Yes, I know. Whine, whine. You can’t choose or tweak your own WordPress.com Theme. Heard it. Been there. Done that. Suffer for it, myself. While WordPress and most WordPress Themes come SEO ready out of the box, WordPress.com users can still use web standards and accessibility standards and SEO practices in your WordPress.com blog to help search engines enjoy visiting your blog and help your readers be able to easily read your blog.
Search engine optimization means making your website or blog as friendly and open to search engines as possible. It means having valid code that won’t stop a search engine in its tracks. It means having keywords used repeatedly throughout the content that helps the search engine understand the topic you are writing about and associate those words with search keywords. It means building a web page that search engines like and accumulating a good score card that will improve your changes of being towards the top of the list when the search results are ranked.
It simple terms: Search engine optimization helps you get your blog found in search engine results. You want to be found, practice good SEO standards.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is not hard. In fact, for WordPress.com users, it’s fairly easy. Most WordPress Themes come SEO ready, with solid validated code and usually meeting web and accessibility standards. The only area you need to worry about is what you put in the post title, post content, and image and link information.
I recently wrote about some simple techniques to help your search engine results ranking, and these techniques can easily be done by WordPress.com users, so let’s start there.
SEO: Good Keywords and Heading Tags
In tests done by Mike Industries, the placement of keywords in your post content impacts your ranking in search engine results with Google and other search engines.
Keywords are words used in the post content that represent the topic you are writing about, and are used several times throughout the document, adding emphasis to the fact that this is what the post is about. I’ve talked about how how keywords can actually help you write your blog, and Mike’s tests show that it isn’t just how frequently you use keywords in your post, it’s about where you use them, too.
Keywords need to be found in headings, links, and images, when possible. A headings is like a title or subtitle, but in HTML is is distinguished by being wrapped in a heading tag:
<h1>Lorelle on WordPress</h1>
<h2>Improving Your SEO Standards with WordPress.com Blogs</h2>
<h3>SEO: Good Keywords and Tags</h3>
If you are writing a post that has sections, then use headings to divide those sections, as I have done in this article. I know that many are using bold to emphasis section titles, but stop it now. Use proper headings. I’ve asked the WordPress developers to add
h4 heading tags to the quicktag buttons in the Post editing window for ages, but they don’t include it, yet, so just code your own.
Do it first because it looks good and makes an article read better when divided up into sections. Do it second because it is good SEO practice and helps your page ranking with search engine results.
You also need to know that headings have a hierarchy and structure. The web standard method of using headings in a web page is to use them in a consecutive order:
Most WordPress Themes’ structure features the title of the blog in the
h1 tag, and the title of the post in an
h2 tag automatically. Some feature sidebar headings in
h4 tags, but that isn’t as consistent. This leaves
h4 heading tags for use within your post. Unfortunately, not all WordPress Themes style these headings, but test them out to see how they look, and then use them.
Using Headings in WordPress.com Blogs
To use them, instead of using bold or strong tags to divide up the sections within your post, just type in the HTML tag for the heading level you want and type in the text, and then finish with the closing tag. For Worpdress.com blogs, the first level heading would be
<h3> and look like this:
...this is the end of a paragraph. <h3>This is the Heading Line</h3> This is the start of the next paragraph under the heading line...
To add a deeper level, like an outline, a subtitle or subsection under the
<h3> heading, you can add the next level heading of
...this is the end of a paragraph. <h3>This is the Heading Line</h3> This is the start of the next paragraph under the heading line... now I've written a lot on this subject but I need to make some points under this topic so I will start a new subsection. <h4>This is the Sub Heading Line</h4> And this is the next paragraph under the sub heading line...
To see these in action, you can check out the source code of this post from within your browser from VIEW > PAGE SOURCE or something similar. On the page of code that pops up, hit CTRL+F to initiate FIND and search for Using Headings in WordPress.com Blogs and you will see that title in a
<h4> tag. Look throughout the rest of the document for the other heading tags to see how they are used, and then inspect your own blog to see which heading tags are used where.
SEO: Good Links and Image Keywords
Using keywords is not limited to content and heading tags. They also influence search result rankings by inclusion in links and images.
A well structured link should include the link and a description of the link in a
<a href="http://lorelle.wordpress.com/wordpress-resources/" title="WordPress Resources">WordPress Resources</a>
To make this link be even more “keyword powerful”, let’s change the title to be more descriptive:
<a href="http://lorelle.wordpress.com/wordpress-resources/" title="WordPress Resources for WordPress Theme designs, plugins, and blogging tips">WordPress Resources</a>
Unfortunately, WordPress.com currently strips out titles from links, though much protesting is going on to have these restored to meet web standards. (Please add your voice to the protesting by using your FEEDBACK button.) Put titles into your links anyway, as they aren’t removed from your post but stripped when the page is generated. Your link titles stay in the database, so keep adding them and hopefully the developers will get a clue that these need to be restored, and when that happens, they will already be there in your content.
Descriptive keywords are also required to meet web standards for accessibility in all links to images, photographs, and graphics. Some users like to use both the
TITLE attributes in the image link, but the
ALT is required. WordPress.com strips out the
TITLE tag from images, too.
Let’s look at a before and after image link that increases SEO practices.
<img scr="/files/10/2005/image456.jpg" alt="Mardi Gras" />
would be improved as:
<img scr="/files/10/2005/mysticstrippersmardigrasparade.jpg" alt="Mystic Strippers Mardi Gras Parade in Mobile, Alabama" />
People searching for information on the Mardi Gras parade in Mobile, Alabama, hosted by the group, The Mystic Strippers, would find these keywords in your image link as well as your content keywords, leading them right to your post.
WordPress now helps you add descriptive
ALT tags when you use the quicktag links above the Write Post edit window. The first popup box asks for the link, and the second asks for the description, making the process of adding descriptive keywords to your images much easier.
Broken Code Breaks Search Engines
Without a doubt, the biggest brake put on search engines when they come crawling through your blog is broken and invalid code. While your Theme may pass all the tests for validation, your post content might now.
Luckily, most problems are easily caught in WordPress. By clicking SAVE AND CONTINUE EDITING in the Write Post panel, you can see a preview of your post in the Preview window below the editing box. Most broken code will be visible immediately such as a link that doesn’t turn into a link, a graphic or photograph absent, whole paragraphs in a link or bolded or italicized, or the sidebar is suddenly pushed down below the content. Look for any clues that things aren’t working right, and you can usually quickly find the culprit code causing the error.
If you are including a table for data inside of your post, these can easily have errors in them as they have so many tags, especially if you are using a nested table. If you are in doubt or can’t figure out what is wrong with the way your WordPress.com blog looks, you can run your own validation test on it before you hit the FEEDBACK button and complain to the developers. Do your own tests first.
Hit SAVE AND CONTINUE on your post and in another window, type in your blog address (URL) with the post ID number, such as:
http: ⁄ ⁄ lorelle.wordpress.com/index.php?p=596
You should see a “preview” copy of your post as it would actually appear on your blog. Using Firefox Web Development Extensions you can easily run your post through several validation tests from the Web Development toolbar. If you are not using Firefox, then visit any of the validation test sites found in my post on Validating the Code Behind the Page.
The validation results should help point you towards where things are messed up. Depending upon your WordPress Theme, errors found after line number 125 are usually the errors you have made in your post content area.
If you find consistent errors outside of the content area, please click the FEEDBACK button to let the developers know, and visit the link at the bottom of your WordPress.com blog to the Theme designer’s web page, and let them know so they can clean it up for future releases of their WordPress Theme.
Once you have tracked down the stray bit of code that is borking your site, fix it, hit SAVE AND CONTINUE EDITING, and revisit your other browser window and completely reload the page to see the changes. You can validate the code again, to make sure you fixed it all. When you are ready, then you can hit PUBLISH and your post will be lovely when displayed, and search engines will adore you.
See, it’s easy to do a few little things as you blog to keep search engines crawling happily through your blog, adding your information to their databases, which hopefully will pop up on searcher’s screens when they go hunting for your information.
Just make good use of keywords throughout your content, use them in post titles, headings, links, and images, and make sure your blog stays error free for good SEO and web standards.
- How Search Engines See, Search, and Visit Your Website
- Do-It-Yourself Search Engine Optimization
- Website Development – Listing the Keywords Inside
- Website Development – Keywords Help You Write Your Blog
- Conquering Site Validation Errors
- Site Optimization – Optimizing Bandwidth and Cleaning Out the Code Closet
- Validating the Code Behind the Page
- Benefits of Compliance with Web Standards
- How Google Ranks Websites
Site Search Tags: seo, search, engine, optimization, web, standards, wordpress.com, wordpressdotcom, wordpresscom, html, headings, links, images, titles, content, page+rank, search+results
Copyright Lorelle VanFossen