10 Things About Technical SEO Every WordPress Site Owner Needs to Know
1. You Need to Set Secure Connection Today
Secure connection setting means that your website's protocol will change from default HTTP to HTTPS. The switch doesn't take a lot of time but includes many steps. The sooner you set an SSL certificate, the fewer troubles you'll face while moving your website. By the way, from year to year, the HTTPS protocol is becoming increasingly important for SEO.
You can entrust this task to the web developer or perform it yourself. Moving to HTTPS takes no more than an hour and doesn't require any money expenses: a free SSL certificate will be enough if you don't use any payment instruments within your website. You can find a detailed step-by-step guide for setting up a secure connection here.
2. All of Your Content Needs Optimization
Even if you zealously control the quality of your content, you should know that it's not enough to rank successfully in the search results. The thing is, search engines have a set of criteria they use to rate billions of pages. According to the search engines' requirements, you need to optimize the following elements of content:
Content must be useful and contain only relevant keywords that don't conflict with the main topic of the page. Recommended text length is no less than 500 characters.
The perfect text structure means the use of one (recommended) H1, several H2-H3 headings, and bulleted/numbered lists. All these elements must be used to improve content readability.
- Meta Title Tag.
A Title should be short, concise, and unique. It must be no less than 10 and not more than 65-70 characters long. And remember — there should be only one Title per single page.
- Meta Description Tag.
To create Meta Description properly, you should follow the rules described above. The only difference is the length of the tag: the minimum size is 50 characters, the maximum – 260-320 characters. But keep in mind that Google often shows a shortened version of your original Description in snippets, so only the half or even one-third of your text will be visible for users.
- Media elements.Content should include not only text: make use of images, GIFs, and videos can provide a much better user experience. Images, in their turn, should be placed with ALT. This attribute describes the picture in a few words.
To perform content optimization in WordPress, you need only two tools – multifunctional SEO plugin (Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack) and a crawler to check website content for any possible issues (Netpeak Spider for example).
Basic SEO plugin allows you to create all necessary meta tags, optimize them and see how the snippet of this page could look in Google's desktop and mobile SERP.
Yoast SEO interface
And a crawler will find and detect all problems with content optimization within your website. It can detect and show you the following issues:
- Too long or too short Description / Title
- Duplicate Titles / Descriptions
- Duplicate text
- Multiple Titles / Descriptions on a single page
- Missing or empty Title / Description
- Broken images
- Missing images ALT attributes
- Missing or empty H1
- Multiple H1 headings
- Duplicate H1
- Too long H1
- Thin content
- Maximum content size
3. The Logical Structure of Website and Links Is Not Just a Whim
When building proper website and URL structure, you not only care for users, but also do a long-term investment into your site search optimization. What does that mean? Your website structure should remind a tree with 'branches' that correspond to each website category or tag. All of them should be consistent and lead from one to another.
Netpeak Spider website structure report
The same logic goes for URLs. If the website contains a huge number of pages and sections, their addresses should reflect connection between the content and its category. It helps users to quickly figure out where they are now and shows a logical structure of a website to search robots.
While creating the website structure and building URLs, you should follow several basic recommendations:
- Think over all pages that your website must contain from the very start. Also, consider the order of switching from one page to another.
- Connect pages in such a way that every user could reach any page in 2-4 clicks.
- Name pages and categories according to their essence. Separate words with the hyphen.
- Set the structure of your internal links in CMS settings. We recommend you to use links composed of words. Be careful with the links like website.com/category/post-name: if you have pages that belong to several categories, they will be available via different links. It will cause duplication issues.
- Use only Latin characters to avoid percent-encoding in URL.
4. Your Sacred Duty is To Make Website Work as Fast as Possible
The speed of your website is directly related to its reputation. You should make everything possible to increase the website response time and load speed. You can improve them in the following way:
- Turn off and delete all unnecessary plugins and widgets.
They cause an additional workload and slow down a website load speed because of different simultaneous processes inside a website.
- Use the caching plugin.
WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache, for example.
To figure out how critical the situation with load speed is, you can use:
- Google PageSpeed Insights. This service analyzes the web page load speed and calculates its score on a 100-point scale.
- Netpeak Spider. The tool crawls all pages of a website and checks their response time and content download time.
5. No One Can Evade Google Analytics and Google Search Console Integration
If you are going to start a search optimization, you would likely be interested to see the results of your efforts and get accurate data from the search engines. So, it is necessary to register your website in webmasters panels and web analytics services.
Webmaster tools allow you to check website indexation status and get information about issues that search robots detected during the last crawl.
Analytics services provide a comprehensive report about your audience, its behavior, and the most popular pages of the current website. Based on that data, you can build your content strategy and choose which channels to use in the feature.
All services mentioned above are absolutely free of charge.
6. When It Comes to Images, Size Matters
We're sure that you often face situations when text appears on a page much faster than images and you have to wait till the pictures load. It doesn't sound terrible, but if you open such page on your mobile device, the wait seems to take forever.
We have to admit, that annoys not only you – search engines also pay attention to the images loading time. In terms of search engine optimization, the perfect image size does not exceed 100 kB.
To perform a perfect image optimization, follow these recommendations:
- Find a minimum allowable size for images on your website. With this size, images must look good on both the desktop and mobile devices with different screens. Optimize images before uploading: making them smaller will reduce the load time of the website and improve the loading speed.
- Compress images before loading them on the website. One of the best ways to make it is to use services like TinyPNG that compress images without significant quality loss.
- If you have already uploaded a lot of images and you don't want to change them, install and activate single-purpose plugins. It can be reSmush.it or Compress JPEG & PNG images from the developers of TinyPNG service. Both of them allow optimizing pictures that are already hosted on a website.
Also, we recommend including images size check to your regular technical audit checklist. You can use crawler to perform it.
To start the analysis, you just need to write the address of a website in the 'Initial URL' field and tick the 'Images' box on a side panel. When crawling is complete, you'll see if there are any images with a size more than recommended 100 kB. BTW, if you've found a perfect size for images on your website (for example, 250 kB), you can set it as a restriction ('Settings' → ' Restrictions'). With such setting, the program will pay attention only to the images with the size exceeding the limit you've set.
7. Not Only Users Are Interested in Likes and Ratings
Users' activities within a website don't affect how your website ranks directly. But rating and commenting systems, social buttons, and other functionality that increase the engagement can positively affect your website promotion. There are many reasons why it's so important to allow users to engage with your content:
- Additional engagement can make a user stay on the page and decrease the bounce rate.
- A five-star rating is an element of a structured data. In its turn, structured data is an important ranking signal for search engines. Also, these stars make a snippet more attractive and let you get more attention in the SERP.
- 'Share' buttons maximize the chance of your content to be shared in social media. All social media that your audience uses can become a source of additional traffic.
8. Use Structured Data to Make Your Website Look Better in Organic Search Results
As it was said before, structured data allows you to make webpage snippet look better on a search results page. Organic search ranking means an endless struggle for the user's attention. In this case, attractive snippet and structured data can be your sacred weapon! Thanks to a structured data, snippet will contain not only the Title, Description, and URL, but also many other additional elements: breadcrumbs, phone number, price, rating, author's name, etc.
You can use one of many automated solutions to implement structured data. It can be plugins like Schema Pro (the best one, but you need to pay for it), WP Review (there are paid and free versions), and All In One Schema Rich Snippets (it's free, but not very convenient). Functionality and usability of each plugin differ significantly.
All In One Schema Rich Snippets plugin interface
9. Don't Let Search Robots to Get Lost – Create Sitemap for Them
The sitemap is a kind of navigation tool for search robots. It is a simple XML file with the URLs of web pages that should be indexed.
It helps to understand what pages the website contains. It is especially important for sites with frequent updates or a big number of pages. Also, an XML sitemap can contain some additional information – the date and time of the last update, for example.
You can create the sitemap with specialized plugins for WordPress, online sitemap generators, and Netpeak Spider that has a special sitemap generating feature.
10. Problems Can Appear Where You Don't Expect Them
Even if you did everything right and set all the things mentioned above correctly, they would not work on you like that forever. You need to keep an eye on your website and perform a full technical audit from time to time. It will help you to detect and fix all possible on-page SEO issues. The easiest way to check your website for technical issues is to scan it with a desktop crawler.
Netpeak Spider interface
In a Nutshell
WordPress blogs, like many other websites, need technical optimization. And even without being an SEO specialist or web developer, you should take care of essential on-page SEO aspects. We've created a small checklist of main things that you need to monitor and optimize within your WordPress website:
- Migration to HTTPS
- Content optimization
- Building a proper website URL structure
- Increasing the website loading speed
- Integration with webmaster tools and search analytics services
- Image optimization
- Creating mechanics of users engaging
- Implementing of structured data
- XML sitemap creating
- Conducting a comprehensive technical audit with the following issues fixing
How did your story with WordPress start? Have you made some optimization mistakes? If so, how did you fix them? Share your experience with us! Maybe your stories will help someone to avoid critical mistakes just right now :)