how to make WordPress site SEO friendly: Step by Step guide to optimize (WordPress) Website for better search Engine ranking
Starting a blog is simple and easy but it is hard to run a successful blog, writing great content and driving traffic to your blog is not very simple and easy.
We have published a step by step guide that explains How to create a blog using WordPress?. If you really want to grow your business, start your blog today.
In this in-depth SEO For WordPress guide, I am going to share how to make WordPress site SEO friendly from the start.
- How to Choose the best domain name for your blog
- Recommended plugins to make WordPress site SEO friendly
- How to make WordPress site SEO friendly without plugins
- how to use images to make WordPress site SEO friendly and much more.
A 2014 BrightEdge.com study finds that 51% of all visitors come from organic search (Google, Bing, Yahoo etc), dwarfing traffic from other channels including paid search (10%) and social media (5%).
Mostly, Search Engines are the primary driver of traffic to your business or personal website. With better Search Engine Optimization you can drive quality and highly targeted traffic to your blog or website.
Search Engine Optimization or most commonly known term SEO is the technique to optimize your websites for Search Engines (Google, Bing etc).
Let’s start learning how to make WordPress site SEO friendly.
SEO For WordPress: Search Engine Optimization For WordPress Beginner
Let’s learn how to make WordPress site SEO friendly?.
I am going to outline some best practices that can help you to make your WordPress websites more search engine friendly.
Further Reading: Ultimate Guide: What Is WordPress How Does It Work & Who Use It
For some basic settings you don’t need any plugin but to optimize your content (article, pages, and videos) you should use WordPress SEO plugins.
WordPress is now powering almost 25% of the web, and thousands of new websites are created every day. It is really important to drive traffic when you start a new blog or website.
WordPress itself is very search engine friendly Content Management System. But with better planning and using some best practices you can improve your search engine rankings.
Better Search engine rankings mean more traffic, more subscribers, more customer and more profit.
Do you need WordPress SEO plugins to make WordPress site SEO friendly?
It is not necessary to install a plugin but with WordPress SEO plugins it is very easy to optimize your content and make your site SEO friendly.
I personally use Yoast SEO plugin to optimize WordPress for search engines. Yoast SEO is most popular free WordPress SEO plugin. If you are using any other WordPress SEO plugins, that’s not a big issue.
Almost all WordPress SEO plugins offer necessary features to optimize Different (30+) type of WordPress websites.
how to make WordPress site SEO friendly: Google WebMaster Guidelines
Google is the most popular search engine and almost all web developers and bloggers want higher ranking in Google.
Here are some key points to remember when optimizing your websites for search engines. These guidelines are for all type of websites.
it does not matter if you are using WordPress or any other CMS like Joomla, Drupal etc. You should always follow these guidelines to make your website SEO friendly.
Google recommends the following Best Practices to get higher search engine rankings.
- Make web pages (write quality content) primarily for users, not for search engines. Don’t deceive your users or present different content to search engines than you display to users, a practice commonly referred to as “cloaking.”
Make a website with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
Make sure that your
titleelements for links and ALT attribute for images are descriptive and accurate.
Use keywords to create descriptive, human-friendly URLs. Provide one version of a URL to reach a document, using 301 redirects or the rel=”canonical” attribute to address duplicate content.
Create mobile friendly fully responsive websites, Google recommends responsive we design and discourage different websites for mobiles.
how to make WordPress site SEO friendly: Basic SEO Settings
First of all, I am going to discuss some basic Best WordPress SEO practices, you don’t need any plugin to follow some of the best practices outlined here but we recommend Yoast SEO plugin.
First thing first, make sure search engines can index your website. Under Settings > Reading Uncheck Discourage search engines from indexing this site.
How Important Are Keywords In A Domain Name For SEO?
One of the most important thing that can help you to optimize your blog for search engines is the choice of domain name.
We have published a step by step guide, read How To Choose A Good Domain Name For Your Blog to learn more about domain name best practices.
WordPress Website Speed: Make your webpages load Faster
According to surveys done by Akamai and Gomez.com, nearly half of web users expect a site to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.
79% of web shoppers who have trouble with website performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again and around 44% of them would tell a friend if they had a poor experience shopping online.
Page Load Time matters: choose a good hosting provider, install caching plugin to make your WordPress website load faster.
Visitors tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded within 3 seconds.
Speed is very important for search engines such as Google hates slow website and users will leave your website if it will take too much time to load.
Choose a good WordPress web hosting service provider. Make sure your website is fast enough. Start with a good hosting provider.
Reducing the page loading time of your website pages improves your visitor’s user experience and reduces the chance of them hitting the back button on their browser.
After installing WordPress install a WordPress caching plugin. For example, W3 Total Cache is a very popular free plugin to optimize WordPress for speed.
There are a number of ways in which you can improve the speed of a WordPress website, however, a WordPress caching plugin will make the biggest difference. Here are few popular free WordPress caching plugins.
- W3 Total Cache
- WP Super Cache
- WP Rocket
- Hyper Cache
- WP Fastest Cache
- Quick Cache
For more details about caching plugins and caching process read this Five Best WordPress Caching Plugins post.
First thing first, make sure search engines can index your website. Under Settings check Allow search engines to index
WWW or Non-WWW: Set your preferred domain in Google Web Master Tools
Google recommend web developers to add both www and non-www version of their websites to Google Search Console (Google Web Master Tools). You should not ignore this. Log in to Google Search console and add both versions of your website. Then select preferred version of your website.
The preferred domain is the one that you would like to be used to index your site’s pages (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain).
Links may point to your site using both the www and non-www versions of the URL (for instance, http://www.example.com and http://example.com).
The preferred domain is the version that you want used for your site in the search results. Google
To learn more how to set Set your preferred domain (www or non-www) visit google web master guidelines.
How to Specify a preferred domain in Google Search Console
- Log in to Google Search Console using Gmail account
- On the Search Console Home page, click the site you want.
- Click the gear icon, and then click Site Settings.
- In the Preferred domain section, select the option you want
How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly: Choose Best Permalink Structure
Make your permalink structure search engine and human-friendly. WordPress helps you to easily change the permalink structure. You can see the permalink settings under Settings > Permalinks.
The default permalink is
but it is highly recommended to use either
example.com/post-name/ or example.com/category/post-name/
According to Google web master guidelines, a website’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Always consider organizing your content so that all URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers).
For example, YouTube video URL’s are not appealing and human readable. See example links below and decide which one is better.
For example, if you’re searching for information about successful blog launch, a URL like
will help you decide whether to click that link. Now you understand How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly with a better permalink structure.
Google recommends developers to use punctuation in your URLs. according to Google
http://www.example.com/green-dress.html is much more useful to us than
Google recommends use of hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in URLs.
How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly by Optimizing post titles
- Write compelling and interesting headlines
- Add the most important keywords but Avoid keyword stuffing
- Title Length: No more than 70 characters
To learn more you should read How To Write SEO Friendly Blog Posts Titles
Content is king: Publish relevant high-quality content
How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly with better content.
- Write Original content
- Make Your Content More Readable (Write short paragraphs, use lists, blockquotes etc)
- Make Your Content More Shareable (Install social media sharing plugin)
- Post length really matters
- Add related keywords with in blog post
- Update your content regularly
Further Reading: 8 Free WordPress Plugins To Increase Blog Traffic & EMail List
Always Write Original Content: Google and other search engines hate duplicate content. Always avoid duplicate content. You can read more about duplicate content at Yoast blog.
If your blog is a one author blog, or you don’t think you need author archives, use WordPress SEO to disable the author archives. Also, if you don’t think you need a date based archive: disable it as we have.
WordPress SEO Yoast Blog
- Write great informative content
- Use related keywords with in blog post but don’t add too many keywords.
- Write for humans, not for robots.
- Lengthy in-depth article works much better than short articles. Your blog post must contain more than the 300 word recommended minimum.
Many bloggers prefer to publish longer blog posts (1500 – 3000+ words), according to them longer blog posts works much better than short articles.
It depends on what type of content you are publishing on your blog. If you can cover your topic in 600 words don’t try to make your post lengthy.
Never ever sacrifice good writing for SEO. The best pages are written for the readers, not for the search engines.
Don’t forget to use bold, italics, headings, and other emphasis tags to highlight keyword phrases, but don’t overdo it.
- Another important thing is content readability.
- Write small short paragraphs.
- Use ordered and unordered lists, tables where necessary.
This indirectly improves your SEO.
How does it help? because if your content is great and people can read your content easily, some of them will share your content on social media, many users will link to your blog post as well.
Backlinks can not only help you to improve SEO but your blog traffic also increases.
If people can not read your content easily on desktops and mobile, they are not going to share your content. Neither they will sign up for your email list nor they will come back to your blog.
Google has published in depth Content guidelines that helps you to create great content for your blog or websites.
Write keyword rich, descriptive Meta Description
- Meta Description Length: Roughly 150-170 characters
- Write actionable and in an active voice
- Must be unique meta description for each page
- Add focus keyword in Meta Description
- convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website
The description attribute within the tag is a good way to provide a concise, human-readable summary of each page’s content. Google will sometimes use the meta description of a page in search results snippets, if we think it gives users a more accurate description than would be possible purely from the on-page content.
Google Page Titles and meta descriptions guidelines
The Meta description is the black piece of text shown beneath the URL in search results and any words that match the search term are bolded in the description.
Meta description describes your page to search engines. According to WordStream Blog, while the perceived (and real) importance of meta data has depreciated, the attribute still plays a significant role in SEO rankings.
Read: How To Write Effective Meta Description in WordPress to Persuade The Searcher To Click On Your Link.
According to Yoast blog The meta description is usually only used when it contains the keyword the searcher was searching for.
Meta descriptions are commonly used on search engine result pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page. Optimal length for Meta descriptions is roughly 155 Characters.
Even if the importance of meta data has depreciated but it is extremely important in gaining user click-through from SERPs.
Meta descriptions should be actionable and in an active voice, always write a unique meta description that includes a call-to-action and focus keyword.
The purpose of Meta descriptions is to describe the contents of the page to the searcher. Your end goal is to convince and persuade the searcher to click through to your website.
Link to related content
Link To Internal Blog Post
When writing a blog post, always link to your already published relevant blog posts. it helps readers to discover more useful content, and purpose is to make your blog post and your overall blog more engaging.
Links To Internal Blog Post can help you to create more engagement and keep your readers longer on your blog.
When writing and publishing content, be sure to keep an eye out for opportunities for internal links. This not only helps with SEO, but also results in a better, more useful experience for the user – the cornerstone of increasing traffic to your website.
This is one way of getting search engines to get to your older content a bit easier, thus increasing your WordPress SEO capabilities a lot.
You can make this process simple by using WordPress related posts plugins. There are also a lot of WordPress related post plugins available that will automatically link certain keywords to certain posts.
But Yoast SEO developers does not like this at all as they find it to look very spammy. JetPack has a Related Post model, if you want to select best-related content, you can use free plugins to select related post manually.
Best WordPress Plugins to select related post manually
JetPack’s Related Posts feature scans all of your posts, analyzes them, and lets you show contextual posts below each blog post your visitors might be interested in reading after they are done with whatever post they are on.
JetPack creates Related content automatically based on the content of the post and any tags or categories if they exist.
11 Most Popular WordPress Related Post Plugins
There are a lot of WordPress related post plugins that will automatically link certain keywords to certain posts. Here is a list some popular WordPress Related Post plugins.
- Jetpack Related Posts
- Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP) by Jeff Parker
- Contextual Related Posts
- WordPress Related Posts by Zemanta
- Related Posts for WordPress by Barry Kooij and Never5
- Yuzo Related Posts by ILen
- Inline Related Posts by IntellyWP
Read this article to learn more about 11 Free WordPress Related Posts Plugins.
How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly: Optimize Images for better SEO
You may not realize this, but images can generate a TON of traffic from image-based search engines (Google Images for example).
If you want more of this traffic, you must learn how to optimize your images to score some of this traffic.
- Detailed, informative filenames
- Great alt text
- Descriptive Anchor text
- protect your images
- Create Quality photos, optimize them for the web
Image File Name: Always name your images properly. Give images descriptive file names. For example WordPress 4.4 Dashboard.png is much better than screenshot.png or shjsdh.png.
With proper and descriptive image file names you help Google and other image search engines, you can get extra traffic from the different image search engines.
Write Descriptive Alt text for images With proper and descriptive image file names you not only helps search engines but also help people with disabilities.
Add at least one related image in your each blog post. It is recommended for better WordPress SEO. you can read more about Image SEO at Yoast Blog.
Optimize your images for the web WordPress allows you to upload large images, but keep in mind that people browse websites from different devices. You don’t know who will be visiting your website.
They might be using PC or may be the smart phone. Not everyone has the access to fast Internet connection. Images can make your web pages load slower. Don’t add too many images in a single blog post.
Always optimize your images for the web. There are many free and premium WordPress image optimization plugins are available. Install any free WordPress image optimization plugin.
What if your blog has over 80% mobile users, what will you do? You will have to make your website mobile friendly and small optimized images can help you to make your blog load faster on mobile devices.
WordPress image optimization plugins
- WP Smush
- EWWW Image Optimizer
- CW Image Optimizer
- PB Responsive Images
- SEO Friendly Images
- Media File Renamer
- Lazy Load
- BJ Lazy Load
- Prizm Image
You can find free plugin at https://wordpress.org/plugins/search/image+optimization/
I am not a big fan of WordPress image optimization plugins If you are going to add only two or three images in each blog post, simply use online service like https://compressor.io/compress or tinypng.com to compress your images.
I prefer to use TinyPNG’s online service to compress images for each blog post manaully. You can compress upto 20 images with maximum 5MB image size. They also have a WordPress Plugin to compress JPEG & PNG images, With a free account you can optimize roughly 100 images each month.
If you are going to upload a lot of images then use an Image optimization plugin. WordPress image optimization plugins can save you a lot of time and your blog will load much faster.
How to increase blog traffic with social sharing: Make your content easily shareable
Social networking websites like FaceBook, Twitter and GooglePlus can increase blog traffic. Make it easy for people to share your content with WordPress social sharing plugins.
Don’t forget to add an email subscription form to your blog. Email subscribers are loyal readers.
There are many free WordPress social sharing plugin available. If you are using Jetpack, activate Jetpack’s social sharing module. Here is the list of some popular and up to date WordPress social sharing plugins.
Best Free WordPress Social Sharing Plugins
- AddThis Sharing Buttons
- Add share buttons, image sharing and more with SumoMe
- Simple Share Buttons Adder by David Neal
- Shareaholic | share buttons, related posts, social analytics and more
- ShareThis: Share Buttons and Social Analytics
- Floating Social Bar
- Mashshare – Social Media Icons SEO Share Buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Subscribe
- Jetpack Sharing : share content with Twitter, Facebook and many other
Read: 5 Best Social Sharing WordPress Plugins To Increase Blog Traffic
How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly: Create XML SiteMap
Sitemaps help search engines to crawl your website or blog better. Creating WordPress XML site map is really easy with free plugins. With XML Site-Maps you tell Google and the other search engines that your site has been updated.
With such a sitemap, it is much easier for the crawlers to see the complete structure of your site and retrieve it more efficiently.
Yoast WordPress SEO plugin contains an XML Sitemap module by default that you just have to enable it. Go to Settings > XML Sitemaps and click the checkbox.
Sometimes after activating Yoast XML sitemap module, you will see some 404 or other error pages. To fix this issue go to setting > permalinks just click Save Permalink button.
Yoast SEO plugin generates an XML sitemap for all your posts, pages, custom post types, tags and categories and (if applicable) other custom taxonomies.
When you publish a new blog post or page, the XML sitemap is automatically submitted to Google and Bing allowing them to easily (and quickly) find your new content.
Google XML Sitemaps is another free plugin to generate a special XML sitemap which will help search engines to better index your blog.
Google XML Sitemaps is used by millions of WordPress users with 1+ million active installations Google XML Sitemap is one of the most popular WordPress plugins.
Google also recommends web developers to create XML sitemaps for websites. So don’t ignore XML sitemaps. By following recommended best practices you are increasing the chance to increase blog traffic.
How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly with Bread Crumbs Menu and Pagination
It is also recommended to add bread crumbs and pagination to your blog. Which helps search engines to find links on your blog. Most premium themes allow you to enable numeric navigation and bread crumb navigation.
Otherwise, you can use WordPress plugins to generate Breadcrumb menus.
Breadcrumbs are the links, usually above the title post, that looks like “Home > Articles > WordPress SEO”. They are good for two things:
- They allow your users to easily navigate your site.
- They allow search engines to determine the structure of your site more easily.
WordPress Plugins for Paging Navigation and Breadcrumb
- WP-PageNavi by scribu: To add advanced paging navigation interface.
- Breadcrumb NavXT: Free plugin by John Havlik and Hakre
- Prime Strategy Bread Crumb by jim912
- Breadcrumb Trail by Justin Tadlock
In this WordPress video tutorial, You will learn how you can add the Breadcrumb Navigation Menu to your WordPress theme, I have used Twenty Sixteen Theme for this tutorial, but you can use any theme, You will have to add one line of code in your theme’s single.php file after activating Breadcrumb Trail Plugin.
That’s all. By following these best practices you can improve your WordPress SEO. Now you know How To Make WordPress Site Seo Friendly. It’s time to start following best practices to optimize your blog for better SEO.
SEO is a broad topic and you can not cover everything in a single article. I tried to cover SEO For WordPress in this article.
Feel free to share this guide on Twitter, FaceBook, and other social media platforms.
Best WordPress SEO Resources From Experts
In this beginners guide to search engine optimization, I have tried to explain everything in simple Words to improve search engine optimization for WordPress website and blogs, but it is impossible to cover every topic in detail here.
Here is a list of great resources to learn more about Search Engine Optimization. You will find a lot of great tips and techniques.
WordPress SEO Guide by Yoast is a must read for all WordPress developers, designer and bloggers. Yoast has explained everything in detail how to optimize your WordPress website for better SEO.
Learn SEO: The Beginner’s Guide to SEO is a detailed guide from MOZ. I you are a beginner and want to know how Search Engines work and why SEO is important, how to get started with SEO, yo should this guide from Yoast.
Chapter 4 of Moz’s The beginner guide to SEO Basics of search engine friendly design and development describes how to create a search engine friendly design
Rand Fishkin has written this article 12 Rules for Choosing the Right Domain Name almost 8 years ago and updated this post on Oct. 4th, 2015. But this post is still relevant 8 years after the initial publication.
Google has published a free course how to set up a great website and Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting Provider is a good read for beginners.
Neil Patel of Quick Sprout has written a great post How Long Should Each Blog Post Be? A Data-Driven Answer.
How to write great page titles and meta descriptions, guidelines by Google.
WordPress.org guide : Search Engine Optimization for WordPress