Hosting Tutorial & Guide

WordPress SEO Best Tips & Practices – Improve Your Google Rankings Now!

updated on Sep 01, 2015
WordPress SEO Best Tips & Practices – Improve Your Google Rankings Now! WordPress is indeed search engine friendly, but only when you make a lot of manual works can you expect high rankings. Below are the best WordPress SEO tips and practices which you should try if you are running a blog and want it to be popular.

As SEO is a continuous process instead of a one-time job, you must keep all the tips in mind in daily blogging. Also, search engines like Google keep updating their algorithms, so you should keep a close eye on the changes and adjust your SEO strategies accordingly to prevent possible ranking drop.

Content Is the King

Google likes quality content and hates useless content stuffed with keywords. For instance, Google released Google Panda, a dedicated search result ranking algorithm, to lower the ranking of low-quality sites with duplicate contents and large amounts of advertising. This algorithm affects the rankings of the entire site rather than individual pages.

As search engines now give increasing value to quality content, you must meet the following requirements if you want to write SEO optimized blog posts:
  • Be original, with no clue of copying others' blogs, especially your competitors'.
  • Be informational and helpful for readers.
  • No grammar errors & easy-to-read for human beings.
  • Proper keyword density (no keyword stuffing) – no more than 3%.
If your website is content-rich, make sure that you have not written the same content for similar topics. Too much duplicate content can result in a search engine penalty. If you have already made the mistake, use a tool like Copyscape to find out the duplicated posts and revise/remove them.

Content Is the King

Optimize WordPress URLs

The website URLs affect how Google indexes your WordPress site. The tips below can help get better rankings.

Build a better permalink structure

When WordPress is installed, it comes with a default permalink structure:, which is neither search engine friendly nor user friendly. So you should make a change.

To achieve the best result, you'd better use the structure of "post name" or "category + post name" to make your permalinks more readable and meaningful. The two structures do not have any difference in SEO, so the choice depends on your preference. The former is more precise, while the latter gives more clues to readers about whether they are located.


Using SSL on your WordPress site not only protects your sensitive data, but also gains your site more credits from Google. Now more and more webmasters turn to HTTPS. It should a good practice to your website. You can make a choice between shared SSL and private SSL by yourself.

Eliminate stopwords from post URLs

When you write a blog post, it is probable that the post title includes some stopwords like "a", "the" and "to". These words are useless, making your URLs much longer than they should be. Therefore, you need to remove them before saving posts.

Optimize WordPress URLs

Optimize Individual Posts

Below are some good practices you can try for each individual post. All of them are important for SEO.

Optimize post titles

The post title is an important factor both for ranking in the search results and readability. It is the first line visitors see in the search results and on your website pages. To make good titles, you should:
  • Include keywords in the title.
  • Use keywords as the early words which are obvious to read for search engines and visitors. It is preferable that the focus keywords are put at the beginning of the title.
  • Keep the length of titles reasonable in order to achieve a good display in search results.

Optimize the meta description

Meta descriptions are shown in search results to offer general descriptions about the post content. By default, the first sentences are used as the meta descriptions, which is actually neither search engine friendly nor user-friendly. So you should hand-write good meta descriptions with keywords (for search engines) and useful information about the post that raise the interest of readers. Plugins like WordPress SEO by Yoast should help.

Optimize image alt tags

The alt tag describes the image, helping search engines know what the image is about and offering readers with a reference when the image loading fails. Besides, effective image names may bring some traffic from image search engines. For the alt tag, you need to make it short and keyword rich.

Optimize Individual Posts

Optimize Templates & Design

The importance of design for SEO is neglected by many WordPress users, but it is quite necessary to take the following steps.

Use breadcrumbs

Breadcrumb is a term in web design indicating a series of links that help you know where you are on a website. A breadcrumb is like Homepage > Category > Single post. It is good because:
  • It offers a clear structure for readers to easily navigate on your site.
  • As for SEO, breadcrumbs make it easier for search engines to find website links so that your site can be crawled better.

Optimize the heading tags

You should use H1 tag once only on a page. Using H1 tags for multiple times can make your website regarded as spammy and harm the organic search rankings. Therefore, you'd better use <h1> for the most important heading in your post.

Get rid of the external links in your post sidebar

You may want to add many external links to your "friends" in the sidebars of single pages, but you should never do this. As those links are not really relevant to the content, they do no good to SEO. Besides, the deed brings more distractions that can get visitors leave your site more easily.

Optimize Templates & Design

Speed up Your WordPress Site

Website speed is one of the largest factors affecting search engine rankings because search engines now value user experience much. Besides, according to research, one-second page load delay will cause 11% fewer page views and 16% lower visitor satisfaction.

Below are some of the useful and simple tips. For more good suggestions, read this tutorial: Top Reasons Why Your WordPress Site Loads Slowly.

Minimize everything on your site

Minimizing the size of your website and web pages gains you better scores in speed testing, of course. This "everything" does not include your site content. Instead, you should minimize:
  • The size of images, without affecting the quality.
  • The number of themes and plugins.
  • Javascript and CSS.
Also, you need to remove all of the unused things on your site, including:
  • Abandoned custom code.
  • Unused themes and plugins (delete them instead of just deactivating them).
  • Unused media files including videos and images.
In addition, you should also try optimizing the WordPress database to clean up the unused or useless data to make your site more light-weight.

Use a caching plugin or CDN

Caching plugins and CDN both make your static content load several times faster, and they help reduce the number of requests sent to your server, too. If you are running a site with heavy traffic, using a caching plugin or a CDN is quite a good practice.

Use fast hosting

Using a fast web hosting solution is more than important because the performance of your server decides the performance of your site to a large extent. Manual works can never be as important as the selection of the web host.

Using a VPS or dedicated server is preferable, but they are too costly for small blogs. If you are running one or several small websites, a fast shared web hosting solution is enough. The web hosts below offer the fastest speed among all the companies we have reviewed. The server response time of them is no more than 400ms.

Pay Attention to Link Building

How your website contents are connected and how you are connected with other online resources with the same topic as you have a significant impact on SEO, too.

Add proper internal links

Adding internal links enhances the relationship between different posts and brings traffic to old posts. But you should add them contextually and do not abuse this kind of links. You should only link to related contents that can help readers have a better understanding.

Build quality backlinks

Search engines give more credits to websites with backlinks from authoritative online resources. Here, we need to emphasize "quality" because backlinks from bad resources like link farms can get your website penalized. There are multiple ways for building quality backlinks, including:
  • Use guest blogging.
  • Participate in forum activities. Only high-quality forums should be considered.
  • Use social bookmarking and social networking.

Optimize anchor text

Only use natural and contextual anchor text for links. Search engine spiders read the anchor text to see the relevance between the content on the current page and the link. Only when the anchor text is defined to be good, can the link be of value.

Pay Attention to Link Building

Use XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is necessary for WordPress sites. It includes all the pages that you'd like to index and provide information for search engines to find the new content on your site. When you add new content, the XML sitemap can be submitted to the specified search engines automatically.

XML sitemaps allow you to tell Google how often you want it to re-index your site. You can also use "sub-sitemaps" to get search engines indexing the new content only when a post or page is published. Building a sitemap can be done easily with an SEO plugin or a sitemap plugin.

Use XML Sitemaps

Noindex Archive, Pagination, Tag and Category Pages

Many WordPress sites use date archives, author archives, categories or tag pages to improve the usability. However, these structures can generate duplicate content.

To prevent this trouble, you will need to either disable or noindex the pages. It's OK to leave one of them untouched. These tasks can be easily completed with the use of a WordPress SEO plugin.

Noindex Archives

Always Keep an Eye on Your Site Statistics

You should never practice SEO a lot blindly without testing their effectiveness to your search engine rankings. Before making changes, you have to submit your site to Google Webmaster Tools to know your search engine traffic at any time.

Google Analytics is another helpful tool that enables you to track the impact of the SEO practices you have applied. It helps decide the techniques that suit your site best so that you can focus on the useful tasks. You should now add Google Analytics to your WordPress site to conduct in-depth analyses.

Keep an Eye on Site Statistics