SEO For WordPressSEO Tutorials | January 29th, 2008 | 9 Comments
From the author of the SEO bible, SEO Book, Aaron Wall, a complete online seo training course.
When I was planning to start this blog while my domain was parked at NameDrive after I acquired it the first thing on which I could not get decided at was the CMS. I had some basic to none knowledge with WordPress platform but knew how well I could optimize for search engines, yet I was inspired to get the whole site based on Joomla (slightly more complicated then WordPress but it has some really good features too), at the end (not worth to say) I ended up building the site into WordPress and kept the blog style rather then using it as CMS.
Last week I was thinking about WordPress and search engine optimization, a short overview on the articles I have published here on SEO Optimization at the seo tutorials category it came in my mind to sum up most of the post and write them down in one single post called SEO For WordPress. The post might be a bit long and will include tutorials which I already have published, some new tips that I have learned during the management of this blog and hopefully will update it in the near feature as I might endup finding out something new regard WordPress and SEO, in the hope that this long post will turn useful to many of you that do have interest to optimize for search engines your wordpress blog and drive targeted organic traffic. So lets get started..
Unique Title Tag
I remember I have made a paragon of your WordPress blog (or site) title element with a books title and what role a title can have for the book writer to get someone acquire the book. This same rule applies in SEO. The title element and keywords in it is that part of your website which appears as first thing and gains the attention of the surfers in the SERPs. Of course even tho title tag can play important role on the click through rate on the SERPs you do need to be able to first rank high in the SERPs for your targeted keywords.
To rank higher for our chosen keywords the title optimization can play an important role since search engines give value to the titles to determine what the content is about, it is advised that primary keyword phrase is at the beginning of the title element. We know that the title length on major search engines (Google, MSN, Yahoo) is truncated at around 70 characters which gives us freedom of around 70 characters to write an attractive title for our post or homepage, but how long titles will effect on the keyword density in the title element is another argument which will discuss a bit later, but keep in mind that the bigger the keyword weight is the better it is.
A great plugin which gives you a heap of freedom on optimizing your posts title is the all in one seo pack plugin for WordPress. Following the link you will learn more about the plugin and my experience with this plugin.
Unique and Descriptive Meta Description
The meta description of your posts (and homepage) is as well important for your click through rate from the SERPs (rather than for search engine rankings, even tho it not much weighted). When people are about to buy a book after the great title has got their attention the next thing they read is the brief excerpt of the book that can be found at the back. This same happens when visitors perform a search query on the search engines, the title will grab their attention but that just might not be enough to convince them clicking your URL and reading your post. I often (and have notice doing the same when my brother performs a search in the search engines, as well as my GF, and for lots of tests) read the description that appears in the SERPs and I have to admit i happily click on those results that do have attractive and descriptive description tag filled which convinces me to click that listing and read what the author has to say in regard to that subject.
For full control over your posts meta description I would advice you to rely once again on the All In One SEO pack plugin for WordPress, in simple words, as far as it regards title and description this plugin is your SEO cure.
Use of Heading Tags
While was mapping this post I got reminded that I have an really old (and I mean really old, maybe one of the first) posts regarding heading (h1, h2, h3 etc) tags importance on SEO which does need a serious update. It was written when I first started blogging and when I was all kinda shy (you know that feeling when you meet a really, and I mean really delicious girl that you think you got no chance with her? Okey, than you are close enough to know how I was feeling when I first started blogging).
In either case, what is the use of Heading tags and why they seem to be important for search engine optimization? If the title of your site is important to describe your overall content the heading tags play the role to describe paragraphs beneath the heading. So lets take this blog for example. The title of the blog is SEO Optimization | Learn Search Engine Optimization (SEO) which describes what this blog is about to search engines and human reading the blog, then to remind once again the search engines (in this case) I have a H1 tag with my main keywords included and beneath all that the blog has divided each post in groups with its own heading title (H2). Long story made short (and taking this same post as example) we tell the search engines and to the readers that this is a SEO Optimization blog from where you can learn more about search engine optimization, than we have the title of this post called SEO For WordPress a title which describes what the content in this post is about. Reading more this content you will notice I am using sub heading tags which divide this post in more sections, these sub heading do give you a clue on which paragraph what is being explained (such as, unique title, unique & descriptive meta description etc..). Guiding the search engine spider bots (as well as the readers) we not only achieve a better search engine experience and we facilitate the job to the spider bots but we also help our readers to understand each section which argument it treats (its faster to find out by reading the sub heading title and know whats the sections subject rather than reading it whole and finally understanding, make them work less and understand better).
The keyword density is mainly for search engines rather then for humans, and it is very sensitive as you can easily abuse of the keyword density in your content (especially when blogging) without even being aware of doing that. When blogging we use so many words in our posts as each of us has its own way of expressing, even with the use of title element and the meta description tag as well as the headings search engine spider bots weight also the keyword density in a post to determine what the subject is about and how an article would be ranked in their SERPs.
Since keyword density (or keyword weight in a post) can be easily abused and appear as spam content to the search engines I would advice you to not repeat your keywords in your content unless it is really needed to express better (or explain yourself better). Another advice I would give you is to use alternatives for the same keyword if there are any as well instead of just repeating your keyword (example, instead of just repeating seo for wordpress in this post I would also rather use optimizing your wordpress for search engines). If you are looking for a optimal percentage of keyword density (weight) in a post it is advised something between 3% and 12% (but not accurate really).
Since blog is mainly dynamic where content keeps updating every time you post a new article, the keyword weight for your homepage might change as the article might be treating a different argument where your desired keywords are not being used as often as you’d want and if you haven’t already, I would advice you reading my article on maintaining search engine rankings on site re-design to learn how you can play with the static parts of your blog to keep your keyword weight for the homepage of your blog even when publishing off topic articles. Also a nice tool to measure your keyword density is WebCEO which gives you accurate results on keyword density within your post which is also included in their free version.
Keep your content Unique & Clean
You have most likely heard the phrase Content is King, it happens to be true. Would you be reading anyones blog if his/her content is not unique but it is just a copy/paste of another authors content that you have most likely been reading before? I doubt so. Then what makes you think that search engines will value a copied content more than a unique content?
Search engines have a sophisticated database where the content of the websites gets stored (cached), and the cache of the content is based on date when the spiders found and crawled that content. Based on the cached date the search engines will know to which website (article author) to give value for the article (sometimes it plays important role also the backlinks that the article will receive, well more then sometimes).
Back to keeping your content unique and clean, this might more look as a blogging tip rather then a SEO tip but the rule applies to both perspectives. When you feed the readers of your blog with unique, easy to read and informative content they will be more likely coming back to read what will your next article be about. Even if you have the greatest tip, or a breaking news information but you have not organized well your article and it can’t be easily understood the merit will most likely go to someone else that will rephrase your article in a more and easy to read way. If your readers will not like a disorganized article its more likely that neither the search engines will.
I think I am going to deep on this and it becomes a bit confusing, but SEO is based on keywords and keywords are the words we use next to each other and create a phrase which than turns out to become an article. If those keywords are not positioned the right way (the same way a person would perform a search query in the SERPs) it is more likely you will be (indirectly) penalized from search engines (in other words, it will rank better the author that has well positioned the keywords in a phrase).
There is still the issue of content thieves and the autoupdating blogs (content scrapers) as well as the WordPress platform that parses your content all over your own blog by creating duplicates. In my previous post to eliminate duplicate content I have explained how harmful this can be for your search engine rankings, and on the next post that followed you can learn how to eliminate duplicate content in your wordpress blog.
Maintain Keyword Density
As described above, search engine spider bots determine search engine rankings of a article based on keyword weight that the article has. Even tho this can play some role in SEO I would advice you to not refrain your expression when blogging to make sure a keyword fits within the content just use an alternative for the keyword it will do just great as well (will write another article on this regard now that I got reminded).
Emphasize Your Keywords
When writing an article on your blog and we presume you want to raise your voice of a phrase or get the readers attention you are most likely going to emphasize that phrase making it bolder or italicizing the phrase. Do I still have to repeat that search engine spider bots crawl (read) the content almost in the same way as your readers? I bet no. Emphasizing phrases or keywords of your content will in some point tell the search engine spider bots that the emphasized text does require more attention then the rest of the content. Many believe that this is just another SEO myth, but just by doing some experiments you will find out if it is a myth or not.
If you are a regular of this blog then you most likely know how much importance I give to internal linking from my previous posts on their regard
In those two posts I have highlighted how much links are being weighted from search engines and how important a well structures internal linking can guide the spider bots as well as the readers of your blog to other pages of your site to be read/crawled. Search engines give a major weight on backlinks that a site has from other websites treating same or similar argument, it has such a big weight that backlinks from external pages are included in their algorithm to determine the popularity of a website since the backlinks are being counted as votes. Internal links do have the same treatment (maybe weighted less since they are from the same site and can be easily manipulated but it is still well weighted).
In this blog have I blogged about how I improved rankings for several keywords (and internal pages) by just using strategic internal linking structure. While internal linking can help your rankings make sure you don’t overuse them (remember, everything that is too much does no good), when you want to interlink with other posts of your blog make sure that the interlinking does make sense (i.e. link to another post to explain more in depth an argument) and it does use your targeted keywords as anchor text.
Build External Links
External links that point to your site are being treated as votes (gosh how many times did I repeat this?) in front of search engines eyes, and as each vote it should come spontaneous from the website owner (just as a judge would vote a Miss World because of her beauty and not because someone paid him). But as it happens, where beauty can’t reach dollars will for sure.
It is not easy to gain naturally backlinks from other blogs or websites, especially if your blog is new. To gain backlinks (or be mentioned on someones blog) is required to have a reader base that will be reading your blog and will be happy to mention your article on their blog.
Lets presume you do have already the read base which you gained in someway (advertisement or word of mouth), now what it requires to get those free backlinks is to write a informative, detailed and unique article which others will appreciate and will be willing to link to the article (or even quote you) from their blog. Writing just one top-notch article is not going to play the game the way it should be done, it will gain some backlinks for that article and then what? Building backlinks needs to be something constantly done, this requires more unique and well written articles that will grab the readers attention and make the natural linking go as chain.
But what happens with those new blogs that do actually have the skills to write good link-bait articles but don’t really have the right readers? Well or they have to play a bit smart or be lucky enough that a generous reader will submit his article on Dig/Sphin or even Stumble it to create the needed buzz and increase his reader base and the possibilities to increase those lovely free backlinks (chain again).
The expensive side of the story…new blog, no readers not lucky at all but starving for some readers, what to do? Well from a seo point of view you’d need to rank in the SERPs for keywords that will actually drive traffic to your blog and for this the on-page/site optimization will not be just enough to rank for those golden keywords that will drive a healthy amount of traffic. This is where the “artificially” building backlinks enters the game (or rather, push-up your site on the SERPs) and it can be done in different ways
- Build Free Backlinks – There are numerous ways to build free backlinks to your site and the only limit is your imagination/creativity and time. I wrote a series on how to build backlinks, including forum signatures, blog commenting, submission to free directories (and on this note, Catherine, I haven’t forgot about the list, just have not got the time) etc..
- Use other own resources – The use of other own resources might consist as using your other websites that share similar/related content with your other site and interlinking them (note: abusing this might result marking your site as linkfarm and attempt to abuse on behalf of search engines).
- Purchase Backlinks – Since backlinks from external websites is essential for search engine rankings this business (of buying and selling text links) will never finish as long as there will be websites, search engines and as long as the search engines algorithm will be based on links to rate a site. There are like thousands of resources from where you can purchase one way backlinks to your site starting from webmaster (buy and sell) threads, up to big marketplaces such as Text Link Ads, LinkWorth, TNX and many others. Even tho at this time there is a war going on between link sellers/buyers and Google search engine, this practice of acquiring links will never end since there are different people purchasing links for different goals, just make sure that you can remain under the radar and acquire backlinks from sites that share similar content to yours.
Said this, backlinks are essential for search engine optimization of any kind of website, and not just seo optimizing your wordpress blog.
SEO Plugins for WordPress
This whole article is becoming a bit too long, but I would not want to stop in middle of it, instead I would want to wrap it up with some really nice WordPress plugins that can power-up your WordPress Blogs SEO.
All In One SEO Pack
This is one heck of a plugin to enhance your blogs SEO optimization. It gives you the freedom to have total control of your post titles and optimize them the best you can for search engines by using your targeted keywords as title and not to interact with the heading of the post. The plugin also gives you the freedom to write unique and descriptive descriptions for each of your post as well as use keywords tag. You can download All In One SEO Pack over at uberdose.
SEO Slugs Plugin
This is a plugin that can be used if you have your permalinks updated to show keywords in your post URL rather than the dynamic type of URL. The use of the plugin is pretty simple but very useful (if used with attention), it eliminates the search engine boolean operators from the URL of the post and by doing this it increases the keyword weight in URL. I am already using this plugin, and you can download it here if you want.
Related Posts Plugin
Not always we can interlink with the rest of our posts from one post, and for that the cure is related posts plugin which will generate links to other posts of your wordpress blog that are related to the current one that visitor is reading. The use of this plugin of course is interlinking with other pages and increasing page visits per on your blog. For me, this plugin has worked like a doll. I am not aware if this plugin can be download since the authors website (Wasabi) is down, but I do have a copy of so if you want it just drop me an email and I will send it away.
This is another lovely plugin to interlink with your most popular posts (presumably your best posts that have receives the most visits/reads). Last time I tested this plugin on WordPress 2.3.2 it was not working, hopefully the author will update the plugin for the latest WordPress version. I won’t link to a non working version of a plugin, but just in case I would want to remind you that if they update the plugin (or if the author is reading) to let me know.
After saving as draft and previewing the post I now realize how long this post is actually and am wondering if I did good publishing it this way or would have done better to write it up in a PDF format and put it for free download (not a bad idea actually). I re-read couple times the article, but in any case if there is any corrections you would want to make please feel free to do so.
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