4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog

Basic steps for SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
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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).

WordPress WYSIWYG Editor Tinymce Plugin

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 nametitle, 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).

Resize Optimize Blog Images

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.)

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Author: Sherryl Perry

Welcome! If you're looking for help building an Internet presence that fits your needs and works for you, you're in the right place. I blog common sense articles about WordPress, social media and SEO. My goal is to help small business owners and entrepreneurs understand their core business. Together, we can develop and implement business strategies that make sense to you.

167 thoughts on “4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog”

  1. Hi, thank you for excellent post. I am looking for tips to find out if there is also any importance in describing caption in images correctly for seo purposes. I am having a blog on small slovenian furniture market with a lot of images and don’t know if caption is important or not. Thanks, Matija, Slovenia
    Matija recently posted..Postelje za otroške sobeMy Profile

    1. Hi Matija,

      Thanks for letting me know that you found my article helpful. Captions would be one more way to add keyword-rich text that the search engines can find.

      I think the most important thing that you can be doing (when it comes to your images) is to make sure that you rename them with meaningful file names. The number one mistake that I see bloggers making is to leave the default file name.

      For example, I see a lot of images with names like DSC0001.jpg. While that may be the name that your camera assigned, it’s absolutely meaningless and has zero SEO value. Instead, if you were to name it something like slovenian-styled-sofa, that would have SEO value. (You may already be doing this.)

      Thanks so much for taking the time to add to the conversation. I checked out your site and it has a very nice clean look. Good luck with it!
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Does SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Confuse You? #FridayFindsMy Profile

  2. Isn’t the main site title in WordPress an tag and the tagline ? If so, does it make sense to use and tags again in the headline of your pages and posts, or should it be – for everything else? Otherwise the tags will be used more than once. I can’t seem to find clarity on this.
    I’ve also read that you can make a graphic into a headline tag. Just wondering if you know how?
    Any thoughts

    1. Mark,
      The tags that are inserted into your blog posts and pages depend partly upon the WordPress theme that you’re using. Premium themes usually have SEO built into them. If your theme does not have optimization built in, you can install a WP SEO plugin such as the one from Yoast. You can tell if your theme is optimized if you have fields where you can actually enter “tag” data.

      For example, even though the title of your post is a tag, if it contains special characters (like question marks and quotations) the search engines will usually substitute something like %20%. Ideally, you should be able to enter a custom title as a tag without those characters. You should also be able to enter tag information for your headings and your images. (What this does is write the HTML code into the page.)

      Taglines are short phrases that represent your brand. For example, the tagline for Bounty paper towels is the “Quicker Picker Upper”. If you look at the header graphic for my blog, my tagline is “Where Business and the Internet Connect”.

      In the case of header graphics, taglinew cannot be read by the search engines. Therefore, it’s best to enter the keywords from your tagline into the meta-tag information for that graphic. (The theme I use has an additional field for the tagline.) The answer to your other question is yes, the same keyword can be repeated in multiple tags. I don’t recommend using the exact same description everywhere but your tags should include keywords.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How To Set up Google Authorship & the Rel=Author TagMy Profile

  3. Glad I read this one–I’m trying to ensure all the technical aspects of my website and blog are maximized. Thank you, Sheryl.

    1. You’re welcome Rose. When I start any new strategy (like implementing these SEO techniques), I track the date. That way, in a month or so, you can take a look at your Google Analytics and see what sort of affect it’s had (by comparing it to the previous date range). Tweaking strategies doesn’t always achieve the results that you expect but I’m confident that you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see that these tips will help.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are Your Website Visitors Sticking Around Or Bailing Out?My Profile

  4. Thanks for referring me to this post, Sherryl. Your advice is spot-on, as after following some of your tips and advice, I’ve helped improve the SEO of my site so much that I’m now ranked #1 by Google in the category of “chocolate travel” and that’s right where I want to be!
    Doreen Pendgracs recently posted..Winnipeg’s artisanal chocolatierMy Profile

  5. I would surely want to look into optimizing my images, I’m into photography and I have a business website that I seriously want to promote. Thanks for the tips.

    1. You’re very welcome Emilia. I’m glad I could help. I wrote another post that includes a screenshot with an example of an image that I’ve entered the meta tag info for. If you’re interested in checking it out, you can find it here: http://bit.ly/eiFmEC.

      Any questions, please don’ hesitate to ask. One thing that I may not have stressed enough in this post is the importance of the name of your file. I see a lot of photographers upload files named something like DSC00486. That name has absolutely no SEO value. It’s much better to rename it using relevant keywords.

      BTW – I just noticed that the image that I originally inserted in this article is missing. It’s a good visual. I’m off to correct that now!

  6. These tips are beneficial, specific and relevant to the current situation I’m in, I’ve never tried incorporating key words into my post titles so I’m literally starting from there 🙂 Thank you.

    1. That sounds like a plan Don. I really believe that if you do that (and start using keywords in heading tags too), you’ll start noticing that your traffic from organic searches will increase. I know that is what happened with my blog (by looking at my Google analytics.) When I first started blogging, Twitter was my number one source of all traffic and now organic search from Google is consistently number one.

      Good luck! Feel free to come back and let us know if it works (or doesn’t work) for you. It’s always great to hear from readers who are willing to share their personal experience.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..How to Grow Your Google+ FollowersMy Profile

  7. Sherryl,
    The SEO tips shared are very helpful. I myself was looking for the formatting of headings, the description and the details provided in this post about heading formatting is very helpful. Headings actually give a new charm to the entire blog. Thanks for sharing the valuable content.

    1. Hi Aayna,
      Thanks for letting me know that you found my article helpful. Heading tags are great for both SEO and general website design. I truly believe that introducing headings into my articles was one of the tweaks that I made to my blog that helped keep readers on my site longer. When I first started blogging, I never used headings. Since I discovered them, I’ve gone back and tweaked a few earlier posts with them. It’s a big improvement.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Tips You Should Know When You Start BloggingMy Profile

  8. Hi Sherryl, I’ve just done my second blog and completely forgot the SEO I had been more focused on the SEO on the pages, not posts. Although I have aimed my post to contain more of my Keywords and LSI words. My site is relatively new, how many posts should I do a week, does it matter as I have quiet a few ideas, all relating to my car valeting business. I have also downloaded the Commentluv plugin to try and encourage some traffic to the site

    1. Hi Richard,
      Unless you’re using a premium WordPress theme that is optimized for SEO, I would recommend installing Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. That plugin will introduce new fields that will be available for all your posts. It’s hard to forget SEO when the data fields are right there in front of you. 🙂 (Always backup before installing/upgrading plugins – just in case something goes awry.

      How often you post depends partly on how much time you can commit to it. A lot of bloggers post daily. Personally, I can only commit to posting once a week. (I write rather long posts and I spend a lot of time replying to comments. I simply don’t have the time to commit to blogging more often.)

      Many bloggers have proven that the more often you post (valuable information), the more traffic you’ll get.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Tips You Should Know When You Start BloggingMy Profile

  9. Why are alternatives to the permalink structure even offered? Much less enabled by default?

    Is the less efficient non-permalink used by default to keep the ignorant blogger’s page at the bottom of the Google results?

  10. Thank you for the great advice. Aside from SEO, there are also other things that we should always track and manage, like the comments and guest posts on our blogs. It would be great if our blogs can be automatically updated and secured like most plug-ins promise. But we can’t leave everything to programs especially when we are away. It is a good thing that there is an Android application that lets you manage your WordPress blogs even if you are away.

  11. I liked the part about optimizing images. All the while I thought I can just simply upload a photo and that’s it. Thanks for sharing how I can optimize it by including titles and description using my knowledge in SEO. thanks very much.

  12. THIS post was somewhat helpful.
    Moreso, the fact that i could see an image, influenced my decision to click on it. lately i have being reading a lot of material on SEO FOR WORDPRESS that it has left me more confused than convinced. A question i would ask would be is there a plugin that can automatically optimize ones site or if not entirely but to some level where i do not have to deal with all the SEO technicalities. P.s i am a blogger (beginner)

    Thanks a bunch

    1. Hi Chinenye,
      Thanks for letting me know that the image that I used attracted you to my post. That’s helpful information. I think hands-down, the most popular plugin would be the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. I highly recommend it.

      As a beginner, don’t get too concerned with SEO. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the topic. Instead, I would suggest writing good content that your readers can connect with.

      I manage a really helpful group on LinkedIn called “Bloggers Helping Bloggers”. (Quite a few group members drop by here and comment.) You might want to join it. There are other newbies there as well as plenty of bloggers with several years experience. On one last note, the CommentLuv link below will take you to a guest post by Steve Hippel. Steve gets good results with SEO without obsessing over it.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..SEO Should Be A Habit Not A HeadacheMy Profile

  13. Point #4 is huge— I see images on blogs all the time that are not tagged with a decent description, any important keywords, or a link back to the site.

  14. I agree with you sherryl that google can change their algorithm anytime.but we should use our top keywords in a description.so that search engine can get our website url.

  15. I appreciate your post sherryl.keyword research is important,if you want to improve your wordpress blogs ranking.make a appropriate title and use a meta description and meta tags in a blog and also do a image optimization of your blog.

    1. Thanks for letting me know that you liked my article John. Good titles can play a huge role in getting a reader to click on your article. I know I find myself being distracted by great titles. (I plan on not spending any more time reading blogs and then I see a great title and off I go.) By incorporating keywords into a great title, you can really drive some serious traffic to your blog.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Can Your Small Business Compete with the Big-Box Stores?My Profile

    1. Both of those tips are very important Amit and bloggers who are just learning the ropes of SEO should definitely start there. When I started implementing “#3 – Formatting Text as Headings”, I noticed a significant increase in my search traffic. Although I can’t measure it, I believe that breaking up my content with headings (and increasing the white space) has helped people stay on my blog longer. I tend to write rather lengthy posts and the headings help to break it up and focus my thoughts.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 8 White Hat SEO Tips for E-Commerce WebsitesMy Profile

  16. I have read from another blog that Google will no longer consider meta tags or other sort on your blogs. This happens on their latest update, so it will be better if you just focus on white hat SEO and content because all other SEO tricks will be blocked and the site or blog will be penalized.

    1. Hi John,
      That’s true but as long as the search engines continue to display meta descriptions in the search results, I believe it makes sense to use them. It could mean the difference between someone clicking on your link as opposed to clicking on one of the other results. The other thing is, who knows if Google will change their algorithms some day to include meta information. Since it doesn’t take that much time to enter the data while you’re editing your post, why not include it?
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Top 8 White Hat SEO Tips for E-Commerce WebsitesMy Profile

  17. I have just come across you website while looking for dofollow blogs and found your blog on youdofollow.com. Your post is superb and helpful for visitors. I read your other articles too. So , I just bookmarked your website and add it to my favorites.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

  18. Hi Sherryl,

    On page optimization is important for anyone looking to capitalize from search engine traffic. You have provided some great tips!
    It is also recommended to provide the keyphrase that you are aiming to rank for in the first and last paragraphs of your post!


  19. Everyone should use the third and fourth tips, adding Heading tags helps to get good SERP on particular keyword.

    PS: YOAST plugin is better than all in one seo, because YOAST is multi functional that includes XML sitemap, robot works, index controller and more with SEO tool.

    1. Hi Ponvendhan,
      Thanks for the endorsement of Yoast’s plugin. It’s good to hear from people who have experience using it. (Sorry it took me so long to reply to your comment.)

  20. I think the suggestion of optimizing the images is an often overlooked suggestion, but it really does work. As for plugins, I’ve tried the All in One SEO Pack, but for me personally, I really like Yoast’s SEO plugin. I think it’s easier to use.

    1. Hi Jeff,
      Thanks for letting us know that you prefer Yoast’s SEO plugin. From the input that I’ve been receiving (and after reading Yoast’s blog along with a few other posts), I feel comfortably recommending his plugin for SEO. I use Thesis as my theme and that does an excellent job of building SEO into it but for those bloggers who do not use a premium theme (that has SEO optimization included), Yoast’s plugin is an excellent choice. Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are Your Website Visitors Sticking Around Or Bailing Out?My Profile

  21. Hi Sherryl, many webmasters noticed last week regarding an update in the Google algo, I’ve noticed it as well. The things you mentioned above give more weight to the rankings in Google compared last few months. I’ve also checked this issue in webmasterworld. There is also an issue about Meta Description Tags being used again in the algo, it may also be true.


    1. Hi Val,
      I’ve been reading about the algorithm change but I’m not sure I’ve read anything about them including meta tags again. That would be great. What I have read points to the value of good content and the risk of keyword stuffing. So, it’s especially important to not stuff meta tags. I believe we should look at it as another opportunity to place good content. Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts on this.
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..The Rise of the Cyber Cold WarMy Profile

  22. I agree with what you said about the meta description tags. Though they weren’t as important as before, the tags can still encourage users to visit your page.

  23. Certainly the above said seo tips are good one but now there are seo plugin’s available for wordpress blogs which makes this work much easier. Internal site linking and placement of value pages like home,about,privacy policy,terms & condition,sitemap and disclaimer also plays important role in over all website authority.

  24. Dont forget to use the Yoast SEO Plugin. Essential plugin where you can create better and easier titles for each post/page.

  25. No problem 🙂

    Yeah, Yoast really helps to get things done since I am not interested in spending that much time on SEO.

    Thanks for the reply!

  26. Hey Sherryl,

    Great tips!

    SEO is definitely an important thing that we bloggers need to take care. When I started out blogging, I didn’t really care much about optimizing my blog posts for search engines – I used to focus on writing for my readers and I still do, but at the same time I realize the importance of optimizing my blog posts).

    I used to use All-in-SEO (And many other SEO plugins along with it – which was a real bad idea because it slowed down blog). But, I now I am using Yoast SEO (Yoast’s SEO plugin does have all the features that a SEO plugin needs).

    Anyways, thanks for the post,

    Jeevan Jacob John

    1. Thanks for your input Jeevan. I started out the same way as you. I still write for my readers and not the search engines. Thankfully, SEO has become a habit for me. When I first started blogging, I didn’t pay any attention to keywords. I’ve gone back to a few of my earlier posts to optimize them a little.

      I have heard so many great thing about Yoast’s SEO plugin. I’m using Thesis, so, SEO is built in but I definitely will use this plugin in the future for any sites that I build for clients who opt to not have their site built using Thesis (or another SEO optimized premium theme).
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..Are Buyers or Window Shoppers Clicking on Your Pay-Per-Click Ads?My Profile

  27. The meta des tag is the best thing someoen new can focus on, since this is what creates the snippet in the search results. When Im writing this meta out I like to include the keyword as I want it to be once and then I do it a second time mixed up. I find these have the best results.

    ie “a small brown dog” “a dog, small and brown”

  28. I agree with the importance of onsite SEO, and all of my web projects start with a great SEO plan, even before the content is drafted.

    I performed a test recently regarding the weight of anchor text so I could see if onsite SEO has more weight than offsite SEO and this is what I found.
    I built 4 web pages entitled:
    1- palm coast seo
    2- seo palm coast
    3- palm coast search engine optimization
    4- search engine optimization palm coast

    These pages were mostly identical except that all of the key areas for seo had one of the four targeted keywords only.

    After allowing some time for Google to rank each page appropriately for what I optimized for I ended up with an average 8 position on Google for all 4 words going to the relevant page.

    I created 20 backlinks to “palm coast seo” page using blogs with commentluv and my latest article as “palm coast seo”, and not only did that page move up to the 2 position on Google, but so did the other 3!

    I am sure you are puzzled as to why the other three did also, and to further puzzle you, they moved up to position 2 and they now result for the “palm coast seo” page.
    For instance, if you search for palm coast search engine optimization, you would think that the top page would be the one I created for that search term, but wrong……the top resulting page is the one I made 20 backlinks for.

    This should illustrate two very important things;
    1- the importance of back links
    2- the ability of google to understand other meanings of your search term and to give priority to the back linked pages of your site over all others DESPITE their correctness on an SEO level.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing your research with us. It’s very interesting. I honestly do not spend as much time on SEO as I probably should. It’s good to know that back links are working for you. Is your main blog on the site that you linked to? I was hoping to check out your posts to see if I could pick up some more ideas from you. 🙂
      Sherryl Perry recently posted..4 Simple Steps to Building Your Brand OnlineMy Profile

      1. I am not so sure I have a main site…LOL, but this one I am linking to now is probably the closest thing to a traditional blog, even though it is clearly a hybrid. None the less, you will probably find the pictures completely adorable, and properly optimized with alt text and title text as in your example!

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