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WordPress SEO Checklist: Essential SEO Steps & Tips for WordPress Websites

Why Is WordPress SEO Important?

WordPress SEO is important because it helps ensure you get every aspect of your website right. Without SEO, search engines won’t understand what your website is about, and prospective visitors won’t be able to find it.

Good WordPress SEO can make all the difference in your efforts. It can:

  • Boost your visibility on search engines
  • Garner more organic traffic
  • Increase conversions

If you want to make money off your site, that last factor is crucial. You need to optimize your site to attract the types of visitors who’ll turn into paying customers.


WordPress SEO in 14 Essential Steps

Our WordPress SEO checklist starts with the basics. You need to get the very first steps right to ensure the success of the rest of your efforts. An effective WordPress SEO strategy includes:

1. Finding a Reputable Host

An established hosting company is essential to your website efforts. You need a hosting environment that’s:

  • Fast
  • Secure
  • Stable

Speed and security are crucial because they factor into Google’s algorithm, and stability is a must if you want a website that potential customers can find.

 2. Selecting An SEO-Friendly Theme

There are thousands of WordPress themes that you can use to create your website. But you want a theme that will support your WordPress SEO strategy. A trustworthy WordPress web development company can help you identify a theme that won’t hinder your SEO efforts.

3. Installing an SEO Plugin

While an SEO-friendly WordPress theme is essential, it won’t get you to your goal. An SEO plugin will give you the necessary tools to properly optimize your WordPress site. Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins.

4. Performing Keyword Research

Keyword research is at the heart of every successful SEO strategy. You want to identify the terms your target audience uses to find goods or services like yours. To find effective keywords, you need to know:

  • How many searches are performed for each keyword
  • How many websites are competing for each term
  • Why people are searching for that keyword

The “why” is known as search intent, and you can discover it by searching for your keyword and studying the search engine results page. If most of the results are product pages, you know the search intent is to buy something. If the majority of results are product reviews, that tells you the intent is to learn more about a potential purchase. You should use this information to decide what type of content you’ll write.

You’ll want a good mix of keywords, including related terms and latent semantic indexing (LSI) keywords. LSIs are terms that are frequently found on the same page as your main keywords. Incorporating LSIs into your content demonstrates to search engines that you understand what you’re writing about.

The best keywords will have a relatively high number of searches but less competition. Several online tools, both free and paid, are available to help you identify the best keywords for your site.

5. Creating Topics

Once you have your keyword list in hand, the next step in our WordPress SEO checklist is to develop a list of pages that should be included in your site. You can use your keyword list and your knowledge of search intent to assign the appropriate keywords to suitable types of content, whether that’s product pages or various blog posts.

Building out a content plan early will help ensure your website covers all the most important information right from the start. It also will give you writing ideas well into the future, so you don’t have to scramble for topics later.

6. Incorporating Your Keywords

Once you begin writing the content for each page, you’ll want to carefully incorporate your keywords in essential locations, including:

  • The headline — Also known as an H1 tag, this is one of the key elements that tell the search engines what your page is about.
  • The first paragraph — Including your top keywords in the opening clearly demonstrates your page’s topic to the search engines.
  • The body of your text — You want to sprinkle your keywords, including LSIs, throughout your text. Use your chosen terms naturally, and don’t overstuff keywords.
  • The subheadings — Using your keywords in subheadings (usually known as H2 and H3 tags) is another crucial signal of your page’s topic.
  • The call to action — Wrap up your page by telling the reader what to do next. Incorporating your keywords here is a confirmation of your main topic.

Including keywords in appropriate places doesn’t just help search engines. They’re also an essential indicator for your website visitors and confirm for them that they’ve found useful content.

7. Developing Your Content

Keywords are just one component of a well-written page. You must create content that engages site visitors and provides the information they need. You should:

  • Write enough content to cover your topic. Longer, comprehensive articles are generally better for search engines and site visitors.
  • Use short sentences and break up paragraphs into manageable chunks. Readability is essential.
  • Pay attention to details. Grammar, punctuation and spelling matter.

8. Including Images

Images help search engines and site visitors understand what your page is about. Use small files that load quickly because site speed is a Google ranking factor. Use a relevant keyword as the file name. Include that keyword in the alt tag and description for the image. Your SEO plugin will make this easy to do.

Also, consider incorporating other media, like videos and infographics. Every piece of information you can include will help inform the search engines and site visitors about your page.

9. Linking Your Content

There are three types of links you want to include:

  • Internal links — Building links between the pages of your website gives the pages an SEO boost and helps provide context for search engines and site visitors. Internal linking is super important for eCommerce websites and site with large amounts of content and pages.
  • External links — Linking out to other trustworthy, related websites demonstrates your knowledge of your topic and enhances your page’s credibility.
  • Backlinks — Cultivating links back to your site from other reputable websites is a crucial SEO task. Backlinks play an essential role in Google’s algorithm and can provide an alternate source of traffic for your site.

Anchor text, or the words you use to link your pages, is crucial here because it provides valuable context to search engines and site visitors.

10. Customizing the URL

The URL, or web address, of your page should include a primary keyword and clearly illustrate what your page is about. This signals your page topic to search engines and confirms for site visitors that they’re in the right place.

11. Crafting Title and Meta Description Tags

Search engines use the title and meta description tags when they list your site on their search results pages. Well-written title and meta description tags incorporating your main keywords will tell search engines and searchers what your page is about. Take some time and develop tags that will compel searchers to visit your website.

12. Ensuring Your Site’s Visibility

All the WordPress SEO in the world won’t do you any good if search engines can’t find your site. To ensure your site is visible to the search engines, go to Settings in WordPress and then select Reading. Look for the “Search Engine Visibility” category and make sure the checkbox is not checked. This will allow search engines to crawl and index your site.

13. Incorporating Schema

Schema, also known as structured data, is coding that informs search engines about your page’s topic. Search engines also can use it to make your listing on the search results pages more informative and useful for site visitors. Most WordPress themes have easy-to-use schema markup options.

14. Submitting an XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a roadmap that search engines use to find the pages on your website. Your WordPress SEO plugin should generate an automatic XML sitemap that you can submit to Google.

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Bonus: A Technical WordPress SEO Checklist

Now that you know the 14 essential steps for optimizing a WordPress website, you’re ready for more technical strategies. You’ll need a seasoned web development company to help with these, but it’s worth it to get the most out of your WordPress SEO efforts. Here are a few technical factors to consider:

Responsive Web Design

A responsive web design means your site works as well on mobile devices as on desktops. This is crucial because Google uses mobile-first indexing to rank websites.


Caching helps your website load faster, which is helpful since site speed is a Google ranking factor. A WordPress cache plugin can help you accomplish this.

SSL Certificate

An SSL certificate encrypts data sent between your website and your site visitors. It’s an important signal that your site is trustworthy and credible.


Search engines use robots.txt files to know which parts of your website they can crawl and index. A poorly set-up robots.txt could block the search engines from essential sections of your website.

Canonical Links

Canonical links tell search engines what the official version of your web page is. Using canonicals can reduce the risk of duplicate content, which can be a drag on your SEO.


Hreflang tags inform search engines about each page’s targeted language and country. They’re essential if you have web pages translated into different languages.

Core Web Vitals

Google uses Core Web Vitals to assess your web pages’ overall user experience. They focus on site speed and specific types of page behavior. A well-rounded web development company can help ensure your web pages meet Google’s Core Web Vitals standards.

301 Redirects

When you remove a page from your site, you’ll want to implement a 301 redirect, which will send site visitors to a relevant page on your site. This reduces the problems associated with broken links and ensures site visitors find useful content.


Assessing Your WordPress SEO Efforts

Once your WordPress SEO is in full swing, you’ll want to track your site’s performance. Signing up for Google Search Console and Google Analytics will give you access to a wide range of information about how well your site is doing. Online resources are also available to track your site’s search engine rankings.

Review your website on a regular basis to look for problems and ensure your site’s best possible performance.


WordPress SEO: The Takeaway

WordPress SEO requires a concerted effort both from a content and technical standpoint. You want to make sure that you present content that’s:

And you need to bolster those efforts with a thorough technical strategy that ensures the search engines can find, crawl and index your pages.

Track your performance and make adjustments along the way to ensure your website is well optimized and producing results.



Trust Your WordPress SEO to OuterBox

OuterBox has over 18 years of experience with WordPress SEO. Our staff includes SEO and web development teams with extensive WordPress knowledge. You can rely on our expertise to help you get the most out of your WordPress investment. Contact us today to see what OuterBox can do for you.

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