It can be tough to keep up with a good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, especially with all the SEO tools, tips and tricks we come across.
Truth is, the number one rule you should abide by is simple: create valuable content. All the tips and tricks in the world will only get you so far. If you don't create content that actually informs, entertains or the like, your target audience will simply pass by your content without as much as a second thought.
While you should absolutely not look to cheat search engines (it's getting increasingly difficult and you can be penalized for it) I have found an SEO tool for Wordpress that works wonders.
It allows me to focus on writing compelling blog content while still keeping those best SEO practices in mind. For those of you writing blog posts with Wordpress, I'm happy to introduce you to Yoast.
Yoast is an aweomse, free plug-in for Wordpress users that helps bloggers optimize their posts for search engines.
Let's take a peek at what it looks like on the back end of this very post, for example:
Follow along with the photo above:
1. Focus Keyword. After outlining your blog editorial calendar you should know your blog topic for the day. Pull from your keyword list (or add to it if you've thought of another keyword!) and enter that keyword in the focus keyword section in the Yoast tool.
2. Article heading. This is the title of your blog post. (See below.)
3. Page title. Your page title is the same thing as your "SEO title" displayed in the Yoast screenshot above. Your page title (SEO title) will be automatically populated with your article heading unless you specify otherwise.
Your page title (SEO title) is the title that will appear in serach engine listings. Take a look at that "snippet preview" in the Yoast screenshot above to see what I mean. If your article heading is longer than the page title (SEO title) character limit (70 characters), I would recommend altering it. Otherwise, I would just leave it to be the same as the article heading. Keep in mind that if you do alter the page title (SEO title), you should still have the keyword phrase in the title copy.
4. Page URL. You cannot change the page URL in the Yoast tool. This option is underneath the article heading where it says "Permalink." There should be a button that says "edit." (See image above.)
5. Content. After you have made the above alterations with the Yoast tool, I suggest setting out to write your post. Now that you have the focus keyword at the forefront of your mind, try to include it naturally in the body copy of your post.
Some good places to include that keyword, if it sounds natural, is in the first paragraph, in the last paragraph and in H1 and H2 headings if possible. (H1 and H2 headings are different stylization options within Wordpress blogs.) But that's getting a little more in depth. The most important thing to focus on is keeping the copy natural sounding.
6. Meta Descritpion. I like to write my meta descritpiton last. This description is the short summary of your post that will show up for those searching for your content. (See "snippet preview.") Make sure your focus keyword is included in your meta description, but also make sure it's an accurate summary of your post, which is why I suggest saving it for last.
7. Alt Tags. Now I know this isn't shown in the Yoast tool above, but it does have an important affect on your SEO and is a step that Yoast strongly urges you to do. This step has to do with images you insert into your post. Images cannot be read by search engines. They are read by the title and the alt text we give them. That's why it's important to include your focus keyword in the alt text of your image. (See below.)
Now that you have focused in on these seven steps you should get the SEO green light from Yoast!
Yoast is an incredible SEO tool. The above simply outlines the basics for beginners looking for help optimizing their Wordpress blog posts. For more information about how awesome this tool can be for optimizing your SEO, visit the Yoast page.