WordPress SEO: The Ultimate Guide.

Last updated: October 12, 2018

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. That said, I never recommend a product or service that I don’t personally use for my business.

SEO stands for search engine optimization and it covers the steps that a website owner (or an SEO firm or employee of a company) completes to get a website to appear higher in a search engine’s rankings.

This guide specifically focuses on WordPress SEO tips and techniques that you can use to help optimize your blog to rank higher in the search engines.

So why would you want to complete search engine optimization on your WordPress blog? Well, typically, the better your blog’s ranking for a particular search term, the more visible it will be within the results and the more visitors you are likely to get.

From a marketing perspective, more eyes on a page can equate to more sales, leading to potential increases in revenue for your blog. This ability to boost revenue has resulted in SEO becoming a massive business, with SEO-related spend predicted to hit $80 billion by 2020.

How Necessary is WordPress SEO?

Let’s say you’ve just built a WordPress website. You’ve spent countless hours creating the logo, designing the layout and writing helpful content for your chosen niche.

Your website goes live and you wait with bated breath for the sudden influx of visitors, and then…nothing happens.

What could have gone wrong? What happened to ‘build it and they will come’?

The problem is a simple one. No one knows about your website!

It’s worth remembering that there are well over 1.5 billion websites online, which is a huge amount of noise for your website to be lost in regardless of how good it is.

Without using any WordPress SEO strategies, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to have a significant number of people visit your blog.

How Does This Guide Help?

This guide covers the steps required to improve both your on-page and off-page (also known as on-site and off-site) WordPress SEO, helping you to increase your blog’s search engine ranking for your chosen keywords and phrases.

Note: this guide is primarily applicable to WordPress.org sites where the site structure can more easily be modified. However, the sections on keyword strategy, creating awesome content and the off-page SEO strategies will also be of benefit for WordPress.com sites.

Related: I provide a comparison between the two versions of WordPress, and show you step-by-step how to start a WordPress.org blog in the following post: WordPress.com vs. WordPress.org.

Recommended Resource.

siteground web hosting logo

SEO-boosting hosting awesomeness officially recommended by WordPress.org.

Let’s face it. When it comes to WordPress SEO, speed matters.

Not only does SiteGround make it super-easy to install and manage WordPress, but all plans include features to ensure your site loads as quickly as possible to boost SEO. Find out about these awesome features here.

Already have a hosting account? Not a problem. SiteGround offers one free professional website transfer with each of its hosting accounts so your blog’s visitors can experience the speed benefits first-hand.

SiteGround is my personal choice for hosting, and it helps ensure my supersized content like this loads super quick, every time.

Web Hosting


benefits of WordPress SEO icon link

What Are The Benefits of WordPress SEO?

While I touched on some of the benefits of search engine optimization above, it is probably worth spending more time discussing the various benefits in detail so that you can be assured that it is the correct choice for you and your business.

Spending time and effort on WordPress SEO can help bring about the following benefits for your blog:

Increased Traffic

It’s been found that 93% of all online activities begin with a search engine query.

Clearly, search engines play a key role in directing online traffic, so any boost in your blog’s ranking can lead to considerable increases in traffic. The scale of these traffic increases depends on how high your blog ranks for a specific search term.

A study by Moz found that 71% of click-throughs were to websites listed on the first page of the search results. The following click-through percentages were attributed to positions 1-5:

Google Ranking PositionClick-Through Percentage
Position 131.24%
Position 214.04%
Position 39.85%
Position 46.97%
Position 55.50%

Based on the above, an increase in ranking from position 5 to position 1 would lead to an almost six-fold increase in traffic. At 50,000 searches of a particular query per month, this would be the difference between 15,620 visitors versus 2,750. Quite the increase.

Long-Term Traffic Benefits

Boosting your search engine ranking also helps to future-proof your WordPress blog.

While SEO takes time, and good rankings do not occur overnight, they also won’t disappear overnight meaning you should continue to see traffic benefits in the medium to long-term.

Unlike paid advertising traffic which basically stops whenever your ad budget is depleted, organic traffic obtained through WordPress SEO will continue to arrive regardless of whether you have a paid advertising strategy in place.

Excellent Return on Investment (ROI)

While an increase in traffic by itself is excellent, your blog will also benefit from the fact that search engine optimization helps deliver highly-targeted traffic.

WordPress SEO helps align your blog’s content with the specific keywords and phrases that your chosen audience will be searching for. This turns your blog into a 24/7 lead generation machine, helping deliver traffic (and ultimately sales) in a very cost-effective manner.

While it isn’t uncommon for website owners to add paid advertising to their off-page SEO strategies (discussed later here), it’s worth remembering that this isn’t actually required. Yes, it will take longer to grow traffic organically, but these traffic increases are largely free, meaning that you can enjoy exceptionally high returns-on-investment from any sales made to organic traffic.

By following an organic approach, businesses can often reduce their costs of acquiring customers to below that of their competitors, meaning they can afford to invest money in other areas of their businesses to improve their competitive advantage even more.

Improved Brand Awareness

As mentioned, 71% of click-throughs occur to search engine results on the first page, meaning a large portion of search engine users don’t bother going beyond page one. This is likely a result of people viewing better-ranked results as more credible and authentic.

Your ability to promote your blog and brand to as many members of your target audience as possible, and to be seen as authoritative as possible, depends on your ability to improve your search engine ranking. WordPress SEO helps provide this opportunity.

These benefits compound as your blog starts to grow. As you start to rank for a wider range of search terms, WordPress SEO helps drive positive brand awareness by promoting your blog to an ever larger audience as your ranking for each term improves.

Leads to a Better User Experience

WordPress SEO can also have a significant impact on how user-friendly your blog is. This occurs in a number of ways:

  • A major aspect of on-page SEO is delivering truly valuable content. The better quality and more in-depth your content is, the more likely it is that a visitor will obtain the information they require in a quick and simple manner. Focusing on WordPress SEO helps ensure your content is as high-quality as possible.
  • Elements such as keywords, meta titles and meta descriptions are key aspects of search engine optimization. By keeping these as accurate and relevant to your blog’s content as possible, you minimize the change of a site visitor clicking through to content that doesn’t truly meet the requirements of their search.
  • WordPress SEO promotes the creation of a logical and intuitive site structure for your blog, making it quicker and easier for visitors to navigate to the information they require.
  • A logical site structure also makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index your blog fully. This ensures that all of your blog’s content is available to visitors who could potentially benefit from it.


on-page WordPress SEO icon link

On-Page WordPress SEO

On-page SEO relates to the various techniques which you can conduct on your blog itself. This includes various technical items related to your blog, for example improving your blog’s site architecture; adopting the correct link structure; being aware of ‘crawlability’ requirements and adding a sitemap to help the search engines understand your blog’s structure.

It also include important concepts such as keyword strategy, creating awesome content, and various HTML requirements such as title tags and meta description tags.


site structure and WordPress SEO for blogs icon link

Site Architecture

SEO Benefits of Good Site Architecture

While I covered the general benefits of WordPress SEO previously, there are a number of specific, tangible benefits that can be attributed directly to improving your blog’s site architecture. These include:

Improved User Experience

By organizing your blog logically, you can improve user experience by making navigation of the content much more intuitive and quicker to understand. This is important as a proportion of your blog’s visitors will likely be new, so you cannot assume that experience will guide them to the information they are looking for.

For example, a logical structure would ensure that blog posts for a certain topic could be found in the same section of a website. In the case of this website, the means that all content related to improving your search engine ranking can be found in the ‘Search Engine Optimization’ section, and all content related to getting subscribers on your email list can be found in the ‘Email Marketing’ section.

The quicker a visitor can find the information they require, the less likely they are to become frustrated and leave your website. Google records metrics such as time-on-site and a website’s ‘bounce’ rate (the percentage of visitors who leave after viewing only one page). Both of these metrics have an impact on your blog’s search engine ranking.

Google Sitelinks

WordPress SEO increases the likelihood of your blog being awarded with sitelinks due to a favorable site structure.

These appear under some Google listings as additional, ‘deeper’ links to a website’s subpages. An example of this is as follows:

WordPress SEO - google sitelinks provides additional site links
An example of sitelinks within Google’s search results.

You can’t apply to get sitelinks shown on your blog’s search engine listings. An algorithm is used to detect websites with a good structure, and sitelinks are added to those accordingly that rank number one for a specific search term. Google explains this further:

"We only show sitelinks for results when we think they'll be useful to the user. If the structure of your site doesn't allow our algorithms to find good sitelinks, or we don't think that the sitelinks for your site are relevant for the user's query, we won't show them."

Sitelinks provide the following benefits:

  • They increase the amount of screen real-estate occupied by a listing within Google’s results pages. This leads to increased visibility which will likely improve the click-through rate of the listing and improved brand awareness.
  • They are a demonstration of trust from Google. This, in turn, leads to reassurance to potential website visitors that your content is trustworthy and relevant to what they’re looking for.
  • They provide links to ‘deeper’ pages which visitors may not naturally get to by themselves. This helps increase the likelihood that they will reach information that they find valuable.

You can read more about Sitelinks here: The Definitive Guide To Getting Google Sitelinks.

Improved ‘Crawlability’

When building their search engine indexes, companies such as Google or Bing send web crawlers (also known as robots, bots or spiders) to find new and updated webpages on the internet.

The better and more logical your site structure is, the easier it will be for web crawlers to access and index your blog’s content fully.

Poorly structured websites run the risk of being crawled and indexed incompletely, for example if certain pages are missed due to inadequate internal links or an incomplete sitemap. A situation like this could result in a blog’s best content not being visible to potential visitors on a search engine’s results page.

Optimizing Your Site’s Architecture

Site Structure

As discussed, your blog’s structure will play a massive part in how user-friendly and crawlable it is. This means that site structure is critical from a WordPress-SEO perspective.

The best time to sort out your blog’s structure is right at the start when it will be easiest to set up. Having said that, it’s isn’t impossible to reorganize a poorly structured website, and it’s definitely worthwhile spending time doing this if considerable improvements can be made.

Ideally, your blog’s structure will loosely resemble a pyramid. For example:

example of ideal blog structure for WordPress SEO
An example of a pyramid website structure.

This structure allows a search engine’s crawlers to navigate to all parts of the site quickly and easily, given that each page throughout the hierarchy is accessibly via a direct, crawlable link.

The example structure also benefits from a having a small number of ‘layers’ from top to bottom. This allows a user to quickly access the deepest content, in this case, the blog posts, in just a few clicks from the homepage.

This is highly preferable from a user experience perspective.

Site Structure – A Worked Example

Rather than quickly skim over site structure, it’s probably worth talking through how the structure above works in practice in the context of a blog:

  • The blog’s homepage sits at the top of the site’s ‘pyramid’.
  • Beneath the homepage, standard WordPress pages form the blog’s foundation pages, in this case, the about, blog and contact pages. These are accessible by clicking the menu links on the homepage, for example:
WordPress SEO - example blog homepage menu links
  • ‘About’ and ‘Contact’ are standalone pages which do not contain any subpages. As such, I won’t discuss these further.
  • When it comes to the ‘Blog’ menu link, a user has two options:
  1. They can directly click the ‘Blog’ button.
  1. They can hover over the ‘Blog’ button and a dropdown list will appear with the blog’s categories.
  • If a visitor selects option 1 and clicks the ‘Blog’ button directly, they’re taken to a new page which contains a list of the available categories, as well as a list of all the blog’s posts below. An example of this page is as follows:
WordPress SEO - example blog page layout to boost SEO
  • Clicking a post title under ‘All Posts’ would take a user directly to that blog post. Alternatively, clicking ‘Category 1’ would take a visitor to the example category page shown below (I discuss how to create category pages below).
WordPress SEO - example category page layout to boost SEO
  • The category page above is where a visitor would end up had they chose option 2 above and selected one of the category options from the ‘Blog’ dropdown menu.
  • The category page provides a direct link to the best content in that category (in this case ‘Key Article 1’) and includes a list of all posts in that category below.

Constructing a blog in this manner keeps it as logical and understandable as possible for both visitors and search engines.

Category/Tag Pages

This section relates to the technical requirements of setting up category and tag pages (I cover how to specifically use categories and tags within your content later here).

Category and tag pages play into the site structure outlined above by organizing your content into specific ‘silos’, helping make your blog more intuitive by grouping similar types of information together.

Category Pages

WordPress automatically creates a category page each time you add a new category.

There are a couple of ways to add new categories. Firstly, you can use the ‘Categories’ widget which appears on the sidebar when you’re creating a new post:

WordPress SEO - select category for blog post

I personally prefer to create a new category using the dedicated ‘Categories’ page, however, which is accessible from your WordPress website’s admin area.

You’ll need to access this page to add your category page’s description anyway (you can’t add this using the sidebar widget), so it makes sense to create the new category here at the same time.

To access the ‘Categories’ page:

  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Click ‘Posts’ in the sidebar.
  1. Click ‘Categories’ from the dropdown list which appears.
  1. Complete the ‘Add New Category’ details (I don’t add anything to the ‘Description’ field at this stage as the text editor in this section doesn’t show the full editing toolbar).
WordPress SEO - add new category for blog post
  1. Click ‘Add New Category’.


While not 100% required, I recommend adding a short introduction to each of your category pages. This can be a good opportunity to lightly drop some keywords and allows you to add internal links between your website’s pages. Both of these items are covered later and are good from a search engine optimization perspective.

In the case of the example above, it is also a good place to provide a link to ‘Key Article 1’ to boost the number of internal links pointing at it. Again, quantity of links is beneficial from a WordPress SEO perspective.

To add a description to your category page:

  1. Select your newly created category from the ‘Categories’ table (either click the name directly or hover and select ‘Edit’).
  1. Add your introductory paragraph under ‘Description’. You can add links to your content using the toolbar button or manually via the Text Editor.

Tag Pages

Creating a tag page follows the same basic process shown above for adding category pages, so I won’t cover this separately.


Google increased the influence of a website’s mobile-friendliness on its ranking position (in mobile search) in 2015.

The main reason for this was the surge in popularity of mobile browsing, with it now being more likely that a visitor to your blog will be using a mobile device as opposed to a personal computer.

Your WordPress SEO strategy should include steps to ensure that content is formatted correctly, and is as easy to read as possible regardless of what device or screen size a reader is viewing your blog on.

There are a number of ways to ensure your blog is as mobile-friendly as possible:

  • Take Google’s mobile-friendly test: instead of going to the hassle of testing your blog on multiple different devices, this simple test allows you to quickly check whether your site is mobile-friendly. I recommend running this test for each new piece of content you produce.

    Depending on the results, you’ll either get a green confirmation of mobile-friendliness, or you’ll get a number of red errors such as text which is too small to read or links that are too close together when viewed on mobile devices.

    It’s important to rectify these red warnings to ensure your blog receives a ranking boost in mobile search.

WordPress SEO - google mobile friendly test result for blog
Google’s mobile-friendly test can help provide confirmation of a webpage’s mobile-friendliness.
  • Ensure your WordPress theme is mobile responsive: the majority of newer WordPress themes should already be mobile-responsive, but it’s worth checking yours to confirm, especially if your chosen theme has been around for a while.

    If you’re just starting out, I recommend using the Avada theme (this blog runs uses Avada) as it makes handling mobile responsiveness a piece of cake. Click here to read my review of the Avada theme.

  • Ensure your WordPress plugins are mobile responsive: any plugins which affect user experience, for example through adding widgets such as email opt-in forms, galleries or call-to-action buttons to your blog, should always scale and function correctly regardless of screen size.

    In many cases these plugins provide functionality which allows you to switch off certain features depending on screen size, but it’s worth checking the reviews and specification of any plugin before you install it to ensure it won’t impact your blog’s mobile-friendliness.

    Related: I cover how to ensure your email opt-in forms are mobile-optimized in the following guide: Email Marketing: The Ultimate Guide.


In August 2014, Google announced that websites using HTTPS would receive a minor ranking boost.

This has been confirmed in practice in a study by Backlinko, with a reasonably strong correlation being found between websites using HTTPS and first-page Google rankings.

As discussed earlier, an increase in ranking will lead to greater traffic numbers so it is clearly an advantage if your blog uses HTTPS.

Google encourages and incentivizes the use of HTTPS given that it provides a greater degree of trustworthiness to the websites which use it. You can read about the specific benefits (other than SEO-related benefits) from using HTTPS here.

HTTPS for New Blogs

If you’re starting a new blog, I recommend configuring it to use HTTPS to boost your WordPress SEO from the outset.

I personally use and recommend SiteGround hosting which provides Let’s Encrypt SSL security certificates needed for enabling HTTPS on your website.

These are included free with all plans.

HTTPS for Existing Blogs

If your blog currently uses HTTP, it is possible to swap across to HTTPS.

However, it’s important that you’re aware that incorrectly switching across could negatively impact your blog’s WordPress SEO, leading to lower rankings and reduced traffic.

Google provides guidance on how to complete this switch correctly. It is also advisable to search your current host’s documentation library for advice on how to correctly complete the switch.

WWW vs. non-WWW

There is zero advantage of one versus the other from a search engine optimization perspective. In reality, you don’t actually need to use WWW, and nothing negative will happen to your blog’s WordPress SEO if you choose not to.

However, a search engine will view http://www.websitename.com and http://websitename.com as two separate websites, so it’s important to pick one version and consistently use it going forward.

Updating Your URL Selection on WordPress
  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Click ‘Settings’ in the sidebar.
  1. Click ‘General’ from the dropdown list which appears.
  1. Set your preference in the ‘WordPress Address (URL)’ and ‘Site Address (URL)’ fields. In this case I’ve chosen to include WWW.
WordPress SEO - update blog URL to www or non-www

I also recommend updating this setting in Google’s Search Console (discussed later here).

Updating Your URL Selection in Google’s Search Console
  1. Once registered and logged-in, click the cog icon and select ‘Site Settings’.
WordPress SEO - update google search console site settings
  1. Update your preference for the ‘Preferred domain’ setting.
WordPress SEO - update google search console URL to www or non-www
  1. Click ‘Save’ to save your preference.

Avoiding Crawlability & Indexability Issues

Crawlability relates to how easily (and fully) a search engine’s crawlers can access all aspects of a website’s content. Crawlability issues could arise from any of the common link issues I covered previously, and could lead to certain pages being ‘off limits’ to the search engines in error.

Indexability relates to how easily a search engine can analyze a webpage for inclusion in its index.

There are a number of factors that could lead to crawlability and indexability issues on your blog:

Meta Robots (‘noindex’) Tag

The ‘noindex’ option of the meta robots tag is useful in situations where you don’t want a particular webpage to appear in Google Search. This could be for employee-only pages, or for landing pages holding special offers that only a select group of people should have access to, for example.

A webpage that is omitted from the search results will usually have the following code in the <head> section:

<meta name=“robots” content=“noindex”>

You should be careful with the ‘noindex’ option of this tag on your blog. Regardless of how many pages link to a non-indexed page, how good the content is or how many keywords it contains, it will be omitted from the search results.

Clearly, this will be an issue for the pages of your blog that you actually want to rank.

You should always check to ensure that there aren’t any pages or posts on your blog which are incorrectly set to ‘noindex’.

Setting Your ‘noindex’ Tags Using Yoast SEO

The easiest way to ensure that your blog content is indexable is by installing the Yoast SEO plugin.

I recommend setting the ‘Meta Robots’ tag to ‘index’ across your entire blog’s posts, pages and media (provided you aren’t building a private website or a website where the majority of the content should be private).

You can then choose ‘noindex’ for individual pages or posts where needed.

You can ensure site-wide indexing is possible by doing the following:

  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Ensure you’ve installed the Yoast SEO plugin.
  1. Click ‘SEO’ in the sidebar.
  1. Click ‘Search Appearance’ from the dropdown list which appears.
  1. Click ‘Content Types’ in the tab bar.
  1. Select to show (or not show) each content type in the search results. For example for posts:
WordPress SEO - using Yoast plugin to update blog meta robots to index or noindex

To update individual posts, pages or media items as noindex:

  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Depending on the item you want to change the meta robots tag for, navigate to this by clicking either ‘Posts’, ‘Pages’ or ‘Media’ from the sidebar.
  1. Click the specific post, page or media item that you want to update.
  1. Scroll to the Yoast SEO plugin widget at the bottom of the page.
  1. Click to view the ‘Advanced’ tab (looks like a cog wheel).
  1. Select ‘No’ from the ‘Allow search engines to show this Post (or Page if you’re editing a page) in search results?’ selection. See below:
WordPress SEO - using Yoast plugin to update blog meta robots to index or noindex
  1. Click the blue WordPress ‘Update’ button to save your changes.

Robots.txt File

The robots.txt file is a file which contains information relevant to the search engine crawlers that will be indexing a website. It can be used to either allow or disallow search engines access to certain files or folders.

There is an argument to be made that preventing access to certain areas of your blog can actually improve SEO.

Google allocates a crawl budget to each website, and this budget governs the number of pages that will be indexed on a website each time it is crawled. By denying access to certain files or folders, the crawl budget can be distributed across more important areas of a website to ensure changes are picked up more quickly. This is beneficial from an SEO perspective.

It isn’t always plain sailing setting this up, however. If you accidentally prevent access to key files and folders, you run the risk of harming your WordPress SEO given that certain pages may not be crawled or indexed correctly.

Google has confirmed that you don’t need a robots.txt file. A website without a robots.txt file can generally be crawled and indexed normally – this is very common.

While a robots.txt file may arguably be needed on larger websites (where larger areas of content needs to be blocked from search engines), this won’t be necessary for the majority of WordPress blogs which are relatively small.

Noting the potential issues related to incorrect robots.txt files, and the fact that allowing site-wide access for indexing is very common, I recommend not setting up a robots.txt file in 99% of cases for WordPress blogs.

If your WordPress site falls into the category of needing a robots.txt file, you can create this via the Yoast SEO plugin.

Avoiding Duplicate Content Related to Site Structure

Duplicate content refers to multiple iterations of the same content (or content that is very similar), either across your own blog, or between your blog and one or more other websites.

Despite horror stories about duplicate content penalties from Google being quite common, in reality, these rarely occur. Google’s own policy on duplicate content goes someway to confirming this, stating:

"Duplicate content on a site is not grounds for action on that site unless it appears that the intent of the duplicate content is to be deceptive and manipulate search engine results. If your site suffers from duplicate content issues, and you don't follow the advice listed above, we do a good job of choosing a version of the content to show in our search results."

Despite this, I still recommend removing instances of duplicate content relating to site structure from your blog. Without doing this, you rely on Google’s expertise to determine the correct version of the content to be shown in the search results. No matter how effective Google is at this, there will inevitably be situations where the wrong version is shown in the results.

There are a number of ways that duplicate content related to site structure can occur on your blog:

WordPress Taxonomy Duplication

Taxonomies can be used on WordPress to group related content together. Categories and tags are examples of taxonomies.

WordPress can often create large amounts of duplicate content by default. On some themes, new posts are set to show in full each time they are shown on a blog.

This means that once a post has been created, not only is it viewable in full from the post’s actual webpage, but it can also be viewed in full on each of the different taxonomy pages that WordPress adds the post to by default.

For example:

  • The date archive
  • The author page
  • The category page
  • The tag page created for each tag used on the post

This means that when posts are set to be displayed in full, the exact same piece of content will be accessible from 5+ different URLs on a WordPress site.

While the implications of duplicate content appear to be exaggerated, I still remove all instances of duplicate content which arise from taxonomy duplication on WordPress.

As mentioned above, despite Google’s assurance that it does a good job of selecting the correct version to show in the search results, I don’t want to leave this to chance.

I want the post’s actual webpage to appear in the search results, not a category or tag page in error.

How to Prevent Taxonomy-Related Duplicate Content

To overcome duplicate content related to taxonomies, a lot of advice points to adding ‘noindex’ to your category, tag and other taxonomy pages. This means that you could effectively leave the duplicate content, and Google would disregard it when indexing your site which would ensure the correct version of the content was shown in the search results.

While feasible, I don’t recommend this.

It has been reported that links on ‘noindex’ pages are eventually set to ‘nofollow’ by default. This means that a search engine will not follow these links when crawling your blog. Given that taxonomy pages will point to the bulk of your blog’s content, this would be disastrous from a WordPress SEO perspective.

For this reason, I keep all of my blog’s taxonomy pages (category pages, tag pages etc.) as indexable, and I handle the duplicate content problem by not showing full posts on these pages but instead showing titles only.

I won’t go into detail about how to complete this as it will vary for each WordPress theme. It is best to check your chosen theme’s documentation.

Other Duplication Issues

Duplicate content relating to your blog’s structure is too large a topic to cover in detail within this post.

I recommend reading the following resources for more information:

Boosting Site Speed

Site speed matters when it comes to WordPress SEO.

CrazyEgg found that page views decrease by 11%, customer satisfaction decreases 16% and conversion rate is reduced by 7%, all from a one-second increase in a page’s load time. They also report that 47% of people expect a webpage to load in two seconds or less.

While this points to somewhat unrealistic expectations (MachMetrics reports that the average load time of a website is 8.66 seconds), the recommended load time for a webpage in 2018 is less than three seconds.

It’s important to spend time making your WordPress blog as fast as possible.

I recommend following the guides below in full to assist with this:

  • The Ultimate Guide to Boost WordPress Speed & Performance (link)
  • 15 Easy Ways To Speed Up WordPress (link)

User-Friendly 404 Pages

A 404 Not Found error occurs when someone clicks a dead or broken link – i.e. a link that doesn’t go anywhere.

This could happen as a result of the URL being incorrect, or the original page being deleted. Whatever the reason, you can use Google Search Console’s Crawl Error report to help find 404 errors on your blog.

While there are WordPress plugins available that redirect users away from 404 pages (usually to the homepage or a closely related page), I don’t recommend using these.

I believe the best approach is to be open and honest, and showing a helpful 404 page will form part of this. Use it to give a brief explanation of what happened, rather than trying to divert the reader to another location which will likely annoy them more than a 404 error.

You can find guidelines on creating a good 404 page here: How to Create a Custom WordPress 404 Error Page (link).


It used to be that sitemaps were created in HTML, and they featured a list of links to each of a website’s pages to help visitors navigate around the site. Nowadays, sitemaps are more commonly created in XML, and they’re typically added for a search engine’s benefit, not for human visitors.

While you won’t experience any direct ranking improvements as a result of having a sitemap, they can lead to possibilities for indirect improvements through assisting a search engine with crawling and indexing a website.

As new content gets added to a website, an up-to-date sitemap will point out this content to a search engine’s crawlers, helping ensure it gets added to the index more quickly than if the crawler was relying on finding the content through following crawlable links alone.

You should always have a functioning sitemap on your blog to boost WordPress SEO.

How to Create an XML Sitemap

The easiest way to create an XML Sitemap is by installing the Yoast SEO plugin to your WordPress blog. An XML sitemap is usually created by default during installation.

You can confirm that it has been created for your blog by doing the following:

  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Ensure you’ve installed the Yoast SEO plugin.
  1. Click ‘SEO’ in the sidebar.
  1. Click ‘General’ from the dropdown list which appears.
  1. Click ‘Features’ in the tab bar.
  1. The selection box for ‘XML sitemap functionality’ should be set to ‘On’, as shown in the image below.
  1. You can view the XML sitemap which Yoast SEO has created by clicking the question mark icon and following the ‘See the XML sitemap’ link.
WordPress SEO - using Yoast plugin to create XML sitemap for blog

Once created, you’ll need to submit your XML sitemap to the search engines manually as Yoast SEO does not perform this automatically.

Submitting Your XML Sitemap to the Search Engines

While the Yoast SEO plugin creates your XML plugin automatically, it does not submit these to Google or Bing.

Yoast SEO instead creates a sitemap link which you can manually submit to the search engines. The good thing about this link is that the linked information is automatically updated each time you update your blog, meaning you only have to submit this once.

Yoast has provided a step-by-step guide on this process which you can access here: Submit Your Sitemap To Search Engines.

Testing Your Blog

I covered the importance of mobile-responsiveness earlier, but it is also important to test how your blog looks in different browsers (e.g. Internet Explorer or Firefox). It is worth doing this from time-to-time as you create new pages and blog posts, or whenever you complete any major reformatting or layout changes on your blog.

While you can overcome the majority of responsiveness issues by selecting a WordPress theme that is fully responsive, it’s still worth checking to make sure everything looks as expected.

It could be that a particular reader is accessing your blog on an old, out-of-date browser. Any errors that you aren’t aware of, for example layout problems or text which isn’t displayed correctly could increase your blog’s bounce rate or reduce the average visitor’s time on-site. Both of these occurrences will be viewed negatively by the search engines.

I recommend using SortSite for compatibility testing.


Keyword strategy for WordPress SEO icon link

Keyword Strategy

A major part of WordPress SEO is developing a keyword strategy around the specific search terms that your target audience is using.

Without a keyword strategy it’s likely that you’ll waste time creating content which doesn’t perform well, either because it has been built around ineffective keywords and phrases, or because the correct phrases haven’t been properly used within your content.

Before progressing further, however, let’s clarify exactly what I mean by ‘keyword’. Search engines like Google and Bing analyze the keywords entered in a search query before retrieving the results.

For example, let’s say I perform a search for the following:

WordPress SEO - keywords example in Google search

In this example, the keywords from the search are “yoga”, “yoga classes”, “yoga classes in New York City”, “classes in New York City”, and “New York City”.

(The term ‘keyword’ is still used even if it includes multiple words.)

When conducting a search, it is the search engine’s job to evaluate how a webpage has used these specific keywords to help determine the relevance of a potential result to the original search query.

For example, while this article on OnePercentIntent would technically rank against the above yoga classes search (because I’ve used it as an example), any search engine would categorize the relevance of this webpage as low for the example search term, given that the keywords aren’t used prominently in elements such as titles, the body text and the metadata (more on this later).

Now that you’re aware of how important keywords are for WordPress SEO, the next step is to show you how to find them and discuss where to use them on your blog.

A Step-By-Step Guide to Finding and Using Keywords

Step One: Understand Your Audience

Once you’ve got an idea for a piece of content, think about what your audience would like to get out of it. Be specific.

What questions will the blog post help answer?

What overall problems will it help solve for the reader?

Thinking about this should help you narrow down what types of keywords you should be using.

Step Two: Find a Primary Keyword

Your website as a whole will probably have a limited number of primary keywords, and each page or blog post should ideally focus on just one of these.

Let’s assume your blog focuses on yoga and you’re writing a blog post on a variant of this, Bikram Yoga.

‘Bikram Yoga’ will therefore be the primary keyword in this example.

Step Three: Find Secondary Keywords

The next step is to find multiple secondary keywords that are strongly related to the primary keyword.

Secondary keywords often form what is known as ‘long tail keywords’. These are phrases which are a lot more specific than your primary keyword and they help you dig deeper into a particular topic with your content.

Long tail keywords are important as they’re usually less competitive given that fewer websites will be using them. As a real of thumb, the more niche and specific the keywords associated with your webpages are, the easier it will be to achieve a higher ranking in the search results for these terms. The trade-off here is that highly specific keywords will typically bring in less traffic (as fewer people search for them), so it’s important to have a balance between semi- and highly-specific secondary keywords.

The following tools are useful when looking for secondary keywords:

Enter your primary keyword, click ‘Generate’ and wait for a list of secondary keywords to appear.

WordPress SEO - LSI graph keyword generator

Google offers an easy way to find secondary keywords.

Search for your primary keyword, scroll to the bottom of the screen and you will see related search options. The words in bold are good options for secondary keywords.

WordPress SEO - finding blog keywords using Google search

Step Four: Add Your Keywords

Once you’ve built your list of secondary keywords, you should use them in the following locations (in addition to your primary keyword) to maximize their impact:

Where to Add Your Keywords
Page TitleYou’re probably most used to seeing page titles when viewing Google’s search results. Page titles are shown in blue for each listing.

Given their prominence, the page title typically has a lot of influence on whether or not someone visits a search result.

Because of this, I recommend adding your primary keyword as close to the start of the page title as possible. Provided it remains readable and concise and generates a good amount of interest to drive click-throughs, I also recommend adding a secondary keyword and your brand name if possible.

For example, this page’s title is: WordPress SEO: The Ultimate Guide | OnePercentIntent.
Main Content (Body Text)It used to be that people would focus on achieving a specific keyword density within their content - it is now widely accepted that this no longer works.

The best approach is to identify your keywords as shown in steps two and three, and then write natural copy around these.

Keyword stuffing is discussed later in this guide, and it’s a practice that you should avoid at all costs. Unless a keyword sounds natural in your text, you shouldn’t use it.

While your keywords should appear evenly throughout your content, it is recommended to add your primary keyword at least once within the first 100 words of your body text. I also make sure this is highlighted in bold to ensure it stands out when a visitor first navigates to a webpage.
H1 Tag (Header Tag)The title of your blog post should appear in the H1 (header) tag on your webpage.

Adding keywords here will help reassure a reader that your content covers exactly what they’re looking for. Don’t add too many, however - you need to strike a balance between readability and relevance.
PermalinksBy default, WordPress provides a permalink structure which consists of a unique ID. This isn’t particularly SEO-friendly as you can’t tell what information a webpage contains just by looking at the URL.

A better option is to add keywords to your WordPress URLs. This can be done by changing the URL to include the page or post name, and the category it belongs to. If you’ve added keywords to your page title and category names, these will automatically be included in the permalink following the update.

This allows human visitors to gauge the relevance between the keywords within your blog's permalinks and their original search query.
Meta DescriptionMeta descriptions are very prominent within the search results. This is the long piece of (usually) descriptive text which sits below the page title and page URL. This position means it is important to get your meta descriptions right.

While it isn’t actually used by the search engines as a ranking factor, it’s still important to add keywords to your meta descriptions, as any keywords related to the search query will be highlighted in bold.

This increased visibility helps a potential visitor to quickly gauge the relevance between your webpage and their search query, which can help increase click-throughs.
Category / Tag NamesCategories and tags can be an excellent place to add your selected keywords (especially if you include the category name within your permalink structure as recommended above).

I typically develop my categories around my primary keywords, whereas, my tags are built around my secondary keywords.
Internal Links / External LinksI recommend adding keywords to the anchor text of your links.

A link’s anchor text is the (usually blue) clickable text which directs you to wherever the link points. This should be concise and relevant to the location the link points to, and shouldn’t be overloaded with keywords.
Image Titles & Alt TextAnother good location to add your keywords is within your image's titles and alt text.

This will also improve the likelihood of your image appearing in Google Images for the specific keywords used.

Note: I don’t recommend using the ‘meta keywords’ tag on your blog, hence it isn’t included above. You can read more about this later here.

Step Five: Check Your Keyword Performance

It’s a good idea to regularly check your blog’s performance in the non-paid search results against the keyword terms chosen in steps one to four. You can this do this free of charge using the Search Analytics Report on Google’s Search Console.

Search Analytics allows you to see how many times your blog has appeared in the search results as a result of your keywords aligning with a Google user’s search query, and it also shows helpful data such as click-through rates for specific search queries.

This feedback allows you to determine which keywords have been most effective (or ineffective) as part of your WordPress SEO campaign, allowing you to tweak and change your blog’s keyword strategy going forward.

While Search Analytics doesn’t show all of the search terms used by people navigating to your WordPress blog, the insight it provides is still massively helpful.


Content strategy for WordPress SEO icon link

Creating Awesome Content

Your blog, and your brand as a whole will be defined by the content you produce, so it is important to spend time producing amazing content.

From a WordPress SEO perspective, quality content will lead to the following for your blog:

  • More repeat visitors
  • Increased time on-site
  • Reduced bounce rates (i.e. visitors who only view one webpage before leaving)
  • Increased brand searches (people Googling ‘OnePercentIntent’, for example)
  • Increased social sharing of your content

It is well known that search engines look at each of these occurrences favorably, helping lead to ranking improvements over time as your blog becomes increasingly associated with quality content.

Defining Quality Content

To help achieve the SEO benefits listed above, it’s worth looking for advice from the major search engines on how to improve your content’s quality.

For example, Google’s Webmaster guidelines recommend us to:

Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

In addition, Bing’s Webmaster guidelines are very descriptive:

Content is what Bing seeks.  By providing clear, deep, easy to find content on your website, we are more likely to index and show your content in search results.

Websites that are thin on content, showing mostly ads or affiliate links, or that otherwise redirect visitors away to other sites quickly tend not to rank well.

Your content should be easy to navigate, rich and engaging to the visitor, and provide them the information they seek.

In many cases, content produced today will still be relevant years from now. In some cases, however, content produced today will go out of date quickly.

Based on this, there a number of simple steps you can follow to ensure your content is as valuable, engaging, actionable, and as beneficial as possible from a search engine optimization perspective.

I cover these in the next section.

Optimizing Your Content for WordPress SEO

Aim for Quality Over Quantity

The majority of blogs will benefit from an approach that focuses on lower amounts of high-quality, highly-valuable content, as opposed to masses of generic content that doesn’t really provide much value.

You can improve your content’s quality by doing the following:

  • Have a Clear Purpose

    Avoid producing content which is overly generic. Each piece of content on your blog should have a distinct purpose.

    For example, the purpose of this post is to advise readers on WordPress SEO, and to provide actionable steps to help each reader improve their blog’s search engine ranking.

    The entirety of the text in your article or post should assist with the overall purpose. You should remove any text which distracts from, or pulls the content in a different direction, from its overall purpose.

  • Create Original Content

    This doesn’t mean that you can’t write about a popular topic (as I’ve done here).

    It means researching what is already out there, and trying to make your content better (for example, using the skyscraper technique).

    In the case of this post, I’ve gone much more in-depth than other WordPress SEO articles, but you could try putting a different spin on, for example having a contrarian view, using infographics or video to discuss a certain topic, or using a different type of content as discussed later (for example a list post instead of a generic article).

  • Create Actionable Content

    What does your content really achieve? Does it simply provide more theory on a topic, or does it show the specific steps required to overcome a specific problem?

    I’m not saying theory isn’t important, but your content will resonate much more with a reader if you help them achieve something tangible.

  • Keep It Accurate

    Backup your theory with citations, and provide links to any facts or figures which you use in your content.

    Test out any action steps to ensure they work as expected.

  • Ensure It Is Highly Readable

    Your content should be as easy to read as possible, both in terms of the language you use, and how you layout the content on the page.

    It should also be easy to follow. If you’re providing action steps to achieve a certain outcome, for example, make each step as simple and logical as possible. Spell out everything to ensure all readers are able to achieve the desired outcome regardless of their previous experience.

  • Add Multimedia

    No one enjoys reading endless amounts of text. Split up your content with images (for example infographics), audio or video files to help keep your content as interactive and interesting as possible.


A number of SEO experts have identified a link between a piece of content’s length and how well it ranks.

Neil Patel points out that the average length of a top-10 ranked piece of content in the search engines’ results pages is 2000 words, while Brian Dean from Backlinko found that the average length of content ranked number one by the search engines was 1890 words.

Neil Patel also indicates that longer content typically receives more backlinks. These are highly important from a WordPress SEO perspective (as discussed later, here), and could go someway to explaining the higher rankings.

Use Varied Types of Content

Posting a variety of different content types will help keep your readers interested in the long-term. There are a number of different types of content that you can choose from:

  • How-To Posts / Tutorials

    Produce content which provides actionable steps to help readers complete a specific task.

  • List Posts

    A list post breaks down a normal article into a list format.

    The content could be anything from a list of tips, for example ’11 Types of Foods to Avoid While Dieting’, to a list of specific reasons for doing something, for example: 9 Reasons Why Email Marketing Is So Important.

  • Resource Posts

    These are very similar to list posts, however, they are typically used when providing a list of resources (hence the name), for example books, blogs, products – basically anything helpful.

    For example: 44 Must Read Resources on Content Marketing

  • Roundups

    One of the most popular types of roundup posts is an ‘expert roundup’. To write these, you would ask a number of influencers within your niche the same question, and then integrate their answers into your blog post.

    For example: 20 Experts Share Their Email Marketing Strategies

  • Reviews

    You could write a review post on a product you’ve tested, or provide a review and comparison of multiple products.

  • Interviews

    Interview influencers associated with your chosen topic and document their valuable insights and tips for your readers.

  • Case Studies / Personal Stories

    Write case studies about your own products and services, telling a story about how these have helped customers overcome specific problems.

    You could also tell your personal story when discussing affiliate products and services which you’ve used and that you recommend, telling your audience about the specific benefits these have brought you.

  • Guest Posts

    This involves inviting guest bloggers to produce content for your blog, with the aim of keeping your readers interested and engaged by providing an outside perspective on a certain topic.

Blog Content – Things to Avoid

To avoid potential penalties from the search engines, and to ensure your content resonates with your audience as much as possible, I recommend avoiding the following within your content:

Avoid Poor Quality, ‘Thin’ Content

You shouldn’t create content for the sake of it.

I covered the six requirements of quality content previously and I’ll include these again here for convenience:

  • Have A Clear Purpose
  • Create Original Content
  • Create Actionable Content
  • Keep It Accurate
  • Ensure It Is Highly Readable
  • Add Multimedia

Before starting any new piece of content, ask yourself whether it is really possible to meet all of the above criteria. If not, you could be wasting your time producing content that is of little to no value to anyone.

Avoid Overusing Keywords

This is often referred to as ‘keyword stuffing’, and it involves including an excessive number of instances of a keyword within a piece of content in an attempt to boost ranking.

The overuse of keywords came about from the (now disproven) concept that keyword density forms an important metric when trying to rank higher for a particular keyword or phrase, i.e. the more instances the better.

An example of keyword overuse is as follows:

“We only sell the best weight loss supplements. Our weight loss supplements are 100% FDA approved. Get in touch now and let our weight loss supplements experts recommend the right weight loss supplements for you. Contact us at weightlosssupplements@example.com.”

It’s clear from the paragraph above that the phrase ‘weight lost supplements’ has been overused, and it negatively impacts a visitor’s experience by reducing the readability of the text.

This example clearly goes against Google’s and Bing’s guidelines of creating a webpage primarily for the benefit of your users, as opposed to trying to game their rankings.

Your keyword usage should appear natural and not forced. Start stuffing your content with keywords and don’t be surprised when your search engine rankings start to fall.

Avoid Cloaking

This dubious practice involves showing one version of a website to a search engine and a different version to human visitors.

An example of cloaking is the practice of hiding content which human visitors cannot see within the HTML code of a webpage, for example adding extra keywords within the text which would make it unreadable if a human could view it.

Search engines frown upon this as they view it as disingenuous. It manipulates their rankings and causes promotion of a website which is ultimately different to what the search engine user expects, both wasting their time and causing potential trust issues with the search engine’s recommendations.

Be wary of this practice because if you’re caught, the offending webpage or your website as a whole could be penalized within the rankings or be removed from the search engines’ listings altogether.

Avoid Hidden Text

This is similar to cloaking and it’s another practice which search engines frown upon.

Instead of hiding additional text within a webpage’s HTML code itself, hidden text can be defined as one of the following:

  • Using a text color which matches the background color
  • Positioning text outside of the screen boundaries
  • Hiding text behind an image or embedded video file
  • Using a font size of zero

Each of these practices will result in the text being included within the HTML code which the search engine indexes, but will ensure the text is effectively invisible to a human visitor to prevent any issues with readability.

Again, the search engines view this as trying to manipulate their rankings and they will typically penalize offending websites as a result.

Avoid Duplicate Content

I briefly covered duplicate content earlier when discussing site structure.

While the repercussions of duplicate content are somewhat exaggerated, it’s still worth covering how to deal with it within your content.

Firstly – don’t produce duplicate content if you can avoid it.

If you can’t avoid duplicate content, use rel=“canonical” to give Google a helping hand figuring out what the original version is.

In most cases, there is usually a logical explanation for content to appear more than once. For example, you may be republishing a guest post that you produced for another website on your own blog. You can use the rel=”canonical” tag in these instances to let search engines known that the other website’s version is the original version.

You can read Google’s guidance on how to use the rel=“canonical” tag here.

Using Categories / Tags

Many blog owners struggle to understand the difference between categories and tags.

The major difference is that categories can be hierarchical, whereas tags cannot. This means that categories can have subcategories beneath them, but no tag outranks any other tag.

For example:

WordPress SEO - blog category and tag structures
WordPress categories are hierarchical, whereas tags have a flat structure.

Using the analogy of a book, categories are often compared to contents of the book and cover wider topics. Tags, on the other hand, can be compared to the book’s index given that they are usually smaller in scope and more specific.

An example should make this clearer:

Let’s pretend that you’re starting a blog about cars. Your blog’s categories would probably contain the names of the different car manufacturers, for example BMW and Ford, and your subcategories would contain the specific models made by each manufacturer. For example:

BMW1 Series
2 Series
3 Series

Tags could then be added for model-specific options, such as:


This structure is logical because in this example sub-categories can only form part of a specific parent category, for example Ford makes the Fiesta model, not BMW, and tags can be applied as and when required to any sub-category to focus in on model-specific features.

Categories & Tags Best Practices


  • Categories should always be used. They are critical for splitting your blog into a logical structure which visitors and search engines can better understand.
  • It’s worth spending time pre-planning your blog’s categories to determine the most logical structure. Don’t add new categories without first considering how they fit into your blog’s structure.
  • I don’t recommend adding more than one category to each post. Less is more.
  • Try to keep your category sizes even. For example, avoid having 20 posts in one category and 3 in another.
  • Don’t create a new category for one-off posts. Only add new categories for topics that you’ll continue to visit.
  • Keep your category names as clear as possible. The type of content that a category contains should be obvious from just the name.
  • I tend to build my category names around my blog’s primary keywords. This can be a useful way to spread your most important keywords throughout your site given that they’ll be added to items such as menus and breadcrumb links.
  • It is standard practice to capitalize your category names.


  • You don’t have to use tags if you don’t want to.
  • As with categories, you should spend time pre-planning your tags.
  • Again, as with categories, your tags should be descriptive and self-explanatory and should contain keywords. I personally build my tags around my secondary keywords.
  • You can add more than one tag to each post without issue (unlike categories). Don’t add tags for the sake of it, however.
  • You shouldn’t create a tag that is so specific that it only applies to a single post. Tags should be used to link similar posts together, not as a method of labelling them.
  • It is standard practice not to capitalize your tag names.

HTML Requirements

Title Tag

The title of a particular webpage gets placed in the title tag of the page’s HTML code. An example of this HTML code is as follows:


<title>This is where your title goes</title>


The title tag of a webpage will appear in the tab of your web browser.  It is also clearly visible on a search engine’s results page:

WordPress SEO - HTML title tag in google search results

When it comes to WordPress SEO, the title tag is hugely important for both human visitors and the search engines.

A webpage’s title is immediately obvious in both Google’s and Bing’s search results. In fact, it is likely the first thing that search engine users look at, meaning it will have significant influence on their decision of whether or not to visit a webpage. In addition, search engines review the title tag during crawling and indexing to help determine what a webpage is about.

How to Create an Effective Title Tag

Write Primarily for Human Visitors

Despite the fact that search engines use title tags during crawling and indexing, I recommend writing them primarily for your blog’s human visitors.

As mentioned, the title tag is one of the first things that a person sees on a search engine’s results page. It needs to be as relevant as possible to the content of the webpage it is used on, while still being readable and interesting enough to encourage someone to visit your webpage.

Vague titles, or titles considered to be false advertising or clickbait generally aren’t appreciated. These usually leads to high bounce rates and low average dwell times which can impact your rankings.

Keep Your Title Tag to Between 50-60 Characters

Longer titles run the risk of being truncated within the search engine results.

A truncated title tag includes “…” at the end like so:

WordPress SEO - truncated HTML title tag in google search results

Using Google as an example, the actual title length displayed depends on the width of the search results column in pixels (approximately 600), as opposed to a specific number of characters.

The general consensus is that between 50-60 characters is the ideal length to ensure your title does not get truncated.

While a truncated title will not impact the crawling and indexing of the webpage it is used on, the readability of the title will be reduced from a human visitor’s perspective which could reduce click-throughs.

Other Points

  • Don’t forget to use keywords within your title tags, but be wary of keyword stuffing. I aim to use my primary keyword as close to the start of the title as possible, followed by a secondary keyword and brand name towards the end.
  • Every webpage you create should have a unique title tag. Don’t use the same title more than once.
  • Write multiple headlines before selecting the best one. I personally write five to ten different titles before selecting the strongest.

Now that you’re aware of what to include within your title tags, the next step is to update them on your WordPress blog:

How to Update Your Title Tag

The easiest way to add a title tag for each of your webpages is by simply installing the Yoast SEO plugin.

This automatically adds a default title tag for each of your blog’s posts and pages with the following structure:

%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%


Title = the WordPress title you’ve given a new post or page

Page = the current page number

Sep = your chosen separator type (this is a hyphen by default)

Sitename = your website’s title (taken from the text entered into Dashboard – ‘Settings’ – ‘General’ – ‘Site Title’)

I stick to this basic structure for my webpages. If you want to amend the default structure for your website then you can do so by completing the following:

For site-wide changes:

  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Ensure you’ve installed the Yoast SEO plugin.
  1. Click ‘SEO’ in the sidebar.
  1. Click ‘Search Appearance’ from the dropdown list which appears.
  1. Click the ‘Content Types’ tab to view and amend your title tags for various items such as posts, pages or media using the ‘Title template’ field.

Specific variable options for your title tags can be viewed here.

For single posts or pages:

  1. Navigate to your post or page you want to update the title tag for.
  1. Scroll to the Yoast SEO plugin section which is situated below the text editor.
  1. Under the ‘Content optimization’ tab (looks like traffic lights), click the blue hyperlink button to expand the area below.
  1. Add your preferred title tag in the ‘SEO title’ input area.
WordPress SEO - updating blog HTML title tag using Yoast plugin
  1. Click the WordPress ‘Update’ button to save your changes.

Meta Description Tag

The meta description tag allows a short description of a webpage’s content to be inserted into the page’s HTML code. An example of this HTML code is as follows:


<meta name=“description” content=“This is where your meta description goes”>


You’ve likely seen the meta description in action when viewing a search engine’s results page. It shows up below the blue title and green URL of the webpage:

WordPress SEO - HTML meta description tag in google search results

When it comes to WordPress SEO, it’s worth pointing out that the meta description has no influence on where you rank in the search results.

So does that mean you shouldn’t bother with it? Far from it.

You should view this tag as an opportunity to promote your webpage within the search results. Ideally it should build upon your title tag’s text, providing additional information to help sell your webpage and incentivize a click-through.

Search engines will typically place any occurrences of a searcher’s keywords appearing in the meta description in bold. This is helpful as it further draws attention to your webpage within the results.

Don’t forget to update the meta description for any new pages or posts that you add. If they’re left blank, the meta description typically takes the first paragraph of text by default and this often makes little sense in the context of the search result and doesn’t create the best first impression.

How to Create an Effective Meta Description Tag

Keep it Under 320 Characters

The previous limit used to be 160 characters, but the maximum displayable length of a meta description has now been increased to 320 characters.

Exceeding this length runs the risk of your meta description being truncated.

Sell Your Webpage

Make it clear to a visitor exactly what benefit they will get from visiting your blog’s webpage. Be specific and clear regarding exactly what your post content offer them.

Include Your Keywords

Despite search engines not using the meta description as a ranking factor, it’s still worthwhile including your keywords. As mentioned earlier, keywords will be shown in bold, making them standout more to potential visitors.

Don’t stuff keywords into your meta description to the point that it is no longer readable. Less is more to prevent your blog being associated with spam.

Have Unique Meta Descriptions

Write a unique meta description for each of your blog’s webpages.

Yes, this could be a long process, but the opportunity to write relevant meta descriptions should help to improve your click-through rate as potential visitors will be confident that your content offers exactly what they’re looking for.

Now that you’re aware of what to include within your meta description tags, I’ll show you how to update them on your WordPress blog:

How to Update Your Meta Description Tag

As with your title tag, I recommend using Yoast’s SEO plugin to update your meta description.

While you can add generic meta descriptions to all your pages or posts (under ‘Titles & Metas’ – ‘Post Types’ – ‘Meta description template’), I don’t recommend this.

As mentioned above, you should add a unique meta description for each page or post on your blog. This can be done as follows:

  1. Login to your WordPress blog’s admin area.
  1. Ensure you’ve installed the Yoast SEO plugin.
  1. Scroll to the Yoast SEO plugin section which is situated below the text editor.
  1. Under the ‘Content optimization’ tab (looks like traffic lights), click the grey text below the green hyperlink.
  1. Add your preferred meta description tag in the ‘Meta description’ input area.
  1. Click the WordPress ‘Update’ button to save your changes.

Meta Keyword Tag

While the meta keyword tag used to be an important ranking factor in SEO, this is no longer the case.

For information, the meta keyword tag is inserted into the HTML code of a webpage as follows:


<meta name=“keywords” content=“Keyword1, Keyword2, Keyword3, etc.”>


When it comes to WordPress SEO, the general consensus is that the meta keywords tag can do more harm than good given its previous association with spam.

I recommend skipping the meta keywords tag altogether.

H1 Heading Tag

While you can use a number of HTML heading tags on your WordPress blog (H1 to H6), the one we’re most concerned with from an SEO perspective is the H1 header tag.

The H1 tag is important because as a high level tag, search engines provide it with more weight and use it as an indicator of what a webpage is about. Optimization of H1 header tags has been shown to lead to significant ranking increases, so they’re important to get right.

It’s worth remembering the following when creating H1 tags:

  • You should only have one H1 tag on each page. After this, start using H2-H6 instead.
  • WordPress makes it very easy to add an H1 tag to your content. Simply choose the ‘Heading 1’ option from the dropdown menu within the visual editor:
WordPress SEO - adding H1 heading tag to blog post
  • Position your H1 tag at the very top of a webpage’s content.
  • Your H1 tag should be as similar to your page title as possible. A website visitor will quickly use the H1 tag to gauge relevance against their search query, and you run the risk of annoying them and increasing your blog’s bounce rate if you show them something other than what they were expecting.
  • Don’t forget to add your primary keyword to your H1 tag. You can also add your secondary keywords, but write naturally and don’t keyword stuff or you risk coming across as spammy.

Encouraging Comments

I recommend allowing readers to comment on your content for a number of reasons.

  1. Backlinko has found a correlation between longer content and higher rankings on Google. Comments contribute to overall content length and as such can lead to higher rankings.
  1. Quality comments can provide considerable value. These drive visitor engagement, leading to indirect WordPress SEO benefits such as repeat visitors, increased time on-site and reduced bounce rates.
  1. Comments beget comments. Large numbers of comments help paint the picture of a thriving community, one which other readers will more likely want to get involved in.

It is important to be aware of potential negative impacts of comments, however. It isn’t uncommon for websites to remove comments to prevent ranking penalties from Google as a result of low-quality, spammy comments. To combat this, WordPress automatically adds a ‘nofollow’ attribute to all links added within comments.

Recommended reading: Ultimate Guide to Comment Moderation in WordPress (link).

Make Social Sharing Easy

While the jury is out as to whether social media shares have a direct impact on your ranking in Google, you definitely shouldn’t underestimate its importance. In fact, you should do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for visitors to share your content on social media as part of your on-site WordPress SEO.

The more social shares your content receives, the greater potential there for it to be seen by as many people as possible. Content that resonates with people will lead to even more social shares and potentially new followers, thereby amplifying the impact of your content and the reach of your brand.

Based on this, social sharing should definitely form part of your long-term WordPress SEO strategy.

There are a couple of plugins that I personally use to assist with this: