SEO is without doubt the number one issue people want to discuss with me. Be it at one of my workshops, presentations, whilst discussing a proposal or support. SEO comes up time and time again. I totally understand why. If you don’t get it right then you are in effect not advertising your business. If 75% of people do not look past page of the Google search results then its not something you can ignore.
So in this blog I am going configure the on-page SEO this very blog post as I write it, which in turn will equip you with the knowledge to maximise the SEO potential of your websites.
There are 5 on-page SEO factors you need to consider while creating blog posts or pages on your website. While I will be walking you through the process in WordPress you can SEO these elements in any decent Content Management System (CMS) or shopping cart solution. In fact, if you can’t alter even one of these 5 elements in your CMS or shopping cart then you should start seriously thinking about a move to something else (like WordPress).
Which SEO Plug-in for WordPress?
The clear decision here is the Yoast SEO plug-in for WordPress. Anything less is uncivilized. 🙂
This plug-in will not only allow you to edit the 5 on-page SEO factors we’ll discuss later in this post but it will also give you the ability to…
- Create a sitemap
- Verify Google Webmaster Tools
- Create breadcrumb navigation
- Edit your robots.txt file
- NO-INDEX pages
- and a ton more
If you’re stuck with some other plug-in like All-In-One SEO or Headspace II you can port your information over easily using the SEO Data Transporter function in the IMPORT/EXPORT section of Yoast SEO.
So now we have the right SEO tool lets look at some on-page SEO.
5 On-Page SEO Factors in WordPress
Now we start to apply the SEO to our WordPress post and the keyword I’m optimizing this post for is ‘on page seo’. Straightforward right?
1) Optimize the Slug
The first thing I do when I create my new post is alter the file name or, as WordPress calls it, the slug. Applying the keyword to the slug has surprising SEO impact.
Here’s where you’ll find your slug:
DANGER: This is the one on-page SEO factor that you should be very careful with. DO NOT make changes to the slugs of existing pages or posts on your website without doing a 301 redirect from the old page to the new page. Google, and your users, do not like finding 404 Error pages where pages used to exist. The 301 redirect will permanently redirect anyone visiting a URL to a new URL. You can use a plug-in like Simple 301 Redirects to make things easy.
2) Optimize the Body Text
Wherever it is natural include the target keyword in the body copy of the page or post. Don’t force it. And, thanks to the Google Hummingbird algorithm update, feel free to use variations of the keyword by incorporating synonyms and changing the order in which the keyword exists. Whatever you do don’t do this:
We’re the best Web Development company in Newcastle. Web Development in Newcastle is big business, and we are right in the heart of Newcastle so that makes us the go to guys for Web Development..
Always erroron the side of user experience and not SEO. It’s just not worth it in the end to rank well for a keyword only to have your users flee your website in horror when they start to read your post or page. Always try to work the keywords in there where they naturally fit.
3) Optimize the Images
The biggie here is the ALT attribute in the image metadata. You want to ensure that you put a description of the image in the ALT attribute and do so for each image on the page.
Use the target keyword in the featured or primary image on the page.
But the ALT attribute is another place where people go SEO overboard. Don’t stuff keywords into your images. Use the ALT attribute to accurately describe what the image is about. In the evolving “semantic search” (Google’s algorithm attempts to understand the meanings of words and phrases through the context that surrounds them) this will become more important.
Also, name the file with an accurate description of the image as well.
4) Optimize the Title Tag
Now the main reason why we use Yoast, the title tag is not only an important SEO element but is also an important User Experience (UX) element.
The title tag is the most prominently displayed text on the Google search results page:
As a result, the title tag will be more effective if it reads properly to a user.
As a rule, the earlier the target keyword appears in the title tag the more impact it will have on your SEO. But don’t stress about it — just be sure to include the keyword in the title tag. If you can include it early in the tag, do it.
You’ll edit your title tag in the Yoast SEO plug-in. And, as a bonus, the Yoast SEO plug-in allows you to view how your title tag will appear in the Google search results from within the EDIT POST screen using something called a “Snippet Preview.”
5) Optimize the Meta Description
On to the last on-page element in WordPress and whilst the meta description is not actually an SEO element so optimizing it will not improve your rankings but it’s still important for a number of user experience and conversion reasons.
First, the meta description often appears prominently in the Google search results page.
This meta description WILL BE READ by most of the people that are choosing which search result to click on. So… it’s an SEO element.
On top of that, the meta description is often “pulled” by social sharing plug-ins as the descriptive text placed on sites like Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. You’ll get more clicks from social media if you’re meta description is optimized.
That’s it and its always worth taking the extra time on a page or post to get your SEO right. It might read like a masterpiece but if nobody ever finds it then what is the use?