Looking for an SEO guide for WordPress?
You have come to the right place! In this SEO guide, we cover the basics of SEOing a WordPress page and/or post. Ready to dive in? Let’s get started!
This is not your typical SEO Guide…
While there are many ‘SEO Guides’ on the internet, this one is different. The goal of this guide is to give you practical steps to the basics of SEOing a WordPress page or blog post. We understand that ‘SEO’ can be confusing and overwhelming at first. That’s why we’ve focused in on the most critical factors. There are a lot of other SEO tasks you should follow for best results. We have covered these in a separate post about how to rank better in Google. Check that out for more overall SEO tips.
Bring value to the table
In order to optimize a web page or blog post for SEO, you must have quality content. Having a ton of keyword rich words on a page does not equal good SEO content. You must present something that is actually valuable to the reader. Michael Hyatt calls this baking in the wow (see his article here). It is also important that the content is easily read and skimmed. Yes, believe it or not, everyone is not going to read all of your content all of the time. That is why it is critical to organize your content well and include some good meat instead of just fluff. Learn more about good content here.
Choose a focus keyword phrase
You need to keep your content focused. While you can (and should) include related keywords in your content, you should have one primary target phrase. This is the phrase you want the particular page or post to rank for. You can’t just cram all the keywords you want in 1-2 pages and magically rank for everything. Sadly it doesn’t work that way.
Choose this keyword phase carefully because you will have to work it into the page naturally in several places. Also, choose something fairly short (1-3 words ideally). If your focus keyword phrase is a full sentence it is way too long! Once you select an appropriate focus keyword phrase, go ahead and set up your page. Plug your focus keyword phrase into the focus keyword box under the page/post editor.
The image below is an example screenshot from the Yoast SEO plugin with the keyword phrase ‘Example SEO Guide’
Set the title and slug
Once you have decided the keyword phrase, it’s time to create a new page or post. The page title and slug should ideally include the focus keyword phrase. Make sure that it fits naturally and isn’t too long but is descriptive of your topic.
Edit your Snippet
The next step is to edit your Snippet preview. In the WordPress editor, you will see this option right below the text editor. Include the focus keyword phrase naturally in the SEO title and Meta Description. You also want to include the top ‘relevant’ keywords or variations of the focus keyword phase.
Take a look at the example below. The keyword phrase is ‘example SEO guide’ but the meta description also includes the phrase ‘easy steps.’ It is related to the term ‘guide’ in this case. NOTE: don’t edit the slug here. Ideally, you should have already selected a page title and slug that includes the focus keyword phrase (see above).
Add in the keyword(s)
It’s important to include the keyword phrase in your content. But more importantly, how much and where you use it. This is where the Yoast SEO plugin really shines. It automatically calculates how many times you need to include the keyword phrase based on the appropriate keyword density ratio.
If you have 300-500 words you only need to include it a few times. Maybe 3-4 times. If you are writing a longer content piece, you will need to include it more times. This is to keep the ratio of total words to the number of keyword phrases balanced. The Yoast analysis shows the keyword density so check it frequently to stay on track (see image below).
You also want to be sure to include the keyword phrase in your headings and sub-headings. This needs to be natural. This may seem challenging, but it is doable with some creativity. It will be easier to work it in your content and headings if you chose this carefully in the beginning. Again, be sure to reference the Yoast analysis to see where you are at.
Note: the image below shows the Yoast analysis for ‘cornerstone content’ which it recommends a higher word count for and also more sub-headings that contain the keyword phrase.
Use links appropriately
Another important element to SEOing a page or post is including relevant links. Links fall into two categories, internal links, and external links. As you can probably infer, internal links point to other pages or content on your own site while external links point to other websites.
As a general rule, it is good to point people to other links on your site. This could include the contact page, a sales page, or even other blog posts. The key is to be relevant. Also, internal links typically should open in the same window/tab.
For external links, you want to make sure they are relevant and helpful to your reader. However, you need to weigh out whether or not sending them to that external link will lose them for good. If that is the case, it might not serve your purpose. Your goal is for them to stay on your site and consume your content. However, when it is appropriate and valuable, it is ok to include an external link. Typically you would set external links to open in a new window/tab. This allows them quickly bounce back to your site.
Another important angle to consider is the quality and authority of the link. If you link to a high-quality site with authority on the topic you are discussing, it could be great for SEO. It’s like hanging out with the cool crowd.
However, if you link to a low authority or even spammy site, it could actually hurt your rankings. Which would be like hanging out with the sketchy, not-so-cool crowd. If you need to link to something not relevant to your topic or a site that might be questionable, use a ‘no-follow’ link. This basically lets’ Google know you don’t want it to follow that link and associate your site with the linked site.
Use images with a descriptive title and alt text
You want to include at least 1 relevant image in your page/post. More is ok, but don’t go overboard and load the page up with large images. This adds to the overall file size of the page which affects loading speeds. That, in turn, affects your user experience as well as your Google ranking. To be safe, you typically want to keep each image under 100 KB. Also, it’s important to include the keyword phrase in the title and alt text of the image.
How much content is necessary? This is the point of much debate, however, as a general rule of thumb, you need at least 300-500 words. Ultimately, you need to provide value to the reader and typically it is difficult to do that well in less than 300 words (per Google’s standards). Some may say that you need to write 1,500-2,500 words to really rank well for a topic. However, in practical application 300-500 words works for general posts and content. For cornerstone content, you ideally need 900+ words. More may seem better, but only to a point and only if it is relevant and optimized.
You need to write coherently. You may think your writing sounds good and flows fine. But there are certain writing characteristics that determine whether or not the content checks out on the readability scale.
Here some ways to improve readability:
- Keep text to 250 words or less under each heading.
- Keep 80% of your sentences under 20 words.
- Don’t write excessively in passive voice.
- Make sure your paragraphs aren’t too long.
- And write in an easily understood manner. Cut out the big fancy words and obscure jargon!
See the image below of the Yoast readability analysis for this article.
When reading an SEO guide isn’t enough…
While this article lists out the steps needed to optimize a WordPress page or post… there is nothing quite like seeing it happen on screen. That is why we put together a video that goes through an example page optimization. Check it out!
Need help from a live SEO guide?
If you are the DIY type then this example SEO guide has probably gotten you off to the races. However, if SEO isn’t your thing or you don’t have the time, we’ve got your back! Our team has worked with many businesses, churches, non-profits, and professional bloggers to help optimize their content. We can help you too! Feel free to contact us to chat about your particular needs.