Get a good SEO plugin
This will supplement your on page SEO efforts.
You will find a lot of warnings over the internet to write content for people and not for search engines. However once you have written reader friendly content, it is okay to run it through an SEO plugin.
You may be surprised to find how minor tweaking could not only make your site suitable for the search engine but also improve your readability score, thus extending a better experience to your readers.
How to write for people and search engines
It doesn’t matter what drafting tool you use. Whether you draft in WordPress, or with a word processor, or with blog authoring software. Create your content first, and write for your #1 fan persona.
Spend time on your headlines, to communicate the value of your post at a glance.
- Outline your first draft
- Edit ruthlessly. Break up the content
- Save your draft to WordPress
- Now use the WordPress SEO plugin to optimize
A good SEO plugin takes care of several key on page SEO optimization parameters. It suggests changes to improve your content upon these critical areas.
In order to implement the recommendations suggested by plugin, you must understand the different fields that the plugin suggests changes in.
Once you learn this process, you can implement it within 10 minutes for each blog post, and increase your blog traffic over time.
On page SEO checklist – The first thing is to make sure you resonate with your #1 fan persona. Then go through this checklist to make sure your target keyword is well represented on the page.
On Page SEO practices for WordPress site
This is the part that shows at the top of your page content in big bold letters. This is also the part that shows up in your blog snippets, RSS feeds, and so on.
The headline is where you attract clicks, and attracting clicks is at least half the battle.
You can afford to ignore the other SEO optimization advice. You cannot afford to ignore your headlines.
This is important as this decides the percentage of people that will read your content. A headline must have a hook. Otherwise you lose out on a lot of readership at this point itself.
This will be the ultimate stripped down version of your headline. Set your URL to be just your keyword if possible, minus any “stop words.”
Stop words are words that a search engine will ignore, that is, a search engine will not take note of eg “the”.
(Ideally you will have set up your site to have “pretty permalinks.” Here is Yoast’s definitive guide on changing your WordPress permalinks).
This will be a stripped down version of your headline, which shows at a glance what your content is about. This shows in the search engine snippet, as well as in browser tab. The best practice is to put your target keyword as close to the beginning as possible. I often hit the “generate SEO title” button and edit it from there.
A keyword is definitely important. But its placement is crucial too.
This, along with your URL slug and SEO title, makes up your search engine snippet, which the WordPress SEO plugin shows you within the post editor. This is the ultimate example of writing for people! Google doesn’t give you page rank based on your meta description, but it does send you more traffic because a good meta description invites more clicks. Be sure your keyword is in there, because keywords are bold in the search results.
Essentially, a meta description is your sales pitch. Including a keyword is a good way to prompt more clicks. SEO wise, this field does not add any value. However, if you get more traffic, your SEO score improves automatically.
These are the H2 and H3 tags that break up your post into subsections. Make sure they flow with your outline and also contain your primary keyword whenever it makes sense and still flows naturally.
Review your content for vague references to your main keyword/topic—“this, it, that, they, etc.”—and replace it with your keyword. As long as it sounds natural, this adding relevant keywords will improve both your SEO and the quality of your writing. The WordPress SEO plugin will check your “keyword density” so you don’t have to worry about counting words.This is where I usually stop optimizing and call it good enough.
Image “alt” tags:
If you use images, you may want to insert your keyword into the alt tag. Search engines can’t see images, but they can see alt tags, so it can help to take advantage of that. When you upload a new image into a WordPress blog post, the alt tag appears as “Alternate Text”
Add post to a single category that encompasses the keyword topic. Assigning a single category to a post eliminates any confusion that a search engine could feel.
Add appropriate tags, if you use tags at all. When in doubt, go without. You can always add tags later.
(Tags don’t help your on page SEO, but they can help with “related content” plugins.)
WordPress categories and tags even though does not directly help SEO but it certainly help in making the site user-friendly and easy to navigate.
The WordPress SEO plugin will give your post an SEO score and check your work for you.
If you are able to score green for your post, you can assume that search engines will be able to understand what your post is about. Anything above 60% is perfectly fine.
At some point optimizing on the recommendations of a plugin will start to sound unnatural.
You don’t need images. If images are not already a part of your content strategy, then just don’t use them. It takes special skills to use an image-based content strategy effectively.
Revisit your headline. You may have fine-tuned your content in this process. See if you can fine-tune your headline accordingly. You must write the headline first. And then start working on the article. Doing otherwise is bound to generate real mediocre content.
The most important factor when blogging for SEO is to attract clicks with your headline. The headline accounts for about 50% of your blog post’s effectiveness.
Headline writing is no joke. Big bloggers spend up to 50% of their blogging time tweaking their headlines.
Headline writing is a highly paid skill that can take a lifetime to master, but for the beginner, here is some simple advice: Put your primary keyword at the beginning. You want to be sure the user knows exactly what your post is about before clicking on the headline to read more.
Over-optimizing SEO is a waste of time because it distracts from higher impact activities like producing more value rich content and promoting the content you already have.
Keep in mind, an optimized piece of crap is still a piece of crap. If it turns out your blog post is a stinker, don’t sweat it. Just cut it loose, and be glad you didn’t spend a lot of time optimizing it.