Unless you do it for a living, SEO is probably one of your less favorite activities. Optimizing your WordPress blog for search engines is very time consuming, and with Google updating its algorithms all the time, you need to stay alert. For example, Panda which was a major update to Google’s search results ranking algorithm, launched in February 2011, and has since went through around 25 updates.
Thankfully, despite the landscape constantly evolving, you don’t have to be an SEO expert to keep your blog in shape. WordPress is designed to be simple right out of the box, and here are some general guidelines to follow:
Are You Properly Defined?
Every website or webpage has a title, description and keywords. When you first created your blog, this information was necessary to get started. Problem is, we change over time, and maybe the direction you originally headed is different from where you are now. Whenever you go through any changes, it’s very important to keep how you define your blog, updated.
Log-in to your dashboard, and under “Settings” click on “General”. You’ll first see “Site Title” and “Tagline” which should be properly filled out, unless you use a plugin that overrides them.
Step Up Your Post Game
Content is the lifeblood of your blog and without it you are nobody. Now, there are many tips for writing great posts. Everyone starts with figuring out a topic, and once you’ve figured out your topic, to optimize for SEO, you target one or a few keywords. As always, you should write naturally, but how do you make sure your posts are on track?
Using a plugin called WordPress SEO by Yoast, you can instantly see how well optimized your post is, and even offers up suggestions under “Page Analysis” on how you can improve your content. It uses several different colors to show you where your post ranks. Green is good, yellow is okay, orange is poor and red is bad.
WordPress SEO can also be used to improve the SEO across your entire blog, overriding defaults found under “Settings”. Overall, it’s an invaluable tool in ensuring every post is effectively optimized. However, it’s no miracle worker. The writing, and the value you provide with your content, still rests on your shoulders.
Linking It Up
Internal linking is not only great for your readers, but also helps search engines to discover your other content, and make the appropriate connections. In every blog post, you should always link to at least one other relevant post.
Typically, you can find relevant posts by using search in your dashboard under “Posts”. Also, when you go to insert a link, you can select “or link to existing content”. If you’ve written quite a bit about the same subject, it can be difficult to find the right post though. In that situation, install a WordPress plugin called Better Internal Link Search.
It improves upon existing functionality under the “Insert/edit link” pop-up, and even offers the ability to use special modifiers when looking for specific content from other sources.
Do Not Duplicate
Duplicate content is highly frowned upon, and search engines want the most original, best content possible. Sadly, it can be rampant on blogs without you even noticing. There are a number of ways duplicate content can occur, and instead of trying to explain it myself, Yoast offers up a great explanation of duplicate content, and how to fix it.
The Need For Speed
When most people think about SEO, they think of the content itself. However, did you know that search engines like Google also factor in speed? If your WordPress blog is not loading within a few seconds, this could have an impact on your rankings. To help speed up your site, use a caching plugin such as W3 Total Cache.
It’s completely free, and an absolute must-have. Instead of causing your web server to generate a new webpage each time, a plugin like W3 Total Cache will deliver a static version, significantly reducing load times. It can also reduce bandwidth by up to 80 percent, potentially saving you cash if your bandwidth is limited.
Photo credit: Cristian Labarca
Mike Stenger is a writer with a love of all things technology.