This is the first in my series of posts in helping to make your blog search engine friendly.
First up, I will share a tip that is very easy to implement and produces great results. Any SEO consultant worth his salt will attest to the importance of the blog post title in search engine rankings. There are plenty of techniques and advice on how best you should write headlines/titles to attract readers but that largely dwells on copywriting techniques. I’ll focus on maximizing the reach of your post using WordPress tools.
Piker recently mentioned that using SEO titles meant using ‘trite unimaginative titles’ but that is not entirely true. You still can have your cake and eat it too (he does use one technique that I’m going to mention).
First, title tags are probably the single most important factor in SEO-izing your blog post. To know what your Title Tag is, look at the top of your browser and see what it says. If it says ‘Your Blog Name >> Archives >> Your Post Title’ then you probably need help. The easiest way to fix this is to use the SEO Title Tag plugin. This plugin also lets your strip away, if you wish, extra distracting information in your title like your blog name, or directory structure. Installation is a breeze and you have to make a slight modification to your header.php template file. This will add a field in your ‘Write Post’ page that says Title Tag (optional). This is the place where you can expand on your title and keep it simple and straight whereas at the Title field at the top of the page, you can be as creative as possible. It says Optional because if you keep it blank, it will simply copy the heading you use for your post title. For example, my post on useless questions asked in the Presidential debate on CNN was titled – Useless Debate Questions whereas I expanded on my title in the SEO Title Tag field by saying – Useless Questions at the CNN Democratic Debate (see screenshot above). What difference does this make?
- You can be as creative as you want in writing the title that your regular readers will see i.e. the one on your blog post. The search engines will instead read your SEO Title Tag.
- You can include important keywords that people might use when they are looking for related content in a search engine because the SEO Title is the one they will see (see screenshot). You can also use the SEO Title field to write catchy titles that might attract searchers. Note the title on my blog post simply says ‘Useless Debate Questions’ however the Google search people see the extended version.
The second place you target is the Post Slug field located on the right-hand side of the Write Post field. By default, WordPress uses the words in your Title separated by hyphens. But if you specify it, it uses that instead. For example, the URL of my above post on useless questions is http://www.ipatrix.com/useless-questions-cnn-democratic-debate. You also can include your important keywords in this URL. It is highly unlikely that people are ever going to type it whole but instead click through to it from some other source so no need to be stingy. But at the same time, don’t indulge in keyword-stuffing; Google frowns if you over-indulge. You can also remove the redundant articles and conjunctions and instead focus on the nouns.
I hope this helped. Later, I’ll write on modifying your permalinks to further extend the power of your blog titles.