5 WordPress SEO Tips to Help You Boost Rankings and Traffic

WordPress SEO TipsIt’s been almost two months since I bought a hosting and got into WordPress blogging.

And you know what – although I’ve really been a fan of the simplicity that Blogspot offers, it’s really hard to compare it to the versatility that WordPress users have at their disposal.

But anyway, that’s not what I am going to cover in today’s article..

Search engine optimization has never been one of my strong points. Since day one of my blogging career, I decided to pay more attention to actually connecting with people via social media than building organic traffic. If you ask me now whether that was a good move I’d say no.

Organic traffic is probably the best in terms of bounce rates, average time the visitor spends reading and conversion rates.

So without much ado, below are five WordPress SEO tips, for all of you folks, who would like to get a little more attention from those fussy spiders and crawlers that search engines use in the ranking process:

1. Start With Modifying Your Permalinks


The permalink structure is one of the elements that the Blogger platform doesn’t allow modifications on. The good thing for us WordPress users is that here we have full control over that aspect.

And if you aren’t quite sure what a permalink is, that is basically how your URLs appear in the browser’s bar. For instance a blog might be set up to show blog posts the following way – domain-name.com/year/month/day/blog-post-title.html.

The above example shows a URL structure that is not quite ideal. The problem is that the main component i.e. the blog post is buried in the archive in such a way that the search engines need to first go through the year, then the month category and then the specific day until they reach the article. The deeper the crawlers have to go, the better the chance for them to decide not to waste time indexing a page. The latter is obviously NOT what you want.

So how do you modify your permalinks?

You simply open up your WordPress dashboard, go to Settings –> Permalinks. There you choose “Custom Structure” and add /%postname%/ in the field. That will result in a flat blog post architecture, which is best in terms of SEO and ease of navigation.

2. Get the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast


Although I included that plugin in my list of the Best WordPress Plugins for newbies, I would like to take a look at it once again. There are other alternatives that work on a similar principle, but from the ones I’ve tried, Yoast is my personal favorite.

The thing I found (and am still finding) most useful about it is the tab that you get under the post editor. There you have the option to choose the so called “focus keyword” for the post you are just writing. Based on that focus keyword you get different recommendations in the writing process, which aim to help you improve your on-site SEO efforts.

WordPress SEO by Yoast also allows you to write your own meta description tags plus custom descriptions for Facebook and Google Plus. Additionally you can also include a search engine title. That allows you to choose one title to be displayed on your actual blog and second, search engine optimized one for the SERPs.

Aside from that, there’s lots to do in the plugin’s settings page:

  • You can set up breadcrumbs to help your interlinking 
  • You can modify your XML sitemaps.
  • You have direct access to your htaccess and robots.txt files as well. That way you don’t have to go through the tedious process of using an FTP.

If you for some reason haven’t yet installed the WordPress SEO plugin, which is quite popular actually, you can do so by clicking here.

3. Premium WordPress Themes are a Good Investment


The problem with choosing a default theme like TwentyTen is not only that you don’t have as much control and flexibility over it, but also that those themes are simply not meant for the professional type of blogging.

A framework like Genesis (on which this blog is running for the past year) or Thesis and pretty much any other premium theme (although I’d recommend choosing one of the two) ensures that your content will be indexed by the search engines, since the developers have taken special time to optimize every aspect in terms of both security and SEO.

The unlimited support you get after purchasing a premium theme on the other hand shouldn’t be underestimated as well. Whereas with a free theme there are all kinds of glitches that can occur (the reason why I moved to Genesis), the same can hardly happen with premium themes.

If it does happen however, you get full support on dealing with the problem. And sometimes reacting timely can save you from losing search engine positions and traffic.

4. The “Slug” Plays an Important Role


Wondering what a slug is? Well that’s the part of the URL of your blog that you will point exactly to the post you are currently writing. Again unlike Blogger, WordPress allows you to directly modify the slug without much hassle, so that’s a practice well-worth following.

The slug is generated upon the title you’ve added in the title field in the WordPress post editor. However in 99% of the cases the end result is far from ideal. Modifying the slug is fortunately as easy as clicking on it and writing your own version.

There are three factors you should pay attention to when doing so:

  •  Length – the shorter and to the point, the better. Best for both the reader (yes, some people do pay attention to the URL) and for the search engines would be to keep it under 3-4 words.
  • Relevancy – Obviously the slug has to be relevant and it has to point exactly to what you are going to cover in the article. Best would be if it consists of the main keyword (preferably long-tail one) that you will be using.

NOTE: Before you get started, keep in mind not to change slugs on already-published posts. The problem is that all links to those posts will still be pointing to the old URL, meaning visitors will receive a 404 error. If you still want to make changes, you will need to set up 301 redirects.

5. Add a Related Posts Widget


The two plugins I would give my vote to are LinkWithin and nRelate. The first I’ve been using when I was on Blogger and I was really happy with it. nRelate on the other hand doesn’t have a Blogspot version and I gave it a shot right after setting up my WordPress installation.

I don’t think there are many bloggers who don’t yet have one such plugin installed, but if you are one of them, you are missing out. You are missing out on more repeat visits, more internal links and better conversion rates.

The idea is simple. Since those kinds of tools aim to provide relevant content to the article that they are displayed under, the links there are valuable in terms of SEO. Plus the only thing you need is to download one of the two, install it, set it up and leave it do the rest.

In Conclusion


Those are pretty much the most useful tips I have currently applied to my WordPress installation and that I believe are helping me improve search engine results.

Now let me hear what you think guys!

What other WordPress SEO tips can you add to my list? Are you using the SEO plugin by Yoast? What do you think about premium themes?

Let me know in the comments and please consider sharing the post if you liked it! :D

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  1. Such technical tips from a 20 year old guy. Amazing. You were right. It’s important to take note of this before starting to post and share it to the netizens. Bloggers should make sure to install all the necessary plugins and widgets for sure boost of online traffic.

  2. Yogita Aggarwal says:

    Oh, I just migrated to Yoast from All in one SEO and no wonder I am loving this new experience but now just waiting to get benefits from Yoast plugin.

    Great check list Daniel :)

    I am loving this.

  3. Such an awesome post Daniel, thanks for these wordpress SEO tips.

    I feel really good as am following these tips. Yes, I use yoast plugin, making the url of the blog posts short and crisp and not using the words stop words in the url.

    When I got answers for my “Expert’s tips” category post, one of the expert advised me to have short urls to get better search rankings. So am following the same.

    Your SEO tips are really worth and am gonna share this old post on my network. :-)

  4. Nice tips :)

    I think publicized plugin for social media also important to spread the posts through all social media just in one click (like WordPress Jetpack publicized).

    What do you think about post pagination? Which better for SEO to long article? Paged article or not?

  5. Hey Daniel,

    Nice list of tips you have on boosting traffic. I’ve actually stopped using SEO plugin by Yoast and started using SEOpressor which works just as good. The only difference is from what I’ve seen is the SEO plugin does a lot of the SEO for you versus SEOpressor tells you exactly what to do in order for your post to be more SEO compliant.

    And speaking of the Genesis framework, I just installed it yesterday after I heard about it about 5 months ago. Yes I’m a late starter from a lot of bloggers, but I’m loving the feel behind and the perks that I get from it. I’m still putting it all together, but for the most post, 90% of it, as well as the child theme I have, are all set in place!

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great week ahead!

  6. Abdul Sattar says:

    Hello Daniel.

    I am using some of the above like 1, 3 and 4 and as i was thinking of using Number 2 and 5 i saw your post… really great post. I have a question! I am using All in One SEO and personally I don’t like it… I want to know if I replace all in one seo now what would happened to keywords from the posts that i have published and thanks a lot for number 5…. I just want to say all plugins are must use… thanks for the post and please answer my question…..

    Thanks again!

  7. Hey Daniel,

    Great list and I’m a huge WordPress SEO/Yoast fan too. I’ve had some fun playing around with Vladimir Prelovac’s “SEO Smart Links” which automatically creates internal links to pages/posts (or anything potentially) with a matching anchor text.

    It’s not in the same league as far as SEO is concerned as WordPress SEO, but it can be useful.

  8. I have applied some of the above Ideas what you said I am new blogger and just started the blog.Thanks for sharing this

  9. On my early days on blogging, I did all of those. But a year later, which is now, my blog SEO power seems no effect at all. What am I supposed to do?

  10. Useful and simple, just what I needed, nice blog design btw :)

  11. I have tried a few SEO plugins but always end up going back to Yoast and have had some really good results from it.

  12. Great article!

    I started to use genesis and yoast seo plugin and i think are the best together.

  13. Hi Daniel..
    Amazing style to make a balance way of SEO for contents after Google Panda; you are absolutely right now we need to focus quality while following the SEO requirements. In short now we have to kill two birds with one stone. No compromise on quality nor any deviation from SEO standards.
    Wajid Khan

  14. I was trying to find if number of comments on a particular article boosts SEO; ie: articles that are more commented on are viewed as more authoritative. I believe this is the case on YouTube?

  15. Thanks for the great tips, I need to work on my SEO for my wordpress.

  16. Suraj Kumar says:

    Great Tips :).
    SEO by Yoast is a great plugin. The meta tags and Description options helps a lot in Indexing the post better in Google and other search engines.
    Thanks for Sharing….

  17. WordPress SEO by Yoast also allows you to write your own meta description tags plus custom descriptions for Facebook and Google Plus

  18. Great tips!
    Wordpress is a best site that catches instantly and provides very strong backlinks.
    These tips could help on gaining more traffic to my website. Thanks for the post.!

  19. Thank you for this insightful article.

    Just over 4 weeks ago I installed All In One SEO on my site. But have now removed it as it took my google ranking from the top of googles second page to the middle of the third page.

    Installing that plugin and tweaking the settings a bit is the only thing that changed so I can only attribute it to that.

    So I guess these plugins don’t always have a positive result.

    Anyone else found this!

  20. Thank You! I really never thought too much about the permalink. That said… I am on the way to make the changes represented here.

  21. I use YOAST SEO, change the permalinks etc, and this is all excellent advice. However do you think there is going to be much of a difference between interlinking posts/pages within the content or at the end of posts (in a list like yet another related posts plugin.)
    What are your thoughts about that?

  22. So does links from Twitter activity now count as search engine optimisation?
    I heard they do because of the latest Google algorithm
    update
    Added a share on Facebook, hope thats okay!

  23. Nice tips Daniel, SEO is the brain behind the blog’s run. Themes are quite a good part of it & WordPress is full of themes whether its free or paid. Premium themes always produces better result than that of free themes as it provides you more feature than free package.

  24. Hey Dani,

    Great post. This points are really gonna be helpful of followed explicitly. I think I’m gonna try Yoast. I still prefer YATPP though.

    Thanks for sharing!

    Sam

  25. Well, nRelate is my favorite tool as it helps to keep the visitors much more active on the website easily.

  26. Instead of nRelate i use Zemanta and it works really very nice as it gives the indepth analysis of how many visitors have really clicked on the related posts links. Btw, I use WordPress SEO and its just awesome.

  27. Hey Daniel I never thought about using the related posts widget. Doesn’t the categories, recent post, and archives widgets help with SEO?

  28. I have a question about the permalink. If I have pins all over pinterest, and I change the structure of the permalink- will it affect past posts? If it changes all the previous posts, I would think I would love the thousands of re-pins, because pinterest wouldn’t know where to direct the click. Or, does it only change those going forward, so that I wouldn’t have so many broken links on pinterest?

    • Hey Becky,

      Although I can’t tell with certainty, chances are there will be a problem with your past pins. There won’t be any redirection from the old to the new links, so the repins will lead to a 404 page. That is why the technique is mostly applicable to folks just starting out with a new WordPress installation.

      Daniel

  29. I am migrating a domain to another domain and using WordPress SEO plug-in. There is no option to migrate SEO Meta Tags, what to do now?

    • Well, I have seen many SEO Data Migrate Plugins available which you can use out. It might help you to migrate the SEO Data anytime.

  30. I think using .html in permalink is better for SEO. Is it right?

    • That’s a tough one Joseph. I’ve actually read somewhere it is the other way around. But then again if you ask me, I don’t think either one would make much of a difference.

  31. Hi Daniel,
    I am start blogging and this post is very helpful for me.
    And thanks for introducing me nRelate, I like it.

  32. Really appreciate the info in this piece. I’ve been mulling over how to improve my SEO techniques, and this was really informative and helpful. Thanks.

  33. I am using the all in one SEO plugin and it has been very good!

  34. I’m using WordPress SEO by Yoast. When I use focus keywork, I receive warning about this. “You’ve used this focus keyword x times before…”, I tried to fix this problem but still get this warning. Please tell me how to fix it.

  35. Hi Daniel, all these points are worth reading. One thing, can we invest on a premium SEO plugin just like a premium theme.? I’m currently using Genesis Framework with the power of SEOPressor. Both perform well as far as I felt. By the way, well said and keep this up. :-D

  36. I am using related keywords plugin and proper permalink structure but I haven’t seen Yoast plugin yet. And the fact that it gives suggestions while writing a blog post would be very helpful to me.

    • Hey Lalita,

      Yes, that is really what makes the Yoast plugin helpful. It basically tells you the plces where you have missed to use the focus keyword, they keyword density and other useful things. :)

      Daniel

  37. Andreea Leau says:

    I like your article :) I used Yoast in the past, but now I’m using Squirrly SEO plugin. It’s more easy to use for me :) Maybe you can take a look and tell me your opinion :)

  38. Totally agree with these five tips. A lot of webmasters would rather use free themes instead of the premium ones. Unfortunately, they failed to realize that there is a reason why the theme has a price – it is more attractive, controllable hence the possibility of more visitors. And obviously the more visitors the higher possibility of more income. SEO and its tools / techniques would surely help new webmasters break barriers with established sites.

    Yeye – SEO user of ColibriTool (http://colibritool.com/)

    • Yeye,

      You are absolutely right, premium theme do have their advantages over standard theme, even though they might come at a heft for some folks price. But that’s how it is – quality costs money.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Daniel

  39. Hey Daniel,

    I tried to find the permalink you are talking about, but I couldn’t find it. Can you please help me? It is certainly important for optimizing my blog, but I am not able to find or edit it.

    By the way, great post!

  40. Thanks for the advice, my blog is operating about a year, how we change the permalinks without change the previous old posting ?

    • You’re welcome! Unfortunately I don’t think there is a way. As soon as you change the structure, I believe even previous posts will have it changed. I’ll have to investigate this further and see if it’s true.
      Daniel

  41. Great post Daniel, I’ve always been a “WordPress guy” ever since I stopped hand coding. Hosted blogs like Blogger have their purpose though, but yes, any serious web site to be created can benefit out of the gate by using WP.

    And… premium themes are the way to go for sure. Some of the most popular free ones have been studied and were found to contain malicious code so I stay away from those.

    I agree that a framework is more solid but I find I have less control. I like to get my hands dirty in a theme, and a framework like Genesis requires some hours of learning even for someone that has played inside (and created) themes for a long time. Maybe it’s just me.

    Anyway… I like ThemeForest.net and WooThemes for premium themes. Woo even has some trusted free ones. I really like the theme you are using though.. I have the sales page bookmarked and may buy it at some point. It’ll take some doing to get it the way I want though and I’ve worked with child themes with Genesis in the past and was stumped by the proprietary hooks. It’s a whole different ball game than the standard themes I’m used to working with.

    • Hey Keith,

      Thanks mate, glad you enjoyed the post!

      And yeah, I’ve heard the same thing about free themes, plus I’ve tried some and I weren’t happy with the results.

      As for what you said about Genesis, maybe you have a point, since directly modifying HTML and those kinds of things isn’t possible. There are however shortcodes and hooks that basically allow you to achieve the same functionality. It does take a bit of a learning curve though.

      I’ve had quite a hard time deciding on which theme to go with, since I didn’t want to spend money on the whole package of themes, and it seems like that one’s working fine.

      Thank you for your thoughts man! :)
      Daniel

  42. Hey Daniel, I’ve tried out some related posts plugins (I think both nRelate, LinkWithin, and YARPP). I found that it would only 1 or 2 related posts and they weren’t very well related in reality. Do you have any clue how relatedness is determined? A buddy of mine said he thinks it is tags (which would make sense since I don’t use tags).

    • Hey Paul,

      No, tags aren’t the only way to determine relevancy between blog posts. The plugins take into consideration the title and keywords within the content to discover what is relevant and what isn’t. But even if you don’t find the posts displayed too relevant, you are better off keeping them there I’d say. Plus over time the results become better.

      Daniel

  43. Hi Daniel,
    Well written on SEO to boost ranking as well as Traffic. The all point you have share are via the above post are most important factor to boost your ranking. Thanks for share.

  44. Hi Daniel,

    I love your blog! I just migrated my site to genesis also and really like it. I had a little rough patch at first however since I hired some developers who didn’t understand the importance of a smooth migration from an seo perspective and my site really suffered.

    I think I’m getting things cleaned up now.

    I did have a question for you. Do you use a social media plugin or just use the stock code for each social media button (e.g. google +1)?

    I’m really struggling with finding the right set up that does NOT slow down my site speed load times.

  45. The WordPress Permalink structure is one best thing that makes it stand out. Its SEO friendly and user friendly at the same time.
    Thanks a lot for sharing Daniel :) I’ll be back to ReviewznTips soon with hope.
    Cheers

  46. Unfortunately, there doesn’t appear to be a “permalinks” link under settings in my dashboard. All that appear are General, Writing, Reading, Discussion, Media, Sharing, Polls, Ratings, Email Post Changes, OpenID, Webhooks. I checked wordpress.com’s HELP section and it speaks to permalinks only as they relate to domains. So…I need your help in determining what steps to take in creating a flat blog post architechture as you described above. I look forward to hearing from you!

    • Hey Kim,

      Unfortunately that won’t work if you aren’t running on a custom domain. It seems like that free WordPress-hosted blogs don’t support the feature. Sorry about that!

      Daniel

  47. Choosing Genesis Framework is my best decision over years :) It does increase the traffic plus bringing outstanding experiences for readers.

  48. Great tips, Daniel. It took me a while to understand the value of a great, premium theme. I moved to the Genesis framework and haven’t looked back. I ditched All-In-One SEO when I made the move, testing to see how the built-in Genesis SEO would work and I’ve been very pleased. If anything changes, I’ll check out the Yoast plugin. It’s been on my radar for a while now.

    Cheers!

    –Sean

    • Thanks Sean! Yeah, you can expect far more from a premium theme than you ever could from a standard free one. Give the Yoast plugin a shot whenever you decide to – you won’t be disappointed. :)

      Daniel

  49. Hi Daniel,

    Greta post.

    Two things:

    I agree with you on Yoast – a fantastic little checklist SEO plugin. I use it on my blog, and have done for a while now. No other free SEO plugin comes close in my opinion. I use it combined with a premium plugin when I target long-tail keywords. Works quite well.

    Also, thanks for the slug info! Always wondered what that was. I am not going to go back change my old ones, but will remember this when writing posts in the future.

    Best Regards,
    John

    • Hey John,

      What is the premium plugin that you are using to target long-tail keywords and do you think it is any better than Yoast?

      As for the slugs, it’s always worth customizing them, especially when you have a specific keyword in mind. That does play its role in terms of SEO. Definitely don’t change your previous slugs, as that will cause the social media buttons to revert to zero – not something you’d want. :)

      Have a good one!
      Daniel

  50. Hello Daniel,

    Update proper meta descriptions and title for every post you write and also try to get some backlinks for every post. If you do those things regularly your domain and blog authority will increase that push every post of your blog to top rankings without much effort. :)

    • Hey Adam,

      That’s important, especially the backlinks part. Almost immediately after one of my guest posts was published, I saw a big jump in organic traffic. Of course as the things I mentioned in the post are not to be underestimated either. The content should be both human-friendly and search engine-friendly if you ask me.

      Daniel

  51. Great list here. Personally I like elegant themes, but I know tons of people who use genesis. My only issue is that it does not come ready to use. For every thing you want to edit you have to add a plug in. But anyways, it’s still a awesome framework. Nice post!!

  52. Nice tips. I’ve never actually used the Yoast SEO plugin although I’ve heard good things. I have All in One SEO on most of my sites. Genesis also has built-in SEO features, but do you find that a dedicated plugin is still needed?

    • Hey Andrew,

      Well I believe that the All in One SEO plugin would do as well. For me though, the Yoast plugin is what I prefer. You might want to give it a shot and then decide what is better. :)

      Daniel

  53. Sounds good to me! Also remember that the content plays a key role. Make sure to publish great content and then go out there on other blogs, to forums and social media and try to promote that content that people are interested in. Slowly search engines will start sending you traffic.

    • Marko,

      Well what you said would be the ideal outcome, but at least based on the over 100 articles I’ve published on Reviewz ‘N’ Tips, great content and promotion alone aren’t enough. You really need to take the time to build links from other blogs and to do on-site SEO in order to see real results. Just my experience! :)

      Daniel

  54. Great, solid post, Daniel. I kinda agree on the WordPress Theme one. My theme has been glitchy with wp plugins and my funny poetry site can’t rank on Google. :(

    Haven’t got time to switch it to a premium theme I’m using on my main blog (much better SEO rankings). Takes, as you said, lots of work and customization. I’ve already worked so much on the glitchy theme. Now I need to do the same thing for the premium one. Gahhh x(

    • Gloson,

      I hear you man, glitches were the main reason why I decided to switch to a premium theme. One day it is all going fairly smooth and then the other something goes wrong and that takes hours to fix. I am seeing improvement in SEO after moving to the Genesis Framework. It isn’t super huge, but still decent.

      Daniel

  55. Good post. When you start to do some of these things, you’ll be surprised some of the long tail searches that can pop up in your analytics as well. It’s a good thing!

    • Absolutely Matt! The optimizations are aimed namely towards long-tail keyword optimization, which is proven to be better in terms of conversion rates.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Daniel

  56. Hi Daniel,

    Great post! I sometimes think that people get carried away with SEO as it relates to their blog posts, but your recommendations are simple and easy to implement. And I totally agree with doing some basic SEO work for your blog and blog posts so you can be found. The issue I have is when people get so carried away that their titles and posts don’t make much sense because they’re only worried about keywords and such.

    As for plugins, I use the All in One SEO. It’s always worked well for me, but I’ve opened all three of the plugins you recommended and will be taking a look at those to see if I can improve my blog.

    Thanks for sharing and I hope you have a great rest of the week!

    ~Barry

    • Hey Barry,

      I agree with you. The fact that getting good search engine traffic is becoming ever more hard probably also contributes to the issue of people overoptimizing. And still I have to say if you really want to rank about a specific keyword, you just have to put some time toward doing some simple on-site SEO with the help of Yoast’s plugin.

      Do take a look at the plugins mate, they are worth a try if you ask me! :)

      Have a great day ahead!
      Daniel

  57. Great post, Daniel! LinkWithin and Yoast are just awesome and highly recommended. We’ve used it on Social Media Revolver since forever!

  58. You’re ahead of many bloggers I mentor who have no idea about SEO. I put the simplest explanation of what keyword phrases are and how to find them in a post that I’ll put in CommentLuv in this comment. That will help many who are new to the concept of SEO. The basics are common sense and simple.

  59. Praveen Soni says:

    Hello Daniel Sharkov,
    this is an awesome article on SEO and we already know that how SEO is very important in the blogosphere. i like #2 yoast plugin can be used for seo but there is an one more alternative i.e. All in one SEO.
    and , i like one more point #3
    investment on a premium theme is a great idea i think genesis is the best.
    thanks for sharing :)

    • Praveen,

      Thank you mate, glad you agree with those points! I have also tried the All in one SEO, but comparing the two, I prefer the SEO plugin by Yoast.

      Thanks for stopping by!
      Daniel

  60. I agree, Dan. Used Blogger for a long time before migrating to WordPress about a year ago. All the professional blogs I’ve managed used WordPress and it simply has so many more options. There’s still a lot of broken links and I simply work on them bit by bit. Also, I did invest in a professional designer; well worth the money.

  61. I think “Using Up Valuable Keywords…” is a little misleading. It’s not like there is an allotment of keywords you can use and they use of keywords is even getting less and less. I’d say to vary your keywords within content.