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How to optimize your WordPress site without any SEO plugins

WP SEO optimization

There are more than 50 million blogs that use WordPress as their CMS (Content Management System). This enormous number increases the competition to a great level among those blogs. So if you also have a WordPress blog, you need to make strategies to implement to make your blog stand out of the crowd, and get tons of organic search traffic.

Search Traffic (Organic Traffic) is the traffic you get from web search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc. Organic traffic is the king of all traffic sources because it benefits you the most in many ways.

In this blog post, I am going to share how you can optimize your WordPress blog for SEO [Search Engine Optimization] without using any WordPress plugins, as usage of so many plugins can slow down the website loading speed.

Update: We recently have been contacted by Webucator asking  if we’d be interested in the creation of a video tutorial for the ”How to Optimize Your WordPress Site Without Any SEO Plugins” article. We were thrilled by the idea and soon a video got created. You can watch the descriptive video bellow or if you prefer reading, feel free to read the full article :). By the way you can check their WordPress training course.

1. Set the WordPress URL and Site URL

Since the Google Panda Algorithm was released, having duplicate content on your blog is like you are inviting Google to penalize the blog.

Many a times, even you don’t copy content from others; you face duplicate content problem due to some internal issues on your blog.

The first thing to avoid duplicate content I would suggest checking whether you have set WordPress URL and Site URL in your blog correctly.

If you haven’t set it properly, you might end up having two different URLs of your blog www.example.com and example.com. Though the same page will open in the browser if you open any of these URLs, but Google considers these as two different sites as they are opening on two different URLs.

If a blog has this problem, it is called canonical issue [Read more details of canonicalization on Moz]. When you type the domain address in the browser’s address bar with www, then the blog opens with www, and if you type without www, it opens without www. That means one site opens on two different URLs.

But if a blog doesn’t have this problem, then either you type with www or without www it will always open with the URL that you have set in your blog.

Go to your blog’s dashboard, and then Setting >> General.

general settings

See the above screenshot, where I have set the URL of my blog as www.techtricksworld.com, means everything is perfect here.

If you find it blank, set these immediately or if you find one with www and other without www then make them same in both to avoid the canonical issue and thus, relief from duplicate content issue.

2. Have SEO friendly URLs

If you have been researching the topic SEO, you might have heard that you should have SEO-friendly URLs on the blog. When it comes to WordPress, it is extremely easy to get such neat and clean URLs that search engines love.

To do it, go to your blog’s dashboard, and then Setting >> Permalink.

permalink settings

And choose the permalink structure that looks more readable and SEO friendly.

Remember one thing; fewer depths in the URL are better. That means less number of “/” (slashes).

I recommend you use the /%postname%/ or /%category%/%postname%/ as they are more search friendly than others. These structures allow you to place your keyword in them as well which the default structure doesn’t.

If you don’t set the permalink of your blog, then it will show the default example.com/?P=123 that is neither human friend nor SEO friendly.

Getting search-friendly URLs is called as URL optimization which is very important factor of SEO, and it’s too easy with WordPress.

3. Adding title and meta descriptions

Adding Title and Meta Description to a website is really very important because Title is one that impacts search engines the most, thus help in search ranking. Meta description is one that forms the search preview for search engines, it even shows up when you share your links on social media.

Google search snippet

Google snippet

Facebook snippet

Facebook snippet

You can see in above screenshots that how important the title and description are for a website.

To add <title> tag to your website, go the header.php file of the theme running on your site, and put this code over there

<title><?php bloginfo('name'); ?><?php wp_title(); ?></title>

<?php bloginfo(‘name’); ?> = this calls the site name which you have set

<?php wp_title(); ?> = this calls the title of the page, and use the same for title tag as well.

Now, to add Meta description to your website, add this code snippet in the header.php file

<meta name="description" content="<?php bloginfo('description'); ?>" />

<?php bloginfo(‘description’); ?> = this code calls the description from the settings where you have putted the site description in tagline section [Settings >> General].

These settings are for home page for now but if you have to do for single posts as well then you can get it done by putting a conditional tag query

<meta name="description" content="<?php if ( is_single() ) {  
   single_post_title('', true);  
   } else {  
      bloginfo('name'); echo " - "; bloginfo('description'); 
   ?>" />

Limit the meta title to 60-65 characters including spaces, and meta description to 160-165 characters including spaces because if you add more characters within this range then they will not show in search preview in Google because It counts till this limit, and rest are trimmed, thus not considered.

There are search preview tools available where you can paste your title and descriptions to check.

Here are 2 great tools:

  1. Title tag preview Tool by Moz
  2. Snippet optimizer tool by SEOMOFO

Note: After Google SERP Redesign they display titles on the pixel width basis so there are no exact number which you may follow while writing title tags

4. Content optimization

There are few points you should keep in mind while writing the content as that are important to optimize the content.

  • Use the target keyword in the very first paragraph of the blog post.
  • Use the target keyword in the last paragraph of the blog post.
  • Use the keyword at least once in <H2> and once in <H3> tags within the post.
  • Use the target keyword within the post within 2% keyword density. Don’t stuff keywords.
  • Use few semantic keywords instead of using the primary target keyword all the time in the post.
  • Interlink the content. The great example of Interlinking is Wikipedia. Read this post on Moz to know more about it.

5. Image optimization

image optimizationImage optimization is important because image search does send a good chunk of traffic to the blogs and websites. Image optimization is simple and straightforward. With WordPress, it’s super easy as when you upload an image, you get these boxes where you can put the title of the image, Caption, alt text and description.

As per SEO, Alt text is important to fill, and the rest are up to you either you fill or not. One more thing, when you save an image on your desktop, do give it a readable name rather than 123.jpg, 345.png Because when it gets uploaded on the blog, it gets a URL in which the name comes at the end. For example:


Check the bolder part of above image URL. It has the name as blog-description.png that is pretty descriptive about the image. It is SEO friendly but if it were 12.png at the end, it would be bad practice.

6. XML sitemap

An XML sitemap is important for all kind of sites as it helps search engine crawlers to find all the posts, pages, and other links of the site on one page.

The standard structure of an XML sitemap looks like:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>








You can make use of third party tools to generate XML Sitemaps for your website. xml-sitemaps.com is one of the most popular tools to generate sitemaps.

You can even generate it manually by following the above-mentioned structure as that is based on the sitemap protocol.

Generate, download, and upload on your website’s root folder in a way that it displays at example.com/sitemap.xml URL.

Now, there comes the submission of XML Sitemap to the Google webmaster.

 Let me show this step by step

Step 1. Set up a webmaster account.

Step 2. Submit your website there, and copy the verification code.

Step 3. Install the verification code into your website’s header.php file between <head></head> section.

Step 4. Go to webmaster tool again and click on verify. It will show you verified status once the webmaster tool finds the verification code on your site.

Step 5. Click on Crawl >> Sitemaps

Step 6. Click on ADD/TEST SITEMAP

Step 7. Enter the sitemap address that is sitemap.xml, and hit submit sitemap

That’s it! You are done!

This helps Google to crawl your site smoothly.

7. Improve page speed

Google considers loading speed as a ranking factor. Therefore, it’s important to improve the page loading speed of your WordPress blog. You can do it by considering few things:

  1. Choose one of the best hosting providers.
  2. Use CDN.
  3. Check image size before uploading on your blog.
  4. Crop images rather than scaling because cropping takes out some bytes from the image and make it lighter.
  5. Use very few banners in the sidebar.
  6. Make use of Google Speed Test tool to get suggestions to improve the page speed.
  7. User few number of plugins.


SEO is a must do task for every blog or website because, without it, it’s tough to get organic search traffic. When you work with WordPress powered sites, On-page SEO becomes very easy to do as you read in the post above.

Apart from On-page, there comes Off-page optimization into the picture in which link building is the primary strategy to carry out to increase ranking positions of the blog with certain keywords.

So, I would suggest you use WordPress if you are primarily thinking about a highly SEO optimized blog with less efforts.

Over to you! Share your thoughts on this topic via comments.

Author Bio

Atish Ranjan (@atishranjan) is a professional blogger from India and he is passionate about the online entrepreneurship. He is the founder of TechTricksWorld.com where he shares blog posts on SEO, blogging, and technology niche.


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    24 Jul 2015

    Awesome information, Atish. We don't want to add many plugins to our blogs, as they can really have strong impact on the loading speed of web pages. Thanks for sharing such a useful guide!

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      Atish Ranjan

      24 Jul 2015

      Thank you so much for reading the post, and sharing your views, Erik. Yes, when you use a plugin, there are so much of codes are written that makes your blog heavier which further impacts the loading speed of your blog. Therefore, using minimum number of plugins is recommended.

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      21 Sep 2016

      Yes it is Nice and new information but it must update time to time.

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    Nikhil Ganotra

    24 Jul 2015

    Great article,Atish! I am really glad that you contributed such an amazing article for TeslaThemes. Thanks for sharing! :)

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      Atish Ranjan

      27 Jul 2015

      Thanks for the comment Nikhil

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    Philip Verghese Ariel

    24 Jul 2015

    Hi Tesla, Atish It is indeed a great joy to read Atish wonderful and informative post here :-) This is for the first time I am visiting your page. There are a good number of informative pieces here to read and bookmark. Good to read Atish’s post here, an informative and educative one indeed. Thanks Atish for telling those great secrets about those urls seo friendly and wp url an site urls These are really a new information to me, I need to check out, SEO things are very vital for any blog post or pages, I use SEO by Yoast and its working well with my site and I am really enjoying the benefits. But now this Atish very well put out on How to monetize your page without using any WordPress plugins. That is really a new information to me and I must give a try, since so many plugins creates lot of trouble not only in speed factor but on various other factors too! Great info. here. May you have a wonderful weekend. Keep sharing Best Regards ~ Philip

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      Atish Ranjan

      27 Jul 2015

      Hi Philip, Yes, SEO by Yoast plugin is good to add meta tags, but this post is describing everything without using any plugins. Thanks for visiting.

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    Saurabh Tiwari

    24 Jul 2015

    Hi Tesla, and Atish, This is first visit to your blog and it would not be last. Thanks for sharing the post as it is more informative to know the basics for beginners. A great learning experience and Hopefully more people can learn from this post what I have. Have a great weekend.

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      Atish Ranjan

      27 Jul 2015

      Saurabh, This is not my blog. It is the blog of popular theme vendor teslathemes. Thanks for reading and commenting here too.

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    24 Jul 2015

    Atish, Nice to see you here and you've nicely nailed the topic. I just keep your post as a checklist and verified whether I'm doing perfect SEO or not. I feel good that I'm following most of the ways that you've listed here to optimize a blog for SEO with no SEO plugin. I checked the first two points; they are perfect in my blog. I'm doing my best in on-page SEO for my every blog post as you said without stuffing the keywords. And, using LSI keywords would improve our overall SEO and thus I'm taking care of that as well. Coming to image SEO, I never upload the picture without compressing it whether it is Jpeg or PNG and adding relevant Alt tag to them. I'm keeping my eyes to make my blog to load fast but not using any CDN. Are you using it for your blogs? If yes, let me know a reliable one. I heard about MaxCDN and its effectiveness. I love the way you ended up the post! Yes, even though we are doing so much of efforts to take care of SEO, link building plays a vital role in getting good SERP. I don't know what happened to my blog :( I'm not getting good search engine ranking for my recent posts. Anyway, I'm hoping for the best and investing my real efforts to publish good posts for my loyal readers. Thanks for contributing such a helpful post for the bloggers, I wish to write more and I'll be here to add my viewpoints. Have a happy weekend!

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      Atish Ranjan

      27 Jul 2015

      Thanks for the comment!

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    04 Aug 2015

    Hi Atish, Great Post. You kept things quite simple and covered a lot of things that could bring a drastic change in WordPress based sites/blogs. It's true that WordPress becomes easier to use once we know the basics of SEO and Search Engine Ranking. I'm sure your blog post is going to help many WP users.

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      Atish Ranjan

      09 Aug 2015

      Thanks for your good words, Hassan. Glad you liked the post. Keep visiting Teslatheme's blog for more awesome posts.

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    06 Aug 2015

    I have now realized that I need to be trying more of these things and make my blog posts more interesting and interactive.

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      Atish Ranjan

      12 Aug 2015

      Hi SSCSWORLD, Thanks for the comment. Let me know if you find any issue.

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    12 Aug 2015

    Great information, New tricks and tips you provide in you article. Learn something new from your article. Thanks for share it.

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      Atish Ranjan

      19 Aug 2015

      Glad you liked the post Matthew. Keep visiting Tesla Themes blog for more such great content.

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    Don Hesh

    02 Sep 2015

    I also not a fan of SEO plugins. This is GOLD, Very detailed article on Wordpress SEO. Good Blog Mate Regards Don Hesh

    • avatar image

      Atish Ranjan

      06 Sep 2015

      Great to know that Don. Keep Visiting Tesla Themes for more of such detailed articles.

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    13 Sep 2015

    Hi, I was wondering if unique meta titles arre important even for pages that are noindex, follow. Also, do you know of a way to add custom meta titles to all paginated pages and all the archives? Thanks, Marc

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      26 Oct 2015

      Marc, I would rather advise to Noindex the paginated pages. For categories, you can add meta titles and description using Yoast SEO plugin.

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    19 Sep 2015

    If you have been thinking of finding a company which offers Search engine optimization, there's a chance you're wondering precisely what one of them companies can do to suit your needs. Whilst they might promise great things for both you and your website, you could even be wondering if their professional services are in reality worthwhile. However, you should know that SEO companies offer a great deal of helpful Search engine optimization services which will help your company succeed they're just some of several things the companies are able to do for you.

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      Atish Ranjan

      12 Nov 2015

      Hello Ahmad, I personally don't trust on SEO companies nowadays because most of the cheap SEO companies are still opting for the old methods which can cause penalty to your websites. Therefore, I believe in doing self SEO, and I work more on branding than SEO because once the brand is built well, SEO of the website improves naturally because many people start talking and linking to you on their sites. Thanks for the comment, Ahmad.

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    04 Nov 2015

    Awesome seo tips and info. I really appreciate this Blog. Thank you for sharing!

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      Atish Ranjan

      12 Nov 2015

      Thanks for the good words SSCSWORLD

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    John Divramis

    10 Nov 2015

    Excellent post, l believe that nobody needs a SEO wordpress plugin if he is a SEO expert, because he is doing the optimization job by heart. But for a lazy guy or a beginner in search engine optimization, l think Yoast SEO is a must.

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    04 Dec 2015

    Hey! Thanks for sharing this. Personally, I used SEOpressor and that is not bad at all. Pretty impressive and very easy to use for a newbie. Great list and appreciate the share!

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    22 Dec 2015

    Thank you Kevin for this tremendous article, I’ve been using the All In One SEO Pack for many years …. I think it’s time to try WordPress SEO

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    Expert Services

    27 Dec 2015

    If you would liie to get much from this post thhen you have to apply these methods to your won webpage.

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    26 Jan 2016

    Hey Aatish. These are nice way you describe this difficult topic. Because almost every webmaster are using SEO plugin for its website SEO. But you really covers this topic in a very nice and easy stile. So I am also try these methods for my website.

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    14 Mar 2016

    very nice artical

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    18 Mar 2016

    Wow! amazing and really good article on the topic. I was looking this information for a long time, but first time find it! I don't like to use SEO plugins for my blog. Even I tried All in one Seo and SEO Yoast, but not happy with that. So I am going to use your method.

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    vikas kumar

    30 Mar 2016

    Great info Atish. I really avoid many plugins to my blogs. So this post is very useful for me to optimize my wordpress site without any seo plugin. Thanks for sharing such a useful guide!

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    Karen Jain

    02 May 2016

    Its like magic!! One feels difficult to use Wordpress without any plugins and this article tells how to optimize a wordpress site without any plugins for SEO. It is very interesting!! Thanks for sharing!!

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    Siddaiah Thirupati

    02 Jun 2016

    Hi Atish. I was just looking for the keyword optimize your Wordpress site, just landed on the Tesla blog and I am surprised to see the post is written by you. Its really good in-depth information about SEO setting without using any SEO plugins, thanks for sharing the information.

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      Atish Ranjan

      29 Jun 2016

      Glad you found this post, Siddaiah. Thanks for leaving your comment.

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    04 Aug 2016

    very nice post

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    04 Aug 2016

    very useful for me thank you

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    Best Spa in Chennai

    17 Aug 2016

    good post you have shared

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    19 Aug 2016

    I have used All in one SEO and Yoast for two of my blogs. Per my experience, All in One SEO is performing compared to other SEO plugins. All in ONE SEO and YOAST works very well, bloggers can choose anyone of it.

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    07 Nov 2016

    Thanks! Great information on SEO part. This article will help me and many to rank their websites and blogs on google organic search results.

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    15 Nov 2016

    A well written and very informative article. A lot of designers neglect SEO options for images including the photo ID tag on the creative end. Naming an image and including it within a header and related paragraph works wonders within a webpage, and Photoshop's File Info command allows the embedding of information directly within the image file itself so no matter where it ends up, your contact and copyright information will accompany it.

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    15 Nov 2016

    Hi, Anybody help me, I want to add canonical tag for a post in wordpress without plugin. Thanks in Advance

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    24 Dec 2016

    Dear Atish, You article is really perfect. Thanks very much for share your information with us.

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    Arun Dev

    27 Jan 2017

    An informative article. Thanks for sharing.

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    09 Mar 2017

    What is the best SEO plugin for WordPress websites. please suggest me

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    27 Mar 2017

    nice post

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    30 Mar 2017

    Awesome article, actually I am new in this field, don't have more knowledge about SEO, but your article () helps me to play with my blog. Thanks alot, keep sharing.

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    05 Apr 2017

    Come visit my website, I tried doing a bit of SEO but this didn't have the benefit I thought Shared on Digg, they would find this interesting!

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    Bud Kraus

    23 May 2017

    As Matt Cutts, Google Engineer has famously said, "WordPress is 80% SEO friendly right out of the box" and Atish's post speaks to that point. 2 other things you can do to help your SEO efforts without plugins: 1. Make sure your site is responsive. (Not just your theme, but plugins, attached media, etc). 2. Use SSL even if you're not an eCommerce site.

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    30 Jun 2017

    So do links from Facebook activity now count for SEO? I heard they do because of the latest Google algorithm refresh Do you participate in any social sites?

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      Scott Wyden Kivowitz

      06 Jul 2017

      Google is looking at your traffic, especially if you have your site connected with GA and GSC. So the links will help, but how much is unknown. It's likely a tiny part of the algorithm.

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    28 Aug 2017

    For me to try myself on my own and optimize WordPress for better SEO without plugins is a nightmare because I am stuck on stupid when it comes to that.

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    Arun Kumar

    17 Nov 2017

    One of best tutorial for WordPress and SEO. I have learned and gained lot of good things here. Thanks a lot for this kind of very useful information. Anyhow this post is so awesome and very helpful.

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    07 Dec 2017

    Thank's very usefull

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    02 Jan 2018

    good post

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    jaskiran kaur

    18 Jan 2018

    earlier optimization seemed a big task to me but after going through your article made my work easier to understand the seo properly. it worked as a miracle to me.

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    Jayaraj Chanku

    22 Mar 2018

    Hi Atish, Excellent post. These tips are very much impressive. Excellent information. Thanks for sharing this valuable article. I will make use of it soon.

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    Christopher Lees

    26 Jun 2018

    I had to add the meta tags to the site manually, for the first time ever, since I usually use yoast or all in one seo. I found your video explanation very helpful and very easy to listen to. Great job.

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    Jasmine Delany

    28 Jun 2018

    Awesome information, Atish. Webmaster-service.net adviced me to not add many plugins to my blog, as they can really have strong impact on the loading speed of web pages. We only use the necessary one. Thanks for sharing

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    26 Jul 2018

    Just as I suggested when I wrote about domain name URL's, it is important in a local target include the keywords you want to be found to get a given page, but in addition your geography. You should also prevent the temptation of joining those that hang out they to play. If they're not, people bolt and start working on the following website the search engines have given them for their consideration.

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    Jenny Hobet

    24 Nov 2018

    Being very honest I've implemented all these tips & tricks on my website, and I got the result with 10: 100 ratio, I've shared this article with my other community too. keep sharing dear I'd love to hear next from you.

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    29 Nov 2018


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    mahi sawant

    27 Dec 2018

    how to set video on page in WordPress without any SEO plugin?

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    22 Sep 2019

    It's very important your website is loading fast, but also rendering performance until first interaction should be fast. Check out google pagespeed insights, it truly helps.

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    08 Nov 2019

    Using main keyword in post title, H2 and H3(three times) are not keyword stuffing or spamming?

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    09 Jan 2020

    It's an awesome article for all the online visitors; they will get benefit from it I am sure.

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How to optimize your WordPress site without any SEO plugins