How to Optimize WordPress for Search Engines
WordPress is a very popular content management system (CMS) and it powers millions of websites all over the world. Many famous websites use WordPress and examples include BBC America, Sony Music, MTV News, and The Walking Dead.
However, a fresh install of WordPress is full of SEO problems that need to be resolved. With a fresh install, you get an empty shell to work with. You will need themes, plugins and a lot of patience to get your website fully optimized for SEO.
There are hundreds of thousands of plugins available and the problem is that because there are so many plugins, it’s often difficult to know which ones to use.
For general SEO configurations you should consider either All in One SEO Pack or Yoast SEO. Both are excellent plugins and have free versions available. Yoast SEO comes with a few more settings, such as Google XML sitemaps included, and it’s a bit more intuitive to use. Both plugins work well and are regularly updated to ensure that they comply with the latest developments in Search Engine Optmization.
However, just installing the plugins is just the beginning. Unless you set them up well, you may be doing more harm than good. Keeping the default settings won’t achieve much and you’ll need to utilize your SEO knowledge to get either of these plugins to work well. Here at Templatetoaster WordPress website builder and WordPress theme builder check out how to optimize WordPress for search engine.
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Again, there are many themes available for WordPress, both free and premium themes. As is the case with plugins, it’s often difficult to know which one to use due to the sheer number that are available.
The first thing to consider is the design of the theme. Nowadays, you’ll need a responsive design because the number of mobile devices accessing the internet is rapidly increasing. Moreover, having a mobile ready design is now a ranking factor for search engines.
The loading speed of your website is very important and you should aim to make your website load as fast as possible. To do this, you should analyze your page speed with a free online tool such as Pingdom. Pingdom will get a score out of 100 and provide you with list of things to fix or improve. Use this information to speed up your site and make it load as fast as possible.
Again, there are some helpful plugins that can help you achieve faster loading speeds. Firstly, you want to try WP Smush. As you upload images, it will automatically compress the image to a smaller file size. Smaller files load faster than bigger files, so you can significantly speed up your site.
Also, with regards to images, you want to make sure that you are only uploading images to your website that are “web ready”. This requires that you only use images that are the right size so you don’t need to make them smaller using HTML. Here you will want to compromise the quality of the image with the file size. Find the minimum level of quality that you require for your website to keep the file size as low as possible.
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You should also consider using caching plugins because they too can significantly improve your site speed. W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache are two very good plugins. WP Super Cache is easier to use as there are far fewer settings. However, W3 Total Cache is a little more powerful and has many more options. In fact, it has so many options that you can do some significant harm to your website if you don’t set it up correctly. Therefore, there is quite a steep learning curve with W3 Total Cache.
WP-Optimize is also a great plugin that can clean up your WordPress database for entries that are no longer required. This includes deleting revisions, empty tables and more. Keeping your database clean can also help to speed up your page load times.
Next, you’ll want to take care of your keyword density. Out of the box, WordPress puts keywords all over the place. There are tag clouds, breadcrumbs, multiple menus, URL structures, filenames, latest posts, popular category widgets, latest comments, and more where you’ll find WordPress inserts your keywords automatically.
Therefore, before you even start, you’ve already got a large number of keywords on the page. Try to remove as many of these as possible. Do you really need a tag cloud in your sidebar? Can you make do without breadcrumbs? Do you visitors need to know about the latest comments? In most cases, you won’t need these things. The key here is to try and remove as many keywords as possible.
Removing keywords will give you an even slate when you start filling your website up with content. You can write much more naturally instead of focusing on SEO articles. Make sure that you use keywords in heading tags, page title, meta description, image alt tags, URLs (by changing permalinks), and in your writing. But don’t go overboard, instead combine and vary your keywords in various places on your page.
Ideally, you want to keep the total keyword density to between 1% and 2%. Even 2% is considered to by high by some people, so it’s best to test your keyword density to see what works for your website.
WordPress also has an issue with duplicate content which you must do something about. The default settings will leave you with a number of pages that all contain duplicate content, these include the homepage, categories, author profiles, tags, and calendar.
Therefore, you’ll want to stop search engines from indexing some of these pages or ensure that they don’t all have duplicate content. If you don’t need them in the index, mark the original as canonical. You’ll find this setting in both All in One SEO and Yoast SEO.
It’s advisable to keep the homepage and only one other page to be indexed by search engines and usually, most people use the category pages. However, you need to ensure that when providing summaries for your articles, that they are different for both the homepage and the category pages to avoid duplicate content.
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There are a few steps that you will need to complete before your WordPress installation is optimized for SEO. This article just provides you with a brief outline over some of the more important issues, but there is a lot to consider to fully optimize your website for SEO.
Moreover, the way you optimize your site will constantly change and best practices often change. As search engines continue to build more powerful algorithms to rank websites, the rules for SEO will change. Therefore, you’ll want to make sure that you are fully up to date with the current best practices for on-site SEO.
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