WordPress SEO Archives

WordPress SEO Checklist

Do you have a WordPress blog? If so, are you making the most out of every blog post? From my experience of coaching over at the Affiliate Power Group I have found that most people do not fully optimize their WordPress blog posts for the search engines.

To help make this easier, I’ve created a WordPress SEO Checklist which you can follow each time you make a new blog post. You don’t have to do everything in this list, but if you can do most of these you will have the best chance of getting traffic from the search engines to your blog post.

1. Keyword Research – Before you create a blog post you should spend at least a couple of minutes doing some keyword research. Use the Google keyword tool or your favorite keyword tool to find a keyword phrase to target your blog post around. It is best to choose a long tail keyword phrase that is not too competitive. It is unlikely that you will get a blog post ranked #1 in Google for a competitive keyword, but you have a good chance of getting ranked for a keyword with 4 or 5 words in it. If I am in a rush I simply look for a keyword that gets only 50-300 searches per month or so (exact match) and go with that. I know that is not a lot of searches, but if you pick a different keyword phrase every time you publish a blog post, just think of how many searches per month this will add up to!

2. Unique Content – The best way to generate unique content is to write it youself or get someone to ghostwrite for you. However, time and money doesn’t always allow this, so if you are using a PLR article as a blog post be sure to change the title, the keywords being used and a few of the sentences here and there. Go for at least a 30% change. The reason for this is that Google will often filter out duplicate pages e.g. if the same article is published on 10 different sites, only 1 or 2 may appear in the search results. This is why it is in your best interest to create content that is unqiue as possible. If you are using PLR I highly recommend using a tool such as The Best Spinner to quickly create a unique version.

3. Keywords in the Title – Be sure to include the keyword you have chosen in the blog post title. If you have your blog set up correctly this will also ensure that the keywords are in the TITLE tag as well.

4. Keyword in the Tag – add your keyword to the post tags. You will see this just to the right of the blog post editor, under your categories. You may want to put one or two variations of your keyword in here, but don’t overdo it.

5. Choose an Appropriate Category – Choose the most appropriate category for your blog post and only choose one category to avoid duplicating content on your site. If there is not a good category create a new one rather than posting it as uncategorized.

6. Sprinkle Your Keywords Throughout the post – Add your keywords around 2-3 times throughout the blog post. Be sure that you do this in a natural way – your content is for humans after all! You may also want to highlight one of the keyword instances in bold or italics for extra emphasis.

7.Use a WordPress SEO Plugin – I recommend installing All in One SEO Pack as it is simple to use and does the job. Once you’ve set it up your blog post scroll down to the bottom of the page and add your keywords to the TITLE tag, meta description and meta keywords.

8. Correct Permalink Settings – be sure that your permalinks are set up in a way that displays the blog post title within the URL. This is much more SEO friendly that a URL that contains a post number.

9. Bookmark Your Post – Once you have published your post submit it to some social Bookmarking websites. A quick way to do this is to use the OnlyWire submission tool.

10. Use Social Plug-ins – There are many social plugins for WordPress that invite your readers to “like” your post on Facebook, tweet your post to Twitter or bookmark your post to social bookmarking services. As well as increasing your traffic through social networking these can also help your post to get indexed in the search engines more quickly and in some cases get you a backlink or two!

11. Remember to Build Backlinks
– If your blog posts are not getting ranked well it is probably because you do not have enough backlinks to your website. Be sure to split your time between blogging and backlinking and consider building some deep links as well. A deep link is a link that does not go to your home page. Instead it goes to another page on your website such as your blog, an individual blog post or a page.

I hope you liked this WordPress SEO Checklist! Please download my SEO EBook to get lots of other tips for getting your blog or website ranked highly in the search engines.

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This is the final part of my SEO for Blogs series and  I am going to concentrate on the very important subject of Off Site Optimization. Off site optimization is all about building backlinks to your website and if you miss this part out you can probably wave goodbye to getting any traffic from the search engines!

Before we start I am assuming that you have already read part one, part two, part three and part four of my WordPress SEO series and you have chosen keywords for your home page, have a big list of keywords to use in your future blog posts and you have optimized your home page.

A backlink is simply a link from a website pointing to your website. Search engines see backlinks a bit like votes for a website – the more backlinks that you have the more important your website is deemed by the search engines. It’s not just the quantity of backlinks that counts though – it is also the quality. A backlink from an important website is better than a backlink from a brand new website. A backlink from a page that has just a few other links on it is better than a backlink from a page that has 50 other links on it.

In an ideal world, backlinks would come naturally. People would link to your website because the content on your site is useful to others. This happens a lot, but it can be difficult to get natural links to a new website that nobody knows about.

For this reason you need to spend a good proportion of your marketing efforts acquiring backlinks. There are lots of ways to do this and I discuss this in more detail in my how to improve your Google page rank post. In summary here are some of the things that you can do to get a backlink:

  • Write a short article of 400-500 words and submit it to article directories. Include an author resource box containing a link to your website.
  • Submit your website to online directories.
  • Leave a comment on other peoples’ blog posts and include a link to your website.
  • Post in forums related to your website and put a link to your website in the signature.
  • Write a Press release and distribute it to online press release directories.
  • Create a free report, include your link in the report and allow people to give it away for free.
  • Create online profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace and put a link to your website in your profile

These are just some ways to get a backlink to your website.

Usually when you submit an article, leave a comment on a blog or submit your site to a directory you will get a choice of the words to use in the anchor text of the link to your link. The anchor text is the clickable link that is usually underlined and in blue font. It is important to use your keywords in the anchor text wherever you can and this will help you to rank more highly in the search engines.

You will do better in the search engines if you keep your link building as natural as possible. You should try to:

  • Build your links slowly and steadily – don’t try to get thousands of links in the space of a few weeks.
  • Vary your anchor text – as well as using your keywords in the anchor text you should use variations of your keywords.
  • Avoid purchasing links or getting links from sites that are not listed in the search engines – although this won’t have a negative impact on your search engine ranking, it is unlikely to help. Google frowns upon bought links.

Finally, you shouldn’t  just build links to your home page, you should spend some of your link building efforts building links to individual blog posts or pages. One of the quickest and easiest ways  to do this is by using social bookmarking services to bookmark your blog posts. You can also learn about other deep link building techniques here.

I hope you found my five part SEO for Blogs series useful. If you have a comment or a question please feel free to post it below!

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In this post I am going to talk about on site optimization which is also known as on page optimization. I am assuming that you have already read part one, part two and part three of my WordPress SEO series and have done the following:

1) Chosen one or two keyword phrases for the home page of your blog

2) Made a list of less competitive keywords to use whenever you make a blog post.

First I am going to talk about optimizing your blog home page.

When you optimize the main page of your blog you will need to ensure that you mention your main keywords in specific places including:

1) The TITLE tag of your home page – this is the text that will be displayed in the title bar of your browser and is one of the most important places for SEO. If you are using WordPress and have installed All in One SEO pack it is very easy to add your keywords to your TITLE. Just click on “Setting” in the WP admin panel and click on “All in One SEO”. You will see a field called “Home Title”. Just put your main keywords in here and then click the update button. If you have more than one keyword phrase you can separate each phrase with a “|” character.

2) The META description of your home page – often this description is what people will see as a summary of your site when the search in Google so make sure it is descriptive and entices people to click on your website. Keep the description to a couple of sentences and include each of your keywords once. You can update your description via the All in One SEO Pack settings as described in 1).

3) The META keywords of your home page – many people wrongly assume that this is an important factor in SEO, but actually it isn’t. In the past this tag has been overused and abused therefore the majority of search engines simply ignore it. For completeness you can include your main keywords in here if you wish, but keep it to a minimum. A list of 5 or 6 phrases is much better than a list of 20 phrases. You can update your description via the All in One SEO Pack settings as described in 1).

4) In the alt attributes of images on your home page – there should be an alt attribute for every image on your page and it should contain a short description of your image. When you hover your pointer over an image on a web page you will see the alt text and these are heavily used by software that reads web pages for blind people. You can add your keywords to the alt text of some of the images on your home page but don’t overdo it. Adding your keywords to 2-3 images is usually enough.

5) Throughout the body text of your home page – it is very important that you mention your main keyword phrase(s) throughout the body of your home page. If your site is setup like a typical blog this can be more difficult as your home page will always be changing and your latest blog post will show first. To get round this problem you can either add your keyword phrases to some of the static parts of your page e.g. an introductory paragraph if you have one, some of the widgets within your home page, or you can edit the theme to add your keywords to the home page in various places. Alternatively you could setup your blog so that you have a static front page with snippets of the latest posts. If you do this you can easily include your keywords throughout the static part of your page. Again, don’t over do this. Less than 5% density is best.

6) In the H1 or H2 tags on your home page – If you have a main heading on your home page you will want to ensure that it contains your keywords. The H1 tag is ideal for this, but if you don’t have an H1 tag you can put your keywords in the H2 tag. Normally this will involve updating your theme and since every theme is different I am not going to go into detailed instructions in this post.

Next, the easier part. How to optimize your blog posts.

A lot of people just concentrate on the optimization of their home page and this is a huge mistake. If you target very low competition keyword phrases and base each blog post around a different keyword phrase you can easily multiply the traffic to your website. You should use the list of low competition phrases that you compiled earlier and every time you make a blog post do the following:

1) Put your keyword phrase in the title of your blog post.

2) Mention your keyword phrase 2-3 times throughout the body of your blog post.

3) Ensure that the permalink contains your keyword phrase (URL of your post)

4) Ensure that you have All in one SEO Pack set up so that the Post Title format is set to %post_title% | %blog_title% if you want your Title to contain both the blog post title and the blog title OR just %post_title% if you want to make the title contain only the post title. This will only work if you have put your keywords in the blog title.

That’s it! If you take the time to do on site optimization by optimizing your home page and each blog post  for your keywords your chances of getting lots of traffic from the search engines will be much higher.

Look out for the final part of this series very soon where I will talk about off site optimization.

Download my SEO EBook to learn how to get your website to the top of Google.

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Updated – April 2012.

This post is the third part of my SEO for Blogs series and today I am going to concentrate solely on the best WordPress SEO Plugins.

WordPress is very SEO friendly on its own, but there are a number of SEO plugins for WordPress that can make improve your search engine ranking. Listed below are (in my own opinion) 10 of the most useful and best SEO WordPress Plugins.

Platinum SEO Pack – allows you to set up TITLE, Meta Description and Meta keywords tags for your home page and specify a format for all your page titles and meta tags. It also allows you to tweak individual post  titles tags and URLs on the fly when you create or edit posts and pages. If you only install one plugin for SEO, then it should be this one!

=> More information about Platinum SEO Pack.

Google XML Sitemaps Plugin – A site map helps Google and other search engines to index all the pages on your website or blog. It isn’t going to increase your search engine ranking but it will help to ensure that all the pages on your site are indexed by Google. This plugin generates an XML-Sitemap compliant sitemap of your WordPress blog.

=> More information about Google XML Sitemaps Plugin

Redirection Plugin – if you make changes to your blog e.g. removing or moving pages or posts then you need to make sure that you don’t lose the traffic that was going to these pages. This plugin allows you to manage 301 redirections and keep track of 404 (not found errors)

=> More information about the Redirection Plugin

Google Positioner Plugin – this plugin allows you to quickly and easily track your keyword positions in Google. If you know what keywords you are ranking for, this can help you focus your SEO efforts.

=> More information about the Google Positioner Plugin

SEO Friendly Images Plugin– if you use a lot of images on your site this is a good plugin to install and can help your images to get ranked in the Google Image search. The plugin automatically adds ALT attributes and TITLE attributes to all your images.

=> More Information about SEO Friendly Images Plugin

SEO Slugs Plugin – Search engines ignore stop words (e.g. the, a, in, it). This plugin automatically  removes stop words from the permalink structure, putting more emphasis on the most important keywords and helping you to rank better.

=> More information about SEO Slugs Plugin

Meta Robots Plugin – by default the search engines will try to crawl all pages on your site. This means that they could end up spidering the same content more than once (e.g. if you have a post that appears in multiple categories or in archives.). This plugin allows you to adds robot meta tags to the appropriate places on  your pages to ensure that the same content is not indexed multiple times.

=> More Information about the Robots Meta Plugin.

ShareThis Plugin – this plugin makes it easy for your readers to bookmark a post or page on your website using one of a number of social bookmarking services. Social bookmarking a post will often result in a backlink to your site (depending on the social bookmarking service used), which in turn will help to improve your search engine rank.

=> More Information about the ShareThis Plugin

WP Backlinks Plugin – Reciprocal linking isn’t as effective as it once was, but it will still help to improve your search engine ranking. This plugin makes it easy to exchange and manage links with other bloggers. It allows you to add a form to your sidebar to let other bloggers exchange links with you. In the admin panel you will be able to approve or dissaprove links and keep track of the status of these backlinks e.g.  to make sure they are linking back to you.

=> More Information about WP Backlinks Plugin.

Permalinks Moved Permanently Plugin – if you started off using WordPress and didn’t use the optimum setting for permalinks (see part 2 of my SEO For Blogs Series) then you can install this plugin before you change your settings to ensure that that you don’t lose traffic or page rank permanently. This plugin  generates a 301 redirect from the old pages.

=> More information about the Permalinks Moved Permanently Plugin.

In my opinion, these are 10 of the best WordPress SEO plugins. It is not necessary to install all of them, but it is worth reading the summaries and deciding if the plugin will be of benefit to you.

If you feel like you need some help optimizing your blog posts I recommend that you take a look at the pro plugin called SEO Pressor. This plugin acts like an expert looking over your shoulder as you write your blog posts. It guides you in making your post SEO friendly and lets you know what you have missed.

Read Part 4 –  On Site Optimization for WordPress

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This is the part two of my SEO for Blogs series of posts. If you have missed part one, about keyword research you can read it here – SEO for Blogs Part One.

In this post I am going to concentrate on making your blog permalinks more SEO friendly.

One of the most important settings in WordPress for SEO is the permalink structure – this is basically what your blog post URLs will look like. For SEO purposes it is best to have a URL that is meaningful and contains your keywords, so whatever you do, don’t leave the permalink setting at the default as this will result in each post as your permalinks will then look something like this: http://yourdomain.com/?p=number – not very meaningful.

It is better to set up your permalink structure so that your permalinks look like one of the following;

http://yourdomainname.com/category/postname OR

http://yourdomainname.com/postname

To set this up, simply login to your WordPress admin panel and click on the Settings link in the sidebar and then on Permalinks. Next choose “custom” from the menu and enter one of the following in the box:

/%category%/%postname%/ – if you want your permalinks to contain the category and the postname OR

/%postname%/  – if you want your permalinks to contain only the postname

These are the optimimum permalink settings for SEO in WordPress.

To support this new permalink structure you may also need to update your .htaccess file. This file normally resides in the root directory on your web server, so you will need to edit it and add the following lines if they are not already present:

RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]

If you have had a WordPress blog for a while and you are currently using one of the other permalink settings you need to think carefully before making this change. If you have lots of backlinks to existing blog posts and you are getting traffic to your blog, then changing the permalink structure will result in you losing any traffic that is going to indivudal posts. Luckily there is a solution for this common problem – there are various plugins available to do a permanent 301 redirect from your old blog links URLs to the new ones.

You can download one such plugin here – Permalink Redirect WordPress Plug-In

Read Part Three – 10 of the Best WordPress SEO Plugins

For more search engine optimization tips download my SEO EBook.

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SEO for Blogs – Part One: Keyword Research

In my next few posts I am going to talk a bit about SEO for Blogs. Doing Search Engine Optimization for blogs is pretty similar to doing SEO for a regular website, but there are a few additional techniques for bloggers. If you are using WordPress there are a few essential wordpress plugins that you should install and specific settings for your permalinks.

I am going to split my SEO for Blogs series into 5 different parts:

1) Keyword Research

2) Optimimum Permalink Structure for WordPress SEO

3) Essential WordPress Plugins for SEO

4) On site optimization for blogs

5) Off site optimization for blogs

Ideally you should think about keyword research before you start your blog. If you have been blogging for a while and haven’t yet done this don’t worry as it is possible to do it now and then use your keywords in your future blog posts.

When I am doing SEO for a blog I like to split my keyword research into two parts:

(1) Find a reasonably high traffic phrase for my blog in general

(2) Make a big list of lower traffic (less competitive) phrases for my blog posts

There are lots of keyword research tools available, but the quickest and easiest free tool that I know of is the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. All you need to do is:

  • Enter 1 or more suggestions for keywords in the box
  • Choose “All countries and Territories” from the drop down menu (or the specific country that you are targeting)
  • Click the “Get Keywords” button
  • I also recommend choosing “Exact” from the “Match Type” menu on the right hand side

You will see a big list of keyword phrases that should include the keywords that you typed in and some related keywords. For each keyword you will also see the estimated number of monthly searches for each keyword. I usually find that this number is slightly inflated but it acts as a good guide and a od way to compare different keywords.

If you are finding it hard to create a big list of keywords you may want to consider a subscription to Wordtracker as this tool is very helpful at suggesting related keywords and makes it easy to build massive lists of keywords.

You probably want to go through the above process a few times for different keyword combinations and then save your keyword lists to a text file or a spreadsheet.

Next you should try and decide on 1-2 keyword phrases for your blog as a whole. You should choose something that has more than 3000 seearches per month and your aim will be to get the home page of your blog on the first page of Google for that keyword phrase. Before you decide on a phrase it is important that you check out the competition for your phrase. Go to Google and enter your phrase and take a look at the websites that are on the first and second pages of results for that keyword. Can you beat them? If it looks impossible (based on the number of backlinks that they have) then search for an alternative phrase.

Once you have your main phrase(s) you should aim to construct a big list of less competitive keywords. Look for keyword phrases that have only a few hundred searches per month. Typically these will have lower competition than your main phrase. Keep this big list of keyword phrases somewhere safe and whenever you make a blog post choose a keyword phrase from your list to base your blog post on.

In the next few parts of my SEO for Blogs series I will cover in detail how to optimize your blog and your blog posts for your chosen keywords and what essential settings and WordPress plugins you need to setup to maximise your SEO success.

Read Part Two – Optimimum Permalinks Structure for WordPress SEO

Download my SEO EBook to learn how to get your blog to the top of the search engines.

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For SEO purposes you may want to have a static first post or home page in your WordPress site. In addition to this you may also want to show some of your latest posts or some snippets of your latest posts after your static first post.

Traditionally, when you install WordPress and start posting to it, the last post you made will always be the first post that shows on your home page.

You may well want it to be this way, but alternatively you may want to always display a welcome message on the front page of your site.

For example on this SEO site I have a static first post displaying on my home page and I also show snippets of the latest 5 posts.

So how do you do this? Luckily it is not too complicated…

STEP ONE:

Create the welcome message that you want to display on the home page of your site. In this  post you probably want to welcome your visitors, give them a brief intro to what your website is about, encourage an optin (if applicable) and anything else you want.  Here are the instructions for creating a static home page (for WordPress 2.7)

(1) Login to your WordPress Admin area
(2) Click on “Pages” on the menu and select “Add New”
(3) Create your new page
(4) Remember to include your site’s main keywords in the title of the post and in a few places  throughout the post for SEO purposes
(5) Publish your page
(6) Click on “Settings” in the menu and select “Reading”
(7) From the drop down menu choose “A static page” from the selection for the “Front Page Display”
(8) Select the page that you just created from the drop down menu and click “save changes”

Once you have completed these steps if you view your site, your new welcome message should be the only thing that is displayed on the home page and the visitor can navigate via whatever widgets you have (e.g. categories, latest posts etc).

If you want to go one step further and show the last say 3, or 5 posts underneath your static welcome message, you can also do step 2.

STEP TWO

(1) The first step is to edit one of your theme files to add some code to make the home page show your latest posts underneath the welcome message. Don’t worry if you don’t understand the  PHP code.
(2) Click on “Appearance” and “Editor” in the menu
(3) Click on “Page Template”
(4) First back up this page template. This is so you can quickly and easily recover if it goes wrong. To do this just open a text editor on your computer and copy and paste the contents of page.php (the page template) into your text editor and save it.
(6) Look for the line of code that looks like this:

(7) AFTER this line of code insert the following code:


Latest posts….





(8) If you want you can edit the part that says “Latest Posts…” to say whatever you want. Or you can change from h3 to h2 or whatever you prefer.

This shows snippets of the latest 5 posts. If you want to show a different number of posts  then change the ‘showposts=5’ to ‘showposts=3’ or whatever number you want.

(9) Save the file

That’s it! Your WordPress home page should now be showing a static welcome message and snippets of the latest 5 posts.

For more ways to improve your search engine rank download my SEO EBook.

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