“Smartly” Taking WordPress Blog Post SEO to Another Level

"Smartly" Taking WordPress Blog Post SEO to Another Level

WordPress is considered to be one Content Management System that will quickly push your blog into Google’s SERP (Search Engine Result Pages) but reaching to the top is a totally different story. Webmasters have always been in search of the Holy Grail for SEO and the quest (just like the real Holy Grail) will never end due to the presence of the search engine giant Google.

“Smartly” Taking WordPress Blog Post SEO to Another Level

Google has smartly been sitting on the head of webmasters who have tried to trick the complex algorithms that are the backbone of Google’s system. We (the webmasters) come up with one way to push our pages on the top of Google’s SERP and Google kicks it out if it isn’t worth the heroics. Websites need Google’s blessings in order to survive the competitive virtual world and this article will give you some insight into how to do that. Google loves honesty and I will teach you how to be “smartly” honest in order to beat the other (not so smart but honest) competition.

SEO Methods

Stark Reality

Search Engine Optimization is an agile concept with no ends. It is an unending ocean of experiments that will require more than just one lifetime to try. This is when one must understand that patience is the key to success. I know the drill so I won’t hesitate to confess the same with my readers:

  • It will take time before you are able to correlate every tip of this article. Bookmark it and do your experiments with SEO while you refer to this post. I promise positive results!
  • SEO on the whole for every blog post is more important than individual pointers. It is the balance and quality that matters so please don’t overdo it.
  • Use our Guide to Keyword Research in order to find the best possible keywords for your niche and your blog (I will use keyword as reference example throughout this article.)

Permalinks First

Before we dive into our post content and start sprucing it for traffic, let us start with the link that will be listed in Google’s search results – the permalinks. I guess we already know that WordPress offers four default permalink structures and lets the webmaster try a custom permalink structure on his own. I usually suggest the below permalink structure as it has plenty of room for SEO:

/%category%/%postname%/

Note: This should be done on a new blog. If you perform this change on an old blog with lots of posts then their URL will change to your new custom permalink and Google will return a 404 not found error. Not good from SEO perspectives. If you are adamant about changing the permalink structure for a huge blog then use the Redirection plugin that will help you automatically add a 301 redirection when a post’s URL changes. No SEO losses now!

Post URL

Although you can argue that permalinks and post URLs are the same, actually they are quite different. You change the default permalink structure above but you haven’t yet optimized the post URL that is auto-generated after you create your Blog Post Title. It is important that you optimize this URL as per the guidelines below:

  • Avoid using stop-words like a, an, the, if etc. These words do not help in terms of SEO and use valuable space in your URL.
  • Try and keep the URL short. Search engines will cover a part of the URL in their results henceforth it needs to be short.
  • Use your keyword once in the URL itself.

Post URL with Keyword

Post Title

The Post Title is found in two places – within the webpage (location 1 in image below) and in the title bar of your browser (location 2 in image below).

Post Title Location

Let me concentrate on location 2 of your post title first. The content of the post title depends on the theme that you are using. Some of the not-so-optimized WordPress themes have the post title in the format given below:

Blog Name | Post Title

And other WordPress themes might have the post title in the format given below:

Post Title | Blog Name

The latter format is what works best with SEO. If your theme is using the first format then I will suggest you install All in One SEO Pack WordPress plugin. This plugin helps you make the requisite changes.

WARNING: I have faced this twice so I want you to be completely aware of this. If you are using Thesis Framework or any other similar framework on your WordPress installation then it is suggested that you check the features of your framework. Most of the time these frameworks have their own in-built SEO optimization features. Using another SEO plugin to perform the same task might result in a mess up which might kill your rankings. Be warned!

All in One SEO Pack

Once you install All in One SEO Pack plugin then while creating new post you will see the above options in the same “Create New Post” page. Scroll down and you should see something like the image above. I will list down what you should include in every position as per the above images:

  • This is the title of your post which is read by your visitor when they visit your post. It must include the keyword once and should be catchy enough so that they stay gripped on your page.
  • This is the title that shows on title bar of your browser. As explained already, it must be in the format “Title | Blog Name”.
  • Here comes the exciting part. This title is what shows up in Google SERP when your blog shows up on a particular search result page. Google (and most of the other existing search engines) have a character limit of around 60 for titles. So, you must use a concise title in this section. Remember, it won’t show up in your post page. It will show up only in the SERP (which is where SEO begins.) Also, remember to include the keyword in it once.
  • This should be obvious. The short description that shows in SERP is what goes here. Include the keyword here too.
  • Keywords! Include the major keyword here and push in some extra related keywords. Use our Guide to Keyword Research in order to search for related keywords.

Include an image

This is important. Google gives importance to the aesthetic looks of a post along with rich text. This is where an image presence becomes very important. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean that Google looks at the beauty of a post but it does care about the completeness of an article. An image makes a lot of difference to a post.

Once you upload an image in your post then you will see the option to leave Title and Alternate Text:

  • Title – This is where you can insert descriptive text related to your image. Remember to include the keyword in this text.
  • Alternate Text – This should be kept short and precise. Remember to include the keyword at the beginning of this text.

Note: Make sure that the name of the image is the keyword itself. If you plan to use multiple images then name them as keyword-1.jpg, keyword-2.jpg and so on…

Image SEO

Usage of H1, H2, H3

H1 is an HTML tag which stands for “Header 1”. It is also called the “Primary Header”. Similarly, H2 stands for “Secondary Header” and it goes down in similar fashion till H6.

I don’t have written proof for this but I am quite sure that the content in the H1 tag and your post title must match. Usually a post title in any WordPress theme is H1 so if you are using a title for your post (which you obviously do) then you have already used the H1 tag once. And it has the keyword too as I did ask you to use the keyword once in your title. Remember that, eh?

Usually a post has to have sub-heading (if it is lengthy enough to include one.) Henceforth, put all sub-headings within H2 tags. The question might arise that should we be using keywords in H2 Tags? Well, you should but never overdo it. Google is one smart algorithm to play with.

H3 tag and others are left for you to try. Use them wherever possible and include keywords in them but never, I mean it, never overdo it. Nobody wants to be penalized, right?

Linking

There are two types of linking that you can do in your post. Firstly, you must take care of internal linking and then some external linking too. Remember to use the keyword as anchor text in both cases. Some points to note will be:

  • The content you link to must be relevant. Using anchor text “cement” to link to a post on “iPhone” will make no sense to your visitors or to search engines.
  • Always fill in the Title field of the link. This must include the keyword for SEO purposes.

The Content …

Content is king! We all know it how important it is to have good content or otherwise all SEO tactics can prove to be futile. Here are few quick tips for your content:

  • Use the keyword once in the first sentence of your content.
  • Use the keyword once in the last sentence of your content.
  • Make the keyword bold once in the content.
  • Put the keyword in italics once in the content.
  • Underline the keyword once in your content.

WARNING: Never overdo it. Your keyword density must be around 2-3%. So, if you feel like it is being over stuffed then either remove some keywords or include more text in your post. Avoid any form of nonsense.

Wrapping up with few tidbits

We are almost through but sometimes a few small pointers can make a lot of difference. Let me list them down:

  • Optimize “Read More” text to something more interesting. It does help!
  • Optimize “leave a comment” text to something else. You got to force them to leave a comment. You can, right?
  • Optimize “Submit Comment” text on a button to something different.
  • Instead of a text based logo I would suggest that you use an image logo. Usually a text logo is placed within the H1 tag in your theme and this might collide with the H1 of the post title. An image based logo will help in such cases.

Conclusion

This was just the beginning. One can do a lot to optimize a WordPress blog in terms of traffic. With time, I will reveal more secrets! Let me know what you are doing on your part for SEO.

Salman Siddiqui is a seasoned WordPress critic with 5 years of WordPress experience. He is an alpha geek with a degree in computer engineering. He spends his day as software engineer with a Fortune 100 company and nights as a freelance writer. He believes that everyone must blog about something and plans to be a full time writer in future.

Comments

  1. / Reply

    Pretty basic SEO tips. Glad I’m following all of these SEO practices, because every single aspect can influence search engine ranking.

    1. / Reply

      What about the size of your site and using a cache to call your images!

      Google does favour sites that don’t take up much bandwidth, my sites SEO increased my about 12 points by using caching through the .htaccess file alone!

      Should be worth looking into…

      Google: Leverage browser caching for more info.

      Cheers, Aaron.

    • Topan,
    • November 11, 2011
    / Reply

    Thanks a lot for that detailed post.
    If newbies cannot set up a SEO with this post, holy crap, they may as well beat their brains in with a tack hammer.
    :)

  2. / Reply

    post URL:
    killing the /2011/11/11/ should be a consideration for SEO! especially if your blog is not posting multiple times a day. : get rid of the ../11/
    if you have only limited (say 20 posts a month also get rid of the month folder.)
    If you knowledge is not very time sensitive ( no daily news of temporary events) get rid of the year as wel.

    go for: stramark.nl/blog/blogitem
    of for stramark.nl/blog/online/blogitem and stramark.nl/blog/offline/blogitem

    Changing after a while requires permanent 301 redirects.. :-(

    1. / Reply

      Excellent idea. I am starting a WP site soon and this info is very helpful.

  3. / Reply

    This is pretty helpful. I like the idea about using different text for read more and comment! Thanks.

  4. / Reply

    Good SEO advices, but the permalink structure that i recommend instead “category /postname” is only “postname”, the reason is because the server is having less work with this structure, also WordPress recommend this structure and you can add a post-ID at the end or the beginning, with this your website will load faster.

  5. / Reply

    Not sure if these apply just to blogs alone, they seem to apply to standard websites as well generally. Nonetheless, still great contribution from the writer :)

  6. / Reply

    Oh yeah on our blog we had to set up a lot of SEO stuff. It got pretty tiring, but of course we stuck through it. And now we have seen a dramatic increase in traffic numbers, comments on articles, and even Google PR.

    So weird how little WordPress fixes so dramatically improve the site… and because our home page is powered through Pligg CMS we had even more work to hit! All well worth it though.

  7. pretty basic seo tips… i have been using all in one seo pack for a long time.. thnx anyway for the tips.!

  8. / Reply

    Yeah, Been using wordpress for while.. i like wordpress but the problem is itz horrible in terms of seo and internet marketing but after all in one seo pack and some other plug ins came up..itz a mint again…

    this is a very useful post and this should help the youngsters to build on it..

    thanks

  9. / Reply

    I’m a big fan of the WordPress Seo by Yoast plugin. I think its the most comprehensive seo plugin available. I dont think 1 size fits all though. I use WordPress Seo in conjuction with seo slugs, redirection,friendly images and a plugin who’s name i forget for internal linking. Great list though, cheers.

  10. / Reply

    Thanks for the wonderful article, It was a refreshing read!
    The idea of using proper URL and title is very effective in getting good rankings.

  11. / Reply

    Thanks for Nice Blog!

    • arun,
    • December 11, 2011
    / Reply

    Thanks for Nice Blog!

  12. / Reply

    very interesting and brief discription about SEO. Thanks for this valuable information.

  13. / Reply

    Thanks for sharing. It’s a great article for SEO newbies!

  14. / Reply

    I’ve been doing SEO since 1998. I agree with you. SEO is always changing and the efforts never end. There are times when you have to extend your patience to wait for your listings to show up in the top 10.

  15. / Reply

    Nice article that covers most of the important stuff for SEO beginners!
    One point I`d like to add to the section about “linking” is interlinking between relevant pages on your own website. Creating this “internal spiderweb” will benefit to SEO and will improve time on site and bouncerate.

  16. / Reply

    Thanks for sharing us such an important topics with us. Keep it up so we can hope to get more blog with important information.

    • alamin,
    • April 22, 2013
    / Reply

    IT’S REALLY AN IMPORTANT TOPICS.THANKS

    • Sheamus Warior,
    • July 31, 2013
    / Reply

    These articles and blogs are certainly sufficient for me personally for a day.

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