Does this sound familiar?
You’ve spent countless hours creating, designing and writing content for your website. Based on your research, you have proof people are searching for the topics you’ve created content for — and you know you have a chance to rank higher for that content. Yet, time and time again your carefully crafted copy isn’t seeing the traffic you’d hoped for.
While many factors can contribute to a low volume of traffic, you may be surprised to learn that your content optimization strategy or lack thereof could be the main roadblock.
And while you may be putting a lot of thought into the content creation process, how much thought are you putting into your content optimization process? If you’re just throwing the final product online — you may be unknowingly harming your organic SEO efforts.
Why is content optimization important?
The content optimization process is just as important as the content creation process, for these compelling reasons:
- Optimized content enhances SEO efforts
- Optimized content improves user experience
- Optimized content increases website speed
So, now you may be wondering, how exactly do I optimize my content? Our step by step guide is here to show you that in just a few steps, you can properly optimize your WordPress content for success.
How to Optimize WordPress Content for SEO
Step 1. Format Blog in a WordPress Post
If you’ve written your content in a word processor like Google Docs or Microsoft Word, you’ll want to ensure your content is SEO friendly by removing the presentational elements and replacing them with the appropriate semantic tags.
When content is pasted from a word processor and onto WordPress, it retains various presentational elements from the word processing software. Neglecting to replace the presentational tags with the appropriate semantic tags can negatively affect the performance of your content since presentational tags do not communicate anything meaningful about the content to the search engine crawlers. These are key in determining the value of your content.
What is presentational HTML?
Presentational HTML refers to HTML elements that are solely presentation oriented and do not define content. Instead, these tags simply provide instructions for the size, weight, or style of the font used to display the element.
Examples of presentational elements:
- <b> Makes text bold
- <i> Makes text italicized
- <span> Allows properties of content to be styled inline
When to use Presentational HTML: Never or rarely and here’s why.
Presentation HTML Facts:
- It changes the appearance of elements.
- It does not communicate anything about the content to search engines.
- It’s better handled by CSS or appropriate semantic tags.
What is Semantic HTML?
Semantic html elements clearly describe the meaning of the elements to both the browser and the developer. Semantic html is best practice for optimizing content on WordPress for SEO.
Semantic html clearly defines the content and includes tags like the following:
- <h2>, <h3>, <h4>
When to use Semantic HTML: Always and often.
Semantic HTML Facts:
- It communicates the structural hierarchy of elements.
- It helps search engines interpret and rank your content.
- It allows site visitors to easily digest the content.
Step 2. Set Up Headings (Subtopics)
Heading tags show structure, improve accessibility and enhance SEO efforts. To ensure your content is set up to rank organically, practice semantic SEO by strategically implementing subheading tags. Make sure all important content sections have keyword rich headings contained in H2 tags.
For longer blog posts with content dense sections, it’s a good idea to break that content up with H3 tags or <strong> tags where appropriate, for the subtopics of H2s.
Lastly, ensure your content also includes a call-to-action section within h2 tags that offer your readers the opportunity to complete a conversion, such as a form fill or phone call.
Here’s more in-depth information on how to properly use H tags for content optimization.
How to Use the H1 Tag
The H1 tag is different from all other H tags in that it should only be used once per page and needs to fully match the intent of the content on the page. For example, if your blog is titled: “10 Ways to Reduce High Blood Pressure” in some cases you may want your H1 to match that exactly. However, there are times when your keyword research may suggest the H1 and the SEO title should be slightly different.
Using this same example, the H1 of this topic indicates users are searching for “How to Reduce High Blood Pressure.” In this case you will want to use the keyword phrase as the H1, and have the other title serve as the SEO title — which is what appears in search results.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Using the H1 Tag
- Only ONE used per page.
- Always visible and never hidden by CSS.
- Styled in CSS to be bigger than all other headings.
- Contains keywords.
- Relevant to the written content.
- Is the same or slightly different than the page title.
- Use multiple times per page.
- Use as a stylistic shortcut.
- Leave out keywords.
- Is not relevant to the written content.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Using H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6 tags
Subheading Tag Do’s:
- Use headings for structure and navigation purposes.
- Use headings to organize subtopics and make page content easier to read.
- Use headings strategically. Not all heading types need to be used on a page (you can have the h1 and only h2s, depending on the length and type of your content).
- Having a good balance between the use of headings and other semantic formatting elements is always the best approach.
Subheading Tag Don’ts
- Use heading tags to style content.
- Use heading tags when other tags such as bold or italic are more appropriate.
- Overuse headings when headings are not needed.
- Ignore structural hierarchy (for example using h3 with no h2, using h4 with no h3 etc).
Step 3. Optimize the content for SEO
Eliminate and Replace Any Remaining Presentational Tags
After setting up your heading tags, you’re ready to optimize the rest of your content. In the default text editor, scan the markup for presentational tags and replace with the semantic tags.
- Replace any bolded text <b> tags with <strong> tags.
- Replace any italicized text <i> tags with <em> tags
Keyword Optimize Headings
If you still see keywords missing from the headings that you just set up, add them in.
Internally Link to Relevant Pages/Blogs
Add links in blogs that link to other pages/blogs within the website whenever possible. This is important for the user experience, as well as for Google’s crawlers. Google crawls websites by following links. Internal links help Google understand the relevance, relationship and value of the pages connected by your link strategy.
If your content is lengthy, it may be appropriate to organize it into a list format. You can do this by using bulleted or numbered lists.
Step 4. Optimize the images for SEO
Images can be very large in file size — especially high quality images. While high quality images are an important part of high performing content, the large size of the image files can severely slow down your website — especially if your site contains many images.
A good rule of thumb for featured and on-page images, is to resize and compress them to be less than 100kb without compromising their quality. Ideally you want your image files to be as small as possible, which may mean 150kb for larger images, or 10kb for smaller images.
For example, if your blog’s optimal featured image size is 750×400 and you use an image that’s 1500×800 without compressing and resizing, you’ll encounter display issues and slow down the load time for the page.
Compressing images helps increase your site’s speed. After you’ve compressed your images, you’ll want to name them appropriately for the page content and include matching alt text, when you upload these to the WordPress media library.
Step 5. Write the Meta Description
The meta description explains what your service is, what your page offers, the unique proposition on your page, and encourages users to click to the page. The meta description is a snippet of about 155 characters. Search engines display the meta description in search results when the searched-for phrase is within the description, so optimizing the meta description is critical for SEO.
Step 6. Choose the Blog Category
Permitted you already have blog categories set up on WordPress, you’ll want to select one category that best suits your blog content. If you don’t already have blog categories set up, it’s recommended you create a few broad categories that your blog content can be organized into.
Step 7. Schedule/Publish Your Blog
The final step is scheduling or publishing your blog. This can easily be done in the right-hand WordPress post scheduling widget — where you can choose to publish your content immediately, schedule for the future.