If you’re a WordPress blogger and not an SEO expert (many of us aren’t), but you want to make sure you’re optimizing your blog posts to reach the right audience while ranking highly in search engines, there’s a great WordPress SEO plugin you can use to improve and enhance your WordPress blog posts.
The WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast is a great free tool that helps you write better content with its content analysis function, while simultaneously optimizing your posts by providing suggestions for your title and description that help your content get more views within search engines.
To help you better understand this SEO plugin, here is each SEO Yoast item explained, along with some additional SEO tips and tricks you can use within your WordPress blog.
When using this plugin, you’ll want to make sure to include the:
Focus Keyword, which, when optimized, should be found in the:
- Focus Keyword, which, when optimized, should be found in the:
- Article Heading
- Page Title
- Page URL
- Meta Description
- The focus keyword should ideally be found at the beginning of the title.
- SEO Title
- For the SEO title, you'll want to use the original title of the post.
- If the SEO title is too long, there will be a warning from the plugin. This occurs because the title displayed in Google has a limited fixed width. However, if your focus keyword is at the beginning of the title as it should be, having your SEO title a bit longer than the fixed width won't negatively impact SEO very much.
- Meta description
- The meta description should be limited to 156 characters and provide a quick snippet preview of the blog post or article.
- In their SEO analysis, Yoast suggests writing the meta description "by hand" saying "the only well written description is a hand written one, and if you’re thinking of auto generating the meta description, you might as well not do anything and let the search engine control the snippet… If you don’t use the meta description, the search engine will find the keyword searched for in your document, and automatically pick a string around that, which gives you a bolded word or two in the results page."
- An example of a meta description would be: Title: “7 Reasons Why Inbound Marketing Always Beats Outbound Marketing” Meta description: “Here are seven reasons that show why inbound strategies outperform traditional marketing strategies and are the wave of the future" (this meta description is 25 characters short of 156, which is good).
- Page Analysis
- The meta description should try and contain the target keyword/phrase.
- The keyword density: (how many times the keyword or phrase appears in the post). According to some SEO experts, including Moz, many believe keyword density is an SEO myth rather than an SEO component of the utmost importance.
- The copy score of Flesch Reading Ease:(this considers whether this post is difficult or easy to read. To improve this score, it is suggested that bloggers use shorter sentences and less difficult words to improve readability. Grammar and spelling do have an impact on your page rank. Depending on your audience and who you hope to attract as a client, this can be viewed rather subjectively.
- The “slug,” which, in journalism, is a short name given to an article that indicates the content of the story. Try to keep these relatively short.
- The images associated with any given post should contain alt tags that include your keyword/phrase.
- There should be outbound links. The more outbound links, the better. This used to be a more important factor regarding SEO (specifically, if other blogs had outbound links going to your content), but it’s not as important following the Google algorithm updates.
- When optimized, the page title should contain around 70 or less characters. If longer, some words will not be visible to readers.
- When optimized, include a subheading tag (like an H2) to appear in the copy.
- When optimized, the keyword/phrase should appear in the URL and the first paragraph of the copy.
- In the specified meta description, consider asking yourself questions such as: “How does this compare to the competition? How can I make this content more appealing?"
- All posts should include more than 300 words as a recommended minimum.
- If possible, try and use as many different focus keywords in your blog posts. It’s good to have varying focus keywords in your blog posts.
- When optimized, the page title should contain the keyword/phrase at the beginning, which is considered to improve rankings.
Here are the additional elements not tailored for the plugin but generally included for all WordPress posts.
- Include categories of for your post. Consider them a table of contents for your blog. For our example post titled “Search Engine Reputation Management Services (SERM) – A New Tool in Healthcare Marketing” consider including categories such healthcare marketing, reputation management, or SEO, depending on what you deem as the most important category related to the post. A post should typically be in no more than one or two categories.
- As explained by Tom Ewer of Manage WP Blog, "If categories are the table of contents for your blog, tags represent the index." For both categories and tags, take the approach of “Less is more.” "You must strike a good balance between offering as few options as possible, whilst giving the reader a choice that they will be satisfied with," Ewer explains. "For example, if I’m looking for a chicken recipe, I might search Google for 'chicken recipe.' In that example, 'recipes' could be the category, and 'chicken' could be a tag. Tagging should be limited only to the most relevant topics covered in the post. If you find no obvious way in which you can tag a specific post, don’t tag it. Not every post needs tagging."
Of course, there are other ways to optimize your WordPress blog posts, and the best way to optimize your posts is simply with your content. Remember – content is king!
Written by Luke Severn
Luke is a marketing coordinator at Kaufer DMC. He loves the Arctic Monkeys, David Fincher movies, and the Portland Trail Blazers.