13 essential points to optimize SEO in WordPress

By | August 25, 2022

WordPress is SEO friendly. But an optimization – even a basic one – will be welcome to increase your visibility in search engines. Let’s review the essential points to implement.

If WordPress is running more than a third of websites today, it’s largely due to its reputation as an SEO friendly CMS. And it’s true, WordPress is naturally gifted at optimizing the SEO of your pages and articles, as long as you use its capabilities wisely.

But with the growing number of sites powered by WordPress, it is essential to go further than just using the natural capabilities of the CMS.

We will review the tools included in WordPress to optimize our SEO, as well as the extensions that will allow us to refine what WordPress offers us.

The tools included in WordPress

1 – the slogan of the site

Nothing worse than leaving the default slogan: A site using WordPress. Better still not have a slogan than to leave this text which will give an amateurish impression to the most professional of sites.

To change it, go to Settings > General and enter your own catchphrase.

2 – permalinks management

By default, the URL structure is not SEO friendly, far from it. For a simple reason: not all web servers support URL rewriting.

If your server manages the rewriting (it should) the permalink will allow SEO friendly URLs, more meaningful than the default ones.

To manage the structure of the permalinks, go to Settings > Permalinks.

3 – the URL slug

The slug can be translated by token. It is a unique identifier for your article or page, which, in the URL, will allow access to the right resource.

It is directly linked to the permalinks, since it will be displayed at the end of the URL if you set the permalink to /%postname%/.

To caress the search engines in the right direction, the slug must be short and talking. That’s why I chose conseils-seo for this article, or visual-portfolio for the article dedicated to the extension of the same name.

If you have two similar articles that you have named identically, the slug allows you to differentiate them. The second will be suffixed with a dash followed by the number 2. The slug of this article, for example, is conseils-seo. If I duplicate it, the slug cannot be conseils-seo which would conflict with the first one. WordPress will automatically add a suffix to it, so the default slug will be conseils-seo-2.

But for search engines, this approach is not meaningful. If you have two articles on the same subject, look for the point that makes each article unique. To take the previous example, if the second article allows you to go further, you can keep the advice-seo for the first article, and define the slug of the second article with advice-seo-advance.

The slug is generated automatically, but you can and must optimize it. Don’t forget that it contains only simple alphanumeric characters (no accents or special characters), as well as hyphens (-) and underscores (_) which are no longer in sainthood at the moment.

4 – the extract

I’m sure you’ve heard of the excerpt. It’s the English term for excerpt. It can be generated automatically, if you add a Read More tag in your article, or written separately, in the Document / Extract tab of Gutenberg’s right side column.

It is this second approach that I recommend to optimize the SEO of your articles and pages. Well thought out and well written, it offers a real plus to your article. You will notice that I always display it above the table of contents, to give the reader a quick overview of the article.

The snippet is used for html metadata tags and opengraph description and is displayed below the title in search engines. It is therefore crucial to think and write this short text carefully.

5 – The description of categories and tags

For each taxonomy, WordPress offers you to fill in the name, slug, and description. This is not mandatory, but you might as well use the full functionality of the CMS.

The advantage of filling in this description is to be able to display the description in your archive pages, and thus bring an added value to these pages which, otherwise, only list the articles corresponding to the label, the category, the author.

6 – The syndication flow

This feed, also called RSS feed, is used to feed article banks, to display an extract of your articles on the sites that follow you or to generate a personalized feed by and for your readers. The best known subscription manager for these feeds is feedburner.

In Settings > Reading, you can choose to display the full content of the article, or the extract. This second option allows you to highlight your articles with the excerpt you wrote yourself, making the reader want to discover the full article on your site.

In general, the feed of your site is retrievable at the url https://mywebsite.com/rss/. The feed of this site is thus recoverable via the url pascalcescato.gdn/rss/.

By default, this feed doesn’t include an image. To add the image to the front page and allow the creation of more catchy feeds, I propose a piece of code to insert via Code Snippets :

function featuredtoRSS($content) {

global $post;

if ( has_post_thumbnail( $post->ID ){

$content = ‘<div>’ . get_the_post_thumbnail( $post->ID, ‘large’, array( ‘style’ => ‘margin-bottom: 15px;’ ) ) . ‘</div>’ . $content;


return $content;


add_filter(‘the_excerpt_rss’, ‘featuredtoRSS’);

add_filter(‘the_content_feed’, ‘featuredtoRSS’);

SEO extensions

There are several, quite comprehensive, to help with the SEO optimization of your site.

But beware! These extensions are a help, they won’t do the job for you! It is you and you alone who are the master on board.

The best known of all is undoubtedly Yoast SEO. To say that she’s the best… I won’t go that far, but she does what she’s asked and more.

The global settings

7 – a sitemap for your site

Most SEO extensions include this feature. The sitemap is in fact a map or plan of your site, which will facilitate its discovery by search engines. Without it, they will browse your site, but possibly in a less exhaustive way, or at least, they will do it as they wish, since you will not have given them any instructions.

What should be put in the sitemap? The articles, of course, and the pages. You can also include the archive pages (labels, categories, authors…) but only if these pages bring a real plus compared to the articles themselves.

For example, if you display your personalized extract, and if you have filled in the description of the categories and labels.

8 – opengraph tags

These tags are used by social networks (mainly Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn) to display an excerpt of your content, to retrieve the type of content, title, URL, front page image, site name, publication and update dates.

So, when someone shares your article on a social network, these are the tags that will be used to display eye-catching content in the social network. Might as well give relevant and punchy information.

Once these settings are made, you can take action…

At the level of each article

9 – SEO title and description

Ah, but I already did! That’s the excerpt that’s used for the description, isn’t it? Yes. And no. You can use the excerpt. But it’s an extract that you won’t be able to optimize, and for archive pages (and possibly articles if you display the extract at the top of the page), and for syndication feeds, and for search engines.

For example, if your excerpt is 250 characters long, it’s very good to display in archive, in syndication and at the top of the page. But it’s much too long for search engines that will truncate your text.

The excerpt for this article (which you can find at the very beginning, before the summary) is 212 characters long. So I revised my text, and for the search engines, the description will be 139 characters:

The essential points to optimize the SEO of your site and make you gain visibility on Google and other search engines.

Same for the title: 13 essential points to optimize the SEO under WordPress, it’s too long if you include the blog name afterwards (and it’s not useless). The SEO title of this article will therefore be 13 SEO tips for WordPress. Shorter, more punchy, and displayable in its entirety.

The optimal length for search engines is 60 to 70 characters for the title, and 150 to 160 characters for the description.

10 – implementation of the recommendations

Yoast SEO or Rank Math for example (I have not tested all SEO extensions) propose a score based on SEO best practices: presence of the keyword – which you have to determine – in the title of the article, in the subtitles, in the first paragraph… the density of the keyword in the content, the readability of your text…

So many points that will allow you to gain not only in terms of search engines, but also in terms of the reading comfort of your readership: if I do not use the keyword, neither in the title, nor in the first paragraph, nor even in the excerpt, and I use it sparingly in the content, will the reader grasp the interest of the article, or will I have missed my target?

11 – Naming and description of images

A picture is worth a thousand words, but a picture alone won’t make much sense to search engines. Especially if the file is saved from a camera or smartphone, which generates the name from a template like img-[id]-[date-time].jpg.

Take the time to rename your images with a name that makes sense: lion-zoo-moscow.jpg is more meaningful than img-00668-201802121547_hdi.jpg.

And get into the habit of filling in the description, either when you upload the image, or when you insert it in the page and Gutenberg suggests that you write the caption. This field is located just below the image you have just displayed.

These two points will allow for the correct indexing of the images in your content. The advantage? An “images” search on Google also leads to your article, with different keywords.

The complementary points

12 – the theme and extensions

A well-coded, responsive and light theme will help you win points. Indeed, Google notes on the speed, and on the compatibility with mobile platforms.

If your theme doesn’t support tablets and smartphones, you clearly have a problem. You are not asked for compatibility with IE6 or Netscape 4.7, but with the main modern browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Safari, Edge to some extent, and their mobile versions.

13 – Common sense and good spelling

You may have taken all the previous points into account, a text full of mistakes will only pass if you want to compete Here – and again 😐 Reading a text where a verb is missing, some articles, where the chords are not made, and of course full of mistakes makes reading more difficult.

And of course, the SEO score is not everything. Just because the target keyword is present in every line doesn’t mean that Google is going to put you in first place – in fact, the opposite is true. Write your text with your readership in mind, and then optimize it. Not the other way around.

In conclusion

To please the search engines, in 2019, we must first and foremost think of our readers. And by implementing a few essential points, we give them everything they need to index us.

In addition, these tips are valid whatever the type of site you create: personal blog, corporate blog, professional site…

On the other hand, the competition is tough; these few points will allow you to be present in the search engines; on the other hand, they will not necessarily allow you to land in three days in pole position.

SEO is a long-term activity, and a specialized field where the advice of professionals experienced in its use will not be useless to you, depending on the expected results and the budget you have to devote to it.

But at least you will have laid the foundations for your optimization, and the results should not be long in coming.

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