In the past I’ve covered several simple tips on how to optimize your blog. In this article, I’d like to get much more specific about the process of checking all SEO efforts are in place before you publish your article. I’ll be focusing on using the famous Yoast SEO plugin in combination with WordPress.
The Yoast plugin makes it easy for content managers and writers to optimize their blog and articles while having to know little about HTML and server-side coding. There are other plugins out there like the All in One SEO Pack, but we here at SumAll have found Yoast fits our needs well.
1. The Snippet Preview
If you do have the Yoast plugin installed, you should see a convenient area below each article called “Wordpress SEO by Yoast.” This plugin will analyze the current post and let you know what you are missing. What’s great the Yoast plugin is how it displays a preview of what your post will look like in search displays.
Make sure your focus keyword is in place
It’s important to focus on one main keyword if you want your post to receive quality organic traffic. Think of this as the topic of your post. A good blog entry focuses on one topic, which is directly related to how users are typing one search term into Google. So, basically, make sure everything is checked green to ensure all your keywords are appearing in the right place.
This box is very handy if you aren’t sure what your focus keyword should be. As your start typing, you will notice an affect that mirrors Google’s own search box functionality. Keyword suggestions begin to appear as you type. Notice “optimize your blog” is bold? Every time you search a term in Google, the term displays as bold throughout the search results in the title, url, and meta description to help viewers determine relevancy. This is a good visual way to understand how keyword relates to placement on your page.
Check your title
The “SEO Title” field here is automatically generated from the title you gave the post in WordPress. Make sure your keyword appears at least once here. If you are changing this on an existing article that has already been cached by search engines, make sure you understand how redirects work first. However, there is a place in this plugin you can create the redirect, so more on that later.
Create your meta description
This is also populated from the content of your post so make sure it is clear and descriptive. It’s nice to have a keyword appear here as well, although I’d like to point out that this has no direct effect on rankings. What it does do is help improve user experience on the search results pages. A viewer is more likely to click on a page with a clean and relevant description.
2. The Page Analysis Tab
This tab gives an overall analysis of your page based on all factors. It’s important to get as many factors into the green as possible. The list is based on important grading criteria that relate keywords to pages.
It’s pretty self-explanatory if you go down the list and see which areas of your post need more work. As you can see above, the article lacks frequency of keywords for the most part.
It’s helpful to place your keyword in other content headers besides the main header (H1), such as the H2 tag and even bold or italic tags. Also, if you have images on the page, make sure to try and include some keywords in the alt tag as well.
3. The Advanced Tab
For the most part, you won’t need to go into this tab, but it does provide some super convenient options that normally would have to be achieved in a more technical manner.
Meta Robots Settings
Unless you don’t want your page crawled and made searchable, then keep these set to “index” and “follow”. Index allows search engine robots to index your page and this should be set to default anyway. “Follow” allows the robots to identify and links on the page and follow them if they can be followed. For a more detailed description of each meta tag value, take a look at Yoasts’ guide.
Include in Sitemaps
In the past, your sitemap.xml file was often static and sat alone on the server. This option helps to create more of a dynamic environment for this file. When you install the Yoast plugin, your blog utilizes this functionality by default. But with the on-page option, you can select if the page should be included or not.
The Sitemap Property setting allows you to modify the page’s priority in relation to other pages on the site. This is a markup tag you can find in the sitemap.xml file, but modifying the option here allows you to do this in real-time. Basically, this lets search engines understand how important pages are in relation to other pages on the site in order of 0.0 to 1.0. Your blog home page will likely have a ranking of 1.0 for example and maybe a lower score for pages like “privacy.”
If you have Google authorship configured for your blog writers, this setting allows you to toggle to show or not show. If you are wondering what authorship is, check out Copyblogger’s explanation on how to set up authorship and why it’s important.
To create Google authorship on your blog, follow these steps:
1. Make sure you have a Google+ profile with an image of yourself included.
2. Add your Google+ link under “users” in the Google+ text box in WordPress. It should look something like this: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115468291728510814863/posts
3. In your Google+ settings click your profile image at the top right, then click “view profile.” On the bottom right under “links,” add your blog URL to “contributor to.” There can be more than one here if you have authored other blogs.
4. Use the structured data testing tool to test (after its added to the blog) to make sure it is working properly.
If there is more than one version of your webpage or blog post somewhere else on the web, you can set the original link here to help tell search engines which page is the real one and help reduce duplicate content issues that would otherwise water down your ranking.
Much like rel=”canonical,” this allows you to set a redirect for the post. If you ever have to change an existing site URL, you will have to write a 301 redirect to help search engines understand what the new URL is and to pass on existing “link juice” to maintain existing rankings. Normally, this is done within the .htaccess file on the server-side of a WordPress installation, but with this option, it can be done right from within WordPress.
4. The Social Tab
When you share your post or page to a social media channel (like Facebook or Google+), the channel will auto-generate information stored in meta data. Here, you can set the Facebook and Google + description and Facebook image to what you’d like.
As long as you follow these rules, you can ensure each posts will be properly optimized for search engines. Keep in mind that these rules never stay the same as Google often changes its search algorithms. The folks over at Yoast keep an eye on search trends and consider this when updating their plugin. If you are responsible for any form of content on the web, then it can’t hurt to stay up to date with the most recent trends.