There’s lots of information about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) available and there are many SEO professionals and companies that you can hire. There are also some very basic steps that you can take on your own. It starts with knowing who your target customer/client is and how they search for you online.
So, let’s assume that you know three things. #1 – You know which keywords you’re optimizing your blog post for. #2 – You understand that you need to incorporate keywords (when appropriate) into your content. #3 – You understand that you need to write content that will help you rank well with the search engines while engaging your website visitors. Are you taking advantage of these simple opportunities to optimize your WordPress blog?
#1 – The Title of your Blog Post
Incorporating keywords into the title of your post is a good idea. Since I’m writing this article about optimizing your WordPress blog for SEO, I wanted to include as many of those keywords as I could while at the same time trying to create a title that would interest potential visitors. I decided on “4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog”. Search engines “see” this title, and you see this title. It’s also included in the URL of this page. This is a very simple first step to take. (Note: Most search engines use a maximum of 60 characters for the title.)
#2 – Meta Description Tags
Using meta description tags is no longer considered to be as important to SEO as it once was. Google reports that they no longer include meta descriptions in their algorithm. However, these descriptions still appear in the search results. Therefore, they can influence whether or not someone decides to click on your link and visit your site.
WebsiteMagazine.com (one of my favorite resources) recently conducted a study where they analyzed the use of keywords in meta descriptions and the results that were returned in search queries. Basically, their conclusion was that since you’re not penalized for using meta descriptions and it does provide an opportunity to engage potential visitors, why not use them. (You can read the article here: Meta Descriptions on Google and Bing. Keep in mind that Google allows 156 characters in this field and Bing allows 150 characters. )
#3 – Formatting Text as Headings
Search engines give more weight to text that is identified as being a “heading”. The difference being that headings are identified with tags such as <H1></H1>. (The text between these two tags would be the highest priority heading.) In this post, I formatted each of the numbered headings with the <H2> heading tags. (The H1 tag is reserved for your post title in most WordPress themes.)
When you create a new post in WordPress the default is to open in the“visual” view (as opposed to the “HTML” view.) It is possible to change to the HTML view and enter your heading tags but the easiest thing to do is use a WYSIWYG editor.
If your WordPress themes doesn’t include a WYSIWYG editor, you can download a plug-in like TinyMCE Advanced. Using an editor will make inserting header tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5 or H6) a breeze. The image below shows a drop-down with the word “Paragraph” (using the TinyMCE editor). You would select your text and then choose the heading tag that you want to use (under the paragraph drop-down).
In addition to signifying the importance of your text to the search engines, using headings also makes your posts visually more appealing. Be sure to use headings that incorporate your keywords.
#4 – Optimize your Images
Search engines don’t “see” images. That’s why it’s so important to use the file name, title, alternate text and description fields to help optimize your site for the search engines (SEO). Enter carefully chosen keywords that describe your post (not necessarily the picture).
As you see in the image above, when I uploaded my graphic for this post, I used keywords where I could. (For a more detailed look at optimizing your images, read “Tips for Optimizing Photos and Graphics for Your Blog”)
This has been a fairly basic look at four quick and easy ways to optimize your blog posts. For those of you are interested in delving deeper into how to optimize your WordPress blog, I recommend reading “The Definitive Guide To Higher Rankings For Your Blog” by Joost de Valk. What are some of your favorite tips for SEO? Do you have a go-to resource that you recommend that we read for more information?
Note added 12/14/11: Thanks to Steve Hippel for reminding me of the All in One SEO Pack. This is an excellent plugin to help optimize your WordPress blog for the search engines. (If you’re using a premium theme such as Thesis or Genesis, you don’t need an additional plugin because SEO is built in.)