SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is a never ending game and it will not let you complete the game and enjoy your victory once and for all.
You may have worked like a robot and make your web pages rank on the first page of Google searches. But, there are people who are working more harder than you and are trying to outrank you.
Moreover, there are Google updates that are rolled frequently and if you’re not making appropriate updates to your web pages then consider a decrease in rankings.
So, what’s the solution?
Keep updating your site and stay up to date with latest changes and algorithms. Now, as 2016 has come to an end you need to make your WordPress website SEO-ready for 2017.
In this article, I will share some important SEO factors you need to take care of and whether you already has a website or willing to start one, you need to pass this WordPress SEO Checklist 2017.
Make sure you bookmark this page and frequently visit it, as we’ll keep updating latest SEO changes.
So, let’s get started.
1. Move to A Better WordPress Web Host
The performance of your website plays a major role in ranking and faster loading sites always outrank those with slow performance.
Now, if you have started your website on a fixed budget then you must have opted for an affordable and average quality web host. But, it won’t work in 2017 and you need a good quality web host to host your WordPress website.
If your site is taking more than 2 seconds to load then it is a high time for you to move to a better hosting service.
My recommended web hosting service is SiteGround as it one of the best high-quality web hosting services and it doesn’t create a hole in your pocket.
You can get started for just $3.95/month (60% OFF regular price) and enjoy the industry best web hosting. They offer free migration service so it’s hassle free for you to migrate to SiteGround.
If you have got a higher budget and more traffic to handle, Cloudways would be a great choice.
Permalink is how URL of your web pages will look to the user and what they will share. It is also a ranking factor as you can put keywords in it which helps you get better rankings.
If you already have an established website then sadly it is not a wise idea to change your permalink structure as you’ll lose all your website rankings. However, if you’re getting started and just installed WordPress then go to Setting > Permalinks and change your permalink structure to
It will help you in the long run as Google prefer shorter links.
3. Install An SEO Plugin
WordPress out of the box is pretty SEO-friendly but it can be further improved with the help of SEO plugins such as Yoast SEO.
A plugin will help you in creating perfectly search engine optimized articles and Yoast is the most popular SEO plugin which comes bundled with lots of features.
You can install Yoast by going to Plugins > Add New and searching for it using the search bar provided.
At the time of writing this post, the plugin has over 1M+ active installs with an outstanding 4.6/5 stars rating.
Once enabled, you can see the Yoast SEO suggestions below the post in WordPress editor. Note that, it only suggests best practices, and it is up to you to whether make changes or not. The plugin doesn’t do SEO for you.
There’s a premium version of the plugin is available which provides few additional features.
4. Keyword Research
Proper keyword research is the first step before writing your latest article. It is also a necessary step before starting a website as you can test the competition of your niche and whether you’ll be able to rank your web pages or not.
A keyword with at least 1000 monthly searches and low competition is considered as good.
My favorite keyword research tool is SEMRush which yields out exact information one needs to understand the keyword quality. Another great tool is Ahrefs which is considerably high priced.
You can also try Google Keyword Planner which is good for analyzing keywords suggestion, difficulty, and an estimated number of searches it receives.
5. Use Focused Keyword in Title
Now, after you’ve done a proper keyword research, it is time to use it in recommended parts of your article body.
Using the focused keyword in title puts a heavy weight on it. You should try to add your keyword naturally in your title. If possible, try to add it in the beginning for better SEO results.
Also, try to keep the title of your content short with focused keyword and important words that will make users click. You can use the free Co-schedule headline analyzer tool for this task.
The next important thing is to include your keyword in permalink of your article. Best practice is to use the only keyword as the permalink as Google favors short and targeted URLs.
Remember, you shouldn’t change the permalink of a post once it is published. Changing the permalink will lose all the rankings and may create a duplicate content problem. Make sure there are no typos in the permalink.
7. Use Keywords in H1, H2, and H3 Headings
Headings in your article are used for constructing your article in a proper order. There are six headings in HTML from H1 to H6 (H1 being largest and H6 smallest.)
WordPress by default uses H1 heading for your title and it is the standard practice to not use H1 headings in your article. However, you can wrap your heading as H2 and H3.
Follow a consistent order and construct your headings properly. For example, always use H3 headings under H2 and H4 headings under H3. Avoid using H5 and H6 as they’re of lease use.
Try to add your keyword in H2 headings in a natural way. It is not a major ranking factor but helps in improving overall SEO strategy.
7. Length of Content (Word Count)
In 2016, it was possible to create a 500 words article and rank it on the first page. But sadly, due to the recent ‘fake news’, Google, as well as your readers, have got a trust issue.
Your readers want in detail, complete information which can only be presented with the help of long form articles.
Writing longer articles also help in SEO as Google can get an assurance that you have provided quality content with detail information.
Try to create contents with at least 1000 words in length (more the better) and keep the language engaging.
Engaging articles will keep the readers for a long time on your site which in turn decreases the bounce rate and is a good sign for SEO ranking.
8. Keyword Density
Keyword density in SEO is the percentage of the number of times a focused keyword appears on an article divided by a total number of words in that article.
It can be calculated with the help of simple formula:
- (Number of keyword/Total number of words) * 100
Recommended keyword density for a proper SEO article is between 2-5% depending upon the natural flow and content type.
However, you should try to keep it lower and use LSI (Latent Semantic Index) keywords instead.
9. Image Optimization
Image optimization is referred to optimizing images so as to rank in Google Image Search, which can leverage good traffic to your website.
Following three practices can be used for better Image Optimization:
- Use related words to name your images (use your-keyword.jpg instead of default.jpg).
- Reduce the size of images before uploading to WordPress dashboard.
- Add a relevant title to every image in your article.
- Use keywords in ALT tags of images. It helps in understanding search crawlers what the images are about.
Related Read: 4 Image Optimization Techniques for WordPress Users
10. Dofollow vs Nofollow Links
Links within your article is a healthy way to make it SEO-friendly and provide more value to your readers.
There are two basic types of links you can use, Dofollow and Nofollow. The difference between these two is as follows:
Dofollow Links: Unless specified, all the links are marked as dofollow in WordPress. These links are crawled by search engines and search engine bots follow the given link which passes link juice between them.
Dofollow backlinks play an important role in SEO rankings and sites with more relevant dofollow links are often placed higher in SERPs.
Nofollow Links: Nofollow links are used to indicate google bots to not to crawl the links and to not pass the link juice. A nofollow link is identified by rel=”nofollow” attribute. For example –
<a href=”www.mybloglift.com/wordpress-seo-checklist” rel=”nofollow”>My Link</a>
Nofollow links don’t provide SEO value but are a good way to provide with more information to readers.
Below are two best practices for using links in a positive manner.
Interlinks, as the name suggests, are the links that point from one post or page to another post o page on the same website.
Interlinking is an efficient way to keep your readers within your site and improve user engagement. It also improves user experience by providing related contents that they might useful on your site.
Interlinks are dofollow in nature (unless you add rel attribute) and hence they are helpful in spreading link juice throughout your own website.
Adding 5-6 interlinks per post has worked well for me.
Similar to interlinks, you should also some links to high domain authority websites such as Wikipedia. Adding these links helps in SEO by letting Google know that your contents are helpful and you’re trying to provide more information with proper links.
I recommend adding 1-2 dofollow links to high domain authority sites within your niche. Also, to not completely drive away people from your site, make them open in new tab or window.
11. Manage Your Affiliate Links
While affiliate links are helpful for you to make some earnings, Google doesn’t like them in excess and because of the tags use, they’re often too long and looks fishy.
You should make your affiliate links short and clean, and all the links should have a nofollow attribute. We recommend using Pretty Link plugin which will help you create shorter affiliate links with your domain name and nofollow attributes.
12. Implement Google AMP Pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages is the latest strategy used by top bloggers to achieve higher search engine result pages rankings.
AMP is an open source technology that is used to serve web pages to mobile devices almost instantly. If you implement it on your site then the static content of your site will be stored on Google servers and this stored data will be served to mobile devices in an optimized version.
Enabling AMP has several advantages such as high SEO rankings, possibility to be featured in Google carousel, and better user experience to mobile users.
Refer to this article to implement AMP pages in your WordPress website.
13. Go HTTPS (SSL Certificate)
Now that Google has officially said that HTTPS is a ranking factor, it makes no point for you to not switch to HTTPS.
By adding HTTPS, you can take advantage of better rankings and user trust as well. Sites with active HTTPS show a green lock icon which signifies that every data shared is secure.
You can use CloudFlare free SSL to move your site to HTTPS. Refer to this guide for step by step implementation.
SEO is the most important part of website ranking and while many think of SEO as a hard strategy, it actually can be easily implemented using WordPress SEO Checklist as described above.
What is your take on SEO? How are you making your WordPress website ready of 2017? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Do not forget to socialize this post with your friends and followers to help them make their websites, SEO-friendly.