15 Best WordPress SEO Tips & Techniques to Boost Rankings
Search engines like Google are always updating their SEO algorithms. Because of this, it seems impossible to keep up with how to optimize your WordPress SEO and rank higher in more relevant search results.
That said, if you optimize for SEO in all the right ways, you can boost rankings, drive more traffic, and land more conversions than ever before.
Sounds good right?
Today we’ve rounded up some of the best WordPress SEO tips and techniques for boosting search rankings. Since what used to work even as little as 5 years ago simply won’t cut it now, it’s important you keep up on the latest SEO strategies.
So, let’s take a look!
1. Create Evergreen Content That People Love
It’s not enough to publish content and hope people will read it. After all, what’s trending now in your industry may not be worth anything to anyone in a year from now.
BuzzSumo analyzed over 100 million articles and found that “authoritative evergreen content consistently gains shares and links over time,” despite the fact that the volume of content (and reader choice) continues to boom and the social sharing of content since 2015 has been cut in half.
In other words, original content that’s valuable to people and long-lasting is the type of content that will withstand any changes that ever hit the market.
Follow these simple SEO tips and tricks to writing evergreen content:
- Use LSI Keywords: use LSI keywords, or strings of keywords that directly relate to your content. Even better, turn your LSI keywords into common questions people ask in search queries.
- Make it Easy to Read: the easiest to read content has whitespace, headings, short paragraphs, bullets points, and images to break up the text.
- Add Relevant Links: to answer additional questions people may have, or add more value, work on your internal linking strategies and get people exploring more of your website.
- Vary the Content Types: written text, video content, infographics, and images will capture people’s attention and keep them engaged, no matter how they prefer to consume content.
Lastly, stick to long form content. We know, it’s easier to publish a ton of short blog posts in an effort to drive traffic to your site. But research shows that content length directly correlates to search rankings. In fact, content with around 2,000 words tends to rank the highest.
If you implement these strategies, not only will your content become highly valuable to readers, it will be indexed as high-quality content by search engines.
2. Use Reliable Web Hosting
You may not realize this, but the web hosting provider you use has a direct effect on how well you rank in search results.
There are three factors that you should consider before signing up for a WordPress web host:
- Speed: in 2010, Google announced that site speed would be a ranking factor. Adding to that, in 2018, Google announced that mobile site speed will also play a role in search rankings. That’s why enlisting a web host that optimizes their servers, and essentially your site, for speed is crucial.
- Uptime: if Google realizes that your website is down a lot, no matter the reason, it will not rank you well. After all, Google doesn’t want to direct people to a website that has the potential to be down a lot; this doesn’t make for a good user experience. Research the web host you want to use and make sure it boasts higher than industry uptimes.
- Datacenter Locations: the location of the server that stores your website’s data makes a difference in how fast it’s delivered to site visitors. If the majority of your visitors are in a certain location, it’s best to use a web host that has a datacenter nearby.
While choosing the right hosting company doesn’t guarantee high search rankings, picking the wrong one will definitely have a negative effect.
3. Research Your WordPress Theme
One of the biggest appeals of content management systems like WordPress is that you can truly customize your site using any one of the thousands of free or premium themes available. That said, not all themes are created equal, especially when it comes to search engine optimization.
Here are just some of the reasons your WordPress theme is hurting your chances of making it on the first page of Google:
- Your theme is just plain ugly and people abandon your site before ever knowing what you have to offer
- Poor structure makes reading your content difficult and drives people away
- Slow loading times cause frustration and people leave without seeing the entire webpage
As you can see, a bad theme makes for a bad user experience. And remember, Google is all about improving the user experience and rewarding site owners with higher rankings when they provide a seamless experience for visitors.
Before committing to a WordPress theme, make sure it was built by a reputable theme author or theme company that prides itself on creating SEO-friendly themes for WordPress. And check to see that the theme author uses valid code that won’t slow your site down. In addition, look for responsive design, social media integration, lightweight code, proper content structuring, and schema markup.
4. Use an SEO Plugin Like Yoast SEO
Sometimes the key to optimizing your site for SEO is all in the plugins you choose to use. One of the leading SEO plugins in the market is Yoast SEO. This powerful WordPress plugin offers site owners everything they need to ensure their content is SEO ready and ranking the way it should.
To start, Yoast SEO lets you choose the keyword you’re targeting in your content.
It then analyzes what you’ve written to ensure you’ve used the focus keyword enough times.
Next, you can define the meta description that will appear in search results for users conducting searches. This gives you the perfect opportunity to explain your content, show its value, and add the keyword you’re trying to rank for.
Lastly, it will analyze your content for all things SEO, provide a green light when it’s good to go, and even make recommendations if you need to make improvements.
The best thing about Yoast SEO is not only that it’s simple to use, it’s free! Though there is a premium version that comes with added features, the free version provides plenty of SEO help.
5. Minify Your Site’s Files
When asked whether minifying files can help with SEO, Google’s own John Mueller states that “sometimes minifying HTML & CSS can reduce the size of the files, so it can certainly be worth looking into that.”
Here are some of the best minification free WordPress plugins in the market to date:
- Fast Velocity Minify
- Merge + Minify + Refresh
It’s also worth noting that some WordPress caching plugins have a minification feature, so you don’t necessarily have to use multiple plugins to achieve multiple goals.
6. Enable a CDN
A content delivery network, or CDN, is a great way to delivery your site’s content to visitors faster, no matter where in the world they are.
Using a network of servers, all with a copy of your site’s files on them, a CDN determines the geographic location of each site visitor and delivers your site’s content using the server that’s nearest to them. This results in reduced latency and faster load times. In other words, Google recognizes that you deliver content instantly to site visitors and rewards you with higher search rankings.
7. Switch to HTTPS
In 2014, Google announced that HTTPS would be considered a ranking factor. Making security a priority is something Google does itself, and it wants website owners to do the same. After all, your site visitors deserve to visit your site knowing that their personal information is safe and secure.
Today, making the switch to HTTPS is about more than just better search rankings. It’s about gaining trust with your site visitors and showing people you care about more than your bottom line. Not to mention, popular browsers like Chrome are dedicated to exposing websites that refuse to make the switch to HTTPS by marking their sites as “insecure.”
Whether you want to ensure data being shared between your website and site visitors’ browsers is secure from hackers, or you want the added rankings boost from Google, making the switch to HTTPS is a smart move.
8. Use the SEO Tool SEMrush
There are many exceptional SEO tools in the market to help you with things like keyword research, analysis of user behavior, optimizing content for higher rankings, and even competition tracking. But one of the best is SEMrush.
This comprehensive SEO tool lets you optimize your entire website for higher search rankings in the following ways:
- Perform an SEO audit of your website
- Track search engine positioning
- Get ideas for driving more organic traffic to your site
- Analyze individual blog posts
- Run competition comparisons
- Evaluate your site’s backlink status
- Perform in depth-keyword research
- Discover ways to reach more via social networks
- Explore your specific market and find opportunities
Want to know more? Read our detailed SEMrush review here and find out exactly how to use SEMrush to boost search rankings in popular search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
9. Compress Your Images
Image files account for about 63% of bandwidth use on most modern websites. In other words, it takes a lot of resources to properly display your website’s images for site visitors, especially if your files are huge.
The problem with this is that the more resources a file requires to load for site visitors, the longer it will take to load. And we all know that slow load times are a huge problem when it comes to the user experience and search rankings.
Luckily, there’s an easy fix to this problem. If you use the WordPress CMS, there are several high-quality image compression plugins you can use:
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- WP Smush
- ShortPixel Image Optimizer
All of these plugins will come with features like image compression, bulk smushing, format conversions, image resizing, and much more.
If you don’t want to add yet another plugin to your site, however, there is a great online tool that lets you compress your images before uploading them to your website. It’s called TinyPNG and it’s really easy to use. Just drag and drop your images and let the tool work its magic.
When it’s done, you can save your compressed images in a zip file, extract the files, and upload them to your website in their smaller, compressed version.
10. Name Your Images
Once you’ve compressed your site’s images, it’s time to give them a name. This is important for many reasons:
- It helps you keep your Media Library organized
- You can find specific images easier by searching their names
- Your site is accessible – screen readers can identify your images and name them for people
- People that hover over your images will know what it is, even if it doesn’t load properly
Lastly, naming your images will help with your SEO.
When you name your images using keywords you want to rank for, search engines can see that. That means your site will be crawled and indexed properly and appear in relevant search results. You might even rank in image specific searches and drive even more traffic to your site.
To name your site’s images properly, make sure to fill in the ALT tag portion of each image.
Here are some quick tips for naming your images:
- Use plain and simple language to describe images
- Do not use too many keywords in too many images
- If you sell products on your site, add serial or model numbers
- Don’t use the same keyword in all your images – use variations
Optimizing your images, from file sizes to names, is just another way to boost rankings and drive the right kind of traffic to your website.
11. Create an XML Sitemap
Creating an XML sitemap is beneficial for SEO. It helps search engines like Google understand your site’s structure, content, and images so it can index fast and display your site in the right search engines every time.
The neat thing about XML sitemaps is that once you create one for your site, anytime you make a change to existing content, or add something new, it automatically updates the sitemap. This in turn guarantees Google will always know when you have something new that needs to be ranked.
The easiest way to create an XML sitemap for your website is to use the Yoast SEO plugin we talked about earlier. All you have to do is toggle on the XML sitemap feature and Yoast will create one.
If you want to see your sitemap, hover over the question mark icon and click “See the XML sitemap.” From there, you’ll see the different versions. Click the one you want to view. It will look something like this:
In the end, an XML sitemap serves as a roadmap of your website that Google can follow to better understand which webpages on your site are the most important.
12. Introduce Your Site to Search Engines
There’s no better way to get higher rankings in search engines that to introduce yourself directly to the search engines you want to appear in.
If search engines don’t know your website exists, there’s no way for them to index and rank your site – no matter what kind of content you have for people. In fact, search engines need to be able to find your website before crawling, indexing, rating, and displaying it. Of course, Google might happen across your site by accident and rank it. But submitting it directly to the search engine giant is much easier.
There are many search engines you can submit your site to such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex. And each require different steps for submission. So, pick the one(s) you want to appear in and start submitting your site.
13. Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is content that appears in more than one spot on the internet. While you won’t technically be penalized for having duplicate content on the web, it can affect your SEO. After all, if your blog post appears in more than one place on the internet, how are search engines supposed to know which one to rank where?
Here are the most common reasons duplicate content appears on the internet and how to fix it:
- Google Analytics Code: some Google Analytics tracking code can cause duplicate content issues. Make sure to use a reliable tracking tool so this doesn’t happen.
- Printer-Friendly Versions of Content: storing multiple copies of printer-friendly content on your website results in the same URL being indexed multiple times. Avoid placing the same copy on multiple webpages so they don’t compete against each other.
- URL Variations: if your site has multiple versions at https, http, www, and even non-www URLs, search engines can get confused and not know which version to index as the most relevant. The best way to combat this is create a 301 redirect so all versions point to one webpage that is indexed and ranking in search results.
- Scraped, Copied, and Stolen Content: there’s not always a way to stop your content from being stolen by others. However, if you’re publishing duplicate content on purpose to reach a wider audience, you can always add the rel=”canonical” attribute to the duplicate content to tell search engines not to rank it above the original place (aka your website).
Again, duplicate content is not necessarily going to earn you a penalty from Google. But the last thing you want is to have your own content competing in search engines for a spot on page number one.
14. Concentrate on Linking Strategies
Link building for SEO is a two-pronged task. For instance, you can work on building internal links throughout your website, or you can work to earn external links from authoritative websites citing your content as a resource for their own readers.
Either way, Google likes it all.
When it comes to internal linking here are some things to consider:
- Anchor Text: the text that hyperlinks to another one of your website’s webpages is the key to ranking higher overall. Google takes into consideration the anchor text you use and prefers you use keywords that explain what the link leads to.
- Webpage Quality: when you link to another page on your site, make sure the page you’re linking to is a high-quality and trusted page on your site.
- Page Links: don’t always link straight back to your homepage. People that click hyperlinks are looking for added value. The links should provide people more information or guide them through the sales funnel.
By internally linking throughout your website, you give Google and other search engines a clearer picture of your entire website so they can rank you the right way. It also helps boost engagement and the amount of time people spend on your website, which helps with SEO as well.
External links leading back to your website, also called backlinks, are vital for gaining authority with search engines.
The key to gaining backlinks from highly reputable websites include strategies like:
- Creating compelling content that others want to cite in their own blog posts
- Convincing influencers to recommend your products or services to expand your reach and drive traffic your way
- Getting those in your industry to link to your site on their own websites so you can show Google the value you hold in your field, even among those seen as the competition
- Publishing guest posts on relevant websites that allow for a backlink in your author profile and perhaps even a link or two within the post itself
- Participating in comment threads, forums, and even social media conversations, complete with a link back to your site attached
Building links is a time-consuming process that takes a lot of patience. But when done right, you stand to gain a lot in terms of SEO.
15. Follow Proper Content Structure Protocols
The last SEO technique we want to recommend for boosting search rankings involve the overall structure of your content.
- Page Title/H1: the title of your page should have the keyword near the beginning of the title. It should also have around 60 characters and stand out among the competition, no matter which page of Google it ranks on. Also, people tend to love content that has odd numbers in the title, so if that applies, add that too.
- Subheadings/H2, H3: dividing your content not only makes it easier for people to read, it allows search engines to better crawl, index, and rank your content. Subheadings should include keyword variations and longtail questions people ask in search queries.
- Overall Body: you should include keywords, variations, and questions people tend to ask throughout the body of your content. In addition, you should create short, concise paragraphs and bullet lists to make skimming easier.
- Images: approximately every 300 words you should include some sort of image to help break up the text, especially if you’re not using a lot of bulleted lists.
By focusing on the overall structure of your content, search engines and readers alike will be understand what you’re trying to convey much easier. As a result, you’ll inch up the rankings in no time.
And there you have it! 15 of the very best SEO tips and techniques to boost rankings. Of course, things are going to continue to change when it comes to SEO and ranking factors. But if you follow these tips, you’ll see that no matter what changes, your content will continue to rank. That’s because when it comes down to it, there are certain things that you can do to improve your SEO that will never go out of style.
Are you looking for a tried and true plugin to help you boost rankings on your WordPress website? Then check out these top SEO plugins and get started today.