Here are 10 tips for making sure that your WordPress blog posts rank high in search engine results when users search for topics that you cover.
Top SEO Tips For WordPress Blog
1. Choose the Right Theme
When you scour the Web for a theme to use in your WordPress blog, you should add search engine optimization (SEO) to your list of criteria for choosing the right theme, along with the design and price. A lot of WordPress theme developers advertise their themes as being SEO friendly. Besides the standard SEO practices such as using the right headers, one factor that makes a theme more search engine friendly than others is being lightweight. Lightweight is defined in two ways: fewer images and graphics, and a small code base.
You should also make sure that the theme you use has valid W3C-compliant code. Check whether your website’s theme validates correctly.
2. Adjust the Link Structure
Your link structure plays quite an important role in making your WordPress blog easier for search engines to index. Link structure is defined by Permalinks, which are the URLs used for your blog posts. WordPress allows you a reasonable amount of flexibility in this space. Post URLs in a default WordPress installation would look something like http://www.bloggerismpro.com/?p=24. If you go to Settings -> Permalinks, you can view and modify the Permalinks settings for your blog.
The preferred settings seem to be using either /post-name/ or /category/post-name/. For the first option, you need to change the custom setting to /%postname%/, and for the second one, change it to /%category%/%postname%/.
3. Use Sitemaps
Sitemaps are a great way to improve the speed with which Google and other search engines discover your content. The sitemap is a way to tell the search engine spider where to look for information. This is effective for just about all search engines. You can use the Google Sitemap Generator plugin to generate the sitemaps for you. After you install the plugin go to Options -> Google sitemap and then click on the “Build sitemap manually” link. This will create a sitemap of your blog, and as you add new posts this XML file will get updated automatically with new posts URLs. When you are done with this part you need to submit the sitemap to search engines such as Google and Yahoo using their webmaster tools.
4. Use Alt Text for Images
To get some SEO out of the images you use, you should make sure that you have the alt text entered for all your images. This is the text that appears in case the image is not found. Also, name your image files as aptly as you can. There is a plugin called SEO Friendly Images that can automatically add the title of the post and/or the image name to the image’s alt and title tags.
5. Implement Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs are another great SEO trick. They allow you to display your content with hierarchical structure. For example a blog post about a trip to Istanbul could be presented with the following breadcrumb: Travel -> Europe -> Istanbul. This allows the user to navigate through your website easily, while allowing search engines to easily and quickly pick up the structure of your website. You can use the Breadcrumb plugin to help you implement this feature.
6. Remove URL Stop Words
Stop words are words such as and and in that are often part of the title of your blog posts but don’t necessarily add any weight to it from an SEO perspective. These words creep into the URL that WordPress builds for your posts and they dilute the SEO value of your URL. So, a post with the title “My Adventures in Istanbul” might look something like www.bloggerismpro.com/my-adventures-in-karachi when a better URL would be www.bloggerismpro.com/adventures-karachi. Using the SEO Slugs WordPress plugin you can remove stop words automatically and produce more effective URLs.
7. WWW vs. non-WWW: Choose One
Another good thing to set up is the Root domain: Add WWW / Strip WWW one. Make a choice, and set it in the WordPress configuration panel. Do not enable both; some search engines still can’t handle that. Enable the redirect index.php/index.html one too, it won’t hurt you, and might even do your WordPress SEO some good.
8. Select Effective Keywords
Keywords and phrases play a very important role in any search engine optimization effort, but picking effective keywords and phrases is perhaps more of an art than a science. Some people feel that the presence of keywords should be about 7%, roughly meaning that you need to embed a keyword or key phrase once for about every 100 words in your content. Although it is hard to find a guaranteed formula to pick keywords, I use a combination of free online tools that I have found effective over time. They are the Wordtracker Keyword tool, Google’s free Keyword Tool for AdWords, and Google’s suggest feature. After picking your keywords, observe what combinations work for you and evolve based on their performance.
- Embedding Keywords
You should place the keywords you pick all over your website. They should be embedded in the site and page titles, in the headers, in the image alt text, and of course, in the content. Search engines take all the text on your website and run it through a process where they give a weight to certain words and phrases. The more such words they find in your content, the better your chances of ranking higher in search results for those words.
- Keywords in Title and Headers
Keywords and phrases can and must be embedded in the title of pages and in the various headings that are used in your content. It is critical that you use header tags such as h3, h2, and h1 correctly. The normal SEO principles of headings apply to WordPress. So, your h1 and title text should match; the h1 tag should be used only once per page; and the h1 to h6 hierarchy should be respected and used in proper order. If you have picked a theme that has been optimized for SEO, it likely covers these basic principles.
You need to use not only as many keywords in your headings as you can, but you need to use them in a smart way as well. Just like you use the header tags with their hierarchy, you need to figure out which keywords are more important and use those words higher up the heading hierarchy. This makes the use of keywords quite effective, and tells the search engine what is more and less important on your website.
- Keyword Density Checker
The Keywords Density Checker, as the name suggests, is a plugin that will help you check the density of keywords in your text. It generates a report of this information. The great thing about this plugin is that it works as you write you blog posts. That way you know how you are placing your keywords into your content. After you write your post the plugin will suggest which keywords you can use for your meta tags and page description.
- Meta Tags
Another place where you can place your keywords and phrases is the meta tag of a page. The meta tag is the text that appears as the page description in a Google search result. This description is quite critical to your SEO efforts and you should try to put as many of your chosen keywords into this text. The plugin Headspace can help you come up with an automatically generated description for your pages. This is not as effective as a well written description, but it’s the next best thing.
9. Employ a SEO Plugin
The All in One SEO Pack is perhaps the mother of all SEO plugins. It allows you to take care of a whole bunch of SEO-related tasks such as keywords, descriptions, menu text, etc. — all under one roof. It can also take care of a lot of things automatically if you like. Another plugin that does similar work is the Platinum SEO Plugin.
Paid plugins can also be quite useful. Scribe SEO analyzes your pages and gives it a score on a scale of 1 to 100, while SMS Booster Pro is a plugin that will log all of the search terms that are used to find your specific posts. You can then use these terms as tags for your posts.
10. Content Is King
You can use as many SEO plugins as you want, but ultimately the thing that counts most is the content itself. You need to concentrate the most time and effort on making the content so good that people want to visit your website. If you have good quality and quantity of content you can skip a few SEO techniques, as people will want to come to your website and read your posts. A great combination is a WordPress blog with a simple and lightweight design, clean code, and good content.