Ask Robin: Step One to SEO Your WordPress Blog

Ask Robin: Step One to SEO Your WordPress Blog

Whether you’re about to write your very first blog post or there’s a hundred under your belt, you want to make sure to take the proper steps to SEO your blog so that the people out there can actually find you and benefit from all the fabulous things you have to say.

We’ll get more in depth later, but today we’re going to talk about the first basic step you need to take (if you haven’t already) to get search engines to show your blog the love it deserves.

Permalinks

Permalinks are the URLs that point to the individual posts or pages on your blog. When you first install WordPress, the default structure for this URL is going to look something like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123

Boring right? Besides basing a post’s rank on the keywords found within the content, title, etc., search engines also look to the URL for a clue as to where and how high up your post should appear when someone searches using that keyword. A permalink set up like this tells the search engines NOTHING about what your post is about.

Luckily WordPress offers an easy way to fix this.

Changing the Default Permalink Settings

From your Dashboard, click on Settings > Permalinks. You will come to a page that looks like this:

Editing WordPress Permalink Settings

If you haven’t already made this change, your setting is most likely to be at the Default. Click the bubble next to Custom Structure and then type the following into the field on its right:

/%postname%

Scroll down the page and click Save Changes.

(Note: Occasionally, some websites are set up with strict permission settings on their files. If you get a failure notice to update your .htaccess file, contact your webmaster to change the file permission to 777. They can always change it back after you’ve completed this step.)

Editing a Post’s Permalink

Now you’re ready to edit the permalinks on your individual posts. To test it out, add a new post. Making sure your post window is set to the Visual tab, type in your post’s title. Immediately you will see the post’s permalink appear directly underneath the title bar, and that it is now pulling all the words from your title instead of the original letters and numbers gobbledygook. The next thing we’re going to do is tweak that custom URL. Click the Edit button directly to the right of the permalink.

The three rules of thumb of a good permalink are keep it relatively short, include a target keyword and remove unnecessary words.

For example, say you have a post that you title “The Benefits of Hiring a Good Financial Planner” By default your new permalink is going to look like this:

http://www.yourdomain.com/the-benefits-of-hiring-a-good-financial-planner

While this looks better than http://www.yourdomain.com/?p=123, it’s too long and search engines disregard articles like the, of, a, etc. You also want to choose the fewest words that best describe this post. So keeping that in mind and assuming that “financial planner” is my most important keyword, I’m going to delete the default permalink and type in this:

/financial-planner-benefits

I’ve removed the the’s and the a’s, inserted the target keyword right at the front and have kept it short. Beautiful!

Now go try it out yourself, and stay tuned for more on optimizing your blog.

2 Comments

  1. Hi Lori! I am catching up on your blog and loving it..all stuff I wanted to learn one day…will bookmark for future until I get comfortable with blogging 🙂 but
    Question on this post…would u actually do this for EVERY post u create? Seems like a lot of work!

    Reply
    • Hi, Kate! I’ve been catching up on your blog and photos also… and loving it 🙂

      Most of the post is about settings you need to just set once and then not think about again. For example, WordPress will then automatically pull in your title as the permalink in the URL. So all you need to do for every posting is edit that automatic title, to make it shorter and hopefully include a key word concerning the post.

      Reply

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