WordPress is an incredible publishing platform with a passionate community that supports it.

For those who don’t know, WordPress is an open source blogging platform that can also function as a content management system (CMS) / eCommerce site, news site, and much more.

When you see that big companies have trusted WordPress to create their website, then you know that WordPress must be an exceptional product.

Although you can find themes and plugins for SEO success with any CMS system, you may occasionally encounter one that behaves unexpectedly and breaks your site.

Although some think it is okay to have things that break on their website, this can actually have a negative impact on both SEO and visitors.

Top SEO Tips for WordPress

1. Optimizing Your URL Structure

If you have used WordPress before, you might have come across the term “Permalink” (which is just a fancy term for URL structure).

By default, WordPress uses an ugly permalink structure that looks like this: example.com/?p=123. Wouldn’t it be better for SEO and for users if the URL was formatted as example.com/title-of-the-post/?

If you’re having trouble with URL rewrites not working properly, you can fix it by logging into your WordPress Admin interface and going to Settings >> Permalinks. You can change your URL structure here.

If you change your Permalink Structure, all your current links will be updated as well, meaning the links Google has already indexed will no longer lead to the correct post. This will result in a decrease in organic traffic.

To fix this issue, it is best to redirect the old posts to the new ones using a 301 redirect. If your site only has a limited number of posts, you can redirect them using the .htaccess file. If you are looking to redirect posts and there are too many to do so manually, you can use a third-party plugin like Change Permalink Helper.

A tip for creating your post’s title is to edit the permalink to get rid of unimportant words (like “a,” “for,” “the,” etc.) When creating a post with the title “The most common Misconceptions about the Mayan Apocalypse,” edit the permalink to read “common-misconceptions-mayan-apocalypse.” It’s best to keep the permalink all in lowercase letters and to avoid special characters, including spaces. WordPress will typically take care of this for you.

2. H1 Blog Title on All pages

A possible issue with many themes is that the blog title is tagged as an h1 tag on all pages of the site. Google pays a lot of attention to the h1 tag to decide how relevant your website is to a particular topic. So, in an ideal world you will have:

  • H1 tag as the name of your site on the homepage.
  • On single post or pages, the Title of the page should be in h1.
  • On category and Tag archive, The Category / Tag title should be in h1.

The WordPress 3.0 issue has been resolved, but if you are using an older version or a custom theme, you should check your source code to see if the blog title is appearing as h1 on all pages. If your website has issues, you can fix them by using conditional tags.

3. Categories / Tags to be Indexed

If you properly set up Tags and Categories, then the tag and category archives can significantly improve your inbound traffic. Here are a few handy pointers when it comes to Tags and Categories:

  • On category and Tag archive, The Category / Tag title should be in h1.
  • Add descriptions for Tags and Categories. It can be a great place to have internal links to your pages (WordPress does not allow you to do this by default, but this plugin will help you get it done).
  • Use Tags and Categories in moderation. You don’t want hundreds of them.

4. SEO Plugins for WordPress

Since Yoast has bought their amazing WordPress SEO plugin, we don’t have to have many different plugins to get things done, like adding Facebook OpenGraph, sitemaps, breadcrumbs, rel=”next” & rel=”prev” for paginated archives, and more.

This all-in-one plugin takes care of it all. Be sure to take your time setting it up correctly. Yoast is responsible for updates that fix common issues with his plugin.

Adding internal links helps to strengthen your internal pages. The search engine within the website is not effective in finding results that match the search terms. This plugin makes it easier to search for internal links.

Google has stated that page speed is a very important factor when it comes to ranking a site. Also, site visitors have stated that they are less likely to return to a site if it takes too long to load. There are various tools you can use to analyze how your WordPress site divvies up its performance, such as Pingdom or Yslow.

5. Image Optimization on WordPress

Images are an important part of any post on a website, but many people overlook the importance of optimizing those images. I recommend adding alt-text, caption, and description to your WordPress posts.

6. Google Author Profile on WordPress

If you’re not using Google+, you’re already falling behind. Waste no more time and start using it. If you choose to, you can have your profile pic appear next to articles you’ve written on Google.

You can read more about it on Google. If you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin, you can add a link to your Google+ page to your site by going to your profile and adding the ?rel=author tag.

To add a backlink to your Google+ profile in your author bio, go to WP Admin >> Users >> Your Profile and look for the Biographical Info under About Yourself. Then, add the ?rel=author tag to the end of the backlink. Add in a short description about yourself along with something like:

Follow me on Google+

You might find that WordPress will remove the “?rel=author” from your link, so you’ll need to install the HTML in Author Bio plugin to fix the issue.

To complete this task, you will need to add a link back to this site from your Google+ profile. In the Contributor To section on your Google+ profile, add a link to your site.

7. Use XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is a file of code on your web server which includes each page on your website. The purpose of XML sitemaps is to assist search engines in finding, evaluating, and ranking the content on your website.

If you’re not someone who knows a lot about coding and you want to avoid creating your XML sitemap manually, the best thing to do is to install a plugin like Yoast SEO or Google XML Sitemaps. These plugins will automatically generate sitemaps for you.

8. Internally Link Your Site

You can improve your website’s SEO by increasing its authority. How much you internally link to your content is one of the main ways that search engines determine your site authority.

To insert a link, highlight the words on your page where you want the link to be, click the link button in the WordPress toolbar, and copy and paste the URL of the page you want to link to.

Once you create a hyperlink, the text will change color and will include the URL of the page you are linking to.

9. Use SSL

SSL is a standard security technology that manages an encrypted link between a server and browser. SSL is a protocol that helps to keep information shared between a website and its visitors secure.

If someone fills out your order form and lists their credit card information, businesses use SSL to make sure that information is not intercepted by a hacker.

Google and other search engines give priority to websites that have SSL Certificates and are therefore more secure. This is because an SSL Certificate means that the information on the website is encrypted, making it more difficult for hackers to access. Google is more likely to rank a site higher if it has SSL.

As of now, WordPress.com will automatically add SSL to your site so there is no need to do it manually.

If you have a WordPress.org site that requires you to take care of all your website’s security individually, you can install an SSL plugin such as Real Simple SSL.

10. Use Nofollow External Links

When you link to other pages on your site, you are giving yourself authority. When you include links to outside sources in your content, you are helping to give those websites authority, or “link juice.”

Linking to other pages on the internet (external linking) not only improves your website’s SEO but also the SEO of the pages you are linking to.

Enter: Nofollow external links.

These links improve both the content and search engine ranking for your WordPress website. By preventing spam on your website, and not allowing search engines to follow the linked URLs, you are only helping improve your website’s ranking and authority.

To add a Nofollow link on your WordPress site, you can either do it manually or automatically by adding “nofollow” in the “Link Relationship” form field.

There are also a number of Nofollow plugins available for your WordPress site in the plugin library.

11. Manage Your Security

If your website is secure, it will improve your ranking on search engines.

The amount of security your WordPress site has depends on the plan you have. Some plans include security features, while others do not. Even if everything else fails, you can still try installing plugins like Wordfence Security or iThemes Security to improve your site’s security.

12. Optimize Your Comments

People leaving comments on posts is a great way to keep people engaged on your site. A more engaged audience generally means more traffic, link sharing, and interaction, which can lead to improved SEO.

Comment spam could ruin your blog’s SEO and ranking. In order to make sure that the feedback you are getting is genuine, you need to only solicit responses from actual people.

There are WordPress plugins that will block comments containing spam and stop other forms of spam, such as faulty form submissions, subscriptions, orders, and more.

Many plugin developers include features that block known spammers so they aren’t able to access your site again.

13. Choose WWW or non-WWW

In order to access a website, you can either search with the “www” or without it. For example, if you wanted to access the website www.mysite.com, you could either search for www.mysite.com or mysite.com.

If you have two different URLs, or official domain names, search engines will see them as two different websites. This is why you need to pick one. There is no definitive answer as to whether it is better to use www or not when creating a website. It is simply a matter of preference and will not affect your website’s ranking in search engines.

Pick one option and stick to it to improve your site’s SEO. Make sure to link to your official domain name internally and externally on social media and email. This will help increase traffic to your site.

If you are consistent with your domain name and link to it often, search engines are more likely to give you more authority, and therefore a higher chance of ranking. This makes things simpler for your visitors.

To change your URL, go to your WordPress dashboard, click Settings, and under General Settings you’ll see the form fields for your URL.