If you’re doing content marketing with the intent of boosting search engine traffic, each post you publish should go through the following insanely effective SEO checklist. The truth is, in 2017, SEO is very different than it used to be a mere two years ago. Writing for SEO in 2017 means writing for users – but optimizing for search engines. Following this on page search engine optimization checklist is the most important task you do before you click on the “Publish” button.
Tell me whether this story is familiar to you. You slave over a piece of content, you research, you write, you spend hours and hours perfecting every last sentence, you cross all the ts, dot all the is, and then you Publish.
And then you wait and hope, only to be rewarded with – crickets.
Good SEO is hard.
With literally millions of posts competing for each keyword, getting it right requires a combination of skill, experience, writing prowess, plenty of SEO technique, and just a little bit of luck.
In this post, we’re defining the ultimate SEO checklist – all the right things you need to do so your post gets the best chance it can ever have to rank for targeted keywords and key phrases.
Before we start with the list of tasks required for a perfectly SEO optimized page, let’s have a brief discussion about what it takes to rank any post.
Ranking a page to be the very first position of a search result is influenced by more than 200 factors. Some of them are specific to the page you want to rank, while others depend on the domain where the content is hosted.
In essence, though, it all boils down to three main factors
- Content – you need to have content, which ultimately answers the user’s search intent. When a user clicks through to your search result, they need to be completely satisfied with the substance. Their query must be fully answered. The keyword here is “relative content”.
- Links to your content – Google will always use links to boost search engine rankings in the absence of better information. The reason for this is that good, quality backlinks are hard to acquire. When somebody votes for your content by linking to it – that is an extreme form of endorsement of your content.
- Technical and on-page ranking factors – in essence, your page needs to be healthy, in terms of how it is seen by search engines. Google search engine bots crawl your post and content, if this is all correct according to SEO best practices you have a better chance of ranking organically. Take into note error pages and links, alt tags, and metadata.
- Download the SEO Checklist as PDF, Excel, or Word
- Click Here to Download the SEO Checklist
- On-page SEO checklist – the stuff which you can influence
- Technical SEO checklist – fix any issues hurting your site’s rankings
- Negative SEO Checklist
- Local SEO Checklist
- Build local citations to your NAP
- Local SEO Content Checklist
- Download the SEO Checklist now
- Additional SEO Tips
- 1. Do not discourage search engines from visiting your site
- 2. Enable Search Engine Friendly URLs
- 3. Yoast WordPress SEO plugin (Check it out)
- 4. Make your WP fast with WP Rocket (Check it Out)
- 5. Sumo (Check it Out)
- 6. RB Internal Links (Check it Out)
- 7. SEO Friendly Images plugin (Check it Out)
- 8. Local Search SEO Contact Page plugin (Check it Out)
- 9. Simple 301 Redirects (Check it Out)
- 10. Responsive WordPress Theme
- Wrapping Up
Download the SEO Checklist as PDF, Excel, or Word
If you want a copy of this list of SEO tasks for safe-keeping, just click on the Download button below. But don’t worry, this site will stay online as long as we can, so if you don’t get your soft-copy, you can also bookmark and come back to this page. We’ll keep refining this content as we go along, so do revisit often.
With that said, let’s start digging into the ultimate SEO checklist.
On-page SEO checklist – the stuff which you can influence
These are the most important things to do, the essential SEO tasks list you should revisit for each piece of content your write.
- Perform keyword research – so let me tell you one small secret. If you want to rank in search engines, you need to understand what people are searching for. Whilst coming up with topics that you think might appeal to you is optimistic, finding keywords users are actually searching for is effective. If you’re not doing good keyword research, you’re on a hit and miss strategy, with luck playing a huge part in whether a piece of content will rank or not.
- Make a fair judgment on whether you are able to rank for that keyword – while aiming for the stars is great in theory, in reality, hitting high traffic, high competition keywords are typically the most effective use of your time. Find keywords that are less competitive with medium volume traffic which are still within the target niche you are aiming for.
- High-quality content that answers a user’s search query – while most checklists about SEO will tell you that you need high quality, relevant and fresh content, we go a bit further. The content you write must be the absolute best on the internet – it needs to fully answer the question the user is “asking” when they have performed a particular search query. The content needs to exceed the searcher’s expectations – it must go above and beyond and be relevant to what they need and provide ALL the information about what they need and anything else to supplement that content. User intent is one of the things which is strongly mentioned in Google Quality Rating Guidelines. Quoting from the guidelines: “Utility is the most important aspect of search engine quality, and is, therefore, the most important thing for you to think about when evaluating webpages.” – Use this sentence as your mantra when writing about a particular query and you cannot go wrong.
We will be coming back to this over and over again in this article.
- Content length is sufficient – content length suggestions vary widely. You’ll find people suggesting that 300 words are enough while you’ll find people suggesting five to ten thousand words as a minimum. In reality, the length goes back to 1 – the content you write should be enough to satisfy the user’s query. When QuickSprout performed a study, they found that on average the number 1 ranking has more than 2400 words. We’d seriously suggest writing to lengths of 2000 words or more.
- Target keyphrase (or synonyms) should be included in page title – one of the most effective ways of influencing search engine ranking is through the words used in the title tag of your page. This is one of the strongest, user-influenceable rankings tools today. Make sure the <title></title> of your post contains your target keyphrase.
- Included a target keyphrase in the <H1></H1> header of your content – another small ranking signal is the usage of your key phrase in the H1 tag of your content. Most sites use a title and an H1 tag that corresponds to the title of the article, which includes the keyphrase being targeted – this is a key approach.
- Included a target keyphrase in the <H2> / <H3> – while this is a minor ranking signal, it’s good to add relevance or reinforce the topic/keyphrases that the content is about.
- Use your target keyphrase in the first 100 words of your content – we’ve suggested above that the crawlers need to understand what your page and content is about. Using the target keyphrase in the first 100 words and ideally the first paragraph of your content makes it clear to your users (and Google bots) what your content is about.
- Use your target keyphrase in the last 100 words of your content – it makes a lot of sense to conclude your article or content by mentioning the topic you’re speaking about, it also reinforces the theme to the crawlers indexing your content.
- Create an enticing meta description tag which makes the user curious (include ellipses) – the META description is not a ranking signal per se, though you should aim to include the key phrase in the description because Google will highlight the search phrase in the SERP results. What you should do is create a description tag that explains to the user what the post is about and entices the user to click. If you can pique the user’s curiosity by ending the post with a question that is not answered … so much the better. This is bound to boost the click-through rate which is a positive ranking signal.
- Include the target keyword/search phrase in the page URL if possible – if you are using WordPress, it’s ideal that you include the target search phrase in the URL of the post/article. Whether to make this an exact match to the target keyphrase, or include additional words in the URL is a debatable subject. Some view it as a positive ranking signal, while some believe it is a negative ranking signal. What is not up for debate is that the keywords SHOULD be in the URL.
- Keyword density is (not) important – say what? Many years ago, keyword stuffing was a thing – use the same keyword over and over again and you’d rank for that keyword. Search engine spammers abused this technique so it eventually became a negative signal. Subsequently, recommendations became that you should use the keyword not more than 5% of the time, or ideally closer to 2% – in reality, there is no percentage which is set in stone, but going for a circa 0.5% to 1% density is good. The more you use a keyword, the more you start a trend towards trying to manipulate. Then again, you can use synonyms of the keywords you are targeting because this is what we do naturally. You should use synonyms of the keywords or keyphrases you are targeting in a way that makes sense.
- Use synonyms and LSI keywords of your target keyphrase – whilst keyword density is not important per se, making your topic clear by using natural language synonyms of your target keyphrase, and LSI keywords (i.e. keywords which are semantically equivalent or related to your keyword) is very important. By using your keyphrase, synonyms, and keywords related to your keyphrase, you’re making it very clear what your content is about.
- Write for users, not search engines – focus very much on readability. Above we’ve made a few suggestions that could potentially influence the readability of your articles of pages. If you see that to optimize the page for SEO, you’re creating unreadable content – stop. Focus on the users. Remember that search engines are happy if your users are happy. If your users bounce off the page due to readability issues, your ranking is going to suffer.
- Use plenty of related images – “An image is worth a thousand words” – besides explaining concepts and ideas in a succinct and clear manner, images are perfect for breaking up large chunks of text, thus actually improving readability. Use pictures appropriately. You should aim for one image every 200 words or so.
- Use the target search phrase in the name/description of the first image in your article – we’ve already discussed how you need to give crawlers clues about the content of your images. While using the exact target keyphrase over and over again will start to look like over-optimization and spamming, your first image should contain the primary key phrase you want to target, both as the name of the picture and in the alt description.
- Use the target search phrase or synonyms and related keywords in the description of images – Images should also be used to supplement what the topic of the article is about. Crawlers are unable to analyze the contents of an image, but they can parse both the name and the alt tag of any images. For pictures, you are using in the article, the image name, and alt tag should contain the target search phrase, or synonyms or related keywords the relate to your topic.
- Make sure you have correct grammar and spelling in your article – incorrect grammar makes for poor readability. They are also a signal that your content is not of the highest quality. Make sure you use a grammar and speller-checker on your content.
- Include engaging content such as a video, or interactive content – user engagement is another ranking signal, which indicates high-quality content. If your readers are active, clicking, commenting, and otherwise interacting with the content on your page – that means it’s a great read.
- Include YouTube or other videos where relevant – videos are a great way to supplement the text on your article and make it an excellent piece of content. It increases the engagement and the dwell time of visitors, both of which, are positive ranking signals.
- Include relevant outgoing links to additional content – outgoing links that complement your content are a high ranking signal, particularly if you are linking to a site or article which is an authority in the space/topic you are linking to. It shows search engines that you know what you are talking about and often hang around in the same neighborhood as the sites with authority on the topic.
- Include internal links to related content – internal links are a great way of keeping users engaged with your content – but this is not the only reason you should be using them. Internal links also pass ranking signals from your strong pages to weaker pages. They also help to boost topical relevance, i.e. show Google that you have several articles related to the topic you are currently discussing, show your site is an authority on the subject you are currently writing about.
- Encourage sharing to boost social signals – besides links, social sharing is one of the strongest signals your article can get. If somebody has found the article compelling enough to share it, there is a level of endorsement that is quite high and Google uses these as very positive signals towards your content. You should encourage your readers to share your content using a strong Call to Action (CTA) at the end of the content and where relevant.
- Encourage readers to comment – commenting on your articles is also another very high form of engagement, a comment means the visitor has liked the content enough to ask, comment, or discuss it with the author and with the rest of the community. This means this article is a great piece of content and this is another positive ranking signal.
Technical SEO checklist – fix any issues hurting your site’s rankings
- Verify your site on Google Search Console – one of the most important things to do if you are serious about SEO is to verify your site on the Google Search Console, this is Google letting you in on its secrets, so ensure you are listening to any recommendations you see in there.
- Fix any Google Search Console server errors – one of the things which hinder your SEO efforts is if your site is throwing out errors as Google is crawling your content. Having this happen is throwing off the crawler while it’s trying to index your site. You should monitor and fix these errors as soon as they are detected.
- Make sure that your site loads fast – we’ve mentioned time and time again how user experience is key to improved search engine rankings, and having an insanely fast website is one of those things you’ll need to have given a lot of importance too. You can use the Google PageSpeed site to fix the most pressing issues, then fix everything else slowly. As a reference point, your site should load in less than 3 seconds, ideally less than 1 second.
- Fetch and index your article – one you know that the indexing health of your site is excellent, it’s recommended that you ask Google to fetch your article as soon as you publish it. This makes sure the article goes into Google’s index as soon as possible, without having to wait for Google to take it’s time to fetch the articles – this is especially true if your site has a large number of pages.
- Ensure that Google can crawl your site – although most people take this for granted, it’s a good idea to make sure that the Google Search console is not flagging any issues, such as pages are blocked by robots, no-index directives, or possibly and 404 or 500 errors. Running a query site:yoursite.com will show you how many pages Google has indexed for your site.
- Make sure that Google sees your site as Mobile-friendly – we won’t delve into the benefits of a mobile-friendly site in this article, we assume you already know about all of the advantages of that. It’s important for SEO though that Google identifies your site as mobile-friendly, sometimes it may happen that your site is not recognized as mobile-friendly. Use the Google Mobile-Friendly test on your homepage and a few internal pages of your site to confirm your page is seen as fully mobile-friendly, in order not to incur a penalty for lack of mobile-friendliness.
- Find and fix broken links – broken links in your content reduce the quality of your content, because it means your content is not being kept updated and current. You should frequently crawl your site to make sure none of your links are broken.
Negative SEO Checklist
In our previous SEO list, we described all of those things which will influence your content positively. There are, however, things that can negatively affect your SEO. In the negative search engine optimization ranking factors checklist, we will list all of the things you should NOT be doing. Some of these are, strictly speaking, part of what you would consider an off-page SEO checklist, yet we want to be as comprehensive as possible with our article.
If you’re looking for a visual representation of the SEO ranking factors, you might want to have a look at the SEO periodic table of success factors.
In reality, we’ve already mentioned quite a few things which can lead to negative rankings, but we’ll list them here separately anyway.
- Make sure that site is not thin in content – if your content is shallow, thin, or lacks in substance, it’s going to be very hard to get it to rank.
- Create a unique meta description for each article – duplicate META content can bring down your page’s visibility.
- Do not create Ad-heavy content – if your articles have a lot of ad content, particularly above the fold; your content is bound to get penalized because ads can detract from the user experience.
- Site not responsive / mobile-friendly – this is old, but still very much valid. Google will penalize sites that are not mobile-friendly. Going forward, there will be even more focus on mobile-friendly, with the planned release of the mobile-first Google index. Sites will be ranked according to the mobile version of the site, rather than the desktop version.
- High user bounce rate from search engines – if a user clicks through to your site, skim through the content, bounce back to the search engine results and click through to the next result, this is a highly penalizing ranking signal. In essence, it means that your site’s content did not provide the answer they were looking for. That’s why we’ve suggested above creating comprehensive content that fully answers a user’s search intent.
- Difficult site usability – if your site is not easy to navigate and arrival to any required information is cryptic, users will get frustrated with your site and bounce away.
- Web site does not load fast – a site that does not load quickly is a bad user experience because the user has to wait before they can view the content. This will lead them to abandon the site and search for what they need on another site. Using cheap hosting for your site is not a good idea, we’d suggest going for a VPS hosting service as a minimum.
- Web site is not SSL secured – another fairly recent, but still, a negative ranking signal is if your site is not hosted using SSL. As of January 2016, Google marks sites not using HTTPs as “Not secure”. Make sure you’ve fully set up your site to be served over HTTPS/SSL.
- Keyword stuffing – this is a very old black-hat SEO technique, where keywords were used over and over again in a page to rank for specific keywords. Today, even using keywords at a density of 2% might be a bad idea. Using LSI keywords, or synonyms of your target keyphrase is better than using the same keyphrase over and over again.
- Keyword hiding – if you blend or try to hide keywords such that users can’t see them but crawlers can see them, is another old SEO technique that will get your article penalized.
- Long URLs – aim to keep your URLs short, ideally with your target keywords in them, longer URLs have a small negative ranking signal.
- Cloaking – if you are changing the content of the site based on whether the site is being viewed by users by search engines, your site is going to get very heavily penalized
- Site hacked/sending malware or SPAM – if you’ve neglected your website’s security and the site has been hacked and is sending out malware to visitors, rest assured that Google will notice and will show a warning on your site and probably significantly demote the site
- Buying links (Link Farming) – while good editorial links are perfect for your rankings, links from websites that are not related to yours or that have apparently been bought will demote your site. Google keeps making improvements to their algorithms to recognize and penalize bad links, so avoid them in the first place – they’re bound to catch up with you. Also, PBN’s – avoid them. Google recognized bad link neighborhoods and will penalize your site if you’re caught getting links from dodgy domains.
- Selling links/linking to bad neighborhoods – just link buying links is a penalizable offense in Google’s eyes, linking to bad neighborhoods or dodgy, spammy sites and niches may signal the selling of links and will get penalized.
- Link spamming or poor quality links – while this is somewhat different from link buying, it’s also a practice very much frowned upon. Posting links to your sites on blog comments, forums, and anywhere else you are allowed to post will come back to bite you in the form of a Penguin penalty, which will choke your site’s organic traffic and rankings.
- Over optimized anchor texts – the Penguin update also frowns upon over-optimization of anchor texts in your backlinks. You should aim for a natural distribution of exact keyphrase you’re trying to target and more natural anchors, such as links including your brand name, synonyms of your keyphrase, naked URL links, and other variations.
- Young domain – since spammers tend to create and dump domains, young domains are put in a sandbox (do not rank well even with great content), until they pass the “test of time” i.e. they stay around and keep creating quality content.
- Private Whois information – spammers typically use sites whose whois information is hidden. While this is not a bad thing in and of itself, if it’s coupled with a few more of the above negative ranking signals, it can become more of a negative ranking signal.
- Duplicate content on the site – duplicate META descriptions, duplicate <title> tags, duplicate sites, or various ways of viewing the same content are all ways of “confusing” the Google crawlers, penalizing the overall quality of your site.
- Too many outbound links – while outbound links are a good thing, too many outbound links tend towards spamming and start to become a negative, rather than a positive signal.
- Make sure the article has no broken links, server errors – broken links are a sign that a piece of content is neglected. Crawl your content often to ensure there are no outdated or broken links. Links that throw server errors are also a negative sign.
- Invalid HTML / CSS – this is another sign of lack of quality, make sure the site passes the w3c HTML and CSS validation tests.
Local SEO Checklist
If you’re doing local SEO, the checklist differs somewhat from generic SEO and you’ll need to cater to this. Besides including the name of the region you want to rank for, there are a few things you need to make sure you’ve done for your site + article to rank for local (location-based) searches. That’s why we’ve supplemented our list with a targeted checklist for local SEO.
- Ensure you have featured all your N(ame), A(ddress), P(hone) fields – Your site should have a “Contact Us” page which lists exactly the complete name, address, and phone number of each of your locations.
- Add a Google My Business listing – one of the strongest local SEO signals you can send to Google is if you add your site to the Google My Business listing. Google has gone on record saying that the proximity of your business listed on Google My Business to the actual physical location of the user performing a search for keywords associated with your business is one of the strongest ranking signals.
- Get (great) reviews on your Google My Business listing – as we’ve discussed over and over on this page, Google is relying more and more on strong user signals, and nothing can get any stronger than a positive review of your business.
- Get reviews on other locations – getting Google reviews is great, yet Google My Business is not the only local listing you should focus on. Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor, or any niche-specific sites should also be considered.
- Respond to negative reviews professionally – negative reviews may be the result of many things and all businesses, even the best ones are bound to get negative reviews. Reply to these reviews professionally, don’t blame the client, and be accountable for any deficiencies from your end. People would rather see honesty and accountability.
- NAP details should be consistent throughout the site – be careful of using the same details, including name anywhere these details are listed on the site. Of course, these should also match exactly with your Google My Business listing.
- Name address phone in the sitewide footer – if you have few physical locations, make sure you include these in the bottom, sitewide footer of the site. If you have specific pages about specific locations, in those pages, only list the NAP of that location.
- Add Schema Location Markup to your site – Schema Markup is a recognized to explain more clearly to search engines what (and where) your site is about. Once you’ve implemented the local Business Schema markup on your site, you’ll want to test this for correctness against Google’s schema markup testing tool.
- Make sure your telephone number is highly visible and linked – you should use the a href tel: syntax to make your phone number clickable. <a href=”tel:+356-2131-6770″>+356-2131-6770</a>. The result should look like this: +356-2131-6770
- All location pages linked to from menu – to give the location pages importance in terms of rankings, your location pages should be linked to directly from one of your main menus.
- Don’t forget about Bing Places – in our eagerness to rank on the most popular search engine; we sometimes tend to forget there are other popular search engines, including Bing, whose popularity is not to be underestimated. Claim you place on Bing Places – you don’t want to miss on the opportunity of traffic from Bing too.
Build local citations to your NAP
While having your actual NAP listed on your site is a great first step, having other local sites referencing (citing) your NAP is a much stronger signal for search engines. You’ll need to focus on creating local citations for your business, below, we’ve also included a local citations list, as part of the SEO checklist for your site/pages.
- Build specific citations for each physical location – you’ll want to cite every physical location you have, accurately as per the data listed on your website. Point each citation to its appropriate region/city landing page, rather than a generic page.
- Ensure the data you are using is correct – local citations tend to move through the local search ecosystem, and any mistakes are going to be a bit of a nightmare to resolve. While abbreviations such as street vs. st. are ok, the general data about your business should be correct and consistent.
- Use both generic citations and niche-specific citations – while generic citations on directories are a good starting point, you’ll also want to give plenty of importance to getting citations from niche-specific locations, such as ones related specifically to your location or industry.
Local SEO Content Checklist
When you are writing for local SEO, there also some things you need to be aware of.
- Mention location you are optimizing for – while writing a great piece of content around the keywords you want to rank for, mention the country state city, or regional names you are targeting, without keyword stuffing
- If you resell products, do not duplicate content – using product descriptions copied word for word from the manufacturer’s website will make it tough for your site to rank for those products locally
- Don’t publish thin pages just to rank for specific cities – trying to rank for many cities that you want to target by creating many similar content pages is a bad idea.
- Use local customer testimonials for local landing pages – while generic testimonials are great, you’ll want to make your local landing pages more effective by using testimonials from users who are in the regions you are targeting for local SEO.
- Feature local staff members – if you have different locations, to rank better for local keywords, you can feature the staff members of specific areas. While this is great for SEO, it is also great for user experience, people who search for your business will know who is going to serve them.
- Sponsor local events, communities, teams, or otherwise be physically active in your local community – by writing about these local sponsorships, you’re going to earn rankings, social signals, traffic, and recognition in the community, generating even more positive signals to your site
- Create local-specific tips around your product or service – once again, by being helpful with your content for the regions you want to target, you’re boosting your authority in the local scene for your particular niche.
- Interview local experts and write about them – once again, this is a great way of creating excellent, region-specific content which is perfect for ranking locally.
Download the SEO Checklist now
If you want a copy of this list of SEO tasks for safe-keeping, just click to download the SEO checklist now.
While we’ve been as comprehensive as we could in our SEO checklist, we’d be glad if you pitched in and gave us your feedback, or anything else which you think we’ve missed. In the meantime, why not download this checklist for safekeeping?
Additional SEO Tips
SEO has become a very different game from what it used to be a few years ago. It takes a lot of hard work, excellent content, and a very specific focus on user intent, i.e. providing a user with the content which they need for their current “search needs”.
Nevertheless, on-page search engine optimization still has its place. By looking at the Periodic Table of SEO success factors, we can see that there are a number of things which you definitely need to have covered, both from a positive (i.e. they enhance your SEO) and a negative (penalize your SEO efforts) aspect.
+ Titles: The HTML title tag of the pages of your content pages need to have keywords that are relevant to the topic which the page is aimed for.
+ Descriptions: The HTML Meta description tag needs to accurately describe what the page is about so that people who are searching for a specific topic can accurately deduce what the page is about. This is more from a User Experience point of view – but as we know – SEO is all about user intent today.
+ / – Headers and subheaders: The headings and sub-headings of the page (H1 and H2) need to use relevant keywords to the contents of the page however not to the extent that the text becomes unreadable due to there being so many keywords that the articles feel unnatural (keyword stuffing).
+ Structured data: Your content pages need to use structured data to enhance search listings with specific relevant metadata.
+ Speed: Your website needs to respond and load really really quickly. Slow sites affect the user’s experience negatively and they are a factor in search engine rankings
+ URLs: The address of your website should contain keywords that are relevant and meaningful to the topics on the page.
+ Social Sharing: If your content is getting shared on social networks, this sends good signals to search engines, because people are liking it.
+ Responsive: Your website should be friendly to use on all types of devices, from large desktops to phones and tablets.
+ Local SEO: The country and locality where your users are located are high ranking factors in the latest versions of Google’s algorithms, and you need to make sure you are optimized for local searches.
– Keyword stuffing: Even though you should be using keywords that are relevant to the topics you need, you need to make sure that these words are not used excessively. Concentrate on user intent for the particular page and use those terms and phrases which accurately describe what you want to achieve out of the page – search engines will able to deduce the topic very accurately.
– Hidden content: This is an old and outdated SEO tactic where you hide keywords at the bottom of the screen or write them in colors that don’t show up to the user but can be seen on the source page. Doing this will get your page penalized, so best to avoid it!
So let’s get down to it, and see what WordPress plugins you can use to enhance your SEO.
1. Do not discourage search engines from visiting your site
This functionality is available as a core feature in WordPress and is pretty obvious – but you never know, you might have left the setting on by mistake.
Visit WP-Admin > Settings > Reading > Search Engine Visibility and make sure “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” is switched OFF.
2. Enable Search Engine Friendly URLs
Also part of core WordPress, you can ensure that your URLs are search engine friendly by choosing the “Post name” as the address.
By using the post name as the URL, and ensuring that you are using specific keywords in the name of each post you write, you’ll be hitting the nail on the head in terms of search engine optimization for WordPress. You’ll also be avoiding the need of installing an extra plugin for SEF (search engine friendly URLs), since each plugin creates additional load on your site (making it slower and thus less attractive).
3. Yoast WordPress SEO plugin (Check it out)
If there is one plugin you need to install to dramatically enhance your WordPress SEO, it’s got to be the Yoast SEO plugin. From the above list, Yoast helps you to
- Create great titles and descriptions for each content page – by allowing you to specify either the title of the post or a different title and customize the meta description as necessary, you can ensure you can get the most WordPress SEO juice for the meta description and meta title.
- Ensures you have a correct header and subheader structure. If you do not use the keywords in both a heading and a subheading you will get a warning so that you fix this, allowing you to play by Google’s rules.
- Creates a sitemap.xml file automatically to ensure that your content is discoverable and helps you submit the Site Map to various webmaster tool pages, including Google, Bing, Alexa, Pinterest, and Yandex. It also pings the search engines to say that there is new content in the sitemap.xml to make sure the sites always have your most updated/recent content.
- Inserts structured data tags for open graph and creates social tags for better social sharing. It creates tags that are specific to Facebook, other networks that can understand OG data. You can change the images which are used for social sharing as necessary so that you make sure you are controlling the image which is shown when sharing content on social networks.
- Also ensures that you are using a correct ratio of content keywords that you are trying to rank for. It recommends you increase the keyword ratio if it’s too low, and advises you to remove some keywords if it detects keyword stuffing.
If you do all of the checklist actions defined by Yoast, you’re well on your way to perform full WordPress SEO onsite or page optimization, though there are few more things you might want to check out.
4. Make your WP fast with WP Rocket (Check it Out)
Making your WordPress website fast is beneficial both for the User Experience of your visitors and for search engine optimization purposes. One of the easiest ways to make your site fast is to cache your content, and the best WordPress plugin to make your site fast is WP Rocket. The amount of settings available in this plugin is too vast – we’d have to have a whole post all by itself just for this plugin, but do yourself and your WordPress site a favour, and make sure you have this plugin installed.
We’ll just give you a small sample of why this is an absolutely great plugin.
- Generates a faster local copy of your content to make sure you don’t have to stress the server each time somebody visits your site (this is especially useful for medium and highly trafficked sites or when you are expecting a surge in traffic).
- Minifies the content of your site making the overall size smaller thus making the site load faster.
- Suggests to the visitor browser to reuse content such as images and CSS files rather than downloading them again, thus ensuring that content which has not expired is reused, once again making the site faster to load.
- Allows you to interface with a CDN, which removes the load from your server and delivers content of your site from servers that are much closer to their physical location and thus makes the site overall much faster.
5. Sumo (Check it Out)
Sumo has a number of tools to increase your website’s traffic through various methods, but what we’re looking for here is the ability of giving Social share signals to search engines. By installing SumoMe and enabling the Share plugin, you can make sure that your users can tweet and share to their heart’s content, thus ensuring that the social love signals are being sent to Google and other search engines.
6. RB Internal Links (Check it Out)
Internal linking ensures that your content is discovered both by search engines and by users. By linking internally to other related content on your own site, you make sure that users are kept informed about various related topics, enhancing the overall user’s experience, meaning the user spends more time on your page – which is always a positive SEO signal.
7. SEO Friendly Images plugin (Check it Out)
Another important factor for SEO is the ALT and Title tags in images. The SEO Friendly Images plugin automatically allows you to define how your alt and title tags will appear, whether you want to use the title of the post, the name of the image, or a combination. When you insert images into a post not all WordPress plugins use ALT and TITLE text automatically. This is where using this plugin comes in handy since it easily sorts this issue out for you.
8. Local Search SEO Contact Page plugin (Check it Out)
Remember that if you want to rank locally for specific keywords, especially for specific types of locations based businesses, your site needs to be optimized for local SEO. Local Search SEO Contact Page displays search engine friendly microdata formatted business information. It also generates a QR code, Google map, geo-tag coordinates, and social media buttons to ensure your site is fully optimized for local searches.
9. Simple 301 Redirects (Check it Out)
Once you have achieved a really good result for a specific piece of content, you really want to make sure that you keep that ranking, even if you change the URL or address of that page. This is why you should use a 301 redirect if the URL changes so that you make the rank “flow” from the old URL to the new URL. However, creating redirects is not a trivial task, usually requiring meddling about with .htaccess files (don’t worry – we won’t be going there). Instead of going down the technical route, the Simple 301 Redirects WordPress plugin, which allows you to maintain your SEO rank, does what it says on the tin and allows you to set up 301 redirects from your old pages to your new pages, thus any incoming links will be seamlessly passed along, and their PageRank will be passed along with them.
10. Responsive WordPress Theme
Having a responsive WordPress website actually depends on the theme you have installed. Although this is not strictly speaking a plugin, it is also something that you probably will acquire externally. Besides taking a look at how pretty the theme looks, and whether it achieves the goals you want from your site, ensure that Google will qualify your website as “Mobile-friendly” and responsive. You can use this tool to ensure that the theme you have is “Mobile-friendly”.
By using the above essential plugins, you can rest assured that the factors which you are able to influence have all been taken care of for your WordPress site. Of course, the above is not enough for SEO, and your journey has probably only just started, but with these, in place, you can rest assured you’ve started the journey on the right foot!
What else do you do to make sure your pages are top-notch? Do you have your own SEO checklist that you follow, and what is missing from ours that you have in you?
Do let us know in the comments below!