WordPress SEO checklist: Everything you need to know in 2021

Hi i am Praneeth kumar guru.

In this blog i will share with you 24 top and best wordpress SEO tips and strategies as a checklist you should be using,

right from the start on your wordpress website in order to improve and increase the search rankings and drive more traffic to your website.

So without any delay let’s dive right in.

Here is a 30000 foot view of the blog post.

A complete wordpress seo checklist:

Here is a list of a complete seo checklist that you can implement with your wordpress website immediately and Boost Your SEO efforts fast.

So let’s dive right in.

1. Get reliable hosting.

You should choose a fast and reliable web hosting service for your website.

Your web hosting will determine how fast your website loads on users’ browsers.

WordPress recommends a couple of hosting services like Bluehost, siteground, etc.

I would personally recommend you to purchase bluehost hosting for your website, they are fast and secure.

Get started with using bluehost hosting with 65% off on their hosting plans with free domain name and ssl certificate and unlimited storage with this link.

You can also read my bluehost review here.

2. www or non www.

General-Settings-‹-Entrepreneurshipera-—-WordPress

Whether you choose a www or non www version for your domain name like this,

https://domain.com or https://www.domain.com

It does not affect your SEO performance so you should select and redirect all domains to the main version for your website ( choose non www version ) in the settings and General section of your WP dashboard.

3. Setup Permalinks.

Permalink-Settings-‹-Entrepreneurshipera-—-WordPress

You should properly optimise your blog post permalink as soon as you install the wordpress on your hosting account as shown in the image above.

According to backlinko study, shorter URLs tend to rank higher than longer URLs not because Google treats the shorter urls page is better but because it is easy to understand what the webpage is all about for users.

You can easily change the permalink structure in WordPress by clicking on settings and then click on permalinks and select any one of the permalink structure that

you like as soon as you install wordpress on your host but don’t do it after you publish a bunch of blog posts on your website because it will create a lot of mess and broken links on your website which is not a good practice.

If you want to change your permalink structure on a professional website with lots of blog posts then

you should probably hire a wordpress developer and setup proper redirections so that all of the old permalinks and URLs of your site will get redirected to new one without causing any damage to the the backlinks created and creating any broken links or anything like that.

4. Create categories, tags and menu.

After you publish a bunch of blog posts on your wordpress website, create a couple of categories, tags where you can separate and divide all the blog posts in different sections.

And include those categories in the menu section of your website.

By dividing your blog posts in different categories, tags and making the category appear in the menu section is just a good experience for users to find information and helps with simplifying the website structure and navigation.

5. Check the Visibility of your website.

Reading-Settings-‹-Entrepreneurshipera-—-WordPress

When you install wordpress on your hosting account and start working on your wordpress website, you might not want search engines to crawl and index your website because your website is completely brand new and

not completely ready for people to visit your site because of no content or no good web design.

In such a case you might use this feature in WordPress which is to tell search engines not to crawl and index your website, you can do this by visiting the settings and reading section of the wordpress and click on the discourage search engine visibility and save changes.

But if you forget to uncheck this option then search engines like Google bots cannot crawl and index your website and eventually you will not get traffic to your website from google.

6. Setup Search Console and Google analytics.

After you get your wordpress website live and running, create and connect your website with Google Analytics and Google search console tools.

These two are free and amazing tools that Google offers for all the webmasters and bloggers so that they can optimise their blog posts or website and rank higher in search engines.

Let’s talk about these two tools and why you should use them as soon as you get your wordpress website running,

By using Google search console you will be able to find and analyse how your website is performing in search engines mainly Google like you will have data regarding the Impressions and clicks of your website in Google.

You will also have data regarding all the technical issues your website has and how you can improve them so that you can improve the search rankings and drive more traffic to your website at the end.

Read google search console complete review here.

Whereas, Google Analytics will give you different data and metrics regarding how users are engaging with your website and behaviour and other important user engagement metrics like dwell time and bounce rate on your website.

You will also have a clear Idea and picture on how your audience is visiting your website, their device, location and time.

All those metrics will help you optimise your blog post and website accordingly.

7. Get the right Theme.

A theme of a website is basically the layout and design of a website on the Internet and selecting the right theme for your website is very important because it will play a huge role in loading the website because

it will add files to your website size which will increase the loading speed of a website and it will help you create a good design and structure which is important for users when visit and navigate through your website.

There are thousands of free and paid themes you can use in WordPress but Make sure whatever the theme that you download and use on your website is mobile friendly and it is optimised for SEO and speed.

You can read this ultimate list of Amazing blog themes for your wordpress website.

8. Focus on Speed and performance.

Loading speed and performance is the most important factor when it comes to ranking a website in Google, and the fact is that wordpress is not the fastest CMS by default even if it is the largest one.

So you need to optimise your blog posts and wordpress websites and improve the speed and performance consciously and consistently.

There are lots of different things which you can do to improve the speed and performance of your wordpress websites and some of the most popular things are,

  • Use a good web hosting company which has good uptime and loading speed
  • Use the latest PHP version of your wordpress website.
  • Reduce the number of plugins you use on your wordpress website.
  • Use a better, simple and lightweight wordpress theme which is optimised for Speed and SEO like Divi.
  • Use a caching plugin like w3 total cache.
  • Improve the speed of your website by minifying the HTML, JavaScript and CSS using plugins like wp-rocket.
  • Use a content delivery network.

You can test your website in website speed checkers like Google page speed insights, pingdom and GTmetrix and optimise your blog posts and website depending upon the recommendations that you get from the tools.

 the fact is that, The bounce rate of the website increases by 32% if the page load time is between 1 to 3 seconds and more bounce rate means less traffic and less conversions.

9. Security should not be ignored.

Website security particularly is also an important aspect of maintaining a wordpress website because

even though wordpress is the largest content management system it is also one of the biggest softwares which is highly vulnerable to getting hacked as by many studies.

And in core algorithm update of may 2021 called core web vitals in Google, Https and website security like malware free website aka safe browsing is included as an important ranking factor because it hurts the User experience on the website.

There are a few important things you need to do on how to make your wordpress website secure and also rank higher in search engines.

  • Get an SSL certificate for your website and redirect all the non SSL urls to your SSL URL.
  • Always take backups of your website all the time using WP plugins like updraftplus even if the web hosting company takes it on their part.
  • Use two factor authentication to safeguard your wordpress account.
  • Be careful regarding what type of plugins you install on your website, only install the plugins which have lots of ratings and it is recently updated by a well known author and developer.
  • Choose a good web hosting company and consider using a wordpress security plugin like a Wordfence for additional security.

Ofcourse this tips are not that detailed, you can consider reading my guide to wordpress security here where i explain how to secure your wordpress website from hackers and malware and never get your website hacked again.

Your website security will impact search engine rankings directly because it causes bad UX mainly after the 2021 core web vitals update.

10. Install plugins.

A plugin is basically a line of code that you can install and it will get attached to your website core code.

Plugins will add different functionalities to your website.

There are over 50000 plugins on wordpress but only a few thousand are useful.

I would recommend you to install seo plugin called rankmath as it is the best seo plugin for wordpress websites.

You can also consider yoast as a better alternative.

There are other plugins you can read my guides and install on your website.

Now lets see the next important thing.

11. Do Keyword research.

Keyword research is a process of finding keywords and phrases the people use to search for in Google.

You can read my guides on keyword research below since it is a vast topic.

12. SEO content.

After you do the keyword research you need to write content for your blog and I have written a detailed guide on how you can write a blog post from start to finish for beginners you can check it out here.

You can also read this amazing list of content writing tools which can help you write amazing blog post

13. Set a Proper structure of headings.

While you are writing blog posts in WordPress you should properly use the different heading tags in WordPress like from h2-h6 tags.

You should use these tags in different areas of your blogs to divide your blog post in many  chunks so that it is easily readable and skimmable for The reader.

As much as possible only use the H1 tag as the title of your blog posts and use the other remaining htags to add sub headings and Micro sub heading for your blog posts.

This creates a good User experience for people who are reading your blogs and

it can directly impact your search engine rankings because of good User experience because people will stay on your website and read your blog posts which increases the dwell time of your blog.

14. Optimize images.

Images are a crucial part of blogging and SEO because they make your blog post attractive and user-friendly.

But when you are uploading images on your website you also need to optimise your images not just for users by selecting the right images but you should also optimise it for search engines and your website performance.

Image size and format will impact a huge percentage in website loading speed and performance.

So, whenever you are uploading images on your wordpress website always make sure that you are properly compressing and

decreasing the size of the images before you publish them on your website and always try to use JPG or webp image format instead of PNG in order to improve the speed.

You can install smush wordpress plugin to do images compression automatically.

Apart from that you should also add alt text to your images in WordPress.

You should add alternative text (alt tag) along with the title tag to your images in WordPress because it lets Google know what the images are all about so that Google can understand them better.

Another benefit of adding alt tags to images is, if visually impaired audience visit your blogs and use screen readers to read your blog posts then these screen readers will describe the images on your blog by analysing the alt tags.

15. Internal linking is a must. 

Whenever you are writing blog posts on WordPress, focus a lot on interlinking different blog posts on your website.

There are three main benefits of Interlinking your blog posts on your wordpress website,

  • By focusing on internal links on your website you can increase the time users spend on your website. This can help you to get more conversions for your business.
  • By focusing on internal links in your blog posts you are able to pass the link juice and authority to different pages on your website and also improve the rankings of those pages in search engines.
  • By focusing on internal linking on your blog post you improve the site structure and get all of your pages indexed in Google faster.

You can increase the page views to your blog posts quite a lot by focusing on internal links.

16. Optimize for featured snippets.

Whenever you are writing a blog post, always try to optimise the blog post as much as possible for ranking in featured snippets.

Ever since Google released featured snippets update in its search engine algorithm, there has been a constant decline in the amount of search traffic that goes to websites and blog posts that rank in top positions of search result in Google because

users can find the information right on the search result page and if you don’t properly optimise your blog posts for that snippets, rank in snippets and grab more attention and space in the search results then

even if you rank in top 5 positions of Google you won’t get a lot of traffic from it because your result will not be highly visible for readers to click.

In order to optimise your blog posts for snippets all you need to do is to first of all search for the primary keyword that

you want to rank for in Google and observe what kind of snippet is Google showing for that particular query and replicate the same thing on your blog post and wait until you see the results.

There are different types of featured snippets that rank in Google and some of the most popular ones are,

  • Bullet points or numbered lists.
  • Tables.
  • Paragraphs.

Consider using these in your blog post so that you can increase the chances of getting your blog ranked in snippets for that particular query.

17. Optimize title and meta description for CTR.

Whenever you are writing a title and meta description for your blog post always make sure that you not just optimise for SEO but also optimise for click through rate.

You should not just include the target keyword of your blog post in the title and meta description and say you are done.

By properly optimising the title and meta description for CTR you can increase the chances of getting more clicks and traffic to your webpage compared to other pages in Google search rankings,

and when more people click on your result over others Google will Boost Your rankings in search results because your website gets more user engagement at the end.

In order to optimise your title tag and meta description for click through rate, you can do a lot of things like,

  • You can include a number in the title tag and meta description to evoke the curiosity in the reader’s mind.
  • You can include emotional words like amazing, discover, secret in your titles and meta description to increase CTR.

But make sure that title is not more than 60 characters and meta description is not more than 160 characters in length if not it will not completely showup in google search results.

You can use tools like emv headline analyser to check the effectiveness of the title tags.

While you are improving the titles and meta description, don’t make it clickbaity,

this will hurt the User experience on your website and it can also cause decreased rankings in Google in future and it will make your website less credible over all.

18. Consider using schema markup.

First of all for those of you who do not know what schema markup is, 

Schema markup or structured data is a way to let Google understand the content of a page better.

For example if you search for any keyword like bluehost review then you must have seen star ratings in the search results pages, all those pages have used review schema.

bluehost-review-Google-Search

This is an example of schema.

Now let’s see what’s in it for you.

According to Ahrefs study, only ~12.29% of search queries have featured snippets in their search results.

So, If there is no featured snippet ranking in the SERP’s of Google for your desired keyword then you should consider using schema markup for your blog post.

There are three main benefits of using schema markup.

  • By using schema markup, Google can understand your content better and learn about your business.
  • By using schema markup you can increase the CTR in search results over other pages in search results because it grabs the attention of users and takes more SERP space in the search results.
  • It can also sometimes increase the ranking of your pages in search results.

As I have said earlier if you install rank math SEO plugin on your wordpress website then it offers lots of Schema markup options like job posting, FAQ and review schema for absolutely free of cost if not

you will have to install scheme plugin on your WordPress site separately and add schema markup for your desired post.

If you properly implement schema markup on your blog posts then it can drastically improve the click through rate of your blog post in search results.

19. Promote blogs.

After you properly optimise your blog and publish it on your website it’s time to promote your blog on social media and with your email list.

You can get my ultimate guide on how you can promote your blog and get traffic to your website faster and also Boost Your rankings in Google.

20. Build links.

Now you have to think of building some backlinks to your website. 

Basically backlinks are hyperlinks that point to your website from other websites on the internet, every time other website links to your website it shows Google that

your blog post or website is really good, links are like votes, more links from more different websites means more votes and more chances of ranking high on Google.

There are various strategies you can use to build backlinks like,

  • Guest posting.
  • Broken link building.
  • Guestographics.
  • Resource page link building.
  • Link roundups.

Now lets see the next thing and you can also read my complete link building tools.

21. Check broken links and redirects.

Basically broken links are links to pages that do not exist anymore and show a 404 error when clicked on that link.

Having a lot of Broken links on your website can cause bad User experience so you should always check and remove broken links on your website and

you can use tools like broken link checker plugin to identify and remove broken links on your website and

if you have lot of internal broken links then you can use plugins like 301 redirect to redirect all the broken links on your website to relevant pages.

22. Fix cannibalization issues.

Keyword cannibalization is an important SEO mistake that you should avoid because it is about targeting similar keywords in multiple blog posts having the same content.

It creates duplicate content issues and hurts your rankings in Google.

You can read this guide to learn more about keyword cannibalisation and how to fix it in detail.

23. Optimise your blog comments.

The comments to your blog post on your wordpress website play a huge role in rankings of your blogs because all the user generated content on your blog like comments will

give you a indirect impact like as the user is getting engaged with that webpage and this creates an impression that your webpage is good and engaging and it indirectly helps you to rank higher in search engines.

But it is not always the same thing that happens on every website.

If you allow people to comment on your blog posts then you should also make sure that you properly moderate and remove all the spam comments on your blog post like

there are lots of people who try to get backlinks to their websites by commenting on your blog posts in the comments and if you don’t properly moderate and delete this on your blogs then it can hurt the User experience on your site.

You can use a popular wordpress plugin called akismet in order to remove all the spam comments on your website.

make sure to reply to all the people who comment in your blogs, this will build loyalty and engagement of users on your blog.

On the other hand if your blog attracts lots of comments which are very genuine in nature then you can split those comments in multiple pages to reduce the page size.

This is the complete seo checklist you need if you have a wordpress website.

with that said lets conclude the blog post.

Ending remarks.

There you go this is the most comprehensive guide and wordpress seo checklist you can find on the internet.

Do comment down your thoughts on this checklist.

Share the blog post if you have found it helpful.

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I will catch you next time till then keep learning and keep growing.