Easy steps to search engine optimization for website blog content

Any small business or blogger with a web presence understands the benefit of ranking high in search engine results: more website traffic, which leads to more visibility, leads, and ultimately, revenue. The more eyeballs a site attracts, the more opportunities it has to convert them to customers.

The process of improving a website’s performance in organic search engine results is called search engine optimization, or SEO. It’s a hot buzzword that might give small business owners goosebumps if they don’t understand how to implement these best practices.

SEO Tips for WordPress Websites

WordPress users have an automatic advantage, because there are plugins available for this powerful, user-friendly content management system that make SEO a snap. Here’s a number of easy-to-follow tips to integrate SEO into routine blogging activities on the WordPress platform:

Write for Customers

The most important rule to remember is to write for people first, not for search engines. If content isn’t valuable to them, and without an established network of reader relationships, the site will have no traffic base, and search engines will devalue the page or post, too.

Pick a Keyword, and Stick to It

Of course, writing about a topic in which the target audience is interested is the first step toward attracting readers. Determining the keywords to incorporate requires thinking like those readers. It’s important to use the same phrases the target audience types into search engines and to match the wording as closely as possible. Being specific also helps ensure relevancy and reduces the number of websites with which a piece of content must compete among the reader’s search results.

Google offers free tools that provide data about which phrases are searched most frequently. Google Trends and Google AdWords Keyword Planner help with getting ideas and choosing the most popular keyword variants. In Google Trends, search the popularity of a keyword phrase worded a few different ways to see which is searched most often. Keyword Planner also forecasts keywords’ future search frequency.Finally, for those small businesses serving a specific geographic market, make sure to append keywords with local geographic information such as city and state for increased relevancy.

Optimizing Titles for Search & Readability

The first opportunity to improve organic search engine rank of a WordPress blog post and grow readership is in the post’s title field. A blog post title must communicate what valuable information the post contains. The title will appear in prospective readers’ social media feeds, RSS feeds, search results pages and email marketing messages. To attract clicks, it must be specific and relevant. Clear headlines are far more effective than purely creative ones.

The title also gets a lot of attention from search engine spiders because it becomes the basis for elements they inspect, such as the page’s title element, H1 tag, and  URL, also known as the  web link or address (more on this later). To ensure that the title is properly optimized for both readers and search engines, front load the title with the focus keyword phrase of the post. This ensures it will not be cut off when spiders crawl the page content.

Headings that Make a Difference

Also include keywords in subheads within the body of a page or post, when they make sense and flow. They’ll encourage readers’ eyes to keep moving down the page, and they also present additional opportunities to attract search engines’ attention, particularly for additional use of your focus keyword, and other supporting keyword variants.

When creating subheads, refrain from just creating a bold line of copy. This does not help SEO. Rather, make sure that the text is coded as an H2 or H3 tag. This can be done by selecting the “Paragraph” dropdown in WordPress’ body field.

Keyword Considerations in Copy

Strive for healthy keyword density in the body of the page. Don’t use pronouns or vague references, but instead state specific keywords and use subsequent references as opportunities to include variations of a term’s phrasing. An example of this could be “central air conditioning,” “air conditioner” and “A/C unit”. Be careful not to overdo it, though — maintain a conversational tone so it’s not awkward to read. A good rule of thumb is 10 keywords per 800 words.

Write a minimum of 300 to 500 words per post or page in order to attract search engines’ attention. For the best results, word count should be closer to 2,000 words for a healthy piece of content.

Actionable Page Titles & Meta Descriptions

As mentioned above, the blog post’s title field is used to generate the title tag of the page. This is a critical area of SEO that can often be overlooked when blogging. Make sure that the title tag for a post is a condensed version of the headline that should start with the target keyword. Putting the most important keyword first is a highly effective strategy at grabbing the attention of search engines and potential customers.

Ensure the meta description for the page also includes the priority keywords, plus a strong call to action. This summary appears beneath the headline in search results, and the searched keyword will be bold if it’s included in the description. While using keywords here does not impact overall SEO, this will invite more readers to click the link, because the content appears highly relevant.

WordPress SEO Plugin Tools and Other Tactics

Whether using WordPress or another blogging platform or website content management system, it can be easy to skip over fields that seem superfluous. Yet for many of these settings, making the proper selections or populating them correctly will strengthen a blog post’s SEO.

Image Optimization

A good example is the “alternate text” field that appears when uploading a photo to insert into a post. The descriptive words typed here will tell search engine spiders what is in the picture. If the image has keyword relevancy, too, it boosts the overall post’s ranking. A secondary element to image SEO optimization is the image’s filename. To be included on Google Image searches, and boost overall SEO value, make sure the filename of the image contains keywords related to the image’s content.

Post Optimization

Selecting a relevant category for each blog post also improves SEO, because the category often can become a keyword that appears in breadcrumbs on the page and sometimes in the post’s permalink, depending on an individual WordPress website’s settings. Search engine spiders will notice it there.

Applying applicable tags to a blog post can help feed a related content plugin, if one is in place, which serves the reader links to posts on a similar topic. More clicks and higher readership increase engagement and conversion rates.

SEO Plugins

An SEO plugin also can make it easier to edit the post’s URL, or permalink, to ensure it contains the right keywords. A plugin also helps analyze and adjust the more technical components of a blog, such as how headings are coded, what’s contained in the page template’s coding, and cache settings so pages load faster.

While it makes sense to strive for the highest level of optimization an SEO plugin will award, don’t overdo it. Readability and comprehension are the priority, and content can begin to sound forced with too much emphasis on how search engines read a page, instead of people. Additionally, search engines have developed systems to identify when pages are over optimized, and negative rankings can occur as a result.

For more blogging best practices, read our recent blog post here.