When you start your first WordPress blog, it can be tempting to simply skip all the technical stuff and just jump right in. But this can cost you dearly if you don’t invest in search engine optimization (SEO). Here are 6 essential SEO settings every new WordPress blogger should know about.
Search engines and users scan your page title to quickly determine what it’s about. Short and descriptive tags can result in higher clickthrough rates from search engines, as well as from Google web searchers. Tags need to be kept within a reasonable length (under 70 characters), but longer tags with more information are recommended for evergreen content because they allow search engines to better parse topics and themes of that content. Tags also help human visitors, who use them to quickly determine if they will find what they’re looking for on your site or not. There is no limit to how many tags you can have, though best practice is five or fewer keywords per tag so that you don’t lose readability (and stop getting people). For example
One of your best free tools is also one of your most underused: meta descriptions. By simply adding a short summary to each page and post, you’ll open up that information to Google and search engines alike. To write your own descriptions, you’ll need to sign into your admin area, click on each page or post individually, then look for a small edit button near the upper right-hand corner of that post’s box. When you press it, you’ll see text boxes at top where you can type in a description.
When it comes to writing content, Keywords are arguably one of most important components. Keywords can mean (and often do) the difference between getting a ton of traffic or no traffic at all. When someone is searching for information, they use certain keywords to search through thousands of websites and to look for sites that offer a solution. The higher up your website appears in these searches, more likely you will get traffic from that keyword. So before starting a new WordPress site, take time to choose and optimize your keywords correctly; think about who your target audience is and what problems you want to solve for them.
Headings, Paragraphs and Words
While you may be tempted to start writing immediately, get your head around a few basic SEO principles first. After all, good content is useless if people can’t find it. Know that your new post should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion—and that each of these should use different headings (H1s and H2s). In between those sections are subheadings (H3s), lists and paragraphs. The general rule of thumb is that you want your post to include 150-600 words (between 300-500 words being ideal). A longer post can be fine but don’t make it ridiculously long. Longer posts tend to not rank as well.
When you have optimized your site for search engines, it’s essential to make sure your content is neither too long nor too short. Content that goes on and on without a break can be off-putting to readers, but so can text that seems like it was cut-off in mid-sentence. You want visitors to read what you’ve written, not stumble over poorly formatted text, so aim for around 300 words per post or at least 2 paragraphs of text. Other factors also affect readability (like long sentences), so keep an eye out for them while writing and try breaking things up a bit.
Internal Linking / Outbound Links
Links to other internal pages within your site will help search engines determine what they should display. It’s a good idea to only link to relevant pages, and you should avoid linking more than three times on a page, but it’s best not to use any links at all as overuse of inbound links can hurt your search engine rankings. Outbound links should be used sparingly too and you shouldn’t link to sites that aren’t relevant or don’t have much in common with yours (such as spammy marketing websites). Some bloggers worry about losing out on link juice by skipping outbound links; however, Google does give some weight to these kinds of links so there are benefits to including them—but still use restraint.