SEO Checklist for WordPress in 2021

This morning a friend asks me on WhatsApp: “Do you have any SEO checklist for wordpress to recommend me?”. Have I have, but he’s in my head, I thought.

I could search for one on the internet and send it to him, or I could write what I use (which until now was just in my head) and send it through Whatsapp to him. But then I thought: this can be good content for the blog, and other people must have the same doubt. So I decided to write this text:

SEO checklist for WordPress for 2021

Here I am going to write what my experience of 11 years working with SEO and more than 20 creating websites made me classify:

I’ll divide this list of tasks for SEO with the optimizations in 6 fields:

  1. Choosing hosting and servers
  2. Making basic settings
  3. Selecting plugins
  4. Using visual editors
  5. Improvements in images, javascript, and css
  6. Keeping your WordPress up to date

And as always, this post is getting out of date as WordPress gets updated, so if you see something that no longer makes sense, send in the comments that I run back and update, ok?

How to create a new site in WordPress already optimized?

The best way to have an optimized site is to create it from scratch following the SEO rules: a fast site with well-written code and content semantically related to your business. So let’s see how to create a new wordpress site that makes search engines love it right away!

Hosting and Servers

Choosing good hosting for your new wordpress site today is easier than ever. But there are a few things I recommend doing: select lodgings that sell services within large structures, such as Google, Amazon, and others. A current option is hosting WordPress itself, which is extremely optimized but has a higher value, which can be a bit prohibitive.

I use on this website a hosting that was recommended to me by friends, Closte. In detail, I do not earn a penny with this disclosure.

I chose it for a few reasons: automatic updates (which save me from worrying about updating servers), a high-speed and secure server hosted on Google, and easy to install a project (even for me who is not a programmer) and automatic backups.

A detail about hosting: choose one that is close to where your users are. For example, my website doesn’t have customers outside of Brazil, so I don’t need to have my website hosted outside the country. Ask at hosting if your site will be hosted in Brazil.

Basic settings

Some technologies are fundamental, but the basic settings of WordPress, after hosting it in good service, are the system settings. The first thing is to configure the options.

SEO Checklist: General WordPress options screen.
General options are key.

Go to general options and configure the site title and description. I already lost the account of website owners who hire me to see why their website does not appear on Google when they search for the brand, and the reason is this. Put your business name in the Site Title and describe what you do in the description.

Do not forget to include the language of your website, the schedule, and other information below:

SEO Checklist: Language information screen in WordPress
Language information

Stay tuned with the reading options!

If you use WordPress to set up a blog, choose the option “your most recent articles,” but if you create a complete website, choose a page that you created to be his home. In the image, you can see that I use AMP (Google‘s standard for quick pages); I’ll talk about it in the list of plugins.

SEO Checklist: Reading option settings in WordPress.

Even choosing a static page, you may want to have a blog on your site; for that, select an article page. But the most fundamental is the item “Visibility in search engines.” When developers make a new website, they generally want search engines not to find it before it is ready, and for that, they mark that item.

But then they forget to hang up. And when a website is launched, search engines can’t find it. Check this out.

The last tip I want to give you in the basic settings is about the permanent call options.

WordPress offers the possibility to create a customized URL structure, which is one of the strengths that the platform has to achieve good results in search engines.

Creating a custom URL structure and improving the aesthetics and usability of your links make it easier for search engines to understand your site’s content.

SEO Checklist: Select how your URL will be built in WordPress
Choose the best model for your links

I always choose the model called “Article name” because it gives me a very clean URL. But news sites may want a URL that uses the date of the news. But always think about a simple and clean URL model; your users and search engines are grateful.

Plugins

The best SEO plugins for WordPress

Below I will put the list that I use in my projects on the websites that I create:

  • Akismet Anti-Spam: This plugin will protect your website from spam. Messages inside WordPress forms are the simplest way to spam your website, and this plugin gets you out of it;
  • Really Simple SSL: Having a website with HTTPS is a current security standard, and this lightweight plugin without any configuration will make your website work with that security;
  • Yoast SEO: Using a plugin to help you optimize your site is a good thing. There are other more advanced options for plugins, but to start with, this one will meet your needs.

But is that it? The basics, yes, but now let’s talk about plugins that will make your WordPress faster and lighter. Speed, usability are criteria for a website to be in the top positions.

An important part of website creation today is the use of visual editors.

WordPress has become a platform that allows designers, creators, and digital entrepreneurs to create their own websites, even without programming knowledge.

The lack of technical knowledge can create some problems: lack of security and slowness, for example. Still, it facilitates the development of your website and generates great savings when launching digital projects.

To make this possible, most of us use visual editors.

Visual editors

Currently, two publishers compete for the market: DIVI and Elementor. This website (and all the others I made) were made using DIVI, my chosen platform.

Both work similarly: they create the possibility for you to create your website visually, right on the page, as if you were using an image editing program or websites.

This makes our lives much easier but creates a problem: unnecessary javascript and css. So let’s talk about how to make these files more optimized.

Improvements: images, javascript, and css

  • LiteSpeed Cache: This plugin is exclusive for hosting that uses LiteSpeed technology. If your server has this, install it. Each site has a perfect configuration to know how to make your configuration access this post;
  • Autoptimize: I use it together with LiteSpeed to optimize CSS, JS, images, Google fonts, among other things.

Updates

One of the most complicated, boring, and problematic things about WordPress was updating the plugins and WordPress itself. Everything happened until the site completely crashed.

But this is very different today. We can leave most plugins to update automatically

Look at the image below:

SEO Checklist: WordPress Plugins Update Screen

Some, more critical ones must be updated manually. I generally leave the speed, and cache optimization plugins with the auto-update functionality turned off. Another category is the plugins that I use for a short time, and I have not yet developed the confidence generated by several updates without a problem.

As you can see, some plugins are updated automatically, and others are not.

This takes a severe matter: backup! As I said in the server session, I always choose servers with a reliable automatic backup system. Usually, the big players (Google, Amazon, etc.)

You can also use plugins to back up. I’ve tested several, and the only one that never gave me a problem is the All-in-One WP Migration. If you choose to install a plugin to make your own backups, the only detail is: buy its license!

Free plugins have a limit on the size of the file generated in the backup, and as your site grows more likely, you have to make a backup and then not be able to use it because it exceeded the limit. Stay Tuned!

How to create a blog on WordPress already optimized?

So, are you enjoying this SEO checklist for wordpress that I prepared especially for you? So far, we’ve talked about launching a brand new website that has already been optimized, but now let’s think about sites that are already live.

Creating a project from scratch, with SEO already in mind, with the help of an SEO consultant is great; I recommend you do that. But what if your website is already live? There’s nothing to do?

Of course, yes! You’re going to need to fix some things, but even in this, WordPress helps us get it all rounded more easily.

Hosting and Servers

The first thing I recommend is that you do a speed check on your website. Access two tools and put your website address on it, and see what happens.

The first is GT Metrix.

It is an online tool that accesses your website and, following some speed and usability criteria, gives you a rating.

SEO Checklist: GT Metrix speed report
GTMetrix report after recent optimizations.

This tool is not perfect. She has a hard time understanding websites hosted on servers that use CDN, so don’t take this report too seriously, but it is an indication that your hosting situation is, as for speed and stability.

Another tool that I recommend is Measure by Google.

There you can compare what needs to be improved on your website and go optimizing step by step.

Both GTMetrix and Measure use Google’s new recommendations called Web Vitals.

The advice I want to give you when optimizing an old website is: don’t overdo it! We often seek high marks on some platform and end up detonating our website.

No tool like this is perfect, and you need to know that you don’t need to reach the highest grades to have a fast and stable website.

Basic settings

Go there in the basic settings section for new sites and follow each item. The recommendations are the same. But be careful, especially if you are going to change the way WordPress writes your URLs.

A bug that sometimes happens when we change this setting below is that all URLs stop working.

Select how will rebuild your URL in WordPress

If this happens, click on any two other items (Day and name, for example) and save. Then select the “article name” again and save it again.

Every time you had a problem with me, it solved it. I never knew why, but it solves.

Plugins

If your site is old, you probably already use many plugins. The tip I give you is: analyze if you really need all these plugins.

You saw that I use them very little, although I always test one or the other.

My thought is: I am always looking for plugins that can replace two or more quality plugins. I keep an eye on new plugins that can be more optimized and lighter than the old ones.

And I don’t let myself be enchanted with features. Your website has a purpose, and you only need the plugins that are essential for achieving that goal. The rest is getting in the way.

Too many plugins are often to blame for bugs and slowness on your site created in WordPress. A good practice is to analyze each one of them (disconnecting one by one and analyzing or installing conflict analysis plugins, such as P3 – Plugin Performance Profiler)

Improvements: images, javascript, and css

In addition to the cache plugins that I indicated in the new site section, you will need extra help with your images.

A website that has been online for a while usually has many images published. And they are a source of constant slow problems, so: take the time (or even money) to optimize your old images.

I recommend TinyPNG, which has a perfect plugin called Compress JPEG & PNG images.

If your site does not have many images, you can use it in the free plan to let you optimize 100 images per month. Now, if your site has much more than that, it is worth hiring a plan from them to optimize all your images at once.

Ele vai te ajudar também com as novas imagens que você colocar no site: o Panda vai deixar todas elas otimizadas na hora.

Visual editors

If you used a visual editor to create your site, you would not be able to switch between systems without recreating the look and content of the site from scratch.

The time to optimize an old site may be perfect to abandon that old theme, redesign your site using one of the two editors I have indicated: DIVI or Elementor.

You will have a website with a new face, with more modern and fast technologies.

Updates

The recommendations for updates are the same as I already gave and one more:

Create a plan to update your site in WordPress if it is already old and out of date. WordPress, in an ancient version, has stability and security problems. Un-updated plugins have the same problems and can be a gateway for intrusions.

But before you start updating everything, make all the backups you can and, if you can, hire an expert on the subject to help you. Your hosting can help you with that.

CONCLUSION

Creating an optimized website using WordPress is a great choice. Having a WordPress website is a great choice. It is an increasingly mature, stable, and friendly system. So: create your website!

I made this SEO Checklist for WordPress to group my experiences on the subject. Of course, it’s not a closed list, and it doesn’t cover all topics, but it has – in my opinion – everything you need to have a website created (or redone) following good SEO practices.

SEO worksheet

I am sharing my spreadsheet “SEO Checklist 2021” that I use in my projects and that I am constantly updating.

With the data that I posted here and with the news that the SEO presents at each launch of the search engines.

Access the SEO Semantic Checklist.

See the Web Story version of this post with a summary of the tips.

Common questions

  1. O que é Checklist?

    Checklist é uma uma lista de itens necessários, coisas a serem feitas ou pontos a serem considerados, geralmente usada como um lembrete. No âmbito do SEO e do desenvolvimento de sites é uma lista de tarefas a serem executadas que não podem ser esquecidas ou relegadas.

  2. O que é Hospedagem?

    Hospedagem é um serviço que aluga espaço em computadores chamados servidores para você ter o seu site online. São nessas máquinas que os arquivos do seu website e é esse serviço que fornece as funcionalidades e ferramentas para ele possa ser encontrado e acessado via internet.

  3. O que é um plugin?

    Os plugins, para o WordPress, é um trecho de código, que pode ser instalado

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Alexander Rodrigues Silva

Alexander Rodrigues Silva

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