I’m having fun with WordPress SEO. I know you wouldn’t expect fun and SEO to be in the same sentence, but thanks go to Joost de Valk (Yoast) and his plug-in WordPress SEO for that gift. I’ve only gotten through the first two tabs so far myself and hope the ease I can share with you will cause you to download this free plug-in for your site. I’m planning on downloading his e-book Optimize WordPress Sites in hopes of becoming an SEO tiger, but for now I’m turning on those green lights in the first two tabs and so can you.
The plug-in places your workspace template at the bottom of your edit page. The first tab is called General and is very basic.
The snippet preview title and SEO title are already in place. They are basically the name of your page. The Meta description you write becomes the snippet in the first section. It is the caption people see when your page turns up in their searches. Two pieces of advice I have gotten are to not sound like a robot and to create a command. I take that to mean that if you have to sound like a robot you need to make a command. Keep in my that some search engines (few) have their own brand of logic and will just pull information from your page or have a different character limit. These are far and few between but I always try and make sure that the first thirty five to forty characters of my meta description don’t sound like I mutilate farm animals. For example, if your product is a device that helps children be differentiated in the classroom and your first thirty five characters are ” All children should not be educated”, it is highly likely the lovers of education and children are not going to click to your site to find that you complete the sentence with ” like they are not individuals.”
Focus Keyword is the word or words you anticipate that your customers will be putting into the search to find you. When you start typing, suggestions will appear of commonly searched word(s). Once you made the choice, hit the blue publish button. The focus keyword usage area should change. The greener the better. The plug-in understands how search engines work and makes recommendations to where your keywords need to be. I’ve been asked which is the most important and respond with a frustrating they all are. Why? People don’t have time to read through a bunch of text trying to determine if you are what they are looking for, so those key words need to be in the meta description and in your title or toward the top of your page, but the search engine isn’t going to place you toward the top of the page if they keywords don’t appear in your page’s content. So spend a few minutes reviewing your sections. Can you add the key word(s) and not lose flow? Maybe you need to change the key word(s). A little challenging, but mostly fun. When you are green enough, move to the page analysis tab.
Some of your circles may be green when you first click over and that is your goal. Green is good. Yellow says, “Hey, you might want to think about making this better.” and red is your mother’s voice in your head when you know you are making a bad decision. Most of it is self explanatory. When people get to your site they are going to scan the page for the words they recognize to solve their problem. Putting them in headlines is a good idea because they are easy to see; both larger and bold. You want a high key word density for the search engines. There are an incredible amount of sites out there. I remember buying a “yellow pages” for the internet in 1995. I think they boasted a thousand sites. Now if you search, they deem a million results for your one question. Your key word density has to be high enough to capture the attention of the search engine, but not sound so ridiculous that your customers can’t read nor get something useful out of the time they spend on your site.
Another interesting addition is the Flesch Reading Ease test. Basically, the higher the number the easier it is to read. Somewhere between 60 and seventy is where you would write to reach a thirteen to fifteen year old. Ironically, most newspapers have been written to an eighth grade audience for years. I don’t think any one is suggesting to write down to an audience, it is more of a checks and balance system to remind us that not every person understands the lingo we are comfortable using in our industries. At work, my husband fills out a PMS when something needs to be repaired immediately. It means something completely different to me. If you have to put information online that scores between zero and thirty (university graduate), you may want to add pictures, diagrams, or highlight some vocabulary. Let’s say that you can’t alter the manuscript, you could always have the introduction remain on your site with a link to your google docs account where the meat of the study or article is stored in essence keeping that extremely high level verbiage off your page.
There is so much pressure in picking the right image for a page because we know that pictures speak volumes. This plug-in reminds you to set the alt tags on your images. The alt tag is what your picture whispers in SEO. A potential customer could wind up finding you though a photo because their keyword search brought up a picture from your site. I can’t honestly say that we have gotten a new client that linked to us from a photo, but for the four minutes it takes to complete the alt tag for the photo I’m not discounting any potential future customer’s system for selecting a new web designer.
As you earn your green circles, the last thing I want to point out is the word count in the body. Google gives higher rankings to pages that have content between 300 and ten thousand words. They are in the business of finding the most worthy of information for their clients and they assume that if you have something important to say that it should probably take a few words to say it. They aren’t asking for padding or fluff, just useful information that someone could benefit from reading. Maybe put a bit of your own style into the piece.
I hope that I have proven that the first two tabs of The WordPress SEO plug-in is both simple to use and fun. The only thing I would keep in mind when collecting your green is that as wonderful a tool as it is, it can’t replace common sense. I know how quickly you can get snagged up in wanting those green marks, but before you make a change ask yourself if the change alters the integrity of your site or the message your business sends to its clients. Is there a good reason you made the choice in the first place? Is your current SEO working? Remember, it is your business and this is an instrument of ease, a reminder to double check our choices so that you can be found more quickly on the web.