What Is SEO in WordPress?
WordPress is much more than just another blogging platform. In fact, popular websites like TechCrunch and BBC America use WordPress to attract and host millions of search visitors every single month. But using WordPress out of the box won’t cut it if you want to reach that kind of scale. You need to make sure that your site speed is lightning fast and that your technical SEO is structurally sound.
You’re about to learn exactly how to do that from the ground up. Stay tuned What’s up SEOs, Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche.
Now, this is the second part of our WordPress SEO series. And we’ve already covered a lot of the basic setup and how to create SEO-friendly posts and pages. In this tutorial, we’re going to cover a lot of the technical SEO aspects, particularly with page speed, duplicate content, and internal linking, all within WordPress.
Best WordPress Plugin For SEO:-
Let’s get to it. Before we begin, I’m going to run a full site audit on my website using the Ahrefs Site Audit tool.And I’ll occasionally refer back to some of the reports, which will help us identify which pages to fix.
The first thing we’re going to do is configure our WordPress site for optimal speed and performance. And this is important because Google has officially stated that page speed is a ranking factor in their algorithm for both desktop and mobile.
So for site speed, we’re setting up the framework, which would include things like caching, compression, CDNs, and minification. And there are three plugins that I use specifically to boost my site speed.
The first one is W3 Total Cache. With WordPress caching, you’re essentially creating static versions of your posts and pages so it can be rendered quickly by browsers. And since you’re probably not updating these every day, it should result in faster load times, and better user experience. After you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll see a new menu in the left sidebar called Performance. If you go to the general settings, you’ll see the main settings I have enabled are: Page Cache, Minify, Browser Cache, and CDN. And you can see short descriptions of what each one does under the checkbox.
To customize each of these options, you can go to the corresponding submenu in the sidebar.Now, it’s important to note that what works for my site’s speed won’t necessarily work for yours.And there are way too many variables to consider like your server set up – i.e.Apache vs. NGINX vs Engintron,i.e. your hosting plan – i.e. shared vs. VPS vs. dedicated and more.So rather than going through every single setting for this site, I’ll leave a link to the screenshots of my W3 Total Cache settings in the description.
The second plugin I use is called ShortPixel.And this one automatically compresses and optimizes images when you upload them to your server.So if you look at my media library, you’ll see that there were some images uploaded, and ShortPixel automatically compressed these by quite a lot without compromising image quality.
And the final plugin I use is called Speed Booster Pack. After you’ve installed it, you can access it by hovering over settings, then choosing the plugin name in the submenu. The one that I want to touch on here is lazy load images.
Now by enabling this option, it only loads images as it’s needed.For example, when you load this page, images that are further down on the page will only load as you scroll to its location. Play around with these settings, and as you update them, you should see your home page load stats beside it.
You can also use a tool like Pingdom’s Full Page Test, which will show you the page load times and performance optimization tips.Just make sure to ping your page from the same location to get more accurate representations of page speed.Site Audit tool also tracks page speed over time, so let’s go to our report in Site Auditin Ahrefs and see if any pages load particularly slow.So I’ll head on over to the Performance report.And here, you can see that five pages have a loading time of greater than 2 seconds.So I’ll click on that, which will show us the results in Data Explorer.
So I would download the optimized versions of these images and replace them in the post.Now, doing this for all of your pages may take some time, so start with pages that get organic traffic, and move down the list from there if you’re obsessed with speed. Alright, so our site is nice and speedy, which is great for Google and the user experience.
Next is to add internal links to pass link equity to pages you want to rank.Using this custom filter in Data Explorer, I’m able to identify URLs that aren’t a part of the page archive, have less than three internal links pointing at them, and return a 200 response code.And it looks like there are 131 URLs on this website.Looking through the list, the vast majority are ones that I planned to delete, but I’m sure there are others that we plan to keep and rank higher.
Now, let’s order the pages by organic traffic in descending order.And this one on borax vs. boric acid seems like a good one.So I’ll go to the All Posts, page and use the search box here and search for the keyword borax, to see if there are any posts I can link from to my borax vs. boric acid post.And it looks like this one on cleaning with essential oils includes that keyword in the post.
Alternatively, you can do this in Google by searching for site:yourdomain.com and then adding your keyword or multiple keywords by using the OR search operator.And you’ll see that we now have 15 pages that match your search query since Google is searching through all indexed pages, which includes both posts and pages.
Another very cool yet effective way to use internal links in WordPress is to add a Popular Articles widget.Now, these might be pages that you’ve found to convert particularly well or pages that you want to rank higher in Google.
Looking at Backlinko’s blog, you’ll see that he’s done that here with some of his bigger guides. You can also take this tactic a step farther and install a plugin called Custom Sidebars. This lets you insert a custom sidebar configuration on any post or page. For example, you may want to include a custom sidebar with links to other articles or product pages that are relevant to the content in the post.
Now, these kinds of tips aren’t something that you have to do. Ahrefs blog and a lot of other popular blogs don’t do this. But from my experience, I’ve found it to work well. The last thing I want to go through deals with duplicate content issues.
Importance of Yoast SEO Plugin in WordPress:-
Now, I briefly touched on installing the Yoast SEO plugin and setting up your sitemap. And everything else works pretty well out of the box, but there are a few excellent features that deal with indexation, and it will help you avoid creating unwanted duplicate pages. So first, hover over the Yoast settings and choose Titles/Metas, and we’ll make sure that a few settings are in place.
Go to the Post Types settings and make sure that your meta robots settings for both pages and posts are unchecked, which will ensure that all of your blog posts and pages are set to get indexed by default. I set the Media settings as index, follow because WordPress will often create separate media pages, like this, that have nothing more than just the image. And this would certainly be classified as thin content.
Next, head on over to the Taxonomies tab. In most cases, you’ll want to index the tags and formats option. Tags on WordPress have essentially no SEO value. It’s more of a way to categorize your posts, which I don’t see too many sites doing now.
For example, if you look at this tag page, it just lists a couple of blog posts that can be accessed on their blog archive page. And there’s no real value in telling Google to index the tag page too. The other one is the categories.
Now, this one is debatable. Some people prefer not to index these pages, while others will try to rank them. And in my opinion, if you’re using breadcrumbs like these, or use your categories as navigation items as many large publications do, then I would recommend leaving them as indexable in most cases.
If you think that people will find value in discovering them in Google, then leave them as is. I wouldn’t stress too much about this unless you’re creating thousands of pages that can potentially lead to issues with crawl budget, faceted navigation, or devaluing the link equity.
Next is the Archives tab. Here, you’ll find a section on avoiding duplicate content. Since this site is a single author blog, I’ve chosen to noindex both the author archives and date-based archives. And the reason being, if you leave this to be indexed by Google, your blog homepage list of posts will be identical to the author archive.
Finally is the Other tab. Here, I recommend indexing your archive subpages. And you can see in the example, that this would be on an archive page with a URL like /page/2.Google made a video on the best practices regarding pagination, and they recommended a few different options.
The best one, in my opinion, was to create a view-all function and for all archive pages, to include a canonical tag to the view-all page. Certain conditions should be met like the amount of time it takes to render the page..
The last thing you should know regarding WordPress indexation is that you can no-index specific pages or posts. Just scroll down to the Yoast SEO settings on the page that you want to index, click on the gear icon, and then select noindex from the dropdown.
This may be advisable for pages that you don’t want to be in Google’s index like a landing page that you’re split-testing or a page within your email or sales funnels. If you want to dig deeper into duplicate content issues, then go to the Content Quality report within Ahrefs’ Site Audit tool, and for this website, you’ll see that there are only green clusters of duplicate pages, which means that the canonical is matching.
Something that you’ll want to be on the lookout for are bad duplicates or where a canonical is not set, as you can see for this WordPress website.
Now, there’s a lot more to technical SEO than what I’ve shown you here. But by combining WordPress with some of these plugins and techniques, you should be able to speed up your website and prevent a lot of easily avoidable duplicate content issues.
And let me know if there’s anything I missed in the comments specific to doing search engine optimization with WordPress.So keep grinding away, and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.