WordPress website positioning and optimization [SEO]
The WordPress platform is now considered to support more than 70% of all websites on the internet. WP is easy to use, customisable and has many options for website development. Today, we will look at the topic of conducting SEO activities of sites based on this CMS.
What is WordPress?
WordPress is one of the most widely used content management systems (CMS) in the world. It is estimated that up to 30% of all websites are based on this service, which in practice means a really huge number of sites. The system was created in the popular PHP programming language and, what is more, it is free to use. No wonder it is so successful.
However, the advantages of WordPress do not end with the above features. The advantages of this CMS are also:
- ease and intuitiveness of use;
- large number of free plug-ins and add-ons;
- possibility of independent modification of any aspect of the website;
- pleasant interface;
possibility to add multiple users managing a particular site; large availability of free and paid templates, which are adapted to use on mobile devices.
The system is a great choice for both beginners who simply want to write their blogs, and experienced webdevelopers who require full access to the site’s code and features.
What is website positioning?
Web positioning is a process that aims to improve the position of a website in the organic search results of search engines. Positioning involves the use of website optimisation techniques such as content creation, external linking, HTML code optimisation and other techniques to improve a website’s position in search engine result listings. The aim of SEO is to increase the visibility and reach of a website, which in turn can attract more traffic, interest and potential customers.
SEO-friendly WordPress – what does this mean?
SEO-friendly WordPress is a platform that is optimised for indexing and ranking websites on search engines, such as Google. This means that WordPress has built-in features that help optimise your site for search engines, making your site more visible and therefore generating more traffic. WordPress offers features such as convenient tools for creating meta tags, page titles and descriptions, fast page crawling, easy internal and external linking and much more.
Basic changes under SEO are quite easily implemented in WordPress without the need for coding in PHP or HTML files. Many changes can be implemented by administrators without making changes to the source code and simply by adding the appropriate plugin. Of course, a plug-in will not solve every problem, but they can be a solid basis to start working on an issue.
WordPress allows simple implementation for people without any experience and is an ideal starting point but also a great platform for experienced people.
How to prepare a website on WordPress for SEO?
The following are the first steps you should take after installing WP and launching your site. Importantly, it is worth doing this even before your site is indexed for the first time in Google search.
1. Enable indexing of your WordPress site in Google search
In order to appear in search engines, Google’s robots must reach our website. For this to happen, the “noindex” directives from the page code, which are responsible for informing Google that they want to block indexing, must be withdrawn. To do this, access for search engine robots must be unblocked under Settings => Reading.
2. Install a lightweight and SEO-friendly theme
When choosing a theme for WordPress, you should be guided by the principles listed below:
- The site needs to be fast to use therefore the theme must be lightweight. We do not recommend the use of so-called “page builders”, which are attractive for WordPress beginners, but in the case of SEO cause the loading of unnecessary scripts that overload the server,
- It is worth looking out for themes described as “SEO frendly”. However, it should be remembered that this preparation is only a technical issue, which still needs to be configured accordingly in the theme options. Without content preparation, information architecture and tag optimisation, the page will not be optimised by default.
3. Check the speed of your current website
A faster website means a higher chance of conversions, a lower abandonment rate and an additional factor for the website’s position in search results. From the perspective of running Google Ads, we can also count on a better quality factor when our website is evaluated by the algorithm. As you can see from the graphic below, a page that loads for an average of 5s results in an increase in the likelihood of a user abandoning the page by as much as 90%.
4. Set friendly url addresses
In the menu bar on the left, select Settings and then Direct Links.
The best option is to select ‘Entry name’ or to set your version through variables. The second option is mostly used if you have multiple post types and taxonomies.
5. Install an SSL certificate on your website and WordPress shop
For some time now, one of the factors influencing a site’s position in Google’s search engine has been the presence of a deployed SSL certificate on the site. We can get the coveted ‘green padlock’ in several possible ways.
For smaller sites (e.g. WordPress blogs), the free Let’s Encrypt certificate will work well. However, it may be the case that our hosting does not support its “seamless” implementation and even encourages us to purchase a paid option. In such a case, we can use a third option – the free ‘universal certificate’ service offered by Cloudflare (the so-called SSL Flexible). It is this third option that I will focus on today and describe how to implement such a certificate on our site. However, before I get to that, I would like to point out one rather important point that distinguishes the SSL certificate offered by Cloudflare from other security certificates.
6. Cystom post types and taxonomies – an important role in WordPress SEO
When constructing a WordPress site architecture, there are two types to consider: page or post. Basically, posts and pages are simply the default in WP post type, and adding more is a matter of knowing how to use WordPress code or using a dedicated plugin. Each post type can contain individual categories (taxonomies), which equally have their own url. Thanks to the post type, we are able to divide our content into, for example, user reviews, portfolio or glossary. However, you should keep in mind that you should have control over all post types – you can do this with the Yoast SEO plugin.
7. Google Tag Manager
The operation of Tag Manager is based on several elements: tags, rules and variables. The first are small pieces of code that belong to external services (e.g. Google Analytics or Facebook Pixel). They define what the Tag Manager actually has to do when a user performs an action defined in a rule. Variables, on the other hand, are additional information that may be necessary for the tool to function properly.
How can this service help in marketing activities? Tag Manager allows you to record and track activities such as:
- the submission of a contact form,
- a visit to a specific page,
- clicking on a link, email address or telephone number,
- downloading a file,
- interacting with a specific element on a page.
There is no doubt that this type of data can be an indicator of the effectiveness of the activities carried out.
Importantly: with the correct implementation of GTM, we are able to add and verify Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
Choosing keywords for positioning – where to start?
In order to know what keywords your audience is using, you should not go by intuition or gut feeling. Fortunately, there are a number of tools on the market to help you choose topics with potential. Choosing a specific one depends on your preferences. Remember that most tools only offer estimates. Below will be some suggestions that you can use: Keyword Planner, Senuto, Ahrefs or Answer the Public.
Below are some guidelines to help you further optimise your WP CMS-based site:
1. WordPress site map
A site map is – from an SEO point of view – one of the key documents located on the server hosting the website. Such a file, usually called sitemap.xml or sitemap_index.xml, is placed by default in the root directory of the domain. The extension of the document is precisely XML.Specially for indexing robots, Google has launched the functionality of reporting the sitemap directly in a tool created by the giant – Google Search Console.
The Yoast SEO plugin and most ‘SEO combos’ also have this function. You can read more about them in the article: https://www.seogroup.pl/wtyczki-seo-wordpress/
2. Hx header optimisation in WordPress
A header is one type of HTML markup language element. Its function is to organise the structure of a website, which is also important from the point of view of its search engine optimisation. In addition, the correct handling of headings (e.g. subtitles) makes the content more readable and presents it in a more attractive way.
HTML distinguishes between several types of headings, which are implemented on the page using the following tags: <hx> opening tag and </hx> closing tag. In this case, the letter x is followed by a number (from 1 to 6) which indicates the hierarchy level of the element. The higher it is, the less relevant the heading is and by default it is displayed in a smaller font.
Headings in WordPress are edited via the text editor / builder and the PHP code editor of the theme.
3. Redirects (30x) on WordPress
A 301 redirect is one of the methods used by webmasters (when creating websites) and SEO specialists (when optimising). The often-used ‘three hundred and one’ is a way to redirect a user from one page to another – this applies to entire domains as well as individual pages. To be able to do this, the relevant formulas must be included in the portal’s .htaccess file. If you are using a CMS, it is also possible to automatically draw up rules using the relevant plug-ins.
Over time, 301 redirect pages disappear from the search results.
A 302 redirect works on a similar principle, but should only be used as a temporary measure, i.e. in cases of temporary technical problems with the website or during site upgrades. The “three hundred and two” setting does not cause the redirected pages to be de-indexed, so it is a method that every SEO specialist or webmaster must be familiar with.
4. Structured data (rich snippets) in WordPress
Structured data (also known as rich snippets) are code snippets that are placed within web pages to make them stand out in search results. For a user searching for any keyword, these data are visible as additional information below the title and above the site description.
Pages displayed in this way can be enriched with messages such as the average rating of a product, its price, availability and, if we are talking about food, preparation time. However, implementing structured data is not only a good idea for online shops. It can be just as good an idea to introduce them into the structure of non-e-commerce sites or those that provide recipes.
Why is opting for rich snippets a good idea? As it turns out, this type of additional information effectively distinguishes a portal in a search engine and, consequently, increases the CTR. As Google’s algorithm creators suggest, structured data can have an impact on a page’s position in search results in the future.
5. Image optimisation in WordPress
An important aspect when optimising on-page graphics is the compression of image files. Admittedly, a high image resolution is more pleasing to the eye, as it can slow down the loading process of a website. And this is a guideline that has a huge impact on search engine positioning. For this reason, it is advisable to equip yourself with image compression applications or to select images with a lower resolution.
The name of the graphic file is also an important issue. It is worth putting key phrases in it, however, one should be careful and match the words to the content of the image. A good method is to name images as the viewer sees them.
A key factor of an image file for search engine robots is the alt attribute. It defines the name that is visible to the algorithm, thus allowing the content of the web page – the alternative text for the image file – to be read correctly. As with a regular image, it is important to create a unique and keyword-related alternative name.
6. SEO WordPress plugins
SEO plugins had their heyday at a time when WordPress had many SEO issues. They solved key problems such as url control and resource indexing. Today, WordPress natively allows many settings that are sufficient from an SEO perspective. The problem only arises when we want to implement additional / custom solutions.
SEO plugins are solutions for site owners who are not proficient with the PHP programming language, cannot handle HTACCESS and robots.txt files or simply want to implement a solution. The technical side of SEO has a relatively high entry point in terms of coding. The main disadvantage that SEO plugins have is that they are overloaded with features that we will never use. On the other hand, there are also SEO plugins that are simple and quick and modular, so you can choose the SEO features you need.
You can read more about SEO plugins for WP here: https://www.seogroup.eu/free-seo-wordpress-plugins/
7. Take care of implementing canonical links
Also referred to as the canonical tag, the canonical is a kind of suggestion to the search engine, whose job it is to tell its bots which page within a domain is ‘more important’ relative to a particular subpage. In practice, the canonical tag is primarily used in cases of search result generation or filtering or when, for example, we have different variants of a particular product in an online shop.
The canonical tag is placed in the <head> section, where it should point to the URL of the subpage to be prioritised. Correct implementation of the tag minimises the risk of duplicate content problems within the site. It is worth knowing, however, that there is always a danger that a search engine will ignore the clues placed in the canonical tag.
In the case of a shop based on Woocommerce (WP extension for the shop), it is worth taking care of the canonical tags on the filter/sorting sub-pages with parameters.
8. Site navigation
Irrespective of the CMS used, it is necessary to take care of links spreading from the home page to the most important sub-pages. To this end, we can use the main menu, breadcrumb navigation and mid-text links.
9. Change PHP version and choose hosting
WordPress is developed using an open source programming language called PHP. At the time of writing this article, it requires at least PHP version 7.4 or later. The current stable version available for PHP is 8.1.9.
Each version of PHP improves performance by running processes more efficiently and reducing memory usage. This affects the speed of your WordPress site, speeding it up and reducing server load.
Remember, start by choosing good hosting. It is a good idea to choose offers dedicated to WordPress.
10. Take advantage of caching
Google’s search engine cache is nothing more than a cached copy of all indexed web pages. This solution is a kind of lifeline for sites that are temporarily out of business, but which plan to continue to have a presence on the web. This is because the use of Google’s cache allows not only a quick display of basic page data such as title or description, but also to see the last version of the website that was saved by the search engine.
WordPress positioning can help to increase your website’s visibility in search engines and thus increase traffic to your site. To successfully position your WordPress site, you should focus on several key factors, including content optimisation, backlink building and visual optimisation. On-page optimisation tools such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO can also be helpful to help you get a better ranking and increase traffic.
1. Is it possible to SEO a WordPress site?
Yes, it is possible to SEO a WordPress site. There are a variety of WordPress SEO tools that will help optimise your site in search results.
2. What are the most important factors in SEO for WordPress sites?
The most important factors for SEO of WordPress sites are content optimisation, internal linking, technical optimisation and trust building. You can technically optimise your WordPress site by using performance optimisation plugins such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache, and by performing an SEO audit.
3. How long does it take for a website to get SEO?
The duration of SEO can vary depending on a number of factors, including the competition for a given keyword. Most SEO efforts take time to see results, but depending on how difficult the keyword is, the time it takes to reach the number one position can range from a few months to several years.
4. What does on-page optimisation involve?
Page optimisation is the changes made to the content and structure of a website to make it more search engine and user friendly. On-page optimisation can include changes to HTML code, content, loading speed, internal linking, optimisation of
If you want SEO activities for your WordPress-based website to be handled by professionals, contact SEOgroup:
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