When it comes to SEO, the wonderful news is, if you have a WordPress blog, then you’re already ahead of the game.
Right out of the box, WordPress sites are inherently well set up for search engines to crawl as they have super-clean code and also fill in a lot of the more important SEO code elements for you – all you have to do is write the post!
Best of all, every time you press ‘Publish’ on a blog post, WordPress immediately ‘pings’ Google and tells them to come index your site. And Google does so pretty much instantly. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this is for your site – especially if you have a business site that would ordinarily sit static for months on end (thus giving Google zero reason to come and index).
But what if you want to take things a little further and optimise your blog posts a bit more from an SEO point of view? Well there are some really simple things you can do to give your SEO a boost – things that won’t take a huge amount of time, won’t get your site black-listed by Google, and won’t annoy your readers (like say rampant keyword stuffing will).
In fact, your readers won’t even see most of the stuff we’ll talk about today.
I am going to use today’s post as an example of SEO-ing a blog post from the ground up. In the perfect world, you will think about the SEO for a blog post before you actually write it as there are certain things that are a pain to change after the fact. But this isn’t a perfect world so most of the stuff I talk about today can be done well after a blog post has been written and published. Let’s go!
STEP 1: Think about the search terms you want to try
So this post I am writing here is a post about SEO, specifically for WordPress blogs. Now I could try to optimise my post for the term ‘SEO’, but that is far too broad a term. So I have chosen the four less broad search terms/phrases below and I am going to see which might be best to optimise for :
- wordpress seo
- blog seo
- simple seo
- seo for wordpress
STEP 2: Hit up Google Trends
Jim Stewart from Stewart Media favours Google Trends over the (now defunct) Google Keyword Tool and I like Google Trends to because it is quick and easy. Quick note: I am not saying the terms I have chosen above are the best possible terms I could be optimising for because truly, that in itself is an art form … what Google Trends is good for is seeing which of the search terms you’re thinking of using is the best option. Head here to get started.
I typed my four search terms into Google Trends
And these are the results I got:
So as you can see, the most trending search term is ‘wordpress seo’ – so this is what I am going to optimise my post for.
Step 3: Optimise key elements for your search term
Now that I know what my search term is, I am going to ensure it is everywhere I can put it, but in a way that won’t annoy my readers. Because remember, your readers are infinitely more important than Google. There is no point getting ranked well for your search term by sprinkling it liberally throughout your actual blog post text because it will be un-engaging at best and unreadable at worse. Readers will click away fast, Google will pick up on this and quickly stop sending you that search traffic. That’s why we optimise the bits of the post that readers can’t see (ie things that live in the code).
This is a good point to note that in order to do the next steps, you need to have an SEO plugin of some description installed on your WordPress site. That plugin will allow you to alter the elements I am about to talk about. I use the Yoast plugin. Another popular one is All in SEO. If you use the Genesis or Thesis platforms for WordPress, you will already be able to optimise the key elements I am about to talk about without the need for an extra plugin.
AREA TO OPTIMISE #1: SEO TITLE AND META DESCRIPTION TAG These two things determine what shows up in the Search Engine results for your post.
- The SEO title is important to Google from a ranking point of view.
- The SEO meta description is not important to Google from a ranking point of view. But it is important to the person doing the search because it gives them an idea of what will be covered in the post.
Thus I write:
- my SEO title for Google and
- my SEO meta description for the reader.
Which is why the exact phrase ‘WordPress SEO’ appears in the SEO title, but it does not appear in the SEO meta description (see below). I couldn’t get the term ‘WordPress SEO’ to sound natural into the meta description text, so I didn’t force it. You will note however that the words ‘WordPress’ and ‘SEO’ do appear separately.
AREA TO OPTIMISE #2: THE PAGE URL
This is one bit that if you change it later (ie after you’ve published the post and people have already visited it and started sharing it around) it’s going to be a pain because then you will have to set up a 301 re-direct (Yoast does this on the Advanced tab). It’s not actually hard to do, but it’s still something extra to do and I am trying to keep things simple here.
AREA TO OPTIMISE #3: IMAGES When you name your images for your blog post, don’t name them image1.jpg, image2.jpg etc. This is a prime SEO opportunity gone begging … and ‘image1.jpg’ tells Google nothing. There are six images in this post and their names all contain the keyword I am optimising for:
I also optimised the image Title and Alternative Text setting in the WordPress image box (see below) to include the search term ‘WordPress SEO’. Note that I did not optimise the caption because I could not do so naturally. In fact I ended up removing most of the captions from this post to make it easier to read and process.
And that folks … is all!
Yes really. I simply made sure my search term appeared in the following 6 places and that is all:
- *Blog post title
- Page url
- SEO Title
- *SEO Description
- Images: names, titles and alt tags
- Blog post content
(NB: Where there is a star above, I did not put the exact search term there because I couldn’t do so naturally. But the words ‘wordpress’ and ‘seo’ do appear.)
After reading through all of the above you may think that’s not simple, there’s a bit to be done there, but in fact it wouldn’t even take 10 minutes once you’ve done it a couple of times. And that 5-10 minutes per post will be the greatest (and cheapest) investment in SEO you will ever make. So work through the above step by step, then come back and let me know how you go 🙂