Do you really know how to improve your free organic traffic? Learn how to check in detail your on-page SEO setup, errors, linking, social signals, loading speed and much more. Learn which tools to use. This post is made for anyone as a reference and as a guide to guarantee website traffic growth.

What is SEO? SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization’. Improving SEO will increase a website page ranking (position) in the search engines results.  The higher the ranking, the higher the traffic. SEO will bring you free long term stable website traffic (if done correctly). SEO focuses mainly around (key)words, links from quality websites and user experience (and many more other minor factors). Even if a website is optimized for the best researched keywords, if you have no quality links (backlinks) pointing to your site, you will hardly get any traffic from organic search results (at least for many months). Search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex etc) will crawl (read) each of your website’s pages and its contents (words, images, videos). They will then position your website pages in the search engine results based on your website SEO quality and backlinks. Organic traffic will be eventually, most of your website traffic. Social traffic or traffic from other sources is never stable and takes too much time and money to maintain it.

Below most important SEO factors you will find steps to take to check and improve your website SEO (it’s recommended to recheck below checlists every few months):


Preferred Domain. You must select which url version of your site will the default url (ie or To do that, go to Google Search Console. On the top left, click in the red ‘Search Console’ text link, then click on your ‘www’ website link (ie., click the Gear Box icon and from the drop down menu select ‘Site Settings’. Then select ‘Display URLs as ‘ and click ‘Save’. If you can’t save it, then on top left of Google Search Console, click in the red ‘Search Console’ text link, then click on the your ‘non-www’ website link (, click the Gear Box icon and from the drop down menu select ‘Verification details’. Then you can select the option of verifying with an ‘Html File Upload’ or ‘Html Tag’. If you select the Html File Upload, then download the Html file and transfer it with an

Then you can select the option of verifying with an ‘Html File Upload’ or ‘Html Tag’. If you select the Html File Upload, then download the Html file and transfer it with an ftp software (FileZilla Client) to your website main files folder called ‘public_html’ (root folder). Your hosting company has given you ftp username, password and ftp url to access your site with ftp software. If you select the verification with ‘Html Tag’, then you have to insert the html tag with WordPress plugin ‘Head and Footer Scripts Inserter’. Once you complete the procedure, then go to Search Console and click ‘Verify’. Then you will be able to select ‘Preferred Domain’.
Submit Website to Search Engines (Google, Bing, Yandex). Search Engines online tools provide very important information about a website’s SEO status (and much more). Recheck its status once a month. You MUST submit also your website’s Sitemap.xml. A sitemap includes the websites pages address (url link) plus website images you upload. To submit and check a sitemap, go to Google search console > Crawl > Sitemaps and click ‘Add/Test Sitemap’. Then, add your sitemap file (the sitemap filename will probably be ‘’). Check after a few days if the sitemap has been successfully submitted and also indexed. You can double check if

You can double check if submission is ok by typing in Chrome bar ‘’ and Google will display your website pages indexed. If you then click in the search results the tab ‘images’, you will see also if your website images are also indexed (images indexing is also very important). If you have video files in your website, add also a video sitemap the with WordPress Plugin ‘Google XML Sitemap for Videos’.
301 permanent redirect. This is very important. Type your non-www domain url in the browser to check if it redirects to the www version. For example, type ‘’ and if it finally changes to ‘’, then you are ok (unless your website maker has setup your website to redirect from ‘www’ to ‘non-www’ version). If neither of the above happens, then you have to insert the following code to your ‘.htaccess’ file in the root folder of your website. First make a backup of your ‘.htaccess’ file before you include the code since if you do a mistake, then your website will become useless! Therefore, if something goes wrong, load again the original ‘.htaccess’ file.
Code to add in .htaccess file to redirect to ‘www’ version:
Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^ [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$$1 [L,R=301]

404 Errors. If you have many 404 errors, fix them or your ranking (and traffic) will be reduced. Go in Google Search Console > Crawl > Crawl Errors. If you see any errors then tick the check box, click ‘Download’, click the ‘OK’ message of the pop up window to download the CSV list of 404 error links. Open the ‘.csv’ file with text editor (it’s better to use Notepad++ to do that) and you will get something like this:, 404, not found

That means that this link is no longer valid and you must fix it or redirect it to another website page. To redirect it, you must replace the ‘your-webpage-no1’ with a valid link like ‘your-webpage-no2’. Then you prepare the following:
Redirect 301 /your-webpage-no1
(be careful of the spaces).

You then copy and paste this line in the .htaccess file under the ‘RewriteEngine on’ (.htaccess). Then go in Google Search Console > Google Index >Remove URLs and click the ‘Temporarily Hide’ button and insert the webpage that had the error to remove it from search results (i.e. Then click ‘Continue’. After that, go to Google Search Console > Crawl > Crawl Errors, tick the check box with the error and click ‘Marked As Fixed’.

To check if you did it correctly, paste your 404 link in the browser (i.e., press enter and automatically you will see a redirection to ‘’. If that happens, then everything will be ok. Just in case, test a few of your main website pages to make sure that no other important pages has been affected (for example, the product order page). If you wish, after a few days, you can remove the redirect from the htaccess file (if the previous 404 errors are not present anymore in the Search Console errors section). If you have thousands of redirects in htaccess, that will slow down the website. Recheck for 404 errors every month.

Very Important Note: In the ‘Remove URLs’ procedure, DON’T insert just ‘’ since that will remove all your website pages from search engine index and your traffic will drop to ZERO! If you do this mistake, go to Google Search Console > Google Index >Remove URLs and cancel last action in the ‘Status’ column. If it’s not possible, then go to Google Search Console > Crawl > Fetch as Google and click ‘Fetch and Render’ and in a few days your traffic will be back to normal (check with ‘’ to see if Google has re-indexed your website pages).

Robot.txt testing. There is a file in the root folder of your website that allows or disallows search engines from indexing website pages of website. To test this file, go to Google Search Console > Fetch as Google and click the ‘Fetch’ button. When the process is completed, you will see a status ‘Complete’ or ‘Partial’. If it’s partial, that may mean that some parts of the website are blocked by the robots.txt file and cannot be crawled. Open robots.txt with Notepad++ and check what is blocked by the ‘Disallow: /*’ command, make corrections, save file and run again the ‘Fetch’ command. The minimum configuration for robots.txt file is the following (although this could be debatable):

User-agent:  *
# disallow all files in these directories
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /archives/
Allow: /

You could also check the health status or robots.txt file in Google Search Console > robots.txt Tester
If you want to block a webpage from indexing add the following command in the robots.txt:
Disallow: /*your-webpage-no3
After a week, type on your browser ‘’ to check if that webpage link is removed.

Duplicate Urls. Go to Google Search Console > Search Appearance > HTML Improvements. If there are duplicates, check which ones they are and correct them by editing titles and meta description of your webpage.

Internal Broken Links. When you create a link from one webpage to another you may by mistake mistype a url link name. To check and fix this, use Screaming Frog [] (free tool). It also reads the title and description length. Then take appropriate action if needed.  Fixing internal broken links keeps visitor happier, improving user experience and avoiding ranking reduction.

Search results website logo. Display you website favicon logo Google search results. Upload in your website an ‘.ico’ image format of 16X16 or 32×32 pixels as your favicon. Make sure you have in your header a code similar to ‘<link rel=“icon” href=”/favicon.ico”>.To check the webpage code, press ‘Ctrl+U’.The string in ‘rel=“string“’may be ‘shortcut icon’, ‘icon‘, ‘apple-touch-icon’,‘apple-touch-icon-precomposed’.

Clean Code. Open your website and then press together keyboard keys ‘Ctrl+U’. That will open another windows with the actual website code. Check if you have red colored code. If there is, then that might create problems (from SEO, functional or visitor side). Although the code might not make a lot of sense, use your logical thinking to see what the red code is about and if you can fix it. Perhaps it might be a plugin creating this problem. If you are not sure what to do but the site works ok, then don’t waste time on this.

Check Html for errors. Try to find what causes errors and fix it. Perhaps a plugin or JavaScript may a problem. Check Html for errors.

Check CSS for errors. This is just for information since its almost impossible to fix anything. CSS is mostly related on how your website appears. You may ignore CSS errors if your website functions ok in all screen sizes and browsers. Check CSS for errors.

Browser Testing. Use to see how your website appears in various browsers and operating system. The advantage of Browserling is that it allows live testing in real time. Additionally test your website by yourself in Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari on desktop and mobiles (both Android and Apple mobiles).

Check RSS feed for errors. To see condition of your RSS, Check RSS feed for errors

Structured Data. Go to Google Search Console > Search Appearance > Structured Data. If you have many errors, try to find what creates them and fix them. Additional testing can be done with Yandex Tool providing a detailed analysis and specifies where are errors. You have to sign in Yandex free service to use it.

Server errors. This is for more advanced users. The server log contains a list of errors found while running website code. If there are too many that means the site may not be working properly or taking longer to load. Your hosting company can inform you where this file is to download it with ftp software.

Specify Website Text Language. Go to Google Search Console > Search Traffic > International Targeting and check if the website language is detected. Alternatively you can test it with Website Language Detector. If no language is detected, then you could add before the </head> tag the following code line to recognize the text language as English:
<link rel=”alternate” href=”” hreflang=”en” />
If your text language is not English, then change the “en” to your language. If you don’t know how to add this code line, then use the WordPress plugin ‘Head and Footer Scripts Inserter’.


The most important SEO factor for search engines is words. Internet users make their searched with words. So search engines ‘try’ to understand what the user is looking for and then offer them webpages results near enough to what the users want. Search engines are totally visually blind. They cannot understand if a website is good or visually appealing. They can only index words. So they scan a website for keywords and keyword phrases from various website elements. These elements are in webpage url, title, description, meta keywords, article text, headers (H1, H2, H3), image name, image alt name, menus, footer links etc. It is absolutely important to include keywords in all these elements. To rank for single word it’s impossible due of incredible competition. Your best possibility is to research which several keyword phrases (long tail keywords) have low competition. Once find them, then include them in all these elements. Try to include unique and relevant keywords phrases per webpage. Therefore you need do the following:

Keywords research. This absolutely important to research which keyword phrases to use in your webpage. You have to find the most popular keyword phrases searched in internet, preferably with lower competition. Use Google autocomplete to start with. Type in Google search bar a keyword and automatically Google will display a few more recommendations. Also, at the end of the Google search results page, there will be 8 more keyword phrases suggestions. Copy them in a notepad and save them. Repeat this procedure with similar keyword phrases. Take a good look also in the Google search results and study the titles and keywords used. Then get all these keywords phrases and run them in Google AdWords keyword planner for free. Sign in keywords planner and paste your researched keywords and check the competition column. Prefer to use the keyword phrases with ‘low’ competition. You can also filter the results by country and more. When you finish save your researched keyword phrases. More tools to do keywords research are,, Professional tools are Semrush, Ahrefs, LongTailPro, Majestic SEO,

Permalink (webpage url). Use your researched keyword phrases on your webpage url. By default WordPress allows numbers instead of words in the webpage url. If your webpage url looks like ‘‘ then you MUST change it to something like ‘‘. To allow that in WordPress, go in Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks, in the section ‘Common Settings’, enable ‘Custom Structure’ and insert this in the white field in the right: /%category%/%postname%/
Then ‘Save Changes’. You can change the Permalink url name by editing your post/page and then clicking on the Permalink ‘Edit’ button below your tile and change it as you wish. Make sure you include the symbol ‘-‘ between words, i.e. website-marketing-tips. If you haven’t done this change since the beginning of using WordPress and don’t want to lose your existing traffic, you should do 301 redirecting from your existing webpage numbered url to the new lettered webpage url name in .htaccess file (as described above in the ‘404 Errors’ section). In URLs, avoid using words like ‘and, to, on, of, a, the, but’ etc.

Webpage Title. Use your researched keyword phrases in your webpage title. Make sure your title is very attractive (to differentiate from competition). The tile must be maximum 50 characters or else the search engine results will not display your complete title. Type in Google search bar ‘’ and check the length of your webpages title. You can use Screaming Frog tool to check all your titles characters length automatically.

Meta Description. Use your researched keyword phrases in your webpage description. This will be the short description of your webpage that you see in the search results under the title. The meta description must be maximum 150 characters. You can define the description with relevant WordPress plugins like ‘Yoast SEO’ in the very bottom of your post/page. It is also recommended to use a ‘Call to Action’ phrase in the end of the meta description to increase the number of clicks (CTR/Click Through Rate) your webpage will receive from the search results. The more tempting the call the action the higher the CTR. A call to action can be ‘Order Now’, ‘Learn More’, ‘Learn How To’ etc.

H1, H2, H3 (Header) Tags. Use your researched keyword phrases in headers hierarchically. H1 is by default the title. Use a few H2 as subtitles to separate your post into sections. If you use an H3 header, then this must be a subtitle of your H2 sections. To use an H2, H3 tag, select/highlight your text and then select H2/H3 from the text editor. If you want to increase the size of your H2, H3 headers, then use the WordPress plugin ‘TinyMCE Advanced’ to provide you with font size option (plus more text formatting options).

Image Name. Before you insert an image to your post, rename it to your researched keyword phrases. If your post is about ‘Internet Marketing Tips’, then rename your image to ‘internet-marketing-tips.jpg’.

Image Alt Name. During image insertion in your post, insert your researched keyword phrases in the ‘alt’ section. This is the image alt tags (alternative tags).

Webpage/Post Body Keywords. Use your researched keyword phrases 1-2 times within the first 100 words of your post/page. Repeat your keywords a few more times in the post with variations (similar words) i.e. ‘marketing tips’, ‘website promotion ideas’. Don’t overuse keywords many times (that will look too intentional to Google). It’s more important to make your post text mostly interesting for readers instead for search engines.

Interlink your posts. Link one post with another post to take the opportunity to display them another similar interesting post or product you sell. The longer they stay in your site, the higher search engines will rank you. Additionally, interlinking will pass page importance (page ranking juice) from your ranking post to your other post.

External Links. Link to another website’s high ranking relevant webpage as a reference/resource. That will increase your ranking since search engines will also ‘read’ that signal as ‘proof’.

Social Share Image Dimensions: In your SEO plugin section in your post, include an image for your post in the correct dimensions to improve share-ability. Recommended image size for Facebook is 1200×630 pixels and for Twitter is 1024X512 pixels. Then when people share your webpage, then the correct image size will appear in social media. This is recommended.

Grammar and Readability. If your text has grammar errors or is more difficult than average to read, which may decrease visitor satisfaction (user experience). has a browser plugin and is free to use to check spelling and grammar. Check post readability with (free).

Keyword density. This is a questionable subject. Some say it’s not important while other recommend a 1-2% keyword density. Keyword density is about how many times a word or phrase appears in the post. The higher the appearance (in %) of your researched keywords, the more relevant it looks to search engines. But, if you try to include your keywords many times in your post, then it will look intentional to search engines and artificial to visitors. Use Free Keyword Density tool ( to get an idea of what keyword density is. Type in your website and click ‘Ninja Check’ and inspect results. If your main researched keywords don’t get the higher percentage, then make changes to make it so. Run also the keyword density on your top competitor website page to understand that they do. To do that, type in Google the keyword phrase you want to rank, pickup the first 2-3 search results, and run these website pages in the above Keyword tool. Inspect, compare and improve your keyword density.

Rich Snippets. When properly setup, they appear as additional elements in the search engine results to provide more information. So, if it is a website page about a recipe, then the image of the recipe will appear. If the page is about a review, then a review grade will appear. If it is about a product, then its price will appear. A suitable WordPress plugin to use for this purpose is ‘All In One Rich Snippets’ It’s useful to know that Rich Snippets might not appear, if there are website pages duplicates or incorrectly installed and configured.

Mobile friendly Website.  There is a significant increase of people how use their mobiles and tablets to view websites. If your website is not mobile friendly, then search engines will display ‘Your page is not mobile-friendly’ and they will affect your ranking. If you use the free theme ‘Twenty Sixteen’, install WPtouch Mobile WordPress Plugin to make it mobile friendly. Test if your website is mobile friendly with online tools like Google Mobile Friendly Test and Bing Mobile Friendly Test. Test your site also with Android and iPhone mobiles and check all pages functionality. Invest 50-70$ for a responsive WordPress theme. It’s a small investment with great benefits (properly responsive, professional look, SEO optimized, faster).

Implement Authorship Markup. This will increase the number of clicks of your website. Check out this Authorship Markup tutorial from AJ Kohn.

WordPress SEO Plugins

SEO Plugins. You must use plugins to improve your SEO. The most popular are Yoast SEO and All in One SEO Pack. Both are used by +3 Million WordPress websites, each. Once you install any of them, then ‘Edit’ each of your post/page and in it’s SEO section, include your researched keywords in the ‘Title’ and ‘Meta-Description’. If you use ‘Yoast SEO’, include your keywords in the ‘Focus keyword’. Focus keywords is the phrase keywords you want your page to rank in search engines. Setup also the ‘Title’, ‘Meta-Description’ and image sizes for Facebook and Twitter.
Social Media Snippets. Once you setup ‘SEO Plugins’, then you may install a SEO social plugin. In this way, when a visitor shares your page, then the proper title, description and image size will be displayed on their social media account. To allow this possibility you may install the WordPress plugin Facebook Open Graph, Google+ and Twitter Card Tags. Once this is done, test the following:
Facebook Open Graph Debugger. Login in your Facebook account, click Facebook Open Graph Debugger, insert your website page url/link and click ‘Debug’. The result will display what will be shared in Facebook. Also, make yourself a share test of your website and check what will be posted on your Facebook account.
Twitter Card Validator. This is similar to Facebook Open Graph Debugger. Login in your Twitter account, click Twitter Card Validator. Insert your webpage link and click ‘Preview Card’. The result will display what will be shared in your Twitter account. Also, make yourself a share test of your website and check what will be posted on your Twitter account.
Don’t copy paste others content since that can hurt your ranking.


Domain Authority/Pagerank. Page authority is how important a page is. This can be increased with high authority links (backlinks) from other website pages to your webpage. The higher your page authority, the higher your ranking will become. Don’t buy backlinks unless you are absolutely sure. Bad backlinks and low quality backlinks towards your site will reduce your ranking and traffic (and you wouldn’t know which one they are). Removing low quality is far too technical. To find yours (or competitors) page authority, you can install MozBar in your Chrome browser, register and login to it, click the ‘M’ MozBar button to activate it and you will see a ‘PA’ value (Page Authority).
Social media signals (shares, likes, retweets). Push social signals by engaging with audience.
Refresh your post to re-increase ranking

Website Loading Time

It’s important to improve your website so that it loads within 2-3 seconds (5 seconds max). Fast site improves search ranking and user experience. How to do that:
Measure Loading Time. Use online Website Speed Tools (Pingdom, Gmetrix, Google Insights) to measure loading time and website elements loaded. Insect website elements loaded one by one. Find which take longer time to load and remove them from your website or improve loading time.

Images Loading Time. Before uploading an image, reduce its size. The larger the image size is, the longer it will take to load. Resize it and save with 80% compression by using image tools. Alternatively, use plugins to do that, like Smush Image Compression and Optimization, Compress JPEG & PNG images. These are free to use to compress a limited number of images (make a website backup before using them, just in case).

Gzip Compression. You must enable it. This is a compression process automatically done by the server to reduce the size of website page elements loaded. The smaller the size, the faster the page will load. Check if gzip compression is enabled with online tools like Gidnetwork Gzip Test, Whatsmyip Gzip Test, CheckGzipCompression (it measures also loading time).

Remove Unnecessary plugins. Uninstall WordPress plugins one by one while checking speed improvement. If a plugin adds more loading time, then consider uninstalling it permanently (or move to a faster server). Test loading time with PingdomPingdom. In Pingdom, in ‘Test from’, select server country near your country. In test results check also how many ‘Requests’ are loaded after you remove plugins.

Remove unnecessary Javascript. Use Tools Pingdom to find ‘.js’ files loaded. Javascript files usually increase loading time quite a lot. Run Pingdom 2-3 times before deciding if to remove javascript. If you use sharing buttons, research which sharing buttons plugin/javascript take less time to load. Don’t remove sharing buttons since they are an important traffic factor.

Install cache modules like ‘W3C Cache’. Don’t skip this step. Research what are the ideal settings for cache plugins. Test with online speed tools for website loading time analysis.

Implement CDN using MAXCDN. This is important, particularly if you have visitors from all over the world.

Shared or VPS server. If you get many hundreds of visitors/day, you may need to host your website files in a VPS server for better performance. Your hosting company can inform you if you need to do so by checking your website performance. You can save money by not spending on a VPS server if your website loaded code and elements are as less as possible. Alternatively use an advanced cache WordPress plugin or enable server side cache (for advanced users). Varnish cache (provided by hosting providers) is really good for caching.


There are almost endless SEO factors that change continuously by Google. Some are:

Domain Age: Older domain can have a higher ranking.

User Experience. If a visitor reads many pages and stays longer, then the site will rank higher. Increase user experience by making very interesting posts, easy navigation, invest 50$ for a professional theme, remove unnecessary website elements. Ask feedback from visitors (or friends) to improve the site.

Encryption. Https (s with bold) ranks sites higher.

Semantic SEO. Quite technical but also important.


There are free and paid tools to check your website and compare with competitors website.
There are free online tools to get a information in minutes of what to improve in a site. They are useful also to inspect competitors website and to also compare it with your website. Some tools are:

  • Webmaster Search Engine Tools. Add your website into all these free tools: Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster Tools, Yandex Webmaster Tools. They are free and easy to use. Once a week, spend 20 minutes to inspect all information they provide about your site. Correct any errors you find (especially 404 errors, duplicates and sitemap index).
  • Free tool. It provides SEO grading and SEO analysis on important aspects of your website. It gives recommendations of what to improve to your site.
  • Website Grader by Hubspot. Free tool with very interesting results.
  • Free tool. This is a powerful Firefox and Chrome browser SEO addon. After you install it, right click on your website or competitor’s website, click ‘SEO Quake’, ‘Diagnosis’. This will display the condition of many SEO elements. Right clicking again and selecting ‘Page Info’ or ‘Density’, will display a lot of information about various rankings, keyword density, backlinks, Google/Yahoo/Bing index, social likes/shares. You can even compare several websites.
  • Screaming Frog. Free and paid tool. Free version will scan automatically all website pages and find broken links (very important), character length of titles/meta description/H1/urls, webpages sizes, word count. Check results and fix improper SEO elements. You should install and run free version every few months mainly to find and fix broken links. Broken links can have a very negative effect on ranking.
  •  Free tool, to check page rank, authority, Alexa rank, backlinks, similar web analysis of where traffic comes from.
  •  22 Free mini tools including SEO Score Checker (very interesting), backlinks checker (produces many results), Speed checker, Keyword density checker.
  • SEOmoz Toolbar.  Free tool. It’s an ideal Chrome addon to quickly check a websites domain/page authority, title/description text and length.
  • Moz Pro. Free and professional paid tool. They provide a 30 days free trial. is a very popular on SEO.
  • Free and professional paid tool. It’s of the top tools to find the top paid keywords and CPC cost/keyword that your competitor is using. It’s also very important for competitor’s backlinks research.
  • Keyword research, Content Research, Link Building, Web Monitoring. They provide a 30 days free trial.

Further Reading:
How to apply SEO technicality while making your post readable
2020 SEO ranking factors

SEO is most important aspect of a website to bring a large amount of free traffic (in the long term). Remember that SEO is mostly about words. People find content based on keyword phrases they search. The secondary element of success is to get many strong page authority backlinks. Backlinks will increase the importance of your website with respect to the endless competitor websites. It will take months until search engines index and increase the ranking of your webpage based on your well researched keywords. It is a difficult process for starters. But you can accelerate your SEO efforts if you understand Google SEO Starter Guideguide. This article has helped me personally a lot to rank one single keyword in the first position in my country (although after the appearance of Google’s Panda and Penguin algorithm changes, I was eventually ranking into nowhere land – not for keyword phrases).