As we have discussed, Search Engine Optimization is the art and science of helping your site get found by the search engines. Today we want to talk about “on-page” SEO — what you can do on each page to help the process.
On-page SEO is a little bit like setting up searchlights that shine up into the night and attract business. When I was a kid, seeing a searchlight was a big deal, and if some business had more than one, it was almost impossible to stay away.
There are three “searchlights” that we want to make sure we always have, and a few more that will give your page an extra boost. The three must haves are:
- Page Title
When the search engine looks at a page on your site, it really wants to know what it is about. If all three searchlights are shining brightly with the same keyword, then the search engine knows.
Keywords in the Page Title
When you add a page or post to your WordPress website, you will see a big box at the top of the page that says “Enter title here.” And of course you want your title to be catchy, but do everything you can to make sure that it includes your keyword.
If your keyword is actually a phrase (and it probably will be), try very hard to incorporate it exactly.
Keywords in the URL
When you save your draft (which you should do often), WordPress automatically turns your title into a URL. If you have things set up for optimization, that URL will include each word in the title, separated by hyphens. If you have used your keyword phrase in the title, it will automatically be included in the URL.
If the URL of your page looks something like this: www.YourSite.com/blog/?p=47, then you might want to tweak your settings. Or ask your webmaster to make the change.
To make that change, over in the left sidebar, go to Settings >> Permalinks, and choose the “Post Name” setting. Save your changes, and all of the pages on your site will now have a URL that included the page title — and if you have included keywords in the page titles, then the URLs will include them, too.
Keywords in the Content
Of course the content on your page will include your keyword because that is what it is about. But there are some ways to include it that are important.
First, your keyword phrase should appear in the first sentence if at all possible. Sometimes it seems contrived, but work at it, and you can usually fit it in. And again, it should be all the words of your phrase in the exact order.
Also make sure it shows up in the last paragraph. And then, depending on the length of your article, a couple more times through the content.
It is also helpful to have your keyword show up as a title somewhere in your content. Sometimes it is awkward to use an H1 heading at the top of your page because it seems redundant if the Page Title is also there, but you can have your webmaster make the Page Title not show up. It is still in the code, and the search engines will see it, but that leaves you free to put an H1 tag at the top of the page.
Another place that you can include your keyword is in the code for your images. Make sure that the actual file name includes your keyword first. For example, if you keyword is “anger management,” your image file should be anger-management.jpg rather than DSC007.jpg.
Additionally, you can add your keyword to the “alt” tag in the image. That way, when someone hovers over your picture with their mouse, they will see a little pop-up that says “anger management” rather than “child crying.”
WordPress makes it easy to add the alt tag. When you upload an image, you will see a space for the “Alternate text” – and if you hover over the image above, you will see that I have added “searchlight” in that field.
The Bottom Line
Even though you are being intentional about the inclusion of your keywords, don’t ever forget that you are writing for your human reader. Don’t stuff your post full of keywords at the expense of making your content readable and attractive to the people who arrive on your site.
What other things do you do to help with SEO? Let us know in the comments.