If you created a directory website (or any other website) and want more organic traffic, then improving your WordPress SEO is crucial. Unfortunately, most of the articles out there are too technical, and it may be challenging to make all the necessary improvements on your own. That’s why we created this article on WordPress SEO, so you can improve your website rankings without any technical background.

So, without any further ado, let’s jump in!

A Few Words About WordPress SEO Fundamentals

Before we dive into the “recommendations” part of this article, let’s briefly cover some core principles of WordPress SEO that you should keep in mind when optimizing your directory website.

When optimizing your directory website for a better website presence in search engine results, you should always focus on:

  • Keywords – identify the terms your target audience uses when searching for listings in your directory website, and include these in your metadata and content. You can find the best keywords using tools like Google Keyword Planner or Ubersuggest, etc.;
  • Site Structure – try to organize your website logically with a clear hierarchy and easy navigation to make it easy for users to navigate. Moreover, in that case, it will help Google crawlers crawl and index your website faster;
  • Mobile Responsiveness – it’s a pretty common recommendation, but many people still ignore this ranking factor and focus solely on desktop optimization. Make sure that your directory site is accessible and performs well on all devices;
  • Page Load Speed – work towards a swift, smooth loading experience, as slower pages are generally ranked lower by search engines (check what Google says about loading speed);
  • Proper Linking – it means that you should think about the linking structure of your website in advance (e.g., create pillar content, work on content clusters, take care of anchors, etc.). Also, it’s crucial to avoid buying spammy backlinks.

Okay, now you have a short outline of what we are going to talk about in this article. Now, let’s dive deeper into each of the SEO principles.

Technical SEO 

Technical SEO is the backbone of a directory website’s ability to rank well in search engines. By focusing on technical aspects such as site structure, page speed, mobile responsiveness, and security, you create a solid foundation for your website’s performance (check our guide on securing a WordPress directory website).

Simply saying, it’s a starting point for optimizing your website.

Optimizing Site Structure

Your directory website’s structure should be logical and easy to navigate. It’s better to use a hierarchical layout with categories and subcategories that accurately reflect the information on your website. 

Ahrefs recommends using a pyramid navigation structure for easy crawling and a better user experience.

Example of a pyramid website structure.

This structure has three main benefits:

  • Easy Navigation – everything is intuitive and pretty easy to understand;
  • Good “Link Juice” Distribution – usually, homepages tend to have most of the website’s backlinks, so having important pages close to the homepage improves their page rank;
  • Contextual Internal Links – categories link to their respective subcategories and vice versa.

Improving Page Speed

As we mentioned before, page speed is a crucial ranking factor. So, if you want to improve your website visibility on SERP (search engine result page), you should optimize the page speed of your directory website. The basic steps for improving page speed include:

  • Converting images into WebP format;
  • Setting up caching on your website; 
  • Optimizing embedded media;
  • Removing unnecessary plugins;
  • Minifying CSS and JavaScript files.

We mentioned only a few basic recommendations on how to optimize your page speed. But it’s better to check out our article on how to speed up a WordPress website using the LiteSpeed Cache plugin. It includes step-by-step instructions that will make your directory website faster.

Mobile Friendliness

Ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices. Here, we’re not only talking about responsive design since it’s a default thing, and if you are using a modern WordPress theme, everything should be okay.

When optimizing your website for mobile devices, try the following:

  • Use PageSpeed Insights – test your website using this tool and go through all the recommendations provided there to optimize your site for mobile devices;
  • Avoid pup-ups – they work well on desktop versions of websites but not on mobile devices;
  • Avoid large chunks of text – large chunks of text can be difficult to read on a small screen. They can also make a website feel cluttered and overwhelming;

Now, let’s jump into the next part of this article and talk about on-page SEO.

On-Page SEO Techniques

On-page SEO is like sprucing up your website’s interior. It involves fine-tuning elements directly on your pages to make them more appealing to both users and search engines. Effective on-page SEO ensures that your directory website is accessible to search engines and can significantly improve your site’s ranking potential. 

We’ll cover the most important things you should improve on your directory website.

Keyword Research and Optimization

Your website’s visibility starts with keyword research. You should identify relevant keywords that users are using to find websites similar to yours. It’s easy to find these keywords using tools like:

By using these tools, you’ll be able to find out which keywords are the most searched and relevant for your niche.

Example of a keyword research for WordPress SEO.
Example of results provided by the AnswerThePublic tool.

Once you identify all the necessary keywords, it’s time to optimize all your content for the most important keywords (i.e., those that are most relevant to your business). To make it easier for you, here’s a checklist of the “things” you should examine and optimize:

  • Page titles;
  • Headings (H1, H2);
  • Meta descriptions;
  • Blog articles (create keyword-optimized content);
  • URLs (all new links should include proper keywords);

Just to clarify, proper keyword research is not something “optional” or “desirable”. It’s a must-have process that can make or break your business. So, it’s better to spend some time on research and optimization.

Now, let’s discuss some of the mentioned content elements in more detail.

Importance of Content Relevance

Content relevance plays a huge role when it comes to search engine optimization. Your content should be:

  • Matching User Intent – it has to align with what users are searching for, which means listings should be detailed and categorically organized;
  • Quality and Unique – high-quality, unique descriptions for listings help distinguish your website and make it more valuable to both users and search engines;
  • Up to Date – try to maintain current and accurate listing information, as outdated content can negatively impact UX on your website.

Title Tags and Meta Descriptions

Meta tags and descriptions are critical components that impact how search engines and users view your website. 

  • Title Tags – ensure each page has a unique and descriptive title tag that includes the primary keyword;
  • Meta Descriptions – write short but compelling meta descriptions for each page that include relevant keywords and encourage click-throughs from the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Simply saying, title tags and meta descriptions are like a “cover of a book”, so make sure that they are compelling enough so users want to click on the link and check your website.

URL Structure

Another important component of your on-page SEO is a proper URL structure. It improves user experience and helps search engines understand the hierarchy and relevance of your content. Here are some recommendations:

  • Keep URLs Short and Descriptive – use clear, logical URLs that include keywords and reflect the content of the page;
  • Use Hyphens for Readability – separate words in URLs using hyphens;
  • Avoid Numbers – don’t use numbers in your URLs, especially years (e.g., “best themes in 2024”) because you won’t be able to change it when you update your article.

So, that’s all for on-page WordPress SEO, and now let’s move on and talk a little bit about off-page optimization.

Off-Page SEO Elements

What is Off-page SEO? When people mention off-page SEO, they usually mean tactics applied outside of a website to improve its rankings. These strategies often include link building, guest posting, social media marketing, and so on.

The main goal is to make your website more trustworthy and authoritative for visitors and search engines. 

The first and probably the most effective way to improve your off-page SEO is to start building backlinks from authoritative websites. But the question is, “How to build backlinks?”.  Ahrefs already simplified the answer to this question. Basically, you can:

Backlink-building techniques.
Image credits to Ahrefs

To make it more clear, here are several popular ways how you can get backlinks to your website:

  • Making Great Content – the most natural way to gain backlinks is to create outstanding content that will be useful to people, and other websites will be linking to it naturally (just like we linked in this article to Ahref’s article);
  • Guest Posting – if you have excellent expertise in certain fields, you can reach out to different websites and offer to write an article for their blog, and if you are lucky enough, you’ll be able to link back to your own website;
  • Directories – you can search for different industry directories and try to get your website listed there.

We mentioned only a few ways, but there are many more of them. However, not every backlink is worth getting. Here are a few recommendations on what you should avoid doing:

  • Purchasing Backlinks – Google prohibits that, and you can get in trouble by doing so (e.g., Google can stop indexing your website);
  • Spammy Backlinks – avoid spamming with links to your website on different forums or directories with the purpose of improving your DA (domain authority);
  • Low DA Websites – don’t create guest posts on websites that are spammy or have a low DA since it will only make things worse.

Social Media Promotion

The next crucial off-page SEO strategy involves boosting your social media platforms’ presence. Social signals from platforms like Facebook and Reddit can positively impact your website’s search engine rankings.

By default, links from social media platforms don’t help your website increase domain authority. However, they can still bring a lot of traffic to your website when people share your content, and they can introduce your website to different audiences. So, we recommend creating accounts for your business in:

  • Reddit
  • Facebook
  • X (formerly Twitter)

You can engage with your audience to promote social shares and direct traffic back to your site. Also, if it’s applicable to your niche, we highly recommend creating a YouTube channel for your business. It’s just a great source of traffic when used properly.

Measuring SEO Efforts

Now, let’s talk about measuring your SEO efforts. Accurate tracking and regular audits of your website are critical for long-term success. 

Analytics and Reporting Tools

First of all, you have to decide which analytics tool you gonna use. The most common choice is using Google Analytics 4. It will provide you with most of the necessary insights into user behavior, conversions and traffic sources. Some of the “WordPress SEO metrics” include: 

  • Organic Traffic – keep an eye on the number of users reaching your site through search engines. This is probably the most important metric when talking about SEO since it directly indicates how easy it is to find your website organically;
  • Bounce Rate – monitor how quickly visitors leave your site because this can show you whether the content on your website is relevant & quality or not;
  • Conversion Rate – measure how often visitors complete desired actions, such as signing up or making a purchase. Basically, it’s the main metric of most of the websites. Usually, it’s pointless to have a lot of traffic that doesn’t convert.

It’s also important to:

  • Set Goals – define specific, measurable objectives in your analytics tools to evaluate the efficiency of your WordPress SEO tactics (e.g., it may be “10k users in a month”);
  • Segment Data – break down data by categories (like device type or location) for targeted analysis.

These are the “fundamental” metrics that should be tracked regularly, but there are also many other useful metrics that you should check, such as engagement time, returning visitors, etc.

Check our article on the key metrics for WordPress websites.

WordPress SEO Audits

Also, it’s crucial to make regular SEO audits. It will help you to identify areas for improvement on your website and more importantly, you’ll notice if something wrong is going on (e.g., black SEO, broken links, etc.).

Unfortunately, you’ll probably have to use some paid tools like Ahrefs, Semrush or similar ones to make such audits. However, this is not an area to cheap out on because if you are going to invest money in WordPress SEO, then you have to be sure of what results it brings.

When making a new audit, try to break down the process into:

  • Technical SEO – check for crawl errors, site speed, mobile-friendliness, and proper use of HTTPS.
  • On-Page SEO – ensure proper use of title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and that content matches search intent.
  • Off-Page SEO – evaluate your backlink profile and pursue high-quality backlinks from reputable sources. Also, check whether you have some spammy backlinks (remove them if necessary).
  • Content Quality – from time to time, check the analytics of your content pieces to understand how they perform.

As a rule of thumb, reviewing this data once or twice a week will be enough. In that case, you’ll be aware of all the changes on your website.

Installing WordPress SEO Plugins

Finally, we recommend installing a popular SEO WordPress plugin on your website. You can choose RankMath or Yoast since both of them offer many features that help you optimize your website for search engines. Some of the default features of both plugins will include:

  • Content Readability Analysis – plugins can help you evaluate the readability of your content and provide suggestions to make it more user-friendly;
  • Schema Markup – such plugins offer options for adding schema markup to your content;
  • Focus Keyword Optimization – tools can help you optimize focus keywords for your content, ensuring that you are targeting relevant terms.

Please note that we mentioned only a few features, but usually, such plugins can help you optimize your website significantly. However, keep in mind that simply installing plugins won’t make your website SEO-friendly and bring you more traffic. You have to use all the other techniques mentioned earlier to get some significant and permanent results.

Final Words

That wraps up our article on how to do WordPress SEO for your directory website (or any other). We hope it was useful to you, and now you have a better idea of the improvements you have to make to get higher rankings on SERP.

Additionally, we recommend checking out our article on the most popular mistakes people make when starting a new website, so you can avoid them in the future.

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