What do you need to include in your WordPress SEO checklist?
Why should you care about WordPress Technical SEO?
SEO - an abbreviation from Search Engine Optimization. A lot of bloggers refer to SEO, as an “old-school way” of doing things. They prefer Instagram or Youtube. And there are dozens of other ways to drive traffic to your site. But, the truth is that Technical SEO still has the highest ROI among all inbound channels.
SEO is the cornerstone of driving evergreen traffic and free evergreen traffic is one of the keys for making revenue online.
Why WordPress for Technical SEO?
WordPress is one of the most popular CMS in the world. It provides ease of use, it saves time and money - compared to developing a custom website.
It’s a perfect place to start blogging and test some of your ideas.
Where to start?
SEO is a complicated process, which includes content, links, on-page SEO, technical aspects and so on. But, usually, for every new site, it’s very important to do a correct tech SEO setup. I will go through, what you need to do before creating content and building links. You can use it for any new site in any niche.
Ultimate WordPress SEO checklist
1. Choose a good host
In my experience, choosing a good (and maybe expensive) host will save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Stick to well-known, reliable hosting providers, such as Bluehost or Wpengine.
Not a bad list, huh? Imagine doing all this stuff on your own.
4. Create a sitemap
Make sure you have your sitemap.xml and robots.txt files.
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is basically a list of all your pages. You can auto-generate sitemap with Yoast. And then make sure to submit it in Search Console.
This way, Google search bot will be automatically notified and immediately crawl new pages on your site. Therefore, you will have faster indexing and your pages will appear in search results faster after publishing.
A sitemap is especially important for new sites.
Make sure you have a robots.txt file. This a very simple file with just few lines of code, created for search bots, where you specify indexing status of your site.
For example, with robots.txt you can enable or disable indexing for the whole site or specific pages, folders.
TIP: For fresh new sites, don’t forget to uncheck the box in Settings -> Reading “disable search engines from indexing this site”. If this box remains checked, your content won’t be discoverable by search engines! Proven on own experience 🙂
TIP 2: It is considered good practice to discourage search bots from indexing some of WordPress files and folders - e.g. /wp-admin folder
6. Google Analytics
Obviously, you need to track your site traffic.
Again, there are number of options. Some bloggers prefer JetPack, but I would recommend Google Analytics - as it excludes bot traffic.
To install Google Analytics, you will need to create a free GA account and then put GA snippet on all your pages. To simplify the process, try MonsterInsights plugin.
Search Console (former Google Webmasters) - one of the central tools for your SEO journey. It’s free and developed by Google (so, it has a lot of trusted data).
When you create a profile and verify your site in Search Console, this is what you need to do.
Set the preferred location of your traffic (e.g. if most of your traffic comes from the US, you can tell that in Search Console);
Request indexing (if you want Google to speed up crawl of a specific new page, you can do that in Search Console);
Check tech errors (structured data, rich snippets, AMP pages, mobile performance, etc) - Google will notify you via Search Console, that something is not right - fix these errors;
And of course, monitor your organic traffic - Impressions, Clicks, CTR and average position.
Of course, if you want a more advanced overview of your SEO performance, you can try premium tools, such as OnCrawl.
TIP: Connect Search Console with your Google Analytics account. This way you can relate all GA data to specific search queries.
8. Tag Manager or Google Optimize
Google Analytics is a great tool, but sometimes it’s not enough, especially if you want to track events and optimize your conversion. Consider installing Google Tag Manager or Google Optimize - great free tools, where you can track events, clicks, form submissions and optimize your site accordingly.
9. Image optimization
One of the most common mistakes, which bloggers make, is not optimizing images.
Heave images can significantly slow down your loading speed - > increase bounce rate - > decrease Google rankings.
There are plenty of Image optimization WordPress plugins, which will automatically optimize your image on upload - Smush, Tinify, etc.
Optimized images -> fast website -> boost in Google rank.
Use Caching system or plugins to speed up your website. Same as with Image optimization, it can have a positive effect on your conversion rates and Google ranking.
There are plenty of freemium caching plugins, such as W3 Total Cache, WP Rocket and others.
Enable content delivery network. Some premium hosting providers (that’s why you need to choose a good one) have CDN option, which makes your site faster, as your content is delivered from nearly located server.
One of the great WordPress SEO tricks, which boosted my Organic traffic by more than 30%, was implementing AMP.
AMP (Amplified Mobile Pages) - new technology, pushed by Google, which makes your mobile pages lightning fast. Google prefers these pages in search results.
You can either hire a developer to create AMP templates for your site or just start with a free AMP plugin.
To sum it up
This is a quick checklist of main Tech SEO things you need to implement for your new WordPress site. After you are done with tech setup, it’s time to work on high-quality content and link building. What works for you?
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