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WordPress SEO Tip for Beginners – How to Optimize Your WordPress Blog Posts

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WordPress SEO Tip for Beginners – How to Optimize Your WordPress Blog Posts

Often we notice that beginners install and activate the SEO plugins, but they never use it properly. We asked some of our users about it, and their response was “I didn’t know that I was suppose to be doing this”. Yes, we are talking about SEO meta data such as title and meta description. By using SEO functions properly for each post, you can definitely improve your search rankings. There is a lot you can do to optimize your blog posts, so they can perform better in search results. In this WordPress SEO tip for beginners, we will show you how to properly use SEO functions in WordPress posts.

At WPBeginner, we use WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast to optimize our blog posts. Therefore, all screenshots will reflect that.

WordPress SEO snippet preview

Choosing a Focus Keyword

A focus keyword is the main keyword that you are hoping people will look for and find your post. If your blog is in a competitive niche then chances are that you will be competing with many other established and reputable publications for popular keywords. In such situation, you can get more organic traffic by using long tail keywords. Always remember that your audience is humans not search engines. People don’t just type one keyword in search engines, they use phrases. Your focus keyword can be a phrase.

WordPress SEO by Yoast allows you to choose a focus keyword for your individual posts. It also helps you find similar keywords as you type your focus keyword.

WordPress SEO Keyword Suggestions for Focus Keyword

Once you have chosen a focus keyword for your post, WordPress SEO will show you how many times you have used the keyword in different areas of your post.

Focus Keyword Count in WordPress SEO plugin

Writing a Good SEO-Friendly Post Title

Post SEO Title

A good SEO friendly post title is human readable, contains your focus keyword and is within the 70 characters limit. However, it also needs to be catchy. When your page appears in the search results, a user will decide whether or not they want to click on it based on the SEO title and the description in the search snippet. The description part may change as search engines display the most relevant part of your article as the description. But the title will remain the same. Make sure your SEO title describes exactly what people will get if they clicked on the link. And finally, simplify your title, rather than using “A Comparison between Categories and Tags From SEO point of view” or “My thoughts on Categories and Tags” try something like “Categories vs. Tags – SEO Best Practices for Sorting your Content”. This title is not only catchy, it also contains the right keywords that people would be searching for.

Post SEO Meta Description

Some SEO experts believe that Meta description tag on a page has become irrelevant. However, many others would disagree. At WPBeginner, we recommend using meta description for all of your posts. A good meta description can explain a lot more about an article. Meta Description is also shown in social media sites like Facebook, Google+, and in Twitter via Twitter Cards.

Since now you know that people are going to be reading your meta descriptions, you want to make sure that it is helpful. You also want to make sure that you at least mention your focus keyword 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. Try to use your focus keyword earlier in the meta description rather than later.

Categories and Tags

Sorting Your Content

Categories and tags help you sort your content not only for your reader, but for yourself as well as search engines. Earlier we have written a detailed guide on how to use Categories and Tags in WordPress. Think of your website as a book. Categories are the table of content, and tags are the index part of the book.

Make Internal Linking a Habit

Once you have blogged for a while, you will have enough content that you would want people 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 context between your new and old posts thus passing relevant link juice. WordPress allows you to search for your old posts right inside the post editor. Press the link button in your post editor and click on “Or link to existing content”. This will open a search box. Search for older posts that you want to link to and it will show the results as you type. Select the post you want to link and press Add link button.

WordPress Internal Link Search

Each post you publish on your website has the potential to increase your search engine traffic. By adding meta data to your posts, writing good headlines, and cross linking between your older articles, you will soon start noticing an increase in your search traffic. We hope that you found this WordPress SEO tip for beginners helpful. Let us know, what you are doing to optimize your WordPress blog posts?

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress experts led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  1. Yeshu Anand says:

    Hello, Can I add two or more keywords in Focus Keyword place? If yes, then how?

  2. Dari says:

    I find your posts about SEO and keyword search extremely helpful, and I am glad to know that I have been using it correctly the entire time, however, my site has been live since March, and I am still not getting Google traffic. A friend of mine, who has a site of her own, told me that something must be wrong. My SEO is always green, so I know that I am at least filling out the fields correctly, but I wonder if perhaps my keywords are poorly chosen, or if there are other factors that could be throwing Google off. Do you have other recommended posts that you have written that could shed some light on why Google would be ignoring my site, even though I have Google Webmaster Tools set up (with no issues), and SEO Yoast set up correctly?

  3. Yoann says:

    Very interesting post; I was one of the peoples who didn’t bother to fill the fill the entire SEO section but, now, I figure out that everything is important and nothing has to be left in random.

    As a beginner I will learn at my pace and step by step.

    Anyway, thank you for you tips and advices you provided to me .

  4. WPBeginner Staff says:

    On the post editor screen, click on the Screen Options button at the top right corner of the screen. A fly down menu will appear. Under Show on Screen section make sure that the checkbox next to All in One SEO plugin is checked.

  5. Charles D says:

    My All In One SEO pack works for my pages; but not for my Posts. There is no option to fill in the information on the backend when making a post, while it works fine for the pages. Has anyone else ever experienced this? Is there a setting I need to change/update? Thanks!

  6. WPBeginner Staff says:

    The main purpose of the focus keyword in Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin is to help you analyze how optimized your post/page is for the focus keyword.

    • Adam Dartez says:

      Gottcha! That’s what I thought but I was creating a website and didn’t add the focus keyword on a few pages and wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing out on any of that SEO goodness, thanks for the reply!

  7. Adam Dartez says:

    I’m really sorry as this might sound like a dumb question but I can’t seem to find a definitive answer on this topic. My question is this, does the focus keyword matter inside the Yoast SEO plugin matter for SEO purposes or just internally for the purpose of analyzing whether your post is optimized for a certain keyword? I’ve checked the page source for pages that I do set the focus keyword and pages where I don’t set the focus keyword and my ‘focus keyword’ that I enter into the ‘focus keyword’ field of the plugin isn’t outputting in the page source. I know the ‘seo title’ and ‘meta description’ fields are important and what they do but does the ‘focus keyword’ field actually mean anything to Google or is it just for use in the plugin to tell you or not if you’re post or page is optimized?

    In other words does the ‘focus keyword’ field actually hold any weight with Google themselves or is it just used for the internal purpose of the plugin to analyze whether you’re post or page is optimized or not (i.e. so the green light comes on)? Sorry if this is a dumb question but I can’t seem to find a definitive answer :(

  8. Ali Sajjad says:

    Hello, Can i add two or more keywords with commas in Focus Keyword place?

  9. Alessandra says:

    Very interesting tips, I’ve finally understood the way SEO should be used

  10. Manuel Echeverry says:

    great article, lo the internal linking tip!

  11. Jodi says:

    Hi, I am using the All in One SEO plug-in. On each specific page I create I am given the option to list keywords in the admin area of that page. How many keywords or keyword phrases do you suggest listing for each page?


    • WPBeginner Support says:

      Keywords are totally optional. Most SEO experts do not recommend using them. However, we have found there is no harm in adding at least a few. Make sure keywords describe your article, make sure your main focus keyword is in the title and description as well.

  12. Paresh says:

    Reading it in 2014 and still finding it useful, that’s what I call an ever green post :-)
    Bravo Sayed Balki

  13. ahsan karim says:

    plz tell me on my mail too that how search engines decide that which are key words in an article,howto insert signatures in forums, and beginner tips for first 30 days regarding seo

  14. charjan says:

    i agree, on page seo is best for ranking high in Google & other search engine.Although one page seo is not that hard but it’s fairly complex when it comes to writing article.but you post certainly rectify this one issue.thanks for sharing.

  15. cik amal says:

    =.=” i know about Internal Linking when i read this post… so sad

  16. hafzaa says:

    Good article…very useful and helps alot…good work

  17. Micheal Richey says:

    Really helpful tips fo beginners. Thanks

  18. Ben Leney says:

    Hi, thanks for this article – again I like the table and content analogy. I am assuming that the SEO plugin is free – I may well consider using it, as I have been blogging for a while but never push traffic above a certain figure. I will aim to come back to this to help improve my understanding of effective blogging. Knowing that 70 characters is a limit for blog titles is helpful too!

  19. Athman says:

    A worthy learning materials.

  20. Lawrence Abiodun says:

    What a lovely posts to come about on Sunday morning. This is wonderful because this article has hit the nail on the head.
    Thank you very much

  21. Stuart William says:

    Using a plugin like WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is a great way to optimize your blog post, you can customize search description of the post and title to make it more search engine friendly. Don’t use too many tags in your blog, always try to use your secondary and primary keywords as a tag.

  22. Andreea Leau says:

    Very useful article! I used SEO by Yoast, but now I’m using Squirrly SEO Plugin. I love it more because it’s more easy to use and it has a live assistant , which it’s pretty cool :D

  23. Emily says:

    Amazes and saddens me that these ‘beginner’ places are not for beginners. What if you don’t know what a meta description is? Why in heck can’t a beginner’s site put the very basic information upfront so people who know nothing can get started.
    I have never found a webinar, a video you buy – anything – that claimed ‘All ya gotta know is cut and paste’ that didn’t wax into some jargon like ‘Before you do this, access your FTP client’ – at which point, I charge it back on my credit card.


    • Editorial Staff says:

      Sorry if we disappointed you. All of our information is entirely free. We are not charging you anything. We do our best to explain everything that we can. Somethings we omit because they are intuitive. For example, if you follow along with the tutorial: install the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin (which is also free) and add the meta description, you will quickly grasp that this is the description that is shown in the search results. The preview widget will change as you start typing in the meta description field.

      In whichever field you go in, there will be some industry “jargon” that you would have to get used to. For example, we can’t explain FTP any better than this:

      We try to cover everything that our audience ask, and there are tons of useful articles here on WPBeginner. Over 90% of our article ideas come from user suggestions. If you think that we should cover a beginner topic, then we ask that you please suggest those topics through our contact form :)

    • Crunchedd says:

      Basically the way it works, you keep Googling, until you start forming a cloud of terms and their meanings in your head. Slowly, you start grasping the content, and before you know, you will actually realize the information presented is indeed very basic (beginner level). Meta keywords is a common term used in the blogging world and like the editorial staff says, “intuitive.”

      Good luck blogging, just keep going at it!

  24. Tim Sumner says:

    Thanks for this very useful article. Just a question a lot of themes like Thesis allow you to switch off the ability to let SEs index your categories and tags. Claiming this would help SEO. Do you agree with this?

  25. shofik says:

    your meta description will be truncated after 155 characters. Try to use your focus keyword earlier in the meta description rather than later.

  26. Tobr says:

    This post is totally helpful and has enlightened me thanks

  27. thethaiguy says:

    Another great info, as always!

  28. hassaan shafiq says:

    really a good article helps me alot and also clear my some confusions

  29. Pete says:

    Meta descriptions are extremely important. Google search results always use mine, as long as they are relevant.

  30. Kenny says:

    Whenever I do an internal link I get a message asking what I want to do about the pingback that has been generated. I trash it as I presume this would otherwise be viewed by Google as artificial SEO. Am I right?

  31. Brandon Yanofsky says:

    Great guide. You’re right: a lot of people I come across install these plugins, but few actually use them. And if they do use it, few use it correctly.

    Hope more WordPress beginners read this so they can apply it to their own blogs.

  32. Chris says:

    Nice and very helpful article. I’ve been using WordPress SEO by Yoast for about 6 months. I’ve been unsure about what keyword search to use because I also use Google Keywords. This seems to be the most popular but is the WordPress SEO just as good (or better)? Any tips or suggestions?


    • Editorial Staff says:

      You can use both. The focus keyword only helps you when you start typing keywords in there.

  33. Todd says:

    Very nice article, solid practical information here. I LOVE the categories and tags analogy of a books table of contents and index. I’ve been trying to find a good, simple way to describe it to my clients and I think this may be it. Thanks!

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