WordPress SEO: Overview of SEO Features

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Does your website suffer from a lack of visibility on the Web? The era of the disproportionate monopoly of keywords being well and truly over, what are the alternatives to position yourself effectively in the first results of the SERPs? Good news: the interface of your CMS is full of native features for natural referencing. But they will not be enough to assure you the Grail of everyone on the Web: the first position on Google! A multitude of plugins, including the very popular Yoast SEO, are available to assist you in the quest for an SEO-friendly site. But WordPress does not stop there: it also offers extensions entirely dedicated to improving the user experience. Here is a comprehensive overview to explore all facets of SEO on WordPress.

Native functionalities for natural referencing on WordPress

Take advantage of taxonomy

Taxonomy corresponds to the structuring and hierarchy of content on a WordPress site, through categories and labels (or tags). It helps to improve the user experience (UX) by facilitating navigation, within a blog for example. However, if the categories are certainly useful for the SEO optimization of a WordPress site, the labels, they are the subject of controversial opinions. Indeed, they can sometimes be counterproductive for natural referencing. Their use notably involves risks of multiplication of unnecessary URLs and creation of duplicate content. It is therefore strongly recommended to obtain good information beforehand, and above all to reserve their use – which is moreover optional – for the sole competence of experienced site administrators.

Customize your permalinks

WordPress automatically generates permalinks attached to your pages, but their format is not at all optimized for natural referencing on search engines. Indeed, without your intervention, the URLs thus created will have an end in the form of a code with an unstructured appearance. As part of an effective SEO positioning strategy, Wikipedia editors can modify the default format of these slugs on the WordPress interface by going to the settings > Permalinks tab. The ideal is of course to create URLs that contain your main keywords, and that will be visually more pleasing.

Optimize your images

Do you want your visuals to appear in the first results of Google Images? Here are the attributes you will need to fill in for the natural referencing of images in WordPress:

  • the name of the file, whose default title must be modified when saving on your computer. Place your keywords there — without accents or special characters — separated by hyphens.
  • the alternative text (or Alt attribute), which must give a precise description of the representation of the image to guide Google in its indexing. Highlight your key query here too, in a short and coherent sentence. Pay special attention to your alternative text, because it is the one that will be displayed, instead of the illustration, in the event of a loading error.
  • the caption, which will be directly visible under your images, and which is, in fact, of paramount importance for Google and Internet users.

Warning: only relevant images – or not incidental – must be optimized.

Yoast SEO, the essential extension for SEO on WordPress

Create XML sitemap and robots.txt file

Sitemap XML

sitemap is like an architectural plan of your site, listing the list of URLs to index. Its main function is to facilitate the crawl (the exploration and analysis) carried out by search engine robots, and therefore to speed up the process of indexing your content. In addition, several settings are available on Yoast SEO to make this tool an essential element of SEO optimization on WordPress. Let’s cite for example the <priority> tag, allowing you to indicate to crawlers an order of priority for the indexing of your web pages.
To submit your XML sitemap to Google, simply embed it in the Google Search Console via the Optimization > Sitemaps menu.

Fishier robots.txt

A robots.txt file is a text file that brings together all the URLs that you do not want to see indexed by search engines. Useless content for the referencing of a WordPress site on Google thus has its place there! The strategy consists of excluding pages potentially harmful to SEO, to focus the crawl budget only on those with high added value.
To create a robots.txt file, go to Yoast SEO > Tools > File Editor, and configure it to your liking.
The last step will be to submit it to the test tool provided for this purpose on the Google Search Console.

Valuing the meta title

The title (also called meta title or SEO title) is undoubtedly THE most important tag for properly referencing your WordPress site. You will find the corresponding field in the Yoast SEO insert, located directly below the CMS text editor.
To be optimized, the title must meet three requirements:

  • It must contain, preferably at the beginning, the main key query on which you want to position yourself in the SERP.
  • It should neither be too long (so as not to be truncated in the results page) nor too short. To help you define an optimal size, Yoast SEO provides you with a colored “gauge” under the dedicated field: the indicator is orange, your title is too short; it turns green, your title has a suitable size; it turns red, your title is too long. You can also test the length of your title on the SERP simulator in pixels.
  • It must be copywritten, that is to say constructed in such a way as to arouse the interest of Internet users, in order to encourage them to click.

Write an engaging meta description

Although not taken into account directly by Google’s algorithms for natural referencing, the meta description is of paramount importance. Indeed, it is the showcase of the substantial quality of your content in the eyes of Internet users who search for the subject matter. It must therefore be correctly written, because it alone can generate significant traffic on your pages and, in this way, lead you, in the long term, to the top 10 of Google results.

Schematic explanation:

Like the title, it must be copywritten and contain the main keywords.

Settings dedicated to UX for the SEO optimization of a site on WordPress

Control the loading speed of your website

Loading time control is a fundamental lever for an efficient SEO strategy on WordPress. Indeed, the Googlebot having a limited time to explore and analyze all the pages of a website, it is advisable to optimize this aspect of what is called the crawl budget. On the other hand, it is important to emphasize that the user experience will be fatally impacted on a site that is too slow.

Did you know? The tolerance limit of Google’s robot and visitors would today be assessed at a maximum of 3 seconds!

Install a caching plugin

Caching consists of saving a static version of your web pages, in order to avoid excessive server load when downloading these pages to Internet users’ browsers. This is where the most popular WordPress caching plugin comes in: WP Rocket. Admittedly paying, it benefits from a user-friendly and intuitive interface, and offers complete functionalities to act effectively on the loading time of your site.

Add image optimization and compression plugin

A well-illustrated web page is often very attractive to the reader. But, at the same time, it can suffer from a noticeable slowdown which, if true, will be greatly detrimental to UX and search engine rankings. Image optimization therefore consists of compressing your files, while maintaining the highest possible quality. This is what the extensions WP Smush and Timing offer in particular.

Focus on mobile compatibility

In the era of the advent of smartphones and other tablets, it has become absolutely essential to promote the interactive experience of mobile users. Google has also been rewarding for several years, by granting preferential positioning on its results page, sites whose ergonomics are adapted to consultation on a mobile screen. In SEO jargon, these sites are called responsive or mobile-friendly.
You can use Search Console’s Mobile Optimization Testing Tool to analyze the performance of your WordPress pages. To remedy any failures detected, you can install the Jetpack or Pouch plug-ins on your interface, for example.

You now hold a few more keys to updating your WordPress SEO strategy. But to curry favor with Google in the long run, remember that it’s crucial to constantly stay on top of current and upcoming SEO trends. And above all, keep in mind one essential thing: editorial quality is — and will remain — the first requirement of Google and Internet users! If you are not comfortable with creating optimized editorial content, call on one of our SEO-certified web editors.

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