Just about anyone can create and write a WordPress blog (your eleven-year-old cousin, your elderly neighbor, your doctor, your grocer, you!), but very few know how to optimize a WordPress blog post. It’s a simple process that too many bloggers overlook or ignore, but if you want your blog to be read by more than just your family and friends, optimization is essential. And I’m pleased to say that anyone can do it with the right plug-in and a bit of SEO knowhow. So if you’re interested in learning how to optimize a WordPress blog post, stick around. This will only take a minute, I promise . . .
How to Optimize a WordPress Blog Post
1. Install the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast. There are many SEO plugins available for WordPress, but Yoast’s version is (quite frankly) the best. Why?
- First of all, it’s free. Can’t beat that!
- Second, it offers everything you’ll need to optimize your blog.
- Third, it’s very intuitive and efficient. It explains how to optimize a WordPress blog post in simple language that anyone can understand.
If you don’t believe me, trust the 7 million people who have downloaded the plugin. Over 3,000 of those users rated the plugin, giving it an average score of 4.7/5 stars. So if you’re looking to improve your blog’s SEO, trust Yoast. You won’t be disappointed.
(This is not a paid advertisement, by the way—just a happy customer professing her love for Yoast!).
2. Choose your focus keyword. Now that you have the Yoast plugin installed, figure out your keyword. Choose something that search engine users will naturally type in on their own. If you’re having trouble, start typing words into the SEO plugin where it says “focus keyword.” The plugin will process the words as you type them and try to guess the phrase that you’re going to use. Use one of its guesses if possible because those guesses are phrases that real users have searched for.
3. Use the focus keyword in your SEO title. The SEO title will be displayed on Google’s search results, so choose it carefully. Include the keyword at the beginning (if possible) and use your blog/company name as well. You aren’t allowed to use more than 70 characters. The plugin will let you know how many characters you have left as you type.
4. Write a meta description. This will be displayed beneath the SEO title when your blog post appears on Google. You’re limited to 156 characters (again, the plugin will let you know how many characters you have left). Use the focus keyword at least once (twice if possible).
5. Check the “snippet preview.” The plugin generates a preview of what your blog post will look like on Google, updating each time you add in more text. Be sure that it looks how you hoped and expected.
6. Create the blog post title and URL. Go up to the top of the page. Beneath the words “Edit Post,” you’ll see a box for the title and the url. Type in your title (including the focus keyword, of course). This title will appear on the actual blog post. Then, check that the URL contains the focus keyword as well.
7. Include your focus keyword in your blog post. Ideally, the keyword should account for over 1% of your post’s body copy, and it should always be present in the first paragraph of the blog post. Try not to lower the quality of your writing to accommodate the keyword.
8. Use the keyword at least once in an H1 or H2 heading. Do this by highlighting the text and changing its status from “Paragraph” text to “Heading 1” or “Heading 2.”
9. Include two or more images and replace the alt text of the first two images with your focus keyword. To do this, edit the picture and scroll down to the box labeled “Alternative Text.” Insert the keyword here.
10. Categorize the blog post. On the right side of the page, you’ll see a box labeled “Categories.” Place a checkmark in the box that best fits the topic of the blog post.
10. Include an outbound link to a page of high authority. If you’re ever in doubt, Wikipedia is a great source.
11. Check the plugin’s “Page Analysis.” We’ve been working in the “General” tab of the plugin so far. Switch over to “Page Analysis” and check out your results (Note: you may need to click “Save Draft” to see updated results). The page analysis grades your blog post on its optimization. You’ll see that it gives you green dots and positive feedback on things you’ve done well (such as using a new keyword and including the keyword in the first paragraph of copy). Yellow dots indicate items that should be improved (like including outbound links). Red and orange dots point out major failings in your post’s SEO (like only using 62 words in the body copy when 300-600 is preferred).
12. Make needed changes, aiming for a page analysis with only green dots. Of course sometimes it will be impossible to make every red/yellow dot turn green, but do your best. The Yoast plugin does a good job of succinctly explaining how to optimize a WordPress blog post. If you follow its simple instructions, you should end up with a well-optimized blog post.
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That’s it! That’s all there is to it. You’ve just learned how to optimize a WordPress blog post. Don’t be intimidated by the number of steps because they’re all very simple. Once you have the body copy written, learning how to optimize a WordPress blog post should only take 10-15 minutes. Swift and simple, but so worth it!