SEO Tutorial: Optimise your WordPress Site for the Search Engines – Part 2

SEO Tutorial Optimising your WordPress Pages for the Search Engines - Part 2What is involved when optimising a WordPress page?

Here in Part 2 I’m going through the actual process of optimising a WordPress page using the Yoast plugin.

In Part 1 we looked at the power of the WordPress CMS (content management system), limitations of WordPress SEO, as well as using plugins such as Yoast WordPress SEO. Now in Part 2 we’re going to go through the process of optimising an actual WordPress page using the Yoast plugin.

What are we trying to achieve?

Before we start, it’s worth taking a quick look at just what we’re trying to achieve here, and what may be possible and what isn’t.

First thing to note is we’re talking about on-page search engine optimisation (SEO), as opposed to off-page SEO. On-page SEO is just that, it is focused just on changes you can make to the text and meta tags, that may help its position on Google. Off-page activity, relates to just about anything else you do that is off the page or away from the site. This could include things like: social media activity, PR or using off-line advertising.

Optimising the page. First step, what is the keyword focus?

Ideally you need to have a keyword focus for the page you’re trying to optimise. This means a keyword phrase, you’re currently not doing so well for and want to do better. The idea is that this optimised page will help achieve this.

I’ll take you through an example of optimising a page.

The keyword phrase I’ve chosen for the example is: “seo audit”. This is a relevant term for our website as it is a service we offer. However as you can imagine this is going to be a very competitive phrase. So the chances are it’s going to be very difficult to achieve a high 1st page position for it.

Where is the site currently placed?

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First thing to do is to find out where the site is currently placed for your chosen phrase. I’ve mentioned previously some tools that can help with this. Once you’ve got the place record it in a keyword position spreadsheet for future reference. Currently for my phrase “seo audit”, it is placed at position 133 in Google.

Need a related content page to support the focus phrase.

Whatever your chosen phrase is, ideally you need to have a content page on your site that has closely related information. So for my page we need a content page with focused information around the phrase “seo audit”. For us this is fairly simple as we have a page offering a free SEO Audit.

So the first thing to do is open the page in edit mode and scroll down to the Yoast control box below the text. By default the ‘General’ tab will be showing as below:

Using the Yoast SEO Tool in WordPressIn this ‘General’ tab of the Yoast box, you can pretty well, edit all the meta tags needed. I’ll work down the box and outline what everything does, and some ideas of what you need to put in each of the boxes.

Snippet Preview.

This is taken from what you write in the SEO Title and Meta Description boxes, and then rearranged to show how it will look as  a snippet on the search engine results page. It helps you visualise what your meta tags might look like, and helps you ensure you don’t make the title or description too long, so it ends up being cut off at the end.

Focus Keyword.

In this box you enter the keyword phrase you want to focus on, in my case this will be ‘seo audit’. As you start typing you should find other keyword ideas appearing below as you type. This is to help you choose the best keyword focus phrase.

SEO Title.

The SEO title (sometimes known as the meta title) is nothing to do with the title of the document or the heading, but is a page title you write that is really only seen by the search engines. Sometimes they will use it and if they do they will place it as the title for your sites results (among all the results from other sites), that someone can click on to come back to your site.

For this reason it is worth giving a little thought to what you write here. Something that catches the eye, would make sense. Also think about including your focus phrase, because if your page is appearing for that result, people may see the phrase highlighted, and help entice them to click on your results.

Meta description.

Again what you type here is only really ever seen by the search engines. They don’t always use it but if they do, it will appear below the title for your result on the search engine results page. Generally I’ve found the more effort you put into writing it the more chance of it being used. Writing it a bit like an ad, seems to work best, I’ve found. So mentioning a unique selling point, benefits and any offers can only help.

How focused is your page?

Once you’ve finished writing these, save the page and then take a look under the Focus Keywords box to see where it is finding your focus phrase. There are five places Yoast will check for it: Article Title, Page Title, Page URL, Content and Meta Description. If you’ve included the phrase the writing will turn green and you’ll see a number for how many times.

Important thing to note…

One important thing to note here, it is not about quantity, but quality. The aim is not to get your focus keyword into every box and x number of times in the content. The important thing to remember is that your web pages are written for the benefit of people, not search engines.

Needs to be written for humans to read.

Text needs to be written for humans to read easily, and you may need to spend a bit of time, working on the text to achieve this when incorporating the focus keywords. They do need to be in there somewhere otherwise the search engines my have problems with finding the page in the first page, but you need to apply common sense, and not overdo it.

What does it look like in the search results?

The image below show what it actually looks like in the Google results page using the keyword phrase: ‘SEO Audit’.

What does it look like on the Google results page?

What does it look like on the Google results page?

There are a few things to note about this.

  • The title and description are exactly the same as entered in the Yoast box. This means Google has chosen to use them as is, which is obviously a good thing as it gives you maximum control over them.
  • The actual search term (focused keyword) you use in Google is highlighted, both in the title and in the description. This enforces the importance of having a focused keyword and using it in the page where possible (taking note of points above).

Part 3 Coming Soon…

Lookout for Part 3 coming soon, where I’ll be looking at more advanced techniques used when optimising WordPress pages.
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