Got a WordPress blog for your business? Good! You’ve taken the first important step in getting your website found and indexed by the search engines. Google and other search engines prize fresh, relevant content above all else, but you also need to make it easy for them to know what your site is about. WordPress does that pretty well right out of the box, which is one reason it’s so popular, but there are some things you can do to improve your WordPress SEO even more.
Every blog post should start with keyword research. Find the keyword you want your post or article to be found for, and optimize your post for that phrase. Ideally, you’ll want to use your keyword in a variety of places in your post:
- Title tag – That’s what you see at the very top of your browser, or in the tab.
- Subheadings – Those section headings you use to break up longer posts.
- The first and last paragraph, and anywhere else in the content that makes sense – that’s the key, though: it has to make sense.
- In your image alt attribute – most people won’t see this, but your readers will.
- In your slug (or permalink) – Here’s a quick lesson on how to set WordPress permalinks.
- In your meta description.
- In image captions.
- As anchor text in inbound links – this is vitally important to your overall search engine rankings.
Where WordPress is Lacking in the SEO Department
Most of the places you should use your keywords are easily accessible. You can write a title that makes good use of your keyword, for example, and easily modify your content to include it as well. What you can’t do so easily from within WordPress is alter your meta description, or provide an alternate title.
The meta description is what shows up in the search results right below the link. You can see in this instance we used the keyword “wedding plr” at the beginning of the description. While that doesn’t have any direct effect on your ranking, a well-written description tag can mean the difference between a click or a pass from the searcher who’s looking for specific content. Notice that the keyword is bolded and stands out, so there’s no doubt that this page contains exactly what the reader is looking for.
Another feature that WordPress does not support natively is the ability to offer a customized title tag to the search engines. Say for example you want to title your blog post “17 Ways to Teach an Old Dog New Tricks,” but your keyword is “Dog Training.” There’s really no good way to force your keyword into that title while still maintaining the fun, lighthearted tone. You’ll wind up sounding like a textbook – boring and stilted.
You do still want the search engines to know your post is about dog training, though, and that’s where offering an alternate title is helpful. Your readers will see the fun post title, the search engines will see the true subject.
There’s an easy way to accomplish both of these tasks in WordPress, with help from a simple plugin. We like Platinum SEO, which adds a section in your post editor that allows you to customize your title tag and your description. You can also specify noindex and nofollow attributes as well.
It’s worth noting that most premium themes (Genesis Framework and Thesis included) have this functionality built in, so if you’re using one of those themes there’s no need for the added overhead of another plugin.
Good WordPress SEO is Subtle
You don’t need to hit people (or search engines) over the head with your keywords. Simply keep them in mind while you write, and remember to use them in appropriate places as you’re drafting your post. However, it’s important that you don’t go crazy with those keywords. Remember, write for real people, and use keywords only where they make sense. Repeating the same keyword phrase over and over again is a good way to drive readers away, and ultimately, it will lead to lower rankings.
Once you have your pieces in place, including whatever plugin or theme you’ll use to handle the title tags and meta description, it’s a simple matter of remembering to include your keywords. Spend five minutes going over each blog post before hitting the publish button, and very soon you’ll see your site begin to climb in the search results.
By the way, we touched (very briefly) linkbuilding for your WordPress blog. If you’d like to learn more about building links and why it’s important to your overall success, I highly recommend reading Wordtrackers’s Link Building ebook. It’s the definitive guide to finding link-building opportunities, with tips for actually getting other webmasters to link to your page.Photo by Danny Sullivan