This article will step you through the process I use for the on-page elements of search engine optimization in WordPress.
Following some basic steps we can build an article that is effective for readers as well as search engines.
What is on-page SEO?
It’s everything published on the page, visible to the public AND search engines.
Structured properly, good on-page SEO, and valuable content makes it possible for every article you publish to be a constant source of traffic as well as helping to build trust and provide value to your readers.
But, you must start with an idea.
Don’t try to do too much. Keep the benefit in mind and above all, make sure you deliver on the promise made in the all important headline!
You need to create an article or presentation that provides some real value or entertainment to your visitor.
Its surprising how many articles on the web say close to nothing about the topic you searched for. Even if the post ranks high on the list in Google, you’re not likely to return are you?
Sometimes you only get one chance.
Once you have developed trust and repeatedly proven to be useful, people will gladly give you their email addresses and follow your recommendations.
If you have created your kick-ass content plan, you will no doubt have a list of headlines that can be turned into posts. Refer to that list now and choose one that you feel good about.
To give you a sense of what people are looking for and the actual terms people use to find your topic already, it is very instructive to go on to the Google Keyword Tool.
- Sign in with your Google account and put your proposed headline into the search bar
- Add some more basic keyword phrases below it
Click search and you will see a list of results that can be filtered by Competition, Global Monthly Searches and Local Searches. This is to help you pick a specific keyword phrase for your article as well as refine your headline to include your phrase.
NOTE: Getting more specific is one way to find terms that are LOW competition, as well as giving your search strategy, and article writing more teeth. Resist the urge to pick the more general phrases that a lot more people are looking for.
Search engine optimization in WordPress is a combination of effective headlines, the writing style suiting your demographic, your on-page structure being correct, as well as the usefulness and share-ability of the content.
So now that we know a little more about what terms people are entering into Google we’re ready for;
The headline is the most important part of the entire article. People scan article titles in order to decide whether it is something they are interested in our that may solve a problem. Yes, you want to evoke curiosity, but it’s even more important to deliver on the promise made in the title even if it narrows down your audience.
An ideal headline, is one that evokes desire, describes the benefit clearly and, after reading the post, your readers must feel satisfied that the problem was solved or the situation clarified for them.
Many copywriters say that they spend 50% of their time coming up with the headline.
Search Engine Optimization in WordPress
1. The Article Title
The article header must be clear, descriptive and contain your main keywords. If possible the title could also evoke curiosity or make an offer to your target audience. Whole articles are dedicated to the headline but ideally you want a skillful blend of practical and evocative.
2. The main content
The main content must be informative, concise and with a natural use of your main keyword phrases. Use plenty of line breaks, lists and tasteful use of formatting such as bold and italics to emphasize important points.
Pay close attention to commas, as this can help your words flow in a natural way. Imagine you are holding the hand of your reader and leading them through a dark room with your words.
If you upload images or media and want them to be visible on Google image search you will need to add the alt tags when you upload them to WordPress. If possible use your main keyword phrase in the alt tags of your images as well.
- The Title provides additional information and it should be: relevant, short, catchy and concise. In some browsers it also appears when hovered over with the mouse.
- The Alternate Text provides alternative information on browsers that have their images disabled, or user agents that are unable to “see” the images. It should describe what the image is about and get visitors interested to see it. Without an alt text an image will be displayed as an empty icon. Google uses this tag to decide what the image is about.
HOT TIP: Name your image and media files before you upload them to WordPress.
By default, WordPress takes the file name of your images and media and uses it to create the Title tag. You can then simply copy and paste this into the Alt tag field, place it into your page, and you’re done.
3. The URL
In WordPress you can edit the url or the slug of your article page. Initially the url will be created for you in this format: http://www.yourwebsite.com/post-slug-here/
This is just above the Post body copy and HTML editor. You can edit the url and remove all the at,so,the, words as well as making sure that your keyword phrases are the main elements. Click the Edit button to make changes to what is called the slug (URL).
4. The Title Meta Tag
The title meta-tag is the most important element of your search engine ranking and it must be efficient and contain only your main keyword phrases. You are allowed up to 67 characters for this meta-tag.
This is the title that shows up on the very top of your browser and is different to the article title.
The title tag should contain the main keywords with no filler. They should be in order of importance as most search engines givew more weight to earlier words.
Generally you would remove all instances of but,and,the,at unless it is part of the actual search phrase. e.g. How to add Google search to your website.
Don’t think that adding copies of a word are going to make more of an impression. Also don’t add words that are NOT related to the article or use more keywords than is relevant.
5. The Description Meta Tag.
This is also very important and shows up underneath the clickable blue title in the Google search results. If the searched for keywords are not in the description, Google grabs a section of your body copy that contains them. You are allowed up to 160 characters for this tag.
This should read like a proper sentence that outlines why this article is worth someones time and energy to read, listen or watch. It should contain your main keywords and early in the description if possible.
6. Internal Linking
This often neglected strategy works on 2 levels. It gives visitors the chance to keep reading other pages on your site (reducing the bounce or exit rate), and it tells search engines what other keywords your site is ranking for. Wherever possible link to other articles or pages on your site using relevant keywords.
Example: Need help installing a new plugin from your dashboard? Read “How to install WordPress plugins to your website“.
By far the most user friendly way to make sure all these on-page elements are working is to use the fantastic SEO plugin by Yoast. You can download it here.
You start by entering your main keyword phrase, save your draft and the plugin will light up green when each element is right.
There is leeway for copywriting but this makes sure all the parts are in place BEFORE you publish. We highly recommend using this plugin or switching over to it if you are using something else. Learn how to install new plugins here.
There are 2 tabs in the plugins window that are a powerful assistant to getting your page structure SEO friendly.
General, and Page Analysis.
Screenshots for this article (in progress)
Ideally you want to keep saving your draft and updating your article until we get all green lights in both the General and the Page Analysis tabs.
The Page Analysis Tab makes some fantastic recommendations to improve your articles on-page structure and readability.
Some additional tips and ideas:
- Use formatting such as bold and heading tags (Heading H2) to emphasize your main keywords.
- Add the alt keywords for an image or link that relates directly to the media. Separate the words with dashes. In WordPress you can enter this when you upload the image.
Some important plugins for SEO in WordPress:
- WordPress SEO by Yoast – the definitive SEO plugin for WordPress.
One of the best ways to create higher search engine rankings is to create inbound hyperlinks to your site from other well read and high ranking websites. These are called back links and are highly prized in SEO but..that’s a whole new article.
If you have any questions about search engine optimization in WordPress or if there’s something you are not clear about please let us know in the comments below.
Until then.. Happy Surfing!