No matter what niche of blog you run, ensuring your blog follows SEO best practice is valuable in driving organic search visitors to your blog. Everything from ensuring your blog posts have clean URLs to the structure and speed of your page are beneficial for your blog’s SEO power. In this blog post we are going to look into some easy actionable SEO tips that you can put in place on your WordPress blog.
Check the Speed of Your Blog
Recently page speed has become a key ranking factor in the way in which Google uses its algorithm to rank pages within search results. Checking the speed of your blog is important and luckily there are a number of handy tools that will help you measure this as well as provide some handy insight on room for improvement.
You can test your blog page speed with Google PageSpeed Insights and also GTMetrix. GTMetrix is really handy when it comes to pagespeed tasks, you can easily find out how long it takes for your blog to load, the size of the page you are testing and also view your PageSpeed and Yslow score.
Example report for Manchester based SEO agency, Embryo Digital.
Ideally your fully loaded time should be within 2 – 3 seconds and your page size no more than 3MB. GTMetrix then give you a number of areas for improvement, the most common areas for speed improvement are:
Leverage Browser Caching
Browser caching can be setup in a number of ways however if you are using WordPress the easiest way to add browser caching is by using the Hummingbird plugin, this will automatically setup browser caching for you. Browser caching caches images and other assets of your blog so that when they are loaded on another page or post the second time around, the assets are loaded from the user’s device instead of downloaded from the internet again.
Compression can help reduce the size of your blog pages and posts by using GZIP. Hummingbird can again automatically apply GZIP to your blog through it’s WordPress plugin.
Images are the most common aspect of your blog that will lead to a higher page loading time and page size. Uploading images straight from your digital camera or smartphone lead to larger file sizes which aren’t suitable for the web. For WordPress you can use the WP Smush plugin, this plugin will automatically optimise your images for web on upload, you can also scan and optimise your current WordPress media library with it too.
Serving Scaled Images
Again when uploading images taken with a digital camera or smartphone, the actual size of the image in pixels will be quite large. Instead of amending the size of the image using HTML or CSS, scale your images instead so that the image is loaded at the correct size. Scaling images in WordPress is quite easy, simply open the image in the media library, select edit image and the scale options are in the top right corner. Add your new image dimensions here and then click scale.
Header Tag Structure
This is quite a simple one, the header tag structure on pages and posts on your blog should follow a certain hierarchy for SEO. The first tag that should be found on your pages or posts should be the H1 and there must only be one of them per page/post. A H1 tag is defined as the most important heading and is used to give search engines context on what the page or post is about. Generally in blogging the H1 tag should be the title of your blog post. From there on you can use H2 tags for sub headings and there is no limit on the amount you can use.
To check your current H1 tag and H2 or other heading tags simply load up your blog and right click, click ‘view page source’ and another tab will open with code for the given page, then use the find tool to search for <h1>, this will then highlight the H1 tag currently in use, if there is more than one or even if there is none at all.
Page titles across your blog should optimally be no more than 65 characters and include the context and keywords of the page content as well as your blog name. Page titles are used as the blue link found within search results. For blog posts you can setup SEO tools like Yoast to automatically use the blog title and blog name using the following variables: %%title%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%. Each page title should be unique to each page as having duplicates can cause confusion for which page Google should rank.
Meta descriptions are the short text found underneath the link to your website in search results. They are used to help convince search engine users to click through to your content, like page titles meta descriptions must also be unique to all pages and posts. The length of meta descriptions should be no more than 155 characters, in here you should include information on what your content is about and include a message to draw users in to clicking through to your content.
Having a clean and simple URL structure is key to SEO. Keep your URLs in lowercase (capital letters are a no no) and ensure you use hyphens instead of underscores for spaces and not contain any other special characters. Your URLs should also be relevant and not just a bunch of numbers and letters, you can check that your WordPress blog is using the postname for URLs by clicking settings and then selecting permalinks, ensure that the post name check box is selected here. You can also amend URLs by page and post, simply click edit on the permalink under the blog post title or page title in the WordPress editor.
*Bonus Tip* – Media Attachment Pages
When you upload an image to WordPress, the CMS automatically creates an attachment page which is basically a page on your blog that has the title of the image and the standalone image displayed. Google identifies these types of pages as thin content which can have a negative impact on your blog’s SEO performance.
If you use the Yoast SEO plugin you can simply set the attachment pages to redirect back to the image file which helps to remove the thin content issue, this can be done by heading to the search appearance section of Yoast and then clicking on the media tab, from there ensure that ‘Redirect attachment URLs to the attachment itself?’ is set to yes and finally click save changes.