WordPress blogging SEO checklist

Here are a few things to think about when optimising your WordPress blog for SEO (search engine optimisation) purposes.

URL

URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator (exciting, isn’t it!). The URL is the actual web address that you see in the browser bar, such as www.yourdomainname.com. If the URL contains the keywords you wish to be found for, there’s a good chance that search engines will rank it high in the results.

You can buy a domain name from WordPress or from any other provider. If you buy your domain name elsewhere, you can ‘map’ it to WordPress when you pay them $12p.a.

Title tag

The title tag is hidden in the code of your website or blogsite and may show in the grey bar at the top of your browser window (depending on what browser you use). Note that search engines read all the code, not just the words that human visitors can see. Your title tag is one the of most important parts of the code, and simply changing the title tag can help boost your site up the rankings. To change your title tags, go to Settings > General, choose a WordPress plugin such as the All in One SEO Pack, or hand-code them. More info.

Post titles

The title of each blog post will automatically appear as the title tag, so it’s wise to write keyword-rich post titles using words that your target reader is actually likely to search for. Use Google’s keyword tool to help identify keywords with high monthly searches and low competition.

Permalinks

Underneath the box where you type your blog post title is the permalink that becomes the URL of the blog post. You’ll notice that your words will appear separated-with-hyphens. Don’t worry, Google ignores hyphens. You may also notice that if you type your title slowly or make a mistkae [sic], the permalink only includes the first few words you type. Don’t worry, you can edit your permalink to read whatever you want. Again, make sure it includes your keywords if you want to be found on search.

Note that it may not be wise to edit your permalink after your blog post is live, in case other sites have already linked to it. If you change the permalink later, those inbound links will go to a 404 not found page. (You can check using backlink checking tools – just search ‘backlink checker’ on Google or your preferred search engine.)

Sharing buttons

Every inbound link is like a ‘vote’ for your website or blogsite that helps it up the rankings.  Make it easy for other sites to link to yours by having good quality content in the first place and by adding sharing buttons so they can link to it with one click. You can set it up in the Settings > Sharing section of your WordPress dashboard, use a social sharing plugin or or get custom code from the likes of AddThis.com or ShareThis.com.

Categories and tags

Like an index in a book, you can apply a category to every post you upload; you can also tag it with the keywords you want it to be found for. You can also display a tag cloud that shows at a glance what your blog is about, because keywords you use most frequently appear larger than the rest. This helps human beings to navigate around your blog, but also helps in search because each category and tag is a clickable link (and search engines think anything clickable is important and therefore rank it higher  – that’s why you should never use ‘click here’ as anchor text; use your keywords instead).

Related posts

To help make your blog more ‘sticky’ so people stay reading it for longer (they therefore get more benefit from the wisdom you share and are more likely to use or recommend your services), you can add a related posts plugin. This  automatically suggests similar posts that readers might enjoy. It helps resurrect old blog posts that still have value but might have disappeared off your blog front page. It also helps in search, because the links repeat your keyword-rich titles as clickable links. (I confess my own blog doesn’t do this at the moment, but will do in future.)

Comments

It’s recommended that you allow blog comments, as blogs that have more comments are rated more favourably by Google. Filter out spam into a separate unpublished folder (WordPress’s Akismet does that automatically) and make time to reply to comments on your blog. Your audience will appreciate that, and so will the search engines because it shows the blog is active.

Inbound links

As mentioned above, any site that links to yours is like a vote for your site, although only when it’s relevant and highly ranked itself. Therefore, use your social media presence elsewhere to link to each blog post and invite your friends, fans and followers to share it with their own networks.

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