WordPress SEO: Keep Your Site Search Engine Friendly

WordPress SEO (search engine optimization) doesn’t stop after you choose a website theme and add some engaging text and imagery. As with any form of digital content, keeping your site on the radar of search engines is an ongoing journey — one that is made a bit smoother by WordPress.com’s helpful tools and support.

Put these best practices to use and ensure that your content appears on the first few pages of search results.

Understanding SEO

Search engine “friendliness” refers to websites being easy for search engines like Google to crawl before indexing (listing) them online. The easier your website is to crawl and index, the better your site’s ranking in search results will be. To help website owners with this process, WordPress.com offers SEO tools, including metadata fields and HTML header tags. If you’re a business owner, non-profit director, blogger, photographer, or any creative or business-minded type, these tools will help you keep your site readily available to online traffic.

Heed Google’s advice

Major search engines like Google determine SEO rules and suggestions for us to follow, and they expect us to keep abreast of what’s new and what’s no longer working or acceptable (like keyword stuffing). These rules are designed to produce more accurate search results and substantive online content, whether we’re searching for medical information, a plumber, or vegan recipes.

If you want your site to rank optimally, Google’s algorithm dictates that your site must be mobile-friendly (usable across phones and tablets, not just computer monitors), and valuable to visitors (not just to search engines) by providing engaging, helpful, and organized content. You should aim to create readable, informative posts and pages with meaningful headings that highlight important text, keywords that flow well within sentences, and use appropriate in-text links for helpful navigation.

Use meta descriptions

While familiarizing yourself with your WordPress.com website, you probably noticed the Post Settings option in your editor. These settings include Tags (keywords), a Slug (the descriptive part of a page’s URL), and Meta Description. Use the former two fields for neatness and organization that users (and search engines) will appreciate. Fill in the SEO meta description field as a summary of each article you compose, as it’s shown in search results. Since it makes each post or page more relevant to those performing searches, this practice can potentially increase your site’s ranking.

Example of a meta description

Upload original images

Unique, high-quality photos boost SEO because they’re fresh, unlike overused stock images that already pepper the internet. If you’re writing a blog post about how to bake apple pie, take and upload a few pictures of the process and the finished product to accompany your instructions.

For better WordPress SEO and longer site visits (or a lower bounce rate), Search Engine Journal suggests compressing your images for faster page load times, matching each image to the article content (an apple pie recipe post with pictures of the process), and defining the image clearly in the alt text.

If you don’t have any original images, you’re always welcome to choose one of the thousands of free pictures offered through your WordPress.com editor. Adding any relevant image to a post is better than not adding one at all.

Keep up the good work

To rank well in search results for longer periods of time, make sure to:

  • Regularly update your WordPress.com website.
  • Post human-friendly articles with suitable images or videos, and make good use of headings and bulleted or numbered lists when appropriate.
  • Use keywords organically.
  • Fill in the metadata fields.
  • Include text links that make it easy for users — including web-crawling search engines — to navigate your site.

Now that you’re armed with tips to keep your WordPress.com site SEO-friendly for the long haul, why not promote it for free?

Thousands of small businesses and online stores call WordPress.com home.

Whether you’re looking to promote your business or share your story, we have a plan that’s right for you.

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Lorna Hordos

Lorna Hordos is a home-flipping business owner and freelance writer.

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