To be frank, building custom website requires coding skills, much more time and effort. These days, you can easily avoid it by using CMS. About 10 to 15 years ago, CMS were quite buggy and slow. Therefore, it had a direct result in bad performing SEO. But, today all major content management system s(CMS) reached high standards in security, page speed, customization options, etc. So, it is a no-brainer, especially if you have limited resources and/or time.
If you are choosing between other CMS, e.g. Wix or Joomla, I would definitely recommend WordPress.org. WordPress is the most popular CMS, which is used by likes of CNN or TechCrunch. There are also known SEO issues with Wix, plus WordPress offers much more such as plugins, customizations, and integrations. It is also, in my subjective opinion, the best choice both for starting bloggers and startup/corporate sites, who want to host a blog.
SEO tips for your WordPress website
Let’s proceed to WordPress SEO tips for your website. You can get to know more SEO techniques with this ultimate guide to SEO. By this step, I guess you already have you brand named and domain registered. So, now it’s time to build something and show your blog/product to the world.
1. Choose a good hosting platform
High quality hosting can be expensive, but if you are serious about your online business, you should accept that. Good hosting can provide you with:
- Secure socket layer (SSL) certificates
- One-click WordPress install
- Fast website
- CDN (content delivery network)
- Caching (you won’t need to install additional caching plugins)
- Customer support
- Regular backups
Bottom line is, without good hosting you will need to take care of all these things yourself.
I would suggest to start with Bluehost – it is a good combination of quality and price (~$100-150 per year). If your site grows – go with WPEngine (starting from $35 per month) or Kinsta. Obviously, choice of WordPress hosting depends on your business – if it is e-commerce, I would recommend to go with expensive hosting from a start. But, if your main product (e.g. business to business (B2B) project management software) is hosted on subdomain and website works only for marketing – you don’t need super expensive hosting plan.
2. Select a high-quality WordPress theme
Similarly as with hosting, good quality and maybe also expensive theme is also a must have. You can start and test ideas with free themes. But, same as with hosting good WordPress theme can make website faster, more secure, easy to build and maintain, with nicer user experience (UX) and user interface (UI). All these things matter for WordPress SEO. Some good themes and theme builders are: Dive, Impreza, Genesis Framework (this one is more advanced).
Common question is how much time should you spend on designing your blog. In all fairness, design doesn’t matter that much for SEO. Both for Google crawlers and readers. Of course, website should be easy to understand and navigate, with good UX, UI, but there is no point to spend much money or months on some advanced branding, styles, sliders, etc.
There are countless examples of sites, which perform really well in Google, with hundreds of thousands, even millions monthly visitors – with a pretty poor or simple design. Why? Because your content quality is what matters most. You can’t replace poor content with great design. That doesn’t work in SEO.
4. Don’t forget about mobile
What is important, is that your site looks great on mobile. In spring 2019 Google enabled mobile first indexing, which basically means, that mobile version of your site is prioritized over desktop one. It is a big deal, so if your site is not accessible for Google on mobile – it will hardly appear in any search results.
After installing WordPress theme, it is time to activate required plugins. Remember, after bad theme, plugins is the main factor for slowing down your website and making it insecure.
- Only install well-maintained, well-known plugins with good reviews
- Try to not go over 20 to 30 plugins (only use most required plugins) – otherwise, your site will be slowed down massively
- Regularly update your plugins
- Deactivate or delete plugins you don’t use
Among SEO plugins, I would recommend Yoast SEO. With Yoast plugin, you can bulk edit meta tags, create sitemap, edit robots.txt, add focus keywords to blogs, check on-page SEO and readability for each blog. I really like two last features – it simplifies on-page SEO so much.
6. Image optimization
To make your site faster, you need to optimize your images. Otherwise, your page speed and therefore Google rankings might struggle. Good thing, there are already a lot of plugins that can help you with image optimization in WP, my favorite ones are WP Smush, Tinify. With Tinify, you can optimize, compress up to 500 images per month for free. For beginner bloggers and small sites, it is totally enough.
Caching is also a great way to speed up your site. Again, fast website is huge ranking factor for Google. You can use either WordPress plugins: WP Rocket, W3 Total Cache, etc. Or you can have built in caching solutions with your hosting. Third way to get caching is by using Cloudflare, where you can have a lot of options for free.
What is AMP, you might ask. Well, on some of my sites, traffic to AMP pages is approximately 80% of all traffic. Accelerated Mobile Pages – is a Google technology, when your pages are hosted on Google server, therefore they are lightning fast. And Google displays them in mobile search and also Google Discover. There you have it.
SEO tips for your WordPress website
Now it’s time to do some keyword research After going through this technical WordPress setup, it is time to start keyword research, writing content and active link building. But, that is another topic.
This guest blog article was written by Andrii Gor, a SEO fanatic with more than 10 years of experience. He focuses on keyword research, rank tracking, and technical SEO tips. You can read more SEO articles he has written on the blog Online Hikes.