Do-it-Yourself Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Your WordPress Blog

by Achinta Mitra on May 31, 2010

in Industrial Marketing Blog, Industrial Marketing Strategies, Industrial Websites, Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Instead of an industrial marketing strategies post that I typically write, this is more of an implementation post. I have listed some easy, do-it-yourself (DiY) SEO tactics to optimize your WordPress blogs for search engines.

Just building a business blog is not going to help you drive traffic or generate leads. You need to optimize it for search engines in order for your target audience to find your B2B blog (see my earlier post, “How to Use a B2B Blog to Win Customers and Influence Prospects”). Before you dive into the deep end of do-it-yourself (DiY) SEO, you should be aware of the two types of optimization tactics and they are:

  1. On-page or on site optimization
  2. Off-page or off site optimization (mainly link building, which is a topic for another post)

In this article, I’ll be focusing on a few DiY on-site optimization techniques for a WordPress business blog.

What is On Site SEO?

On-site SEO refers to changes that you can make within the code of your blog. You have full control over this SEO technique since you can add, edit code and content at anytime.

Making permalinks search engine friendly – a permalink or permanent link, is a URL that points to a specific post, category or page in your blog. A permalink remains unchanged indefinitely. By default, WordPress creates permalinks that look like this: http://www.blogdomainname.com/?p=<post id>.

To change the default permalink structure, log into your wp-admin and then go to Settings > Permalinks. Select Custom Structure and enter “/%postname%/” (Without the quotation marks). If you have used keywords or phrases in your category names, then you may want to add the category to your permalinks by entering “/%category%/%postname%/.”

I prefer just the postname since I optimize it with keywords and phrases. Here’s a screenshot of my setting:

Changing permalinks after your blog has been live for a while can cause you to lose pagerank in search engines and generate “404 page not found” errors. To overcome this problem, install the Redirection Plugin.

Page title (Title Tags) – This is what is visible at the top of the browser window. Search engines use it to display it in search results and their algorithms use it to determine what your blog post or page is about. It is a very important part of your on site SEO strategy and you should take the time to customize your title tag for each post and page.

Here’s an example from my post titled “Deconstructing the Four Stages of the Industrial Buy Cycle.”

The HTML code looks like this:

<title>How to Use a B2B Blog to Win Customers and Influence Prospects | Industrial Marketing Today</title>

Notice how I have customized my title tag to bring the keywords to the beginning of the title tag instead of the default page title that makes more sense to human readers.
NOTE: I also add my blog’s domain name to end of all titles because it contains a key phrase.

Description and Keywords Meta Tags – the first one is relatively important because search engines use it as a description for your blog post or page when listing it. Make it descriptive with one or two keywords and phrases and keep it concise. By default, search engines will use words from your first paragraph if you don’t specify a description tag.

Here’s my description tag from the same post (NOTE: it is not the default first paragraph):

<meta name="description" content="As a B2B marketer, we want to reach our ideal prospects and communicate with customers to maintain top-of-mind awareness throughout their buying cycle. A B2B blog is the perfect tool to accomplish that online." />

Don’t go crazy stuffing keywords in your page’s keywords tag because Google does not use the keywords Meta tag in page ranking. (See a video from Matt Cutts on Google official position on using keywords meta tag). Don’t ignore it completely either, just a few should suffice and it is not the same as Category Tags which are used to further refine your categories.

Headings or H1 tag – this is very similar to the title tag except it is visible on the page to your readers. You do want to use your keywords and phrases here to satisfy search engines but balance it with what makes sense to your human readers. Don’t write headlines purely for the search engines; relate it to the overall theme of your blog post.

If all this sounds too technical for you or you just don’t want to get under the hood of your WordPress blog and mess with code, then get the free and powerful plugin All in One SEO Pack. It automatically optimizes your titles, generates META tags and avoids the typical duplicate content found on WordPress blogs. Out-of-the-box settings will work just fine for beginners and advanced users can fine-tune everything.

Linking to older posts – one of the knocks against using a WordPress blog or any blog as your main site is that older posts are buried in archives. You can help search engines find your older posts by using a “related posts” plugin. You’ll find a bunch of them on the Internet. The one that I like the most and use here is called Yet Another Related Posts Plugin (YARPP). You can see it in action at the bottom of this post, right after the social bookmarking icons.

A less commonly understood concept is the flow of “link juice” from one blog post to another. The more links there are to a post, the more link juice it is capable of passing around internally. Take a look at the second paragraph of this post and you’ll see how I’ve linked it to an earlier post of mine.

Outbound links – the quality and quantity of outbound links from your blog posts do matter. Try to use a limited number of outbound links to highly regarded sites. Here less is better. Don’t hang around bad online neighborhoods. Google can make a decision about your blog by seeing whom you link to.

Using a premium WordPress theme that is specifically designed for SEO can help a great deal in your optimization efforts. I highly recommend and use the Thesis Theme. It has many built-in optimization features that are very easy to turn on and off or customize. It also produces a great looking business blog/site with fine typography on the front end.

You can get the Thesis Theme for WordPress from here. Yes, that’s my affiliate link and I earn beer money if you use it to buy. If that bothers you, then here’s the non-tip jar version.

The whole topic of search engine optimization of your business blog is way too big to cover everything in one post. Use this article as a starting point to implement simple do-it-yourself SEO tactics and you’ll start to see better search engine results.

Do you use other SEO techniques that have worked well for you? Please share them here by leaving your comments.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff Vincent September 22, 2010 at 9:39 am

I use the All in One SEO plug in on my blog, really like it and would recommend it (as you say) for those of us who are tentative fooling with code. I’m considering a few more blog sites and have heard about Thesis Theme as a good alternative. Thanks for the link.

Geoff
CEO – BizCompare Inc.

Reply

Achinta Mitra September 22, 2010 at 9:50 am

@Geoff,

Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Thesis theme has very robust built-in SEO features. You won’t need All-in-One SEO pack with Thesis but continue using it with other blogs that don’t use that theme.

Reply

Vincent Parker March 14, 2011 at 9:48 am

Hi Achinta,

I find that it’s the little things that really matter most. WordPress SEO is really not that complicated, and becomes second nature eventually.

The tips and plugins you mentioned are honestly all a person needs to have a blog that the search engines will be more than happy to rank high. Even to writing for a person and not a search engine. You do want to take into account certain things but going overboard can hurt you much much more than help.

One little tip I would like to include is using keyword related alt tags for any images you use in your posts. Just another little thing that can build up to make a big difference.

Vincent Parker

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SEO software January 29, 2012 at 5:30 am

thx for the info. Maybe also worth a try: gsa website submitter at gsa-online.de

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