SEO Guide: How to Optimize Your Posts in WordPress
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It is not uncommon for beginners to under-utilize SEO plugins in WordPress. Often, they read a few guides online on how to start your own blog/website, and do the steps specified in these blogs without fully understanding the implementation part of things. Simply installing plugins is not enough; the blogger must do a lot more to optimize his or her blog posts.
In this article, we will discuss the essential tips that one must follow for optimizing the on-page SEO ranking factors of a blog post.
Of all the plugins available for building a blog using WordPress, Yoast SEO is the simplest and most comprehensive on-page SEO plugin. With Yoast SEO, you can track the usage of your primary keyword across the different elements of a post. We will discuss on-page SEO keeping Yoast in mind.
1. Go Beyond Only Focusing on Keywords
A focus keyword is just the main keyword, but people don't always search the same way; they may search for specific product or service containing the focus keyword as a part of a long phrase. They could also search for a synonym of the keyword.
Such specific versions of main keywords are called long tail keywords and these longer versions of the focus keywords rank much better than the focus keyword.
With WordPress SEO by Yoast, you can optimize for a single focus keyword in the free version. There is a comprehensive list of elements on the page that are tracked by SEO for the focus keyword. However, if you pay $89 for the Premium version of Yoast SEO (one site only), you can optimize for up to 5 different keywords. This will help you optimize on-page factors and rank for multiple focus keywords or synonyms.
2. Make Your Post Title SEO Friendly
On-page SEO is a lot more than just inserting keywords in the headings; there are many checklist items such as meta descriptions, tags, and categories, etc., that must be considered for a properly (on-page) optimized blog post.
Your blog post title is the first part users see on search engines. An optimized title should:
- Be catchy
- Must contain your focus keyword (Yoast recommends focus keyword as the first keyword in your title)
- Be 70 characters or less in length
To make your blog post title catchy, you must convey the advantage of reading your blog post over that of your competitors who may be ranking above or below you on Google SERPs.
You should use catchy adjectives to make your blog title stand out among the crowd in search results. For example, instead of writing "Top 5 WordPress SEO plugins with their pros and cons," you could use something more like "Top 5 WordPress SEO plugins to skyrocket your blog traffic."
3. Do Not Forget Your Meta Descriptions
Many people think that Meta descriptions do not hold much value today. On the contrary, all that users see are the titles and descriptions on the SERP. It also appears on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc. Google gives them equal importance along with other SEO ranking factors.
The reason is that a good Meta description explains a lot about an article; it helps search engines understand what your article is all about. So, here are a few shortcuts to a good Meta description:
- You should write a Meta description for the blog post as if you are telling a summary of your article to the search engine.
- Stay within the character limit for Meta descriptions (155 characters)
- Use your focus keyword and its long tail versions to construct the Meta description.
- Try to place the focus keyword towards the beginning of those 155 characters and not the end.
4. Categories and Tags
Categories and tags provide extra information about your blog post, which makes it easy for search engines to understand your articles. Besides, if you can incorporate your main keyword into categories and long tail keywords in tags, you will make your content a lot more relevant for search engines.
An important thing to remember here is that blogs evolve. When you're starting out, you might have only two broad categories under which you write content. But as you grow, you could develop multiple sub-areas within your niche and you'll also become more capable of further sorting out your content into several categories (and even sub-categories).
Before making any changes to the category structure of your website, make sure you plan out how and when you will change the categories of each and every piece of your content.
5. Tame the Beast of Internal Linking
There are several reasons you would want to increase your internal linking. From an SEO perspective, internal links show search engines about the number of related posts users can expect on your entire blog site, not just one post. When users come to your article, they seek information and gain knowledge. As knowledge increases, they might form more questions as well. This is where your internal links come in.
Internal links are created to showcase more important and closely related topics that could not be covered in the main post. To see if you can create more internal links, look at the categories of your blog and see how they are interlinked with the category of the main blog post which you are optimizing. If you have many related topics, you could link users to a search page or a category page on your website for that keyword.
While internal links help a lot in keeping the bounce rates down and enhance your user engagement, too many internal links may actually be counter-productive as they pollute the reading experience. The user could suddenly open 5 other pages on your website. Too many open tabs might distract the readers; there is no guarantee of the user returning to the original page.
6. Keep it Human
Ultimately, the visitors do all the actual reading; search engines just bring your content to the audience. Content written keeping only keywords in mind turns out to be quite monotonous and boring.
Don't get so involved in optimising SEO practices that you ignore the quality of the material you're supplying to your user. Remember this, Content is always King and SEO is just a "public relations officer" for the King. Without great content, SEO optimization will not be enough.
People spend much less time reading online content than print publications. They prefer quickly scanning through your content no matter how great it might be. Here are a few suggestions for optimising the readability of your content:
- Use images and GIFs to convey more information than the surrounding text
- Use diagrams to explain complex and technical processes. (You can use MS PPT for the same!)
- Use bullets, bold, italic, and underline to catch the users' attention
- Keep your paragraphs short (3-4 lines per paragraph)
- Keep sentences simple, don't mix too many clauses in one sentence.
By creating content that is easy and interesting to read, adding catchy titles, useful categories and tags, Meta descriptions, etc., one can ensure that their blog posts are reaching out to the maximum number of people organically — thus improving search results and user experience.