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.