10 Ways To Improve Your WordPress Blog’s SEO

Some argue that SEO, or search engine optimization is a whole load of tosh, and whilst they may have a point to an extent, there are a couple of easy things you can do that should improve your blog’s SEO. That said, take everything with a pinch of salt; don’t implement these features and elect to shoot up search rankings. From my time blogging, the only thing I’ve found really helps is getting backlinks from large blogs. Anyway. Let’s get to it: to easy methods to improve your WordPress blog’s SEO.

1. Write brilliant content

Let’s get this clear before we move on – there is simply no better way to improve your search engine ranking than writing great content. Simple as that. SEO is not a substitute for writing brilliant stuff.

2. Leave worthwhile comments

An increasing number of blogs are DoFollow, which means search engines see the link as a backlink (which is obviously good). With that in mind, if you read something that you find interesting, then leave a comment and potentially it’ll have a benefit to your ranking. However, (regular readers will know what is coming!) under no circumstances should you leave a comment that says anything like: “thanks. I try out on my new blog. BIG BLOG LINK”.

I don’t know if there are ten commandments in blogging, but that should be one of them; if you are going to leave a comment then make it worthwhile! Offer something constructive; perhaps your own thoughts or tips on the subject. By all means say thanks, but make sure that that is not all you say.

3. Make “blogging friends”

One of the things I love about WordPress is the community. It’s not been too long since I “joined”, but it is immediately noticeable how willing people are to help, offer tips etc etc. However, one of the things I have found really valuable is help from other WordPress bloggers; I’m an author on WPHacks, and Kyle’s help has been simply brilliant – his advice has been priceless, and from an SEO perspective, having WPHacks linking to my site has undoubtedly helped.

The tip here: go guest posting! Find the biggest site In your niche and go and write for it! Not only will you get a backlink, but you might even gain some more visits out of it!

4. Use Header tags correctly within posts

So far we’ve focused more on tips that you can’t really apply directly into your blog, but here is one you can do straight away: use Header tags and use them correctly. If your post has seperate headings (like this one!) then tag them appropriately. Below is a guide to how you should head things up:

H1 – this tells Google this is the most important thing on the whole page. For that reason, it should contain post titles, not your blog’s title. The following code will do the trick:

<h1><?php the_title(); ?></h1>

H2 – this is the second most important content on the page, so should be used for sub-headings (as they are being used in this post). You can set headings by clicking on ‘Paragraph’ in the visual editor (as shown in the image).

WordPress SEO

Using header tags correctly to increase WordPress SEO

H3 – use for sub sub headings and sidebar elements

H4 – sub sub sub headings and perhaps go this low for sidebar elements.

5. Create a sitemap

Sitemaps tell search engines: here is my content. By giving search engines your content, it gets indexed and you get visits. Or something like that. The point is that sitemaps are an essential part of a blog’s SEO strategy and there is no excuse for not having one. Thankfully for WordPress users, you can easily create a sitemap with the Google XML Sitemaps plugin! Install it, set it up and tell Google where your new sitemap is. Done.

6. Use a search engine friendly title tag

Don’t underestmate the importance of a good title tag. Making sure your title matches the content of your post accurately is highly important; when people are searching, if you’ve got a great post on the subject but your title is about your cat then it won’t be found! The code below is an SEO’d title tag that you can copy straight into your current theme:

><? bloginfo('name'); ?> | <?php bloginfo('description'); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_search() ) { ?>Search Results for <?php /* Search Count */ $allsearch = &new WP_Query("s=$s&showposts=-1"); $key = wp_specialchars($s, 1); $count = $allsearch->post_count; _e(''); echo $key; _e(' &mdash; '); echo $count . ' '; _e('articles'); wp_reset_query(); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_404() ) { ?><? bloginfo('name'); ?> | 404 Nothing Found<?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_author() ) { ?><? bloginfo('name'); ?> | Author Archives<?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_single() ) { ?><?php wp_title(''); ?> | <?php
$category = get_the_category();
echo $category[0]->cat_name;
?> | <? bloginfo('name'); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_page() ) { ?><? bloginfo('name'); ?> | <?php
$category = get_the_category();
echo $category[0]->cat_name;  ?>|<?php wp_title(''); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_category() ) { ?><?php single_cat_title(); ?> | <?php $category = get_the_category();
echo $category[0]->category_description; ?> | <? bloginfo('name'); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_month() ) { ?><? bloginfo('name'); ?> | Archive | <?php the_time('F, Y'); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if ( is_day() ) { ?><? bloginfo('name'); ?> | Archive | <?php the_time('F j, Y'); ?><?php } ?>
<?php if (function_exists('is_tag')) { if ( is_tag() ) { ?><?php single_tag_title("", true); } } ?> | <? bloginfo('name'); ?>

(via ProBlogDesign)

As if that weren’t enough, the next tip will let you customize your title tag even further…

7. Don’t use SEO plugins, use single post meta boxes!

An increasing number of themes are coming with options for adding meta data, changing the title etc etc. The good news is they’re really easy to implement yourself, as I explain in this post (complete with something you can download, copy and paste into your own theme yourself!). What it does is create a box on your post writing page which you can fill out and when saved, you’ll create a number of custom fields with the values of what you typed in. Read the full tutorial on creating in post meta boxes here.

Investing in seo services is one area that is often overlooked by larger companies.

8. Use alt tag on images

Without an alt tag, search engines can’t tell what a certain image is. Again, WordPress users have got it easy; they can just fill out the description when they upload an image and hey presto. It’s an easy thing to do, so make sure you do it!

9. Super SEO for your comments

With thousands of WordPress plugins available, it is very easy to think to yourself “Do I need this plugin that does something I could very easily implement myslef”. Why you shouldn’t use as many plugins as you can find is a post for another day, but for now take my word for it; it’s a bad idea to install a lot of plugins. However, there are some situations where you’re allowed to use a plugin. This is one of them. The SEO Super Comments plugin dynamically generates pages for all your comments, making them indexable by search engines. Now you can rank higher for “Hi. Great post. Thanks. [big link]!”

10. Use “Pretty Permalinks”

The final tip for today is use Pretty Permalinks! Under the settings tab in the WordPress backend, click ‘Permalinks’. You’ve then got a number of options, but I’d suggest you use a ‘Custom Structure’ and have either /category/post-name/ or /post-name/. The code below will do either:

<!-- for /category/postname/-->

<!-- or for /postname/-->

So there we are. Ten tips to improve your blog’s SEO. Now go and reap the rewards!