WordPress is arguably the most prominent content management platform for designing and creating new websites and updating and customizing already-existing ones. It holds more than 43% market share, meaning hundreds of millions of websites worldwide are currently using WordPress as their CMS.
One of the most prominent reasons why many websites prefer WordPress over other CMSs is its built-in SEO capabilities. That means your website will stand a better chance at securing top positions on the search engine result pages, which will help get more organic traffic and higher sales and revenue.
But to ensure your website achieves the top rankings on the SERPs and stays there consistently, you will have to perform regular WordPress SEO audits. In these audits, you will have to go through every aspect of the website that might gain “upvotes” or “downvotes” from the search engine algorithms.
So in this blog, we’ll see why it’s important to conduct regular SEO audits on your WordPress websites and look at the WordPress SEO Tips to Grow Organic Traffic.
Preparation Of WordPress SEO Audit
Before moving forward to the WordPress SEO audit, it’s important to check out what kind of preparations you would require to make the best of this process.
You would need to do two things to ensure your WordPress SEO audit process goes smoothly and delivers the best results without hindering your website’s day-to-day operations.
● Backing Up the website
Before starting any audit or maintenance process, you first need to take a complete backup of your website to ensure there is no critical data loss. That way, you can restore your website’s regular functions more quickly and effortlessly so that your business doesn’t miss out on any new potential opportunities during the excess downtime.
There are two ways to take backups of your website. First, there is the manual backup. As the name suggests, this process entails you performing a manual backup by individually and personally copying the necessary files of your website. There are both advantages and drawbacks to this process. The pro of this process is that you would be able to take a comprehensive backup of the latest version of your WordPress website. But the downside to this process is that it takes a lot of time, and you may be missing a file or two due to human errors.
Then, there is automated backup through paid plugins in the WordPress official repository. Although these plugins would cost you a little, they will protect the whole website through comprehensive backups with relative ease, and you will be able to save quite a lot of time.
A few of the best backup plugins for WordPress websites are BlogVault, Jetpack, BackupBuddy, etc. So you can either proceed with the backup yourselves or hire a WordPress developer to perform the backup more comprehensively.
● Installing necessary tools
There are several tools and plugins available in the official WordPress library. These tools will be necessary to audit the SEO strategies of your WordPress website more effortlessly.
The SEO tools can help you research the best-ranking keywords, take website backups, check whether or not your website is ranking well on the SERPs, etc.
Some of the most effective tools for WordPress SEO audits are Google Analytics, Google Search Console, SEMRush, Yoast SEO, Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, WP Rocket, etc.
Taking a comprehensive backup and installing the necessary tools and plugins to your website are quite significant to starting a WordPress SEO audit on your website to ensure better rankings on the SERPs.
Now that you have taken care of all the preparations, we’ll start the WordPress SEO audit by covering the technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO, and even check out how you can improve the speed and performance of your website.
Technical SEO Audit Checklist
First, let’s check out the technical SEO factors you need to monitor and rectify in the WordPress SEO audit. That will help improve the SERP rankings of your website.
● Site structure and organization
In technical SEO, website structure refers to how a website is organized and structured with respect to its content, URLs, and hierarchy. A good website structure means that the search engines would be able to understand the contents of a website and relate them to other pages, making it easier to index the site on the SERPs.
By ensuring that a website is well-structured and organized, technical SEO can help improve its visibility and ranking in search results, leading to increased traffic and visibility for the site.
There are different types of maps and structures available on the internet to help you organize the contents and pages of your website in a better way. You can also make it easier for search engines to crawl it for indexing.
● URL structure
When you first create your WordPress website, the platform assigns default dynamic URLs for your pages. But it would be harder for search engines and users to read these URLs in context.
Default URLs look something like this:
That’s why optimizing these URLs is important to make them more SEO-friendly. That would ensure your users and the search algorithms are able to understand what the website or page is all about just by looking at the URL.
SEO-friendly URLs should be similar to this:
Although relevant keywords can help rank your page amongst the top positions, too many of them will earn you a bad rep. Make the URL short (shorter URLs tend to rank better than longer ones) and to the point, and integrate the relevant keywords to get more “upvotes” from the search algorithms.
● Titles and headings
Titles, just like URLs, are visible on the search engine result pages and help explain to the users and the search engines what the page and the website are all about. The title of a page should accurately reflect the content of the page and be concise, around 60 characters or less.
Then there are the headings, which are used to structure the content on a web page and help the search algorithms understand its hierarchy. The primary heading of a page should be marked as an H1 or title (if you create the content through any of the document drafting applications like Microsoft Word or Google Docs), with subheadings marked as H2, H3, etc.
Although including relevant keywords in the title would definitely help the search algorithms index the pages, be sure to add them in a natural and concise manner; otherwise, they would look stuffed and spammy.
● Meta descriptions
Meta descriptions are also visible to the users and are among the best ways to give a brief about your website and pages. When it comes to the meta descriptions, whatever you write should be in active voice, as it seems more like you are addressing the user directly. Plus, the meta description should ideally be of 120 characters (on mobile devices) and 160 characters (on PCs).
These short descriptions of the web page under the URLs are excellent spaces to elaborate on what the page is all about. But again, it’s crucial to integrate relevant, high-ranking keywords to ensure the content ranks among the top positions of the SERPs.
● 404 error handling
Error 404 is an error message you see when the link is either broken, or the page doesn’t exist on the link anymore. If your users or search crawlers encounter this error message, it may negatively impact the user experience.
If you have 404 error pages due to broken links or missing pages, make sure to customize the page and guide the users to a more relevant piece of content so you won’t lose them. Alternatively, you can send the users back to your homepage and give them a chance to browse your website for better customer engagement.
To identify the broken pages on your website, go to Google Search Console and look at Crawl > Crawl Errors, and then click on Not found (if any). There are also tools like Screaming Frog that help monitor the broken links and fix them properly.
There are a number of plugins on the official WordPress repository and other tools on the internet to help you redirect the broken or missing pages to better relevant content on your website to increase click rates, sales, and revenue. A few of these plugins are 301 Redirects, All In One SEO, Yoast SEO Premium, Redirection, etc.
Make sure you identify the broken links and 404 error pages and rectify them regularly. Otherwise, your website or page may fall in the search rankings.
Canonicalization is an SEO process of standardizing the URLs to prevent any possibility of duplicate content. A canonical URL is a preferred version out of a set of similar or identical content pages on your website. This tag is used to signify to the search engine that the particular URL should be considered as the most authoritative and accurate source of information.
This process helps search algorithms crawl and index your website more effectively and avoid any possibility of penalization due to duplicate content.
● Robots.txt and sitemap
Robots.txt is another significant part of SEO as it specifies to the search engines which parts of the website or page to consider (and what not to consider) while crawling for indexing it on the SERPs.
Typically, this file is located at the root directory of a website and helps control the behavior of automated crawling agents that index the web contents on the SERPs. Using this function properly can help improve your WordPress website’s SEO by ensuring that the crawlers of the search algorithms only go through relevant pages on the website. It also eases the load on your site’s servers due to bots that may be crawling the site excessively.
Then, there are XML sitemaps, which tell the search engines where they can find relevant and more helpful content with respect to what the users are looking for.
Submitting a comprehensive XML sitemap to search engines can potentially improve the visibility of your website in the SERPs, especially if it has a large number of pages or complex site architecture. The sitemap makes it easier for search engines to discover all of the pages on a site, which can improve the chances of those pages being indexed and appearing in search results.
So if you have created a new website or your old one isn’t ranking well, you may hire WordPress developers or SEO executives to review and update the sitemaps and robots.txt files. Also, ensure they perform all these necessary technical SEO implementations to get your website ranked amongst the top positions.
On-Page SEO Audit Checklist
On-page SEO is used to optimize the web pages directly to ensure it achieves better rankings on the SERPs. That gets your website increased organic traffic to improve customer engagement more effectively.
Let’s check out the on-page factors of the WordPress website SEO audit:
● Content quality and relevance
Arguably, one of the most crucial parts of a successful SEO strategy is relevant, high-quality content. You know what they say, “Content is King”.
First off, make sure your content is informative and accurate. On the one hand, people tend to read through shorter contents in their entirety; but longer contents are more likely to rank better in the SERPs. Moreover, you would benefit from evergreen content (the ones that would stay relevant for a long time); but make sure you constantly update the significant details in the content so that people always get the most accurate info with respect to what they are looking for.
Then comes the part of making the content more user-friendly. Avoid making the sentences overly complex, and break the longer paragraphs into smaller chunks to make them more readable.
Also, it would be good to do proper research on the web pages with content that are ranking well on the SERPs. That will give you an idea about what you should cover in your content and how you may try to format it. But make sure you don’t copy the content.
● Keyword research and optimization
Another significant part of the on-page SEO strategy is keyword research and insertion. Keywords are the prominent words or phrases people enter in the search bar when looking for a particular product, service, company, or piece of information. There are several tools and software available on the internet, like Google Keyword Planner, SEMRush, Ahrefs, KWFinder, etc., that can help you identify the best keywords related to your content or web page. Moreover, there are several plugins available in the WordPress official library that will help you find the best keywords with respect to what your users are looking for.
When researching, check which websites are ranking on the top with those keywords and in what context they have integrated them.
Now, there is a chance that some of your web pages may have similar pieces of content. In that case, they may start competing with each other for rankings, which could be detrimental to your SEO strategy. To prevent that, you may try assigning unique target keywords to the content pages to ensure they are ranked well without competing with each other.
After finding the keywords comes integration. It always bodes well to insert the keywords in your content organically. Pushing the keywords too much would make your content look stuffed and spammy. Place the keywords in the URL, title, meta description, introduction, headings, and subheadings of your content.
● Images and media optimization
Including pictures in your content would make it more descriptive, and people would be able to understand your blog or page far better. But if you add images and media to your web page without optimizing them, it will significantly impact the website’s speed and performance.
There are certain strategies, like deferred video loading and lazy load images, that would help you integrate the best media files to your web pages to improve the ranking on the SERPs without degrading the speed and performance of your website.
● Internal & External Linking
Internal and external linking is a significant part of the on-page SEO. Internal linking is a process of integrating the URLs of other pages of your website in your content. On the other hand, external linking is the process of integrating the URLs of other websites in your content. These strategies make your website more trustworthy in the eyes of users and search engines. That would help improve the search rankings and, in turn, the organic traffic and customer engagement.
So integrate genuine internal and external links in your web pages organically to get better rankings on the SERPs.
These on-page factors will help improve the SEO of your WordPress website directly. But there is another way to improve the traffic and customer engagement of your website organically, i.e. off-page SEO. So we’ll check out the off-page SEO strategies in the next section.
Off-page SEO Audit Checklist
Just like on-page SEO, you can use off-page SEO to improve the rankings of your WordPress website on the SERPs and effectively increase the traffic and sales of your business enterprise.
Let’s check out a few pertinent factors in the off-page SEO audit:
● Link building
Link building is another crucial part of the off-page SEO strategy for your website. It aims at acquiring backlinks to your web pages from other websites or social media platforms. It helps you build relations, improve brand awareness, and drive more traffic to your web pages.
A few of the vital aspects of link building to take care of are page and domain authority, site relevance, link placement, link anchor text, no-follow and do-follow, editorial links, etc.
● Social media presence
Nowadays, with just under 5 billion users worldwide, social media is one of the quickest and easiest ways to create an active online presence.
Social media can be an excellent outlet to promote your products and services and post the content and pages from your website to attract more organic traffic and increase sales and revenue in your business enterprise.
Posting regularly on social media platforms would help get more eyes to your WordPress website. But don’t forget to add links to your popular blogs, products, and service pages in the captions of your social media posts.
Other than the technical, on-page, and off-page SEO, one of the ways you can boost the rankings of the pages is by optimizing the speed and performance of your WordPress website. You can achieve that by using WordPress caching plugins (like WP Rocket, WP Fastest Cache, LiteSpeed Cache, WP-Optimize, W3 Total Cache, WP Super Cache, etc.), using CDN, minimizing HTTP requests, optimizing the images and media, using optimized hosting and domain services, etc.
If you are looking to design and develop a new website for your business, WordPress might be the best way to go forward. One of the pros is that you can easily create the website yourselves without advanced coding skills. And even if you are not confident, you can easily contact a WordPress development company and have them create and customize the website as you desire.
But even after creating the best website, you will need to design and implement a dedicated SEO strategy to ensure it ranks well on the SERPs. That way, it will attract more organic traffic and increase sales and revenue effectively.
So perform this WordPress SEO audit and take care of this checklist to improve the customer engagement and sales of your business enterprise quickly and effortlessly.