Learn how to optimize your WordPress website for SEO using Cloudflare for improved page load speeds, free SSL certificate, and WordPress-specific optimizations.
In this article, we’ll dive into best practices for monitoring and improving your WordPress website’s SEO, how Cloudflare’s free plugin can contribute to your SEO rankings, and how to install the Cloudflare plugin for WordPress.
Everyone with a web presence knows the importance of SEO (search engine optimization). But keeping up with best practices can be hard to stay on top of, especially when the algorithms used to rank websites change so frequently. Many of these changes are adaptations to the most recent security, performance, and device-specific technologies.
No single plugin, software, or special trick is a magic bullet for improved SEO rankings. When it comes to SEO, what’s most important is to create interesting, trustworthy, and thoughtful content. Although Google isn’t intelligent enough (yet) to rely solely on semantics as a way to determine search engine rankings, the quality of content produced for a website leads to human interactions, which is expressed and understood by search engines as a series of metrics.
These metrics include the amount of time visitors spend on a page, bounce rates (someone accessing one page, and then immediately leaving), the average number of pages per unique visitor session, and the number of times a page has been linked across the web. As a best practice, never underestimate the power of great content and always be thoughtful of your audience when writing.
There are thousands of tools and plugins available for the WordPress platform. Many of these can be used to assist website owners with optimizing websites for SEO rankings. As mentioned, while these tools will never compensate for low quality content,they will ensure that your website is discoverable by search engines, indexed correctly, and properly displayed. Found below are a few tools that’ll find helpful in analyzing and improving your website’s SEO.
Cost: Free with optional upgrades
The All-in-One SEO Pack (AIOSEO) is the most downloaded plugin by WordPress website administrators to optimize SEO. AIOSEO allows administrators to automatically generate meta tags, notify search engines of content updates for indexing, customize titles, descriptions, and keywords for content pages, and much more.
Broken Link Checker actively monitors your blog, website pages, comments, and custom fields to determine if broken links exist, and optionally notifies you to make a correction. Broken links can be edited directly on the plugin’s dashboard page and can also prevent search engines from following broken links. Broken links are a prime example of small nuances to SEO that hurt website ranking.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool identifies background elements on websites, and determines a ranking on how well they’ve been optimized to help a site’s load speed. This tool does an excellent job in determining how, specifically, to improve page load speeds, but does not provide a holistic view of everything that affects a website’s SEO. There’s a direct positive correlation between the speed at which a website loads, and its search ranking; impatient visitors waiting for a page to load tend to drop-off or “bounce”, which reflects poorly in the eyes of search engines when determining page rank. Additionally, sites that aren’t formatted for mobile devices, receive a lower ranking with this tool.
Cost: Free with optional upgrades
Cloudflare is a security and performance company that provides a free plugin for WordPress that accelerates page load speeds, improves SEO, protects against DDoS attacks, and combats WordPress specific vulnerabilities. Cloudflare offers website administrators easy enablement of the latest technologies and optimizations for their website, bringing faster page load speeds and improved SEO rankings. You can learn more about how Cloudflare affects SEO rankings below.
Cloudflare’s global content delivery network spanning across 83 data centers brings your website geographically closer to your visitors; your website’s global presence on the Cloudflare network improves page load speeds, reduces bandwidth costs, and protects against availability loss during high-traffic scenarios. Cloudflare will never bill you for bandwidth usage on our network. We believe if your site suddenly gets popular or suffers an attack, you shouldn't have to dread your bandwidth bill.
Compression, otherwise known as gzip compression, is another optimization on your website that is measured by Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Enabling compression can reduce the size of the transferred response by up to 90%; this results in improved efficiency of visitors trying to download resources on your WordPress website, reduce bandwidth usage by the visitor, and improved page load speeds. All browsers are able to utilize gzip compression if your website has it enabled. Cloudflare’s WordPress plugin enables gzip compression automatically, providing visitors with the benefits stated above. Visit Google’s gzip compression documentation page to learn more; or, to better understand how Cloudflare enables this functionality, visit our knowledge base.
Page Rules provide Cloudflare users with custom control over functionalities and optimizations that are tailored to your website. Page rules bring improved performance, hardened security, and increased reliability to your WordPress website. Cloudflare’s plugin for WordPress automatically applies page rules to your website, optimizing it specifically for SSL on the WordPress platform and ensuring that caching is properly setup for WordPress admin panels. You can purchase more page rules within the Cloudflare dashboard, or upgrade to a higher tiered plan for additional rules. You can learn more about page rules for WordPress here.
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the SSL is a “cryptographic protocol” which protects and secures data being transferred through a computer network; this transfer of information occurs between a website or online application and a visitor. In 2014, Google announced that secure websites using SSL will have a slight edge in SEO ranking over websites that don’t provide visitors with a secure connection, and indicated that advantage will increase over time. In addition, starting January 2017, the Google Chrome web browser will begin visually labeling non-HTTPS connections as insecure. Learn more about Cloudflare’s SSL/TLS integrations for WordPress here.
Enabling HTTP/2 accelerates the loading speed on your website without any changes to your existing codebase. It’s been 15 years since the last major upgrade to the HTTP protocol, and HTTP/2 was designed with the modern-web in mind. Cloudflare enables HTTP/2 on your Wordpress website for free, at the click of a button. Learn more about enabling HTTP/2 using Cloudflare and watch a demo here.
Any device connected to the Internet from our phones, to our televisions, and even to some of our refrigerators all have an IP (Internet Protocol) address, and each one is unique. IPv4 was a standard that offered us the ability to assign 4 billion unique addresses to our connected devices. We’ve run out of IPv4 addresses and, as more devices become Internet enabled, IPv6 has been announced as the new standard with 3.4×1038 unique addresses.
IPv6 was also built from the ground up with security in mind, enabling encrypted traffic by default and checking packets to bring additional protection to standard Internet traffic. Cloudflare delivers IPv4 to IPv6 translation for all users, enabling IPv6 on all subdomains and offering greater availability of your website. While search engines aren’t currently ranking based on the use of this technology, the web is moving towards an IPv6 standard and historical trends point to this technology being used for ranking in our near future.
1. To download the Cloudflare plugin into your WordPress admin panel, please visit: https://wordpress.org/plugins/cloudflare/
2. Once you’ve installed the plugin, you’ll need to activate it through the WordPress plugin panel.
3. If you're upgrading from the old plugin, and had previously inputted your API Key, you'll be automatically logged in after updating the plugin. If this is the first time you're installing Cloudflare's WordPress plugin, navigate to the plugin settings in your WordPress admin panel after activating, and input your Cloudflare username and API key; to find your API key, follow these instructions. If you do not already have a Cloudflare account, you’ll see the option to create one.
4. After successfully logging into the plugin, the first setting you’ll see at the top of your dashboard is “Apply Default Settings”. Clicking “Apply” will enable specific Cloudflare settings, optimized for the WordPress platform. These settings can be found here.
5. Once this setting has been applied, that’s it! Your WordPress website is now protected against DDoS attacks and is on the Cloudflare network. You’ll also begin to see improved website load speeds, bandwidth savings, and protection against hackers, spammers, and bots.