Let’s talk about the Best WordPress SEO Tips and Practices for Beginners in 2024. A lot has changed in terms of ranking your articles on search engines. Most of the WordPress tips that you’ve seen or heard in the past will not work now. And, if you’re new to WordPress, you are at a great advantage because you will not have “old habits” to kick away and you are learning everything that is working right now.
And, in case you’re in doubt about being late in the game, you’re wondering if it is too late to start a blog for your local store, your e-commerce store, your agency, or even your affiliate marketing business And Digital Marketing. The answer is NO!
Google has kicked a lot of “Old Birds” out of the game, and people who couldn’t adapt to the changes will soon be out of the game as well. So, this is good news for you. If you are a total beginner or someone looking to get into WordPress. Now, we will start everything assuming that you have a brand new WordPress website and you have chosen a niche. From that point, we will share with you 24 WordPress SEO Tips and Practices to optimize your article and your website for the best results.
You know that Rankmath follows Google guidelines very closely, and they have been earnestly updating our SEO recommendations so that it’s super easy for you to optimize your WordPress content for search engines. We will talk more about that in a while, but for now, getting your WordPress website ranked on search engines comes in three phases.
The 3 Phases of WordPress SEO Tips and Practices
Number one is the content structure and topic selection of your website. We will be talking about topic research, whether you should write an article about this topic or not, and how you should structure your content with categories. Now, technically, topic research is general SEO and not WordPress SEO, but we feel it is essential to address this if your article has any chance of ranking on search engines.
The second phase is really the meat of the post, where we will discuss optimizing your content for search engines. We’ll talk about the best practices of writing, structuring, presenting and publishing your content for the best results. We will also be talking about your website’s URL structure and sitemap.
3rd you definitely want to stick around to the end because we’ll be talking about the maintenance and growth of your website, what to do on a monthly basis, and what to do on a yearly basis. And of course, between these phases, we’ll be dropping WordPress SEO Tips and Practices as we move along.
Phase 1: Site Structure and Topic Selection
There will be different content structures in every niche and every business, and it also depends on how wide an audience you want to target. Suppose you’re starting a sports news website. Your content structure may be football, basketball, tennis, cricket, badminton, and so many others, it is as wide as you want it to be.
1) Assess Your Abilities
So, the first tip we would recommend is to assess whether you or your team has the ability to create content across all these different categories in a short period of time. Especially if your website is new, Google will be trying to understand what your website is about. Think about it.
If you are a one-man show, you can write ten articles in a month. Would Google understand your website more if you have one article that stretches across ten categories? Or would Google understand your website more if you have two categories with five articles each? Just put some thought into this. But what I’m trying to say is that for a new WordPress website, you should assess your abilities and be laser-focused on the categories you want to target first.
Go to your WordPress dashboard. Under “Post”. You want to select “Categories” and from here you want to add the name of the category. If it is tennis, put it in tennis and add a category. If it is basketball, put it in basketball and add the category.
This will help Google understand the categories you have on your website and from there they can assess what your website is about in general. Of course, you need content under the categories, for Google to better evaluate your website. We recommend having at least ten articles in one category before you start another category.
From there, after some time, you can assess whether that category is worth exploring. Maybe you can look into your Google Analytics and see where the traffic is coming from on your site and you can start writing more content in that category.
2) Topic Research (Insights)
Tip number two we have for you is about topic research. You want to find topics that are relevant to your business goals and are part of the categories you have created. And then obviously you won’t want to spend time writing content on topics that people are not searching for on search engines. It just doesn’t make any sense. So you want to use tools like Google Trends, Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, or Keyword Generator to identify if a topic or keyword has search volume.
Note: Now, what I want to mention is that tools like Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Ubersuggests are great for research on keywords or topics that have high search volume and for rare keywords that have a medium search volume, like maybe below 500 searches per month. They are not that accurate and may show up as no search volume, and we cannot disregard that.
So to have an edge against people who heavily rely on these tools to make their decisions, you need to go further to explore the topic. Let me give you an example.
Let’s say that we are on the Ahrefs Keyword Generator and I have brainstormed a list of topics and I’m super confident that somebody will search for “best woodworking tools on a budget”. But when I search for this keyword, it says zero to ten search volume.
Hang on a minute. I’m absolutely sure this is a good topic and somebody is searching for it. So my next option is to go to Google Trends and search for the same topic. And Dang, nothing!
But what if I change the keyword to “cheap woodworking tools” instead of on a budget? And there we go. As long as we see a graph and some content here, there is search volume around that topic, but in this case, there is only a graph and there isn’t any content here.
I would say that there is search volume, but not very high, probably around 100 to 500 per month. Don’t be narrowly focused on exact keyword, but research on phrases that mean the same thing. That’s how you find a gold mine of topics.
3) Analyze Your Competition
Tip number three will be analyzing your competition on the topics you have found. If you put in a keyword and you search on Google, you see that there are Government websites and super high authority websites you probably know in your niche and they are ranking at the top. Do not target them at all. You’ll just be wasting your time writing an article on a topic that will not rank.
However, if all the high authority sites are ranked at the top ten results for a topic, do not write that piece of article on that topic. When your website is new, you can keep it for later when your site is more established.
What you want to see is if the top ten results are a mix of high authority sites and sites you have not seen before anywhere on your niche selection process, you want to target those keywords. Another scenario is when you see forums like Quora or Reddit ranking at the top ten search results, you want to target those topics as well. That’s our tip for selecting topics that are not too competitive.
4) Focus Less On Money Keywords
Now I just want to add something which is you should not only target buyer intent keywords. For example, “Product A Review”, “Product A versus Product B”, “Best Of”, etc. You can target those keywords but do not put all the focus on them.
I know it is enticing to write on those topics because those make you money, but Google is phasing out those websites that are heavily focused on churning product reviews that aren’t helpful.
For example, site owners who write reviews on products that they have not used before. I mean, if you want to monetize your website other than affiliate reviews, you should be writing helpful articles that solve a problem and you want to recommend products or tools within that article that will ease the process of solving that problem. Put more focus on those topics rather than “Money keywords”.
Now honestly, these are based on my experience and my team’s experience. If you have something to add to this, feel free to leave a comment down below. We are all about learning and growing together. Cool. Once you’ve identified suitable keywords and topics to write about, let’s go into Phase Two.
Phase 2: Content Creation and On-Page SEO
Now, when you’re writing content on WordPress, you will see Posts and Pages. So which should you choose when writing articles? Pages are for content related to your business, such as the contact page, the About Us page, the pricing page, or any page that gives your site visitors information about your business. Pages are more for content that rarely changes. For posts, it is more for the maintenance of content.
If you have content that needs to be categorized into groups, if you have multiple writers on your site, or if your content needs to be updated from time to time, you want to use Posts.
5) Use “Post” For Most Content
So this tip we have for you is to write most of all of your content using posts so that you can categorize and organize your content. Now that we have the foundation right, let’s start to do some real work.
Let me walk you through an example of how you should write, structure, and present your content. Let’s say that we are writing an article titled “Are Air Fryers Energy Efficient?”. That’s the target topic.
6) Understand Search Intent
The tip that I have for you now is to understand the search intent. What is the person thinking when she or he is typing in this keyword in the search engine? I would say the main concern will be their electricity bill. Will it blow up after using an Air Fryer after a couple of times? If you look deeper into the intent, that person is considering buying an air fryer, but she or he is trying to do some research.
So would it be helpful if you provide the searcher with a list of Air fryers that are energy efficient and you compare the energy consumption against the popular convection ovens? You really have to look between the lines and try to understand why a person is searching for a keyword. That’s how you write an article that is what the searcher is looking for before they think about it.
So in this case, besides explaining that the Air Fryers are energy efficient, we can also go a step further to put a couple of FAQ questions that will help somebody decide whether to buy an air fryer or not.
The FAQs could be food from air fryers healthy and what can an air fryer Cook. If you have trouble thinking about the FAQ questions, use Content AI to generate the FAQ questions for you. We’ll talk more about that in a while. So just understanding the search intent, the article is basically writing itself. That’s how powerful it is when you know who you are writing for.
7) Focus Keyword In the First Sentence
Next, in your article’s first sentence, try to include your focus keyword. It doesn’t have to be the exact keyword, but the meaning should be there. For example, in this case, worry if an air fryer eats up a lot of electricity, or if you want to be straightforward, you can put it as in this article we will discover how energy efficient are Air Fryers. That would work as well.
8) Write Textbook Style Answers
The next tip I have for you is to write a textbook-style answer that addresses the focus keyword. So in this case the question is are Airfryers energy efficient? And you want to give a straightforward answer. So something like this.
“Air fryers are generally more energy efficient than most convection ovens because it takes less time to cook, although the wattage is similar to convection ovens.” So, this is like the textbook-style answer to address the keyword in the title question. The benefit of this is if your answer is good and concise, you will earn yourself a featured Snippet right at the top of the search query.
And if you think the best way to explain this search query is through a table, do it. Because tables can be a feature snippet as well. Most SEOs and bloggers will call the featured snippet “Position Zero”. Although your article could be ranked in the 8th position, your article jumps straight to the top if your textbook-style answer is good enough.
That’s why you should try to write a textbook-style answer right below the heading. Whenever there is a chance for you to explain your answer, it doesn’t only happen at the top of your article. Throughout your article, whenever there is a question, you want to try to add a textbook-style answer right after it.
9) Use H2 and H3 Tags For Main Content
Basically, every article should have only one H1 heading, and by default, the title of your article will be embedded with the H1 tag. Following that, your H2 headings and the content within them should support the search intent of the title of the article and within the H2, if you need more headings to explain the H2 heading, you can use H3.
I know it is a little hard to understand, so let me give you an example. Suppose the title of your content is Best Budget Air Fryer. So that would be the H1 of your article. Your H2 could be “Air Fryers under $1,000”, “Air Fryers under $500”, and “Air Fryers under $100”. So all these are the H2 headings, and within those H2s, you will list all the Air Fryers within those categories, and these will be the H3 heading tags.
You can also add the FAQ as a heading and then your question could be H3 because the question supports the FAQ. So just think about the flow of your article. Basically, your H2 heading tags should help you explain H1 and the H3 heading tags should help you explain H2 that is nested under. I hope this makes sense to you.
10) Break Up The Text For Readability
Now, would you like to read an article that looks like this?
Or would you read an article with short sentences and with lots of white space around the text? Regardless of the content value, which would you read?
I’m pretty sure it is 2nd, right? The one that has a lot of spaces around the text. So after you’ve written your article, just scroll through it to break up the text. Even if it is in a paragraph with multiple sentences. Break them up into separate sentences. This will help with the readability of your content.
11) Add Valuable Images
Now, if your entire article is all text, it just gets boring. I’m pretty sure you know that too when visiting other websites. So, we need to add relevant images in the article to break up the text. Not just any images, we want to add highly valuable images that people will want to use on their website whenever possible.
For example, you’re writing an article where you need a lot of data points to prove a point. You can create an image that consists of a graph or chart. Other bloggers or websites will want to use that image so they will embed them on their website, giving you a backlink and some “SEO juice”. Try not to use royalty-free images, but images that are authentic and taken by you whenever possible.
12) Add Useful Alt Text To Images
On top of just adding images, you want to add an alt text to the image. This will give context to the page and allow the search engine to understand what your image is about. It will also help your image to get ranked on the image tab of the search engine. It is also helpful for people using screen readers, for example, people with visual impairment. And in case an image breaks or does not show up on your page, at least there is a text to explain what it is supposed to show on the image.
13) Add Internal Links For Better SEO
Now, adding links to other articles you have on your website, or in other words, internal linking is a good SEO practice because it helps the search engine understand more about your website and it shows the search engine that you are your own credible source of information.
You are knowledgeable about the topic you are writing on because you have lots of content on the background that is backing up this article you are writing. A good internal linking structure comes with good planning, as we’ve discussed in Tip 1.
If you’re using Rank Math and you have decided that this content is the most important article on your website, we call this “Pillar Content”. If you check this going forward, any content that you write that is related to this pillar content and the category, Rank Math will show you some suggestions for internal linking here.
14) Add Credible External Links
Contrary to the belief that linking to other websites, or in other words, sharing your page SEO juice with someone else is bad for SEO, the actual effect of external linking is just the opposite.
Suppose you’re adding links to some credible and trustworthy websites or articles. In that case, it improves your website’s credibility because you are providing readers with references. And with that reference, it helps to prove a point to the readers that your content is trustworthy.
But the caveat is that you have to make sure that you are linking to a credible source. For example, if you want to add a link to this text, “What to do when you have a Heart Attack?” Don’t link to an article that tells your readers to just breathe, doesn’t make sense, right?
15) Use Rank Math’s SEO Analysis Tool
Now, Rank Math has made it super easy for you to optimize your article for SEO. These are all the best practices Rankmath has. These are the basic SEO recommendations that will check if your keyword is in the title, in the meta description in the URL, and if your content is long enough.
And, then these are the additional recommendations where it would check if the Focus keyword is in the image Alt text, how long is your URL, if you’re linking to internal and external sources, and then the title readability, and the content readability.
So, as you can see, the SEO analysis is very comprehensive and these recommendations are always updated to follow the latest SEO guidelines. You should always try to turn as many of these recommendations green and the overall SEO score to be above 80. That way you can be reassured that your content is SEO-ready. But take note that these are just best practices and they are not a guarantee that your article will rank at the top of the search results.
There are over 200 ranking factors and the algorithm is constantly changing. So all we can do is to optimize for the best practices and let the search engine do its thing.
16) Leverage On Content AI
Now, to further optimize your content, you can leverage the help of artificial intelligence. If you have installed Rank Math on your site, you will have a “Content AI” button. How it works is you select a country where the majority of your audience resides. You include a Focus keyword. This should be automatically filled if you have optimized your content with Rank Math’s SEO analysis tool. And then, you hit research.
What it does is that Content AI will analyze the current content that is ranking at the top of the search results based on the Focus keyword and the location you have selected.
It will give you some smart recommendations as to the number of words you should use on this topic, the number of internal and external links you should add to your post, the number of headings to use, the images and videos to add, and it will suggest all the keywords for you to include in your article.
Of course, all these are suggestions, it is up to you to heed its advice. It is basically telling you that other websites have all these and are ranking at the top, follow it or not, it’s up to you. And then Content AI would suggest all these questions to be added to your article. Remember I’ve talked about FAQs earlier? This is a cool feature that Content AI provides. If you have a hard time writing your article, this could practically be the sub-topics of your content.
Well, if you are a beginner, you may not understand the importance and benefits of having an FAQ schema on your page. So I recommend that you read this post right here.
You are already spending so much time writing your article, so why not just spend a couple more minutes optimizing it for optimal results, don’t you think? This cool content AI feature runs on a credit system. For Rank Math free users, you will get complimentary five free credits. One credit allows you to analyze your content once and the data from Its AI server will be stored on your website server.
As you continue to write and upgrade your content, you can continue to use that data as a point of improvement. A credit will only be used when you are getting new data from the Rankmath AI server and when you run out of credits, you don’t need to upgrade to Pro to get more credits.
Even when you are a free Rank Math user, you can still utilize this Content AI feature through credits. 50 credits cost $19 and if you divide it out, one credit is about $38. To give you an intelligent analysis on your content, the Pro plan comes with 15 complimentary credits, the business plan comes with 125 credits, and the agency plan comes with 600 credits. So, go ahead and give the content AI a try and I am pretty sure it is worth your while.
17) Add Table Of Contents For Articles
Now, if your content is super long, maybe 2,000 words, you should consider adding a table of contents at the top of your article right before your first H2 title tag. If you want us to recommend a plugin for the table of contents, WP Shortcut Pro, Kedence Blocks, Table Of Content Plus, and Elementor Pro. These are the plugins we recommend. These plugins are recognized by Rank Math and your page will pass the test if it finds any of the following plugins installed on your website.
18) Test URL for Multiple Devices
Now, we are almost done with this phase. Before you hit publish, you want to preview your article and make sure that it doesn’t look weird. Sometimes certain page elements just don’t work well on different devices. This is an SEO tip because if your website doesn’t look well on certain devices, it decreases the engagement level of your article. A lower engagement level signals to Google that your article is not that important, so you want to make sure that your article looks nice before you hit publish.
19) Optimize URL Structure
Now, once you have published your article, you may notice that your URL looks weird and doesn’t make any sense. Don’t add numbers in your article URL. So the SEO tip here is to optimize your URL structure with just the keywords that are relevant to your content.
The best way to have a keyword-optimized URL by default, is to go to your WordPress dashboard under “Settings” and “Permalinks”, You will see all these different URL structures for you to choose from. We recommend using the “Post name” as the URL structure. What this does is that it will take your heading here as the URL of your article, which looks like this.
This is super long, so we recommend that you remove any unnecessary words such as “Numbers, Years, and Extra words” Just leave the focus keyword in your URL and as you update this, go back to the published article and see how the URL changes. This is our recommendation for the URL structure.
20) Don’t Change URLs Often
Now this is for your sake as a beginner when you’ve published your article and have it sit for a few months. Do not amend its URL structure unless it is a 301 redirect, which means you have moved the article entirely to another URL.
This will get a lot technical and that’s why we recommend that once you’ve published your article, do not try to change your URL because search engines will view each new URL as a new piece of content. So, whatever “SEO Juice” that you have built over a period for that article may be gone as soon as you change the URL structure.
Phase 3: Growth and Maintenance
Okay, we are done with Phase Two. That’s all the SEO tips to help you write and present the best content out there and have the best chance of beating your competitors on search engines. The next phase is the Maintenance Phase. This phase is important if you want growth to your website. Let’s talk about the immediate thing you should do after you’ve written your content.
21) Submit an XML Sitemap to GSC
Now, Google is getting smarter and smarter, but they still have a problem with crawling new URLs on your site. So to help them out, you should have an XML Sitemap. This sitemap will automatically update when your site has new content. It consists of a list of web page URLs on your website and it helps Google to discover all the links. This will help to ensure that the search engine will discover all your content.
It sounds complicated to create a sitemap, but with Rank Math, it is merely toggling the Sitemaps option and the sitemap will be created for you. You can access your sitemap under the “Sitemap Settings” and this is the link to your sitemap.
To tell Google that this is your sitemap, you want to copy this link, go to your Google Search Console under “Sitemaps”. You want to paste in the URL here, and you want to remove the domain because it is already here, and then you “Submit”.
Now, it is good to know that if your website is connected to Google Analytics through Rankmath, Rank Math will automatically submit the sitemap to Google Search Console.
22) Internal Linking Opportunities
So, maybe after three months of hard work, I’m pretty sure you would have more than ten articles on your website. When you read through your older articles, keep in mind what content you have already written and think about if there’s any chance that you can add an internal link to other articles.
I’m pretty sure there will be lots of them. You should always try to revisit your older articles every three months. The stronger your internal linking structure is, the better it is for your site’s SEO
23) Optimize low-engagement pages
Again, every three months, you should try to optimize your pages that have below-average engagement. You need to log into your Google Analytics account under “Engagement”. You want to select “Engagement Overview” and you’ll see a page like this.
You see average engagement time. You want to remember this number as this will be the benchmark for identifying low-engagement articles. To see how each individual article performs, click on this “View pages and screens”. Then you want to take note of the average engagement time of all the articles here. Anything that is out of the ordinary, you want to optimize that page.
If you’re on a previous version of Google Analytics, then under the “Behavior”, “Site Content” and “All Pages”, you want to look at the “Avg. Time on Page” as a gauge to determine the pages for optimization. So, visit those pages and try to identify why people are not engaging much with this piece of content.
Is it because the content is not providing sufficient value? Or are you rambling on certain parts of the article, or are you too long-winded? Try to think from the point of view of your site visitors and optimize the article from that angle.
BONUS Tip: Update Your Content
And finally, this is the rule of thumb. Google and search engines love updated content. So, every year, make sure that you visit your important pages and update the content. Not just clicking the update button. After visiting it, spend some time to see what’s outdated and if there’s anything new that you can add.
Maybe the product you’ve been promoting has phased out. Remove it completely. If there are new products, add them to the article. If there is a practice that is outdated, remove it. You get what I mean. Updating your older articles is the site’s foundation of sustainability. That’s how big sites grow their traffic every year, even if they don’t add new content to their sites.
Read more: You must follow our other post about SEO named WordPress SEO Tutorial 2024.
Is WordPress a Good CMS for SEO of the website?
Yes, WordPress is a Good CMS for the SEO of the website because WordPress delivers a large number of SEO plugins that help users to further customize the SEO of a particular web page or post as well as easy to use and SEO-friendly CMS. If you have a good structure of high-quality content with title tags, meta descriptions and additional unique components and features that can be well-optimized by better configurations.
What Top unique SEO features are offered by WordPress?
WordPress offers Top unique SEO features to its users including the Best and well build plugins for doing SEO of any particular web page, search engine visibility settings, an SEO-friendly and custom URL slug or permalink structure, any preferred domain format you want and mobile-friendly themes and make well-optimized blog or website.
How do I increase my website speed in WordPress?
WordPress comes with many features and functionalities to optimize your WordPress website speed and make your website mobile-friendly. By using its mobile-friendly and well-built themes and plugins you can boost your website traffic and speed. WordPress provides you with a large number of caching plugins to increase your website speed and performance as well as image compressor plugins to reduce the size of images used on your website.
How Do I Make My Website URLs SEO-Friendly by using WordPress?
WordPress allows you to build custom URLs for your website to make it SEO and user-friendly. A good URL structure provides users and search engines with a unique view and tells what your page is about and shows its destination as well. So must keep Using short URLs as well as Include your target keyword in page URLs to make the Website SEO-friendly and attract more traffic.