How to Own Your WordPress Site and Get High Rankings in Search Engines
WordPress sites are the backbone of the internet. There are around 455 million WordPress websites and blogs, including some of the most popular sites in the world. That’s a lot of sites with WordPress at their heart!
But there’s more to it than that: for many people, having a website built on WordPress is an important part of their business or personal brand identity. So even if you’re not building a site from scratch, it’s always good to optimize your SEO by choosing the right settings and plugins.
The Power of WordPress for SEO
In 2021, WordPress powered 39.5% of all websites, up from 35% in 2020. WordPress has a 64.1% market share when only sites that employ a content management system (CMS) are counted. However, a sizable proportion of websites (38.3%) do not utilize any content management system at all.
WordPress is a great platform for SEO because it gives you so much flexibility regarding content marketing and link building. For example, you can create killer blog posts that attract links from other websites, which are essential for improving your search rankings on Google.
Your WordPress Site Settings
Several key settings affect the functionality and performance of your WordPress site. These can be accessed via the admin area, which is located at [yourdomain]/wp-admin.
Once you’re logged in, you’ll see a series of tabs on the left side of your screen:
- Appearance (sometimes called “Customize”)
General Site Settings
The General Settings page is the first page you’ll see when you log into your WordPress dashboard. This page has a ton of useful settings that will help you get started with your site, but there are some key things you need to be aware of:
- Site Title: Your site name
- Site Tagline: Your site description
- Site Address (URL): Your domain name (e.g., www.examplewebsite.com)
- Homepage URL: The URL of your homepage if it’s different than your blog’s address
- Admin Color Scheme: Choose a color scheme for the admin dashboard
Permalinks and Links
Permalinks are the URLs that your visitors see when they visit your site. They’re often the first thing a visitor sees, so if you can’t get them right, it’s unlikely that anyone will stick around long enough to click through to the content on your site.
Permalinks should be easy to read and remember. If you have a long, complicated URL that isn’t easily remembered, your visitors won’t want to type it into their browser.
Permalinks should be human-readable. In other words, try not to use any characters or symbols that don’t exist in standard English text.
Permalinks should be short and sweet. There’s no need for an overly lengthy URL. Just keep things simple. If possible, use underscores rather than dashes so they look cleaner when displayed within search engines like Google and Bing. But if this is not possible due to technical constraints, then stick with dashes instead of underscores since those tend not to be indexed.
With the uptick in tech-driven immigration from large cities to smaller towns since the start of the pandemic, Charleston, SC, is quickly becoming a hotspot for cutting-edge SEO companies. Dedicated SEO businesses often provide “technical SEO” services that examine your website’s performance. This covers page load speed, broken links, 404 pages, poisonous inbound links, spam, and other issues.
Any established SEO company in Charleston, SC, will tell you visibility is one of the most crucial pillars of online success. Make sure your site is visible to search engines. If you’re not using WordPress, there are other ways to ensure your site is visible to search engines, but this section will focus on the WordPress platform.
It is already visible if you have an “index” option in the settings panel. If not, go to the settings panel and click “Permalinks.” You will see an option for “pretty permalinks” or “ugly permalinks.” Choose pretty permalinks because they work better with search engines than with ugly ones.
Then, make sure that your title tag includes keywords relevant to your site’s content and that it does not exceed 65 characters (including spaces). Also, ensure that your meta description tag includes keywords relevant to your site’s content and does not exceed 155 characters (including spaces).
It would help if you made sure that the file sizes of images are small so that they don’t slow down the load time of your website. Also, make sure your site is optimized for mobile devices. The mobile-friendly label will provide instant insight into how well a webpage performs on mobile devices.
According to the WHO, more than one billion people live with a disability. Unfortunately, people with disabilities that make it difficult to read text on the computer, use a mouse, or listen to a video are effectively excluded from most internet activities.
Ensure that your site is accessible to all users. Accessibility testing tools can help you identify areas on a page where issues are occurring so they can be corrected before publishing content online.
Comments are a great way to get feedback from readers. When you ask for readers’ opinions, they’ll often respond with valuable insights that can help you improve your content and make it more relevant to their needs.
Comments also help you identify spam. For example, if someone leaves a comment with links to sites that aren’t related to yours, or if the commenter has no profile picture or other information about themselves (except for links), it’s likely spam. You’ll probably want to delete the comment immediately, so it doesn’t affect your overall reputation as an author on WordPress.
Media Library and Uploads
A Media library is a database of all the media files on your site. It includes images, videos, and audio files.
If you are using WordPress, then it’s likely that you have a media library; if not, then it is easy to set one up for yourself. Setting up a media library will be critical to your SEO strategy because when Google crawls through your website, it looks at these files. In addition, it looks at their titles and descriptions when determining how relevant they are to search queries typed into Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs).
The importance of keeping this section organized cannot be stressed enough. If you have hundreds of images uploaded and scattered around various pages across multiple categories, then there is no doubt that Google won’t be able to make sense of them.
This makes it harder for Googlebot’s algorithm to crawl through all those images since there’s no way for it to know which ones belong where unless they’re properly organized first by the date posted on each page.
Keep this area clean by removing unnecessary content whenever possible while separating different types.
Multisite Network Settings
Multisite networks are great for users with multiple sites who want to minimize the time it takes to manage their sites. For example, in a multisite network, you can set up one installation of WordPress and then create additional “sites” within that installation. This means you can create a network of websites such as example.com/blog1 and example.com/blog2 with minimal effort required on your part.
In addition to being convenient, having access to all these tools in one place also makes managing different types of content easier than having them spread across several blogs or web pages.
For example, you could create a blog post on your main blog site but then cross-post it onto another site within your network where it would appear as though it was published by someone else entirely.
Performance and Privacy
Make sure your site is optimized for speed. If your site takes a long time to load, visitors may give up and leave before seeing what you offer. This can be especially harmful if they’re on a mobile device.
Page speed is another ranking element that Google considers. The longer it takes for a website to load, the more likely visitors will leave within a few seconds. And if visitors do not spend much time on a website, its rating begins to fall.
For example, reducing Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) by 0.2 resulted in a 15% increase in page views per session, a 13% increase in session length, and a 1.72 percentage point fall in bounce rate for Yahoo! JAPAN.
If you analyze competition sites and discover they are sluggish to load, your speedier web page might provide you a competitive advantage in the rankings battle. To test the performance of your page, utilize Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
If you’re new to WordPress and SEO, don’t be overwhelmed by the sheer number of settings. Start by making sure that your site is set up with a solid foundation. Then, use an SEO-friendly theme to set up permalinks and links and configure your site visibility options. Once those are in place, the rest of the settings can follow naturally as you build your site.