You may have optimized your website and content with SEO, but did you optimize your SEO for WordPress?

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also referred to as natural referencing, and it refers to strategies you can implement to help search engines find your site’s content, and see that it’s relevant enough for users to rank higher in search engine results.

There are several ways to increase SEO that WordPress website owners implement. But, there are many pitfalls that aren’t avoided which reduce the effectiveness of the SEO strategies.

The solution is to optimize SEO for WordPress. But, it can be tricky to know where and how to start.

That’s why today, I’ll share how to optimize SEO in WordPress by avoiding common SEO mistakes in practical ways.

Start with Setting up Your SEO Strategy

An SEO strategy is all about creating a plan with ways to increase SEO for WordPress. That way, you’re well organized.

It will help you carry out your strategy much more efficiently because you’ll know exactly how to optimize SEO in WordPress. You can follow along with your strategy and make sure you don’t miss any opportunities.

Keep reading for ways to increase SEO that you can include in your strategy.

Common mistake: Many site owners create an SEO strategy without analyzing their entire site and content first. This prevents you from knowing where there are weak spots in your website in terms of SEO.

Solution: Do an SEO audit of your site. Without one, you could plan to implement strategies that aren’t helpful, or just make problem areas worse.

After you have identified where you need to improve SEO for WordPress, you can devise a plan. Instead of masking those problem areas or making them worse, you can actually fix them.

Once that’s done, you’re on your way to figuring out how to optimize SEO in WordPress.

Get Your Post Structure up to Snuff

One of the ways to increase SEO for WordPress is to start with your website and its content.

Make sure your blog posts and page content includes headings. With HTML, you can indicate which text on the page should be titles and subtitles with h tags.

Not only does this make your content easier to read, but it also helps search engines know what your content is about.

The more time visitors spend on your website consuming content, the more it signals to search engines (read: Google!) that your content is actually helpful.

It demonstrates that your blog posts and pages are answering the question that the user had when they started their search. If your content is organized well with the help of headings, it will also help visitors stay on the page to keep reading.

Common mistake: At times when headings are used, they’re used in the wrong order. It’s confusing for users, but it’s also confusing search engines. It makes it difficult for them to know what your content is about.

Solution: Be sure to use headings in proper order. The title of the page should be heading one with the <h1> tag. The heading should be a heading two using the <h2> tag. If you need to use additional tags, you can use the <h3>, <h4>, and <h5> tags after that.

While you can use another <h2> tag before using an <h4>, or <h5> tag, you should only do this if the content demands it.

For example, when you have explained the topic of the first section on the page, and you’re moving onto a new thought, you can use another heading.

If your new thought isn’t completely correlated with the previous one, you can use an <h2> tag. Otherwise, you can complete your thought with an <h3> tag, and so on.

(Key)word is the Bird

You may have heard of optimizing SEO for WordPress through including keywords in your content. It’s a common practice.

According to Moz, “Keywords are ideas and topics that define what your content is about. In terms of SEO, they’re the words and phrases that searchers enter into search engines, also called ‘search queries.’ If you boil everything on your page — all the images, video, copy, etc. – down to simple words and phrases, those are your primary keywords.”

Keywords are often considered as being about one to about three or four words. They’re used to describe a word, or string of words, that are related to a specific topic.

For example, “SEO for WordPress” and “ways to increase SEO” can be considered as keywords.

Keyphrases longer in length and are phrases rather than a word or two. For example, “how to optimize SEO in WordPress.”

Traditionally, a keyword is a single word, but as the internet has grown over the last couple decades, the definition has been commonly expanded to include more than one word.

It’s also common to more specifically refer to keywords that are longer than one or two words as mid-tail, or long-tail keywords.

These types of keywords often don’t have as much search volume, but can still be popular enough to use. Although, this isn’t always the case.

Keyword Research

You can do research with tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner to find keywords that a lot of users are searching for, and that are relevant to your topic for your page, or blog post.

A popular keyword helps ensure that there’s a potential for more visitors that will come to your website when they search for that term if you add that keyword to your page (or post) multiple times. This is another one of the ways to increase SEO for WordPress.

The idea here is that when a search engine scans your content and finds that keyword several times, it will deduce that’s what your content is about and that it’s relevant to show in search engine results.

It’s worth noting that you don’t want to add the keyword too many times since it’s considered as “keyword stuffing” and search engines will assume the page is spam.

Getting the right ratio of keywords to the rest of the text on the page is called keyword density.

Typically, a keyword density of 0.5% to 2.5% is acceptable.

Common mistake: Beyond keyword stuffing, a lot of site owners and business don’t diversify their keyword strategy.

They try to add keywords searched in high volumes in search engines, but as a result, have intense competition. This means that so many other websites are trying to target that same keyword. This makes it more difficult for your site to rank higher in search results.

Solution: Instead of trying to only target high-volume keywords, which is also known as head, or short-tail keywords, you should try to mix it up and also target mid-tail, and long-tail keywords, and keyphrases.

If you’re planning an article that’s meant to be a focal point for your blog, by all means try to target a head keyword, but also try to target other mid, or long-tail keywords in the same post.

Other articles should also use mid-tail, or long-tail keywords, or keyphrases.

Getting Meta with Metadata

Metadata is, quite literally, information about data. This includes details such as creating a meta description which describes what your content is about.

Meta descriptions are the captions that are shown under the title of a search engine result.

Example of a meta description on a Google search results page.

It helps search engines better understand when they should show your website in results.

If you don’t include a meta description in your article such as by using an SEO plugin, search engines will draw a meta description from the content on your page.

A meta description is but one of the ways to increase SEO for WordPress, and also one type of metadata.

Common mistake: Many site owners resort to keyword stuffing in meta descriptions, or otherwise write descriptions that aren’t at all enticing to the reader.

Solution: Take an extra moment to really think about what you’re going to write for your meta descriptions.

If you’re wondering how to optimize SEO in WordPress with meta descriptions, here’s a basic rule of thumb: They should be just as exciting and informative as the blog article’s title, or introductory paragraph.

It’s also important to use a keyword only once in your description. The exception being if you’re targeting more than one keyword for that article, or page.

Then, you may want to add one, or two more keywords. That is, as long as they’re different enough that the text doesn’t sound like you’re keyword stuffing, or doesn’t read like a hoaky, late-night infomercial.

Grow Your Site with Marketing

If you’re still wondering how to optimize SEO in WordPress, one of the possibly surprising ways is to leverage marketing. The more users that visit your website and hang around for a while, the more it indicates to search engines that your site is relevant. This results in your website being ranked higher in results.

Marketing is one of the ways you can help direct traffic to your website. More specifically, you can help generate backlinks, do some outreach marketing, and be more active on social media.

Moz explains backlinks as “Backlinks, also called “inbound links” or “incoming links,” are created when one website links to another. The link to an external website is called a backlink.”

Backlinks let search engines know that your content must be a great resource. If it wasn’t, other sites wouldn’t be referencing it. As a result, your site ranks higher.

Encouraging other blogs and websites to link to you through a message is called outreach marketing, and it can be done through email, and social media, for example.

Common mistake: While doing some outreach marketing for backlinks can certainly be one of many helpful ways to increase SEO for WordPress, it’s crucial to craft your message in a way that doesn’t just ask for a backlink.

If you cold message someone asking for something, it’s generally not well-received. It can come across as being rude at best, or as spam.

If a stranger walked up to you on the street and asked you to do them a huge favor, you’re likely to be hesitant to say the least.

Solution: Be polite, and try to offer something first. The key here is to offer something that will directly help the person who’s receiving the message.

If you ask for a backlink and offer a backlink in return, but the person you’re messaging is a consultant for other blogs and businesses, for example, they’re more likely to ignore your message.

That’s why it can also be helpful to start off with people you already know that have a blog in the same industry, or surrounding the same topic. If you ask someone who covers a totally different niche, search engines won’t view the backlink favorably.

For the same reason, it’s also critical that backlinks don’t all go to one page, there are many different sites (not just one, or two) linking to your site, and the hyperlinked text that directs to your site are varied across domains.

How to Optimize SEO in WordPress: Solved

By now, you should have a basic foundation for knowing how to optimize SEO in WordPress with these practical ways to increase SEO for WordPress.

But, it only scratches the surface. For more detail on how to optimize SEO in WordPress, and ways to increase SEO, check out the SEO category of our blog.

Author's avatar

A copywriter, copy editor, web developer, consultant, course instructor and founder of WP Pros(e), Jenni McKinnon has spent the past 15 years developing websites and almost as long for WordPress. A self-described WordPress nerd, she enjoys watching The Simpsons and names her test sites after references from the show.