SEO Actionplan for WordPress:
26 Steps for Higher Google Positions
- SEO Actionplan for WordPress: 26 Steps for Higher Google Positions
- SEO Actionplan for WordPress:
- Rule of Thumb in this SEO Manual
- Step 1: Title tag
- Step 2: Meta Description
- Step 3: The keywordtag?
- Step 4: Search Engine friendly url in WordPress
- Step 5: Breadcrumbs
- Step 6: H1 (title)
- Step 7: Begin with an image
- Step 8: Optimize the first paragraph
- Step 9: Bold words
- Step 10: Subheadings (H2, H3, H4) in WordPress
- Step 11: Index of the blog
- Step 12: Keyword density
- Step 13: Related and Lsi Keywords
- Step 14: The advised length of your text for SEO?
- Step 15: Rich content
- Step 16: WordPress category optimization
- Step 17: Outbound links
- Step 18: Generate Interaction
- Step 19: XML Sitemap & Pinglist
- Step 20: Backlinks to your article
- Step 21: Internal links from an to your article
- Step 22: SEOcial, links from social media
- Step 23: Social media titles and meta
- Step 24: Mobile responsive and adaptive
- Step 25: Google friendly WordPress Code
- Step 26: Content is King?!
Don’t you have an SEO actionplan or manual to optimize your website content from A to Z to get higher rankings in Google?
That’s a question we get regularly and even if my free ebook with 35 SEO tips can get you a long way, I thought it would be a great idea to write an article as sort of an “uber SEO Checklist”. This manual is written for everyone using a WordPress website, but even if you do not use WordPress you can use these steps as well.
SEO Actionplan for WordPress:
With the following SEO actionplan you can optimize your content from A to Z for a specific keyword. I will show you step by step where to put your keyword in order to get better rankings in Google for that keyword.
Tip: always write with added value to your visitors instead of for Google. When you write specifically for SEO purposes your articles will be less logical and more important less valuable to your visitors. With SEO the end does not justify the means. 😉
Rule of Thumb in this SEO Manual
In this SEO manual there is one rule of thumb:
The further forward your keyword is, the more value it gets from Google
It is therefore advisable to optimize your content from top to bottom and beginning to end. That’s is also the way I will be setting up this manual, however, most writers fill in the title tag, meta description and SEOcial settings as last.
Step 1: Title tag
The most important place for a keyword in order to score in Google is the so-called title tag. The title tag is the title of a page on your website. Every page of your website or webshop has its own title. This is the blue title that is shown in the Google search results when the page is shown. This is what it looks like:
Make sure the keyword you want to found for is at the beginning of the title. Try not to use to many keywords or the same keyword too often in a title, this confuses Google and makes the title less attractive.
Step 2: Meta Description
Like every page has its own title, they also have their own meta description tag. This is the description of the page you give to Google like you see in the image above. Make sure the description is relevant (the right keywords) and use an enticing piece of text that will get people to click.
Attention: Even though you can choose a title tag and meta description this does not guarantee Google will show them. Google prefers relevance ans sometimes shows it’s own title and meta (based on the content of your page) when it better fits the search. For example with a long tail keyword.
Write an exciting text that entices people to click!
Next to writing a relevant title tag and description it is also advisable to write an enticing text so people will actually want to click on it in Google. Just being found is not enough if nobody clicks your website in the search results.
This is also a ranking factor for Google. For example if your website shows up number one, but all visitors click your competitors website which ranks number two, Google will start to see your competitor as “more relevant” and move him above you.
Title tag an meta description in WordPress SEO plugin
If you use the WordPress SEO plugin from Yoast, you fill out the title tag and meta description here:
Step 3: The keywordtag?
A few years ago Google also took into account the keywordtag. This was comparable with the meta description but only contained a few keywords instead of a relevant description. Today Google no longer uses this keywordtag for SEO purposes, so you can ignore this.
Step 4: Search Engine friendly url in WordPress
Always check if your post has a logical and search engine friendly url. When you have used a long title with many unnecessary words for the url, you can change it. A short url containing only the words you want to be found for usually works better. Again, the further forward the keyword, the more valuable Google thinks it is.
Is better for the specific keyword “link roundups” then:
Even if you have made your title tag for Google different then the actual title (H1) of your post, you should check it because most systems make the H1 and not the title tag the url. In this case you miss the by you carefully written title for Google in your url.
Attention: Don’t just go and change the urls of existing content, this will trigger a 404 Error (page not found) when somebody click your old url. This will cause you to drop in Googles rankings. You can check 404 errors if you use Google Webmastertools for your website (you should). If you have already changed a url (not advised) you must implement a 301 Redirect.
Step 5: Breadcrumbs
At the top of this article you see a breadcrumb of the path you took to get here. This is a way to give your visitor an overview. Your visitor can also quickly return to your homepage or category page. The homepage is like the Northstar of your website.
You can see these breadcrumbs as internal links (more about this later) giving extra value to your categories. The breadcrumb also contains the keyword you want to be found for. Just like your url, you can change it and make it more specific:
Step 6: H1 (title)
Now you have set the “basic SEO” for your page you can start focussing on the content. This always begins with a title. Make sure your title is tagged as “H1” Heading. In WordPress the title of your page or post is automatically and H1.
Normally you only have one H1 per url. For subheadings you don’t use H1 but H2, H3 and H4 (see further). In case you have trouble understanding this, look at your website as a book and every page on your website is a chapter of that book. A chapter can only have one heading, after that you only have subheading (or paragraphs).
The H1 is not necessarily the same as the title tag, in fact, they can be completely different. You could choose to write your title tag specifically for your keyword and make your H1 a “more exciting” for your visitors from other sources (social media, email marketing, etc)
Step 7: Begin with an image
After the title it is recommended to start your article with an image. An image says more then a thousand words and invites your visitors to read on:
You can use your keyword three times in an image and because your image is all the way forward, this is exactly the right place. Remember to use these three spots:
7.1 The filename
The filename is the name of the image as it is stored on your computer before you upload it to your website. When you take a picture of a soccer field for example it will have a name like: IMG059.jpg. This name doesn’t tell Google there is a soccer field in the image.
When you name the image soccer-field-in-amsterdam.jpg however, you give Google a clear and describing title for your image. When someone goes to Google Images and searches for ‘soccer field in Amsterdam’ there’s a good chance your picture will pop up.
7.2 Title & alt tag
After you uploaded your image to your WordPress site, you can also give the image a fitting title and “alt tag”. The title appears in a textfield when you hover your mouse over the image in the front end of your website.
Alt tags are “alternative titles” for images for images that aren’t properly loaded.
7.3 Nice little extra: Score in Google images
Google also allows you to search for images, Google will show all images it has indexed and that match your search. Again, they will show the most relevant images first.
Step 8: Optimize the first paragraph
Now we will start writing the actual blog post keeping in mind the same rule of thumb “the further forward, the better”. So we use the keyword we want to be found for always in the first paragraph and if possible as first word as long as it makes sense.
It’s better to repeat your main keyword a few times in the top of your article instead of stuffing the whole content. Make sure to use synonyms and “long tail keywords”, we will talk about this later in the keyword density section.
The most important about the first paragraph is to write it enticing to read on, just as with the title. In the example above it only just makes sense, but it’s the perfect example for this article 😉
Step 9: Bold words
To give extra power to a keyword you can bold it. You have to bold a keyword only once, bolding it multiple times in your article doesn’t give it more power in the eyes of Google.
Step 10: Subheadings (H2, H3, H4) in WordPress
After using an H1 Heading for the title, you can split your article with subheadings. You can see these as paragraphs in a chapter. Subheadings are “more valuable” in the eyes of Google en so you will want to use your keyword there.
For this you use heading 2, heading 3 and heading 4. WordPress allows you to go all the way to heading 6, but that is not advisable.
Attention: The higher the number of the heading, the less valuable it becomes to Google. So a heading 1 is more powerful then a heading 2 and a heading 2 is more powerful then a heading 3. Always keep in mind that it all has to make sense, just as the rest of your SEO efforts.
Step 11: Index of the blog
If you have written a lengthy article with subheadings, put an index at the top of your article using “anchorlinks” which allow you to jump directly to a subheading.
It’s always nice for people to have an overview but it also helps your SEO because they are sort of internal links. This allows Google to index segments of your article because there is a direct link pointing to it. These will often be used by Google as sitelinks and make you stand out even more.
You build these indexes in the HTML (Text) window in WordPress:
<li><a title=”Tip 1″ href=”#tip1″>Tip 1</a></li>
<li><a title=”Tip 2″ href=”#tip2″>Tip 2</a></li>
Place text for tip 1 here
Place text for tip 2 here
When you put an article on website.com/article you can build anchorlinks like for example website.com/article#tip1, this kind of link keeps you on the page itself. In the html you indicate with <a name=”tip1″</a> the destination of the link. Be aware that you can use this “title” again to put in a relevant keyword.
Step 12: Keyword density
Of course there’s also the rest of your articles’ content, not completely irrelevant. Make sure the main keyword is used regularly throughout the text of your article. You often hear about the optimal keyword density of a page. This is the percentage of how often a certain keyword is used in an article.
Personally I’m not a firm believer in this statement, in my eyes an article should be well written en readable. The keywords should be in the right places instead of stuffing you content with them. However you will have to watch out you’re not “keywordspamming”.
Step 13: Related and Lsi Keywords
Besides using a keyword according to the steps above, it is recommendable to also use related/derivative keywords in your text, images and possibly in the title and the meta’s. Think for example:
13.1 Broad keywords
When you want to be found for ““SEO Checklist for WordPress” you can use this “exact” word combination in your article. However when you use “a Checklist for WordPress to optimize your SEO” in your text we talk about a “broad” keyword. You are using the words in combination with other words. This is more natural in the eyes of Google then when you would use the exact same word combination over and over.
13.2 LSI Keywords & Synomyms
Latent semantic indexing keywords (LSI) are related keywords and synonyms you can often find at the bottom of Google when you conduct a search. Basically Google is telling you what keywords people are also using and should be included in your article.
13.3 Long tail keywords
Short tail keywords are all searches in Google containing 1, 2 or 3 keywords. Long Tail Keywords are searches containing 4 or more words. One of the things I like to do is figuring out what questions people could be using regarding the article I have written. Think about:
Shorttail: High in Google
Longtail: How do I get my website high in Google
Longtail: Tips to get high in Google
Shorttail: Make Marketingplan
Longtail: Examples and manual of a good marketingplan
Longtail: How to write a marketingplan
I often see that the use of words like “tips”, “manual”, “example”, “how to” works very good to attract more visitors from the longtail. There’s much less competition and it is just extra traffic to something you have already written.
Step 14: The advised length of your text for SEO?
How long should your content be exactly? Some people say a minimum of 400 words, others say the following:
Step 15: Rich content
The richer a page on your website is, the more valuable it will be to Google. “Rich” means the use of different media like text, images, audio, video, pdf, infographics, comments, internal links, outbound links, social media, etc. The more of these you incorporate in your article, the more valuable your article becomes. Design your website always as valuable as possible for your visitors, Google will automatically reward you for it!
15.1 Images in the text
We already talked about the first image and scoring in Google Images but you can use more images in one article and target different (derivative) keywords with these images. Try not to have multiple images in an article with exactly the same title, that isn’t logical. If you use the same image multiple times, also use the same title.
Attention: Website speed is an important factor in SEO. Make sure your images don’t have large image files, this slows down your website dramatically and causes your article to score a lot less in Google. If you have a WordPress website you can us a plugin to resize your images. Also read the part about clean code and plugins further on.
15.2 Video / YouTube
Video is super valuable for Google and this is definately the case for YouTube videos. Thats because YouTube is a Google domain. The advantage of using YouTube videos in your content is that you will not only score better with your article, your video will also rank in the Google search results:
Step 16: WordPress category optimization
In WordPress you usually put your articles in categories. These categories make your website nice and clear to your visitors but you can also use these categories in your SEO actionplan. Pick clear categories with no or only a bit of similarity. Always put an article in 1 category instead of choosing several (Google finds this illogical).
If you optimize your blog categories with a title tag, meta description and even content, they will be able to attract extra visitors from Google. Take for example my category “Social Media” in the blog.
Maybe this is not the first thing on your mind but using (do follow) backlinks to other (valuable) websites relevant to your article is also seen as valuable by Google. A link to Wikipedia for example can be beneficial for the ranking of your article. In this example you see a link to Facebook in an article about the new Facebook Like button:
Google likes to present to most valuable content to its users and a “complete article” with lots of information and referrals to relevant sources is the perfect example. This also increases the objectivity and transparency of your blog. When you never link to somebody else this is seen as “unnatural”.
17.1 Anchortext and title attributes
Make sure that when you put a link, the link has the proper anchortext and title attribute. So it is better to make the word “Social Media” clickable then the words “click here for more info” when I am talking about Social Media. Google values these anchortexts because they act as the title for the page it links to. The title attribute is the title that appears when you hover your mouse over the clickable word.
Step 18: Generate Interaction
When an article on your website gets a lot of comments, Google sees this a important. Comments indicate that an article “lives” and is therefore actual and relevant (otherwise it wouldn’t get as many comments).
Every comment is also a piece of content on your site, written by your visitors (ideal for you). We call this User Generated Content. Sometimes one of your articles can just double in size by the number of comments. Soms kan een door jou geplaatst artikel maar zo verdubbelen in lengte door het aantal reacties. Daarnaast zijn reacties ideaal voor “long tail zoekopdrachten” omdat lezers vaak in hun eigen (zoek)woorden vragen aan jou stellen.
So it is very advisable to stimulate interaction on your website, engage visitors and start a conversation. You can react to any comments made by your visitors.
18.1 Show yourself!
Studies show that you get more interactions from visitors when they know the authors face. Adding a small bio often works wonders.
Step 19: XML Sitemap & Pinglist
To get Google to index a new article faster I advise you to use an XML Sitemap. A sitemap is an list of all your websites’ urls in an index. This sitemap can be submitted to Google via Google Webmastertools.
When you do this, Google gets notified about new content or changes to your website automatically. Also setting up a Pinglist helps getting your content indexed faster.
I’m not going to cover backlinks in depth because this is more of an “on page SEO” checklist to optimize your content so you get higher in Google. If your article is perfectly set up for Google, you can get even higher rankings with good backlinks to your website / specific article.
When you have written a real top article you want the world to know about, you might even consider a press release or contacting other blogs / websites to maybe get a link back to your article.
Besides backlinks, “internal links” also help your position in the Google search results. By making the keyword / relevant keyword combination(s) you wish to be found for clickable in other articles on your website you will also score better.
Are you doing this automatically like I do? Think about which keywords are characteristic to the new article and add them to your system (including the link to the new article off course). This way a brand new article can get several backlinks from your own website, even if it’s only just been published:
Besides backlinks and internal links, we have links from social media. These also count in Google, because when someone “likes” your website, this person gives a recommendation to his or her friends – so it is beneficial to your website. This also the case for Twitter, Google Plus and other social media recommendations. Don’t look at likes or tweets as a backlink, but rather as a ‘popularity score‘ for your website.
You can stimulate social media very good by using “sticky social media buttons” or “TweetQuotes“.
22.2 Snackable content
In order to get more shares on social media you will have to write content that people “want to share”. We’ve already talked about the ideal length of a blog article and snackable content (7 tips to …, 16 ways to …, 20 things you should know about …, etc.) and articles with news value and topicality.
22.3 Want to help us by sharing this article?
Click the buttons on the left 😉
Step 23: Social media titles and meta
Make sure your article has the right title, meta description and images for all social media channels. It’s a shame when someone shares your article on Facebook for example and your post has the wrong image. In the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress you can set this up in this tab:
Step 24: Mobile responsive and adaptive
To score better in Google it is important your website is Mobile Responsive and/or Mobile Adaptive. Especially since Google rolled out his Mobilegeddon update on april 23, 2015. If your website isn’t mobile responsive it will drop in the search results.
The ‘stretching’ of a website or webpage is called mobile responsive. Changing the design is called mobile adaptive.
Tip: Check the mobile friendly label from Google
Step 25: Google friendly WordPress Code
Your website has to have a clean code in order to appear high in the search results. Google looks at the readability of your website and thus also looks at how clean and clear the code of your website is built.
Imagine a website with a lot of excess code is like a book where every word is explained by one or more extra sentences, would this read easy?
WordPress basically has a clean code. There is however a risk in cluttering the code by adding plugins. Unfortunately there are a lot of WordPress websites soiled by bad software. In many cases this clutters the code which diminishes the SEO value.
25.1: Indispensible for the future: Semantic code
The “Rich Markup” from Google is something you probably never heard about before, but is something that is becoming increasingly important when we talk about search engine optimization. The Rich Markup will become ans essential part of your SEO strategy when you want to get on board of the “semantic search engine” from Google which was rolled out with the Google Hummingbird update…