Several of my readers have asked about a simplified version of using SEO and here it is. I will try not to use any language you won’t understand and if I do, you are welcome to smack my hand in the comments.
Let’s go step by step, starting from the beginning.
Site Title and Tagline
1. Go to your dashboard and then to Settings/General. At the top, you will find Site Title and Tagline. These are super important because these are what will show when a search for your site pulls up your homepage. Don’t just write any old thing here. This is where you can tell the world exactly what your site is about. Paleo diet or basketball tips are not specific enough. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs out there doing exactly the same thing so try to be quite specific. For the Title, write your blog name and then a crucial keyword(s) for your niche. For example, for my blog, Strands of My Life, I have written: Strands of My Life – Low FODMAP Diet.
For the Tagline, I have written: Low FODMAP Diet | gluten-free recipes | gluten-free diet | low FODMAP recipes | irritable Bowel Syndrome. This covers all the major keywords for my niche. And do separate them out with the “|” symbol. Don’t use this in the title, just in the tagline.
Install WordPress SEO by Yoast
2. Next go to Plugins/Add New. Type in WordPress SEO by Yoast. Install it and activate it.
How to configure WordPress SEO by Yoast
3. Click on SEO in your side menu and you will see a whole heap of subtitles shoot out. These all need to be configured. The best way to do this is to follow a tutorial by the man himself, Yoast. https://yoast.com/articles/wordpress-seo/ .
How to use WordPress SEO by Yoast
4. Once that is all set up, let’s have a look at what has changed underneath your posting area. Go to Posts/Add New, then scroll down to beneath the editor area to where you can see WordPress SEO by Yoast. That wasn’t there before, was it? This now becomes one of the most precious areas of your blog – neglect it at your peril.
Take a look at my SEO area for my last post, Why decreasing your blog load time will get you more traffic.
a) The snippet preview at the top will show you exactly what will show in a Google search once you have filled in all the fields below.
b) Choose your main keywords (it can be more than one word and actually should be to narrow it down) and enter it/them in the Focus Keyword area. Use this tool to find good keywords: https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner. The Focus Keyword is put in there just to guide you on what to write for the SEO Title and Meta Description. You can see that I have put decreasing your blog load time as my keyword(s). Decrease probably would have been better and hence a couple of areas where my exact keywords are not duplicated perfectly. But that doesn’t worry me too much. It is just a guide for you.
c) SEO Title will be populated automatically from your heading for the post. That doesn’t mean it has to stay that though. The purposes of a Heading that goes out to your public and the title for SEO often don’t coincide. The heading is so that you can catch the attention of your readers with something clever or funny. The SEO Title is to catch the attention of the search engines and should be short and have your keywords in it with no extra words. In my case above, they coincided but you always have to think about whether they should stay the same or not. You can see that I have gone 4 words over the allowed amount of words before Google cuts you off.
d) Meta Description should also be rich with your keywords but does have to make sense and encourage the person searching to choose your snippet in the search results over that of another website.
See below to what showed up when I did a Google search. It is almost the same as the Snippet Preview though the title has been cut a bit shorter.
Now that you know where your meta data ends up, hopefully that will encourage you to fill it in.
SEO for your Images
5. It is not all over yet. There’s something else you have to do with every new post. When you add photos to a post or to your media file, you must enter all the meta data over on the right. That is so important if you want the search engine to see them. Photos can lead people back to your site but only if the search engine can see them and it can’t without that data filled in. See a screenshot of the area below.
a. See at the top on the right there is the name of the photo. This is what you named it when you saved it to your computer. Please, please name your photos and don’t let them remain a string of numbers or the word image.
b. Title – this can be the title you used for your post. The Alt Text can be the same but add the word image or graphic at the end of it.
c. Caption – this is optional and I seldom use them but they actually can be quite helpful and people do like to read them.
d. Meta Description – similar to the meta description on your post.
NOTE: it is best not to use the exact same meta data on all your images in the same post. Vary it a bit.
e. Further down you have Alignment. If your image is the same size as your post area, then you can leave this at the default None. If it is smaller, choose right or left so that the writing comes up beside it and doesn’t leave it swimming about all alone.
f. Link to – it’s better to choose None here because otherwise if you put Media File in there, people click on them and get the image alone by itself and that achieves nothing. The other two are seldom relevant but could be in special circumstances.
g. Size – it is really a bad idea to use this function to downsize your large photo. Downsize it to the exact right size before uploading it and then choose Full Size. Now click onto Insert into Post.
h. Now go into Media Library in the menu and click on the photo. Look below and you will see the first area is where you have filled in the meta data as explained above. But scroll on down and you will find the WordPress SEO by Yoast area. Complete this just as you did for the post. Make sure you click on Update before leaving.
Use the<H1> and <H2> Tags
6. Another tip is to use the <h1> tags right at the top of the post and the <h2> tags as your subheadings. See my article on creating pages to learn about these tags. It really is quite simple.
Those are the mechanics of it all and need to be done with every single post. It will give you a boost in the SEO department but much of it depends on choosing good keywords which people search for but that don’t have a lot of competition from the big blogs. And never forget that at the end of the day, it’s all about writing great content that gives someone the solution to a problem they have. And hopefully it is a solution that they can’t find anywhere else.