We’ve already talked about how to properly optimize images for SEO on your WordPress website. That’s an important first step to getting your site found on the web, but now let’s take a look at how to improve your site’s SEO with a simple tool.
WordPress SEO by Yoast
One of the most important plugins you can install on your WordPress website is WordPress SEO by Yoast. There are SEO settings built into themes, but with this plugin, you can achieve much more control of what the search engine crawlers see in your site.
I’ll put it this way. Any SEO work is better than no SEO work, but if you’re going to do the job, you might as well do it right. It won’t take you twice the time to optimize your content for SEO, but it will yield some great results.
Optimizing Pages and Posts
Once you’ve downloaded and installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll notice on your Posts and Pages that there is an extra meta box below the article content. This is where you’ll enter your SEO-specific information for your blog content.
You’ll notice that I copied the blog title into the ‘SEO Title’ section, and then added my business name after. I change the text of my business name on a post-by-post basis, depending on how many characters I have remaining. If there are enough, I’ll use “Friday Next WordPress Development”, or sometimes I’ll use “Friday Next Web Dev”. It just depends on how much space is remaining.
I don’t use the “Focus Keyword” section for the posts on this site, because I have a very specific approach for getting traffic directed back to my site. However, I would highly recommend that when you’re first starting out with this plugin, you use the Focus Keyword tool.
When you enter a keyword or keyphrase into the Focus Keyword Tool, it will grade your post on how well you’ve optimized the content for your chosen keywords. This includes scanning the title, the URL, any attached images, and even the readability of the post. This is extremely helpful for when you don’t know exactly how to craft your content correctly.
The Yoast tool also creates a sitemap for your website at http://yourdomain.com/sitemap_index.xml. You’ll enter this address into your Google Webmaster Tools account in order to inform Google of updates and changes to your site. Sitemaps are incredibly useful for keeping Google apprised of your site content, so that you have a much better chance at hitting the first page of the search results.
The great thing about Yoast sitemaps is that they don’t just provide one sitemap for your site; they provide multiple sitemaps for the multiple post types and taxonomies on your site. Use categories and tags in your posts! WordPress is an incredible tool for SEO optimized content in that it comes with categories and tags built in. All you have to do is fill them in.
When the majority of your site’s content can be linked from other areas on your site, it shows that your site is well-constructed, allowing for visitors to flow between related content easily. This will improve your SRP (search results page) rankings and also just make it easier for people to navigate your site. Don’t get lazy with tags and categories! People will always want to filter your content and look for specific content types.
There are also some great advanced settings in Yoast SEO that allow you to customize the way your site’s title is displayed after each page title, in the sitemaps. Perhaps you want a | instead of a – to separate the page title from the site title. This is easily done in the Yoast advanced settings.
You can also decide exactly how you want archive pages to be titled. This can be great for times when you want to change something like “Shop Archives” to something more relevant, like “Apple Product Archives”, or even just “Apple Products”. It’s up to you to mess around in the advanced settings area and set up the site’s SEO titles to your liking.
Optimize, Optimize, Optimize
Now that you know how to optimize images and content for SEO, get at it! We’re still not done covering all the great ways to get your site’s content in front of more eyes, but these two first steps are crucial in ensuring that your site gets promulgated like it should.