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How to Optimize Your WordPress SEO Settings

by Brenda Barron on March 12, 2018

Everyone wants to show up first in the search rankings, and it’s a constant battle for a higher listing. WordPress is somewhat SEO-friendly by default, but if you’ve never delved into the settings and code, you could be sacrificing a lot.

If you want to be seen when people search for related keywords, you’ll have to do some extra work. But rest assured, when you see your rankings improve, it’ll be more than worth it.

Best Practices for WordPress SEO Settings

SEO optimization is a delicate art. One small change can spell the difference between being first in the search results, and not even appearing on the first (or fifth) page. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should act as a solid place to start.

Boost Site Performance

One of the biggest effects on your search ranking is speed. A sluggish website means low rankings, so if you use a slow but cheap hosting plan, it might be time to upgrade to cloud or VPS hosting. Also, consider using a CDN to further optimize your site.

W3 Total Cache plugin

If you can’t afford it, there are many free speed-boosting alternatives. WordPress has great caching plugins that should give a considerable boost to loading time. You can also compress large images and eliminate unnecessary pages and assets. In the worst case, you may need to change your pretty but intensive theme to something more lightweight.

Use a Sitemap

XML sitemaps are a great way to make your content visible to search engines. It links to all the pages in your site, allowing search engines to index them quickly. You may wish to use either a sitemap plugin or an all-purpose SEO plugin for this.

Link Optimization

WordPress’s default permalink structure is not SEO-friendly, so you’ll want to change it to Post Name or custom. You can find this in your Settings, under Permalinks.

Make sure external and irrelevant links have the “nofollow” attribute, so your page won’t get docked points for untrusted links.

Internally link to related posts and pages often, even if you have a sitemap. Don’t just use widgets like “related articles.” Google ranks pages that are linked to frequently higher.

Relevance

There are a few tips to increase your general relevance. Create meta descriptions for your pages that use relevant terms without being spammy. The same goes for your articles and titles. SEO-friendly means a considerate use of keywords!

meta descriptions

Make sure your theme uses responsive elements. A non-responsive site is a huge hit to search rankings. Release new posts frequently, as active sites get a boost as well. Avoid broken links at all costs, and make sure the first few paragraphs of your posts contain important keywords and links.

Optimize for Accessibility

Not only does this increase your audience and help disabled people navigate your site, but common accessibility modifications tend to increase your search rankings as well! Examples of good practices are making sure your site is responsive (mobile-friendly) and creating alt text for images.

If you want a high-ranking website, and to make it usable by everyone, it’s a good idea to follow accessibility guidelines.

Use a Plugin

If all this goes a little over your head, or you just want a simple way to do all this from a single dashboard, you should use a WordPress SEO plugin like Yoast or SEOPress. These tools will allow you optimize your settings without having to dig through code or obscure options menus. They also do some configurations automatically.

High Search Ranking Made Easy

SEO doesn’t have to be intimidating. By now, you should have a clear idea of the steps to take to get your WordPress site ranked higher. And if all this is overwhelming, feel free to use a plugin instead. Follow these tips, and you’ll be on your way to the top!

What’s the best piece of SEO advice you’ve ever heard as it pertains to WordPress? Please share your thoughts below And, if you enjoyed this guide, be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Twitter

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