Nearly 60 percent of websites are built with WordPress. The service is free (you’ll just pay for web hosting) and it’s simple to use. It’s easy to see why it can be hard to get attention for your website with the kind of volume that invites.
But it doesn’t have to be a big marketing hurdle. There are many things you can do to enhance the search-engine optimization. Today, we are going to focus on one simple task to optimize individual pages on your website.
A search engine works by returning the most relevant pages on the web in response to a user-submitted query. In layman’s terms: Someone searches a topic and is given a ranked list of the most relevant pages on that topic.
Each website has a purpose, and each page within that website serves its own purpose as well. Search engines look at a website as a whole and the pages as individuals to index what it believes those purposes are.
But guess what? You are in control of what goes on those pages. You can help the search engines better index the information you are hoping to share with the world.
If you were asked to index the pages on your website, would you be able to? Follow these steps below to better optimize your website for search engines and, most importantly, your audience.
What are your focus keywords?
Remember that search query we mentioned before? Well that query is made up of keywords. A keyword can be something as general as “cars” to something as specific as “antique Italian cars from the 1930’s.”
So what keywords and search queries would you like for your site to be recognized? Obviously, it would be nice that if your site was about cars that it could rank No. 1 on Google when someone searches “cars.” However, for most of us mere mortals, that is a difficult task to accomplish. (Unless you’re the CEO of General Motors in which case, I appreciate that you are reading my blog post but don’t you have better things to do?)
So get a bit more specific with your keywords. If you have Google Search Console enabled on your website, go check that out and check the queries that are landing people on your page. That coupled with your knowledge of your site and its desired purpose are plenty to get you started.
Create a list of keywords you believe you have a good chance of improving your rankings. Try not to have too many keywords that are over five words long. If you get about one or two dozen, that is plenty.
Work your keywords into your site content
Next, you’ll want to start to work those keywords into your site content organically. What do we mean by organically? Don’t put keywords where they don’t make sense.
In the end, search engines want to return the best results for their customers, their customers being, you guessed it, normal human beings. And when normal human beings read a website that is stuffed with words and phrases that just don’t make sense, well they are going to go search for the next best option. Search engines can figure that out too, so don’t try to trick them.
In fact, when looking at your current site, I’ll bet you already have a lot of the keywords you want to rank for already included on the right pages. So we can capitalize on those keywords where they already exist simply by mentioning them in a few other spots.
Optimize your pages with your focus keywords
Each page on your site should have a focus. If two pages are competing for the same exact keyword, well they’ll do just that: compete. And why compete against yourself? That’s what playing chess alone is for. Combine pages that repeat content.
On each page there are essentially six spots that you’ll want to include your focus keywords in order to make your visitors happy and the search engines happy.
- Page Name
This is the text that shows up in the tab at the top of your browser. It is also the larger blue text that appears in search results. This should describe what your visor is going to see on the page. Search engines generally show the first 50-60 characters, so keep it under that limit. You want it to be informative, relatively short and, of course, work in one of your focus keywords for the page.
An easy way to determine your page URL is to create a truncated version of your page name. Replace spaces with a dash (-) and remove words like the, and, or, a, I, be, to, if, etc. A URL doesn’t read like a normal sentence but it is interpreted by the search engines as such.
- Page Title
This will likely be the first text the visitor sees when they land on their page. It should be wrapped in an H1 tag and stylized as very prominent (bold, larger than the paragraph text, etc.).
How does this differ from the page name, you ask? Think of it like a sales funnel: When a user lands on the search results page, that is the top of the funnel. Now that they have clicked through to your page they have an understanding of what they are about to see. So feel free to get a bit more detailed and offer a bit more value to continue to entice the visitor to stay on the page.
And, as with all of these, include that focus keyword.
Well it just plain wouldn’t make sense for your visitor to have searched for something, saw what they were searching for in the page name, the URL, and mentioned first thing in the page title only to find no mention of what they searched for anywhere else, now would it? NO!
So sprinkle it in. At least have it once but, like mentioned before, this is probably the area where your focus keyword already exists a few times organically. Two or three times is just fine.
Don’t be super repetitive though if it sounds weird while reading it. Remember, search engines are looking for what actual people like the most. So, as an actual person, it should make sense.
If you don’t have an image on this page, then skip it. If you do, make use of alt-tags.
Search engines are super smart, but they still have a really rough time figuring out what are in pictures. So until that day come, we have to leave little notes for the computers to figure out what that big rectangle of colors is.
If you drill down into the media settings in WordPress you’ll see an option to add an alt-tag (sometimes referred to as alt-text). In a couple words, describe that picture. If it’s a stock photo, you can just roll with the page name or page title.
Your visitors won’t see this text. But search engines will be happy you put it there.
- Meta Description
Meta-descriptions are the text that appear in search results below the blue page name. Meta-descriptions don’t actually count in the search engines algorithms for ranking.
However, meta-descriptions are extremely important to humans looking at search results. They read the page name and the meta-description to get as best an understanding of the page as they can before clicking through.
So explain the page in plain-language terms and toss in the focus keyword where it makes sense. You get a lot more room on this one, usually a couple sentences — so long as it is shorter than 160 characters (after 160 characters it gets cut off).
Visualizing Your SEO
Below , we have included some visual pictures of the on-page items we are talking about
Here is where these items exist on the webpage itself:
And here is where you make those edits when editing these pages on WordPress:
In this example we used the Yoast SEO plugin, however, other plugins will have a similar on-page set-up that you can use to change the SEO title and meta descriptions. All-In-One SEO Pack is another good plugin you can use on WordPress for your SEO needs.