You probably know that having a blog on your website is a great way to increase your rank. Blogs make sure your content is updated regularly and can generate a lot of links back to your site, but is your blog itself optimized for search engines? This post will go through some of the basic blog optimization tips for WordPress that everyone should be doing.
Before I get into the different ways to optimize your blog, I first want to suggest you download the All in One SEO Pack plug-in if you don’t have it installed already. It makes optimizing your blog a much simpler process. You can download the plug-in here and view download instructions here.
Once you have installed and activated the plug-in go to Settings >> All in One SEO. Here is where you can begin changing the SEO settings for blog-wide optimization.
Title tags are one of the most important elements of search engine optimization and effect both user experience and search engine optimization. The title tag of each page should be a clear and concise description of the pages content. In the All in One SEO Pack you can easily create title tags for your home page, posts, and other content pages on your site.
Home Title: When creating a title for your home page, best practice is to include your brand name and a keyword you want to rank for.
For www.seoboy.com we want to rank for the term “search engine optimization.” We also want people to know and remember our blog so we include The Adventures of SEO Boy at the top of every page.
Post and Page Titles: AIO SEO Pack also lets you format the titles for each content page. If you scroll down a little further you will see a list of other page titles you can edit. The two most important from this list are the Post Title and Page Title:
By default, AIO includes the home title on all other titles, using the vertical bar to separate the two. There is wide debate on whether to include your home title but the choice is up to you. At Hanapin, we include The Adventures of SEO Boy for branding purposes. Keep in mind though that most search engines show about 70 characters of the meta title. If you have a long post or page title you are likely to exceed your title length. Below is an example of one of SEOBoy’s posts with a long title:
If you want to remove the home title from your post and page titles all you have to do is delete “| %blog_title%” from the boxes. You can leave all other title options as is, since the category and archive pages tend to have short titles.
The meta description tag is a short description of your pages content that appears underneath your link on search engine result pages. Enter your meta description into the Home Description box:
Think of your meta description as functioning like an advertisement for your blog. Use those 160 characters to entice your audience to click your link. You should also include keywords in your description, but don’t go overboard. Make sure the description still sounds natural.
Permalinks are the URL’s assigned to each post. By default, post URLs in WordPress look like this: http://www.seoboy.com/?p=123. This is not very pretty nor descriptive. To change the permalink settings go to Settings >> Permalinks.
Select Custom Structure and enter /%postname%/ into the box. Click Save Changes at the bottom of the page and your permalinks will now display the post title after your main URL.
Individual Post Optimization
Now that you’ve optimized SEO for your blog as a whole, it’s time to focus on optimizing each post. When you create a new post, or if you edit an old one, the AIO SEO Pack will appear at the bottom of the page:
The first thing you’ll want to do is give your post a title including the main keyword you are targeting in your post. It is important to note that the title of your blog post is NOT the same as the title you assign in the SEO Pack. The post title in the SEO Pack is what displays on the search engines. To better understand the difference, take a look at the examples below.
This is the blog post the way it appears on the main site www.seoboy.com:
To shorten the title for search engine display, this is what we entered into the SEO Pack…
… and this is how it appears on search engines:
You should use this method for blog posts with long titles. You may want to be more descriptive in titling your actual post so the reader knows what it covers, but shorten it for search engines to ensure the whole title tag is displayed.
Follow the same guidelines for writing this description as you did for the home page description. Write something that will grab reader’s attention. If you don’t enter in a post description, the first 160 characters of your blog post will be displayed on the SERP. Since the first paragraph of a post isn’t always the most comprehensive, it is best to write a post description telling users what they can get from reading your blog post and be sure to include a few keywords you’re targeting.
The final method we will cover to optimize blog posts is often one of the most overlooked: image alt tags. Every blog post should include images as it adds excitement to your posts and can often convey ideas better than you can write about them. WordPress generates alt attributes automatically based on the file name. Because of this, I recommend including a keyword in your file name. I used to title my images based on the order I inserted them into my posts (pic 1, pic 2, …etc). Though it may help you stay organized, this method doesn’t provide any information as to what the image is actually about.
You can add a title and alt text to your image once it is uploaded into WordPress. To access your images go to Media >> Library and click on the image you want to edit. You image page will open up along with this box:
Here you can enter in a title and alt text for your image, along with a caption and description of your image. The title is what will show when a reader mouses over your image and the alt text is what describes the image to the search engine. Incorporating keywords into your images will help them, and your blog, rank on the SERPs.
These are some basic blog optimization tips for WordPress. Do you have any other ways you optimize your blog or use any SEO plug-ins you can’t live without? Post and share them with us below!
Bethany is an Account Executive at Hanapin Marketing, a search engine marketing firm focused on generating results through PPC and SEO.