In one of our recent blog posts, we discussed how to perform quick and effective keyword research to help your blogs stick in the search results. Once you find the keyword(s) you want to target, you need to know where to put them in your post for maximum effect. There’s more to the SEO puzzle than just placing the keyword in the title, and that’s what we’ll cover today.
WordPress makes things quick and easy, even if you’re not familiar with the backend. Here are six steps you can take to better optimize your blog posts for search engines.
Before you get started…
If you already have one of the popular plugins for SEO, you can skip to the first step. Otherwise, you’ll need to download and install one of these, so you can make a few key edits to your blogs.
1) Make sure your main keyword is in the title of the article.
When selecting keywords for a post, best practice is to choose one primary keyword that you want to target, and one or two additional keywords that are related to the primary keyword. The title is arguably the most important piece of your on-page SEO, so make sure your keyword is in there!
There are actually two page titles to look at. One is for the reader and will display on your main blog page and on the post itself. The other is an SEO title, which is more for search engines, but should still be readable as it’s visible in the browser tab. Both titles are pictured below.
Your main title should be something catchy, highly relevant, and spark curiosity in the user to get them to click on it. For the SEO title, it should be short, preferably six words or less, and your keyword should be near the beginning of the title. Search engines view the earlier words as the most important words of the SEO title, thus choosing a longer SEO title will not provide any value over a shorter one.
2) Place the keyword in your blog post URL.
Your main keyword should also be part of the URL. The same rules we follow for the SEO title should be applied to the URL. Keep it to six words or less, and place the keyword at the beginning of the URL since it will be viewed by search engines as more important. Also, make sure to remove stop words that do not add value. Examples of stop words are:
3) Create a proper heading structure.
When making lists or writing content that might have a few different sub headings, you need to structure them appropriately in WordPress. Using bolded font is not the correct way to tell search engines that you have a heading or an important subsection of a blog. Instead, we need to use the built-in WordPress feature for adding headings.
The key thing to remember here is that things of equal weight get an equal heading. For example, if you wrote a blog post about five resume tips, you will have five H2 headings. To edit the heading, just highlight the text, and select the heading you need from the drop down menu.
4) Optimize your headings with relevant keywords and synonyms if possible.
The reason I say “if possible” is because too much keyword optimization can make a blog post sound robotic, and detract from the user experience. However, if you can fit keywords and synonyms into your headings, it will help to reinforce the title and theme of the entire blog post for search engines. Just don’t use the exact same keyword or wording multiple times, since over optimization can actually have a negative impact on your rankings.
5) Include your keywords throughout the body copy.
The amount you should include your keywords will vary depending on the length of the article. In general, if we’re talking about a normal blog in the range of 500 words, your primary keyword should be included between two and three times, while your secondary keyword(s) should be included once or twice. Again, do not go overboard here — more is not always better. If your main keyword is already in the title and the URL, including it in the copy three times is plenty.
6) Write a compelling meta description.
A meta description is the snippet that displays under your link in a search engine. Although having the keyword in the meta description in itself will not contribute to higher rankings, it will still become bolded when someone is searching for that term, which demonstrates relevancy to the end user.
The goal of a meta description is to tell the user, briefly, what the blog post is about while trying to convince them to click on the link. Click through rate is a ranking signal, so it’s important not to brush off the meta description!
Add five-to-eight tags based on your blog. Search engines will take note of the tags, and those tag pages are quite often indexed and ranked in Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
Try to include a few internal and external links throughout your blog. If you wrote a blog in the past that you want to make reference to, link to it! It will increase the relevance of both the old blog post and the new one. Search engines also like to see external links to relevant authority websites. This helps to solidify the theme of your blog post, and makes it appear more informative since you’re linking to important sources. Don’t go overboard with links either. Two or three per post is fine.