Improve SEO for WordPress Posts
A significant portion of the internet uses WordPress to manage their content. It is one of the easiest (if not the easiest) CMS to use if you want to adhere to — and implement — white hat SEO best practices on a site. However, many are falling short of the mark on their posts and don’t even know it! Below, I’ll show you how to improve SEO for WordPress posts.
I’m going to skip over all the philosophical and platitudinal jargon about, “what is SEO” and “here’s how you should think about SEO and your content” stuff. I’m assuming you understand white hat SEO, it’s intention, and the importance of implementing it to the fullest ability possible.
There are plenty of great blogs out there that will help you better understand what SEO is and how to think about it on your site. In this post, I’m just going to show you basic tips and tricks that you can use to boost SEO for WordPress posts on your site.
I’m also going to skip over all the SEO tools and plugin’s you should be using. This is covered pretty comprehensively here (where you can see all the tools and listen to an excellent podcast on how to use them). Once you finish reading this post you should be able to improve the SEO of your posts of WordPress.
Using SEO for new and existing posts
An important thing to think about when going through all these tips is that they are not just for new posts. There is a treasure trove of opportunity in your old content if they do not have all of their principles applied. We talked in depth about the power and impact of going back and optimizing old content here.
Using these tips and tricks to improve SEO for WordPress posts on your site will allow you to ensure that your past and future content ranks better for organic search in search engines like Google, but more importantly, many of these tips are designed to help you better engage your visitors.
Adding elements to your site that increase time on site and click through rates (CTR’s) will improve SERP (search engine ranking position), but they will also ensure that you maintain a credible resource for visitors. This can help you get more newsletter sign-ups, leads, and returning visitors.
How to structure keywords for WordPress posts
One of the most common myths circulated out there right now is that keywords aren’t important anymore and publishers shouldn’t worry about them in their content as much as they used to. This is dangerous general advice that is misguided and should always be served with a large number of caveats.
All publishers should avoid keyword stuffing. Unfortunately, keyword stuffing has somehow become confused with keyword optimization. These two things are completely different.
Words are what we use to communicate, it’s what people type into search boxes, and the words on your site should adequately reflect what your pages are about. Targeting a keyword means being deliberate about how content is structured and ensuring that you are optimizing the structure of your pages to reflect the topic and subjects people type into search boxes. If you don’t take this kind of approach to your content, you are gambling with how it will rank.
Do your research and adhere to keyword best practices
I’ll skip over the part about how to do keyword research (you can read about that here). I’ll assume you have a good target keyword and want to know how to weave it optimally into your WordPress post without upsetting the authenticity of the content.
Here’s the best places for your keyword on a WordPress post:
- WordPress title box
- In the permalink (URL) bar at the top
- In an H2 heading near the top of a page
- In the first paragraph of the article
- In the alt. image tag (click an image in WordPress, then click edit, then enter into the alt. Image box)
- In your meta description at the bottom of the page
- In the body of your content at least 2-3 times (if applicable)
Yoast is one of the best plugins on the planet for organizing this basic info for you. It gamify’s the process, but you have to know how to work in the right kinds of content. You have to find a way to check the boxes while still writing for your readers.
This is where the process of SEO meets the power and science of marketing. Being able to properly adhere to the keyword principles above while still providing content users want to read until the end (and then share) is paramount to creating content that ranks well in search engines. Here’s how you find that balance.
Writing posts that will organically rank
Using tools and white hat best practices for your keyword on the post is step one. That is the equivalent of raising your hand to search engines and letting them know what keyword your page should rank for. Step 2 is having your users tell the search engine the same thing. How do they do this? Their behavior on the page.
Users that visit a page, spend a lot of the time on the site, scroll through the post, click on other articles, and browse your site after landing on your post, are essentially telling the Google‘s of the world that this is a quality page that deserves credibility. If the content is good and engaging beyond that, you would hope these users would share and link to it from other sites (this is another important piece of the puzzle we will talk about at a later date).
There is a pretty simple formula that has been proven time and time again to produce better time on site results and more desirable user behavior. I have listed this formula below.
Write a WordPress post that search engines and users alike will love
- WordPress title (this will appear automatically)
- Big bright image that will attract both initial page-landers and those who happen to see it when it is shared on social media. Use a tool like Canva to help.
- Include an H2 title that repeats your main title but in a different way (maybe another possible long-tail search query)
- Include short teaser content that gets readers to scroll or click to see beyond the preview on the front page of your blog.
- Have another H2 and small body of content that hypes the content to come. Sell the value of what you’re about to tell your audience (keep em/ scrolling to see what the hype is about).
- Now, hit them with another image (make sure this one contains data or something that will make them stop and pause to look at it). After you’ve hyped the content you don’t want them just scrolling to the bottom do you?
- Start a new section with a new H2 and start getting down to brass tax. After the hype — and the images — you have to pull back the curtain a bit and show readers some valuable information.
- Keep the images, short sections, and H2 and H3 headers going. This organizes the content, breaks it up — while still getting users to pause and review the images.
Other details will help with SEO for WordPress posts
One of the great things about WordPress is that it provides incredible ease of use in its editor. It makes it very easy for users to add thing like </hr>’s and bold (<strong>) tags to the post. These elements can be useful tools believe it our not.
The internet is flooded with content. If you’ve been fortunate enough to get a user to land on your page, you need to entice them to stay. The layout stuff described above is great, but you need to deliver value fast to users who have limited time. To keep these users scrolling it’s good to deliver cliff notes in a way that also draws them down the page.
Add bold text to the most important elements of paragraphs throughout the article. This will help skimmers extract the most important parts of your post just by scrolling down the page. Sure, they won’t comprehensively read the whole thing, but its better than them flipping through quickly and bouncing. The bold print will stop their scroll and attempt to slow them down and pull them into different parts of the article.
Getting those visitors to visit other pages
I bring this up a lot when I talk about content, but the fact of the matter is, a lot of publishers hide their links to relevant articles. Don’t you want your visitors to visit other pages? Then, stop hiding your links at the bottom of the page!
On a good site, around 33% of visitors will actually scroll to the bottom of the page. Is that where you want to hide one of the most important parts of this whole shebang?
You want visitors to hit other pages of your site. Many publishers wrongfully assume that by putting anchor text or links at the top of their articles that they will force users off of their existing content and onto other pages (and that this is bad for some reason). This is exactly what you want. Right off the bat, let your users know about all the other great content available on your site (maybe some of it is more relevant to their interests/needs than the page they are on).
Nevertheless, if you’re concerned about them leaving that page, simply click the little edit wheel when the link is highlighted and select “open link in new tab”. This way, they stay on the current page and can open the new content in another tab.
Making better WordPress posts
Hopefully, you’ve seen by now that implementing better SEO for WordPress sites is a little bit of technical SEO and a lot of content marketing and psychology.
Notice that the basics of white hat SEO are the foundation for identifying what content the post is set up to rank for; while the science of creating content that is proven to be more engaging and enticing to users is truly the fuel that will allow of the post to rank better organically.
This information is not overly complicated, but the best in the biz don’t typically share the information this forwardly, and many don’t see the value in it. After all, none of it seems to be a major change, right?
Wrong. I think most publishers know by now that little changes can offer some of the biggest results.
Have anything to add, experience good results with this strategy? Tweet at us (@ezoic) on Twitter.
Tyler is an award-winning digital marketer, SEO veteran, successful start-up founder, and well-known publishing industry speaker. Tyler also serves as the host of Pubtelligence, a publishers-only event hosted at Google offices around the globe. Tyler describes his core competency as learning. He has composed content for some of the world’s top publications and has over a decade of experience building businesses in the digital space. Tyler is currently the Head of Marketing at Ezoic and serves as an SEO and marketing expert for start-up competitions across the U.S.