by delivering the content that they were expecting to see.

    The Yoast SEO plugin checks for this to ensure that you are keeping up with this best practice:

    Yoast SEO’s ‘Keyphrase in Introduction’ check

    With all of this said, remember that your content should always sound natural and make sense. Work your keyword naturally into your opening, rather than simply stuffing it into your first paragraph for SEO’s sake.

    Google Passage Ranking

    It’s also worth noting that Google is now able to index individual passages within pages, rather than simply indexing full pages.

    This means Google is paying more attention to specific sections within your posts and pages, making it easier to surface specific content, without only considering the main focus of the page.

    Google Passage Ranking

    Google Passage Ranking

    15. Pay Attention to Word Count

    The old saying “Content is King” is still alive and well in 2021. Google and visitors love high-quality content. It’s also generally much better to publish long-form content than it is to post shorter pieces.

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    This can vary of course. If you run a news site, this might actually be the opposite, since you’ll want to put out content quickly to make sure you’re keeping up with relevant happenings.

    However, long-form content has time and again proven to win on SERPs:

    Word count vs ranking position in Google (Image source: backlinko.com)

    As you can see from the image above, websites holding the top three SERP positions tend to have much longer content.

    Capsicum Mediaworks also published some statistics on the importance of content-length aligned with those from Backlinko:

    SEO content length

    And even a few years back there were already signs of the importance of long-form content. Specifically, CanIRank analyzed a variety of SEO-influencing factors, such as whether longer content generates more backlinks, and what happens to rankings for those on the third and fourth pages.

    CanIRank’s graph comparing content length and search engine rank

    In short, they found that longer content, even when other possible factors are accounted for, still ranks better.

    If this isn’t enough, long-form content can help your SEO even further. Another advantage of long-form content is that over time you will also start ranking not only for your focus keywords, but several long-tail keyword variations too.

    Sometimes this extends to cover hundreds of popular search terms and phrases. The traffic from all the long-tail variations your content includes will be more than that of your focus keyword. More extensive content is a win-win.

    And, as you can probably tell, we’ve seen the same results here at Kinsta. Otherwise, we wouldn’t spend this much time publishing content as long as this post!

    16. Use Short URLs

    Google likes sites that are clean, organized, and structured. This includes using short URLs. They can also help improve your CTR. MarketingSherpa ran a study and discovered that executives are 250 percent more likely to click on an organic listing if it:

    • Had a fairly short URL and
    • Appeared directly below a listing with a long URL.

    Keeping your URLs as short as possible can, therefore, be an enormous competitive advantage. The one thing to remember is that WordPress automatically creates a URL for your posts based on their titles. For this post we ended up with the following:

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

    Follow the steps below to shorten a URL for a WordPress post or page.

    Step 1: Find the Permalink Setting

    In both the Classic and Block Editors, you’ll find a permalink setting that enables you to edit your post’s ‘slug’, or the portion of the URL that appears after the final backslash (/). In the Classic Editor, it appears directly underneath the post’s title:

    Accessing the Permalink setting in the Classic Editor

    Click on the Edit button to enable the slug field.

    In the Block Editor, you can find this option in the Document tab of the right-hand sidebar under Permalink, or at the top of your heading block:

    Accessing the Permalink setting in the Block Editor

    The necessary text field will already be visible.

    Step 2: Edit Your Post’s Slug

    Next, simply type in the new slug for your post. Remember to separate words with hyphens. Also, each post and page on your site must have a unique URL, so you can’t repeat slugs you’ve already used. Doing so will cause WordPress to automatically append ‘-1’ to your slug.

    In the Classic Editor, click on the OK button once you’re done to save your new permalink:

    Editing your post’s slug

    The Block Editor will save your new URL automatically after you finish typing it in:

    Your post’s slug in the Block Editor

    17. Name Your Image Files Wisely

    This is one thing that a lot of WordPress website owners do wrong. Your image filenames are important! With a few correct best WordPress SEO practices, you can see a nice boost both on SERPs and in Google Image Search.

    Some guidelines include:

    • Always name your image files with actual words related to your content before uploading them to WordPress. For example, instead of DC0000.jpg, name the image wordpress-seo.jpg.
    • Always include hyphens between words in the image file names. For example, if you were to name a file wordpress_seo.jpg or wordpressseo.jpg, Google won’t be able to read it. It only reads files with hyphens as containing individual words, so you will want to name the image wordpress-seo.jpg.
    • Include your focus keyword if applicable, at least for your featured image. We always use our focus keywords in the names for our blog posts’ featured images.
    • Keep your filenames lowercase. This keeps your image URLs clean and will retain consistency for all of your URLs.

    These are fairly easy rules to implement for future file uploads.

    18. Know the Difference Between Nofollow, Dofollow, Sponsored, and UGC Links

    There are several basic types of links on the internet when it comes to WordPress SEO:

    Dofollow Links

    By default, every link you create in WordPress is a dofollow link. Google crawls these types of links when analyzing your site. This helps build authority and affects your rankings, since link juice is passed from the linking page.

    You may have heard people say that you need more backlinks. If so, they were probably referring to dofollow links from other high authority sites.

    Nofollow Links

    Nofollow links contain the ‘rel’ attribute of ‘nofollow’, as seen below:

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

    Nofollow links tell search engine crawlers to ignore them. That is not to say that nofollow links aren’t important, though. They can still generate traffic, even if they don’t pass authority and influence your rankings. You can read our tutorial on different ways to add nofollow links in WordPress.

    Nofollow links are often used when a link is placed at the request of the linked website. This is because links pass value between pages, so should occur naturally. Manipulating sites to link to you is against Google’s guidelines, so ignoring this could cause your site to be penalized.

    Generally, a natural backlink profile includes a good ratio between dofollow and nofollow links.

    Sponsored Links

    Sponsored links contain the ‘rel’ attribute of ‘sponsored’, as seen below. This is used to show when a link is sponsored.

    <a href="https://kinsta.com" rel="sponsored">my link</a>

    Sponsored links are often used as part of paid campaigns, where the goal of the sponsored link should be about driving traffic, rather than passing value from the linking page. It is against Google’s guidelines to pay for links that pass value, so it’s important to make sure any sponsored links use the sponsored link attribute.

    UGC Links

    UGC links, or User Generated Content links, contain the ‘rel’ attribute of ‘ugc’, as seen below.

    <a href="https://kinsta.com" rel="ugc">my link</a>

    UGC links are used to show when a link has been created by users.

    19. Create an Internal Linking Strategy

    Internal links are links that point from one page or post on your site to another page or post on the same site. They’re not only key to SEO but also to site navigation.

    Usually, you’ll incorporate them when referring to other content you have written, or when linking to your own landing pages.

    Moz has a great article on why internal links are important, but in short:

    • They help people to navigate within your website, which can lead to more content being consumed, resulting in more time being spent on your site.
    • They help to establish a hierarchy of your information and structure your site.
    • They help spread authority throughout your website, by passing value through links.

    We always recommend adding at least three to five internal links on each post or page you write. Depending upon the length of your content, you may add even more. Follow the steps below to incorporate internal links in WordPress.

    Step 1: Select Your Anchor Text

    First, highlight the word or words you want to add your link to, also known as your ‘anchor text’. Then, click on the link button. In the Classic Editor, you’ll find it in the main toolbar:

    The Add Link button in the Classic Editor

    In the Block Editor, you can find it in the small toolbar at the top of your paragraph block:

    The Add Link button in the Block Editor

    Regardless of which editor you’re using, you’ll see a small text box appear when you click on the link button.

    Step 2: Search for Internal Content to Link to

    In the text box, start typing the title of the internal post or page you want to link to. WordPress will supply search results suggesting available content. If you’re using the Classic Editor, it looks like this:

    Searching for internal linking options in the Classic Editor

    In the Block Editor, you’ll see the following:

    Searching for internal linking options in the Block Editor

    For both, you’ll need to click on the title of the post or page to add the link.

    20. Focus on External Links with High Domain Authority

    Just like adding internal links, you should also add some external links to high domain authority sites. This helps your WordPress SEO by letting Google know that you are linking out to high-quality content that is relevant to yours. Plus, it improves the user experience by providing your visitors/users with additional information.

    This can also be a great way to start conversations with other brands. If you link to another company in your post, shoot them a quick email or tweet after you publish it and ask for a share. If they share it over their social profiles, their posts can send more traffic your way. We use this approach a lot ourselves.

    We recommend adding at least two high domain authority external links within each piece of content. When doing so, a nice little trick to keep people on your site is to make the link open in a new tab or window.

    Some people might argue that they don’t like this, but it can help encourage users to come back and browse your site later on, when they might have otherwise have forgotten about you.

    In the Block Editor, you can set a link to open in a new tab by clicking on it, then clicking on the dropdown arrow and toggling the switch:

    Setting a link to open in a new tab in the Block Editor

    Follow the quick steps below to make a link open in a new tab or window in the Classic Editor.

    Step 1: Open Your Link Settings

    Open your post or page in the Classic Editor, then navigate to the link you want to modify. Just like in the Block Editor, click on it to access the link settings:

    Opening the link settings in the Classic Editor

    Select the pencil icon to edit the link.

    Step 2: Select the ‘Open link in a new tab’ Checkbox

    Next, click on the gear icon to access additional settings:

    Accessing additional link settings in the Classic Editor

    Under the URL and Link Text fields, you’ll see a checkbox labeled Open link in a new tab. Select it to apply this feature to your link:

    Setting a link to open in a new tab in the Classic Editor

    This will add the target=“_blank” element to your link’s HTML tag. The result will look like this:

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

    You can incorporate this manually in the text editor if needed.

    21. Add Sponsored Attribute in Affiliate Links

    A lot of WordPress bloggers and even some businesses use affiliate links on their websites. Affiliate links are generally used when you want to track a commission or referral of a product or signup between websites.

    Unfortunately, Google usually frowns upon affiliate links. Some sites have even been penalized for having a lot of affiliate links. To safely use affiliate links, they should always include the “sponsored” attribute. A great way to keep track of your affiliate links and always make sure they use the sponsored attribute is to use an affiliate plugin such as Pretty Links or ThirstyAffiliates.

    Pretty Links enables you to create easy and short affiliate links that include the sponsored attribute and also redirect with a 301. Simply go to Pretty Links > Options in your WordPress dashboard to enable these settings:

    The Pretty Links Options page

    The Pretty Links Options page

    You can select the relevant redirect type from the dropdown, and select the Enable No Follow and Sponsored checkboxes to make all of your affiliate links include the nofollow and sponsored attributes. The addition of the nofollow attribute will ensure all search engines understand that it’s not a natural link.

    Info

    Want to make more money with one of the best-paid affiliate programs?  Check out how to become a Kinsta affiliate.

    22. Set Up an XML Sitemap

    XML sitemaps are used by search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yandex, to understand the hierarchy and structure of your WordPress site and ensure better crawling. Sitemaps aren’t required, but apart from the above, creating one allows you to access more reporting data about your site.

    That’s why we always recommend utilizing an XML sitemap file. It will provide a clear picture of your site’s structure to search engines which, among other things, will increase your chances to score Google sitelinks.

    The Yoast SEO plugin has the ability to automatically generate your sitemap files for you. Follow the steps below to enable or verify this feature.

    Step 1: Turn on the XML Sitemap Setting

    For these steps, we’ll assume you already have Yoast SEO installed as we described earlier in this post. To generate your sitemap file, navigate to SEO > General in your WordPress dashboard. Make sure the XML sitemaps switch is toggled On:

    The Yoast SEO XML sitemaps setting

    This should automatically create your sitemap without any extra effort from you.

    Step 2: Test Your Sitemap

    It’s always wise to double-check that automatically-generated files have indeed been successfully created. You can view your sitemap index by appending sitemap_index.xml to your domain, like so:

    https://domain.com/sitemap_index.xml

    The result should look something like the image below:

    Example of the sitemap we use at Kinsta

    Example of the sitemap we use at Kinsta

    You can then click any of the sitemaps within your index, which will allow you to see the URLs referenced in each file.

    We will go into more detail further below about how to submit this file to Google and Bing for faster indexing and crawling. You can also check out our deep dive into using a WordPress sitemap.
    SEO isn’t dead… and this guide will help you use it to grow your organic traffic by 123% (or more) ⚡Click to Tweet

    23. Submit Your Sitemap to Google Search Console

    Once you have an XML sitemap file, it’s recommended to submit it to Google Search Console so that you can access additional data on the status of your WordPress site. We will assume you have a Google Search Console account already. For more info, check out this more in-depth post on how to submit to your site to search engines.

    In Google Search Console, click into Sitemaps under the Index section. Then input the location of your sitemap file as we described earlier, and click on Submit:

    WordPress SEO: Submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console

    WordPress SEO: Submitting a sitemap to Google Search Console

    You’ll then see how many pages/posts have been submitted and how many are actually indexed. Google will now automatically crawl your sitemap file on a regular basis.

    Top-ranked sites choose Kinsta to handle the high volume of traffic they get from search. Check out our plans.

    24. Submit Your Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools

    Just like with Google Search Console, it is also recommended that you submit your WordPress site using Bing Webmaster Tools.

    You can sign up using your Google account, plus it’s now also possible to verify Bing Webmaster Tools if you’re already verified in Google Search Console using the associated Google account.

    Simply login then click Sitemaps in the side menu, then click the Submit sitemap button and add your sitemap index URL.

    Submitting an XML sitemap file to Bing Webmaster Tools

    Submit XML Sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools

    25. Submit Your Sitemap to Yandex Webmaster Tools

    Similar to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools, it’s also smart to submit your WordPress site to Yandex. This is a Russian search engine, but if you have global traffic it can help!

    For more details, there’s our in-depth guide on how to submit your site to major search engines (and when you should do it).

    26. Request Crawling for Faster Indexing

    Typically, when you publish content on your WordPress site, Google will determine the crawl rate at which it indexes your content. This could be anywhere from a matter of a few minutes to hours or days.

    However, there’s a way to encourage Google to index individual pages using the Request Indexing tool in Google Search Console.

    This is a handy tool that can be useful when testing how your pages are ranked after making updates to a page. It’s worth noting that there’s often a delay, so don’t expect to see your updated pages indexed instantly.

    Google often advises users not to rely on the Request Indexing feature, as Googlebot is pretty good at discovering new pages naturally by crawling sites and XML sitemaps, so if your pages aren’t being indexed then there may be other issues at play.

    In Google Search Console, click on the URL Inspection option under Overview in the sidebar, and enter the URL of the page you want to request for indexing.

    There, you should see a box that tells you whether the URL you’ve specified is available in Google. Below this, there’s a button labeled Request Indexing. Click on it to request a crawl for this url.

    The URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console

    The URL Inspection tool in Google Search Console

    On the other hand, if Google isn’t able to access your page for some reason, you may see an error message here instead. It’s wise to periodically check your most important pages using the URL Inspection tool to identify indexing errors and ensure that your pages can be properly displayed in search results.

    After Google Search Console processes your request, you should receive a confirmation message that looks like this:

    Indexing request confirmation message

    Click on the Got It button, then check back a little while later to see if your request has been fulfilled and your page has been indexed/re-indexed.

    27. Utilize Social Signals

    ‘Social signals’ include online activity related to your brand that doesn’t happen on your WordPress site itself. This includes tweets, shares, upvotes, and other similar indications of your brand’s quality.

    Do social signals affect WordPress SEO? The answer, unfortunately, is not black and white. However, we have seen firsthand that they can temporarily affect your rankings in SERPs, based on our experiences with Reddit and Y Combinator for example.

    In the past, we have seen posts trending on these sites immediately start ranking on page one of Google. After they’re no longer trending, these posts’ rankings tend to fluctuate and eventually settle down to where they’re actually going to rank more long term.

    What causes this to happen? Our theory is that the combination of the mass amount of traffic and social signals causes Google to deem these posts as very relevant, therefore bumping them up in the SERPs. Many SEO specialists will debate this, but we have seen this happen firsthand quite a few times.

    Below is an example of something we wrote with decent keyword volume that skyrocketed in SERPs the very next day, which appears to be because we were able to gain a lot of social traffic to it:

    Social signals traffic

    The biggest takeaway is simply that shares, social signals, and more traffic do most likely influence your rankings, one way or another. Creating a buzz around a piece of content helps to get it in front of more people, which also often leads to more links, as others reference your content from their own content. So we recommend taking advantage of social media as much as you can.
    Want to improve your site’s SEO? Start with this detailed guide and get ready to watch your rankings soar. 😱Click to Tweet

    28. Do Keyword Research

    Keywords are still alive and well in 2021. That’s why ranking matters. Remember, as we mentioned before, Google is still a computer algorithm. It has to look at something to calculate rankings and keywords are still a big part of that.

    This is an example of a brand new site that grew from 0 to 260K+ monthly visits with less than 30 articles:

    Monthly SEO Traffic

    How did they do it? They found a good niche and did strategic keyword research. There are many great tools out there to help you with this. A couple of our favorites are KWFinder, SEMrush, and Ahrefs. The trick is finding a good keyword with search volume, while also not picking something that’s too competitive.

    Also, don’t forget about multilingual SEO! Keywords in other languages are sometimes a lot less competitive. The English market is very saturated when it comes to content marketing.

    For example, in English, let’s look up the term “marketing strategies.” We can see that it has a global volume of around 48,000 searches per month. If you look at SERPs for this term, you’ll see that trying to rank for it means going up against huge domains with high domain authority:

    Keyword volume for “marketing strategies”

    Keyword volume for “marketing strategies”

    In other words, “marketing strategies” is going to be hard to rank for. If you’re smart, and you’re not a big brand with lots of authority, you probably wouldn’t try to tackle this keyword.

    However, if you consider the same term in Spanish, “estrategias de marketing,” you can see the search volume is still respectable, at around 36,000 per month, and competing against the sites that rank for this term is much more realistic:

    Keyword volume for “estrategias de marketing”

    Keyword volume for “estrategias de marketing”

    That is now something you could tackle. When it comes to other languages, you will find that a lot of search terms are simply easier to rank for.

    Make sure to check out our in-depth WordPress multilingual guide to start dominating the SERPs in other languages.

    29. Build Quality Backlinks

    Backlinks are still very important when it comes to WordPress SEO. They’re used by Google for passing authority as we discussed earlier, and to show that there is another relevant or important site that has supporting information.

    When a high authority domain links to you, it does a lot more than you might think. Brian Dean over at Backlinko analyzed over one million search results, and the conclusion was that backlinks are still an important ranking factor.

    Generally, it’s a good sign if the number of referring domains linking to you is on an upward trend. This means that over time, more and more websites are linking to yours.

    In Brian’s research, the number of unique referring domains was the strongest correlation found to high rankings. The websites that had more referring domains were the ones with higher rankings:

    The correlation between the number of referring domains and Google rank

    Matthew Barby also analyzed 1 million URLs and discovered that backlinks do matter. On average, the top two results on the first page of Google results contained 38 percent of all the backlinks combined from all 10 search results.

    A good tool to get an overview of your backlink profile is Ahrefs. You can see the total number of backlinks to your site, the number of referring domains, organic ranking keywords, and more. This platform’s backlink notifications are also helpful.

    We’ve tried quite a few backlink tools, and Ahrefs takes the cake for accuracy. The New Backlinks feature lets you see when new websites around the internet have linked to your WordPress site. Below is an example of SEJ linking to our negative SEO case study:

    New backlinks in Ahrefs

    A little tip: share the pages that link to your site on your social media channels. This helps to build social signals for them on their page, which in turn can build up their page authority. Links from sites with higher page authority is beneficial to your WordPress SEO too, so it’s a win-win.

    In other words, you can help yourself by sharing content from third parties that have taken the time to link to you. Never be afraid of reaching out to other bloggers and asking them to mention your outstanding post on their blog.

    30. Install an SSL Certificate

    Google has officially said that HTTPS is a ranking factor, that’s not something new:

    To use it, you’ll need to install an SSL certificate on your site. While this may only be a small ranking factor, HTTPS has become the internet standard. Site’s that don’t use SSL certificates can expect to see warnings in Chrome, Firefox, and other browsers highlighting that the website connection is not secure.

    Your connection to this site is not secure error

    Your connection to this site is not secure error

    You can also check out some of the other data surrounding SEO and SSL certificates. Matthew Barby did an analysis of 1 million URLs, and found that over 33 percent of all pages ranking in the top three spots on Google SERPs use HTTPS:

    HTTPS usage vs. Google ranking

    If you haven’t yet installed an SSL certificate on your site, check out our in-depth HTTP to HTTPS migration guide for WordPress.

    31. Apply Schema Markup

    You may have heard the terms ‘schema markup’ or ‘structured markup’ being thrown around the web. Schema markup is basically additional code that helps search engines deliver more and better data to visitors.

    If you’ve ever seen a star rating next to a review on a SERP, you’ve seen the results of schema markup. This can help you achieve special spots on SERPs, which have the power to dramatically increase in your CTR.

    The CXL Institute ran a study and found that companies that used star ratings saw a significantly higher CTR for organic SERPs, with increases by as much as 35 percent. Their conclusion was that this strategy does yield better results.

    Another important reason to use structured data is that it can help Google to better understand what your business does and where it fits into the web. This can help to trigger your brand knowledge panel, which can boost your CTR for brand searches and allow your website to be featured in other entity-specific search results, like competitor carousels.

    Many WordPress themes have schema markup coded into them, but there are also some that don’t. You can test your website or blog post with the Google Structured Data Testing tool:

    Google structured data schema

    Generally, what you want to see is zero errors and some kind of return on the right side of the screen. If it’s completely blank, that means your WordPress site doesn’t have any schema markup added to it.

    Yoast SEO also had structured data built in. In WordPress admin, under the SEO menu click Search Appearance. Fill in your Organization name and upload your Organization logo. Once you have saved the changes, you will have the Organization schema setup, which should be visible in the Google’s structured data testing tool.

    Yoast also adds structured data to your pages, meaning all blog posts should appear with the schema Article.

    If you want to add other schema markup to your WordPress site, we recommend the free Schema plugin. This will automatically add the necessary code. You can then run another test in Google’s structured data testing tool.

    32. Specify Social Markup

    The Yoast SEO plugin also allows you to add social markup. This helps Google to connect these to your website, which is used to feed your brand’s knowledge panel. Simply list your social media profiles in order to associate them with your website using structured data.

    The Yoast SEO Social settings

    Open Graph Tags

    You may have seen thumbnails on Facebook or Twitter when you share a blog post from your WordPress site. Those are automatically generated using Open Graph (OG) tags. Much like title tags and meta descriptions, OG tags are used to provide information about the content being shared on social media platforms.

    Below is an example of a Kinsta blog post being shared on Facebook:

    Example of open graph tags being used on Facebook

    Open Graph tags in Facebook

    Fortunately,  Yoast comes to the rescue again. We recommend going into the Social options in Yoast SEO and filling out all the available fields.

    You can also change settings such as the default thumbnail that shows up when your website is shared (the og:image), and the type of thumbnail that Twitter uses:

    Changing the default Twitter card type with Yoast SEO

    This is an example of the code that is automatically added for you by the Yoast SEO plugin. I’m using this blog post on SEO:

    <meta property="og:locale" content="en_US" />
    <meta property="og:type" content="article" />
    <meta property="og:title" content="What Does SEO Stand For? (+ 7 Beginner's Tips for Ranking a Site)" />
    <meta property="og:description" content="Search Engine Optimization is one of the most powerful ways to attract new users. But what does SEO stand For? Learn more in our in-depth guide!" />
    <meta property="og:url" content="https://kinsta.com/blog/what-does-seo-stand-for/" />
    <meta property="og:site_name" content="Kinsta Managed WordPress Hosting" />
    <meta property="article:publisher" content="https://www.facebook.com/kinstahosting" />
    <meta property="article:tag" content="seo" />
    <meta property="article:tag" content="WordPress" />
    <meta property="article:section" content="Business Growth Strategies" />
    <meta property="article:published_time" content="2019-07-01T07:40:12+00:00" />
    <meta property="article:modified_time" content="2020-03-04T17:00:23+00:00" />
    <meta property="og:updated_time" content="2020-03-04T17:00:23+00:00" />
    <meta property="og:image" content="https://kinsta.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/what-does-seo-stand-for.png" />
    <meta property="og:image:secure_url" content="https://kinsta.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/what-does-seo-stand-for.png" />
    <meta property="og:image:width" content="1460" />
    <meta property="og:image:height" content="730" />
    <meta name="twitter:card" content="summary_large_image" />
    <meta name="twitter:description" content="Search Engine Optimization is one of the most powerful ways to attract new users. But what does SEO stand For? Learn more in our in-depth guide!" />
    <meta name="twitter:title" content="What Does SEO Stand For? (+ 7 Beginner's Tips for Ranking a Site)" />
    <meta name="twitter:site" content="@kinsta" />
    <meta name="twitter:image" content="https://kinsta.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/what-does-seo-stand-for.png" />
    <meta name="twitter:creator" content="@matteoduo" />

    Facebook and Google use OG tags to pull in information, while Twitter uses its own meta information, known as Twitter Cards. You can check this guide if you need to regenerate thumbnails.

    33. Publish Evergreen Content

    Evergreen content can be very important when it comes to WordPress SEO and long-term organic traffic. This term refers to content that is always relevant, no matter when you read it.

    Usually, when it comes to publishing evergreen content, the writer has to occasionally update the posts. After all, most industries change slightly over time.

    One of the main advantages of evergreen content is that you can share it over and over again, and keep building up backlinks and social signals for it. If you have the choice of publishing evergreen content vs news, it’s wise to go for the long-term play.

    34. Get Your Content into Google Featured Snippets

    Have you ever seen a box appear at the top of a Google SERP, in the form of a list, table, or paragraph, often accompanied by one or more images? These are called featured snippets and they can help your page jump to the top of Google’s search results, into ‘position zero’.

    Here’s an example of a featured snippet:

    Google Featured Snippet Example

    Google Featured Snippet Example

    Featured snippets take up a lot more space than the traditional blue link and description. This can obviously have extremely positive implications on the number of clicks your page gets, so earning featured snippets is a great way to drive more traffic to your website.

    The question is, how do you optimize your pages for featured snippets?

    The first thing to highlight is that a number of studies found in most cases, pages must first rank on page one of Google’s search results in order to be eligible for a featured snippet.

    You can build a list of opportunity keywords to target by digging into your Queries report in Google Search Console and filtering by position, including all queries that you already rank for in positions 1 to 10. Be sure to select your target country. The more impressions each query has, the more traffic you’re likely to get if you can move into position zero.

    Check Google to make sure your page is ranking in the positon shown. If a featured snippet already appears for another website, it will give you an idea of what you’re up against.

    Unfortunately, there’s no magic recipe to get your content into featured snippets. However, from our personal experience, we found the following can help:

    • Add schema markup to help Google understand what your content is about and how it fits into your website
    • Use header tags (<H1> – <H6>), bulleted lists, and numbered lists effectively
    • Structure your posts in an organized fashion
    • Keep your paragraphs short – featured snippets tend to be around 40 – 50 words in length
    • Use questions as headings and answer them below (questions often trigger featured snippets)
    • Use high-quality images and videos

    Follow these tips and you should be on the right path!

    35. Consider Negative SEO

    Negative SEO is a very important topic, as many people don’t know how to deal with it.

    Normally with SEO, you want to get backlinks from other people, as this helps build up your domain and page authority. But manipulating links is against Google’s guidelines, meaning that you had be hit with a link penalty if you’re flagged as being involved in link schemes.

    This is where negative SEO comes in. Anyone can link to your website, so if someone is able to make it appear as if you are manipulating the search results by adding lots of links, your website could be hit with a link penalty. This could cause your website to lose traffic, or even be excluded from the search results.

    This is why you should be monitoring your backlink profile. If you see any sudden spikes in backlinks, or links using unusual, often adult themed anchor text, you can quickly investigate.

    For instance, in one case a business discovered over 200,000 low quality backlinks pointing to its site. It took over 2 years to clean up the mess:

    Spammy links

    At first, this doesn’t seem fair, as you can’t stop someone from creating a bad backlink to your site. To rectify this, Google has what they call the Disavow tool. This allows you to create a list of URLs and domains that you want Google to ignore, in order to protect yourself.

    36. Claim Your Social Profiles

    It’s wise to claim all of your social media profiles ASAP. Typically, businesses should do this immediately after launching their website. Most backlinks from social media profiles are nofollow, meaning they won’t help your SEO, but they can still send you a lot of traffic.

    Another big advantage of this strategy is that social media profile pages can often rank very well in SERPs. This can be huge for branding, as it allows you to have more control over the first search results that your visitors will see. Let’s take Kinsta for example.

    If you Google “Kinsta”, you can see that our Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube profiles all rank on the first page. If you’re very active on Twitter, you may also qualify for a special search result featuring your 3 most recent Tweets, as seen in the Kinsta brand SERP. Using social media profiles can be an instant win for your brand, and require very little effort.

    Kinsta's brand SERP

    Kinsta’s Brand SERP

    You can use a free tool like Namechk to see which names are available across all social media networks. Make sure to claim all of yours today.

    37. Use Local SEO Techniques

    Local SEO is highly important, especially for small businesses. There’s much more to it than we can cover in this post alone. One quick tip is that you should immediately register your site with Google My Business and Bing Places.

    These are both completely free and will help you show up in SERPs for location-specific searches. For example, below we searched for “Italian restaurant” in New York:

    Example of a local Google search results for “Italian restaurant”

    Bing now allows you to use your Google My Business information to create a Bing Places account, saving you lots of time and making it a no-brainer to get listed.

    Check out this in-depth local SEO guide from the folks over at TheSiteEdge. This is a great way to get started and stay ahead of your local competition.

    38. Make Sure Images Are Accessible If Using CDN

    Traffic from images can actually add up to quite a bit over time, so it is important to verify that your images can be crawled by search engines. According to data from Jumpshot, Google Images made up over 22 percent of web searches in 2018.

    If you’re using a CDN, you want to ensure that your images aren’t being blocked by your CDN provide’s robots.txt. For users of the Yoast SEO plugin, you will want to add the following code to the bottom of your functions.php file.

    Replace of course the domain and CDN domain with your own:

    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' );

    Some websites claimed that their images were being de-indexed (as seen below).

    Check out our Guide to Image Optimization to learn more about how to get your images showing up in search.

    We also recommend watching this Search Central Lightning Talk from Google, offering lots of useful tips for best practice image optimization.

    39. Don’t Index Image Attachment Pages

    Whenever you upload an image in WordPress and insert it into a post or page, it creates a separate attachment page on which the image resides. If you aren’t careful, Google might actually start indexing these pages, and since they have no value, it can be a waste of crawl budget.

    For instance, if someone clicks on an image attachment page in search results, all they’ll see is the image – not the content in the post. This will most likely result in them leaving immediately, causing your bounce rate to go up.

    If you notice this on your WordPress site, the Yoast SEO plugin has a redirect option to fix it. Simply navigate to SEO > Search Appearance, and click on the Media tab:

    The Yoast SEO attachment redirects setting

    Now enable the ‘Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself’ option.

    40. Translate Your Website

    Adding additional languages to your site can be a huge game-changer when it comes to WordPress SEO and traffic. Neil Patel experimented with this and saw a 47 percent increase in traffic after translating his site into 82 languages.

    Of course, this won’t work for everyone and success depends on your business and geographical location. However, it’s definitely something to think about.

    At Kinsta, we’ve translated our site into 9 additional languages and have seen a 107 percent increase in organic traffic in the last year because of it:

    The Kinsta home page in Spanish

    When it comes to implementing this on your WordPress website, Google won’t penalize you for duplicate content, but it’s important you have the correct hreflang and canonical tags in place.

    In the example below, the tags highlight the URL for the English version of the page, but also show that there’s a Spanish version. This helps search engines to understand which version of a page is the most appropriate for their users, based on the user’s browser language settings. You will also notice the “x-default” hreflang attribute, which shows which version should be used in case you don’t have a translated version available in the user’s language.

    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 you can use to translate your content and translation services for WordPress such as Weglot.

    Remember, no automatic translation tool will ever beat having an actual person translate it for you. We recommend hiring a native speaker or using a professional translation service.

    Top-ranked sites choose Kinsta to handle the high volume of traffic they get from search. Check out our plans.

    41. Optimize Your Website’s Speed

    Website speed is huge when it comes to WordPress SEO. Google announced way back in 2010 that it does affect your rankings. Plus, page speed matters to your visitors. Here are a few stats to prove the point:

    • One in four visitors abandon a website if it takes more than four seconds to load.
    • 46 percent of users don’t revisit poorly performing websites.
    • Website owners have a mere five seconds to engage visitors before they consider leaving.
    • 74 percent of users accessing a mobile site would leave if it took longer than five seconds to load.
    • Every one-second delay in page load time could lead to $1.6 billion in annual losses for online merchants as big as Amazon.

    A couple of ways you can easily improve your site’s speed are to implement a CDN, use a fast theme, and optimize your site accordingly. However, these strategies can only get you so far.

    Your web host plays a huge role in your site’s speed, so investing in quality managed WordPress providers is key. For example, some of our clients saw as much as a 200 percent increase in site speed after switching to Kinsta:

    A 212.5% increase in performance after switching to C2.

    A 212.5 percent increase in performance after switching to C2.

    If you’re in need of a new hosting plan, consider checking out ours.

    42. Fix Broken Links

    Nobody likes broken links, including Google. There are a couple of ways you can fix broken links on your WordPress site. The first is to simply check for them in Google Search Console. This is yet another reason why you should be using this platform.

    To find broken links in Google Search Console, navigate to the Coverage section. Here you’ll see a report that notes pages on your site with errors and warnings, as well as content that is valid or excluded:

    Coverage Report in Google Search Console

    Coverage Report in Google Search Console

    If you click on the Error box and scroll down to the Details section, you’ll see a list of any problems Google encountered while crawling your site. This will include 404 errors, which usually indicate broken links.

    Google Search Console should tell you where these broken links are located, so you can go to your site and replace them with valid ones.

    There are broken link plugins for WordPress as well. However, we don’t recommend these, as they tend to hurt the performance of your site.

    If you want to scan your site for broken links, it’s better to do a one-time scan with a free online tool like Online Broken Link Checker or use a site audit tool as we discuss below.

    43. Conduct Regular SEO Audits

    A great way to instantly check on how well your WordPress site is optimized is to do a quick WordPress SEO audit. There are great free and premium tools out there to help you.

    SeoSiteCheckup is a free tool that has over 50 checks to let you know how you’re doing.

    While this tool is pretty basic, it can help you get started.

    44. Ensure That Your Site Is Mobile Responsive

    Google announced the testing of its mobile-first indexing strategy in 2016. Google’s ranking algorithms now primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages. This is a huge change in how Google is now indexing content. It means that mobile is now more important than ever:

    If you don’t have a responsive site yet, drop everything you’re doing and get on that immediately. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly tool to see if your current WordPress site passes the test:

    The Kinsta website in Google’s mobile-friendly test.

    The Kinsta website in Google’s mobile-friendly test.

    Another option is to implement Google AMP, which is an open framework that allows websites to build light-weight web pages.

    However, AMP is not for everyone. Make sure you take a look at our AMP case study and why we removed it from our site.

    It’s also helpful to check Google Analytics to see how much traffic your site is getting from mobile devices. If you’re a Kinsta customer, you can also view mobile vs desktop traffic in MyKinsta Analytics:

    MyKinsta Analytics mobile vs desktop traffic

    MyKinsta Analytics mobile vs desktop traffic

    This will help you determine how much priority you should place on responsiveness.

    45. Index Post Categories

    This is strategy is optional, but indexing categories in Google can increase the relevancy of your content to boost your page rank, increase your traffic, and improve your WordPress SEO.

    A lot of WordPress themes don’t show category descriptions by default. Following the steps below will enable you to index your categories and show them on your site.

    Enable Category Indexing in Yoast

    The first thing you’ll want to do is navigate to SEO > Search Appearance and click on the Taxonomies tab:

    The Yoast SEO Show Categories in search results setting

    You should then check to ensure that the Show Categories in search results option is enabled.

    Step 2: Write Category Descriptions

    Finally, enter your category description under the specific post category that you want to index. You can do this by navigating to Posts > Categories and clicking on Edit under the relevant taxonomy:

    Adding a category description

    Make sure to click on the Update button when you’re done.

    46. Keep an Eye on 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. If you need some help, follow this step-by-step integration tutorial.

    One of the very first things you should do is link your Google Analytics account with your Google Search Console account. Under property settings for your domain, click into the Search Console Settings and it will walk you through the process of linking them up:

    Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console

    Link Google Analytics and Google Search Console

    This will then add an additional section to your Google Analytics account, which will allow you to see search queries, your best landing pages, and more:

    Check Search Console data in GA

    Another section to pay attention to is Channels under Overview > Acquisition, which will highlight the channels that direct traffic to your site, including organic search:

    Organic search data in Google Analytics

    When you click through to the ‘Organic Search’ report, you’ll see detailed info on traffic that comes from Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines.

    Noting what percentage of your visitors arrive via these channels will give you a pretty good idea of how effective your SEO efforts have been.

    47. Track Your Keyword Rankings

    Tracking your keyword rankings is also important. This allows you to monitor the progress of your focus keywords in SEO campaigns. If you spend time optimizing your posts, then you also need to monitor their progress long-term.

    A great strategy that we have had success with is to monitor your keywords that are appearing at the very top of the second page on Google results. Spend some time adding content and images, building backlinks, and other strategies we’ve mentioned in this post. This should help bump these posts to the first page.

    Google Search Console is great for understanding what keywords your website already ranks for, so head over to the Search results report.

    Google Search Console Queries Report

    Another great tool to track rankings in any country on different devices is AccuRanker. We highly recommend working with AccuRanker as It’s a great tool, with awesome developers:

    Tracking keyword rankings in AccuRanker

    This will help you keep an eye on how your keywords are performing over time.

    48. Use High-Quality Images

    We’ve already mentioned how images can help drive traffic to your site via Google Image Search. Visual content such as featured images, screenshots, graphs, and charts can also help break up your text and clarify content.

    In other words, adding images and graphics to your content benefits your site in a few ways:

    • Your images can rank in Google Image Search, to generate more organic traffic for your site.
    • Images can help demonstrate your posts’ relevancy to search engine crawlers.
    • Visuals make your content more interesting, more appealing and reader-friendly.

    Try to keep your images below 100KB to avoid them causing your page load time to lag. Make sure to use the correct image size when uploading images. Huge images that are resized by the browser often add unnecessary page load time.

    Google now supports the use of high-quality images, which is a great opportunity to spruce up your visual content. You may want to consider updating some of your older content by replacing less-than-ideal images with high-resolution versions.

    49. Account for Dwell Time

    ‘Dwell time’ refers to how long searchers spend on a website they found on a SERP before returning to view other results. While Google has denied that dwell time is a direct ranking factor, it’s a clear sign of whether a user found the answer to their question.

    If Google has this data and is able to track what searches a user went on to make after visiting your site, it’s hard to believe they wouldn’t use this to determine the quality of the search result.

    Of course, increasing your pages’ dwell time isn’t exactly a cut-and-dried process, but there are several strategies you can try. For starters, make sure to always place important information above the fold where it’s easy to find.

    ‘The fold’ refers to the point on your page where users have to scroll down to see the rest of your content. For example, on our home page the main navigation menu and a Call to Action (CTA) button that encourages visitors to view our plans are positioned above the fold:

    Above the fold on the Kinsta home page

    Speaking of navigation, making sure yours is clear and easy to understand can also help to increase your dwell time.

    Additionally, you’ll want to cut down on distractions that users may find annoying. Popups and auto-rolling videos are two features that have proven to steer visitors right back to the SERPs they came from.

    Finally, make sure to answer the questions your users are searching for. You can check which queries your pages rank for in Google Search Console’s Search results report, to understand the intent behind them, then you just need to make sure the page does a great job of answering them.

    50. Update Old Content

    As we’ve hinted at a few times throughout this article, updating old content is a solid SEO strategy that we use and recommend. Google considers content ‘freshness’ when ranking results, so going through your posts and modifying them to better reflect changes in your industry can boost your visibility significantly.

    As noted by Alfred Lua, Yoast SEO can identify content that you may want to update. Posts you’ve marked as Cornerstone Content that haven’t been edited in the last six months will appear under a Stale Cornerstone Content link in your Posts list.

    Alternatively, you may want to look into the free online tool, Animalz Revive:

    The Animalz Revive tool

    Simply type in your URL and allow the tool access to your Google Analytics. It will then highlight posts you can update to improve your SEO.

    51. Practice Content Pruning

    On a similar note, you can also practice ‘content pruning’, which involves removing dated content from your site if it can’t be updated and improved. This can be a pretty scary process. After all, deleting content you worked hard to create probably goes against your instincts.

    However, it’s better to have less content that is of high quality than to have a lot of posts that aren’t relevant or valuable to visitors. This will also require less ‘crawl budget’, or how many pages on your site that Google crawls within a given period of time.

    Content pruning is definitely an art, and we’re not recommending that you go ahead and delete half of your site’s posts. However, you may want to read this case study from HubSpot in which they removed 3,000 posts from their blog.

    This will give you an idea of the work involved, as well as how this practice can improve SEO. Just remember to create 301 redirects for removed content, so visitors don’t get lost.

    52. De-Index Duplicate Content

    It might sound silly to have two identical copies of the same content, but it happens more often than you might think. For example, one common reason for this is when a staging site is indexed by Google.

    Unfortunately, having multiple copies of your content indexed can lead to some serious SEO problems. While Google doesn’t formally penalize you for having duplicate posts or pages, it can still have an impact on your rankings.

    The main problem is that when presented with two identical pieces of content, Google doesn’t know which one to rank. Hypothetically, this means that your staging site could start appearing in place of your actual web pages, which would be awkward, to say the least.

    In this case, the simplest way to take care of this issue is to de-index your staging site. WordPress allows you to do so easily. Just navigate to Settings > Reading on your staging site, and select the checkbox next to Discourage search engines from indexing this site:

    De-indexing a WordPress site

    If you’re using a Kinsta staging environment, you can rest assured it will be automatically set up not to be indexed by search engines.

    Other examples of duplicate content mentioned earlier in this post include www vs non-www, where both versions of a URL can be accessed, as well as the use of parameters in URLs, which change the URL without changing the content.

    The general rule to prevent this type of duplicate content is to use a self-referencing canonical tag on every page, highlighting the preferred version of your URLs. For example, this page contains the following canonical in the <head>:

    <link rel="canonical" href="https://kinsta.com/blog/wordpress-seo/">

    You can also add redirect rules to your WordPress .htaccess file to make sure that users and bots are always redirected to your canonical URLs.

    53. Optimize Your Content for Google Discover

    Google Discover is Android’s content suggestion service. It’s basically a feed of content that Google thinks users will find relevant, based on their search history and other content they’ve read. As we mentioned before, mobile traffic is growing like crazy, so optimizing your posts for this platform can only help you.

    Since Google Discover isn’t search-based, keyword research and optimization won’t help you get your posts into users’ feeds. There are, however, several actionable steps you can take to improve your chances, all of which we’ve discussed in this post:

    When it comes to the images you include in your posts, you may also want to consider enabling large image use for Google Discover. Statistics show that this leads to an increase in CTR, page view duration, and user satisfaction. You’ll need to opt-in to Google’s program using this form to use large images.

    You can track how much traffic Google Discover is sending to your website, along with the pages appearing, by heading to the Discover report in Google Search Console.

    Google Discover report

    54. Create a Professional Site Footer

    If you scroll down to the bottom of your website, you may find a couple of credits that you didn’t put there. One will likely be the standard “Powered by WordPress” link that’s applied to every WordPress site. The other is often a credit that points back to the theme developer’s site:

    A theme credit and the “Powered by WordPress” link in a footer

    While these links aren’t incorporated with bad intentions, they don’t look particularly professional. Plus, as we’ve seen throughout this post, links have a significant impact on your WordPress SEO. Removing unnecessary links from your site is a best practice.

    You can check out our guide to removing the “Powered by WordPress” link from your footer. As for any theme credits that may be included, you might be able to delete them via the Customizer:

    Removing the theme credit in the Customizer

    Alternatively, you may be able to remove this link by editing your theme’s footer.php file. However, this can be a little trickier, so it’s best to stick with the Customizer if possible.

    55. Incorporate Anchor Links in Longer Content

    You’ve probably come across anchor links, especially if you read a lot of long blog posts. These are links that enable you to jump around to different parts of the post.

    We use them on the Kinsta blog to create a table of contents for some of our articles:

    Anchor links in a Kinsta blog post

    Anchor links in a Kinsta blog post

    Anchor links are excellent for improving user experience, as they enable readers to get right to the answers they’re looking for. In a long post where some readers may just need a portion of the information your content provides, this is very helpful and prevents the need for excessive scrolling.

    Additionally, your anchor links may also appear under your posts’ titles on SERPs, in the form of Google Site Links, as seen below:

    Anchor links in Google SERPs

    Users looking for very specific information who may have passed on your headline might click on one of your Site Links.

    This can help you generate more organic traffic. Check out our full guide to learn how to create anchor links for your posts.

    56. Use a Short Brand Domain

    Your website’s address is a big deal. It often represents users’ first impressions of your site or even your entire brand. For that reason alone, it’s important to take care when selecting your site’s domain name.

    We’ve written an entire post on choosing your domain, but some key tips include:

    • Choose something relatively short and easy to remember.
    • Incorporate keywords (if it makes sense to).
    • Make your domain sound like a brand name.
    • Avoid using ‘Exact Match Domains (EMDs)’.

    This last tip is especially important for your site’s SEO. EMDs are domains that exactly match the keyword the site is trying to rank for.

    For example, if we were trying to use an EMD, our site address might be something like managedwordpresshosting.com.

    While this used to be an effective SEO strategy, it created a lot of problems. Sites were able to rise to the top of SERPs because their domains indicated that they were highly relevant to users’ searches, but the quality of many of those websites was very low.

    To accommodate for this, Google applied changes to its algorithm that made EMDs a moot point. Basically, having an EMD is only helpful now if your site also has high-quality content.

    57. Reduce Your Bounce Rate

    When it comes to websites, ‘bouncing’ is when users access a page of your site but then immediately navigate away from it. A high bounce rate is usually considered a bad thing because it means that visitors aren’t sticking around long enough to convert.

    You can view your pages’ bounce rates in Google Analytics. Simply navigate to Behavior > Overview and look beneath the main graph.

    Now a few important comments on bounce rate.

    It’s important to note that the bounce rate is not a direct ranking factor for Google or other search engines. Also, the bounce rate is strictly related to the type of site you’re looking at. For example, news-focused sites have some of the highest bounce rates in the market, but that’s not a problem per se, as their main goal is to provide a news piece.

    However, a high bounce rate could be an indication of other underlying issues on your site that might be affecting your SEO.

    Users bounce away for a lot of different reasons. Sometimes it’s due to confusing site navigation, misleading headlines or links, excessive ads, or even simple mistakes where visitors click on a link or button by accident.

    This can make it hard to pin down what you should do to improve your bounce rate. To get you started, we’ve written not one but two posts on the topic: How to Display Dynamic Sidebars and Widgets to Reduce Bounce Rate and How to Reduce Bounce Rate On Your WordPress Site (18 Tips).

    You can also use a session recording tool to actually watch how users interacted with your site. This can be very useful in revealing issues and blocking factors that you were never aware of, particularly as you’re likely to be very familiar with how your site works, giving you tunnel vision. Clarity is a free tool from Microsoft that automatically tracks users, allowing you to look at heat maps and recordings to get a better idea of how your users are navigating your pages and interacting with your site.

    58. Craft Key Pages to Build Your Credibility

    This tip also isn’t about a direct ranking factor, but we still think it’s important. There are a few key pages that every quality website should have. If yours is missing them, you run the risk of looking less-than-credible to your visitors.

    If you don’t already, you should have the following pages on your WordPress site (at a minimum):

    • An About Page. This should provide some basic information about your brand, your mission, and what you have to offer visitors. It often helps to frame this content as a narrative, such as by describing how your brand came to be.
    • A Contact Page. Displaying a physical address (if your business has one), phone number, email, and other relevant contact details show users there’s a real person behind your site. It also makes it easy for them to reach out to you with questions about your products or services, which can help you land sales.
    • A Disclosure Page, Privacy Policy, and Terms and Conditions. The legal pages needed for your website will vary somewhat depending on the type of content you produce. If you provide any advice (such as through blog posts) or incorporate affiliate links, a Disclosure page is ideal. Any site that collects user data should be GDPR compliant and/or CCPA compliant. If you sell products or services online you’ll want to list your Terms and Conditions.

    Besides these pages, adding some social proof to your site can help increase your trustworthiness as well. Links to your social media accounts and testimonials and reviews from clients, customers, or users are ideal.
    SEO can make or break your website… Click to Tweet

    Summary

    SEO is critical to the success of any business. However, there are a lot of aspects to keep your eye on and maintain over the lifespan of your WordPress site.

    In this post, we’ve shared plenty of WordPress SEO strategies we’ve used to get real results. By implementing as many of them on your own site, we’re 100% sure you’ll be able to boost your organic traffic and SEO rankings.

    And if you want to drive even more traffic to your website, check out this video below, which is part of larger video series:

    Do you have any questions about WordPress SEO? Let us know in the comments section below!

    The post WordPress SEO: 58 Tips to Grow Organic Traffic by More Than 123% in 12 Months appeared first on Kinsta.

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