Beginner WordPress SEO (Part 2): 9 Ways to Optimize Blogs for Search Engines

by Bret Phillips · 36 comments

WordPress SEO

Search engine optimization isn’t rocket science. Yes, there are many variables at play, but with a concerted effort, you can rank higher than your competition in the search engines.

If you read Paul Suntup’s article Beginner WordPress SEO, perfect. In this article, I’m going to expand on his ideas and show you some of the fundamental on-page search engine optimization techniques that you can’t ignore.

1. Keyword Rich URL

One of the best ways to let search engines know that your website is highly relevant to a specific keyword phrase is by having it in your URL. There are two ways to go about this.

First, you could buy a domain name that includes your keyword phrase. For example, let’s use the keyword phrase “Atlanta WordPress Designer”. Our domain might look like this:

http://atlantawordpressdesigner.com

Depending on how many keywords you plan on targeting, this could become expensive very quickly.

An alternate option is to add a subpage to your already existing domain.

That URL would look something like this:

http://webdevils.biz/atlanta-wordpress-designer

Note, when either of these results is shown on Google, our keywords will be in bold. Also, if you already have a URL set for an existing page, I don’t recommend you change those URLs because you may lose backlinks.

2. Title Tags

Title tags are one the most important elements on your page. It’s the first chance to to tell search engines what your page is about, and search engines weight this particular tag very heavily.

As a best practice, most SEOs agree that your keywords should be near the beginning of the title tag because it helps with rankings.

Many times, you may make your title an exact match of your keyword. However, writing for search engines isn’t the best idea. Better to write for people, and then tweak your pages later for search engines.

3. Content Title

For this “title,” I am referring to the copy on your page.

Generally, it’s a good practice to include your page title towards the top of the page. This is beneficial for your readers and search engines. Additionally, you should wrap your title in an H1 HTML tag, which Thesis does by default.

I often use my exact keyword phrase as my title. While I don’t recommend writing for search engines, you can launch your article with a reader friendly article, and then go back and optimize it later.

Note, be sure to keep the keywords as close to the front of the title as possible. It helps with rankings.

4. Optimize Images

For every image you use, there are 3 opportunities to drop in your keywords.

  • filename (atlanta-wordpress-designer.jpg)
  • title (title=”atlanta wordpress designer”)
  • alt (alt=”altanta wordpress designer”)

Here is an example of what the image code should look like.

<img title="atlanta wordpress designer" src="http://webdevils.biz/atlanta-wordpress-designer.jpg"
alt="atlanta wordpress designer">

Remember, you don’t want to spam your keyword on your page, so use it sparingly.

5. Description

While the description doesn’t affect your search engine rankings, it’s great for increasing the click through of your existing search results. Let me explain.

When your website gets listed in search engines, your description and title tag often becomes your search listing (some search engines are moving away from this, but for now, it still works).

When you include your keyword in that meta data, when a searcher types in a specific keyword, if that keyword is in your meta data, it will become bolded in the search results, successfully calling more attention to your result.

6. Links

There are a few different kind of links. Inbound links from other websites, outbound links to other websites, and interlinks to your own website. First let’s review outbound links.

Links on your page outbound to other pages looks good. To the search engines, this is like saying “I am paying my dues.” Give some link love.

If you are linking out to another page that is relevant to your page and keyword phrase, it can be helpful to use your keywords in the anchor text and title=”keywords” for your outbound link. Not only will you be helping out the other web site, you will also have the keywords in your page one more time.

A strong link would look something like this

<a href="http://webdevils.biz/atlanta-wordpress-designer" title="atlanta wordpress designer">Atlanta WordPress Designer</a>

Notice the anchor text, the actual text that is linked there, has our keywords in it.

7. Interlinking

Interlinking is the act of linking to other pages inside your website. This gives you a really easy opportunity to create a strong backlink to another page in you are trying to SEO.

While you certainly can and should link to other internal pages inside of your post or page content, there are other ways as well. Interlinking can also be the links to your categories in your sidebar, links to your pages in your navigation, a Similar Posts listing after your content, etc.

Keep interlinking in mind when you are naming Pages, Categories, Navigation, and writing your content.

8. Sign up to Google & Bing Webmaster Tools

When you sign up for Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools, you’ll receive a lot of incite into how your website is doing in search engines.

For example, you’ll find out how many times your website was shown for a specific keyword, a listing of keywords that your site ranks for, what site links you, and more.

Overall, running these two tools in tandem with a stat-tracking program like Google Analytics will supply you with more data and information than you could ever dream of. By studying this data, you can see your click through rates and rankings, and then make changes accordingly.

9. Add Custom Content Above Category Pages

If you have taken the time to properly name your blog categories, you probably have put some effort into using certain keywords in those names.

Not only that, but many of the posts in that category will most likely also include some of those keywords, so will the titles which are also links, so these pages are already highly relevant.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could beef up the SEO for those category pages even more?

If you don’t want to mess with code, Thesis empowers you to add content to each category page in your WordPress dashboard…

All you have to do is, in your WordPress dashboard, go to Posts > Categories > Specific Category and you’ll see two custom sections called Introductory Headline and Introductory Content.

When you add content into those two sections, and then press update, custom content will appear above that specific category page.

For example, if you check out Sugarrae’s Affiliate Marketing category, you’ll see the custom content, a YouTube video, and then a listing of her affiliate marketing articles.

Pretty cool, right?

This is great for search engine rankings because you add more content to your category pages. Plus, it’s more beneficial for people who are exploring your site. Think about it. This content helps prep your readers for the type of content they’ll find in a specific category.

Thank You!

Thank you for reading. I hope this information helps you out and encourage you to start trying some of these techniques. Remember, you will never rank high if you never even try!

About the author: Bret Phillips runs Web Devils, where he builds websites with WordPress and drives traffic with Social Media and Search Engine Optimization. Want some videos of search engine optimization in action? Sign up today for the WordPress Search Engine Optimization video course.

If you enjoyed this article, enter your email below to get free updates!

{ 36 comments }

Rob @ Atlanta Real Estate

Nice little summary.

Funny how this basic stuff has not changed, pretty much ever.

Fundamentals.

Derek Halpern

It’s true. The problem is, many people view these fundamentals as “opinions” still, but as you know, these are the basics for running successful websites. Even if you’re not an “SEO” you should know this.

Jeff Sebring

Just knowing these fundamentals vastly increases the value a developer can offer clients in my opinion.

SEO should start at development, not as an afterthought. Luckily with WordPress, and a solid framework like Thesis we can get a site in order fairly easily today.

The fact that many web developers and designers don’t care to learn about this or think it’s voodoo ensures that even basic SEO services will always have a demand.

Kishore Mylavarapu

Very nice article.Now Page speed also plays very important role in page rankings.You can also include it.Thank you.

Bret Phillips

Thanks Rob. You are right, and I find that sticking with the fundamentals works with just about anything you try to do in life.

Keep it simple, learn what works, then do it :)

Kopepasah

I believe the “archive info hook” was depleted as of Thesis 1.8.

mazdodot

Very very usefull for me, its core and basic…I think Thesis was done atomaticaly, but I no maximal yet. Good work and thank you.

angelique

Bret –

SEO may not be rocket science, but it sure feels like it is!

I agree that images are a good place to use keywords, but people need to be careful not to make keywords more important than descriptions in alt tags. Visually-impaired people use alt tags to understand the contents of images. Describing the image is the alt tag programmer’s first priority.

Bret Phillips

Angelique,

Thanks for reading :)

You are absolutely correct in bringing that to light.

I believe that most times you can do both, but it is always better to use an Alt tag for it’s intended purpose than to try and use it for SEO.

Rahul Dutta

Fantastic article. Just a note that you have used the word “incite” in the Google webmaster tools section. I think you meant “insight”. They have different meanings. Thanks.

thelinedancecd

Very interesting. I knew much of it but I didn’t know about putting custom content in the categories. Very cool. Also I didn’t know about Bing webmaster tools. Will look into that.

Your emails are one of only a few that I always read. Keep up the good work.
Thank you
Paul

Bret Phillips

The webmaster tools are great. Some of this information can be found in regular Google Analytics but using both of them together is the dream team.

Thanks for reading Paul

Ankit Saini

Great information…, Really helpful to me…
Thanks for sharing.

Susan/TogetherWeFlourish

I always learn someting new here. This time it was Bing webmaster tools. As always, thank you!

Dan Kern

Regarding “6. Links” below, my understanding is that if you are linking out to other websites via keywords that you are trying to rank your page for, that you will divert page rank to that website instead of yours…so it’s best to use generic or simply other words that don’t compete with the keywords you are trying to rank for (i.e. “website”). If you can confirm otherwise, please advise.

Bret Phillips

You are correct that you would be sending some link love to the other page, but you are also getting those keywords into your code one more time.

I guess you can think about it as giving away a point to get another point of your own.

Also, if you use this technique to link to other pages in your own website that are similar, you’ll be helping out both pages.

Derek may have some additional information in regard to that.

Does this help Dan?

Dan Kern

Okay glad I wasn’t outdated on that. Instead of linking to the other website via the keywords, however, I suggest just linking via neutral words. You can still squeeze in the keywords just before the neutral link. Example: “Visit his for wordpress tips” instead of “Visit his website for ”

Interlinking between pages on your own site via keywords is essential to internal link building. 100% agree and put into practice daily.

Great article, Bret. This has been my method for a while now, and you spec’d it all out in a very organized fashion.

Ronald Redito

Funny how other webmasters neglect this simple strategies. Some wonder why they can’t see their sites on search results yet they don’t put the keywords they want to get ranked.

Common sense will tell you that search engine users type in words therefore as a webmaster, one should put this in their sites.

I usually rank a few hours or even less than an hour after posting a new article but still it depends on the competition.

Bret Phillips

Yes, I’ve cleaned up many sites for people that were spending $1,000 or more per month with another SEO.

It’s a shame more people do not take the time to really learn their trade and just take advantage of people.

I feel like most of this stuff is easily accomplished even with basic web knowledge.

Thanks for reading Ronald!

Chirag

This was really help full.
I used to not interlink my articles earlier. Recently started doing so. This has really increased by PV.

Sidiney Gomes Blog

Thanks for the tips. I started using the thesis now and I’m really enjoying it. Excellent Theme

Neil

I’ve been looking for how to add text to category pages for a while now – thanks for the info!

AnnB

Is the feature that allows you to add text to the category pages only available in 1.8? It’s not working for me in 1.7 using the WordPress dashboard.

Ahmad Wali

Basic fundamental optimization steps, but we ignore them running after more difficult tasks rather doing it the simple way.

Laura Oldham

I love how simply this is all put together. When I try to explain basic SEO principles to clients, I think I overcomplicate it far too much. Thank you for the very simple explanation as I try to put together my own personal SEO checklist.

Bret Phillips

Glad to hear this helped you out :) This is pretty much the same checklist I review when we pick up any new SEO customers.

I think it is important to educated the customer that they understand what we are doing even though they do not necessarily need to do the work themselves.

Raj @ Social Media News

Thanks for the deep insights, Thesis is not only the best theme.. it is the best blog where u have a great scope of learning…

Rajesh@Tips and Tricks

Perfectly well written content, thanks for nice post. I will follow this things while writing new article.

Bharath Mandava

Simply superb tutorial…..awesome article….must follow these tips…..

David

I love the “Add Custom Content Above Category Pages” tip. I didn’t understand the power of that tool until now. Thanks!

Mayra

I just used the Google Webmaster Tool and found that some of my posts link to pages in my own blog that don’t exist and as far as I’m concerned never existed. Does anyone know what that’s about?

Mort Orman

I’m using Thesis and it appears that most of my pages are not getting H1 tags applied. At least that’s what I am being told by the Traffic Travis software that checks for SEO optimization and points out deficiencies. When I look at the source code, I can’t find H1 tags (although I might be missing them). Also, I’m being told that almost every page has >100 links, and since my site is very new, the are not real backlinks. Please advise.

Bret Phillips

Mort,

By default, anything you put into the ‘Title’ area of a post or page, will be reflected with the H1 tag on the front end.

For example, the title of this post

“Beginner WordPress SEO (Part 2): 9 Ways to Optimize Blogs for Search Engines”

if you look at the code, it has H1 around it.

iambryanacido

Thanks for this useful information!
I will apply it to my site.

Joan

Thanks for the tips. I am going to try and link to other sites now.

Trung Nguyen

Thanks for the awesome on SEO tips, it’s really useful for me to get high ranking in search engines for my blog.