Tag - Optimize

Blog SEO: 11 Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO (like a Pro)


Many of our readers have asked us to share tips on how to optimize blogs posts for SEO, so they can get better search rankings.

The best time to optimize your blog content for SEO is when you are creating it, but you can always go back and improve your old articles as well.

Blog SEO is important because it helps you consistently get more traffic to your website. There are many things you can do to optimize your blog posts for SEO.

In this article, we will share our best blog SEO tips to help you optimize your blog posts for SEO like a pro. These are the tips that we use on our own blogs, which gets millions of visitors from search engines.

Tips to optimize your blog posts for SEO

1. Plan Your Content with Proper Keyword Research

Many beginners just use their best guesses to write about topics they feel that their users would be interested in.

You don’t need to rely on blind guesses, especially when you can do keyword research to find out exactly what your users are looking for.

Keyword research is a technique used by content creators and SEO experts. It helps you discover topics your users are interested in based on the search engine data.

Plan your content with keyword research

You can then use these keywords to plan your content strategy. This will ensure that you write about topics that people are actually looking for, and it’s a great way to find new blog post ideas.

We recommend using keyword research tools like SEMRush or Ahrefs. They offer in-depth keyword data, competition analysis, keyword position tracking, and tons of other useful features.

For detailed instructions, see our article on how to do keyword research for your blog posts.

2. Find Semantic Keywords for Your Focus Keyword

After you have done your keyword research and discovered keyword ideas, it is time to pick one that has the highest search volume and low competition.

This will be your focus keyword. It is the search phrase that your users are most likely to look for.

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, then you can set the focus keyword in your article’s SEO settings. This would allow you to see how effectively you have used it in your article.

Setting focus keyword in Yoast SEO

Next, you need to find out the Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. These are the searches related to your focus keyword.

The easiest way to find them is to simply enter your focus keyword in Google Search and scroll down to the bottom of results. There you’ll find them listed as ‘related searches’.

Related keywords

You need to incorporate as many of these keywords in your content, so you can have the most complete content for users.

It’s very important that you don’t try to stuff them in your content. This would look odd to your users and search engines are pretty good at detecting keyword stuffing.

3. Write an Effective Blog Post Title

The title of your blog post is extremely important for search rankings.

A good blog post title makes your article more relevant to the search query. More importantly, it motivates users to actually click on your article when they see it in search results.

You can make your blog post title more SEO friendly by using your focus keyword in the title.

Focus keyword in blog post title

Aside from adding your focus keyword, we also recommend making your headline catchy and click-worthy. That’s because click through rate (CTR) plays an important role in SEO.

There are several formulas to write effective headlines. The one that still works is called EMV or emotional marketing value.

This formula recommends using power words that trigger specific emotional responses in your audience. There are online tools like EMV headline Analyzer which help you calculate your title’s EMV score.

For more tips, see this article on headlines that went viral and how to copy their success in your own articles.

4. Make Internal Linking a Habit

Once you have blogged for a while, you will have enough content that you would want users to read. With internal linking, you can send new readers to check out your older relevant posts.

Internal linking is a great way to develop a contextual relationship between your new and old posts. It also allows you to pass relevant link juice to your older articles.

WordPress makes it easy to search for your old posts right inside the post editor. Simply select the text that you want to link and then click on the link button.

Internal linking

A text pop-up will appear below your selected words. You can start typing to search for the older articles that you want to link here.

Making internal linking a habit will make sure that your on-page SEO is good, and that your older articles continue to get new links.

Often beginners make the mistake of doing 1-way internal linking where they link to older posts from new articles. You can and should also go back to edit older posts to link to your new articles for maximum benefits.

5. Add Images and Videos to Your Blog Posts

Add images and videos to your blog posts

Search engines often rank engaging content higher in search results. Images and videos are far more engaging than plain text.

You want to make sure that your blog posts contain images between paragraphs.

When adding images, you want to be careful about image copyrights. Often beginners copy images from other sites to use on their site, and this can get you in legal trouble if you do so without proper permissions.

Don’t worry, there are plenty of places where you can find royalty free images to use in your blog posts. You can also use your own original photographs or use websites like Canva to create engaging graphics.

Make sure that you optimize your images for SEO. See our tutorial on how to optimize images for search engines for detailed instructions.

Videos are even more engaging than images. You can convert your blog posts into videos by creating slideshows, vlogs, or experiment with other formats.

However, you should never directly upload videos to your blog posts. WordPress is not optimized to serve videos, and your shared hosting service can’t handle them.

We recommend uploading your videos to YouTube. It is the second most popular search engine, and the second largest social media platform right after Facebook.

See our article on how to embed videos in WordPress for more details.

6. Add a Meta Description to Your Blog Post

The meta description is an HTML meta tag that you can add to any page. Its purpose is to provide a short description of your article for search engines and other crawlers.

Some SEO experts believe that the meta description tag on a page has become irrelevant. However, many others would disagree. At WPBeginner, we recommend using the meta description for all of your posts.

A good meta description can explain a lot more about an article. Social media websites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn also display it when your articles are shared on those platforms.

Meta description shown on Twitter

Since now you know that people are going to be reading your meta descriptions, you want to make sure that it’s helpful.

You also want to make sure that you at least mention your focus keyword once in the meta description for search purposes. The character limit for Meta Description is 155 characters.

Try to stay within that limit or your meta description will be truncated after 155 characters. You also want to make sure that you use the focus keyword earlier in the meta description rather than later.

To add meta description, you need to scroll down to the Yoast SEO meta box on your post edit screen.

Adding meta description for your blog posts in Yoast SEO

7. Make Your Articles Easier to Read

Readability is an important factor considered by search engines. Articles that are easier to read often rank higher than articles that are not user friendly.

Computer and mobile screens are still not an optimal platform for reading.

This is why most users just scan through articles. In fact, studies found that users spend less than a second to decide whether they want to stay on a page or leave.

That’s a very short time for you to convince the user to stay and scroll through. By improving readability, you can make it possible for your users to quickly scan an article.

You can improve readability by using shorter sentences, smaller paragraphs, punctuation, headings, and bulleted lists. We recommend adding white space around text and use images to make your text look easier on eyes.

You can use tools like Grammarly, which allows you to check grammar, punctuation, and spelling on the fly. It also gives suggestions to improve the readability of your articles.

Yoast SEO plugin also comes with a built-in readability checker. It shows the flesch reading score of your article under ‘Readability analysis’ tab.

Readability score

For more on this topic, see our article on how to improve the readability score of your blog posts.

8. Use Categories and Tags to Organize Content

Categories and tags help you sort your content not only for yourself, but for the readers and search engines.

The problem is that many WordPress beginners often end up using them incorrectly.

If you think about your website as a book, then categories would be the table of contents and tags will be the index part of the book.

Categories are used to divide your content into major topics discussed on your blog. Tags, on the other hand, are the topics discussed in an individual blog post.

To learn more, see our beginner’s guide on using categories and tags for maximum SEO benefit.

9. Aim to Be The Featured Snippet in The Search Result

Google has been trying to answer user questions as quickly as possible. As part of this effort, they have introduced the featured result or answer box.

Answer box in search results

This is the highlighted search result that appears on the top. Google generates a custom snippet from the article’s content highlighting the part that their algorithms believe to be the answer of user’s query.

According to research conducted by Advanced Web Ranking, Answer boxes secure almost 32.3% CTR. This makes them immensely important for your SEO strategy.

There is no specific set of instructions provided by Google regarding how they would pick the featured snippet. Their recommendation is to improve your content and make sure that it offers the information users are seeking.

However at WPBeginner, we have created helpful tips based on our research that will help you appear in Google answer boxes with your blog posts.

10. Make Your Blog Posts Comprehensive

Search engines love articles that cover a topic with great detail. This is why we asked you to gather the semantically related keywords (LSI Keywords) as part of your content planning step.

These related keywords give you an idea of different variations of user searches regarding that particular topic. By covering those keywords in your article, you would be able to make it more comprehensive, informative, and useful.

You should use headings and subheadings to include those keywords and try to cover as much ground as you could.

Aside from LSI keywords, another tip to create complete content is to type your desired keyword and then switch to Image Search. You will see topic bubbles with a variety of keywords.

Blog SEO - Image Search Complete Content Tip

We recommend including these when creating your content, so you can have the most comprehensive content.

11. Optimize Older Blog Posts

Many beginners tend to forget about a blog post after they have published it. In fact, you are not done optimizing your blog post for SEO once it is published.

Here are some things that you need to do after publishing your blog post:

  • Promote it on social media – Promote your blog post across your social media profiles. You can even automate this task by using IFTTT to share your content.
  • Add internal links – Once you have published a post, you can go back to relevant old articles and add a link to your new blog post. This gives your new articles link juice while also allowing users to discover it more easily.
  • Track search rankings – You have optimized a post for SEO, but how do you keep track of its search rankings? See our guide on how to track search rankings for your blog posts for instructions.

We recommend optimizing old posts on a regular basis, so you can continue to improve your rankings.

We hope this article helped you optimize your blog posts for SEO like a pro. Need more tips to promote your content? See our article on how to get more traffic to your blog posts.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Blog SEO: 11 Tips to Optimize Your Blog Posts for SEO (like a Pro) appeared first on WPBeginner.



Source link

Beginner’s Guide to Image SEO – Optimize Images for Search Engines


Are you looking to improve image SEO on your website? When optimized properly, image search can bring many new visitors to your website.

To benefit from image SEO, you need to help search engines find your images and index them for the right keywords.

In this beginner’s guide, we will show you how to optimize image SEO by following top best practices.

Image SEO guide for beginners

Here is a brief overview of what you’ll learn in this article.

  • Optimizing your images for SEO and Speed
  • What is Alt text?
  • Difference between Alt text vs title
  • Difference between alt text and caption
  • How to add alt text, title, and caption to images in WordPress
  • When to use captions for images
  • Disable attachment pages in WordPress
  • Additional tips to improve image SEO

Optimizing Your Images for SEO and Speed

Speed plays an important role in SEO and user experience. Search engines consistently rank fast websites higher. This is also true for the image search.

Images increase your overall page load time. They take longer to download than text, which means your page loads slower if there are several large image files to download.

You need to make sure that images on your site are optimized for web. This can be a little tricky to get used to since many beginners are not experts in graphics and image editing.

We have a handy guide on how to properly optimize images before uploading them to your website.

The best way to optimize images is by editing them on your computer using a photo editing software like Adobe Photoshop. This allows you to choose the right file format to create a small file size.

You can also use an image compression plugin for WordPress. These image optimizer plugins allow you to automatically reduce file size while uploading an image to WordPress.

What is Alt Text?

Alt text or alternative text is an HTML attribute added to the img tag which is used to display images on a web page. It looks like this in plain HTML code:

<img src="http://www.wpbeginner.com/fruitbasket.jpeg" alt="A fruit basket" />

It allows website owners to describe the image in plain text. The main purpose of the alternate text is to improve accessibility by enabling screen readers to read out the alt text for visually impaired users.

Alt text is also crucial for image SEO. It helps search engines understand the context of the image.

Modern search engines can recognize an image and it’s content by using artificial intelligence. However, they still rely on website owners to describe the image in their own words.

Alt text also accompanies images in Google image search, which helps users understand the image and improves your chances of getting more visitors.

Alt text used in search results

Usually, alt text is not visible on your website. However if an image is broken or cannot be found, then your users will be able to see the alternate text with a broken image icon next to it.

Alternate text displayed next to a broken image

What is the Difference Between Alt Text vs Title

Alt text is used for accessibility and image SEO, while title field is used internally by WordPress for media search.

Search image by title

WordPress inserts the alt tag in the actual code used to display the image. The title tag is stored in the database to find and display images.

In the past, WordPress inserted the title tag in the HTML code as well. However, it was not an ideal situation from the accessibility point of view, which is why they removed it.

What is the Difference Between Alt Text vs Caption

The alt text is used to describe the image for search engines and screen readers. On the other hand, the caption is used to describe the image for all users.

Alt text is not visible on your website while captions are visible below your images.

Example of a caption displayed below an image

The alt text is crucial for better image SEO on your website. The caption is optional and can be used only when you need to provide additional information about the image to website visitors.

How to Add Alt Text, Title, and Caption to Images in WordPress

Alt text, title, and caption make up the image metadata that you can add to images when uploading them into WordPress.

When you add an image using the default image block, WordPress allows you to add caption and alt text for the image.

Adding alt text and caption to an image in WordPress

It automatically generates a title for the image from the file name. You can change the title by clicking on the edit button in the image block’s toolbar.

Editing an image in default WordPress editor

This will bring up the media uploader popup where you can enter your own custom title for the image.

Changing image title in WordPress

You can also edit the alt tag and title for the images that you have already uploaded to WordPress. To do that, you need to visit Media » Library page and locate the image you want to edit.

WordPress media library

Simply clicking on an image will bring up the attachment details popup where you can enter title, alt text, and caption.

Add alt tag and title via media library

Note: Changing an image’s alt tag or caption via Media Library will not change it in the posts and pages where the image is already used.

When to Use Captions for Images in WordPress

Captions allow you to provide additional details for an image to all your users. They are visible on the screen for all users including search engines and screen readers.

An image gallery with captions for each image

As you may have noticed that most websites don’t normally use captions with images in their blog posts or pages. That’s because captions are often not needed to explain an image.

Captions are more suitable in the following scenarios:

  • Family or event photos
  • Photos that need additional explanation describing the background story
  • Product image galleries

In most cases, you would be able to explain the image in the article content itself.

Disable Attachment Pages in WordPress

WordPress creates a page for all images you upload to your posts and pages. It is called the attachment page. This page just shows a larger version of the actual image and nothing else.

This can have a negative SEO impact on your search rankings. Search engines consider pages with little to no text as low quality or ‘thin content’.

This is why we recommend users to disable the attachment pages on your website.

The easiest way to do this is by installing and activating the Yoast SEO plugin. For more details, see our step by step guide on how to install a WordPress plugin.

Upon activation, it automatically turns off attachment URLs. You can also manually turn off attachment pages in WordPress by visiting SEO » Search Appearance page and clicking on the Media tab.

Disable attachment URLs in WordPress

From here, make sure that the ‘Media & attachment URLs’ option is set to ‘Yes’.

If you are not using Yoast SEO plugin, then you can install the Attachment Pages Redirect plugin. This plugin simply redirects people visiting the attachment page to the post where the image is displayed.

You can also do this manually, by adding the following code to your theme’s functions.php file or a site-specific plugin.

function wpb_redirect_attachment_to_post()  
if ( is_attachment() )  
global $post;
if( empty( $post ) ) $post = get_queried_object();	
if ($post->post_parent)	
	$link = get_permalink( $post->post_parent );
	wp_redirect( $link, '301' );
	exit(); 
	
else	
	// What to do if parent post is not available
	wp_redirect( home_url(), '301' );
	exit(); 
	


add_action( 'template_redirect', 'wpb_redirect_attachment_to_post' );

Additional Tips to Improve Image SEO

Adding alt tag is not the only thing you can do to improve image SEO. Following are a few additional tips that you should keep in mind when adding images to your blog posts.

1. Write descriptive alt text

Many beginners often just use one or two words as alt text for the image. This makes the image too generic and harder to rank.

For example, instead of just ‘kittens’ use ‘Kittens playing with a yellow rubber duck’.

2. Use descriptive file names for your images

Instead of saving your images as DSC00434.jpeg, you need to name them properly. Think of the keywords that users will type in the search to find that particular image.

Be more specific and descriptive in your image file names. For example, red-wooden-house.jpeg is better than just house.jpeg.

3. Provide context to your images

Search engines are getting smarter every day. They can recognize and categorize images quite well. However, they need you to provide context to the image.

Your images need to be relevant to the overall topic of the post or page. It is also helpful to place the image near the most relevant text in your article.

4. Follow the SEO best practices

You also need to follow the overall SEO guidelines for your website. This improves your overall search rankings including image search.

5. Use original photographs and images

There are many free stock photography websites that you can use to find free images for your blog posts. However, the problem with stock photos is that they are used by thousands of websites.

Try to use original photographs or create quality images that are unique to your blog.

We know that most bloggers are not photographers or graphic designers. Luckily, there are some great online tools that you can use to create graphics for your websites.

We hope this article helped you learn about Image SEO for your website. You may also want to see our guide on how to fix common image issues in WordPress.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.

The post Beginner’s Guide to Image SEO – Optimize Images for Search Engines appeared first on WPBeginner.



Source link

How to Optimize Your Robots.txt for SEO in WordPress (Beginner’s Guide)


Recently one of our readers asked us for tips on how to optimize the robots.txt file to improve SEO. Robots.txt file tells search engines how to crawl your website which makes it an incredibly powerful SEO tool. In this article, we will show you how to create a perfect robots.txt file for SEO.

Using WordPress robots.txt file to improve SEO

What is robots.txt file?

Robots.txt is a text file that website owners can create to tell search engine bots how to crawl and index pages on their site.

It is typically stored in the root directory also known as the main folder of your website. The basic format for a robots.txt file looks like this:


User-agent: [user-agent name]
Disallow: [URL string not to be crawled]

User-agent: [user-agent name]
Allow: [URL string to be crawled]


Sitemap: [URL of your XML Sitemap]

You can have multiple lines of instructions to allow or disallow specific URLs and add multiple sitemaps. If you do not disallow a URL, then search engine bots assume that they are allowed to crawl it.

Here is what a robots.txt example file can look like:


User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/

Sitemap: https://example.com/sitemap_index.xml


In the above robots.txt example, we have allowed search engines to crawl and index files in our WordPress uploads folder.

After that, we have disallowed search bots from crawling and indexing plugins and WordPress admin folders.

Lastly, we have provided the URL of our XML sitemap.

Do You Need a Robots.txt File for Your WordPress Site?

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, then search engines will still crawl and index your website. However, you will not be able to tell search engines which pages or folders they should not crawl.

This will not have much of an impact when you’re first starting a blog and do not have a lot of content.

However as your website grows and you have a lot of content, then you would likely want to have better control over how your website is crawled and indexed.

Here is why.

Search bots have a crawl quota for each website.

This means that they crawl a certain number of pages during a crawl session. If they don’t finish crawling all pages on your site, then they will come back and resume crawl in the next session.

This can slow down your website indexing rate.

You can fix this by disallowing search bots from attempting to crawl unnecessary pages like your WordPress admin pages, plugin files, and themes folder.

By disallowing unnecessary pages, you save your crawl quota. This helps search engines crawl even more pages on your site and index them as quickly as possible.

Another good reason to use robots.txt file is when you want to stop search engines from indexing a post or page on your website.

It is not the safest way to hide content from the general public, but it will help you prevent them from appearing in search results.

What Does an Ideal Robots.txt File Should Look Like?

Many popular blogs use a very simple robots.txt file. Their content may vary, depending on the needs of the specific site:


User-agent: *
Disallow:
 
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

This robots.txt file allows all bots to index all content and provides them a link to the website’s XML sitemaps.

For WordPress sites, we recommend the following rules in the robots.txt file:


User-Agent: *
Allow: /wp-content/uploads/
Disallow: /wp-content/plugins/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /readme.html
Disallow: /refer/

Sitemap: http://www.example.com/post-sitemap.xml
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/page-sitemap.xml

This tell search bots to index all WordPress images and files. It disallows search bots from indexing WordPress plugin files, WordPress admin area, the WordPress readme file, and affiliate links.

By adding sitemaps to robots.txt file, you make it easy for Google bots to find all the pages on your site.

Now that you know what an ideal robots.txt file look like, let’s take a look at how you can create a robots.txt file in WordPress.

How to Create a Robots.txt File in WordPress?

There are two ways to create a robots.txt file in WordPress. You can choose the method that works best for you.

Method 1: Editing Robots.txt File Using Yoast SEO

If you are using the Yoast SEO plugin, then it comes with a robots.txt file generator.

You can use it to create and edit a robots.txt file directly from your WordPress admin area.

Simply go to SEO » Tools page in your WordPress admin and click on the File Editor link.

File editor tool in Yoast SEO

On the next page, Yoast SEO page will show your existing robots.txt file.

If you don’t have a robots.txt file, then Yoast SEO will generate a robots.txt file for you.

Create robots.txt file using Yoast SEO

By default, Yoast SEO’s robots.txt file generator will add the following rules to your robots.txt file:


User-agent: *
Disallow: /

It is important that you delete this text because it blocks all search engines from crawling your website.

After deleting the default text, you can go ahead and add your own robots.txt rules. We recommend using the ideal robots.txt format we shared above.

Once you’re done, don’t forget to click on the ‘Save robots.txt file’ button to store your changes.

Method 2. Edit Robots.txt file Manually Using FTP

For this method, you will need to use an FTP client to edit robots.txt file.

Simply connect to your WordPress hosting account using an FTP client.

Once inside, you will be able to see the robots.txt file in your website’s root folder.

Editing WordPress robots.txt file using FTP

If you don’t see one, then you likely don’t have a robots.txt file. In that case, you can just go ahead and create one.

Create robots.txt file using FTP

Robots.txt is a plain text file, which means you can download it to your computer and edit it using any plain text editor like Notepad or TextEdit.

After saving your changes, you can upload it back to your website’s root folder.

How to Test Your Robots.txt File?

Once you have created your robots.txt file, it’s always a good idea to test it using a robots.txt tester tool.

There are many robots.txt tester tools out there, but we recommend using the one inside Google Search Console.

Simply login to your Google Search Console account, and then switch to the old Google search console website.

Switch to old Google Search Console

This will take you to the old Google Search Console interface. From here you need to launch the robots.txt tester tool located under ‘Crawl’ menu.

Robots.txt tester tool

The tool will automatically fetch your website’s robots.txt file and highlight the errors and warnings if it found any.

Final Thoughts

The goal of optimizing your robots.txt file is to prevent search engines from crawling pages that are not publicly available. For example, pages in your wp-plugins folder or pages in your WordPress admin folder.

A common myth among SEO experts is that blocking WordPress category, tags, and archive pages will improve crawl rate and result in faster indexing and higher rankings.

This is not true. It’s also against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

We recommend that you follow the above robots.txt format to create a robots.txt file for your website.

We hope this article helped you learn how to optimize your WordPress robots.txt file for SEO. You may also want to see our ultimate WordPress SEO guide and the best WordPress SEO tools to grow your website.

If you liked this article, then please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for WordPress video tutorials. You can also find us on Twitter and Facebook.



Source link