WordPress SEO is easy once you learn the basics
Although you don’t need to be a WordPress seo expert to get your posts ranking high in the search engines, most bloggers don’t optimize their posts at all. Yet with just a few minor tweaks, you can easily increase your traffic by several hundred percent. I know seo can sound a little daunting, but if you don’t at least learn the basics you’ll be missing out on serious traffic every time you post. So today I’m going to cover the absolute basics, to make sure your awesome content gets the attention it deserves!
In the previous post on keyword discovery, we looked at the huge impact just 10 minutes of research can have on scooping up free traffic from the search engines. Now it’s time to look at how and where to use those keywords in order to maximise traffic.
The importance of your post title and URL
First up your keyword needs to be in the main title of your post. Your title is what shows up before your meta description (this is just a snippet or description of your content) in the Search Engine Results Pages.
The only problem with WordPress when it comes to titles (title tags), is the default setting shows your blog name, followed by the title of your post. And given most search engines will only show the first 60-70 characters of your title, this isn’t ideal for SEO. So the easiest way to fix this is to install the All in One SEO plugin so that you can write a custom title for each post.
WordPress will then use your post title to form your URL (providing you’ve set up your permalinks correctly), which means your keyword will be automatically inserted. Nice!
You can also clean up your URL by editing out useless words (at, in, is, of etc) that don’t carry any seo value by clicking the edit button shown here:
Note: If your keyword is closer to the beginning of the URL, it does carry a little more weight. So if it doesn’t make sense to have your keyword at the beginning of your main post title, you can switch it to the beginning of your URL by using the editing method above. With that said, Matt Cutts (a google engineer) stated earlier this year that google is looking at minimising the amount of weight having a keyword in your domain carries. So don’t obsess over this!
How to maximize your headings
When you first write your post, if you were to publish it without adding the correct HTML code to your headings, google is going to have a hard time determining what your main topic is about. So basically what the search engines need, is for you to spell it out for them. Now if you don’t know what HTML means don’t worry, as this is where WordPress seo becomes super easy. All as you need to do is to help the search engines determine your main topic by using certain tags in your headings. These tags (H1 through to H6) will also tell the search engines the order of importance for each heading. The awesome thing about WordPress is you don’t need any geeky tech knowledge to add these tags.
In your visual editor (the place you write your posts), just highlight one of your headings or sub headings and select the paragraph button up the top like so:
Then select the order of importance for that heading. E.g. selecting heading 1 will add a (h1) tag to that heading and make it the most important heading for that post. The h1 tag doesn’t necessarily have to be added to your first heading. If your second heading is more important than the first, you might want to add a H2 to your first and a H1 to your second. Just remember that as your H1 tag is your most important, it’s unlikely you’ll ever need to use all 6 and I pretty much never use more than 3.
A personal peeve of mine is the way certain themes handle the font size when you use the H1, H2 tags etc. The default settings in WordPress usually make your H1 font size GIANT and decrease in size with every tag after that. Although this can be changed in your overall theme settings, the easiest way to fix this is to just highlight the heading and then click on your font size dropdown menu. Believe it or not I never thought to do this initially, and would sit there and grumble at the ugly font size 36 of my H1 tag!
Is keyword density really that important?
Ok so now we’ve told the search engines what our topic is via having our keyword in our URL, Title and Headings, we can re enforce that through our keyword density (the amount of times our main keyword appears throughout our post). While experts will debate the mathematical calculations you should use e.g a certain percentage of keywords is needed based on the length of your post, I seriously recommend you don’t get too hung up on this! Here’s why… The algorithms google in particular are using to determine where your post ranks are now heavily being influenced by social signals. And unfortunately many old school so called SEO experts have yet to embrace many of the new signals. So whilst I still recommend using your keyword naturally throughout your post, the ‘shareabilty’ of your post is going to be far more important than the actual keyword density.
The emphasis is moving towards the social popularity of the post and the credibility of the author. In essence, your Facebook likes/shares, your retweets, the amount of times people bookmark your post, and your Google plus 1’s are all sending signals that your content is important. So if you concentrate on keyword density rather than value/readability, it’s unlikely that your post will receive any syndication on the social sites. What I recommend instead is, when you mention your main keyword in your post, you show the search engines it’s important by what’s called decoration. Simply put, you add emphasis to your keyword by either underlining, bolding or italicising it like I’ve done a few times in this post using WordPress seo.
Why bother with meta descriptions when they don’t increase your Search Engine Rankings?
Here’s another old school myth that it’s time we bust! The meta description of your post carries zero weight when it comes to ranking factors. But…, it’s still really important you include your keyword here for other reasons.
When someone searches for a keyword or key-phrase that you rank for on google, your keyword will automatically show up as bold in the meta description:
The important part here is while certain ranking factors are robot driven, your click through rate is influenced by your title and meta description. So if I was searching for WordPress seo tips, I’m going to be inclined to click on the post that shows my search term in the title and description.
Ok well that wraps up todays post. We still need to cover images, pinging, internal linking and a few other important things, but this post is already long enough and I don’t want to overwhelm you!
If you have any questions or WordPress seo tips of your own, make sure you leave a comment below.
25 thoughts on “WordPress SEO Tips To Increase Your Search Engine Traffic”
Hi Michaele, wow…this was a lot of great info all in one place. I’m bookmarking this specific entry because this is one of the very subjects I’m working to master and I love how you delivered the strong points so concisely.
I had no idea that meta tags didn’t help with the rankings either. Interesting stuff…tho I’ll continue to use them as you suggest.
Thanks for the fantastic wisdom in an easy to read article. :D
Great to hear you’re looking into SEO. I’ve gone from thinking it was a dry complex subject to absolutely loving it! Funny how things change once we start to master the basics, then a little more and before you know it, you actually become passionate about a subject.
I’m glad you enjoyed the post.
Amazing post. On page SEO is a little tough to learn and implement. First off there is so much noise on the net that it is hard to determine which information is credible. Secondly it could be a challenge for those non-analytical thinkers to grasp these concepts when they are just trying to publish content.
But…as you mentioned, it’s the most important steps in having your quality content picked up by the search engines.
Your description of the H1, H2 is spot on. I didn’t realize this until just recently that your H1 tag could be anywhere on your post. I thought it was more of a placement issue rather than an importance one.
I have always been under the impression that bloggers should craft content for their readers first and Google second. By doing so and following the steps you laid out above, we can keep both happy.
The Network Dad
Yeah I must admit when I first started blogging I resolved to the fact that I would just have to outsource my SEO work. It just seemed to darn complicated. As you’ve mentioned, there is a lot of noise and misinformation out there e.g. the Google sandbox etc that make it easy to get confused.
Thanks for your amazing comment :) Yes I’m being cheeky as usual lol!
Great post! I start SEO 6 months ago and this is really good infomation for me and I’m newbie on the road, this could definetly help.
Great to hear your learning SEO :)
Fabulous post on SEO. I must admit even though I’ve been blogging for a couple of years SEO still makes my head hurt and I don’t take enough time to do it better. This post is one I will share with my students. The way you clearly outline little ways to make the process easier is my style of teaching and learning. And I was happy to see that you recommend ALL in One SEO as that is the plugin I use and recommend. Phew!
The is so much to SEO but if you don’t get the basics down you won’t get anywhere, and I agree again, that even if you just start with the basics you’ll be well on your way to ranking on the search engines.
I appreciate the way you outlined the post as well and how you touched on meta tags and H1 and H2 info…that is priceless.
All the best,
Believe me I feel your pain as SEO used to completely do my head in. Plus it never helps to try and master a subject that you find boring, and SEO was about as exciting as learning Algebra when I was starting out!
Glad to hear my writing style made it easier to consume :)
I’ve recently switched from using All In One SEO to Yoast SEO but more on that in another post.
I appreciate the awesome feedback.
I so appreciate this article. You know, I’m just now starting to really take a stronger interest in SEO and I’m learning a lot.
You mentioned a couple things I had been wondering about pertaining to the H tags. Believe it or not, I never knew that the H1 tag was automatically created simply by the title. And you answered my question about adjusting the font size that the H tags create.
I’ll have to search your blog to see if you have a video tutorial or written one, on how to effectively set up the SEO all in one plugin. I have it, I use it, but in my configuration settings, not sure I’m exactly set up right.
This blog is full of value… thanks for sharing.
Where Passions and Entrepreneurship
I have to share something that might make you laugh…
For ages I thought those H1 header tags etc were just a WordPress format for creating nice headings. I had absolutely no idea they pertained to SEO!
I don’t have a post on the All In One plugin as it only just recently occurred to me to start writing more posts on SEO.
That said, I’m in the midst of getting my head around the tech jargon to configure the Yoast SEO plugin, and once I do I’ll be doing a K.I.S.S tutorial for sure.
For the record the plugin you’re using is fine, I’ve just found some better options.
I appreciate the wonderful comment.
Fabulous post. You did a great job breaking it down.
Thanks Michelle :)
WOW is that a lot of GREAT info. I am a “newbie” and will be saving this post as I further develop my skills with my coach and all the great people I am meeting in this online world.
Thanks for stopping by and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Give me a shout on FB if you need help.
I have always been told you should have only one h1 tag. You seem to have two on your page. Is this another myth?
Thanks for clarifying,
I don’t really see a compelling reason to include more than one H1 tag on a site however it’s perfectly fine to do so. Matt Cutts addresses this here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GIn5qJKU8VM
In terms of my blog, I recently switched themes and moved to wordpress SEO in favor of All In One SEO at the same time. So I’m still trying to work out which plugin or theme settings are overriding which! In the interim, it appears my header is showing 2 or maybe 3 H1’s in a row. Grr! When I get to the bottom of built in theme settings overriding SEO plugins and vice versa I’ll let you know :)
You always ask great questions Nik and I really appreciate them.
I was chatting with Michael’e about keyword density, I am an SEO Consultant from Australia and I back up everything she says!
Great article love it.
ps: Super stoked to see great content!
Thanks so much, I appreciate your support :)
Thank you for this one Michaele :D I learn a lot from this one
These are some valuable tips. I really like the one with the meta description because it is the linkage to real-world marketing.
Even though the meta description has no direct impact on ranking, it has an impact by the fact it influences on the click through ratio… which Google factor in their ranking algo.
For me SEO has been a constant learning process. One has to keep changing the strategies with time. The important aspects now are quality content, domain authority, strong back links and the right keyword density. I haven’t played around much with headings. I must give that a shot. Happy New Year!
The tip about meta descriptions is a great one. Being able to improve your click through rate on the google serps can make being in 3rd or 4th just as good as being in first.
I couldn’t agree more re click through rates. Most people get hung up on the fact that the meta description doesn’t have any SEO value, and totally overlook the real reason they are important!
Thank you so much for all of this valuable information on SEO! I must say my brain goes on overload when it comes to SEO, but slowly and surely I am understanding more and more. Thank goodness for friends like you who do understand it and share it with all of us!
I really appreciate all that you share and I am very inspired by your journey and how much knowledge you have gained.
Much love & aloha,
Hey I love SEO but my brain goes into overload too! Especially when something like the Penguin update comes along and forces you to unlearn what was working and then relearn the new rules. Never a dull moment :-)
So glad I could send some inspiration your way as I’ve always been truly inspired by your story.
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