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Over the years, WordPress has evolved to become one of the most popular Content Management System (CMS) to power more than 20% of websites in the world.
However, it is not 100% SEO ready out of the box and needs some tweaking to unleash its full potential.
Here is a list of things you should do to make your WordPress site search engine friendly! By no means this is a comprehensive list and we are welcome to your input.
#1 Enable “Post name” option
A newly set up WordPress uses the default permalink option which is not SEO friendly.
Choose the “Post name” option so you can change the URL to include target keywords.
#2 Make sure search engines can access your site
1) Go to Settings>Reading>Search Engine Visibility
2) Deselect the “Discourage search engines from indexing this site” option
In case you are interested in what this does, it essentially adds noindex/follow robots Meta tag.
#3 Install a SEO plugin
The default WordPress out of the box does not have all the functionality for you to carry out Search Engine Optimization.
A SEO plugin will allow you to modify key on-page SEO elements easily.
If you are not familiar with SEO, we recommend Yoast SEO.
If you want more advanced options to play around with, SEO Ultimate is a good choice.
#4 Install a XML Sitemaps plugin
XML sitemaps help search engines to crawl your site more efficiently and will help your site get indexed faster.
#5 Add few lines of code in robots.txt
Robots.txt tells search engines to access / not access certain parts of your site.
Add the following code to your robots.txt to help search engines know which part of the site they can access or not.
#6 Add sitemaps location in robots.txt
Add the following line in robots.txt to tell search engines where your sitemaps are located. You can add other kinds of sitemaps (images and videos) as well.
This will help every search engine from around the world (Yandex, Baidu, Naver etc) as well as Google and Bing to know where your sitemaps are located.
#7 Verify your site in Google Search Console
Google Search Console provides tools for you to know what Google thinks about your site.
You will be amazed how much information Google actually gives you.
#8 Add Google Analytics tracking code
You cannot improve what is not measured. Use Google Analytics to start tracking how many people are visiting your site.
You can find out where they are coming from, how they got there, which pages on your site are popular, and what time your site gets the most traffic etc.
Use the Header and Footer plugin to easily add the tracking code on your site.