Everyone wants their WordPress posts to rank better in search engine results but not everyone knows the best ways to make this happen. One of the most important factors is on-page optimisation and in this post, we’ll show you ten SEO tips to make sure your online content is optimised in a way that will boost your ranking.
- Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO has been helping WordPress users gain higher rankings for a decade and with almost 20,000 five-star reviews, you can tell it’s good at doing its job. This free plugin helps you with all aspects of SEO, but for this post, we’ll be specifically looking at its on-page optimisation features. We’ll be referring to the plugin during this post, so it could be advantageous to install it before you read on.
- Choosing the best keywords
SEO is all about getting your web pages to rank highly for specific keywords. For example, if you are selling ‘blue suede shoes’, you want your website to come near the top of the list when someone searches for ‘blue suede shoes’.
On-page SEO requires that you find out what keywords people use when searching for something and then optimising how you use them in your posts. You wouldn’t, for example, want to rank highly for the search ‘Blue Suede Shoes Elvis Presley’ but you might want to rank for ‘Women’s shoes blue suede’ or ‘blue suede high-heels’. To find out what terms people use, you need to do some research, first. This is best done using the Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool. (You may have to sign up for a free AdWords account to use this tool, but there’s no obligation to pay for any Google advertising.)
The aim of your research is to find out the main keyword for your post as well as any alternative keywords that users may use, including long-tail keywords (longer phrases). Getting this right is key to you ranking well for the visitors you want to attract.
- Writing the title
Your post’s title is a critical element of on-page SEO as search engines use it to determine if your content is relevant to a user’s search. The title will need your main keyword in it, preferably somewhere near the start. For example, if your post was about gardening for beginners and the keyword was ‘gardening tips’, an ideal title would be something like, ‘10 Top Gardening Tips for Beginners.’
Remember that ranking well doesn’t guarantee someone will click on your link. To do that, you need to make sure your title is written in a way that will attract the interest of the searcher.
- Optimising subheadings
Besides analysing your title, search engines will look at your subheadings, too. So, it is important that your keyword is placed in at least one subheading (don’t overdo it) and that related keywords appear in others.
What is vital, however, is that you configure your subheadings properly. This means using H2 (Heading 2) tags in your text editor to signify that they are a subheading. Simply putting them in bold, using larger text or underlining them doesn’t tell a search engine that they are a subheading.
Note: the H1 tag, should only be used for the title, not the subheadings. Using it more than once can make the search engine confused about the overall subject matter.
- Place keywords in the first paragraph
As an opening paragraph is generally an introduction to a topic, a search engine will assume that the keyword will appear in it. If it doesn’t, it will presume the subject matter of the content has little to do with the keyword in the title and won’t rank your post for that term. Make sure it is in there.
- Put the keywords in the final paragraph, too
Although it’s not as crucial as putting a keyword in the first paragraph, it’s still helpful to put it in at the end. The final paragraph is often a conclusion which sums up the content of a post. If that post’s topic is about the keyword, then the search engine will expect it to be mentioned at the end.
- Keyword density: tips and warnings
Keyword density looks at how often your keyword is mentioned in a post. It is found by measuring its use as a percentage of all the words in the content. Keyword density is important because a search engine would expect a keyword to be mentioned several times in a post about a particular topic. If it isn’t, the search engine would think the post’s content isn’t relevant to the keyword.
However, there is an important caveat here. In the past, lots of content writers overused keywords in order to get their posts to rank higher. This was a technique called keyword stuffing. Google got wise to this and have added its use to the list of things that are forbidden in the webmaster guidelines. They also made a change to their algorithm, called the Panda update, that downranks all web pages that use this technique.
You should have a balance: use the keywords throughout the post, but not too heavily. According to Yoast, the ideal density is between 0.5% and 2.5%. Luckily, if you have the Yoast SEO plugin, once you tell it what your keyword is, it will measure the density for you and warn you if it is too high or too low.
- Put the keywords in the meta description
The Yoast SEO plugin also lets you create custom meta descriptions which are displayed as snippets by search engines in search results. They are also used to consider the relevancy of your post and should, therefore, contain your keywords. Like titles, they also need to entice users to click on your link.
- Optimise your images
Besides written content, any images you include in your posts should also be optimised. This is done by including the keyword in the images’ alt tags. To do this, click on the image in your visual editor, select the edit icon and add the keyword to the ‘Alternative Text’ box.
- Finally, use Yoast to analyse your SEO
Getting everything right for your content optimisation can be difficult, particularly if you don’t know what you are looking for. However, if you use the Yoast SEO plugin, it analyses your content as you write, providing a traffic light report that highlights problems, improvements and good results. It even tells you what you need to do (see below). You’ll find this underneath the visual editor whilst you are working on your post.
Hopefully, this post will give you a clear understanding how to improve your on-page SEO. You’ll have a better idea of how search engines work and how to optimise your titles and subheadings, paragraphs, meta descriptions and images. At the same time, you’ll be more aware of the dangers of over-optimisation and will see how the Yoast SEO plugin can give you a valuable insight into the effectiveness of your SEO techniques.
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