WordPress offers a few powerful features and advantages for bloggers. Aside from its ease of use, outstanding performance, and high security, there’s also its inherent SEO friendliness.
However, even though the platform is SEO friendly, a WordPress website won’t rank at the top of the SERPs on its own. You’ll still need to put in some work and understand how to utilize the right search engine optimization tactics.
The good news is that this is easy to do with WordPress, so even beginners can quickly grow their Google traffic.
The popular CMS has many features that help with SEO, and we talked to the most prominent New York software development companies to provide you with a list of the ten settings you should use on a new WordPress blog. Check them out below!
1. Enable Indexing
The first and most important setting you need to take care of on your WordPress site is making sure that the website is indexable. Google will only crawl and index your site if you allow it to, which means you need to uncheck a box called Search Engine Visibility in the Reading section of wp-admin Settings.
WordPress will discourage search engines from indexing the site when this box is checked, so you need to make sure it is left blank.
2. Optimize URLs for SEO
As SEO-friendly as WordPress is, some of its default settings do need to be changed. One of these is related to URLs, as a clean WP install will use “plain” URLs, which means your website pages will have addresses ending in random number and letter combinations.
What you want is your blog posts’ URLs to have keywords in their name, and you can achieve this by choosing the “post name” URL option in Settings > Permalinks. With a setup like this, WordPress will automatically use your SEO title to create the page’s URL, which is a critical aspect of search engine optimization.
3. Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console (GSC) is a handy tool providing you with all kinds of information about the condition of your website, its indexation status, etc. Plus, it is entirely free! We can safely say that GSC, formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools, is one of the most important SEO tools on a WordPress website.
We couldn’t recommend signing up for GSC enough, and we also encourage you to spend some time looking at all of its options. There are many tools within this tool that can help you improve both your on-page and off-page SEO.
4. Submit Your XML Sitemap
Once you have Google Search Console installed, go to the Sitemaps tab and submit your XML sitemap. If you don’t have one, installing an SEO plugin like Yoast could help tremendously. This plugin generates a default sitemap which you can find at [your.domain]/sitemap.xml.
Other SEO plugins are also available, such as SEOPress, which you can also use to generate an XML sitemap. The choice is yours.
5. Install a Traffic Analytics Tool
If you’re hoping to have any success ranking your website, you’ll need to monitor your traffic regularly. There’s no other way to know if your hard work is resulting in any improvements. The most popular and arguably best solution to use for this is Google Analytics.
This is the most widely used traffic tracking tool in the website development world. Unsurprisingly, it also does a great job integrating with the Google Search Console, and you can use the two in tandem to determine not only your overall website traffic but any dips and spikes, overall organic traffic growth, etc.
6. Install SEMrush’s SEO Writing Assistant
While we’re on the subject of plugins and tools to install, we should mention one that deals specifically with your content. Before you even begin to create, let alone optimize, content for your site, install the SEO Writing Assistant plugin by SEMrush.
The plugin is also available as a Google Docs add-on, and it reviews your content as you write it to make sure it is SEO-friendly. It will even give you recommendations based on your top-rated rivals for a given keyword.
7. Set Custom Page URLs
We’ve already talked about how WordPress uses random strings of numbers for your page URL unless you switch to the “post name” option, and you’ve hopefully made this change by now. However, it’s time to go back to the drawing board, as this is not necessarily enough.
Page titles can be lengthy, so you don’t necessarily want the URL to include the full title of your latest blog post. The keyword you’re targeting is likely just a small part of the title, so it would be ideal if you could just use that. Well, you can. By clicking the “edit” button next to the permalink, you can choose a custom URL for each of your pages.
8. Install a Cache Plugin
Site speed is undoubtedly one of the most important factors when it comes to your SEO performance. While WordPress certainly offers great loading times out of the box, there are always improvements to be made if you’re willing to dig deeper.
We won’t get super technical about improving your site’s speed here, but we will mention one of the most effective-yet-simple ways to do it — installing a cache plugin. This allows the site to serve static files to your users rather than dynamically generating them each time they revisit the site.
9. Add Context Through Schema
You can help Google understand your content through Schema markup (schema.org). This structured data vocabulary enables search engines to see the relationships and meaning behind the entities mentioned on your website.
Simply put, adding context to your pages through Schema makes it more likely that you’ll rank higher, but also that your site will show up in SERP snippets.
10. Use “Last Updated”
Updating your content to keep it relevant should go without saying. However, people often ask whether they should be changing the original publishing date on their posts and pages, removing dates entirely, or doing something else.
In our experience, the best thing you can do is use “updated on” or “last modified” tags to show search engines and users when your content was updated. This gives your user the confidence that the content they’re reading is relevant and current.