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7 WordPress SEO best practices for 2023

January 9, 2023
Home » 7 WordPress SEO best practices for 2023

WordPress SEO and an aggressive organic marketing strategy should be a focus for your business in 2023. Search engines will continue to prioritize websites that provide a positive user experience, have high-quality content, and follow best practices for SEO. In this blog we’ll explore 7 of the best WordPress SEO practices that you can use to improve your WordPress SEO rankings in 2023.

1. Optimize Your WordPress Website for Site Speed

Site speed is an important factor when it comes to WordPress SEO. Slow page load times can lead to higher bounce rates and lower rankings.

Use a lightweight theme: Choose a theme that is optimized for speed and performance. There are many fast and lightweight themes available for WordPress.

Optimize images: Large images can slow down your website, so it's important to optimize them for the web. You can use tools like Photoshop or online image optimization tools to reduce the size of your images without sacrificing quality.

2. Add Structured Data to Your WordPress website

Structured data helps search engines understand your content and can help you appear in “rich snippets” in search results. Structured data is also useful for voice search, as structured data can help your content appear in voice search results.

Structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and its content. By using structured data, you can help search engines understand the context and meaning of your website's content, which can improve the way your pages are displayed in search results.

Here's how to add structured data to your WordPress website:

Choose a structured data format: There are several structured data formats available, including JSON-LD, Microdata, and RDFa. JSON-LD is the recommended format by Google, so it's a good choice for most websites.

Identify the pages and content you want to mark up: Determine which pages and content you want to add structured data to. This could include your home page, product pages, blog posts, and more.

Decide what information to include: Think about the information that you want to include in your structured data. This could include the page's title, description, author, date published, and more.

Choose a plugin or tool: There are several plugins and tools available that can help you add structured data to your WordPress website. Some popular options include the All in One Schema Rich Snippets plugin and the Google Structured Data Markup Helper.

Add the structured data to your website: Using your chosen plugin or tool, add the structured data to the appropriate pages and content on your website. Be sure to follow the guidelines and best practices for the structured data format you are using.

Test and validate your structured data: It's important to test and validate your structured data to ensure that it is properly implemented and doesn't contain any errors. You can use the Google Structured Data Testing Tool or a similar tool to check your structured data.

3. Block Pages Using Your Robots.txt File

Blocking pages on your WordPress website using your robots.txt file can be an effective way to improve your WordPress SEO. 

Your robots.txt file is a text file that is used to instruct web robots (also known as "spiders" or "crawlers") on which pages or files to crawl and which pages or files to ignore. By blocking pages that you don't want search engines to crawl, you can help improve the crawl efficiency of search engines and prevent them from indexing low-quality or irrelevant pages.

Here's how to block pages on your WordPress website using your robots.txt file:

Access your robots.txt file via FTP: Your robots.txt file is located in the root directory of your website. To access it, enter your domain name followed by "/robots.txt" into your browser's address bar (e.g. "example.com/robots.txt"). If you don't already have a robots.txt file, you can create one by using a text editor such as Notepad. If you do have a robots.txt file, you can edit it to add the pages you want to block.

Access your robots.txt file via plugin: There are several plugins available that allow you to easily manage your robots.txt file from within the WordPress dashboard. Some popular options include the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin and the All in One SEO Pack plugin.

Add the pages you want to block: To block a page, you will need to add a "disallow" rule for that page. For example, to block the page "example.com/low-quality-page", you would add the following line to your robots.txt file:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /low-quality-page

Prevent search engines from accessing and indexing comment feeds on your WordPress website:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /comments/feed/

Check your robots.txt for errors: Before updating your live robots.txt file, it's always a good idea to double check your syntax to ensure everything is correct. Incorrectly using wildcards can prevent search engines from indexing your website, which can have negative impacts on your search engine optimization (SEO). Use a tool like Google's Robots.txt Testing Tool to double check your work. 

Save and upload your robots.txt file: Save your robots.txt file update on your plugin settings page. If you are using FTP, upload it to the root directory of your website.

4. Change Your Permalink

Your permalink structure is an important factor when it comes to WordPress SEO. A good permalink structure should be short, descriptive, and include relevant keywords to help search engines understand the content on your site and improve the way your pages are displayed in search results.

Here's how to change your permalink structure on your WordPress website:

Access the permalink settings: To access the permalink settings, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to "Settings" > "Permalinks".

It's important to use a simple and clear permalink structure for your website. The preferred method is to end the URL with the post name. You can optionally include the category of the post in the URL, before the post name. 

/%postname%/

This structure simply includes the post name at the end of the URL.

/%category%/%postname%/

This structure includes the category prefixed to the post name.

Either of these structures can help improve the clarity and usability of your permalinks and make it easier for search engines to understand the content on your site.

Save your changes: After you have chosen a permalink structure, be sure to save your changes.

Update your internal links: If you are changing your permalink structure, you will need to update any internal links on your website to point to the correct URLs.

Redirect old URLs: If you are changing your permalink structure and you have already been publishing content, it's important to redirect your old URLs to the new ones to avoid any broken links. You can use a plugin like Redirection to manage your redirects.

5. Use Lighthouse to Test Your WordPress website

Using Google Lighthouse Mobile Performance tool can be a valuable way to identify potential issues with your WordPress website and ensure that it is optimized for mobile users. Mobile optimization is important for search engine optimization (SEO) because more and more users are accessing the web from their smartphones and tablets.

Using Chrome’s Lighthouse Mobile Performance tool to test your WordPress website:

Go to the website you want to audit. Once the page has been loaded, Right click anywhere on the page and select "Inspect".

Look for the "Lighthouse" tab, which may be hidden behind the arrows at the top of the developer tools section.

Clicking on the "Lighthouse" tab will open the tool and allow you select the device as “Mobile” to run various performance, accessibility, and SEO audits on the website.

Click "Generate Report" to begin the audit.

This will initiate the audit process and generate a report which will include recommendations for improving the site and resources for implementing those recommendations.

Fix any issues: If the report identifies any issues with your website, it is important to address them as soon as possible. Lighthouse provides

6. Reduce Server Load With a Caching Plugin

Reducing server load time can be beneficial for both user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO). A faster loading website can provide a better experience for visitors and encourage them to stay on your site longer, which can improve your chances of converting them into customers. A slower loading website, on the other hand, can lead to higher bounce rate.

Here's how to use W3 Total Cache to reduce server load on your WordPress website:

Install the W3 Total Cache plugin: To use W3 Total Cache, you will need to install the plugin on your WordPress website. You can do this by going to "Plugins" > "Add New" in your WordPress dashboard and searching for "W3 Total Cache".

Configure W3 Total Cache Settings Once the plugin is installed, you need to configure the settings. This can be done by navigating to Performance > General Settings. From here, you can change the settings to best suit your needs. 

Enable Page Caching: Page caching is an important feature of W3 Total Cache. To enable this, you need to navigate to Performance > Page Cache. Then, check the box next to “Enable” and save your changes.

Enable Database Optimization: Database optimization is another feature that can help reduce server load and improve website performance. To enable this, navigate to Performance > Database Cache and check the box next to “Enable”.

Enable Minification Minification: is a process of removing unnecessary code from your website. This can help reduce page load times and improve page speed. To enable this, navigate to Performance > Minify and check the box next to “Enable”.

Enable HTML Minification: HTML minification is another feature that can help improve page speed. To enable this, navigate to Performance > HTML Minify and check the box next to “Enable”.

Monitor Performance: Finally, it is important to monitor the performance of your website. W3 Total Cache offers a performance monitoring feature that can help you see how your website is performing. To access this, navigate to navigate to Performance > Statistics. Select Enable and click Save all settings

Screenshot of W3 Total Cache plugin's statistics page.

Test your website: After you have configured the caching plugin, be sure to test your website to ensure that it is working properly. You can use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or Lighthouse to test the performance of your website and see if the caching plugin is making a difference.

7. Add Alt Tags to Images in WordPress

Alt tags, also known as "alt attributes," are alternative text descriptions that are used to describe images on a website. 

These tags are important for several reasons:

Accessibility: Alt tags are used by screen readers to help visually impaired users understand the content of an image.

SEO: Alt tags help search engines understand the context of images in the page content and properly index them for image search results. This can improve the SEO of your website and make it more visible to users searching for images online.

Image display issues: If an image cannot be displayed due to a slow connection or an error in the src attribute, the alt tag text will be displayed in its place. This can help users understand the content of the image even if it is not displayed properly.

Here are some guidelines for writing effective ALT tags:

Describe the image: If the image contains important information, be sure to include a description of that information in the alt tag.

Explain the link: If the image is inside an anchor element (a link), use the alt tag to explain where the link goes.

It's important to remember that the purpose of alt tags is to provide useful, information-rich content that is relevant to the context of the page. Google's image best practices recommend avoiding keyword stuffing (overusing keywords in the alt tags) as it can result in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam. Instead, focus on creating alt tags that accurately describe the images on your site and add value for users.

Summary

By implementing these 7 WordPress SEO best practices for 2023, you can ensure that your website is optimized for search engines and can help you stay ahead of the competition. SEO is a constantly evolving field, and staying up-to-date on the latest SEO techniques is key.

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