By Ryan Edmunds
If you’re obsessive about SEO you likely already have a domain name that contains one relevant keyword, an entire keyword phrase or even a targeted search term. This is a great practice if you have a website that is highly targeted to one topic or set of keywords, but there is a lot more you can do that will help to boost your search engine ranking position (SERP) and possibly outrank the sites that DO have your keyword in their domain name.
The keyword appearing in the URL is important, but more important than that is the keyword appearing in the title tag. Somewhere in between or just underneath is something called the H1 (which is not surprisingly followed in importance by H2). Naturally your keywords should also appear in the content here and there (not everywhere). If you write about your keywords on a daily basis you are probably already on top of your SEO situation, but if your blog is more relaxed topically and you like to drift and touch on anything you like, then you may benefit from doing a few SEO best practices for WordPress.
1) Title Tags
The title tags are the most important thing. It may not be most important to the Search Engines, but it certainly is to the reader. Even if something is the #1 result in Google, a reader wont likely click on a title that has nothing to do with what they are searching for. That is why it is good to serve your post headline in the title tag instead of just the blog name.
You can do this by editing your header.php to include the appropriate WordPress template tags within the HTML Title tag. This may also mean using an IF statement to determine what type of page is displaying and what tags to use.
2) The H1 Tag
There is a high degree of confusion circulating the web on the proper use of h1 tags with WordPress. The basic purpose of h1 is to let the search engine know what a page is about. The last thing you want is more than one h1 on a page. This confuses the heck out of search bots and, as a result, drops your SEO score.
The typical belief is that serving your blog title in the H1 tag is proper. This makes sense because you have your keywords in your blog title, but what about the individual posts? Aren’t the post titles more relevant than the name of your blog?
If you have a post on your blog about “99 Ways to skin a cat” isn’t that particular page about skinning cats rather than your blog’s title, which may be “catskinners.org”? The solution here is that you want to have your post titles on the single post page inside the H1 tags. Since there shouldn’t be more than one H1 per page, this means you need your title or logo inside a div.
If you have more than one post on your homepage (which most people do) then you should place your post titles’ inside of H2 tags and your logo in an H1. This tells the SE’s that your homepage is about whatever your title is, and the post headlines are the next most important thing. Once a user clicks through to a single post the most important thing becomes the title of that post.
A huge part of blogging is sharing the link love and creating conversations between one blog to the next. It is typical in the blogosphere to see someone quote a post from another blog, add their own 2 cents and then link the blog where the topic started. This is a fine thing to do and it will even help you gain a few links yourself as your own sharing attitude encourages others to share. You just have to be careful not to have too many links out and balance it with your links from your blog pointing to your own blog.
People often forget that a link to your blog from your blog still counts as a link to your blog (how was THAT for a sentence?). Since one of the best things you can have linking to your blog is some good relevant anchor text that contains your keywords, why not go ahead and link any of those words within your posts back to your homepage?
Here are some more things you can do to make the best use of your internal links:
- Linking from your posts to older posts (when relevant)
- Linking from your posts to your homepage (whenever possible)
- Keep your navigation consistent across the whole site
- Link every page to your homepage at least once (more is ok too)
- Use a sitemap template that includes all your single posts and pages as well as the date and category archives
4) Anchor Text and Keywords
You probably already know at this point that one of your main goals in offsite SEO is to get links with your keywords in the anchor text (the text that makes up the active link). This is one of the single most important factors to both your SE for your determined keywords and your PR. The more links you have, the better your PR. The more links you have containing your keywords, the better your SERPs for those keywords are. It is healthy to mix them up and use different combinations of your keywords to help monopolize your grip on a given topic.
We’re almost finished. There is one more important spot we need to place our keywords. If I were a keyword where would I be? In this blog post! You can have all the SEO you want on your WordPress template but it isn’t going to matter much if you don’t talk about your keywords in your blog posts. You obviously don’t want to come off as a spammer so be wary not to simply randomly throw in long and short-tail keywords in every single sentence. However, there is nothing wrong with using your full keyword search term whenever the opportunity arises. For instance, if you have the option to use a pronoun or the actual keywords you should choose the keyword.
You can optimize your WordPress for search engine rankings quite simply by sticking to some of the concepts we’ve covered here. It can be done over time or all in one shot. However, it would be handy to come back to this little guide each time you are setting up a new installation of WordPress. Remember that not all WordPress themes are search engine optimized so you may have to get your hands dirty and shine up the code of each template you use on your blog. A good start is making sure the markup is semantic and Google recommended.