If you run a blog, or any other type of web site for that matter, then you have certainly heard of SEO. For most blog owners SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, can be pretty complicated. There are black hat tactics that you shouldn’t use, white hat tactics that you should definitely use and then grey hat tactics that maybe you should use but they might get you in trouble. Now add all of the different Panda and Penguin updates from Google and you have your hands full.
Luckily for WordPress users there are a number of different ways to help your site perform better in the search engine results.
As user friendly as WordPress is right out of the box, the way permalinks are configured should be changed to something more search engine friendly since the default ?p=<postid?> doesn’t do much in as far as telling your readers, or the search engines, what the post is about.
For maximum SEO benefit many suggest that the permalink structure be set to either /post-name/ or /category/post-name/. Using the permalink settings, you can select the Post name radio button for the first choice rather easily. To add the category to the permalink opt for Custom Structure and type/%category%/%post-name%/. Doing so will add keywords to your post’s URL. Of course this does assume that you are using your target keywords in your post title.
Add keywords to the right spots
Most search engines have really cracked down on keyword use. At one time it was considered good SEO to load keywords into your post’s title and first 100 words. You were then supposed to use the keyword throughout the remainder of the post. What visitors usually wound up seeing was oddly worded content and posts titles that were extremely long. Take it easy on the keyword stuffing nowadays. Search engines look for that, and penalize sites where they see it. Use keywords but only as they fit into the content.
Good, well written web copy will incorporate the most relevant and popular keyword terms into the post title and the body copy, but don't use the keyword wish list approach, it simply doesn't work. Write for people first. As long as it makes good sense then you may include appropriate keywords, but only if it makes good sense and reads well.
One big change with SEO is how social channels are factored. If something is shared via the major social networks and sites like Twitter, it is a good signal to the search engines that the content is good, useful and popular. So make sure you make it easy to share your content. Incorporate social share features and make sure you are sharing your own content via your social channels.
WordPress SEO Plugin
One of the most widely used SEO plugins is known simply as the WordPress SEO plugin from Joost de Valk. Once installed the plugin starts you off by helping you set up your site with Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools and your Alexa Verification ID so no other plugins are needed to handle these tasks.
Some of the things that this free plugin will help you:
- Connect you with some of the more powerful keyword research tools from Google and SEO Book.
- Configure your blog’s internal links.
- Create optimized titles and meta descriptions to focus on the keywords you have focused on.
- Easily keep categories, tags, individual posts or pages hidden from the search engines by editing your robots.txt file for you.
- Create XML sitemaps so that the search engine spiders can easily find your content.
But the best feature included in WordPress SEO is the ability to import settings from other SEO plugins so if you’ve tried out some of its competitors you won’t feel like you wasted your time. With a few clicks you’ll have all of your hard work transferred directly into WordPress SEO.
Getting the search engines to rank your content can be a tricky task to accomplish, but these hints will get you started on the right path. I encourage you to read more on advanced SEO tactics for WordPress and share here with our readers.
Image credit: SEOPlanter