On-Page SEO Checklist: My 35-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content In WordPress (2020 Complete Guide)

On-Page-SEO-Checklist

The is the same on-page SEO checklist I use to write every post on my blog.

Most of it has nothing to do with Yoast, in fact I ignore most of Yoast’s recommendations since they put too much emphasis on keyword density and not enough on real on-page SEO factors.

Instead, I focus on finding a long-tail keyword which has low competition in Google’s search results, then creating in-depth content that is organized with a table of contents and nice graphics. I also talk about lesser-known strategies like targeting variations of a keyword, optimizing your table of contents to get in Google’s featured snippets, and making content format properly on Facebook/Twitter (using Yoast). I don’t have an infographic like Backlinko, but these are all actionable tips that will improve your on-page SEO, especially for WordPress.

I have gotten many requests to write this, so I hope it’s useful. Comment if you need help.

On-Page SEO Checklist

  1. Find A Long-Tail Keyword
  2. Learn The Keyword’s Competition
  3. Find Keyword Variations
  4. Create A Post
  5. Write A Keyword-Rich Headline
  6. Shorten The Permalink
  7. Write The SEO Title + Meta Description
  8. Create An HTML Table Of Contents
  9. Optimize The TOC For Featured Snippets
  10. Add FAQ Rich Snippets
  11. Drop Internal/External Links
  12. Get Content From Facebook Groups
  13. Design Images
  14. Optimize Images
  15. Write A Solid Introduction
  16. End With A Call To Action
  17. Spell Check Using Grammarly
  18. Assign A Category And Give It Some Tags
  19. Optimize For Social Sharing
  20. Add Rich Snippets To Reviews
  21. Add Multimedia
  22. Ignore Yoast Feedback
  23. Prefetch DNS Requests
  24. Test Load Times In GTmetrix
  25. Publish The Post
  26. Disable Unused Scripts + Plugins
  27. Test Table Of Contents Links
  28. Submit URL To Google
  29. Make Sure Google Doesn’t Cut Off Snippets
  30. Build Internal Links To The Post
  31. Keep The Article And Publish Date Current
  32. Send A Newsletter
  33. Take It To Social Media
  34. Respond To Comments
  35. Monitor The Post’s Performance

 

1. Find A Long-Tail Keyword

Use Google Autocomplete to find a long-tail keyword with  3+ words.

If you start Googling the keyword and it has lots of Autocomplete results below it, that keyword is probably too competitive and in most cases, you should choose one of the more specific (long-tail) phrases. The only time you should consider choosing a broad, competitive keyword is if you plan on creating in-depth content, and if your site has high domain authority.

Long-Tail Keywords

 

2. Learn The Keyword’s Competition

Google the keyword and review the content in the top results.

A keyword is more competitive if:

  • It’s broad
  • Top results have strong content
  • Top results have high DA/PA in MozBar
  • It has high competition in Keywords Everywhere
  • Top results are populated with authority websites
  • You see lots of advertisements from Google AdWords
  • Top results have strong signals (links, comments, shares)
  • There are lots of search results (11.6 million is a lot, but I’m giving it a shot)

Tools I Use:
Keywords Everywhere – Google any keyword and see it’s monthly search volume, CPC (cost per click), and estimated competition. Manually researching the top results is better though.

MozBar – Google any keyword and see each search result’s DA (domain authority) and PA (page authority). Choose keywords with lower PA, and compete within your own DA range.

Keyword Competition

 

3. Find Keyword Variations

These are synonyms (or very closely related) keywords.

Try looking at the different Autocomplete results or searching for a similar keyword. You can use the underline character _ to have Google fill-in-the-blank (a neat little trick I like to use). You can target multiple keyword variations in the post title, SEO title, and meta description.

Keyword Variation(2)

Keyword Variation

Keyword Variations

Example:

  • Keyword #1: on-page SEO checklist (primary)
  • Keyword #2: on-page SEO guide
  • Keyword #3: on-page SEO 2019
  • Keyword #4: on-page SEO process
  • Keyword #5: content SEO checklist

So I wrote the title:

On-Page SEO Checklist: My 33-Step Process For Writing Search Engine Optimized Content (2019 Complete Guide)

 

4. Create A Post

In case you didn’t know how:

Add A New Post

 

5. Write A Keyword-Rich Headline

Qualities of a good headline:

  • Makes people want to read (duh)
  • Primary keyword is ideally in front
  • Keyword variations sprinkled throughout title

Post Title

Other Examples:

Headline 6

Headline 3

Headline 4

Headline 5

Headline 2

 

This emphasizes your keyword to search engines.

Shortened Permalink

Should I Remove Stop Words?
Yoast recommends removing stop words, but this can make URLs ready funny and is NOT always good. Take a look at the examples below. If you can shorten the permalink to include your keyword and read nicely, do it. But if it butchers the URL and doesn’t make sense, don’t.

Yoast-Stop-Words

Yoast-Stop-Words-Examples

 

7. Write The SEO Title + Meta Description

These are the forefront of your SEO and determine the post’s click-through rate. You should include your keyword (ideally in the front), target multiple keyword variations, and follow the character limits. It’s also a good idea to include a number or modifier like “2019” or “checklist.”

Yoast Snippet

Tips For Writing SEO Titles + Meta Descriptions

  • SEO title length: 600 pixels (about 58 characters)
  • Meta description length: 920 pixels (about 158 characters)
  • Do not use Yoast’s snippet variables (write them yourself!)
  • Primary keyword is in front, secondary keywords are sprinkled

 

8. Create An HTML Table Of Contents

I can’t stress how important this is.

A table of contents organizes the post, lets people jump (and link to) specific sections, and increases your chance of being awarded jump-to links and featured snippets by Google. It also encourages longer content (Brian Dean and most SEOs recommend at least 3,000+ words).

Why You Should Do It

  • Helps users navigate the post
  • People can link to specific sections
  • Encourages in-depth content (3,000+ words)
  • Chance of getting jump-to links in Google by using named anchors

Template:

 

Featured snippets can be in the form of lists, paragraphs, or tables.

Since your table of contents is a list, make each item concise and actionable. Do not ask questions or give long answers – people want direct solutions to the problem for their query.

How In Google’s Featured Snippets

  • Find a keyword where people want concise information (eg. a list)
  • Moz Keyword Explorer has a filter that helps find question keywords
  • Target existing keywords/featured snippets that don’t do a good job
  • Create a concise, logical table of contents to target ‘list’ featured snippets
  • Create fact-based content with quality references (links, graphics, etc)
  • Make sure you’re on the 1st page for the keyword, if not, improve the content
  • Design an image exactly describing the keyword and label the image file name + alt text as the exact keyword (this can get that image showing in your featured snippet as well)
  • Google ultimately determines whether they will show your result, or any result at all

Featured Snippet List

Featured-Image-Snippets

 

10. Add FAQ Rich Snippets

FAQ rich snippets are great for standing out in search results:

FAQ Google Snippets

Instructions

  • Install the Structured Content plugin.
  • Edit a page/post you want to FAQs on.
  • Click the “FAQ” icon in the WYSIWYG editor.
  • Add your questions and answers (I recommend 3-8).
  • Click the OK button and the plugin will add the code to your post.
  • Once the post is published, submit the URL to Google’s URL Inspector.
  • Your FAQs should appear in Google’s search results within a matter of minutes.

 

11. Drop Internal/External Links

These should provide helpful resources for specific topics not completely covered in the post, don’t just insert them for SEO or link to Wikipedia. If your visitors click it, it should be helpful.

Internal Links – natural ways to build links to your site while mentioning articles where visitors can more information on specific topics, while improving bounce rate and time on site.

External Links – similar to citing sources to Google. I always use internal links if I have content about the topic, otherwise I link to external sources where people can find more information.

 

12. Get Content From Facebook Groups

I love taking screenshots of Facebook conversations, especially polls.

It’s an easy way to show upvoted answers, common solutions to problems, and comparison polls. There are plenty of polls on the best hosting, cache plugins, SEO plugins, and others.

Step 1: Join Facebook Groups related to your topic/industry.

Facebook Groups

Step 2: Search Facebook for specific topics while only searching within your Groups.

Facebook Keyword Search

Step 3: Find polls and conversations related to the topic, then share them with your readers:

SEO Plugin Facebook Poll

 

13. Design Images

I use GIMP.

Be sure to crop/resize images to the correct dimensions (see next section).

GIMP Editor

 

14. Optimize Images

Alt Text – the Auto Image Alt Attribute plugin will automatically add alt text to images based on their file name. Just remember to write a descriptive file names before uploading images.

Alt-Text

Resize Images To Correct Dimensions – my blog is 680px width so I crop/resize full width images to those dimensions. Otherwise I would see serve scaled images errors in GTmetrix.

680 Pixel Width Rectangle

Lossless Compression – ShortPixel, Smush, Imagify, and Kraken all do the same thing (lossless compression + EXIF data removal). I use ShortPixel which shows an unnoticeable quality loss.

optimize-images-gtmetrix

 

15. Write A Solid Introduction

How to write a great introduction:

  • Use your keyword in the first couple sentences
  • Add links (from the TOC) to entice people to jump to a specific section
  • Tell them why they should read your post (eg. I don’t focus much on Yoast)
  • Be personal, lead with a story, or talk about topics that are currently going on

Post Introduction

 

16. End With A Call To Action

What do you want people to do?

  • Read another post
  • Make an affiliate sale
  • Follow you on social media
  • Subscribe to your newsletter
  • Get in touch as a potential client

Call To Action

I rely on affiliate marketing to make a living, so I usually link to my WordPress speed guide which is super helpful, but also promotes SiteGround where I get a commission from each sale.

Just sayin’ but at least I’m transparent.

2019-Hosting-Facebook-Poll

Get hosting from SiteGround Get managed cloud hosting from Cloudways

 

17. Spell Check Using Grammarly

Grammarly is great, but you should have someone else read it with fresh eyes.

I like to reread it first thing in the morning, or hand it off to a coworker. You can also hire a writer. If you do not speak native English, you should 100% hire someone to edit your copy.

Grammary Recommendations

 

18. Assign A Category And Give It Some Tags

Assign the post to 1 category, and give it a few tags. Don’t overdo the tags.

WordPress Categories
WordPress Tags

 

19. Optimize For Social Sharing

This makes your content format properly when shared on Facebook/Twitter, specifically your image since both networks use custom dimensions to display it, otherwise it will look funny.

Facebook Post

If using Yoast, go to the “Social” settings and enable Open Graph for both Facebook/Twitter:

Yoast-Social-Meta-Data

Now edit a page/post, then click the “share” link in Yoast and you will see options to upload custom images for Facebook (1200 width x 628 height) and Twitter (1024 width x 512 height).

yoast-social-media-optimization

 

20. Add Rich Snippets To Reviews

If you’re writing reviews, you need rich snippets.

I use the premium WP Review plugin which looks great (here’s an example post I use it on), does the job, and is lightweight so it doesn’t affect my load times or my GTmetrix reports.

Structured-Data-Review-Stars

Instructions

  • Write reviews, recipes, or other content types where rich snippets can be used
  • Choose a rich snippets plugin (eg. All In One Schema or WP Review)
  • All In One Schema is free but has minimal customization options and looks boring
  • WP Review looks much better, has multiple pre-styled templates, is maintained and updated frequently by the MyThemeShop, supports 14 data types, and is what I use
  • Use the plugin to markup content and test it using Google’s Structured Data Tool
  • Use my tutorial on adding rich snippets to WordPress for full instructions

 

21. Add Multimedia

Videos keep people on the post longer. Ideally it’s your own since embedding videos on your blog gives them more views, likes, comments, and engagement, a key factor for YouTube SEO.

That’s why I like creating YouTube videos in conjunction with my blog content. I haven’t created a video for on-page SEO yet (I probably will soon), so for now, here’s Brian Dean:

 

22. Ignore Yoast Feedback

Yoast green lights don’t matter.

Yoast doesn’t tell you anything about keyword competition, content depth, or how to improve engagement. It focuses too much on keyword density and not enough on what actually makes great content. Instead of focusing on green lights, beef up your articles with a table of contents and cover the topics in more depth. That is what I did to grow my blog to 3,000 visitors/day.

Importance Of Yoast Green Lights

 

23. Prefetch DNS Requests

This helps browsers anticipate external resources so they can load them faster.

If you embedded YouTube videos, Tweets, Facebook posts, or even use social sharing plugins or comment plugins, these can slow down your website and also show in your GTmetrix report.

Here is a great list of common domains to prefetch:

Prefetch-DNS-Requests-WP-Rocket

You can add them to WP Rocket (the cache plugin I recommend):

Prefetch-DNS-Requests

Otherwise, add them to your header:

<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//youtube.com”>
<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//maps.googleapis.com”>
<link rel=”dns-prefetch” href=”//fonts.googleapis.com”>

 

24. Test Load Times In GTmetrix

Thank you Cloudways for the crazy load times. Even posts with tons of images load in <1s when they’re 2.70MB and have 61 requests.

If I didn’t embed the YouTube video or GitHub code it would be 100%. Make sure images are optimized, use fast hosting, a good cache plugin, PHP 7+, and see my WordPress speed guide.

On-Page-SEO-Load-Times

SiteGround vs Cloudways Cloud Hosting

 

25. Publish The Post

Go ahead, do it.

Publish Post

 

26. Disable Unused Scripts + Plugins

You might be familiar with Plugin Organizer, which lets you selectively disable plugins you don’t use on certain pages/posts. This is the same idea, only I use Kinsta’s perfmatters plugin. Since I’m not using rich snippets in this post, I disabled my rich snippets plugin in the settings.

You can also use the free WP Asset Clean Up plugin.

Script Manager

 

Each link in your table of contents should jump to it’s subheading. Hold ctrl (PC) or control (Mac) and click each link to make sure it works. The tags in your subheadings and table of contents tags should match. Otherwise if it’s another problem, recheck the GitHub code.

Table Of Contents Links

 

28. Submit URL To Google

Next, submit the URL to Google using their URL Inspector in Search Console.

FAQ Request Indexing

 

29. Make Sure Google Doesn’t Cut Off Snippets

If your SEO title + meta description are too long, Google will cut it off. Make sure they don’t.

Google Snippet

 

Anytime you mention the topic, include a link to the article.

Internal Link

 

31. Keep The Article And Publish Date Current

Adding a post modified date makes  your content look fresh and increases click-through rates.

First, enable ‘date in snippet preview’ in Yoast (SEO → Search Appearance → Content Types).

Date-In-Snippet-Preview-Yoast

Now add this code to your theme (or use the Post Updated Date plugin) which does the same thing. If you’re using the Genesis Framework you can use Genesis Simple Edits plugin to add the post modified date shortcode to the ‘Entry Meta’ section under Genesis → Simple Edits.

<p>Last modified: <?php the_modified_date(); ?></p>

Mine looks like this…

Entry-Meta

Which results in…

Post Modified Date

Keep the article updated to refresh the publish date:

Publish Date

 

32. Send A Newsletter

Anytime you publish a great article, tell your subscribers about it (and what’s in it).

Mailchimp Newsletter

 

33. Take It To Social Media

Without being spammy, share it in Facebook Groups and other places.

 

34. Respond To Comments

HubSpot did a study on comments and found this:

“There is no correlation between the number of comments on a post and the number of views that post got. There’s also no correlation between comments and the number of links that post got.

Pros

  • They’re where I get my most valuable feedback
  • People who receive feedback are more likely to sign up for my newsletter
  • Creates a two-way conversation (eg. you’re trying to get clients to contact you)

Cons

  • Spam, lots of it
  • Too many people trying to get a link
  • It’s basically free consulting (if you don’t have guidelines)

 

35. Monitor The Post’s Performance

After a couple weeks, check the performance report in Google Search Console which helps you see the post’s performance. It tells you it’s ranking position, clicks, and click-through rate.

If the post ranks high with lots of impressions, but has a low click-through rate, consider rewriting the SEO title + meta description. If it doesn’t rank well at all, improve the content.

Use Google Analytics to check the post’s average session duration and bounce rate.

If the post has bad bounce rates and average session duration, it could be anything from slow load times to poor web design, no internal links, or lack of well-designed, original graphics. Try listing your most popular tutorials in your sidebar (see mine).

 

Backlinko’s On-Page SEO Infographic

This post wouldn’t be complete without Backlinko’s on-page SEO infographic:

on-page-seo

You May Also Like: How I Got 100% Scores In GTMetrix (WordPress Speed Guide)

 

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ How did I get these FAQs in Google?

Install the Structured Content plugin and use it to add FAQs to pages/posts. The plugin will markup the content for you, then test the page in Google's Structured Data Testing Tool.

✅ How important are Yoast's green lights?

Not very important. Yoast emphasizes keyword usage but doesn't pay much attention to keyword research, quality content, rich snippets, or adding an HTML table of contents. The most important places to use your keyword are in the page title, URL, SEO title, meta description, and a couple times in the content. The rest is quality content + on-page SEO.

✅ What are on-page SEO factors outside of Yoast?

Rich snippets, FAQ rich snippets, adding a table of contents, quality content, using multimedia like infographics and videos, speed optimization, and getting your content showing in Google's featured snippets to name a few.

✅ How do you add a table of contents to long posts?

I recommend using HTML instead of a plugin to make sure the TOC includes linked anchors so people can jump to (and link) to specific sections of your post. I listed the code in this tutorial.

✅ How do you get in Google's featured snippets?

Google can show featured snippets for paragraphs, lists, and tables. Find a question keyword where it makes sense that Google would show featured snippets, or ones that already exists with content that does a poor job answering the question. Next, create a section on your post that answers the question concisely. If optimizing for lists, create a table of contents. Keep the maximum character counts in mind.

Subscribe To My Newsletter: Subscribe to my newsletter if you liked this post! I continuously write new tutorials on WordPress SEO + speed optimization over 3,000 people read each day.

Cheers,
Tom

How To Get Natural, Internal Links To Your WordPress Site

Research a keyword, write the content, optimize it, publish.

This seems like a good on-page SEO process but it’s missing one critical step… after you publish the content you’re not done optimizing it until you’ve built a few internal links to it. This is the easiest way to get links to your site and you’re going to miss out? Not anymore…

Links to a page are about 20% of how it ranks and what better way to build them than to use existing content you’ve already written. All you have to do is find related content on your website/blog and link to that new page. This can improve the page’s ranking and helps it get indexed faster in search engines. And the best part is… it only takes about 3 minutes to do.

So next time you publish a page or post, don’t stop there. Read this article then spend the extra 3 minutes to build some internal links. Your pages could start ranking 20% higher…

Page Level Link Features
Google Ranking Factors – Moz

 

Link From Relevant Pages/Posts

Search WordPress – search your existing pages/posts for relevant content about the topic. You may not find everything (WordPress only shows content that includes the exact keyword), but it’s a good start. Go to those pages and find the section where you mention the topic, then create an internal link to your new page. You can probably think of a few pages and posts off the top of your head IF you have enough content… just don’t cram the page with links since it only gives off a certain amount of link juice. Here I use Yoast as the topic:

WordPress Search

Search Google – search Google for: site:yourwebsite.com “your keyword” and you will see pages on your site related to that keyword. This is one of the best ways to find a more extensive list of relevant content where you can get internal links from.

Search Google For Internal Links

Use Google Search Console – if you want links from your highest authority pages, head to Google Search Console and go to Search Traffic –> Links To Your Website. Go to your “most linked to content” (you’ll see this on the right-hand side) and look through any relevant pages you can get a link from. Pages that have more links tend to have more link authority.

Most LinkedIn To Pages - Google Search Console

 

Internal Linking Best Practices

Now that you where where to get internal links, here’s how to do it…

Diversify Your Anchor Text – multiple internal links that point to the same page should have varying anchor text (the link’s displayed text) so do not use the same anchor text over and over again. Each anchor text should be unique, descriptive, and NOT keyword rich. Linking to the same page with repetitive keyword-rich anchor text links used to work, but since Google Penguin this looks spammy and could risk a penalty. Make it long and descriptive.

Use Deep Links – instead of linking to your home or contact page, linking to deeper (not so obvious) pages will help readers find more specific information about certain topics, plus these are the pages that need links the most. You want you link juice to be spread out… think of your website as an ecosystem where everything needs to be linked together.

Know The Best Structure – a “perfect” internal link structure does exist, but take it with a grain of salt. It’s unrealistic every website would follow this but knowing the concept helps.

Internal Linking Structure

Avoid Automatic Internal Linking Plugins – when you use a certain keyword, these plugins will trigger an internal link to be created to a specific page which you set. Sounds like a good shortcut but these are not as personalized as if you were to insert the links manually. Plus many of these plugins do not allow varying anchor text (like I mentioned earlier) so they could also risk a penalty. “Related Post” plugins aren’t personalized either. Just avoid these.

 

Conclusion

As I write this article I’m in the middle of a large internal linking project for a client which prompted me to write this. It definitely IS worth spending some time on especially if you already have hundreds of articles which you can add internal links to. If you only have 20 or so pages you may need to create more content to do it effectively, but I would start now so you can get in the habit of internal linking and optimizing your content.

Many SEO tasks take a lot of time, but internal links don’t compared to how much value you get out of them. So if you haven’t done this yet, either go back and add them to your existing content or at least start next time you write your next piece. Seriously, it only takes 3 minutes. As always, leave me a comment if you have any questions – I’m here to help out!

Cheers,

Tom Signature

21 Ways To Create Better Content In WordPress

21 Ways To Create Better Content In WordPress

We’re always being told to create “good” content but besides being a skilled writer, what else can we do? Well I’ll tell you. We need to spruce it up! We need to focus on aesthetics, user-friendliness, optimization, and leveraging all those tools/plugins we have available.

You probably know that from an SEO perspective, good content naturally ranks high and is the best strategy for getting links, social shares, and all those nice SEO signals. I use every strategy in this list and it has helped me tremendously (with SEO, since that’s what I do).

I hope it can help you too.

 

1. Use A Table Of Contents

Use a table of contents to organize key topics (often your subheadings). This can also help you outline your articles. It only takes a few minutes and will make your readers happy.

 

How to do it…
Table Of Contents HTML should look like this…
<ul class=”listSquare”>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#item-one”>Item One</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#item-two”>Item Two</a></li>
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#item-three”>Item Three</a></li>
</ul>

Each subheading’s HTML should look like this…
<h3 id=”item-one”>Item One</h3>
<h3 id=”item-two”>Item Two</h3>
<h3 id=”item-three”>Item Three</h3>

You can also use a jump to table of contents link…
<li><a href=”/your-permalink-here/#table-of-contents</li>

 

2. Columns

Column 1

Column 2

How to do it…

 

3. Tables

tablepress-plugin

I created this table using the TablePress Plugin which has over 1,500 downloads and a solid 5 star review. You can also customize the CSS to your branding.

 

4. Buttons!

CONTACT US SIGN UP DOWNLOAD OUR FREE EBOOK SEE OUR PORTFOLIO

How to do it…

 

5. Shortcodes

shortcodes

Shortcodes allow you to easily add video, audio, image galleries, and other content with a simple line of code. Here’s a shortcode example for an embedded YouTube video…

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaNH5?Vpg-A]

Some WordPress themes come with built-in shortcodes that are pre-styled to match your theme. There’s also plugins like Shortcodes Ultimate if your theme doesn’t come with them.

 

6. Embedded Social Status

Share what other people have to say by embedding their social media statuses in your content. Notify them once it’s published and maybe they’ll share it with their audience.

Twitter Statuses

 

How to do it…
Use Advanced Twitter Search to find a tweet, then click More –> Embed Tweet. Copy the code and paste it in your content’s HTML. The example above uses 2 tweets into 2 columns.

Embedded Tweet

Facebook Statuses

Embed Facebook Post

Google+ Statuses

Google+ Embedded Post

 

7. Embedded Videos

Option 1: Copy the Youtube link and paste it to your content (WordPress will do the rest).

Option 2: Go to the YouTube video you want to embed, then copy and paste the embed code into your HTML. This method allows you to specify the video’s width and height:

Embed a YouTube Video

Option 3: Open a video when you click a link using the WP Video Lightbox Plugin.

Hide Youtube Video Title

<iframe src="//www.youtube.com/embed/ymdkFIHsTBA?showinfo=0" width="680" height="380" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen="allowfullscreen"></iframe>

Hide Youtube Video Controls

<iframe width="680" height="380" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ymdkFIHsTBA?showinfo=0&controls=0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

 

8. Working The Dimensions

680 Pixel Width Rectangle

Knowing your content dimensions (in pixels) helps you create graphics or find images that fit within those dimensions. I’m specifically referring to your content body and sidebar width. Since my content body is 680 width (pixels), I know that if I’m using 2 columns, each graphic should be around 340 width. I also know my sidebar widgets are 295 width.

 

9. Better Graphics

Start by redesigning graphics that appear in the most places (sitewide graphics): logo, footer images, sidebar images. Then move to individual pieces of content (content design graphics).

Sitewide Graphics

Content Design Graphics

 

10. After Entry Widgets

After Entry WordPress

These are the widgets people see after the end of your articles (located between the content body and comments section). They usually have a call to action. For me I’ve included a newsletter box and my author profile. “Related articles” is also a popular one.

In most WordPress themes you can find these under (Appearance –> Widgets –> After Entry). Decide what widgets you want to show here. But there should be something.

 

11. Image Styling

Image Styling WordPress

Style your images by adding borders, margins, padding, captions or other customizations. There’s 4 different places to edit images, all of which have different styling options…

  • Media section
  • Clicking on an image and finding the “edit” option
  • Finding the insert/edit image icon in your visual editor
  • The CSS editor

 

12. Font Styling

Are you getting any ideas yet?

 

13. Killer Headlines

It all starts with writing a great headline. The “perfect” headline includes:

  • A number
  • An adjective
  • Your keyword

Here is a tutorial by Neil Patel that explains the formula for a perfect headline. He says 8/10 people will read your headline, but only 2/10 will read the rest of your post. Choose wisely.

 

14. Snippets

SEO Titles + Meta Descriptions

Search Engine Snippets

Your SEO title and meta descriptions are the forefront of your SEO – they’re the first thing people see in search results and on social networks. Writing descriptive, compelling snippets will increase your clickthrough rate and drive more visitors to your content.

Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets

Rich snippets enhance your search engine snippets with additional information about your content. It’s one of the best ways to stand out in search results and get more clicks.

Popular forms of rich snippets…

  • Videos
  • Reviews
  • Recipes
  • Events
  • Audio

How to do it…

 

15. Social Optimization

Each social network formats your content differently, so you’ll want it optimized to format properly across the main social networks (your thumbnail image is the correct size and your titles and descriptions are tailored for each social network if you choose). The Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin does a fantastic job with this and I will assume you’re using it.

Step 1: Go to the “Users” section in WordPress and make sure each person fills out their Facebook, Twitter and Google+ fields.

Step 2: Configure the Social Tab in Yoast:

Yoast Social Tab

Facebook OpenGraph

Yoast Facebook Opengraph

Twitter Cards (Remember To Validate Your Twitter Cards)

Yoast Twitter Cards

Google+ Meta Data

Yoast Google+ Meta Data

Pinterest (Located In Yoast’s “Dashboard” Settings)

Yoast Pinterest

You will need to verify your site with Pinterest and enter the code in this field.

Step 3: Optimize Content For Social Sharing

Once you’ve configured Yoast’s social settings, edit the page or post you want to optimize for social. Scroll down to the Yoast section and hit the “Social” tab…

Yoast Social Media Optimization

Yoast gives you the option to display custom titles, descriptions, and properly formatted images for these main social networks. If you leave these blank then your SEO title, meta description, and your main content image (or featured image) will be used. It’s a good idea to at least upload an image for Facebook / Twitter / Google+ so the image formats properly when shared across these main social networks. Here are the correct dimensions…

  • Facebook Image: 1200 x 630px
  • Twitter Image: 1024 x 512px
  • Google+ Image: 800 x 1200px

 

16. Show Yourself

Tom Dupuis

That’s me!

You’ll see a cropped version in my right sidebar where I introduce myself. That’s where I would add your bio since people can immediately see you.

Add sidebar widget for single author…

First create your bio in HTML. You can create it in the Visual Editor which is easier. When you’re done, go to the Text Editor and copy your bio’s HTML. Now go to (Appearance –> Widgets) then add a “Text” widget to your blog sidebar. Paste the HTML and save.

Add sidebar widgets for multiple authors…

  • Make sure each person has their own user profile
  • Install the widget logic plugin so each person’s bio only shows on their posts
  • If there’s 5 people, add 5 text widgets to your blog sidebar
  • Paste each person’s bio HTML in their widget
  • Locate the Widget Logic field at the bottom of each person’s widget
  • Add this code, only replace my name with theirs: is_author( ‘tom-dupuis’ )
  • Or use other conditional tags to control where each widget appears

Widget Logic Field

If you use the Genesis Framework and have a newsletter like me, you can use the Genesis eNews Extended Plugin to create a widget with both your introduction and newsletter.

 

17. Signatures

You’ll see my signature at the bottom of each article I write. Adds a personal touch.

Tom Signature

How to do it…

  • Get a blank piece of computer paper
  • Write your signature
  • Take a close picture of it
  • Crop your signature
  • Add it to the end of your articles

 

18. Load Times

Page Load Times

The easiest way to improve load times is through sitewide optimizations that affect your entire website (getting faster hosting, lightweight themes, cache plugins…). I cover all this in my WordPress speed guide. You can also improve load times for individual pages by using less videos, large photos, and code. Run the URL through GTmetrix for recommendations.

 

19. TinyMCE Advanced

TinyMCE Advanced

Ever feel like you don’t have enough options in your visual editor? Install the TinyMCE Advanced Plugin to style your content with more advanced options.

 

20. TinyMCE Spellcheck

TinyMCE-Spellcheck

Before publishing an article, try running the TinyMCE Spellcheck Plugin. Select what type of errors it scans for in the “Users” section or add words to ignore…

TinyMCE-Spellcheck Options

 

21. Testing

Before you promote your content, it’s a good idea to do some testing…

Mobile Responsiveness – even if your WordPress theme is responsive, some content doesn’t always format correctly. Pull up it up on your phone/tablet to double check.

Table Of Contents (Step 1) – if you’ve setup a table of contents, always test each link.

Rich Snippets (step 14) – if your content includes rich snippets, use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to make sure it’s working.

Social Responsiveness (step 15) – to test whether the main social networks will format your content properly, share the link to Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Load Times (step 18) – once it’s published, run the URL through GTmetrix to get recommendations on improving the content’s load time.

Well I hope this was helpful! I know it’s a lot so if you have any questions at all, drop me a line in the comments section. And if you found my article helpful, please share. I appreciate it!

Cheers,

Tom Signature

Optimizing Image Alternative Text In WordPress (For SEO)

cute husky puppies with blue eyes

Alternative text (called alt text) is used to describe images to search engines. It’s part of both on-page SEO and Google Image optimization. Search engines can’t read images like we can, so they partially rely on us to write descriptive alt text to understand the image is about.

Just like how you would optimize a piece of content, we want to include the keyword here, but we don’t want to do keyword stuffing. This is where some people get confused, but I will save you the reading with this quick tip… you’re better off using alternative text to accurately describe an image than to include keyword(s) that DON’T describe the image.

 

Alternative Text Best Practices

  • Each image should have a completely unique alternative text
  • Alternative text should accurately describe the image
  • Avoid keyword stuffing, just use it to describe the image
  • Only use an exact keyword match if it makes sense to the image
  • Try using partial keyword matches to avoid keyword stuffing
  • Before uploading an image, label the file name as the alt text you want to use
  • The file name will be used as the alt text (only for visual editor/featured images)

Example
If your homepage is targeting the keyword “web design chicago”don’t edit every single image on that page for that keyword. If you have an image of yourself, you could use “chicago web designer” in the alt text since it makes sense. Or if you have a web design icon, label the alt text as web design icon (a partial keyword match is still good). But do NOT use “web design chicago” everywhere – you want to use natural, unique alt text for each image.

 

Editing Alternative Text In WordPress

If you’ve already uploaded an image to WordPress with a bad file name (DSC386748) you should reupload these images if you want them optimized, since the file name is part of SEO.

Visual Editor
Before uploading an image to WordPress, label the file name as the alt text you want to use. By default, WordPress will automatically use the image file name as the alt text. Doing this also gives your images correct image file names which are used in image optimization. For images outside of the visual editor and featured images (eg. those in widgets) still label your image file names before uploading them, but you will need to set their alt text manually…

Image Alternatixe Text In WordPress
Widgets / HTML
Images in your widgets or anywhere outside of the visual editor need the alt text labeled manually. You can do this by editing the HTML (see photo below), or an easy alternative is to paste the image in the visual editor (so WordPress assigns the alt text automatically), the “text” button to see the HTML, copy that images HTML, and paste it into the widget.

Editing Image Alt Text In WordPress Widgets
Featured Images
For featured images, as long as you label the image file name as the alt text you want to use before uploading the image, WordPress will automatically use the file name as the alt text.

WordPress Featured Image Alt Text

You don’t need to set alt text for bullets, social icons, or other images that aren’t relevant to your content. I covered pretty much everything these is to optimizing image alternative text in WordPress and how it relates to SEO. Please share my article if you found this helpful, or drop me a line in the comments if you have a question about alt text or SEO.

Cheers,