Do you want to make sure that your WordPress site is properly optimized for search engines?
Going through a search engine optimization (SEO) checklist can help you follow best practices and ensure you don’t miss out on small details. This way, you can rank higher on Google and grow website traffic.
In this article, we will share a WordPress SEO checklist for beginners.
Why Follow a WordPress SEO Checklist?
Search engines are often the largest source of traffic for many websites. However, the idea of optimizing your site for WordPress SEO can be intimidating, especially for beginners.
There are many technical terms, SEO tactics, and new trends that can put off new website owners from optimizing their sites and ranking higher in search engines.
This is where a WordPress SEO checklist can help you out. It covers all the basics and makes sure you follow SEO best practices. Plus, there are many tools and plugins that can optimize your site and take care of technical SEO for you.
You can use the checklist by going through each point step by step. After that, make changes to ensure search engines can easily crawl and index your content.
That said, let’s look at the WordPress SEO checklist for beginners. Here are all the things we’ll cover, so you can simply click the links below to jump ahead to your preferred section:
1. Install a WordPress SEO Plugin
An SEO plugin can help configure your WordPress site for search engines. It ensures that you follow the best practices and handles all the technical SEO optimizations.
You can use All in One SEO (AIOSEO) for your website. It is the best SEO plugin for WordPress and helps you optimize your site for search engines without technical knowledge or hiring a developer.
It is also the SEO plugin we also use on WPBeginner.
AIOSEO offers lots of powerful features. For instance, you can use it to create an XML sitemap, add schema markup, integrate social media, breadcrumb navigation, TruSEO On-Page analysis score, robots.txt editor, local SEO, WooCommerce SEO, link assistant, track broken links, and much more.
You can also use AIOSEO to conduct an SEO audit. The plugin will monitor and highlight crucial issues. Plus, you’ll get actionable insights for resolving these issues and boosting organic traffic on your site.
To learn more, you can follow our guide on how to set up All in One SEO for WordPress.
2. Set Up Search Engine Webmaster Tools
Next, you’ll need to set up different search engines’ webmaster tools, like Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Yandex Webmaster Tools.
These free tools help you track your site’s organic search performance. You can use them to see which keywords people are using to find your website, check rankings, submit sitemaps, uncover errors that might be preventing your site from ranking in search engines, and more.
For example, Google Search Console shows which pages are indexed in the search results. You can then find out why Google doesn’t index other pages, fix any issues, and submit pages for indexing.
You can follow these guides to add your WordPress site to each webmaster tool:
3. Add Google Analytics to WordPress
Another vital tool to set up on your WordPress website is Google Analytics. It is a free tool that shows how people behave on your site, where they’re coming from, which pages they view, and a lot more.
Google Analytics can help you track your WordPress SEO efforts and see the number of visitors that come from organic searches. It is an excellent tool for tracking website traffic and keeping an eye on all the traffic spikes and dips.
Besides that, you can use it to find high-converting pages and improve their SEO, look for opportunities to boost organic traffic, track 404 errors, and more.
The easiest way of setting up Google Analytics in WordPress is by using MonsterInsights. It is the best Analytics solution for WordPress, and you don’t have to edit any code or hire a developer to configure Google Analytics.
The best part, you can get started with the MonsterInsights Lite version for free to add analytics to your site. The plugin also offers a premium version and helps set up advanced tracking features like eCommerce tracking, form conversions, and more.
To learn more, you can follow our step-by-step guide on how to install Google Analytics in WordPress.
4. Do Keyword Research for Your WordPress Site
Keyword research is a technique that content creators and SEO experts use to discover topics your audience is interested in using search engine data.
Many beginners will use their best guesses to come up with topics that they think people might like. Instead, you should do proper keyword research and find search terms for each page on your website.
It is important that you define a primary target keyword for your blog post or landing page. Having too many different search terms can make it harder for search engines to understand the content.
You can use many keyword research tools to find a primary search term. We recommend Semrush because it offers in-depth keyword data, keyword position tracking, competitor analysis, related keywords, questions, and more.
For more details, please see our guide on how to do keyword research for your WordPress blog.
5. Use LSI Keywords and Check for Keyword Stuffing
Now that you’ve found a focus keyphrase for your content, the next thing to do is find Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. These are related search queries to your primary keyword.
The easiest way of finding LSI keywords is through Google Search. Simply scroll down to the bottom of the search results and see the ‘Related searches’ section.
You can then use these terms throughout your content and cover the overall topic in depth. This also helps search engines better understand your content.
That said, it is vital that you don’t stuff the keywords. Using the exact search term repeatedly doesn’t provide a great reading experience for users, and search engines are pretty clever at detecting keyword stuffing.
6. Optimize Your SEO Title and Meta Description
The next WordPress SEO checklist item is whether your SEO titles and meta descriptions are optimized.
The title of your WordPress blog post or product page plays an essential role in search rankings. A compelling title will encourage the user to click on the link.
The meta description also provides more information to users about the page and helps improve the organic click-through rate (CTR). As more people click on your site’s link, it will send a positive signal to Google and help you achieve higher rankings.
It is an SEO best practice to include the primary keyword in your SEO title, meta description, and URLs. Plus, you should ensure that your titles are not more than 55 characters and meta descriptions are not more than 155 characters. Otherwise, Google will truncate your headline and description.
If you’re using AIOSEO, then you can use the headline analyzer to create engaging title tags. It shows a score for your headline and offers tips for improving your SEO title.
You can check out our guide on how to use a headline analyzer in WordPress to improve SEO titles.
7. Use SEO-Friendly URLs
You should also optimize the URLs of your blog posts and landing pages for SEO.
Creating short and descriptive permalinks helps searchers to understand what’s the page about in the search results. Besides that, it is also a good practice to include the primary keyword in your URL.
For example, here is what an SEO-friendly URL should look like:
On the other hand, here’s what a URL that’s not optimized for SEO would look like:
You can change these in your WordPress permalink settings.
8. Make Sure to Add Alt-Text to Your Images
Optimizing your images for search engines is also important in WordPress SEO. One way of doing that is by ensuring that your photos have descriptive alternative or alt text.
Alt text helps Google and other search engines understand the image’s subject matter. This way, your pictures can appear in Google Images and help you get more organic traffic.
In WordPress, you can easily add alt text to your images. When you upload a picture in the WordPress content editor using the Image block, you’ll see the Alt Text option in the settings panel on the right.
You can also go to Media » Library from the admin panel.
After that, simply select any image and enter the ‘Alt Text’ in the right side panel.
Aside from that, you can also use an image compression tool to reduce the size of your pictures. This will help your site to load faster and provide a great user experience.
Note: Using the block editor to add alt text will only add it to that specific use of the image. If you want to add the same alt text to the image no matter where on your site it’s used, use the media library.
For more details, you can read our beginner’s guide to image SEO.
9. Add Internal Links to Your Content
When going through the WordPress SEO checklist, another important thing to check is the internal links in your content. Internal links are pages you link from your own website.
Search engines use these links to find and index content on your website. It also helps pass authority from one page to another.
Additionally, it assists your visitors in navigating your website, reading related posts, finding sources for statistics, and discovering old articles and pages.
If you’re using AIOSEO, then you can use its Link Assistant feature to uncover internal linking opportunities. It will show orphaned pages with no internal links, provide suggestions and anchor text, and allow you to insert links in a single click.
If you’re not sure how to insert internal links, then please see how to add links in WordPress.
10. Improve the Readability of Your Content
When checking for on-page SEO, it is essential that your content is easy to read. It plays a massive role in getting higher rankings because blogs that are easier to read often rank higher than those that are hard to read.
Studies show that people spend less than a second deciding whether to exit or stay on the page. This means they scan through your content, and you have a very short time to convince them to stay on your website.
By improving the readability of your content, you can help users quickly scan your articles. A simple way of doing that is by grouping sections of your content under headings (H2, H3, H4, and so on).
Besides that, you can write short sentences, use bulleted lists, break long chunks of paragraphs into smaller paragraphs, and add a table of contents. Adding images, videos, and other multimedia can also enhance readability and make your content more engaging.
With AIOSEO, you can analyze readability issues inside the content editor and get suggestions on improving your content.
You can also use grammar checker tools like Grammarly to make sure your content is free from spelling mistakes, missing punctuation, and grammatical errors.
11. Ensure that Search Engines Can Easily Find Your Website
Now that your content and on-page SEO is optimized, there are a few technical elements you should also check as part of the WordPress SEO checklist.
First, you should make it easier for search engines to find your website and index your site. WordPress has a built-in option that stops search engines from crawling your site. If it is enabled, Google and other search engines will not list your site in the search results.
You can check this by heading to Settings » Reading from your WordPress dashboard, and scrolling down to the ‘Search engine visibility’ section. Just make sure that the ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ option is not checked.
Another way you can help search engines find content on your site for crawling and indexing is by creating a sitemap.
An XML sitemap tells search engines about the most important pages on your site, so they can quickly discover new content and index them in the search results.
With AIOSEO, it is very easy to create a sitemap. The plugin lets you set up sitemaps for videos, news, RSS feeds, and HTML.
Once the sitemap is ready, you can submit it to search engines using different webmaster tools.
12. Check Your WordPress Website Speed
Next, your WordPress website speed is critical in ranking higher in Google. That’s because page load time is now a ranking factor, and Google will rank faster-loading sites higher compared to slow-loading sites.
A simple way of checking load time is by using MonsterInsights. It lets you run a website speed test and shows a Site Speed report inside your WordPress dashboard.
You can see an overall score for mobile and desktop, along with other important metrics for measuring how fast your site loads.
The plugin also shows suggestions and benchmark goals for improving each metric. For example, you can use a content delivery network (CDN) to improve site speed,
You can find more tips by going through our ultimate guide to boosting WordPress speed and performance.
13. Your WordPress Site Should Be Mobile Ready
The last WordPress SEO checklist item you need to check is whether your site is mobile responsive.
Google has now gone mobile-first. What that means is that it will use your site’s mobile version for indexing instead of the desktop version. You will lose out on higher rankings if your site is not mobile-ready.
Using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool is an easy way of checking mobile responsiveness.
The free tool will analyze your site and tell you whether the website is mobile-responsive or not.
You can simply enter your site’s URL in the tool and click the ‘Test URL’ button.
If your site isn’t mobile-ready, then you can start by changing the theme. There are many responsive WordPress themes designed for mobile. You can follow our guide on how to change a WordPress theme without losing data or traffic.
We hope this article helped you learn about the WordPress SEO checklist for beginners. You may also want to see our guide on how to get free SSL certification for WordPress sites and the ultimate guide to WordPress security.
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