WordPress SEO Checklist: 20 Tips to Improve Your Rankings

Most people are familiar with the term “search engine optimization” (SEO). What is less known is that WordPress and its millions of users can also benefit from using SEO tactics to boost your website’s rankings. This article will be a guide for anyone who wants to learn more about how they can increase their blog’s searchability.

The “wordpress seo without plugin” is a checklist that can help you to improve your rankings. It has 20 tips in total, and each tip is broken down into simple steps.

One of the reasons you choose WordPress as your website’s CMS may be because you heard it’s SEO-friendly right out of the box. Indeed, WordPress’ own list of ‘strong features’ on its site demonstrates that they are proud of the platform’s SEO friendliness:

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However, merely building a WordPress website isn’t enough to get your site to the top of the search engines. You’ll still need to know which SEO methods to utilize and how to put them into action, but the good news is that WordPress makes it simple to do so, making it simpler for novices to increase their Google traffic.

Many of the platform’s features follow SEO best practices to make your life simpler, allowing you to concentrate your efforts on the activities that have the most impact on your rankings and organic exposure. 

Our top WordPress SEO strategies are included below to assist you in optimizing your website and achieving SEO success. But first, a word of caution: these tips and tactics are for for those of you who are operating self-hosted WordPress sites, not the hosted WordPress.com version. 

What Is WordPress and How Does It Work?

WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world, powering 35 percent of the internet and many of the websites you probably visit on a daily basis, such as BBC America, Time.com, and TechCrunch. Even The Rolling Stones’ main website is powered by WordPress. It’s easy to understand why it’s the go-to for many website developers if it works for these worldwide behemoths.

In 2003, WordPress began as a blogging platform, but it swiftly evolved into a strong and adaptable option for running full websites, and by 2020, it will also be capable of serving as an eCommerce platform.

But why has WordPress grown in popularity? 

For a lot of people, it’s because:

  • It’s basic and straightforward to use. To establish a WordPress website, you don’t need to be a developer, and it’s highly user-friendly, even for novices.

  • It is adaptive and flexible. You may personalize WordPress to your requirements with literally hundreds of themes (many of which are free), while also expanding the fundamental functionality with one of the more than 55,000 plugins available. If you are an experienced PHP developer, want to learn the language, or want to hire a professional to transform a custom design into a stand-out site, the platform can also host totally customised themes.

  • There is a fantastic community here. WordPress is open-source, and the community that supports it is incredible. Whether the problem is simple or complicated, there is always aid available, from support forums to basic documentation. 

Of course, it isn’t the best platform for everyone, and there are occasions when alternative CMS solutions are a better fit for your specific requirements. The necessity for regular upgrades, possible vulnerabilities (if your site is not kept up to date), and a small learning curve to launch custom themes are the most often stated problems and cons of WordPress. However, for the most part, it is a really robust platform that also provides excellent SEO foundations. 

What Is WordPress SEO and How Does It Work?

WordPress isn’t a substitute for a great SEO plan, and although there’s no disputing that the CMS saves you time and makes it easier to follow best practices even if you don’t have any, you must recognize that ranking your website on Google requires work.

Unless your site has major technical flaws that prevent it from being crawled and indexed, your CMS choice has little effect on your ability to rank highly. You should not consider WordPress to be a magical weapon that can be used without additional work; it takes time and effort. Although SEO may rapidly become technical, the beauty of WordPress is that it is easy accessible to individuals who aren’t technically inclined or even those who don’t consider themselves to be technical.

The fact that you’re utilizing WordPress doesn’t imply your SEO strategies will alter. You must still generate excellent content, gain excellent links, and ensure that your site is well-optimized and free of technological difficulties that might slow it down. However, WordPress takes care of many of the essentials that help your site rank right out of the box, and the tips and methods listed below will help you adopt growth-driving strategies exclusively on the platform. WordPress SEO Basics: Getting Started

Before you start learning how to correctly optimize your WordPress site and start increasing your organic traffic, there are a few things you need know to ensure that you’re working with a strong foundation.

1. Select a Reliable Web Hosting Company

You need to ensure sure your site is hosted by a reputable company – site performance, uptime, and security are all important factors to consider when choosing a host.

Poor uptime and security vulnerabilities may both result in site quality concerns, and site speed has a direct influence on your WordPress site’s SEO performance. Don’t be tempted to go with the cheapest choice since you’ll be more likely to have problems with performance.

WordPress recommends three hosting companies, and it’s a good idea to look into these possibilities if you’re not sure where to start. 

2. Install a WordPress theme that is SEO-friendly.

You’ll almost probably see the platform’s default ‘Twenty Twenty’ theme when you initially install WordPress. However, it’s unlikely that you’ll want to utilize it for your website. 

There are literally hundreds of free themes and many more paid themes accessible right from the dashboard; however, you must pick wisely or you may wind up with one that isn’t SEO friendly.

While many themes promise to be SEO-friendly, it’s not unusual for them to include scripts and plugins that you won’t use, slowing down the speed of your site. Run a theme’s demo with Google’s web.dev tool before installing it to identify possible performance and SEO concerns.

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This should at the very least provide you the assurance that you’re picking a topic that won’t hold you back. 

3. Download and install a free SEO plugin for WordPress. 

You must first install an SEO plugin before you can begin optimizing your site. Fortunately, there are two primary choices that are often suggested and both are free to install:

We’ll be using Yoast for the sake of this article, although our top WordPress plugins for SEO guide has both free and paid solutions.

Please keep in mind that a plugin will not optimize your site for you; rather, it will make it simpler for you to do so and follow best practices.

Logging into the admin panel and going to the Plugins > Add new page along the left-hand menu is one approach to install a plugin on WordPress.

Once you’re there, look for the plugin you want to install and click the ‘install now’ button.

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You must activate the plugin once it has been installed. As we move through our top WordPress SEO strategies, we’ll be installing more plugins. Visit this page to learn about various methods to install a WordPress plugin. 

4. Select Your Favorite Domain

Your SEO will be unaffected by whether you pick https://domain.com or https://www.domain.com as your preferred domain, but you must ensure that your site is available on just one of them, since Google considers these to be separate URLs.

To get started, go to Settings > General. You may choose your favorite domain here:

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After that, the other domain will be redirected to your desired domain. If you’re creating a new website, you may use either choice, but if you’re replacing an existing one, be sure to stick with the version you’ve always used. 

As a side note, check sure you have an SSL certificate installed and that your website is running over HTTPS. If you don’t already have a certificate, talk to your hosting provider or developer, or look into the free Let’s Encrypt option. Here’s where you can learn how to set up WordPress. 

5. Make sure your site’s visibility settings are correct.

WordPress allows you to ‘discourage search engines from crawling’ your site, therefore preventing it from ranking. This is a typical technique used by developers to prevent a site from getting indexed while it is still under construction.

This block is more frequent than you may imagine to be left in place after launch. Under Settings > Reading, look at your site’s visibility settings.

At the bottom of the page, there is a checkbox that says:

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You must untick this box if it is checked.

6. Make SEO-Friendly Permalinks Available

You have a few choices for how URLs are formatted in WordPress, and you need to be sure you’re choosing the most SEO-friendly one.

WordPress utilizes URLs like this by default: https://domain.com/?p=123. These URLs are not search engine friendly, and there is no way to tell what the website is about just by looking at the URL.

Fortunately, you can customize your URL structure by going to Settings > Permalinks.

For most websites, the permalinks should be set to ‘Post name.’

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7. Submit Your XML Sitemap and Verify Your Site Using Google Search Console.

You’ll need to validate your site with Google Search Console if you haven’t already. If you’ve never done this before, our authoritative guide to Google Search Console will show you how.

Choose the ‘HTML tag’ technique from the list of verification procedures. Go to SEO > General > Webmaster Tools to use the Yoast plugin.

Then, in the ‘Google verification code’ box, paste the contents of the HTML tag:

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After you’ve confirmed your website, go to the ‘Sitemaps’ page and submit your XML sitemap. (By default, Yoast creates an XML sitemap; see domain.com/sitemap.xml.)

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After that, you may send your sitemap (sitemap.xml) to the following address:

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Examine the health of your website

With SEMrush’s Site Audit Tool, you can check the health of your website.

ADS illustration


Tips for Optimising Pages and Posts in WordPress

You’re ready to start optimizing your site and going through the items that will make a genuine difference in how you rank after you’ve applied the WordPress SEO fundamentals.

Before providing a variety of sophisticated strategies and methods you can use to take your site to the next level, let’s take a look at how to approach SEO when optimizing pages and articles.

8. Conduct a keyword search

You won’t know which search phrases to optimize your site’s content for until you do keyword research. In fact, keyword research should be the first step in any SEO effort, as it will help you design your site’s content and on-page optimization.

Our Keyword Overview tool will help you figure out which keywords you should be utilizing and optimizing for.

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Take a look at this tutorial to learn more about how to utilize SEMrush for keyword research.

Knowing the keywords you’re seeking to rank the page for is critical whether you’re starting from scratch or adding fresh material to your site.

9. Install the SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant Plugin and Start Writing Great Content

Install our SEO Writing Assistant plugin before you begin generating or optimizing content for your website (also available as a Google Docs add-on). The plugin will assist you in writing (or reviewing) content in an SEO-friendly manner, and will provide suggestions and analyses based on your Google top 10 competitors for a specific term.

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Simply type in your target keyword(s) and click “get recommendations” to obtain a list of content ideas for your page:

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It may go without saying, but if you want your WordPress site to rank at the top of Google, you need to make sure you’re writing outstanding content. The SEO Writing Assistant will assist you in making sure your material is optimized and organized in a search-engine-friendly manner, as well as suggesting extra keywords to include in your text.

Content Evaluation and Ranking

It’s critical that you spend some time looking at the material that already ranks for the phrases you’re attempting to target. You’ll start developing content blindly if you don’t know what’s already ranking – why generate material that won’t work?

Here’s a terrific tutorial that will help you improve your abilities when approaching and producing material that will help you rank higher.

Set up custom URLs for your pages and posts.

By default, WordPress generates URLs based on the title of your page, which means they might be long and truncated in the SERPs.

Assume you’ve just published a piece of content named “The Best Dog Beds to Buy in 2020.” You’ll most likely wind up with a URL like https://domain.com/the-best-dog-beds-to-buy-in-2020, depending on how you arrange your permalinks.

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You are aware, however, that the major term you are aiming for with the material is “best dog beds.” The good news is that you can replace the default URL and give the page a unique permalink. 

You may input your favourite URL by clicking the “edit” button.

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11. Make Use Of Page Headings That Are Optimized

The page title not only creates the default URL for your website, but it also determines the H1 header. Are you unsure what this is?

The H1 header of a website is meant to provide both visitors and search engines with information on what the page is about. Consider it similar to the title of a book.

Although using just one H1 heading (the page’s title) is recommended, you should also use H2 – H6 headers to arrange your content and break up the material to make it simpler to read.

The H2s are chapters, with successive tags functioning as sub-headings, if your H1 is the title of the book. Page headers are an excellent spot to put your page’s primary keyword and variations, but don’t go overboard and never push a keyword into a position where it doesn’t belong. 

By clicking on a block, selecting the style as ‘header,’ and selecting the type: H2 – H6 tags, you may add H2 – H6 tags to your material.

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12. Create one-of-a-kind, SEO-optimized title tags and meta descriptions

The title tag on your website notifies readers and search engines what your page is about and is often recognized as a ranking factor. It’s what gives Google search results their clickable page titles.

Yoast creates your page’s title tag based on your page heading, but you may rewrite it to enhance it and add in variants of keywords that you might not have included in your page’s header:

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You may utilize snippet variables, custom text as your title tag, or a combination of the two.

You consider modifying your title tag to incorporate location or purpose variants:

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To discover more about how to organize this vital page element, use keyword research to guide how you optimize each page’s title tag. 

While meta descriptions are no longer a direct ranking component, they do have an indirect influence on your site’s organic performance owing to click-through rates (CTR) (click-through rate). It is worthwhile to devote effort to crafting interesting descriptions (these can be any length but typically truncate after around 160 characters). Meta descriptions may be added to the same section as title tags:1636658870_628_Wordpress-SEO-Checklist-20-Tips-to-Improve-Your-Rankings

13. Make use of internal links

Internal linking should be used throughout your content to help build topical relevance across various pages on your site, pass authority obtained through external links, and assist visitors in navigating effectively.

In WordPress, adding internal connections to other pages is a breeze. Simply select the text you wish to connect (this will be the anchor text for your link) and click the ‘link’ option on the toolbar, which will enable you to input a URL or search for pages inside your site.

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Learn how to identify the best sites to link to by reading our guide on creating an internal linking strategy. 

14. Use Image File Names That Are Optimized

Images and rich media should be used in your material. A Backlinko analysis discovered a link between putting at least one picture on a website and higher ranks.

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It’s all too simple to submit a screenshot or picture with a worthless file name, and it’s something we don’t usually think about, but should.

Make sure you use optimal file names before uploading an image to the WordPress media library – this helps to offer a page more context. Instead of /image123.jpg, use /big-dog-bed.jpg for a huge dog bed image. It’s simple: make sure the image’s file name accurately represents what it depicts.

This is how you can rename photographs after they’ve been posted. 

15. Include alternative text in images

If you’re going to use photos in your material, be sure to provide alt text for each one. Alt tags are not just a web accessibility concept that assist visually impaired users using screen readers, but they also help search engines understand and describe pictures.

Make sure your alt tags accurately describe what the picture depicts. Within WordPress, you can add alt text to any picture under the ‘Image Settings’ part of the ‘blocks’ menu:

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Think about how you’re going to compose your alt text. If this is your picture, you should:

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Instead of defaulting to ‘dog bed,’ use alt text like’starry square dog bed.’ Use unique alt text for each picture and be as descriptive as possible. 


Take Your Site’s Performance To The Next Level With Advanced WordPress SEO Tips

If you follow the suggestions and advice above, you’ll be able to grasp the fundamentals of WordPress SEO in no time. Consider these procedures a checklist for each page and post you publish, and you’ll find it difficult to make a mistake.

But what about other things you can do to boost the performance of your site and help it rank higher than its competitors? Here are a few sophisticated WordPress SEO strategies to consider. 

16. Use a Cache Plugin to Speed Up Your Website

While WordPress clearly provides good performance nearly out of the box, almost all sites can increase their site speed, which is particularly important when we consider that site speed is a major ranking element.

You may get quite technical about increasing the performance of your site, but one of the most efficient approaches is to use a caching plugin to cache your posts and pages as static files. Instead of being dynamically produced each time, these static files are provided to your users, which may considerably enhance efficiency.

W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, or Cache Enabler are all recommended by WordPress.

17. Image Optimization

Optimizing your pictures, which are one of the most prevalent causes of poor speed, is another proven technique to increase your site’s speed and performance.

The size of the page might expand substantially if you utilize a lot of photographs and rich media in your content, although this is usually due to images not being correctly optimized. Using a picture that is significantly bigger than the size at which the image will actually appear is a symptom that the image has not been optimized.

The good news is that you can use the Smush plugin to instantly optimize your WordPress site’s entire media library, as well as any future photos you submit.

Tag Pages With No Index & Other Low-Value Content

WordPress employs a variety of page taxonomies, such as categories and tags. When it comes to organizing stuff together, categories are quite useful:

For instance, suppose you’ve just established a recipe collection and want to categorize it by cuisine.

Tags are smaller and usually concentrate on a single subject.

For instance, one of my recipes calls for parmesan cheese, pasta, and butter. 

Users who aren’t already on your site will seldom find tags beneficial. From an SEO standpoint, these sites seldom provide any value, and you don’t want them to be indexed by Google and bring visitors your way (traffic quality is low).

The same is true for WordPress’s media pages and other post styles. ‘Noindex’ tags may be added directly inside Yoast if you don’t want them to be indexed by Google.

Go to SEO > Search Appearance > Taxonomies to learn more.

You may specify whether or not the taxonomy type should be shown in search results.

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If you don’t want Google to index any taxonomies, content types, or archives (located in another tab), make sure you choose ‘no’.

Also, make sure that the ‘Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?’ option is set to yes in the ‘Media’ tab, since this helps to avoid a problem that happened in Yoast in 2018 when individual attachment URLs were being indexed.

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19. Use Schema to mark up your pages

By providing context to your content and data, schema markup may help you improve your SEO efforts. It aids Google in comprehending your material and presenting it in a variety of beneficial ways, enhancing the searcher’s experience.

Simply told, providing context to your sites increases the likelihood of not just ranking better but also receiving clicks when your page obtains impressions.

Thankfully, since Yoast 11.0, every post or page on your site has a complete structured data graph built in, but there are times when you’ll want to mark up certain blocks inside WordPress. You can accomplish this by selecting a ‘Yoast Structured Data Block’ when creating a new block, which you can learn more about here.

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20. Make use of the ‘Last Updated’ dates.

You should update your evergreen material on a regular basis to keep it current and relevant, but a common concern is whether you should change the original posting date of your pages and posts, remove dates entirely, or do something different.

One approach is to use the terms ‘last changed’ or ‘updated on’ to indicate when your material was last updated, providing readers and search engines confidence that the information is current and relevant right now. Thankfully, the WP Last Modified Info plugin makes it simple to add last modified/updated information to your WordPress pages and posts.

Good luck with your optimization!

There’s no denying that WordPress is one of the most SEO-friendly content management systems available, which is one of the reasons for its popularity. It’s not only user-friendly, but it’s also simple to incorporate a variety of SEO strategies with only a few great plugins.

If you’re using WordPress, you’ve made a wise decision. You’ll be in an excellent position to outrank your opponents if you follow the procedures above. 

The “yoast seo tutorial pdf” is a great resource for those who are interested in improving their website’s SEO. It has 20 tips that can help with this process.

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