WordPress has become the world’s largest content management system, hosting 37% of all websites on the web (one in every three sites). This large bulk of WordPress websites is also indexed on search engines and a part of their search volume. Like any other website, WP websites also need a good SEO (Search Engine Optimization) treatment to improve their rankings on the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs).
SEO rules have drastically changed over the years. For instance, the use of keyword has moved from “stuffing” to “high-density use” and now “contextual placement.” Similarly, the website’s loading speed has emerged as a new SEO parameter that should be improved for more visitors.
If you run a WP site and want to ensure it stands out among the competitors and remains ahead on the SERPs for relevant keywords searches, you need to keep yourself updated with the latest WordPress SEO trends.
In this post, we will discuss some of the top WP SEO tricks for improving your venture’s online visibility on search engines. Notwithstanding the dynamic nature of SEO, these measures will remain relevant for the next couple of years.
1. Use Schema Markups
Schema markups are not a new phenomenon. Search engines introduced them some nine years ago. However, SEO professionals have started taking them more seriously after recent changes in Google algorithms. The current algorithm changes are designed to get a better understanding of the user’s intent to run any search query. The idea is to return search results based on the context of the search (transactional or informational).
Schema markups are essentially short HTML codes that you add to webpages. These additional codes provide search engine crawlers with more structured information so they can index the website for the most relevant search queries. The Schema markups don’t just help with the SEO but also help users finding more about your business just by looking at your WP site’s SERP entry.
You can add multiple Schema markups to your WP website based on the information you want to relay to consumers. For instance, you can display review ratings, phone numbers, addresses, operating hours, etc. through Schema markups.
If you manage a conventional CSS or PHP-based website, you will have to write small HTML codes on your own. However, the benefit of having a WordPress site is you don’t need to deal with HTML coding. Multiple WP plugins let you structure your Schema markups and add to your pages without getting into its backend coding.
If you are using Yoast SEO, you can use its recently introduced Schema markup feature. You can also use the purpose-built plugin Schema & Structured Data for WP & AMP to add those SEO boosting markups to your WordPress website.
2. Assign “Nofollow” Status to Affiliate Links
Your WP pages can have two types of URLs: Dofollow and Nofollow. Dofollow links are the ones that Google crawlers analyze before indexing your website on the SERPs. Meanwhile, a Nofollow link is the one that you don’t want search-crawlers to scan. Every WordPress link by default is Dofollow, and you don’t need to change this en suite setting.
But if you are operating a WP website as an affiliate marketer and add a lot of affiliate links to your content, you may consider giving Nofollow status to those links. It has been observed that WP pages stuffed with too many affiliate links often experience relegation on the SERPs.
If you want Google crawlers to ignore those affiliate links, assign Nofollow tags to them. You can easily do that on the WP editor by adding rel=”nofollow” tag to the end of the link’s domain.
3. Improve Social Signals of Your Brand
Social signal has also become a buzzword among circles of SEO professionals. The term “social signal” actually indicates all the traction you get across social media platforms. SEO specialists have theorized that all the likes, retweets, upvotes garnered by a page on social media signals Google search algorithms to revise the SERP ranking of the given page.
Google hasn’t categorically accepted or denied the role of social signals in its indexing assessment of the website. However, the circumstantial evidence suggests that social media traction bumps a website’s rank for the duration it continues to get the audience’s attention on the SM platforms.
While the jury is still out on the role of social signals in SEO, it is a good practice to promote your WP site on social platforms nonetheless. Add social media share buttons to your WP site pages so the audience can readily share them on their social feeds if they like the content. There are several social media plugins that you can use on your pages. Apart from adding share buttons, these plugins also let you add sticky and floating social menus to your WP pages.
4. Leverage Local SEO
SEO has also branched out a local variant over the years of development and progression. As the name suggests, this search engine optimization effort is directed towards improving the visibility of the website for search queries based on a particular geographic location.
People using WordPress to run businesses that serve in a specific geographical radius have to focus on local SEO to improve their standing among competitors. For instance, a food joint or a wellness store serving particular neighborhoods and boasting a WP website needs to go local with the SEO. The first thing they need to do is claim their website on Google My Business (GMB). They also need to update your GMB profile with the right address, contact number, and opening hour details.
For local SEO, you also have to curate your WP site content on long-tail keywords highlighting the region you operate in. For instance, if you run a WP-powered online pizza joint in New Jersey, you need to make sure you optimize your content for keywords like “best pizza in New Jersey”, “thin-crust pizza in New Jersey”, “best pizza deals in New Jersey”, etc.
Yoast Local SEO plugin can come in handy in optimizing your WordPress website for Local SEO. We will strongly recommend all WP webmasters operating businesses with the geometrically-constraint target market to focus more on Local SEO. By doing this, they get a chance to elevate to the prized local 3-pack for relevant searches.
For example, if a person searches for the best pizza in New Jersey, your WP website will appear in a highlighted box with the other two entries with customer ratings, open hours, and map locations of your business. You can earn that premium spot on the SERPs for absolutely free just by acing your local SEO.
5. Add Alt Tags
Alternative (alt) text, alternative attributes, alternative tags are all one and the same thing. For a long time, SEO practices have worked without them, but not anymore. Today, it is not considered good practice if you don’t add alt tags to your WP site images. Alternative tags are essentially the description of the images. Since Google search crawlers can’t scan through images the way they do with text, they use alt tags to make sense of how the image is related to your content.
Moreover, screen readers used by virtually impaired users also read out alt texts to describe the visual content of the given webpage. Adding alt tags on the images of your WP site is as easy as it gets. Open the page in the editor and go to the Image Settings of every individual picture and just type out the alt tag in the field of “alternative text” and save the changes. So, no code fiddling and modifications are required.
While adding an alt tag, try to incorporate your focus keyword in it. However, don’t force the keyword if it doesn’t make any sense at all. In all those years, we all have learned that Google doesn’t like spamming in any way when it comes to SEO. So, avoid using the same alt tag for all images on the page to have focus keywords there.
6. User-Friendly Permalinks
If you run a WordPress website, you would know that how hassle-free its use is. However, there are some WP downsides that many users are not aware of. One of them is the jumbled default page links it creates. The current default WP URL structure contains the full date on which that particular URL/page is developed.
These URLs look unnecessarily longer and don’t make it easy for viewers who try to memorize a business name by reading its URL. Those long default URLs may also eventually affect your WP page optimization. Though URL length is not part of the official Google ranking factor, the search engine advises keeping them short than 2,000 characters.
SEO experts also believe that if Google search crawlers have to choose between two pages for the same position when all other optimization parameters are the same, they will go with the page sporting a shorter URL. To optimize your WP website for its URLs, focus on its permalinks (permanent URL not likely to change in the future).
Shorten the permalinks that remain easy to read, type, and copy/paste. Open the admin dashboard on WP, navigate to the “Permalinks” below the Settings and change the Permalinks configuration to “Post name” to remove the dates from the URLs. You can also create customized permalinks from the same menu.
7. Optimize Loading Speed
In the beginning days of the SEO, page loading speed had nothing to do with the page’s ranking. At this time, users were patient enough to sit through slow loading. However, fast internet and smart devices have dramatically boosted the importance of loading speed. Today, over 50% of mobile visitors bounce off if the website doesn’t start loading in three seconds.
This loading speed significance has also improved its rank among SEO factors. As a WordPress webmaster, you need to ensure that your pages load as quickly as possible on all types of devices. There are many ways to improve the loading speed of your WordPress website.
- Use Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) for hosting if your WP pages have an international audience
- Boast your caching mechanism
- Optimize images for their size
- Spruce up cluttered WP databases
- Use Lazy Load strategy for images where pictures only load as the user scrolls down
- Get an HTML stripped-down version of your WP site called Accelerated Mobile Page (AMP) for providing quicker loading time to smartphone and tablet users.
All these tasks can be performed by the relevant plugins. A WP expert can help you identify, install, and use these loading speed optimization plugins.
8. Tag Duplicate Content for De-Indexing
If you constantly use a staging environment/site for your actual WordPress website, you need to ensure that search crawlers don’t count them as duplicate pages. For that, you need to actively de-index your staging site. Open your staging site setting and go to Reading in the sub-menu. Here you will find an option “Discourage search engines from indexing this site.” Select the checkbox next to that statement.
In many cases, a WP website may also boast multiple pages with duplicate content (e.g., product pages of a single item in different colors and models). If you don’t want crawlers to classify them as duplicate content, you need to assign a canonical tag to the master page among all the pages containing duplicate content. This tag will signal the crawlers to index the tagged page and ignore its copies.
Besides these latest SEO requirements, experts also consider improved dwelling time a good thing for a WordPress website. Dwelling time defines the time users spend on your website after clicking on it through the SERPs. You can do many things to keep viewers stay on the website. To begin with, offer them something valuable in both transactional and informational sense. Also, use WP themes that remain easy on the eyes. You also need to lay down a well-thought internal linking map so users can find one engaging thing after the other on your site.
By incorporating all these SEO practices in your WordPress maintenance routine, you will eventually see your website ranked among top entries for the relevant queries.