SERP — and we, as marketers alongside it — have seen the biggest shake-ups over the last 10 years on the search engine landscape.
And the true fact:
The 2020s is probably SEO’s ‘The Wild West era.’
It is no more the shady practice of tweaking backend code & stuffing keywords. The Google Revolution (& random grumpy updates) put SEO in a vulnerable place.
So how to survive in this bad time?
The only way is to change our approach to SEO. Let’s face it- There is a lot to take care of to impress search engines nowadays. There are so many that I have to make a detailed WordPress SEO Checklist handbook for you.
Here’s the deal….. It’s a complete guide.
All you have to do is check the list and whatever is missing on your site, and take action immediately.
What is WordPress SEO?
First, let me clarify why WordPress SEO instead of other CMS…..
It’s a no-brainer, though.
WordPress is used by 65.2% of all websites using a content management system. So I assume that you also build your website on WordPress.
The coolest thing is WordPress itself is an SEO-friendly CMS. And you’re already ahead in the SEO game.
Now before jumping into the SEO checklist for wordpress. Here are #5 fundamental questions to ask yourself to evaluate your site’s overall SEO health.
- Does my website appear on search engines?
- Is my local business showing up on SERP?
- Can I serve user-centric content on my site?
- Is my website secure?
- Is my site fast and accessible on all devices?
All of our SEO efforts is to get the green signal on those #5 questions.
A simple (But complete) WordPress SEO Checklist to Supercharge your SEO Game
In this checklist, we cover essential aspects of website optimization and chunk them into #5 main checklist audit SEO WordPress.
Basic SEO checklist
On page SEO checklist
Off-Page SEO Checklist
Technical SEO Checklist
Basic SEO checklist (Small change, big differences)
SEO for WordPress is a broad spectrum. There is a lot to cover. Let’s start the journey with the basics first…….
#1 Start the journey with the right way- with a good domain & Hosting
Ok, I know what you’re thinking. How is domain/hosting related to SEO?
Well, technically, it’s not part of SEO.
But it affects everything- reliability, site speed, server uptime, and security (you name it). Especially
hosting low-quality hosting can ruin all your SEO effort. So, make sure that your site is built on great hosting. And if possible, try to book a Keyword-rich Domain Name.
#2 Go for a Search- friendly theme
Yes, pretty basic, but it can have a snowball effect.
Here is why:
Nothing can be done if the theme supports it. Even Google’s John Mueller says that website themes impact SEO.
Just a splash of color on top of a finished structure doesn’t make a theme good. A theme has to contain-
- Clean code.
- A responsive design.
- Fast loading speeds.
The good news is hundreds of SEO-friendly themes specially made for WordPress.
#3 SSL certificate is a must
Google flags 2/3rd of the web as unsafe.
We can’t blame Google either when Cybercrime Damages to Cost the World $8 Trillion USD in 2023.
The online should be a safe place for you as well as your user. SSL is the electronic passport that ensures that your (& your users) all data are safe and secure. So, Installing the SSL certificate is a must SEO practice for Word press websites.
Installing the SSL certificate is not rocket science either; it will hardly take 15 minutes to get rid of this headache. Remember, it’s a critical issue, not something optional.
FURTHER READING: Best Practices to Keep WordPress Website Secure
#4 Install Google console
The best friend of every webmaster & Devs.
No, I am not kidding!
This awesome tool gives you a glimpse of how people discover your website, which keywords they use, impression, how often they click on your links, page indexing, and even the core web vital report. In a word- it’s a clear spreadsheet of how your site is doing.
What could be a better way to understand your audience?
Oh, I forgot to tell you the coolest thing- it’s totally free. So, embrace it, and watch your website’s growth and performance.
#5 Keep the URL structure as simple (& short) as possible
The uniform resource locator (aka URL) is your webpage’s address. Usually, it goes something like that-
Protocol + Domain Name + Top-level Domain + Slug.
The best practice is keeping that slur part short and simple so that our audience can easily catch it. Our end goal is to give the users a great experience, right?
- Rule #1- Avoid All Caps
- Rule #2 Use Hyphens to Separate Words
- Rule #3 Add the kw if possible (but in short form)
- Rule #4 Only words, No number
- Rule #5 Use Hyphens to Separate Words
#6 Setup Google Analytics
Yes, plenty of tools exist to see the site’s traffic and visitors. But nothing compares to Google Analytics when it comes to the accuracy of tracking website visitors.
By installing Google Analytics, you will have an in-depth report on things like-
- Real-time traffic
- How many people are visiting your site?
- How Long do They stay on that page
- Which articles are doing well
- How is Your Site Discovered?
These may sound basic, but when you try to monetize your site, it’s a huge factor. And likewise, Google also powers Google Search Console, and it’s totally free for the website owner.
FURTHER READING: How to Add Google Analytics 4 to WordPress
#7 Install some SEO plugins to cut the time of the manual work
SEO is not a one-click-solving thing.
There is tons of SEO work (unfortunately!!!!) Finding each of them and solving this manually on every page will take a great deal of time.
Ever wonder how SEO specialists manage it?
They use WordPress SEO plugins as a helping hand. These plugins will point out basic SEO settings issues and what you need to take care of. Some popular SEO plugins are-
- Yoast SEO (All time classic)
- Rank Math (My favorite)
- SEOPress(Great for beginner)
FURTHER READING: Best WordPress SEO Plugins for Boosting Your Website’s Ranking
#8 Give priority to the great Navigation experience
Do you expect to have visitors on your site with frustrating navigation experiences in 2023?
Those days are gone.
Research shows that Only 30% of website users use the search function, and the majority, 70%, rely on navigating directly. Great navigation is the fundamental pillar of great UX.
And it was only achieved with a solid website architecture navigation that is user-focused. Here are my tips to make the navigation menu more lively-
- Put menus in familiar locations (somewhere the user’s eyeball can easily catch)
- keep a healthy balance on menu size with the screen
- Make menu link clickable & interactive
#9 Add visuals to hook the reader in
The human brain processes visual content 60,000 times faster than text.
That’s why adding visuals on-site is a clever way to increase dwelling time. The visual content could be-
These are the contents that trigger emotions. We translate visual content quickly. As a result, it affects the engagement rate.
#10 Don’t forget to put Alt-Text to Your Images
Do you know that Image rank on search engines too?
Yup, that’s right.
Today, nearly 38% of Google’s SERPs show images — and that’s likely to increase. For Image optimization, Alt-Text plays a key role. So, use this Alt-Text in your favor.
On-page SEO checklist to keep your website in Tie-top shape
Doing on-page SEO correctly is an art.
When you complete this correctly, 70% of the work is done. On-page or on-site SEO is a series of things you must check on. It covers everything internally on the webpage. Let me show you how the WordPress on-page SEO checklist.
#11 Say Yes to only helpful, solid content
Before hitting that final publish button, ask yourself these questions-
- Is the content good enough that I want to share it with my closed one?
- Will it add value to the reader?
- Does it serve the kw intent?
- Is the tone of voice suit well with the audience?
If all the answers are “Yes,” then you can consider publishing. Whatever they say, content is still the king and has the power to bring most of the organic traffic. So, please don’t take it lightly.
#12 Try to include the Target Keyword on the opening(naturally)
Though it’s an old practice, it still works. The standard practice is to keep the kw within 150 words.
Not just main kw!!!!
Systematic keyword insertion is the best practice nowadays after the Google’s helpful content update. This is called keyword optimization. Building topical authority should be the goal.
#13 Add LSIs
LSI stands for Latent Semantic Index(ing).
Google has been emphasizing this since 2015. LSI are search terms related to the target keyword. You can say it as the kw synonym.
Now come to the main point- why will you add LSI to content?
When you place Semantic keywords, this will automatically improve the relevancy. Plus, don’t forget the fact that not all people search for a thing in the same way. So, add the related LSIs to your content for a few minutes.
Already published content and thinking what to do now?
Don’t worry. You can also do this when updating the existing content, and there is a high chance that it will boost your ranking.
#14 Optimize the Title Tag & meta
Have you ever looked at the SERP result closely?
If yes, then you notice that Title Tag & Meta are the only things shown for a particular page. So, this is important.
That’s not all.
If you can optimize it wisely, you will increase the chance of ranking higher on search engines.
So, be unique in crafting the Title and meta.
Keep title tags between 50 and 60 characters and meta between 150 and 160 characters. And include the main kw creatively.
#15 Leverage the H1, H2, H3 wisely
I mean the header tags.
In WordPress, these are HTML elements used to define the headings of a page. And it would be best if you kept a hierarchy for placing the headings.
#16 Avoid kw stuffing
Google is getting smarter day by day.
So, if you think you will rank with kw stuffing, you’re in a maze. Let me show you what Google says about it–
“Filling pages with keywords results in a negative user experience, and can harm rankings. Focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately in context.”
You can even get a penalty for this.
If needed, give broad match kw on the article to keep relevance rather than using the exact match kw.
#17 Build a killer internal linking structure using a cluster model
First, let me show you what internal linking is…..
An internal link is any link from one page on your website to another page on your website. We often neglect the power of internal linking.
But truth to be told….
This is the most cost-effective way to build some site authority. Internal linking is also the easiest way to provide link juice to internal pages.
To top it off…….
It makes navigation easier for the user. When internal linking is used smartly, it can bridge a fantastic relationship between content. They also help search engines to find your content better semantically.
Off-Page SEO Checklist to Improve E-A-T of Your Site
“Off-page SEO” (also called “off-site SEO”) refers to actions taken outside of your own website to impact your rankings”
Since Google exposes EAT strictly, Off-page SEO has become a buzzword. Here are some of the must-have off-page SEO practice you must follow.
#18 Take care of the Redirect Chains (or Error 404)
Sneaky 404s are not good for your site’s health.
Having too many redirect chains will ruin the user experience as well as irritate Google. There are plenty of redirect chain checkers.
All you have to do is……
Identify them with tools like GTmetrix or Ahrefs and remove them manually from your site.
#19 Be more active on social media
As simple as it sounds!
Just being present on various platforms will increase your trustworthiness (Remember E-A-T? T stands for trustworthiness).
This strategy will also diversify your marketing funnel. Even if the organic ranking doesn’t work as planned, you keep room to have visitors through social media.
#20 Consider Guest blogging on third-party websites.
Publishing an article on someone else’s website as a guest.
That’s the whole idea of guest blogging.
This is a natural way to build authority on your website. In fact, 64.9% of link builders actively use it as their go-to tactic. Having a well-placed do-follow link will increase-
- Domain Authority
Speed optimization for lighting fast loading speed
Didn’t expect speed optimization of the SEO checklist?
Well, as of January 2021—it uses site speed as a ranking factor for search results on Google. So, speed should be the most vital thing in your SEO strategy in 2023. We are so impatient lately and abandon websites that take too long to load.
Having a faster loading site is considered a blessing. To have great speed, aim for the following scores:
· LCP –2.5 sec or lower
· FID – 100 ms or lower
· CLS – 0.1 or lower
#21 Compress, Compress, Compress
Large image files are the main enemy to slow down the loading speed of a website.
So, if you want your site with faster loading times (+ an amazing user experience), a compressed image will be your first baby step.
Compressed images will consume less bandwidth when they are transferred from the server to the user’s device. There are plenty of free online tools for image compression. Try them to reduce the size of your image.
As most traffic comes from mobile, compressed images are now more important than ever.
#22 Minimize Page Weight
The larger the page size, the longer it takes for the browser to download all the necessary resources of your website.
That’s why minimizing page weight is part of the core SEO strategy. Not just image, page weight also cause by-
- And other media
The goal is to reduce the number of bytes that need to be downloaded so that you can achieve faster download times for your site. Here are a few tricks that work wonders on instant page speed score.
- Reduce render-blocking resources as much as possible
- Minify code
- Optimize font & image
- Reduce HTTP request
According to Google PageSpeed Insights:
“Cache-Control defines how, and for how long the individual response can be cached by the browser and other intermediate caches.”
So, why does it really matter?
Because your traffic does a repeat visit to your website. And as browsers are getting more and smarter day by day, they keep the data and resources in their store.
And the result?
The delay of network round trips on the next visit, aka more loading time. To leverage cache control, you can implement techniques like-
- Set appropriate caching headers
- Apply cache-busting techniques
- Use a content delivery network (CDN)
FURTHER READING: WordPress Speed Optimization Guide for Faster Website
Technical SEO Checklist
While traditional SEO focuses more on content and keywords, technical SEO eventually deals with the backend elements.
Things like- how search engine crawlers access, interpret, and index a website and overall user experience. But you can still be a technical nerd to achieve this thing. Here is an SEO checklist for WordPress you need to take care of.
#24 Check if there are any crawl error
We installed the search console previously, remember?
This tool will also be handy here. Now look at the Search Console carefully. The crawl section is divided into two main sections-
- Site Errors
- URL Errors
Check them regularly and see if there are any crawl errors, such as broken links, missing pages, server errors, or blocked content. And fix the issue if needed.
#25 Is your site Mobile-Friendly?
67% said they’re more likely to buy a product or service when a site is mobile-friendly.
So, it does matter.
Google has a tool called Mobile friendly test. Check your website with it and see whether it is mobile-friendly. If not, then take the necessary steps.
#26 XML site map
When you have an XML sitemap, you’re providing search engines with a comprehensive and organized list of URLs that they can easily crawl off the website.
Plus….. And understand the structure.
It also helps search engines discover new content or updates to existing content more efficiently. You can do it manually, or Rankmath will do it automatically.
#27 Tell Google which pages you don’t want to be crawled
In short- use robots with no index meta tag where it’s needed.
Not every page on your website should be indexed with Google. Fewer pages but only those which are top-notch quality. Which pages are usually gone with no indexing tag?
- Thank you pages
- Ad landing
- Policy pages
- Categories Page
#28 Take advantage of Schema Markup
No matter how smarter the search engines get, they are still robots.
Heavily rely on algorithms.
That’s why webmasters use Schema markup. It is actually Structured Data, a standardized vocabulary to let the search engines know what the page is all about. This will also help you to get Rich Results snippets and better ranking.
#29 Optimize Your Google Business Profile
Google My Business, a sub product of Google, Inc., is designed to promote local business owners.
And if you have a local business, you should definitely try it. Beyond your business’s URL and description, you can add your-
- Business photos,
- Location on Google Map
- Telephone numbers,
- a delivery area,
- Business hours,
- And links to reservation services.
FAQs about WordPress SEO
Who Is This WordPress SEO Checklist For?
Everyone who uses WordPress to build their site, especially Webmasters and site owners.
What are the 3 core must-haves of SEO?
The fundamental 3 pillars of SEO are- Authority, Relevance, Experience.
How do I know if my website has good SEO?
Most of the ranking tools will brief you on your WordPress site’s SEO score. For example- Ahref, UberSuggest or SEMrush.
How long does it take to see a good results from SEO?
There is no definite time, but usually, webmaster’s see a visible result within 3-6 months after working on SEO.