5 SEO Writing Tips for WordPress Pages and Posts
In this post we’re going to look at 5 SEO Writing Tips you should follow when creating content for your wordpress website.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. A very important part of SEO is structuring your text in the right way, to maximise the chances that it will show up in the search results.
- Don’t try to fool Google!
- Judge a book by its cover
- 5 Essential SEO Writing Tips for WordPress
- WordPress SEO Writing Tips Summary
- Make life easier with an SEO plug-in
Don’t try to fool Google!
Search Engine Optimisation is not about finding tricks and hacks to fool Google.
In the early days of SEO, there were lots of shady techniques. A common one was keyword stuffing: Simply repeating the keyword or phrase many times. Doing this could get your content to the top of the results even if the article was complete nonsense!
The Google Algorithm is now far too advanced to be fooled in this way.
In order to get to the top of the results, it’s crucial that you write high quality original content.
Judge a book by its cover
Tricks and hacks aside, there are some best practices you can follow to increase your page’s visibility. Tactics that will help the search engines identify your content as the best possible result for a specific search.
Imagine that you’re looking for a book in a library.
The first thing you’ll look at is the title. Next you’ll read the blurb on the back, then the table of contents for the chapter headings. Finally, if it’s looking good you’ll read the introduction and maybe scan the opening paragraphs.
It could be that a book is extremely well written, interesting and holds all the answers to life, the universe and everything but if the cover doesn’t convey this, no one will read it.
The same principles apply for written content on the web. It’s very important that one can quickly identify the topic and content of a post or page, and that the text is well structured and easy to read.
The following 5 Essential SEO Writing Tips should help ensure you help Google pick your content off the virtual shelf!
5 Essential SEO Writing Tips for WordPress
1. Pick A Good Title
The title / heading of your page or post is the headline that will show up highlighted in blue in the google search results.
Here I searched “What is a good name for a pet llama?” and google served me the following result:
Both Google and I can instantly tell that this post contains “Good Names for Llamas“.
Notice, if I search “What should I name my pet llama?” I get a different top result:
Though both pages contain the answer to essentially the same question, the exact phrasing makes a difference.
Before choosing the topic and title for your page, make sure to check out my guide to keyword research.
The title / heading of the post should contain the keywords, and should accurately describe the contents of the post or page.
Note that I’m writing “Title / Heading”. These are strictly speaking two different things. In HTML terms the title is tagged <title> and the main heading <h1>.
Theoretically the <title> is what you see in blue in the search results, and the <h1> is what you see displayed on your website.
In WordPress these two are the same by default. The post or page title you type into the box at the top of the editor will be both the <title> and the <h1>. For most purposes, that’s fine and you don’t really have to worry about it.
You can however choose to have a different <title> to your <h1> if you wish, by installing an SEO plugin like Yoast.
(By the way, I’m torn between Barack O Llama and Bahama Llama, any advice please let me know in the comments).
2. Write a Good Excerpt / Meta Description
Think of the excerpt as being like the blurb on the back of a book. It should give an overview of what the reader will get from reading the whole page or post.
Strictly speaking, the excerpt isn’t for SEO. The excerpt controls what preview text is displayed for your pages and posts on the archive pages. If you don’t write an excerpt, the first 55 words or so will be used automatically. The excerpt can be the same as the first paragraph, though you might want to write something more concise and straight to the point.
Possibly, the excerpt will be displayed by Google in the search results. To increase the chances of this however, it’s best to also add the excerpt as a meta description. A meta description is a paragraph of text that is labelled for the search bots to display on the results page. It still doesn’t guarantee that this is what will be displayed, but it significantly increases the possibility.
WordPress doesn’t have the option to add a meta description by default, so to do this you’ll have to add a plug-in. Personally I’d recommend Yoast. This will add an option to add a meta description at the bottom of the editor screen. (There are also other advantages to using Yoast that I’ll cover at the end of this post).
The Google preview can be anywhere from 160-300 characters long. It’s best therefore to keep your meta description short and sweet. If you do go longer, try and get all the important info (including the keywords) within the first 160 characters.
3. Use Your Keyword Phrase and Its Synonyms Judiciously
There is no hard and fast rule to how often you should (or shouldn’t) use your keywords or phrases within your text.
The most important thing is that the text is well written and that the content accurately reflects the title.
As a very rough rule of thumb, using your keyword once every 250-500 words should be in the ballpark.
Less than this and it may not be clear to bots (or readers) what the text is about. More than this and Google may penalise the page for “keyword stuffing“.
Google is pretty clever now, and can recognise synonyms. Rather than repeating “Cheapest Wafflesprokets” over and over again, you can use “Best Value Thingamabobs” or “Bargain Doodahs”. This will help vary your text and capture more search traffic.
It’s a good idea to spread your keyphrase out throughout the article. Include it within the first paragraph, somewhere in the middle, and again towards the end of the text.
4. Use Your Keywords in Headings and Subheadings
Use Headings and Subheadings to give your text structure and break it up into bite size chunks.
After landing on your page most people will quickly scan through the content to check it contains the information that they’re looking for.
A huge block of text is hard to read and off putting.
Use mainly shorter sentences (<20 words), shorter paragraphs (<150 words per paragraph) and break the text up with subheadings every 300-500 words.
Many people will be browsing your article on their phone while they do something else. They should be able to get the gist or the article by reading the first paragraph, and scanning the headings of each section.
Use your keywords and synonyms in your headings and subheadings. Here’s an example of how you might structure a post about our wonderful friend, the Llama:
Llamas are the best (H1)
- Why we think llamas are the best (H2)
- They are all warm and wooly! (H3)
- You can ride them (H3)
- You can milk them (make sure it’s a female) (H3)
- Where can you find a friendly llama? (H2)
- The 10 best llama finding apps (H2)
- Our favorite llama bars (H2)
If your post is over 1000 words with lots of subheadings, include a table of contents at the beginning. You can do this with the Yoast plugin or the Gutenberg Ultimate Addons plugin.
Important: You should only ever have one <H1> title / heading. This is the title you entered in the box at the very top of the page. All the headings within your text should be H2 or below (the higher the number, the lower in the hierarchy).
5. Use Your Keywords in Your Image Title and Alt Attribute Text
The image alt attribute text is important as it is read by screen reader software used by the visually impaired.
In addition to making your content more accessible, adding your keywords and phrases to your images will help boost your page’s SEO. It will also increase the chances of your images showing up in the search results, which can help grab attention.
You can set the alt text either in the media library, or by clicking on the photo within the wordpress editor and navigating to the block settings panel on the right.
It’s debatable how important the image title is for SEO, but adding your keywords certainly can’t hurt. The image title can only be edited in the media library (You can set it when you upload the image, the default is the file name).
It should be noted that the above is true providing that the images relate to the topic. If images are purely decorative, there’s no need to tag them.
WordPress SEO Writing Tips Summary
The key to breaking into the first page of the search results is writing high quality content that provides answers to genuine questions that your potential customers are asking.
Providing you’ve got that covered, following these SEO writing tips will help the search engines and potential readers to discover your content:
Include your Keywords in:
- Your page or post title (and url slug)
- First paragraph of text
- Excerpt / meta description
- Headings and subheadings
- Image titles and alt text
- Somewhere in the middle and near the end
Make life easier with an SEO plug-in
I strongly recommend installing the WordPress SEO plug-in Yoast. The free version is all you need to begin with. The pro-version has some extra features, but the basic covers all the essentials. (I get no commission or sponsorship from Yoast, I just think it’s a great product and install it on all of the websites I build both for myself and others).
The Yoast plug-in adds a box below the WordPress editor where you add your keywords.
The plug-in analyses your text to ensure you’ve completed all of the above tips, and more. It rates your content’s SEO with either a red, amber or green smiley face, and tells you what you need to do to improve your score.
With Yoast you can add the important meta description for every page and post (which it will also analyse and rate).
In addition to SEO, the Yoast plug-in will grade your text for readability, again giving a red, amber or green rating. It will help you keep sentences brief and to the point, break text up with headings and subheadings, and more.
The plug-in works in numerous different languages, though I’ve only tested it in English.
Don’t obsess with turning all the faces green and smiley for each individual recommendation. The aim is to get two green smileys overall, one for SEO the other for readability. It’s normal to have a few points in amber for each section. If you try and follow every single recommendation you can end up with something that sounds robotic. Always maintain your own voice and style in your writing, don’t let an algorithm overrule common sense!