How to Optimize WordPress for SEO – An Introduction

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How to Optimize WordPress for SEO

We all know how important Search engine Optimization to give your posts a fighting chance of appearing in search results. In this post, I’m going to tell you how to optimize WordPress for SEO and give you a simple checklist of some of the items you’ll need to work through.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to work on your WordPress SEO, since on-site optimizations will support your off-site promotion by giving you a solid platform to build from. Optimizing your WordPress blog before wading into a full-blown link building campaign will serve you well down the line.

So without further ado…

How to Optimize WordPress for SEO

Let’s start at the top… how quickly do your pages and posts render? Does it take a long time for them to load? Are they sluggish, meandering along like a sloth? Or do they render with cheetah-like speed?

Page load speed is important to search engines as it’s an indicator of the quality of experience visitors are likely to have. Slow loading blogs are not user friendly, and as a consequence search engines do not reward them for it.

What’s the reward for faster loading sites? Most often higher placement in search results.

Check your page load speed in Google’s PSI tool to find out if your pages are rocking or snoozing… read my guide on using it here: How to Use Google PageSpeed Insights.

Google PageSpeed Insights Before Optimizations

If you find your blog loads slowly, there could be a variety of reasons for this:

  • Non-optimal theme code.
  • Poorly coded or unnecessary plugins.
  • Excessive JavaScript.
  • Badly or non-optimized images.
  • Slow hosting technology.

Google Page Insights will tell you what’s slowing things down for you and advise on fixes.

Optimize WordPress With SEO Plugins

Even if you’re an SEO expert, there’s a lot of work involved in manually managing all aspects of WordPress optimization… and remembering to implement them all at the same time is a challenge. Fortunately, there are plugins designed to handle the heavy lifting of WordPress SEO optimization on your behalf. They often provide:

  • Advice on optimal URL structures.
  • Feedback about SEO optimization within your posts as you’re composing them.
  • Suggestions for content readability improvements.
  • Customization of XML sitemaps for all WordPress pages, posts, categories and tags.
  • Management of page caching.
  • Image optimization.
  • Minification of CSS and JavaScript.
  • Broken internal and external link checking.

In terms of writing and editing your WordPress posts, the best SEO plugins are indispensable because they help to ensure you don’t miss anything important.

Do You Use Links to Optimize Your WordPress Posts?

Internal Linking

An often overlooked way to optimize WordPress for SEO is by inter-linking your posts and pages. Internal links connect your posts to other content on your domain. 

They’re important because they:

  • Provide navigational links to search engine spiders so they can find and gobble up all your content easily.
  • Make it easy for visitors to find related content to keep them on your blog longer.
  • Pass link equity (“link juice”) around your blog posts and pages.

Conversely, broken links make for a bad visitor experience and potentially hurt your WordPress SEO. Broken links are links embedded in your content to other parts of your domain that result in a “404 Page Not Found” error.

From a visitor perspective, a click on a broken link is not an optimal experience and breaks trust. How do you feel about clicking a link to a non-existent page?

Q: Why would you knowingly link from one post to another that doesn’t load?
A: You wouldn’t do this knowingly… that’s why oftentimes broken links occur through:

  • Typing errors in the URL you’re linking to.
  • A post you deleted but forgot had links pointing to it.
  • Updating the URL of a post without modifying links that pointed to it.

External Linking

Useful articles often link out of their domains to other useful sites or articles of interest. This enables readers to visit other content related to yours that might add value to their understanding or experience.

A blog that does not link to external sites is unnatural and may actually count against you. It’s certainly not in the spirit of the Web!

As with internal links, broken external links leading to dead pages do not contribute to a great user experience. They also waste search engine crawler time and bleed link equity out of your WordPress blog and into the ether.

Regardless of whether or not they count as an SEO black mark, you need to fix broken links of any description since they are not great for your visitors. For me, you have to optimize WordPress for SEO AND visitor experience… so find your broken links and fix them.

Summary

  • Page load speed is important. Use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to check.
  • Ensure text remains visible during webfont load to speed up your pages.
  • Your hosting server might not be powerful enough to deliver fast page load speeds.
  • WordPress requires a little help to optimize it for SEO. Plugins can help.
  • Internal and external links help to optimize your WordPress blog for SEO… but make sure they’re not broken!

I’m currently working on a downloadable FREE WordPress SEO Tune-Up Checklist & Guide to provide detailed solutions for many of the things I’ve discussed here, along with other powerful tweaks on how to optimize WordPress for SEO. Check back soon for news!

That’s all for now.

Paul

Optimize WordPress for Search Engines

Comments are open! Let me know below about your thoughts on how to optimize WordPress for SEO.

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4 Comments on "How to Optimize WordPress for SEO – An Introduction"

  1. Solid SEO guide specifically for WordPress. Especially the speed vs. plugins discussion is very important: WordPress makes it easy to install too many things and end up with a slow website; On the other hand, we cant sacrifice all plugins & good design only for the sake of faster loading speed, either. As you mentioned, balance is key and all things need to be monitored equally for proper SEO!

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