Did you know that more than 30 percent of all websites run on WordPress? That’s because it’s free, easy to use and does not require any sort of technical expertise. In fact, this content management system (CMS) was initially designed to manage free blogs but gradually evolved into a full-fledged CMS. So, if you have recently started your own website and cannot afford expensive design and graphic services, then consider using WordPress. With some basic SEO knowledge, you can also optimize your WordPress blog without hiring external SEO services. If that sounds like something you wish to do, then read on.
Here are 10 of the most powerful SEO strategies for your WordPress blog, which can skyrocket your website’s traffic:
Choosing the right domain and web hosting plays a pivotal role in the overall ranking of a website. It is always recommended that you include a keyword in the domain name. As far as hosting, we strongly recommend that you stay away from shared web hosting plans, often marketed as starter-level plans. Although pocket-friendly, this type of web hosting shares the server’s resources with several other websites. That could adversely impact the speed of your website, which is a critical ranking factor. Other issues associated with shared web hosting is the possibility of a blacklisted neighbor. When a website on the same server is blacklisted, it is the IP that suffers. This subsequently affects the online reputation of all other websites hosted on that server because all of them use a common IP.
A healthier alternative would be to choose a virtual private server (VPS) hosting plan. VPS hosting is a lot cheaper than hiring a dedicated server and offers better transparency and allocation of resources. Under VPS hosting plans, the web hosting company provides access to a predetermined share of the server’s resources. However, if you have a flexible budget, it is always recommended you choose the cloud hosting plan to host your website.
When a user types in a website’s URL, attempting to establish a connection, there is immediate communication between the user and the site. SSL certificates encrypt this communication, which makes it more secure and prevents cybercriminals from accessing it. Also, it earns the user’s trust because the browser indicates that the website is secure. So, SSL certificates add an extra layer of security to your website and make it run on HTTPS, an internet protocol which is a lot more secure than the HTTP. This is a mandatory requirement for websites that sell products or services through its website.
Most importantly, prominent search engines like Google rank websites with HTTPS better than they rank the ones without it. Although it is one of the many ranking factors, it is something that Google confirms all by itself. So, irrespective of the type of website you use, it only makes sense to invest in at least an SSL certificate. Although there are web hosting plans that allow a free SSL certificate, that’s only for a limited period. Before it expires, you can purchase the cheapest SSL certificate to substitute that.
However, if you run an organization, you need to pick a more comprehensive SSL certificate like OV SSL certificate. It works well for websites involved in e-commerce as it indicates that the organization’s presence has been verified by the Certificate Authority — as a result, it is likely to rank better.
Optimizing the title tags and headings of your website is crucial to drive organic traffic to your site. As search engine results pages (SERPs) usually read the first 70 characters in the title tag and truncate the rest, you must focus on optimizing those first words. By doing that, you can significantly minimize the chances of your website going unnoticed. Also, making use of the right H tags can greatly influence how spiders crawl onto your website. For example, the H1 tags must introduce the article and give the reader a fair idea of what’s in store. The H2 tags dive deeper into the article and break it into larger chunks or subtopics.
Did you know that using the right WordPress theme can boost your website’s traffic? Themes contain code and the lesser, the better. So, while choosing one, restrict yourself to a minimalistic design because WordPress themes that are packed with too many features require bulky codes. Choose themes optimized for SEO in the WordPress theme repository. Also, before finalizing any SEO theme, check for the aggregate number of active installations and the last update of the theme. Finally, ensure that it is compatible with the latest version of WordPress and other essential plugins that you have installed.
Using a cache plugin can greatly enhance the website’s speed as well as user experience — if you use WordPress then the best way to do this is by using the W3 Total Cache plugin. This WordPress plugin is regularly updated and has over a million active users benefitting from it. All credit goes to its exceptional ability to shorten the page load time.
Google gets over 60 percent of its overall traffic from mobile devices which explains why Google’s algorithm currently adopts the mobile-first approach. So, if you run a website that isn’t mobile-friendly, then you are going to lose out on a large chunk of organic traffic. In the WordPress repository, you will notice that the best themes offer responsive features with its premium version. Consider this to be an investment and pick one that is designed by a reliable company.
Responsive themes can auto-adjust in size according to the device on which the website is being accessed. Also, responsive sites load faster on mobile phones and tablets, which is ideal for users with portable compact devices running searches on-the-go. If you already have a responsive website, then here’s how you could check out what’s keeping it from ranking well and fix any issues.
When it comes to doing your own SEO, you simply cannot ignore the SEO plugin, Yoast. It works by making recommendations to your post and calculating its readability and SEO scores even on its free version. Yoast plugin also allows websites to create a sitemap that makes it convenient for the search engine spiders to navigate.
Another concern faced by many websites is duplicate content. The most common victims are genuine businesses with two versions of their website — one for mobile devices and the other for personal computers. In such cases, making use of canonical tags can easily solve the issue and although writing them isn’t very difficult, it can prove to be quite a challenge for a non-technical person. Yoast SEO plugin solves this problem by automatically creating canonical tags for all the pages on your site.
Optimizing images might be easy, but it’s time-consuming and the best way to do this is by using WordPress. With the right plugins you can simplify this Herculean task and compress your images quite easily. Depending on the type of website you run, you may or may not want to compromise on image quality. The coolest thing about WordPress is that there’s a plugin to do it either way. If you wish to compress your JPEG and PNG images upon upload automatically, consider using TinyPNG plugin. This nifty plugin compresses JPEG images by around 40 to 60 percent and PNG images around 50 to 80 percent. So, by adding the right alt tags and titles to the compressed images, you can optimize them in no time.
Another image optimization plugin that works well for websites involved in e-commerce and travel is Smushit. These websites need to have excellent image quality and Smushit takes care of that through lossless compression of the image by eliminating unused data. It is also a great time saver because you can compress close to 50 images at once. Besides image compression, this plugin also lets you use its lazy load option, to delay offscreen images and it locates bulky images on your website hampering its load time. After all, speed plays a significant role in delivering a superior user experience and helps you rank better in organic searches.
Most website owners focus too much on external linking and don’t entirely appreciate the power of internal linking. In fact, linking to other relevant posts within your website can greatly enhance engagement by keeping the reader engrossed. Also, it ensures increased visibility and gives you the opportunity to showcase more content to your readers. By pointing internal links to a page, you also tell the SERPs how important that page is and how comprehensive your website is. As this is a time-consuming task, you can use WordPress plugins like Link Whisper and Rank Math to make things easier.
On the other hand, external linking, a more popular SEO practice, merely tells the SERPs that people are talking about your site and find your content to be authentic. However, this is a two-edged sword that can both make or break your website. Bad external links would tell the SERPs that you are trying to cheat them, so you should be targeting high domain authority websites in the same niche. For example, a travel-based website should consider trying to get backlinks from other travel and leisure sites that have a high domain authority. You can check domain authority for free on websites like website SEO checker, Ahrefs and several others.
If you have a WordPress website that contains duplicate pages it can negatively impact your SEO ranking quite severely. This often happens if you have a category and a tag labeled in the same way. For example, you have a category ‘Rat’ but also create a tag called ‘Rat’ in a post. That is quite possible if you have multiple authors accessing the back-end. An easy way to avoid that is by declaring the ‘No Index’ tag on the page that’s of less importance. By doing this, you tell the SERPs to not follow that less important page — which solves your problem of having duplicate content. You can insert <meta name=’robots’ content=’noindex’/> to ‘No Index’ the less important page.
The above mentioned are the 10 most important SEO strategies for WordPress blogs. WordPress makes it extremely easy to do your own SEO because its repository has a plugin for everything. However, since the plugins are developed by third parties, the repository isn’t well-regulated. With every plugin that you download, you run the risk of downloading plugins that contain malicious code. The same goes for WordPress themes, so make it a point to do some research. It’s important to enhance your website’s security by adding, at least, a cheap SSL certificate to it and bear in mind that adding too many plugins will slow your site down.