Envision being the owner of a delightful bookstore cafe in Boston. If someone searches "bookstore cafe near " on Google, you desire your WordPress site to emerge at the top of the search results, correct? You can guarantee your company achieves this by implementing the most potent WordPress SEO strategies. 

wordpress seo: image exhibits a laptop and a microphone next to each other

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Attaining the top position on a search engine results page (SERP) is feasible if you invest time in optimizing your site. By investing in WordPress SEO and executing proven techniques, you can stand out from the competition and attract more traffic. 

What Exactly is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of boosting organic traffic to your website by enhancing your ranking and visibility on search engines like Google. Optimizing your content increases the chances of it appearing near the top of the SERP for your target keyword.

Now that you have a grasp of what SEO entails, let's delve into why it is vital for your business.

Why is Emphasizing WordPress SEO so Critical? 

One essential point to note: The significance of search engine optimization extends beyond WordPress websites. Irrespective of where or how you create your site, investing in SEO will certainly be worthwhile. Your WordPress site is no exception. 

Optimizing your WordPress website and content enhances your chances of reaching people actively seeking information about services and products related to yours. Since this is an organic process, you do not have to pay Google or any other search engine to feature your content at the top of the results page.

Creating organic content that ranks on Google is also advantageous because your website and information are more likely to be perceived as reliable and trustworthy by visitors (as opposed to a paid advertisement at the top of the SERP). All business website owners should improve their SEO as it is a simple and effective way to increase traffic, visibility, leads, conversions, and more.

A Comprehensive Guide to WordPress SEO: 13 Best Practices 

Ready to dive into a dozen WordPress SEO best practices you can implement to bolster your website, boost organic traffic, and enhance your brand's authority on search engines? Here's what you need to know to get started. 

1. Verify Your WordPress Visibility Settings

Rule #1 in learning how to optimize SEO on WordPress: Ensure that you have everything in order. By double-checking that your visibility settings in WordPress are properly configured, you are doing yourself an enormous favor. The software offers a setting that allows you to hide your site from search engines. This can be useful when constructing or revamping your site to prevent visitors from seeing your work in progress.

You can access this feature in your WordPress dashboard under "Settings."

wordpress seo: image exhibits the button where you can choose to discourage search engines from indexing your site.

Make sure you did not inadvertently activate this feature or left it on after completing your website. Turning it on means that, regardless of your SEO efforts, your site will not rank well. 

2. Revamp Your Permalinks

A permalink is a permanent URL or link to a specific post, page, or blog on your website. Permalinks clearly indicate what your post, page, or blog is about (in the URL itself) so that visitors know what they will find. However, permalinks serve an additional purpose, which is assisting SEO efforts. 

You should modify your permalinks not only to enhance user experience but also for SEO improvement. Search engines scrutinize permalinks to discern whether your website provides answers to specific search queries. Having lengthy or irrelevant permalinks could negatively impact your optimization efforts. 

For instance, for your bookshop cafe, if you had a page dedicated to the best-selling books of 2023, your permalink might appear as follows: www.mysite.com/top-selling-books-2023.

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To update your permalinks and include an accurate content description, navigate to your WordPress dashboard, click "Settings," and then "Permalinks." 

3. Utilize Tags and Categories

Tags and categories help categorize your website's pages and blog posts into specific and broad groups, respectively. This optimization technique enhances SEO by enabling search engines to comprehend your website's structure and content. 

An added benefit is that many WordPress SEO fixes also improve user experience. Tags and categories enhance user experience by allowing visitors to easily find the content they are looking for and facilitating content management for website owners.


Tags act as keywords that describe what a particular page or post is about. For instance, considering your bookshop cafe's website, tags on a specific page may include "books," "beverages," and "food." 

To add a new tag or view existing tags, go to your WordPress dashboard and click "Posts" and then "Tags." 

wordpress seo: image exhibits tag page on the WordPress site

You can view existing tags or "Add New Tag" from this page. Check out this list of tips for more information on tags.


Categories serve as broader groupings for your posts and pages. In the context of the bookshop cafe, your categories may include "cafe" and "bookshop." 

To create a category, go to your WordPress "Settings" and click "Writing." You will find your current categories displayed, along with an "Add New Category" button.

wordpress seo: image demonstrates how to add a new category to the website

Refer to this page for details on other methods of creating categories.

4. Select an SEO Plugin

We hold WordPress plugins in high regard for numerous reasons. Firstly, they enhance your site's functionality by providing features that are not native to the software. They are also beginner-friendly for those just beginning to learn how to optimize SEO on WordPress. There is a wide selection of plugins available, many of which can aid in enhancing your WordPress SEO. If you are unsure which plugin to use for your site, browse the WordPress plugin library to find options that suit your needs.

SEO plugins offer features such as XML sitemap creation, tag and category implementation, title and content optimization using key phrases and keywords, control over site breadcrumbs, and support for Google Analytics. Popular options include Yoast SEO, All In One SEO Pack, and SmartCrawl Pro

wordpress seo: image showcases WordPress plugin directory for SEO

Download and install your preferred WordPress plugin to start improving your SEO right away.

5. Implement XML Sitemaps

An XML sitemap is a code file on your web server that includes every page of your website. XML sitemaps assist search engines in finding, evaluating, and ranking the content on your site.

If you lack extensive coding knowledge and wish to create your XML sitemap easily, consider adding a plugin to your site like Yoast SEO or one specifically for generating sitemaps like Google XML Sitemaps that automatically generates sitemaps for you.

wordpress seo: image features WordPress plugin directory for XML sitemap.

For further details on why WordPress recommends using a sitemap, refer to this page.

6. Internally Link Your Site

To enhance your SEO, you must increase your website's authority. One of the primary ways search engines determine your site authority is through internal linking, which involves linking to your pages, posts, blogs, and other content within your site.

To link to other content, highlight the words on your page that you want to link, click the link button in the WordPress toolbar, and paste the URL you want to link to. This will underline your linked words and include the URL you want visitors to be redirected to.

wordpress seo: image demonstrates adding a link using WordPress' native builder

For more methods of internally linking your WordPress website, visit this page.

7. Optimize Your Images

You can optimize various elements of your WordPress website, including your images. To optimize images, utilize Image-Alt-Text. Search engines read Image-Alt-Text, which describes your images, to rank your site and determine whether your images contain the information users are searching for.

If you need assistance with adding Image-Alt-Text to pictures, consider helpful plugins like SEO Optimized Images. Ensure that your existing plugins enable you to add Image-Alt-Text by reviewing their features.

When adding Image-Alt-Text, if your description consists of multiple words, use dashes to separate them. This indicates to search engines that you are utilizing multiple distinct words.

For example, when describing a picture of HubSpot's WordPress Contact Form Builder plugin, your Image-Alt-Text should appear as "WordPress-Contact-Form-Builder," not "WordPressContactFormBuilder" or "WordPress_Contact_Form_Builder." Utilizing dashes enables WordPress to interpret your description as multiple words.

There is another crucial point to consider about image alt text. It is highly essential for website accessibility purposes. Moreover, it can have a positive impact on SEO.

When writing alt text for images, include the keyword that the page targets whenever possible. Remember, alt text should accurately describe what is depicted for the benefit of those with disabilities who use your website.  

8. Utilize SSL

SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, is a standard security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a server and a browser. SSL ensures that information exchanged between your website and visitors remains secure.

For example, when someone completes your order form and provides their credit card information, SSL prevents hackers from intercepting the information. 

SSL improves SEO since search engines like Google prioritize "secure and encrypted" connections when assessing websites for ranking. If two identical sites exist, with one having SSL and the other lacking it, Google will be more inclined to rank the site with SSL higher.

If you have a WordPress.com account, SSL is automatically added to your site, so no additional action is required. If you have a different type of account, such as a WordPress.org site where you are responsible for your site's security, you can install an SSL plugin like Real Simple SSL.

wordpress seo: image depicts SSL plugins in the WordPress plugin directory

Refer to this page for further details on WordPress SSL.

9. Employ Nofollow for External Links

When you link internally to pages on your site, you enhance your own authority. Likewise, when you link externally to your sources or other content that you believe your visitors should read or experience, you contribute to their authority, giving those websites "link juice." External linking benefits your SEO and improves the SEO of the pages you mention on your website. 

Enter: Nofollow external links.

These links serve multiple purposes. They prevent content spam on your WordPress website and also prevent search engines from following those URLs to the sites you link to on your website. Consequently, your WordPress website's ranking improves. 

You can manually add a Nofollow link to your WordPress site or simply include "nofollow" in the "Link Relationship" field when adding a hyperlink to your keywords or phrases.

wordpress seo: image demonstrates how to add the 'nofollow' attribute to links

You can find several Nofollow plugins in the WordPress plugin library.

10. Manage Your Website's Security

As mentioned in the discussion on SSL certificates, search engines favor secure websites. Consequently, the more secure your website, the higher your site authority and ranking.

Depending on your WordPress plan, you might have security features included. If you need assistance, consider adding a plugin to enhance your site's protection, such as Wordfence Security orThemes Security.

wordpress seo: security plugins in the WordPress plugin directory.

11. Optimize Your Comments

Comments on your posts are an excellent way to increase engagement on your website. Increased engagement typically leads to more traffic, link sharing, and interaction, resulting in improved SEO. However, spam comments could harm your SEO and ranking. It is crucial to ensure that you only receive comments from real people.

WordPress plugins like All In One WordPress Security & Firewall and Spam Protection, Anti Spam, Firewall by CleanTalk block comments containing spam and prevent other forms of spam, such as faulty form submissions, subscriptions, and orders. Many of these plugins also feature functionality to block known spammers entirely, ensuring they cannot return to your site. 

wordpress seo: image shows how to find a plugin to reduce comment spam in the WordPress plugin directory

12. Choose Between WWW or non-WWW

Websites can be accessed using two primary URL formats: with "www" at the beginning (e.g., www.mysite.com) or without "www" (e.g., mysite.com).

Search engines consider these two URLs or official domain names as separate websites. It is, thus, crucial to choose one option and stick with it. There is no right or wrong choice, and your decision does not affect SEO — it is purely a matter of preference.

Once you have made your decision, stick to it to enhance your site's SEO. Link to your official domain name internally and externally on social media and email. Consistency in linking to your domain and frequent referencing increase the likelihood of search engines granting you more authority, thus improving your chances of ranking. Consistency also simplifies matters for your visitors, creating a win-win situation. 

To select an option, go to your WordPress dashboard, click "Settings," and under "General Settings," you will find the URL form fields.

wordpress seo: image shows where in settings you can update your site address

13. Opt for a Fast Theme 

Page speed is a vital factor in improving your WordPress SEO. Page load time significantly impacts user experience on your site — review the statistics that prove its importance. Search engines also consider speed when evaluating website ranking. To achieve the best results, use WordPress themes optimized for SEO or reputed for their speediness. 

You can utilize a page speed tester like Google PageSpeed Insights to determine your site's speed. It will provide suggestions on how to enhance your site's speed. If you have exhausted all possibilities and your site remains slow, ensure that your theme is not causing the issue. 

If you need assistance selecting a fast WordPress theme, here are some of our top recommendations. 

WordPress seo: image displays the Google PageSpeed Insights tool

Start Enhancing Your WordPress SEO Today. 

Anyone can improve their WordPress SEO. By implementing some or all of the straightforward tips from this guide, you can enhance the authority and ranking of your website on all search engines. Achieving this will result in increased website visitors, leads, and conversions.

Editor's note: This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.