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Using keywords to improve your WordPress web pages

Search engine optimisation is like baking a cake. Finding the ingredients (keywords) is only the start of the process. Here is the all-important recipe for putting it all together.

Here's what we will cover...

Content: the heart of SEO

Whether you’ve performed your own keyword research or Vu Online have done it for you, you’re probably wondering what happens next. How do you place those keywords into your content?

Although this guide is written with WordPress (WP) users in mind, you should be able to adapt the core advice for your chosen platform. 

Your keywords have already taken some of the guesswork out of content creation. You now know what people who use your products or services are typing into Google but you clearly can’t put all possible keywords into every page so how do you prioritise?

This is where the concept of focus keywords and cornerstone content come in.

 

Working with a focus keyword

In WP, there is a very handy plug-in called Yoast which makes improving your content much more intuitive. Yoast enables you to directly choose a focus keyword/phrase for each page and tells you exactly how to improve your content to highlight that keyword.

Yoast also allows you to nominate ‘cornerstone content’ pages. These are the pages that relate to your ‘gold nugget’ keywords – those that attract a lot of relevant traffic. If you’re lucky, they will also attract relatively low competition. 

Whether you are using Yoast or not, make sure you keep a record of the focus keyword for each page and prioritise your cornerstone content whenever you are working on SEO. It is vital each page is optimised for a different keyword. Otherwise you will be competing with yourself on Google – an effect known as ‘keyword cannibalisation.’

Before looking at the written content on your web pages, there are a few ‘behind the scenes’ areas where you should look at adding your focus keyword. These are:

 

  • Page/Post Name

 

  • URL/Permalink – A fancy term for your page’s web address  (e.g. mydomain.com/search-engine-optimisation). In WP you can edit this directly but there is also a page called ‘Permalinks’ (under the settings menu on the dashboard) where you can instruct WP to always use the name of your post or page in your URLs. A note of caution: change this option yourself only if you have a relatively new website. You should get expert help if you want to change this option for an established website.
  • Meta Title – This is the title that appears on the search engine results pages. It acts as both a signal for search engines and a headline for visitors looking for your products and services. 
  • Meta Description – This is the text below the title in the search engine results. Think of it like a short advert and include your keyword in the first few characters. When editing a page, you can change the meta title and description fields in Yoast’s ‘Edit Snippet’ section (located below the text under the ‘SEO’ tab).
  • Image ‘Alt’ tags – Google bots can’t see images so they read the information in this field to help determine what your website is about.
  • Page headings. Website code uses a simple tag to determine your main headings and subheadings. Anything within an ‘H1’ tag is deemed more important than that within an ‘H2’ tag and so on. All you need to remember is to use your focus keyword in your main headings.
  • Internal links. It is good practice to connect your web pages using relevant keywords. Try to include one or more internal links every time you add a new page or post.

 

Latent Semantic Indexing

You’re almost ready to start writing or editing your page content. Before you do, it’s worth understanding a bit about Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) and how it relates to search engines.

LSI is another complex-sounding term for a concept which is actually quite simple. 

Early versions of Google’s search algorithms were relatively basic. Since the crawlers could only interpret specific keywords and tended to value quantity over quality, this led to awful practices such as repetitive writing and keyword stuffing.

Modern versions are far more sophisticated and LSI was introduced in 2014.

Using the technique of LSI, Google search bots can use various words within a piece of writing to decide whether it relates to a search term or not. For example, if you typed the word ‘apple crumble’ into a search engine pre-2004, you might find articles about Apple the computer brand amongst the search results. 

Today, Google crawlers know that an article containing words and phrases such as ‘oats’, ‘recipe’ and ‘Delia Smith’ is going to be a far better match than one containing the words ‘mac’, ‘laptop’ and ‘Steve Jobs’.

When writing your content, you will probably use LSI keywords quite naturally but there are some useful ways you can make sure.

  • Related searches. If you type your focus keyword into Google and scroll as far as you can down the results page, you will see a section marked ‘Searches related to x-keyword’. Note down the results and, where relevant, ensure they appear in your content. If you can use them as subheadings, even better!
  • Image Search. If you type your focus keyword into Google and then click the ‘Images’ icon, you will see a gallery of images beneath a list of category headings. These headings are clues to how Google uses LSI and incorporating them into your writing can increase the chances of your page ranking well.

How long is a piece of copy?

You knew we were going to answer ‘how long is a piece of string,’ right? 

Quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to content writing with the following caveats:

  • If your content is too short and/or thin, you won’t have the opportunity to add in LSI keywords. 300 words is widely considered a minimum length.
  • According to Forbes, posts which contain more than 1,500 words are more shareable. They have been shown to garner 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes.

If you focus too much on length, you are missing the point of SEO. While it is important search engines index your content correctly, it is vital that your content appeals to the reader. Yoast includes a readability metric but the main points to consider are:

  • Write a powerful headline or title
  • Keep your sentences short and to the point.
  • When you move on to a new angle or topic, start a new paragraph
  • Use punctuation correctly
  • Check your spelling and grammar
  • Use subheadings
  • Use images and lists to structure your pages

 

The virtuous SEO circle

You knew we were going to answer ‘how long is a piece of string,’ right? 

Quality is far more important than quantity when it comes to content writing with the following caveats:

  • If your content is too short and/or thin, you won’t have the opportunity to add in LSI keywords. 300 words is widely considered a minimum length.
  • According to Forbes, posts which contain more than 1,500 words are more shareable. They have been shown to garner 68.1% more tweets and 22.6% more Facebook likes.

If you focus too much on length, you are missing the point of SEO. While it is important search engines index your content correctly, it is vital that your content appeals to the reader. Yoast includes a readability metric but the main points to consider are:

  • Write a powerful headline or title
  • Keep your sentences short and to the point.
  • When you move on to a new angle or topic, start a new paragraph
  • Use punctuation correctly
  • Check your spelling and grammar
  • Use subheadings
  • Use images and lists to structure your pages

 

Finding your voice

It is perfectly possible to incorporate all of the best LSI keywords in impeccably written content and yet still fail to connect with your audience.

In this case, it is likely that your branding is off. Branding is a huge topic covered in depth elsewhere but its essence is in finding your unique voice.

The words you use and the way you write contribute to your website’s ‘tone of voice.’ If you are struggling with consistency (perhaps because multiple authors are writing your content) consider creating a Tone of Voice document and storing it in a shared location.

 

Working with existing content

If you have an established website, it can be tempting to ignore or even delete existing content and focus only on new pages. Before you do this, make sure you audit them. 

Some old pages may already be optimised and even contain links from external sites. Rather than lose all of that valuable ‘link juice,’ consider editing those pages to bring them in line with the rest of your content. If the information on one of your high performing pages or posts is outdated, get hold of some latest research and repost for 2020.

Another valuable exercise is to go through older posts and add internal links back to newer content.

 

Time to shout

Now you’ve tuned every page on your website to perfection, you can sit back and wait for those pages to start soaring up the rankings – or you could give them a bit of a helping hand.

Social media is a freely available source of word of mouth marketing ready to tap into at any time. While social media marketing is beyond the scope of this article, making sure that you link your website to your social media profiles and share your blog posts with your followers will further increase your visibility with search engines.

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Content optimisation - making sure your web pages are the best they can be - is the key to effective SEO. Could you be doing more to increase your visibility on Google? Call Vu Online today to find out how our SEO Services can benefit you.

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