WordPress SEO Checklist – 35 Steps to Get Higher ranking (Fast)

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If you are serious about increasing your organic traffic then you need to pay attention to your WordPress SEO.

You might have heard everyone saying “WordPress is SEO friendly.”

Yes, they are right, but here is the catch…

If you are expecting WordPress to deliver fully SEO optimized performance right out of the box, then you are wrong (As it is just a content management tool)

There is a lot more you need to do to make your WordPress blog SEO friendly and rank higher in Google.

To help you throughout that process, I’ve created this mega WordPress SEO checklist (Containing more than 35 SEO practices) to make sure you’re giving your site the best chance at ranking #1.

Wordpress SEO tutorial

⚠️ SPOILER ALERT: This checklist is going to be super in-depth as I’ll be sharing every important WordPress SEO practices to ensure you are utilizing WordPress to its best.

To make it easy for you to explore the whole guide, I have divided this whole guide into different sections with the table of content which will help you navigate throughout the guide.

Sounds good? Let’s dive right in.

CHAPTER #1

Introduction to SEO

Before we dive into the specifics of WordPress SEO, let’s answer some common questions that you might have if you are new to SEO.

WHAT is SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. It is the process of optimizing your website and content to be discovered in Search engine organic results.

In layman language, when your site is SEO optimized, people searching in Google for the topic you write about can see your site in the search result and eventually visit your site.

WHY SEO is important for you?

There are billions of people coming on search engines every day looking for answers to their questions or for solutions to their problems.

And it makes sense why Search engines are often the biggest traffic source for almost every website.

In today’s time, Google, Bing, and all other popular search engines have become very smart at understanding the content of a web page. They have created their own set of advanced algorithms (having more than 100 factors) to understand a web page and rank appropriately in SERPs.

But those algorithms aren’t perfect yet – they still need your help to understand the context, credibility, and authority of your content.

This is why it’s important for you to SEO optimize your site & content in the best possible manner to deliver better information to search engines. So, that they can properly index and rank your content higher in the search results.

WORDPRESS SEO is different from General SEO?

This is one of the most common confusion among WordPress beginner.

“Is wordpress SEO different than General Search engine optimization”

See, WordPress is a popular content management system. It provides an easy platform to structure, manage, and publish any kind of website, even if you have no knowledge of coding (like me).

Some of the most well-known brands like TechCrunch, Vogue, BBC, The Walt Disney, Katy Perry, The New York Times, and many others run their site on WordPress CMS. In fact, according to W3Tech report, more than 37% of the web is built on WordPress.

Do you think these big brands were using WordPress if it is not good for SEO?

Obviously not!

But does this mean that installing WordPress equates to a perfectly-optimized website and no other SEO optimization is required?

No, at the end of the day, it is just a CMS. But the way it is designed and its supports with thousands of plugins makes implementing traditional SEO techniques and strategies very easy.

For that reason, WordPress SEO is not different than regular ON-page & Technical SEO optimization. In this guide, I’ll be focusing on how to implement those SEO practices within WordPress CMS.

CHAPTER #2

Get your basic WordPress SEO right

By putting the right basic settings in place, you can ensure that you have a strong foundation to build upon!

01. Have you Chosen Between a www or non-www Domain?

Have you noticed that some sites live at www.domain.com (WWW) whereas other live at just domain.com (Non-WWW)?

For example, the URL of my blog is Https://www.nerdblogging.com (WWW included)

But the URL of Backlinko website is Https://backlinko.com (Wthout WWW)

If you are also starting out with WordPress, this question might comes in you mind that whether you should include WWW in your domain URL or not?

First thing first, Is there any SEO benefit of choosing one over another?

No, Google has itself said that there is no SEO benefit of choosing one over another, it all depends on your personal preference.

But what’s important here is that you should stay consistent with the URL format you choose once.

Because switching back and forth between www and no www can create confusion for the search engines and duplicate content issues if one version is not redirected to the other.

So, Just go to Settings > General page and add your preferred URL in both the ‘WordPress Address’ and ‘Site Address’ fields.

WordPress website URL

02. Is your site Visible to Google?

WordPress has a built-in option to hide your website from search engines. This option is useful when your website is in the development process.

But once you have made your website public, you should make sure to uncheck this option otherwise if it is checked then it will discourage search engines from looking at your site.

Here’s how to find this option in your WordPress dashboard:

Log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Settings » Reading page.

Search engine visibility settings

Scroll down to the bottom and make sure that the box next to ‘Discourage search engines from indexing this site’ is unchecked.

03. Have you installed an SEO friendly theme on your site?

When you install WordPress for the first time, WordPress will automatically install a very basic theme.

But the good thing about WordPress is that there’s no shortage of better-looking WordPress themes.

At the same time, the downside is – not all WordPress themes are SEO friendly and well-coded.

So what makes for an SEO-friendly theme?

  • Lightweight: Avoid themes using lots of third party plugins and bloated with unnecessary scripts that have no use. They will make your website slow. (Most of the free theme have this same issue)

However, there are many other factors like Plugin compatibility, Support, Features, Price is important while choosing a theme but the above two factors are very important from the SEO perspective.

But here is again a sad truth:

You’d be hard-pressed to find a single premium theme that doesn’t market their theme as “SEO friendly” bandwagon.

So, finding an actual SEO friendly theme can be a toff task:

But, don’t worry, From my experience I am recommending you these two WordPress theme from different providers.

Both the theme are very versatile and you can’t go wrong with any of them. I personally use GeneratePress premium on this website.

04. Have you installed an SEO plugin on your site?

A WordPress SEO plugin can help you improve different aspects of SEO on your site and increase the overall visibility of your website in SERP.

So, which WordPress SEO plugin is best for you?

Well, Rank Math and Yoast SEO are perhaps the most powerful SEO plugin currently available for any type of WordPress site.

Where Yoast is a very old and most popular SEO plugin with over 5 million downloads, Rank Math is relatively new in the SEO industry.

Both the plugins are created by the reputed developer in the WordPress industry and they are updated continuously to keep up with search engine changes.

I personally use Rank Math SEO plugin on BloggingNova as it has significantly more features than other SEO plugins out there.

Installing an SEO plugin is pretty easy, From your WordPress dashboard, go to plugin section > select add new option > search for your prefered SEO plugin and install it on your site.

Install SEO plugin

Once you have installed the plugin, you need to set it up properly. Though the default settings are pretty ok , still there are few changes which you need to make as per your site.

Here are few  some resources to help you set up your SEO Plugin:

05. Have you selected an SEO friendly permalink structure?

By default, WordPress creates a messy permalink (URL structure) that are not search engine friendly.

The default URL structure inserts the date along with your post and page name into the URL, which will look something like this:

http://nerdblogging.com/2020/05/10/sample-post/

But Google itself has clearly specified that you should keep your URL structure as simple as possible.

Permalink structure

So, which is the most SEO friendly URL structure for any WordPress site?

Well, Post name is the probably the most SEO friendly stricture for any WordPress site.

Because having a clear URL structure, including keyword-rich post name gives a sense of what the web page is about from the URL alone.

For example – www.nerdblogging.com/best-wordpress-hosting clearly gives an idea that post must be about WordPress hosting

How to check or change your existing permalink structure?

From your WordPress dashboard go to Settings » Permalinks page and select the structure labelled “Post name.”

Wordpress permalink structure

Having said that, if your WordPress website is old and have too many existing post and pages, better stick with your existing permalink structure.

Because after changing your permalink structure, you will need to make many additional changes to your site like:

  • 301 redirect old URL to New URL
  • Updating internal links
  • Re-indexing

Still, if you are ready to make some extra effort to have a clean and User-friendly URL structure, follow this guide:

06. Do you have a sitemap for your site?

Sitemaps are useful for search engines like Google to understand the hierarchy and structure of your WordPress site as well as it ensures better indexing and crawling. 

Are sitemaps really very necessary?

No, generally search engines will crawl your site even without having any sitemap, but adding an XML sitemap to your site is always considers a good WordPress SEO practice.

The good part is you don’t need to put additional effort to create your sitemap, since both Yoast and Rank math SEO plugin has a built-in option to enable Sitemap on your blog.

If you are using Rank Math then go to Rank Math > Sitemap settings and enable Sitemap Feature.

Once enabled your sitemap index can be found at: http://www.yourdomain/sitemap_index.xml

It will look something similar to this:

RankMath XML sitemap
Sitemap created with Rank Math SEO plugin

For Yoast plugin user – Go to Yoast SEO > General > Features tab and Toggle the ‘XML Sitemaps’ switch.

And once enabled, you can find your sitemap at http://www.example.com/sitemap_index.xml

Yoast SEO sitemap
Sitemap created with Yoast SEO (ShoutMeLoud)

07. Have you verified your site with Google Search Console?

Google Search Console previously known as the Webmaster tool is a free platform made by Google for website owners to monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot their site’s presence in Google Search results.

It gives you tons of information that’s crucial for your effective SEO planning. Things like what actual keyword people are using to find your website, how often people click on your page after typing in specific queries, and which sites have linked to your site.

All these small and big information helps you understand what’s working on your site and what’s not, so that you can plan your SEO & content strategy accordingly.

The GSC (Google search console) tool also tells you about any issues with your site, things like crawling error, page not mobile-friendly, duplicate content and manual actions.

All these things make it a very powerful and must-use tool for any website owners.

So, Here is how to connect your website with Google search console:

Step 1 – Head over to the Google search console homepage and log in using your Google account.

Search console

Step 2 – From the drop-down menu click on + add property and enter your website URL in the URL prefix section.

Google search console

Step 3 – Now you need to verify your domain ownership. Click the arrow next to the ‘HTML tag’ to expand the option and copy the meta code appearing in box.

Search console settings

Step 4 Now go to your WordPress dashboard > RankMath > General settings > webmaster tools and enter your meta code into Google Search Console box and save the settings.

Rank math search console verification

Step 5 Once you have entered your meta code into Rank Math, come back to the Google search console page and click on the verify button to complete the verification process.

Google search console verify

After connecting your site with GSC tool, you should also add your sitemap with GSC.

Adding your sitemap in the GSC tool is very easy, Just go to Sitemap page from the left sidebar and paste your Sitemap URL into the box and finally hit submit button.

Google search console sitemap

Now Google will check your sitemap file and start crawling and indexing all the links listed in your sitemap.

This means from now whenever you publish a new post or page on your site, Google can easily find and index your page in the search engine.

08. Have you integrated Google Analytics with your site?

Another Google’s tool you’ll want to have in your arsenal is Google Analytics.

This free tool will help you measure how well your SEO strategy is working by giving you an in-depth breakdown of your site’s traffic and user engagement metrics.

The simplest way for you to add Google Analytics to your site is with the help of a plugin. As using a WordPress plugin will save you from hassle of having to edit your website code.

I personally use MonsterInsight plugin, as it is one of the most versatile analytics plugin out there.

MonsterInsights

The reason why I personally love this tool is that it organize all the crucial data in such a way that you can take the data driven decision very easily.

Here are some resources to help you set up Google Analytics:

09. Have you enabled Breadcrumbs on your site?

Breadcrumbs navigation is a way for users and search engines to follow around the site.

They look something like this:

Breadcrumbs

These little navigation aids not only help users understand where they are on a site, but it also helps search engines understand the hierarchy of links on a website.

Plus, if you have enabled breadcrumbs on your site, then search engines like Google also display breadcrumbs above the title of your webpage in the search results.

Breadcrumbs in Google SERPs

Honestly, whether you use breadcrumbs on your site or not does not matter much from SEO’s point of view. But since it gives an excellent user experience, you should definitely implement it on your site.

Fortunately, SEO plugins like Yoast and Rank math both gives an easy option to enable breadcrumbs on your site.

If you are using Rank Math plugin, then go to Rank Math >> General Settings >> Breadcrumbs and Enable breadcrumbs function.

Breadcrumbs in RankMath plugin

Now use the following code in your theme template files to display breadcrumbs on your website:

<?php if (function_exists('rank_math_the_breadcrumbs')) rank_math_the_breadcrumbs(); ?>

Or paste this short code anywhere on your website, where you want to show breadcrumbs.

If you are a Yoast SEO user, follow this guide – How To Add Breadcrumbs with Yoast SEO?

10. Have you enabled manual approval of comments?

Getting too many comments on your site is a strong sign that people are liking and connecting with your contents.

But unfortunately, the number of spam comments you will get will be 50x more compared to the real user comments.

Yes, I am not kidding. Even if your blog is new, you will probably receive 10-20 comments every day, but almost all comments will be made by spammers.

This is how a spam comment looks like:

Spam comments wordpress

Spammers use automated software to post the same comments to thousands of blogs. They usually do this to build backlinks to their website at scale. (now please you don’t start trying this strategy, it do not work at all 😀)

Even if all the links in the WordPress comment section are nofollow by default, still according to Google, spam comments can have an adverse effect on your site SEO.

Spam comments

To follow the best SEO practices with comments, the first thing you should do is enable manual approval of comments on your blog.

To do this, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to Settings > Discussion. check the box appearing before “Comment must be manually approved”.

Comments setting wordPress

Further, you can install a free plugin like Akismet to automatically blocks all the spam comments, so you don’t have to manually delete them every time.

CHAPTER #3

Checklist related to Content SEO on your WordPress site

The next 13 checklists are related to content on your Word press site. You should keep them in mind whenever you are publishing a new post or page on your site:

11. Are you doing Keyword research for each post?

Gone are those days when we used to guess and check method to figure out what topics people are looking for and what topics will work for our blogs.

But in modern days of SEO, you don’t need to shoot an arrow in the dark when you can use real data to find out what people are looking for.

Here we are talking about keyword research.

A strategic keyword research allows you to:

  • Create content your ideal readers are actually searching for.
  • Develop a better understanding of what your market needs.
  • Track the success of everything you write.
  • Generate valuable traffic for your site.

There are a variety of online tools that can help you with keyword research. Some popular option includes SEMrush, Ahrefs, KWFinder and Ubersuggest.

I personally use SEMrush tool for keyword research for all of my blogs. It is a very versatile tool which will get you many crucial metrics of a key phrase like:

  • Search volume- How many times a keyword is searched in Google
  • Search trend – search trend of a keyword over the period of a set time like 6 months or a year.
  • CPC – The amount that advertisers are paying for a single click for this keyword in Google AdWords.
  • Competitive score – How easy or hard it will be for you to rank that keyword in Google’s #1 page.
  • Competitor’s keyword – Which keywords are driving traffic to your competitor’s website or a specific content.

For more information on keyword research, spend some time reading my detailed guide on Keyword research.

12. Have you optimized your Title tag for SEO & CTR?

Title tags are still one of the most important element of On-page SEO. Title is what people will see when they find your content in the search result.

From SEO point of view, it is always advised to include your primary keyword in your page title tag.

Many SEO experts even recommended to put your keyword in the front of your title tag whenever possible, as this would carry more weight in search engines.

Though I personally don’t take keyword front-load approach seriously, still whenever it makes sense I put my primary keyword in the beginning of my title tag.

For example, as this post is about WordPress SEO checklist, so my title tag starts off with that keyword:

Title tags in WordPress

Besides using keywords in the title, you should also make sure that your page title accurately describes the page content and not too long (typically less than 60 characters)

Having said that just including keyword for SEO does not guarantee that people will land to your site even ranking on #1 page of Google.

That’s why title tag needs to be eye-catching and entice searchers to click on it.

An excellent idea when crafting your title is to look at what your competitors are doing…

Title tag in Google

…and come up with something better. Some best practices include:

  • Use Emotional Words in your titles
  • Use an active voice
  • Add Brackets to the end of your titles
  • Write in the second person
  • Include the date (month or year)

Here are some resources to help you craft good title tags:

13. Have you written a compelling meta description for your post?

Meta description is no longer used by Google as a ranking factor. That means it does not affect your WordPress SEO when it comes to rankings.

However, they do affect your organic CTR. A compelling meta description can plays a big part in attracting users to click on your post instead of others in SERP.

And keeping in mind that the higher your CTR, the more relevant Google will deem your content and reward you with higher ranking in SERPs.

So at the end, meta descriptions may not directly affect SEO, but it will gain you more interested visitors, and higher CTR does give your rankings a boost

Here are some resources to help you optimize your meta description:

14. Is your Post URL optimized for SEO?

Your URL helps Google understand what your page is all about.

While optimizing your URL for SEO, just keep these two things in mind:

  • Keep it short
  • and Include your primary keyword

Both the URL practice are not just good for SEO but also has positive impact on Click through rate.

For examlple, according to Backlinko study – A keyword-rich URL have a 45% higher click through rate compared to URLs that don’t contain a keyword.

15. Is your primary keyword in the first 150 words?

Though it is an old school on-page optimization tactic, it still makes a dent.

Why?

Because Google puts more weight on the first 100-150 words of your body content.

So, all you need to do is drop your primary keyword once in the first 100-150 words of your blog post.

For example, you can see how I added my primary keyword “How to start an online store” in the very first sentence of one of my blog post about starting an online store.

keywords in web page

Having said that, if your exact match keyword is naturally not appearing in first 150 words then don’t forcefully put it anywhere. Google is smart at figuring out the context of your web page with hundreds of other signals.

16. Are your heading tags structured logically?

Whether you are using Gutenberg or classic editor, you’ll usually see different ‘levels’ of heading in your editor – from Heading 1 to Heading 6.

Usually we call the Heading 1 ‘main heading’ and other as subheadings, or sub subheadings.

Think of this as a hierarchy of importance. The H1 tag is your most important heading tag. Generally, the best practice is to have only one H1 tag per post or page and then multiple H2s and H3s underneath that.

If your WordPress theme is coded properly, it will automatically assign your page title as H1 tag and then you can manually assign H2, H3, H4 headers, etc. within your post or page.

While assigning heading tags in your page, keep in mind that the structure of the headings should be both logical and thorough.

In other words, there should not be any “jumps” or inconsistencies in the heading structure (i.e. from <h1> to <h3> without <h2> in between).

The document outline feature in WordPress block editor is actually very handy for checking your heading logical structure.

Heading stcuture

In our above example, you can see that it let me know about an incorrect heading level (jumping from an H2 header to an H4 ). Structure wise, I should be using an H3 first.

17. Are you adding Alt text to your image?

Alt text also referred as alternative text are used by Google to understand the context of your images.

Plus, they are also used by screen readers softwares for visually impaired users.

For example, if someone is using the Dragon Naturally speaking software, ALT text could actually help them navigate the page better.

Here’s the syntax for alt tags:

<img src=”/cup-cake.png” alt=”A picture of a cup-cake.”/>

However, being a WordPress user, you should not worry about that syntax. You can directly add ALT text to your image from the media library.

IMage alt text

Keep these things in mind while adding Alt Text:

  • Don’t use dashes in your alt text.
  • Use keywords that are relevant to the content of the page but don’t overdo it.
  • Keep your alt text short and to the point

18. Do you understand the Difference Between all link attributes?

When it comes to WordPress SEO, there are two basic types of links:

By default, every link you add in your WordPress site is a DoFollow link. Search engine crawl these types of links when analyzing your site and pass the authority (link juice) from the referring website to the linked website.

That’s why you have heard everyone saying “you need more Do-follow backlinks from high authority sites to rank higher in Google.”

NoFollow links contain ‘rel’ attribute of nofollow, as seen below:

Example – <a href="https://www.nerdblogging.com" rel="nofollow">my link</a>

That nofollow attribute tells the search engine to ignore the link. Because nofollow links do not pass any PageRank they likely don’t have any impact on search engine rankings.

New link attributes Introduced In September 2019:

Last year, Google announced two new link attributes as an evolution of the noFollow attribute to have new ways to identify the nature of links on a web page.

For last more than 10 years, “NoFollow” was the only way to flag all the irrelevant links on a web page like sponsored or advertised links.

From now on, Google has given 3 different ways to flag these links:

  • rel=”sponsored”

Use it for links that are part of part of advertising, sponsorships or similar agreements.

  •  rel=”ugc”

UGC basically means ‘User Generated Content’. Use this attribute for user generated content such as Forum post or Comments links.

  •  rel=”nofollow”

Use this attribute for links when you don’t want to pass any ranking credit (link juice) to the linked page.

Now one question that might pop up in your mind is “Do I need to change the attributes of existing links on my website?”

No, the nofollow tag remains supported by Google, so you don’t have to worry about that. But from now on you should make use of all three attribute (“nofollow”, “UGC” and “Sponsored”) as per the type of your links.

19. Do you have a good Internal linking strategy for your posts?

Internal linking are those links that point to one page from your site to another page of your same site. 

Ahrefs has a great article on why Internal linking is important, but in short internal linking:

  • Make it easier for search engine bots to crawl your site and access other post & pages.
  • Improves your bounce rate by keeping visitors on your site longer by visiting other pages.
  •  Establish a hierarchy of your information and structure your site.
  • Sends page authority (also known as PageRank) to important pages.

That’s why I always recommend my readers to add at least 3-5 links on every new page or post on their site. Depending upon the length and depth of your content, you can even add more.

Having said that, one common mistake SEO beginner often make is they link to any page of their site just to have some internal links present on their page.

If you are also doing the same, then let me tell you this kind of internal linking will give you very little to no value.

You should better create and manage a spreadsheet to organize internal links on your site. A structural internal inking strategies will help you make a good silo for your site.

Matthew Woodward has a brilliant guide on Internal linking strategy on his blog, you should definitely check it out.

20. Are you linking to relevant authority sites within your content?

Just like adding internal links, you should also consider linking to some high authority sites in your every post.

This helps your WordPress SEO by letting search engine know that you are linking out to high-quality content that is relevant to yours.

Plus, it also improves your site user experience as you provide your readers more information on that topic.

For example, in most of my in-depth guides, I always add additional resources in each section of my post.

External links

These resources links help my readers to get more in-depth information on that topic.

On top of that, linking to other’s content is also a great way to start conversations with other brands. 

So, whenever you link to another website’s post, just shoot them a quick email or tweet after your post goes live. In most case, they will always appreciate you by sharing your content on their social media profile.

PRO TIP: When adding external links, make sure to set links to open in a new tab or window.

This simple little tweaks will encourage your visitor to come back to your site once they have gone through the linked post.

In Block editor, you can set a link to open in a new tab by clicking on the drop-down arrow and toggling the switch.

Open links in a new tab

21. Have you added No-Follow tag to all your Affiliate links?

A lot of bloggers and even some big business like NerdWallet, TechRadar, The Penny Hoarder and many others use affiliate links on their site to monetize their contents.

Though there is nothing wrong in this monetization model, but unfortunately, Google usually frowns upon affiliate links.

In fact, Google has even penalized many sites in the past for overuse of affiliate links.

To safely add affiliate links to your site, make sure to add “nofollow” or “sponsored” attribute to each link.

A good way to keep track of your affiliate links and make sure they have nofollow attribute is to use a link management plugin like Thirsty Affiliate.

Thirsty Affiliate enables you to create SEO friendly affiliate links which are always nofollow and also redirect with a 301.

Thristy affiliate links

I have been personally using this WordPress plugin for over 1 and half year now and it has been really very helpful in managing all my affiliate links.

22. Are you Adding Table Of Content in your posts?

If you have ever read a book (even your school book) you must have seen a table of content in the beginning of every book.

Table of content in novel
Table of content in novel

These table of content allows readers to easily navigate through the whole book. 

Similarly, a table of content in a web article has the same purpose “making easy for readers to navigate through the whole content”

Specially if you’re writing a very in-depth post like the one you are reading right now, a well-structured table of content is must.

Table of content

I personally create my table of content by manually adding anchor links to each section, but you can use a plugin called “Easy Table Of Content” for automatically adding Table of content to your each post.

23. Is your Post Optimized for Google’s Featured snippet?

Do you know 76% of the searches will have featured snippets?

That means optimizing your content especially for getting featured snippets is super important in 2020.

I will not go into details of how you can optimize different types of your content for different types of snippets in this post.

You should better check out Robbie Richards’s guide on Featured snippet optimization.

But one thing that I will recommend you is focus on giving a very concise answer (usually under 100 words)  to your target search query within your post.

HubSpot’s content writers have definitely mastered this art. If you notice their every post has a special answer box, which gives a concise answer to the target search query.

Hubspot featured snippet box

 This is one of the main reason behind how they have gained featured snippets for millions of search term in the SERP.

Featured snippet ranking

You can also follow the same practice on your blog & website.

CHAPTER #4

Checklist related to Technical SEO on your WordPress site

The next 12 checklists are related to technical SEO on your WordPress site.

24. Are you utilizing social signals?

Do social signal really impact your WordPress SEO?

Well, the relationship between Social shares and SEO isn’t at all clear cut… 

Some SEO experts completely disagree that Social signals are ranking factors while some SEO experts agree with social signals such as likes and shares are related to webpage ranking.

A recent experiment done by Hootsuite also shows there is a positive correlation between social engagements and change in the ranking of a page.

However, even if social shares has no direct impact on SEO, it can give your website a major boost in free traffic. So, it’s better to take advantage of social media as much as you can.

The best thing you can do to encourage your readers to share your content on social media is adding the Social share buttons to your site.

I personally use Social snap Plugin on my blog to add beautiful social sharing buttons on different places of my content.

Social snap is not like not just any normal social sharing plugin, it is packed with full of growth-centric features that can actually help you boost your social traffic.

To know more about this amazing social share plugin read my social snap Review.

social snap

25. Have you installed a valid SSL certificate on your site?

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard security technology that encrypts the connection between a user’s browser and the web server they are connecting to.

Websites secured with SSL are indicated by a green padlock icon in the browser address bar. 

This security sign not only makes your site trustworthy but Google has also officially said that HTTPS is a ranking factor

HTTPS

Additionally, many modern site speed and performance optimization techniques also require a valid SSL/HTTPS setup.

In short, it is very important to install SSL/HTTPS on your WordPress site in 2020.

You can manually install SSL for free with lets Encrypt.

Or if you are hosting your site with a hosting provider like Siteground or WPEngine, who provide free SSL in their hosting plan, then obviously you can install SSL in just one click for FREE.

Siteground SSL
Siteground Free SSL installation

26. Are you implementing relevant Schema Markup to your each post & page?

Schema markup is basically additional codes that help search engines understand your content better.

Though schema markup doesn’t give you ranking boost, but Google has itself said that Schema can help your rankings.

Sschema markup can help with ranking

However, most bloggers think schema markup is just about showing that star rating in search results.

Schema review

Yes, these star rating can definitely increase your CTR in SERP, but Schema markup is beyond that.

There are more than 10 different types of schema which you can use for different pages & post on your site.

For example, if you want yourself to appear in the knowledge graph of Google SERP, you can provide these informations with Author or Person schema.

Person knowledge graph

Similarly, if you are posting blog post on your website, then you can provide all the important information like Title, author name, updated date, author description, content of blog post, organization behind blog post and many more crucial info with Blog posting schema.

Very similar to what I do with my blog post. If you check any of my articles with structured data testing tool, you will find I am providing tons of information to Google through proper schema Implementation.

Schema markup testing

But how to implement all kinds of schema on your site?

Well, if you are good with codes and stuff, then you can manually write JSON-LD code (take help of schema site) and include it into the Head tag of your web page.

But if you are someone like me, who has zero knowledge of codes then you should better use a schema plugin like Schema Pro.

It is a very versatile schema plugin, you just need to set it up for the first time and it will automatically add relevant schema to each page of your site (as per the rules you set in settings.)

Schema pro

27. Have you made sure Google is not indexing your attachment pages?

Whenever you upload an image on your WordPress site and insert it into one of your post, a separate attachment page is created on which the image resides. 

And If you are not careful, Google might start indexing those pages, which is obviously not a good thing for your site.

Because whenever someone clicks on one of your image attachment page in search results, all they will see is the only one image – not the actual content they want to see. 

This will most likely make them leave your site immediately, resulting in a higher bounce rate for your site.

Fortunately, there are couple of ways to prevent Google from indexing these pages in their database.

The easiest way to fix this is to redirect the image attachment pages to the original post (where you have inserted the image)

Whether you are using Yoast SEO or Rank Math SEO plugin, both have an option to  “Redirect attachment URL’s to parent post URL.” Just tick mark that option and done.

Redirect attachment page

28. Is your website load under 3 seconds?

When it comes to WordPress SEO, Website speed matters a lot. In every Google I/O (an annual developer conference held by Google) someone will for sure talk about the importance of web speed.

In fact, they have publicly announced that Website speed is one of the ranking factor.

Page speed ranking factor of google

So, it makes sense to optimize your site for faster speed.

The very first thing you should do is go on a web speed checker tool like Pingdom and check your current site speed.

Pingdom speed test tool

If your site is loading under 3 second, I don’t think you should worry about your site speed. But if it is taking more than 3 seconds to load, you need to work on making your site faster.

Your web hosting plays a very important role in your site speed. Migrating your site from your existing host to a better hosting provider will definitely give you a speed boost.

For instance, when I moved my site from HostGator to SiteGround, I saw an incredible improvement in my site loading time.

Similarly, if you are already on a quality shared hosting provider like SiteGround but still your site is slow, then I believe your site is big and you need to move to a manged or cloud hosting provider.

I’ll recommend you to check out my top 10 WordPress hosting provider guide to find a quality hosting as per your site needs.

Apart from hosting, there are many things that might be making your site slow. Like a poorly coded theme, too many plugins, unorganized database and many others.

I’ll recommend spend some time reading my Website speed optimization guide, it will definitely help.

29. Is your site responsive and mobile friendly?

As an increasing amount of web traffic coming from mobile devices, having a website which is not responsive to smaller screen size will negatively affect your site.

Plus, last year Google officially made public that they have rolled their mobile-first indexing system. Which basically means that now they’ll use the mobile (not the desktop) version of your site to crawl and index in their database.

You can use Google’s mobile-friendly tool to see if your website passes the mobile friendly test or not.

Mobile friendly test

Even if your site passes the test, use this web tool to manually check how your site looks on different screen sizes

Mobile responsiveness check

30. Have you enabled Caching on your site?

Caching, sounds very fancy na?

Actually, it is a very complex technology but it does one simple thing very well – Make your website load fast.

And as I already mentioned – your website speed is very crucial for your SEO success.

A caching plugin basically helps you create static versions of your posts and pages so that the browser can load them fast and it eventually makes your site faster.

If you want to understand caching in detail then refer to this guide.

Which caching Plugin is best?

Well if you are someone who is looking for a free option then use W3 Total Cache. (it is a very well known caching plugin but make sure to set it up properly to get the best result)

I have used almost every popular caching plugin in the last few years and WP Rocket (Premium) is by far the best I have ever come across. It is pretty simple to configure and give the best result among all the other caching plugin available.

Cache plugin
Visit WP rocket plugin

Want to know more about WPRocket Plugin? Check out my WP Rocket review.

31. Does your site have any Broken Links?

Nobody likes a site with lots of broken links and Google is not an exception. If your website is having too many broken links, it will negatively affect your WordPress SEO.

The easiest way to find broken links on your site is to open your Google search console account and navigate to the coverage tab from left sidebar.

Google search console 404 pages

Here in the Error section, you will see all the problems Google encountered while crawling your site, including 404  error (broken links).

Usually Search Console will also tell you where the broken link is located on your site, so you can go further and replace it with a valid one or maybe no-index, if it is no more relevant.

Or you can also have a complete audit of your site with SEMrush and scan all the 404 links on your website in one click.

32. Does your site have duplicate content?

Duplicate content issues occur when two or more pages on your site are identical or very similar.

This can dilute the SEO value of your content among several URLs.

Thus none of them will perform to its best in search engine.

So, you should use 301 redirect or canonical tag to fix duplicate contents on your site.

Here are few good resources to help you deal with duplicate content

33. Are you building high-quality Backlinsk for your site?

Backlink was, is,  and will be relevant in SEO world. 

As discussed above when somebody links to your content, it passes PageRank from their site to yours and sends a positive signal to Google that your content is actually useful.

According to research done by Matthew Barby, if a page has a higher number of backlinks it’ll rank higher in the search results.

Backlinks-vs-Position

Brain Dean over Backlinko also found the same, the more referring domain a web page has the higher it will rank in Google.

As this post is not about Link Building, so it will not make sense to explain all the link building strategies here, but here are few resources that will definitely help you build links from different medium.

34. Are you tracking your Keywords Ranking?

If you have spent so much time writing and optimizing your contents around important keywords, you should also consider monitoring their performance in the long term.

Otherwise what’s the benefit of an SEO campaign when you don’t know what worked and what didn’t work for you.

A good strategy that I also follow on my blog is to monitor keywords that are appearing on the #2 page of Google search result.

Just create a spreadsheet of those keywords and  spend some time making the existing content better by either adding more text, images, video or maybe make some good links for it. Finally, check how they are improving in SERPs.

There are many tools out there which can help you with rank tracking. Some of them are SERPWatcher, Ahrefs, Moz Rank Checker, or if you are using SEMrush, then they also have rank tracking features.

35. Are you conducting regular SEO audit over your site?

A great way to check how your WordPress website is optimized and whether it has any SEO issue is to do a quick WordPress SEO audit

However, performing a manual SEO audit is very time consuming as well as little complicated (if you have too many pages)

Fortunately, there are many SEO auditing tools that can make this complicated process very simple.

If you have a new website then a free tool like SeoSiteCheckup should be good enough to audit your site.

But if you have a big website with too many pages and content, then you should better use a premium SEO tool like SEMrush (which I also recommended for keyword research)

Semrush site audit report

These tools will basically speed up and automate the entire process as well as also offer solutions for any problem they find on your site.

Frequently Asked Question About WordPress SEO

👉 Is WordPress good for SEO?

Yes, WordPress is indeed a great choice for SEO. The way it has been developed and its open-source nature have helped this CMS to grow as an SEO-friendly website builder in the last 10 years.

👉 Which WordPress seo plugin is best

Yoast and RankMath are two of the most reliable SEO plugin out there. You can use any of them, I personally use Rank Math on Bloggingnova.

👉 Is Yoast SEO enough for WordPress SEO?

Yoast SEO plugin is great for on-site SEO. Which means it will help you keep an eye on things like Meta title, description, keywords and so on that are important factors to signal the search engines where to focus when crawling the page.

But still it is just a part of bigger picture, there are lot more things which are crucial for good SEO.

👉 How do I improve my WordPress SEO?

Well, there are lots of tactics you can use on your blog to improve your SEO. Like setting up Sitemap, Verifying your site with the webmaster, Adding breadcrumbs, removing 404 pages, SEO audit and many other tactics which I have discussed in this article.


Final Thought on WordPress SEO checklist

As you can see, there are plenty of SEO factors to consider when it comes to running a good WordPress site.

I hope this WordPress SEO checklist has helped you find what you are currently doing well and what you need to do to make your site more search engine friendly .

Did I missed any important tips or perhaps you have questions? Let me know in the comments.

Shivam Choudhary NerdBlogging

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Hi, I am Shivam Choudhary founder of Nerdblogging.com – A blog that helps online entrepreneurs start, grow, and scale their blog. Whether you are looking for the right advice to get your blog off the ground or proven strategies to accelerate your blog’s growth, I am here to help you get further. 

Leave a Comment

3 comments

  1. Thanks Shivam for the massive post.
    I really liked your point no. 17. i.e.
    ‘Noindex’ low-value content. I have analyzed my search console and GA and found a few low qualuty Post.

    I think I’m going to deindex them

    Thanks again,

    Reply
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