If content is King, then we can say that SEO is Queen (most of the times, a drama Queen). Everyone knows that creating fresh and engaging content as well as optimising your posts can help you build a loyal following and also attract links.
This is a short ‘Wordpress SEO for articles’ guide that you can use for article optimisation. So, make sure to bookmark it so you can easily access it whenever you need to write a search-engine-friendly post for your blog. It will explain how to optimise articles in order to achieve a better search engine visibility and get more organic traffic to your site. How do I know this? Because WordPress SEO works for us.
SEO for WordPress blogs
To make it easier for you to understand how WordPress SEO works, I’ve chosen a random post from our 123-reg blog so I can describe the exact steps to simple article optimisation.
Give your post a title
The title is one of the most important factors for ranking in the search results. Not only is this the title of the tab or browser window, it’s also the first line of text that people see in the search results, followed by the URL and the snippet, usually the meta description.
The first step to optimising a blog post is to set a correct title. Usually the title of your post is used to create the URL so here are three main things you need to consider:
- Use your main keyword in the title
- Try to place the main keyword at the beginning of the title.
- Keep it as short and as catchy as possible.
While including your keyword in the title is important, your goal should be to entice people to click and read more so focus on creating an interesting title.
Double check the URL
Your URL is automatically created from your title. If you’re using special characters in your title (like apostrophes, quotes or pound signs) check out the URL to ensure these characters don’t show up in it. If they do then use the EDIT button and remove anything extra aside from words, numbers and hyphens used for separating words. A shorter title means a shorter URL which can only help because long URLs are never fully displayed in search engines’ result pages.
You could also use a SEO plugin like Yoast to completely remove stopwords like “a”, “and”, “the” etc so you won’t get those long URLs when you create a sentence style post title.
So, here are three main things to consider when creating the URL:
- Add your main keyword for this post in the URL
- Remove any special characters like punctuation marks, hashtags, currency signs etc
- Remove stopwords like “a”, “and”, “the” etc to shorten long URLs
Optimise articles for specific keywords
When it comes to WordPress SEO for articles, you want to make sure your post turns up in search engines’ result pages for certain terms. Thus, I recommend you employ your main keyword a minimum of three times throughout the copy as it will help that word(s) to be perceived as a keyword.
- Don’t use it in consecutive sentences;
- Don’t use it too often as it will fall into keyword stuffing. While correct SEO for articles is important, making your posts informative, useful and attractive should be your main focus. You want your readers to read and enjoy the articles you write so that they become loyal readers.
- Post-Hummingbird, SEO for articles also means using synonyms and variations of your keyword across the post and not the same keyword over and over again.
You also need to pay attention to the website addresses that you include into your post as these also contribute to the correct optimisation of the posts on your site. When adding an URL into your post, check it to ensure it’s functional, is not redirected and doesn’t open a 404 page and…
- ALWAYS start URLs with the protocol – http:// or https://
- Use descriptive anchor texts, even if these are long.
- Try to avoid “click here” anchors in favour of “Visit our Website Builder page”, for example, or anything else you can think of.
- Always link to trustworthy, authority sources that are relevant to your topic
The descriptions you give to the images included in your post are also an important part to WordPress SEO. When adding images to your post, make sure you add an ALT tag. This is what search engines “read” so they can understand what the image is about.
Just go to HTML editing and in the <img> tag you will see alt=””. Wordpress adds it automatically without assigning it a value. Add a short description between the quotation marks that best describes the image you used to help with SEO for articles.
SEO for articles 101
When it comes to SEO for WordPress blogs, there are a few things you must keep in mind when adding the meta title and meta description for your post:
1. Meta TITLE
- The length of the title tag should be between 42 and 60 characters, including spaces. This is just an estimate because it’s no longer about the number of characters but about the number of pixels the characters occupy. To make sure your title isn’t cut off, try not to go over 60 characters.
- WordPress can automatically add your brand name at the end of every title if you want it to. If you choose this feature, then keep in mind that the name will add up to the total number of characters in the title.
- Use your main keyword at the beginning.
2. Meta DESCRIPTION
- Maximum length should be 150 characters, including spaces. As with the title, descriptions are calculated by pixel width, rather than characters, but if yours is under 150 characters you should be ok.
- It’s better to write unique meta descriptions because how can users differentiate two pages in search results pages if they have the same meta data?
3. Meta Keywords
Find out which search engines send you most traffic to decide if meta keywords are really necessary. If most visitors come from Google, then you can leave the Meta Keywords box blank as Google ignores this tag. Other search engines like Yahoo and Bing still give the tag some value.
Other things to consider
XML Sitemaps tell search engines that your site has been updated. Yoast’s WordPress for SEO plugin includes an XML Sitemap module that you can easily enable, as seen above. When you publish a new post or page, the XML sitemap is automatically submitted to Google & Bing allowing them to quickly find your new content.
Enabling the rel=”author” on that page allows Google to match your G+ profile to your post which can help you stand out in search results. Learn more about using authorship on your site.
In february 2009, the major search engines introduced the rel=”canonical” element, a utility to help fight duplicate content. So, make sure you add the post’s URL as the canonical URL to ensure there are no duplicate content issues.
Want to get rid of an old article? Instead of deleting it, simply use the 301 redirect field by adding the URL of a newer article that covers the same or a similar topic as the old one.
If you’re using Yoast’s WordPress for SEO plugin, you have the option to add a unique description, different from the meta description, that will show up on Facebook when you share your post’s URL.
Make it catchy enough to entice people to click on your post and read the entire post.
As you can see, SEO for WordPress blogs can be a child’s play if you can spare five minutes for every post you publish. And you definitely should because WordPress SEO can help you get more traffic to your site and also increase your site’s rankings.
SEO for WordPress Blogs cheat sheet
To make it easier for you and ensure you always have this at hand, below is a SEO for WordPress cheat sheet (click on it for the larger size) that you can also download here as PDF.
Are you using WordPress SEO to optimise your blog posts? In your experience, has SEO for articles helped you get more traffic to your blog/ site?