Optimize wordpress like a BOSS
There are many articles about seo optimization of wordpress. But I want to give you some unique and interesting tips and tricks about seo optimization of wordpress sites.
Content seo settings
By default, your titles are not very good. They have structure – title of post + title of site. But this creates many problems, because all pages on your site will have common keywords. So, use only title of posts as titles, without name of site.
When I start new site, there is only one plugin which I added in the beginning – Seo by Yoast. It helps to control titles and many others things.
So, when you activate plugin, go to settings (Seo – Titles and Metas), set unique Homepage title and description. Title for homepage must have required and important keywords, but it must be readable for users. Think about how your site can help visitors and add short text about this. Set more text in description. What about title templates, Date in Snippet Preview?
Title templates must be like this
If you have news site – you can include date in snippet. If not – don’t enable.Also, I always set noindex for Media post type, because I don’t want to have many image pages in index
Delete %%sep%% %%sitename%% from titles. Also, usually I add noindex for Tags, but you can optimize tags like category pages (read below how to do this). In this case don’t add noindex
Usually, I enable all checkboxes in Duplicate content prevention, but you must do this only if you have one author for site.
Usually, I enable Noindex subpages of archives
Ok, now we set title templates in Seo by Yoast. Let’s talk about how to create good titles. Some my secrets
- Titles must be always unique on each page.
- Avoid using same words in end or beginning of title on all pages
- Add main focus words in the beginning of title
- Don’t use only focus words in title. Add some other words. For example “Buy product” – it’s not good title, but “Buy product, see specification of product and choose model” – better title
- Don’t use many symbols in title. 50-60 is recommended, but sometimes you can use 100.
- Users first. This mean that titles must be for users and then for engines.
Another useful option for posts. Titles – like keyword for searching, meta descriptions is like instrument for promotion. This part is used for snippets in search engines. Usually, I tried to make small description with focus keyword in beginning of article. This part is used for excerpt in wordpress and for meta description automatically. Of course, they must be unique for each page. Avoid to use just sets of seo keywords in titles and descriptions. Make them for users, because they will be visible in search results
Make sure that title of post on your page has h1 tags. NEVER USE MULTIPLE H1 HEADINGS ON PAGE. Also, make shue that title on your page is not a link (in this case link goes to the same page).
Try to divide your article on logic parts. Each logic part must start from h2 heading and have some text divided by h3 headings. Example – this article. As you see, I also added table of contents in beginning. This is also very good technique for long articles. In my optimized themes, it’s easy to do, just simple shortcode. Maybe your theme also has such functions.
Also, I found that very often many html coders add h3 or h4 as title in sidebar widget. This is big mistake, because titles as “Latest posts”, “Subscribe to us” and similar in sidebar are useless for seo of page.
I think that you already know this. More unique content – more chances to be in top. But content must be not only unique, it must be also interesting for users. There are some ways to increase value of content for seo and for users. One of best – adding additional videos, images, manuals, etc. For this purposes, we created plugin Content Egg. It has much more functions, just check it.
Avoid using word office for posts
Many people do next – they create post in Word office or similar desktop program and then just copy text to wordpress visual editor. If you do this, make sure that you insert text when you are in text view
Don’t forget to set alt tag for each image. You can do this when you add image in wordpress editor. I make even more, usually, I saved images with names that have keywords. Something like seo-optimization.jpg
Also, sometimes, if I get images from google images, I try to make them unique. The most simple way is using default wordpress image editor and flip + crop image
If you don’t want to add alt to each image – use plugin SEO Friendly Images
Also, one more thing. When you add image in wordpress editor, by default it has link on original image. Avoid this, you don’t need link from image to itself (it only useful when you original image is very big and you want to add link to original size)
Quality of content
Before you start your site, answer on one question – what values users can get from your site. Imagine that you are a man who are interesting in one theme. Do you think that your site is helpful?
When I create site, I tried to add such information that will be helpful even for me. I very often go to my sites to remember some information. So, CONTENT IS A KING. This is first and main rule.
About code validation
Search engines can determine code validity of code. But they don’t use this. So, your code of page can be not valid but has good seo ranking. But, I try to check code validity of pages from time to time because it allows to find some errors in code which is not visible.
I think that many things of technical settings are good in wordpress by default. Especially with enabled any seo plugin for wordpress. I show you some things that you can check
- Stable hosting
- Good structure
- Avoid using too much tags or close them from indexation
- Avoid using too much content blocks on home page (exception – news sites)
- Size of page. Avoid using too much plugins
- Avoid using inline js and css styles
- No broken links
- Correct redirects if you have them
Also one of important thing is using correct urls for domain. There are two ways – http://www.site.com and http://site.com. I recommend second, so, make sure that you have correct web url inside Settings – general
Maybe this is most weak part of wordpress. The problem is that wordpress generate too much duplicated pages. But it’s possible to make everything in correct way.
Correct meta robots for pages
So, one of the problem of wordpress, that the same post or page can be accessed by different urls. Many people even don’t know about this. You can check pages in google index if you add search in google as “site:yoursite.com”. Also, if you have many tags, categories, date archives, author archives, pagination pages – most of pages will be the same. You need to disable such pages from indexation.
First of all, you need correct meta robots. Seo by Yoast has option to add it. I wrote about this above. Note some things. If you optimize pages with tags – don’t add noindex to them. Or, if you have multiple author pages, maybe it’s good to leave them indexed. Usually, I add noindex tag to tag archives, media post type, date archives, format archives, author page archives, subpage archives.
Correct robots.txt for wordpress
I wrote article about robots.txt
Google webmaster tool
Sometimes, if you want to disable some pages from indexation, maybe it will be better to disable such pages inside google webmaster tool. It allows you to disable even definite part of site.
Sitemap.xml for wordpress
When I check many client’s sites, I see the same error. People use too much plugins for sitemaps. You need only one module, and most of seo plugins has built-in sitemap module. If you use 2 plugins in the same time – they can conflict each other. So, just check you seo plugin for sitemap module
As I wrote early, usually I added noindex, follow to pagination archives. BUT, I tried to make pagination in category archives. I see a very common mistake on many sites – using infinite scroll on all archives. This is a big problem. In this case, search spiders can’t have good access to your very early posts. So, you can use infinite scroll on homepage or separate pages. But make sure that you have pagination in your archives that are opened for indexation.
URLs and cross links
This is easy. Go to Settings – Permalinks and choose Post name
Sometimes, I use Custom structure and add /%postname%.html In this case your link will be like site.com/post.html
So, it will look like static html document, but I think this is not so important, it’s up to you.
Use short links with focus keywords
By default, wordpress generate links base on post title, but you can change this link. I recommend to use short links, delete different stop words from links (such as “a”, “the”, etc), make sure that your url has focus keyword for post. Example, my link of this post by default was https://wpsoul.com/optimize-wordpress-like-a-boss – but it’s not good, because it has many useless words. So, I change it to much better https://wpsoul.com/optimize-seo-wordpress/ - short, good, beautiful
Most of themes have breadcrumbs, make sure that your post has it. Breadcrumbs is useful for users and for seo. If your theme doesn’t have breadcrumb, you can implement yoast breadcrumbs
Relative and recommend posts blocks
This is very important part of site. Place this block in the end of post. Most themes has such block. But, this is not enough. Try to add also inner links inside post. How to do this correct? Usually, when I think about new articles, I plan several articles which will be connected each other. So, I made one common big articles and several small articles which will be connected with main. Then, I try to create cross links or even formatted blocks inside content. Of course, anchor for such links must have keywords. Avoid using something like “read here”. Example, of such blocks
WordPress was blog CMS very long time. This is why it has some things which are not good for seo, but good for blogs and communications. One of such thing is too much system links which doesn’t have sense for seo. For example, links from comment count and “read more links”
Yeah, this looks good sometimes, but if you check your home page on any link analyze tool, you will see that most common inner anchor will be “read more” which is useless for seo.
So, in my themes I always give option to disable comment link and customize read more link for each post. So, if you want to have read more link – use good title in it. Something short but with keywords. It must be as short title of article (but not the same as title)
Another common problem is that html coders use a tag for interactive elements, such as buttons for popups, ajax, counters, etc. Usually, they add something like
<a href="#">Click here</a>
It’s not correct, because link must be link and goes to another page or part of webpage. For interactive elements you should use something like
<span class="interactive-class">Click here</span>
In this case, text will be as text, not as anchor for link.
HTTPS for site
In 2014, Google announced that they give a small ranking benefit to HTTPS / SSL sites, so, you can use this also. Note. After this, all content and all links must have https:// urls. Possible error – you use some js or css libraries from external sites, such as jquery, font awesome icons, etc. So, change your links from http://link.com to https:// (or, as I do often, just set external links as //link.com)
Links from sidebar and content blocks
I think you saw block “popular” in sidebar on many sites. It’s good widget, so, you can use it. But, if your site is not popular and you don’t add content very often, I recommend you to use “popular” blocks as manual. This means that you can add articles in this widget by yourself (not based on views, comments of users, etc). In this case you can add links to your most valuable articles. Also, very good technique is when you have this block not as list of posts, but as list of comments, excerpt of comment will be link (maybe testimonials). The main difference is that anchor in such links will be not as title of post, so, such links will not glued with links from archive loops.
Many people think that if they add rel=”nofollow” to links – they can add any links in site. No, this is not a truth, google will follow even such links. Also, I found that external links on very good trusted niche website can be even useful to your site. So, usually, I add such links without nofollow.
What about if you need to hide link from search engines? Well, there is one simple way – jquery. We will make some trick. First of all, add such jquery to your theme.
return '<a href="' + $(this).data('dest') + '">' + $(this).html() + '</a>';
Now, you can add hidden links with such code
<span class="ext-source" data-dest="http://link.com">Link text</span>
Next and very important part is structure of website and strategy of content. When you start your site you must know your structure, what is the main theme, what articles will be most important, what articles will be as supported. I recommend to take piece of paper and draw your structure.
When site is in index of google, it creates something like clusters. Each cluster has it’s own keywords and link weight. This is why it’s very important to keep your structure simple and logical. Don’t use tons of categories and tags. I see that people very often don’t understand wordpress taxonomy. They add to each post new category and new tags. In this case, each post will be in it’s own cluster and will have very small weight. Usually, such sites will be marked in google as “no thematic”, “all about all”. Of course, it’s possible to have good ranking even with such sites, but it’s much much harder. Good article for you about semantic core
After working on semantic core, it’s time to optimize categories pages. Use near 5-10 categories on site (can be more on old sites). Place link to each category in navigation (or in sidebar). Then, optimize pages for categories. For this, go to Posts – Categories – Edit and fill category description for each category. Minimum – 500 symbols. Will be good to place some interesting images or other html.
Next interesting thing in wordpress are pages. Pages are much better for seo in wordpress, they have linear structure page ->subpages. They don’t have archives, so, no duplicates. I know that many moneymakers create their sites only on pages. Posts are used only for news or other support content. Do you want example? Check here
As for me, I use both, posts and pages + sometimes additional custom post types. Posts are for articles, pages are for important spinners of traffic and for better structure. I try to explain some ideas for pages, so, you will understand
Top of something
This page is for creating pages with “top ….”, for example, Top seo articles of 2015 year, Top strategy games, Top gadgets for old people, etc. All my themes has Top table constructor and Top review constructor for such pages. If your theme doesn’t have this, you can use TablePress plugin or similar
The same as previous, but you can compare something. Usually price or specifications
Link on such page is good to place in visible place on homepage (or make homepage as such page). This is page which tells your first time visitor about important parts of your sites. It’s very important to make links on such page with target=”_blank” (open in new window). So, user will not close this page while he will read another articles. Simple example of such page Check here
A to Z tutorial page
The same as previous, but for specific question
FAQ pages, or maybe better, Q&A pages
For FAQ pages you can use accordition shortcodes which are usually in all themes. There are also many good Q&A free plugins now for wordpress. For example, DW Question & Answer or AnsPress – Question and answer plugin
HTML sitemap of site or timeline archives
Sometimes it’s also good technique, especially for sites with many static pages. But don’t use this if you have big amount of posts and pages.
Of course, it’s very important. You can check our article how to easily improve your page speed
Also, when I check client’s sites, I see 99% issue. They are using many plugins which do the same job. In most cases this is because many hosting companies install some plugins with wordpress (usually, jetpack). So, check your plugins. If you don’t know what they do – delete them. Also, avoid using many plugins for small functions. For example, usually seo plugins have many modules, but people add separate plugins for sitemap, for analytics, for links, for .htaccess. Don’t do this.
In this year google likes tables. Not for page, of course, but for specifications and price comparison. Sometimes, if you will be lucky, google place snippet with tables in description.
First screen is very important. So, try to use much important content in first screen. Also, avoid to use many ads in first screen (maximum 1 ads).
Social functions become important more and more for seo. So, use social share icons on your site. Also, you should create pages in twitter and facebook for your site and make reposts there from your site. I will not recommend plugins for this, because there are many good plugins now.
Google reduces now sites which are not optimized for mobiles. You can check your site for mobile optimization
Yes, schema.org structure is very popular now. It allows google to understand better your structure and add additional snippets. But, be sure that you are not using many plugins for this. Because if your theme already has schema structure and you use additional plugins, this will create errors. You can check your page on structure data testing tool