Imagine you’re a plant owner looking for more information about taking care of succulents.
You might Google something like “how to save my succulent.” This will result in a SERP that looks very different from one based on a query like “how to take care of my succulent.” The former SERP focuses on tips for reviving a plant that’s dying due to overwatering, neglect, or another cause, while the latter focuses on what to do if you’re contemplating buying a succulent or just bought one.
How is it possible to get completely different results when the queries are so similar? One reason is keywords.
We know that Google uses a series of algorithms to sort through billions of webpages to find and display the most useful results in less than a second. Some of these algorithms are specifically designed to analyze the content of webpages to assess whether they provide relevant answers to your search query.
The most basic signal of relevance is the web page containing the same keywords used in the search query. So Google will look for keywords in the URL, meta description, title, headings, image alt text, and body of the text. While this is only one factor among many that Google’s ranking system uses, it does mean that adding keywords is an important step you can take to make your WordPress blog SEO-friendly.
To make it as easy as possible to optimize your site for keywords, we’ll walk through how to add them to WordPress.
Since the title is the first thing a reader sees in the SERP, your title should include the keyword you’re targeting and front-load it, if possible. This is particularly important if your title exceeds the recommended limit of 60 characters. When front-loaded, the keyword will still be visible even if the title is cut off for users on smaller screens.
Take a look at the post with “on-page SEO” front-loaded in its title below.
On the SERP, the URL appears immediately below the title of the post or page so it’s important to include your keyword here as well. In WordPress, a slug is the part of the URL you can edit and put the keyword. To optimize a URL’s slug, get rid of any unnecessary words like “a,” “the,” and “to” and separate the remaining words with hyphens.
Ideally, your slug should resemble — but not replicate — the title of the page or post. For example, the title of this post is “A Simple Guide to Adding Keywords to Wordpress” and the slug is add-keywords-to-wordpress.
The final element appearing on the SERP is the meta description. This is the short blurb that provides more detail about what the post or page is about and can help convince the reader to click. Within the recommended 160-character limit, you should include your keyword phase.
Since your meta description is also the default copy that appears on social media when you share your post, make it snappy. Take a look at the example below.
Header tags are the bold headings that divide a page into sections. You may have noticed that this blurb is prefaced by an H3 tag, for example.
Headings are not only effective at organizing and displaying content in a digestible format for readers — they’re also an ideal place to include keywords. Search engines and readers look to your headings to understand what the web page is about at a glance.
Image Alt Text
You may not see image alt text in this post, but it’s there. While alt text only appears if an image fails to load on the page, it’s an important step in making web content accessible. Readers using devices with low-bandwidth connections, readers with visual impairments, and search engine bots look to alt text to understand how the image relates to the rest of the web page.
Ideally, your alt text should be less than 125 characters and only include your target keyword if it’s relevant to the picture. Don’t worry about jamming your keyword into every single image alt text input field.
You might already know that mentioning your target keyword as much as possible in the body of a post or page is not a best practice. In fact, this practice — known as keyword stuffing — is an example of black hat SEO and is penalized by search engines.
So you want to strike the right balance between using your keyword enough to signal to search engines that your content is relevant to the search query but not so much that you’re spamming the search engine or reader. Mostly this is left up to good judgment, but some SEO experts recommend including one keyword per roughly 200 words of copy.
Now that we understand best practices for adding keywords to WordPress, let’s look at how you can do so quickly and easily across all pages on your site.
How to Add Keywords to Wordpress Using the Yoast SEO Plugin
You can add keywords to WordPress manually, but using a plugin to automate the process can help save you time and ensure consistency across your editorial process. That’s why we’ll walk through how to add keywords using the premium version of the Yoast SEO plugin.
Before continuing, it’s important to note that we are not talking about meta keyword tags. These HTML meta tags were inserted into the header of a page and only visible to search engines. It was basically like submitting a wish-list of keywords you wanted to rank for to search engines, which quickly gave way to keyword stuffing. Since these tags are no longer a ranking factor, it would be pointless to spend time adding them.
The Yoast SEO plugin is specifically designed to help you improve your blog’s on-page SEO. One particularly useful feature is its focus keyword feature. With this feature, you can set one keyword or phrase that you want to rank for most on a post or page. You’ll find the input field in the SEO tab below the text editor.
Then Yoast will evaluate the content and offer recommendations to improve your keyword usage in the SEO analysis tab.
In the results below, you’ll see suggestions to use the keyword phrase more frequently and evenly throughout the post, and particularly in the subheadings. You’ll also see “good results” noting that the author has included the keyword in the introduction, meta description, title, and URL slug.
Creating keyword-focused content is an important step in optimizing your WordPress website for search engines and readers. It can not only help improve your chances of ranking, but also improve the visitor experience. The best part is it’s easy with WordPress plugins.
Originally published Jun 22, 2020 7:00:00 AM, updated June 22 2020