Good writing, good content, will only take your blog posts so far. You will need to optimise your blog post in order for it to have a steady stream of traffic after you've pressed publish. This post will help you optimise your blog post, and then you can download the SEO checklist so you can remember how to optimise all of your content in the future!
1. Start With Your Content
SEO (being found by the people who use search engines) starts at the content planning stage.
Choose your keyphrases wisely, and remember, human beings read your content so saying something like:
“The lucky black cat walked across the road. All the other cats were jealous of the lucky black cat. The lucky black cat didn't know what to do.”
You can guess from the above that my phrase was lucky black cat. But it doesn't read very well. In fact, it reads like spam, or content from a young child learning to write.
Keyphrases help keep your content on track, and should be used, but not so much that it creates a negative reading experience. The SEO checklist will guide you on where to place your keyphrases. If in doubt leave them out.
2. Blog Post / Page Optimisation
Post or Page Optimization is what brings your site traffic over time. When you optimize a page or post for a keyword phrase you are signalling to the search engines what the content is about. When done well, it helps the search engines show your content to the right people.
Optimizing your blog post or website page isn't just about keywords, it's also about determining the purpose of the blog post
If you don't use WordPress, please scroll to the bottom of the post to discover how to optimise a non-WordPress blog post.
There are a variety of tools that will help you optimise your blog posts. Most bloggers like Yoast as it's easy to use. I use SEOPressr and TextMetrics. We have clients who use RankMath and love it. The best tool is the one that you will use. Don't worry about what other people are using, choose one that you will use.
3. How To Use Yoast to Optimise a Blog Post or Page
First of all, if you haven't installed Yoast SEO, then go and do it. You'll find it in the plugin area. There you can just type in “Yoast” (arrow1) and you'll find it very quickly (arrow 2).
Install and activate the plugin (arrow 3).
Once Yoast is installed, open the post or page you wish to optimise. Scroll down the page until you are underneath the post area. Here you'll see the Yoast SEO optimisation tab.
The areas marked 2, 3 are the ones that you'll use the most.
The cog, indicated by arrow 1 is the advanced settings, and you will use these as you become a more advanced blogger and your content is syndicated (you'll explain how to use this) or, you syndicate someone else's content. But for now, don't worry about it.
The button indicated by arrow 2 is an incredibly powerful marketing optimisation tool – this will allow you to optimise your blog post for each specific social network. That's right, you can customise your headline for each social audience and talk to them directly!
Arrow 3, and edit snippet is what we're going to focus on next.
Click Edit Snippet.
The snippet editor opens up, and you now have some more areas to optimise your blog post:
Arrow 1 is the SEO title. This is often called the title tag. Your SEO title is the title that will be displayed in the search engines, and on Facebook. This means you can have a headline for your readers (the title of your blog post) and a headline for the searchers. This means you can create a brilliant headline and have the findability benefits too. It's beneficial to use one of your keyphrases in the title tag area.
Arrow 2 indicates the “slug” area. What words you put here, will form part of the permalink. This means they're the words that come after the domain name, and they're usually the title of your post. It's beneficial to use one of your keyphrases here as well.
Arrow 3 is the meta description. Don't ignore the meta description. SEO experts will tell you this doesn't matter to the search engines, but remember, search engines are used by people and they appreciate and will click an option with a good meta description. You can add a call to action here, and if you are a local business a phone number here is perfect.
Arrow 4 shows the close button, so you can close this section after editing it.
Looking At The Blog Post Optimisation Analysis
When you've added your blog post optimisation details, close the snippet editor and take a look at the analysis. I've got an amber light (the orange dots). This means the post is optimised okay. This is perfectly adequate if you're in a hurry. Don't fixate on getting green lights for every piece of content. Perfection gets in the way of publication.
The Content Analysis Close-Up
Here in the content analysis section, you can see the areas that will need to be improved for better blog post optimisation. As you can see from the image below, I have 4 red lights. This tells me that I've not used the phrase that I'm optimising the blog post for, in the right places. I can scroll back up the page and edit my copy to include the keywords in the right places – but only if it sounds right to do so.
The amber lights are also areas that I can improve upon to have a better-optimised blog post.
The last three green dots are the areas that I've got right. The one I'm going to focus on the most on this content analysis is the copy score. I'm breathing a sigh of relief to know that it's okay to read. If you discover your text is too difficult try to simplify what you're writing about, which is sometimes easier said than done.
The Yoast plugin will tell you if you've got all the major things right, and what you need to do to make them right.
Yoast SEO helps with on-page SEO (that's the part you can control). There's another aspect of SEO known as Off-Page SEO and we cover that in the SEO Course. Off-Page SEO is building links back to your content.
4. Optimising Your Blog Posts For Social Media
As I mentioned earlier in the post, you can do some advanced optimisation on your blog post so that you can connect with your ideal readers on specific platforms. This is incredibly powerful, and if you have the time to do it, is incredibly worthwhile simply because you will get more social media traffic.
Let's go back to Yoast, and take a look at the social media optimisation options. You can access these by pressing the button indicated by arrow 1.
Arrow 2 shows you the social media platforms you can optimise for. You can choose from Facebook, Twitter, or you can choose both. I'm choosing Facebook for my example.
In the Facebook title area, you can select a headline that's exclusive for Facebook readers. And the Facebook description can be personalised for the Facebook audience. Never underestimate the impact of personalisation on your reader.
Arrow 3 is where you can have an image just for Facebook. If you're having trouble with the correct image showing on Facebook, having the right image here helps.
Here's how this post is optimised for social media:
The image on the left is what will be shared on Twitter, and Linkedin. The image on the right is personalised for Facebook and is what should be shared there. I say should, because social media sites are under no obligation to use the images you select, but most of the time they do.
That's all there is to social media optimisation for your blog posts.
Remember the majority of website owners don't do this, and neither do most social media experts.
This can give you a nice advantage if you blog in a competitive niche. If you struggle to get readers to click via social media then this will solve a lot of your problems
5. Not every blog post has to be optimised.
If you write something deeply personal, you might not want to optimise that post. There's no law that says every single post has to be optimised and you must have a green light for every single post. Sometimes, it just won't feel right or the keyword is so obscure that you won't bother to optimise for it, and that's okay. A green light is no guarantee of first place in the search engines.
Remember to download your SEO checklist so you can keep all your content optimised.
Thanks for this Sarah. I find the whole SEO thing a bit of a minefield and very confusing. I’m sticking with the basics at the moment but this is really helpful.
Hi Rachel, thanks for your comment.
I used to find it a minefield, but once I stopped thinking about search engines and started thinking about the people I’m writing for, and how to make it all easier for them, it became easier to understand.
This is so helpful! However, what about going back & optimising old posts using this plugin? Obviously it’s worth doing, but I’m guessing that it’s not worth doing the social part as this won’t be used? Thanks 🙂
Hi T-J, you should go back and optimise your more popular posts. OVer time they will get more social shares so you could do that when your fed up with the TV and there’s not a good book to read 😉
I am not finding the spot on the post talking about non-Wordpress posts 😀
Gah! I lost the link! I’ve edited the post to add it in… Sorry about that
I, like Heather, am looking for the link about optimizing a non-Wordpress post!
I use Weebly….any ideas?
I’m just adding the link… I had no idea it had gone *blushes*
You’re forgiven….LOL! I’m glad it’s there though because as I’m sure you’re aware this part of the challenge gave me fits!! ☺
Thank you Sarah, I have this already and do my best to get as much green as possible! This post has helped me clear a few things up soI can try to optimise more effectively:)
Good luck Sam, I hope you get all the traffic that you want 🙂
Hmm, I’m old school and have difficulty with all these modern day techniques. I hope I can get it to work.
I love this tool and find it as a personal challenge to make that light turn green.
Now that’s a post to share, which I did, on LinkedIn and Twitter. Great job Sarah. Feeling quite glad I took the challenge. Ta-ta.
I needed this info. Thanks for the useful article. Am sure many like me will benefit.
Really useful Sarah. I’ve used this before but what I really got from the video was the keywords that drop down. A brilliant way to get ideas and I’ve never really thought too much about the social media bits. Many Thanks. Wendy x
Thanks for the suggestion to go back to optimize popular posts. The idea of going back to optimize everything would be daunting, but it was pretty quick to go back and optimize at least my half dozen most popular posts. I can always go back and do another batch of popular ones later.
Slow and steady wins the race Amanda 🙂
I have plenty of posts on this site that still need optimising 🙂
Great post! I use the All-In-One plugin, but the key, as you point out, is to make sure we have all the necessary ingredients to be properly seen in the search engines.
I have used SEO Yoast for a long time, it makes the whole business of SEO very easy, and I like the way that it is constantly being updated, and the links to facebook and Twitter are excellent
Really great to help me understand optimisation! Thank you Sarah.
Glad you found it useful Jill 🙂
I don’t do Facebook (no real names) or WordPress (no money out before money in), but thanks for explaining what “meta” meant. I had wondered!
I wasn’t aware of this plugin back when I had a wordpress.org site, very cool. I also went over and read the non-wordpress page you linked us to, that was helpful to me because I didn’t realize I had what amounted to duplicate tags.
That along with the advice to only go back and focus on popular posts for SEO editing made this another very educational couple of posts for me.
This is really clear and easy to follow – I often find with video tutorials that the person rushes through cllck clicking without explaining what they are doing, but this one is great.
Brilliant i had it on my to do list to find out about and install yoast 🙂 hope i can get it to green!
I’m having troubles finding plugins via wordpress. Did they change the area it’s at? It’s not under Dashboard anymore.
You don;t have the same options with WordPress.com Laura, sorry. I believe that you’re taken care of by WordPress.com but I couldn’t tell you what or how
Day 3 for me! Thanks for explaining SEO!
When I started learning SOE more serious, I was going crazy with trying to optimize every single post I write.
I know have a little more relaxed approach to it. I try to have an all green lights SOE post at least once a week (which is an evergreen post), but for the rest of the week I don’t worry about it too much!
This is yet another really helpful post. I realise I need to invest more time at least initially…to get the functionality right. I have two blogs to write today….one with keywords (gulp) and one with optimisation….so tonight I’ll be busy. I’m going to work hard to keep up…this is like learning a new language to me…it’s stuff I ‘sort of’ knew but really didn’t/don’t 🙂 thanks again.
I am thinking of switching to wordpress and actually have a friend building my blog so that I can transfer it to wordpress from blogger, so this is very useful. SEO always baffles me, especially as a newerish blogger, but I’m getting the hang of it. I just need to not be lazy lol
I use weebly and found this great video today while working on Day 3 of the challenge! http://hc.weebly.com/hc/en-us/articles/201704147-Improve-Your-Search-Ranking
I LOVE Yoast!!! And I love those green lights – I work at it until I get one 🙂
So helpful! Had barely given a thought to SEO and now feel like I understand the basics.
This plugin is excellent! Really, really helpful and not to mention the joys of the green dot…! I optimised my Day 2 post.. Now all I need is inspiration for Day 3 haha!
Wicked Article Sarah thank you this very helpful and a great plugin thank you for taking the time out to give a video tutorial.
You’re most welcome x
Thanks for the great tip. I am writing down the tips that I am not able to do now. I am using free WP so I do not think I can do plug ins.
This is a great tutorial, unfortunetly I don’t have wordpress. I wish though someone made a great tutorial like this but for blogger. That would be awesome!
Thank-you for this amazing tutorial Sarah. The video helped a lot because I get bored when reading. lol.. I shared this post with all my friends because it’s really helpful. Thank-you, thank-you so much <3 Doing an SEO audit for my blog, right now…
Thank you Sarah, I’m learning so much from your tutorials! I’m making sure all my posts are green now. Having a problem with the static pages like About, Contact, etc. Are those OK not to optimize?
Good luck Anthea, I wish you many green lights x
I am slowly learning how to deal with the SEO side of things – it’s still a giant minefield for me and I’ve no idea if I’m doing things right, but I will continue to learn and make progress. Thanks for the help so far Sarah!
This is such a great plugin. I like the green light 🙂
WordPress SEO is arguably the b est SEO plugin in WordPress. While I’m using Weebly for running my personal site and blog, I have been using this tool for my client sites and it blow the competition out of the water!
Indeed it does, why do you use Weebly for your site?
I use WordPress.com and there seems to be no way to install any plugins. 🙁 I have no idea how to go from WordPress.com to WordPress.org and whether I have the technical expertise to do it.
SEO is taken care of for you on WordPress.com. That said, if you moved to self-hosted, you’d have more functionality and you will be able to monetise your site better. There is a learning curve/ some costs involved, like the cost of hosting.
Thanks for this super-useful tutorial, Sarah.
I do have the Yoast plugin installed but wasn’t using it properly so far. I’ll be more careful about filling in the snippet and check for the green light but clicking “Publish.”
(I’m a day behind on the 30 day blogging challenge but will catch up soon.)
Brilliant video, thank you. I knew about the first tag but not the page analysis or social – fascinating! Kaz
Hi Sarah – great post. My current site is on Squarespace. I love it but having had a WordPress site before i see benefits for SEO. Plan to change next year as my niche evolves. Suzanne
Love it especially as it is confirming the benefits of my use of Yoast. Always nice to know you are doing something right 🙂
Indeed it is 🙂
I am not very tech savvy and I cannot seem to understand the SEO thingy.
I wish to learn though but how to go about it?
Hi Harjeet, today is you lucky day. WordPress.com sort out your SEO. All you have to do is remember to use some keywords are you’re good 🙂
I just want to start by thanking you for everything.
I don’t really know much about technology but this day 3 materials has totally schooled me on WordPress SEO and how to use them. I have been learning new things about blogging since signing up for the blogging challenge and I have you thank for that!
Hello Sara, I love the tips and tricks but I am suffering from website page load time.
Do you know any plugin to control website page load time?
I am waiting for your positive answer.
Thank you, David
There are a few plugins that can help you with this. First off pop your site in https://gtmetrix.com/ and see where you are lagging. Sometimes a new theme can list things significantly. I like Thrive Themes as they’re built for speed and conversion. Then use the P3 profiler plugin from Go Daddy and see if there are any “resource hog” plugins. Then, go and have a look at your server settings and make sure things like Gzip is enabled and there also may be server side caching that needs to be activated. Run all your images through WP Smushit (the pro version is worth investing in) and reduce the image size/weight. Then install a caching plugin and make sure it’s configured correctly! If you’ve done all of this and it’s still not very fast, then you need to look at moving onto a better hosting package. Robust hosting is the foundation of good sites. Good luck 🙂
This was very useful I am enjoying the tips in each of the 30 day messages
LOVE Yoast SEO–it has been my SEO life saver! Thanks for the tutorial, I was able to check and make sure I’ve been using the plugin correctly… I have, for the most part 🙂
I am not sure if I commented yesterday or not but I just wanted to say that it was great. I’ve checked out some of the tools you talked about and other equivalent ones. As they work on the backend, I have on way of knowing (or finding out how) if they indeed make an impact on my site’s speed.
Oh, I loved this. It’s quite addictive to follow the colour of those dots. ..
I just got a green light!!
*does an excited little dance*
However this is a stublimg block for me so I feel I will be going over the teachings of day 3 repeatedly in the future.
Woo Hoo! Well done :), they become addictive
Thank you, finally I understand SEO! I have started optimizing all my old posts, I may not get any sleep tonight!
Lol, I know the feeling only too well 🙂
Oo, this is good – although I already use Yoast I never usually use the Social media optimization…. until now I guess!
Wonderful and just what I needed today. Had the basics down but haven’t been doing the social sites thing, wasn’t sure how. Will have to go back to my more popular posts and add those. Great tutorial and well explained.
Adding a different image and description for Facebook is such a great idea. Thanks for pointing this out to me – I hadn’t even noticed the icons on the left – too busy trying to make sure I go from orange to green. Thanks Sarah
Sarah, another lovely information-filled blog post. I do admit that I get lazy and don’t fill these out all the time. I strive for the green light as it plays into my “star for being good/right” complex. ^_^
Really helpful information about wordpress search engine optimization. I am a new WP user. Thanks for providing this tutorial.
I know very little about this sort of stuff, and am a confused learner at the moment, but I already have the ‘All In One SEO Pack’ plugin. Do I need Yoast as well? Or instead?
And if the plugin I already have is okay, does it do the same as what you have described for Yoast?
Thanks for all, and any more, help you can give. 😉
I have All in One on one of sites, but I prefer Yoast if I’m honest as I like the traffic lights & the terms they use make more sense to me! There’s an article here which compares the two. Interesting. https://winningwp.com/all-in-one-seo-pack-vs-yoast-seo/
Ok, this is my newest Blog Post, but as i am from switzerland, it’s in german :-). I am working with this one since day one. I choosed the titel by just picking a number from 1-31 (your blog ideas) and went with it. The thing about the keywords will take me longer, i am on my way but – phuuuuu… So today there was more light for me with the yoast seo, i do allready have it and work with it, BUT i learned about the social specials… and also, and this is great, about the two possible titles, one for the searchers and one for the readers… i do feel very comfortable with this challenge, just on time for me (thanks sashka to tell me about 😉 )
Thanks for this Sarah. I do have Yoast SEO but wasn’t actually sure I was using it correctly. This is really helpful!
🙂 More traffic will be on it’s way
Another awesome post.I have just started doing SEO and is using Yoast Plugin and this post is really helpful as I m able to know about the different feature.
You mentioned all good points. I found this blog really valuable to help me understand. It written in a very clear and understandable way. Thanks for your priceless information.
I love SEO Yost. I just hope it realy does what it should ;-). I work with it for at least one year, but i do not realy have that many readers…. if i can trust google analytcis as well… does the flasch reading ease score work with german language as well? and as i just saw the explanation of the score – 90 – 100 easily understood by an average 11-year old student
60 – 70 easily understood by 13-15 year old students
0 – 30 best understood by university graduates i am asking myself do i realy want to write in a manner so 11 year old can understand me? i like to play around with words – like you do. so how can i get the right mix to still get my wording into it and end with a good score?
Thank you Sarah – great post and useful content – will implement this. Jo Soley
I’ve used yoast for a while, but I’d forgotten about the social sharing aspect to it. Thanks for the reminder from the blog challenge.