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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 lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  • WPBeginner Staff

    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.

  • WPBeginner Staff

    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.

  • Jodi

    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

      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.

  • Paresh

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

  • ahsan karim

    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

  • charjan

    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.

  • cik amal

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

  • hafzaa

    Good article…very useful and helps alot…good work

  • Micheal Richey

    Really helpful tips fo beginners. Thanks

  • Ben Leney

    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!

    • Editorial Staff

      Yes the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin is free.

  • Athman

    A worthy learning materials.

  • Lawrence Abiodun

    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

    • Editorial Staff

      You are very welcome Lawrence :)

  • Stuart William

    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.

  • Andreea Leau

    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

  • Emily

    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

      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 :)

  • Tim Sumner

    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?

    • Editorial Staff

      Some say that it does help in terms of duplicate content.

  • shofik

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

  • Tobr

    This post is totally helpful and has enlightened me thanks

  • thethaiguy

    Another great info, as always!

  • hassaan shafiq

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

  • Pete

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

  • Kenny

    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?

  • Brandon Yanofsky

    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.

  • Chris

    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

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

  • Todd

    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!

    • Editorial Staff

      Glad you like the analogy Todd. We use it all the time with our users.