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Before you hit publish on your latest blog post, it is good practice to go through a mental (or written) checklist. This ensures that the blog post that you have spent some time writing is actually worth the while. It will contribute to your site’s rank on search engines, reach people on social media, stirring up some engagement or even go viral. If you haven’t already reviewed your site with WooRank, you’ll notice our new Site Crawl that identifies common issues:

WooRank Site Crawl on-page issues

With many WordPress sites, you’ll find multiple SEO misses that could have been avoided.

In this article, we delve into SEO best practices for WordPress blog posts. Some you need to check every time while others you can check periodically:

1. Check Your Post Title and Page Title

Let’s begin with a very interesting concept: post title vs. page title. When we talk about title, what are we referring to? Are these two the same? What should you prioritize for SEO? Your post title is what you “name” your blog post. It is a H1 HTML element that is created within the tag of the page. General rule of thumb, you should have one H1 per head, and subheadings should be in H2. This way, crawlers will get to know what the page focuses on.

The page title is part of the meta information as a title tag. It’s also sometimes known as the “SEO title”. When someone uses search engines and types in a keyword, your page is listed via page title versus your post title.

What’s the difference between post and page title?

While your post title can catch your reader’s attention via catchy title, your page title should focus on giving Google information about your content. If your title is maximized for both readers and SEO, you don’t have two different titles. While most popular blog sites have same post and page title, to maximize your reach via Google and provide catchy titles for your audience, you might need to write two different titles.

Be aware that some WordPress themes can alter your post title to h2 or h3. This usually happens if your blog is also presented on your home page. You can simply check this by using the “Inspect Element” and view your HTML for any alteration, or review your WordPress site with WooRank to see if your theme made any alteration like this example:

WooRank Advanced Review H1 tags

If your theme changes your title, you can simply add the H1 element right on the Post Title section in WordPress:

WordPress change H1 tag

If this method doesn’t work, I’d recommend contacting your theme developer for support.

Search engines give more weight to title tags.

Good SEO practice is to include your keyword in the title tag (page title). Put the keyword near the beginning of the title tag. This will help your web page to rank higher in search results.

Title Tags for SEO

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Remember, other factors like bounce rates and site speed will also affect your site’s ranking. If your web page has a high bounce rate, it is an indicator of irrelevant content. Since you are writing the blog post for humans, the blog post title needs to pique their interest so that they will actually read it. To make sure your bounce rate is low, your title should be accurate to your content. Yes, there are still blogs out there that publish clickbait without shame!

2. Check Your Meta Descriptions

Closely related to the titles are meta descriptions. These help the search engines figure out your site/page focuses on a particular topic. They are important for high click through rate. The description not only needs to be compelling but also use target keywords, as shown below:

Keywords in meta descriptions in SERP

When you are searching via Google, they process content and look for keywords within the pages, like the screenshot example above. The keywords should flow naturally within the description. If you are using an SEO plugin, make sure to manually write your meta description instead of automating them. You’ll also want to focus on describing what the content is about and have a clear call to action so that your readers want to click on your posts.

3. What Length Is More Appropriate

According to a 2016 study by Brian Dean, longer content tends to rank higher in search results.

At this point, we may want to understand what causes this magical effect. Longer content is likely to be in-depth and better optimized. If written by an expert, it will definitely rank higher for relevancy and authority. Increasing the length of your blog post will have Google reward your efforts by ranking higher. Strive to reach around 2000 words.

4. Check Your Permalink and Slug

A permalink, in simple terms, is the part of the URL that changes to suit different needs and specifies which page the user is looking at. It is the last part of the URL that comes after the domain name. The slug in this URL can come in either underscore like this one:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization or dash

Or with hyphens:

https://www.woorank.com/en/blog/reasons-for-seo-audit

But why are slugs and permalinks important?

Slugs will be the first thing that a search engine will “read”. They should be consistent with the topic and post title. They also entice users to click on your link in search results, as they are shown as part of the search snippet.

WooRank underscores in URL

As for those hyphens and underscores, be careful which one you use. Google sees hyphens as word separators while underscores aren’t recognized. So the search engine sees www.example.com/green_dress as www.example.com/greendress.

The bots will have a hard time determining this URL’s relevance to a keyword. Luckily, WordPress automatically provides dash, not underscores. However, it does provide you a few options as to how you can set your permalinks:

WordPress permalink options

Backlinko wrote a guide on Google’s 200 ranking factor that provides the importance of permalinks and best practices:

46. URL Length: Search Engine Journal notes that excessively long URLs may hurt search visibility.

47. URL Path: A page closer to the homepage may get a slight authority boost.

51. Keyword in URL: Another important relevancy signal.

52.URL String: The categories in the URL string are read by Google and may provide a thematic signal to what a page is about.

Using actual keywords in your URLs, close to the domain would be the ideal best practice:

http://www.mysiteexample.com/your-keyword-here. 

If your content is based on news, press releases or other timely topics – you’ll want to add the date before the keywords.

5. Check Your Images

Images are a good “behind-the-scenes” way to include keywords in your blog posts. Google will crawl the images differently from how it will crawl text. You need to name and label your images using your keywords.

When you add an image in WordPress, you have an option to add ALT text.

Include your keyword in the alt text too, and in the actual name of the image. Images are great for user experience. People much prefer content broken up by pictures, illustrations or infographs than large blocks of text.

Hobo wrote a study on how many characters should be on your Image Alt text. Google seemed to count the first 16 words in the ALT tag text.

WooRank checks missing alt text

WordPress is a bit tricky, sometimes. When you upload an image and do not add alt text at the same time, it does not save the alt text sometimes. Best practice is to add your alt text as soon as you upload your image.

To help ease checking hundreds of images on your site, WooRank can go through your site and review if you are missing any Alt text for your images

Create alt text in WordPress

6. Check Your Social Media Sharing Buttons

Before you hit Publish, WordPress shows you your social sharing buttons. It is important to ensure that you refresh any highlighted connections. Social media does contribute to your web page’s relevance, thus to some extent determining how your site ranks in search results.

WooRank social media engagement stats

Social media redirects traffic to your blog, which is something that every site owner wants. It also increases engagement. If people are interested in the blog post, they will comment either on social media or on your web page. Better still, Google’s bots crawl content that is shared on social media faster than the content that is published on websites. Ultimately, social media is a good way to build a relationship with your customers, before you get them to convert.

All In All

The above SEO best practices for WordPress blog posts should form part of your checklist before you hit that publish button. Over time, they will become part of your mental checklist, and you will never miss any of them when you are publishing a blog post on WordPress.