How to Do On-Page SEO in WordPress – 14 Essential On-Page SEO Factors

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Written by Shakeel Anjum
Last updated on Oct 3, 2020

For website owners, it has always been very important that their website rank well and it attracts more audiences. Therefore, improving their site to increase its visibility for relevant searches, search engine optimization (SEO) should be constantly prioritized. This is extremely significant as the more visibility your pages have in search results, the more likely you are to garner attention and attract customers to your business.

As you sit back and continue reading this article pondering over the techniques for SEO let me take you a few years back. Back in the days, SEO was focused on off-page techniques such as link building and other technical elements. But nowadays off-page SEO alone won’t do much good if no attention is paid to the fundamentals i.e., on-page SEO.

Especially, when you talk about the WordPress community the competition is even tougher. Since it now powers 38% of the web so chances are for one particular niche there are several websites for it.

In this piece, you going to learn everything regarding on-page SEO in WordPress. Let’s start with the basics first!

What is On-Page SEO?

Instead of off-page SEO that primarily focuses on content creation and earning backlinks from other websites, on-page SEO techniques refer to optimizing parts of the website that are under the control of the user. Optimizing different parts of your website by various techniques will bring a positive outcome to your search engine rankings.

WordPress is an SEO friendly platform focusing on most of the basic SEO techniques itself, but still, that is not enough and you need to follow certain steps to enhance search engine optimization.

Let me now take you through the tips and tricks with which you can improve your WordPress on-page SEO without much difficulty.

1 WordPress SEO Plugin

Once you install WordPress, one of the early steps you need to follow is adding a suitable SEO plugin. Choosing the best SEO plugin is very essential. In this article, I’ll be talking about the Yoast SEO plugin for on-page SEO. Yoast is can be used to optimize the site and it helps attract more visitors to the site with the increased reader engagement. Even its free version would do the necessary job, but if you want more optimization then you can always get Yoast SEO Premium.

Yoast SEO plugin caters almost all the needs that ensure a good on-page SEO. It offers incredible SEO trackers and checks that notify you about the missing steps of on-page SEO. If your content is not SEO-ready it informs you about it. Likewise, it also indicates the Readability status of your content which is very encouraging for writers.

yoast seo tracker

The moment you configure the plugin menu for SEO the status for SEO changes. The basic options which you need to configure are:

  • Focus Keyphrase
  • Meta Description

There are other related options as well but if you fill these two out wisely you’ve achieved a decent on-page SEO.

yoast seo settings

The above image shows how you’ll make your web content SEO friendly. With these basic settings, the status for SEO changed from Not Available to Good. If by chance you aren’t able to get a good SEO status click on the SEO Analysis menu and you see a detailed set of recommendations that you can implement.

2 Choose an SEO-Friendly Theme

Many website themes out there are not SEO compatible and will do more harm than good. Avoiding themes filled with third-party plugins and content that you don’t need will slow your website down. Loading speed has a huge impact on SEO as web performance optimization improves with improving page loading time. A fast WordPress website earns better SEO (search engine ranking) and thus WordPress themes with beautiful layouts and heavy animations are usually not SEO-Friendly.

But if your website is bound to be image-heavy e.g., a photographer’s portfolio website then in that case make sure that your images are optimized in every possible way.

3 Putting Keywords in the Title Tag

Putting your targeted keywords in the title tag of each page or post is a consolidated step towards on-page SEO. Title tags are displayed on search engine results pages and are highly important for SEO. Moreover, title tags are the H1 headings and it holds most of the importance. So, at the time of indexing, Google prioritizes this H1 tag the most. So, what keyword it bears chances are it ranks quickly.

Title tags are a major factor in helping search engines understand what your page is about, and they are the first impression many people have of your page. Google usually displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag, hence you should try to fit your words within the limit.

4 Setting Up Permanent Links

Setting up a suitable permalink for your post is very important when it comes to on-page SEO. Permalinks/Permanent Links should give people a sense of what the page is about from the URL alone. It is always recommended to use your keywords in the URL for better search engine ranking.

Whenever you share your content anywhere, you share the permalink, so it is always better to set the permalink structure right after you set up your new WordPress site. Permalinks are set up for every piece individually. Adding custom permalinks portraying the crux of the article you published, is all you need if on-page SEO is important for you.

5 Putting Alt-Text for Images

Whenever you add media in your WordPress content, there is an option of adding an Alt-text to it. This is the most neglected feature as it seems to be quite harmless but this tiny little feature will not let search engines to garner people’s attention. The Alt-text is not for all people of the internet, but it is helpful to blind internet users. Many screen reader software uses the alt-text and helps people with viewing disability o understand the content of any media added in the post.

You may be pondering over the usage of alt-text with SEO. Well, inserting some relevant keywords as alt-text accurately describing the image will help search engines understand your page’s content and ultimately optimize your content. Also, make sure that your images are named appropriately. Try naming them as close to the target keyword.

6 Activating Breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs, a very usual name, but very beneficial when it comes to improving SEO. They enable users to navigate through the page/post. You can always enable breadcrumbs either by using Yoast or by any breadcrumb plugins. However, adding breadcrumbs with Yoast is convenient if you are already using that plugin for SEO purposes.

As far as on-page SEO is concerned, breadcrumbs help search engines understand the structure of your site while appearing in Google search results. They are very helpful for the users and carry immense importance when inviting more traffic to your post/page.

To add the breadcrumbs function in the Yoast plugin, you’ll need to toy around with your site theme’s code. So make sure you know how to edit the theme files. Also, before doing so try taking a backup just in case you lose your data or something goes wrong.

Just open your theme files and copy-paste the following code where you want to add the breadcrumbs.

<?php
if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
  yoast_breadcrumb( '<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>' );
}
?>

In my opinion, I’d recommend you adding breadcrumbs inside your single.php and/or page.php file just above the page’s title. In other cases, you can add these at the end of the header.php file.

7 Speeding Up Your WordPress Site

Sometime back, we published an article about how to speed up a WordPress website? In case, you’ve missed reading it, there I’ve discussed the perks of having a fast loading website and a good SEO ranking is one of these. A fast loading site welcomes high traffic spikes that generate both revenue and good SEO rankings.

8 Deploying AMP

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) is a fast site loading experience for mobile introduced by Google. It does so by compromising some of the site design. That’s kind of the downside of it but if your site can afford such an experience, then you can think about serving your mobile users through AMP.

AMP is capable enough to be used with both static and dynamic websites. However, other than design restrictions it offers some hardcore code requirements as well that requires site owners to validate their AMP-supported posts and pages regularly.

As far as SEO is concerned since AMP is a product by Google so it ranks AMP-served websites quite well. AMP has been around for quite some time but still in my opinion you should think twice before you serve your web pages through it. On the contrary, I’d recommend you to implement all other techniques of on-page SEO. If that does not help then, you should think about implementing this option.

To preview an AMP version of your WordPress website, there’s this official AMP plugin by Google. Try testing it out and decide best for yourself.

9 Checking your Site’s Visibility Settings

WordPress offers an option which when implements hide your website from search engines. I know that sounds pretty weird but it is there so that you can work on a live website before it goes open to the general audience. By default, this option is disabled but chances are that you might have enabled it in the past but have forgotten to uncheck it.

So, you must ensure that this option for site visibility is unchecked. For that, go to your WordPress dashboard and then Settings > Reading. Scroll down this page, where you’ll find a checkbox for Search engine visibility. Make sure that it is unchecked. Once you’re done do not forget to hit the Save Changes button otherwise all your effort will go in vain.

site visibility settings

10 Choosing between ‘www’ URLs

Do you know that you can choose how your WordPress site URL will look once it goes live? If you’ll start noticing then site URLs are generally displayed as in two modes i.e., https://www.site.com and https://site.com. Both these URLs are perceived differently by Google so for a good SEO practice, you need to figure out what type of site URL you are going to use.

For that go to Settings > General. Add your desired URL in both the WordPress Address and Site Address fields.

site urls

However, I like keeping both these URLs as the same and without appending www to my domain name. In my experience, I haven’t seen much of a difference by changing these URLs but it is totally up to you whether you want to do it or not.

11 Tightening Site Security

Google does not like those websites that are insecure and are vulnerable to security breaches. This is why it keeps blacklisting websites that are not fit for security measures. I am sure you would not want your WordPress site to share the same fate.

Site security is an important factor for not only protecting your data but for SEO as well. There are several security fixes that you can deploy to proof your website. That includes a viable option of WordPress plugins like iThemes Security and third-party management services like Sucuri.

12 Adding XML Sitemaps

A Sitemap is an XML file that keeps a list of all your site pages (e.g., Home, About, Blog, Contact, etc.) to tell search engines about the organization of your site content. Later, when your site is live this file helps search engine web crawlers like Googlebot to read through it and crawl your site intelligently.

However, a sitemap file does not play its part in improving your site rankings. Instead, it aids Google to find the site pages quickly and start ranking them without losing much of your time. This way you’ll manage to get your website indexed in a relatively shorter period.

With the Yoast SEO plugin, you enjoy a default functionality of a sitemap. It auto-creates this file for you and adds to your website. To preview your XML sitemap, just attach “/sitemap_index.xml” at the end of your site URL like this “https://site.com/sitemap_index.xml“.

13 Adding Excerpt

The excerpt is a brief introductory summary of what content. By writing a few lines you tell your readers what an article is all about. In WordPress, you find a default field where you can write excerpts for your featured content. This is again a good SEO practice as it helps in indexing and improving the outreach of your content.

Now with the new Gutenberg Editor, the section for Excerpt appears on the right side menu. Try to write unique excerpts and avoid copy-pasting material from your content. Also, they shouldn’t be too long. An ideal word limit is 50 to 100 words.

adding excerpt in wordpress

14 Correct Use of Categories and Tags

Categories and tags in WordPress help in structuring and organizing your content. While they help in sorting content, they are equally handly in improving your site’s SEO as well. But that will only work when you’ll learn to use them properly and understand the difference between them.

Categories organize your site content into groups and sub-groups whereas tags help to define the contents of your posts and pages in a targeted manner. With the right mix of categories and tags, you improve the browsing ability of both search engines and users.

Conclusion

All your efforts of setting up a WordPress website will go in vain if your content does not get featured and listed in the top searches of Google. Even if your website serves the simplest purpose of personal blogging, you would want the world to read through your content and acknowledge your work.

With the right mix of both on-page and off-page SEO, you can not only achieve better browser rankings but also good conversion rates and revenue. During the last couple of years, on-page SEO has proved its worth and feasibility such that even a beginner can get started with it quickly.

All the steps mentioned above, if followed can help you achieve good results. However, the least you could do is install the Yoast SEO plugin. That’s a complete SEO package and addresses most of your site’s SEO needs well.

What are your favorite steps to achieve on-page SEO in WordPress? Post in your feedback in the comments section below.

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Shakeel Anjum

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