How To Write Perfect SEO-Optimized Articles in WordPress

One of the best ways to keep getting traffic for your oldest/earliest posts is to make them search engine friendly. In the long run, only search engines can help you to get traffic for old posts.

In this article I will share some tips for writing SEO-optimized articles that will rank better with search engines.

WordPress Seo Article

I have been running multiple blogs, and we have several authors working day and night to keep them updated with fresh, quality content. Sometimes, however, quality drops and that usually happens due to a lack of knowledge.

Every blog post is like a web page in terms of search engine ranking, and you can optimize each post with specific keywords for the search engines. There are several things that you should keep in mind in this regard, and we will be discussing them in this post.

Whenever I hire a new author to work on our blogs, I have to give him manual input and checklists to help him to write better articles. Apart from selecting topics, there is a complete SEO checklist that must be taken care of.  I used to send this information out in an email to all the authors in my blog network.  So I thought it would be a good idea to compile all of this information in a post. This way, ShoutMeLoud readers will all benefit from this information and learn how to create SEO-optimized posts as well.

Please note that in this post I will not be covering keyword research, though I will do so in a future post, as keyword research requires a detailed post of its own.

Writing SEO-Optimized Articles:

Post title and Meta title:

First you  need to understand the difference between post title and meta title.

  • Post title: how your reader will see the post
  • Post meta title: what search engines will see and show in the search result

If you have not specified a meta title in your SEO settings, your post title will be treated as the meta title. It is important to have your keywords in a meta title.  You can read more about this in the detailed post I published previously, How to optimize a post title for readers and search engines.

Tip: Keep post titles less than 66 characters

Post meta description:

All the SEO plugins allow you to add meta descriptions, which play a major role in search engine ranking. Think of a meta description as sales copy for your blog post. In 156 characters, you need to add your keywords, and create a description that is seductive enough for users to click on it. If you have not added meta descriptions in the past, you should start doing it from now on.

Meta description

Now that you understand what a meta description does, it is very important to go back and add meta descriptions to any of your previously published posts which do not have one.

Every post you write is important from the perspective of ranking and traffic. Google sees every blog post as a different webpage so that you can rank every post for certain keywords.

Image Alt Attribute:

Alt Tag Image SEO

Google can’t read images.  Text is how Google recognizes an image. To ensure that search engines can understand what an image is about, you must be sure to use proper image names. Many people make the mistake of uploading images with names like image001.jpg, and this does not serve them well at all.

When naming an image, keep the name relevant to image itself. For example, if you take a screenshot of an Adsense dashboard, and you name the image “AdSense”, it will not be targeted. Instead, you need to use a name like “AdSense-dashboard”.

Here at ShoutMeLoud we use an effective plugin called SEO Friendly Image, which uses the image name as ALT attributes.  This way, when people search for an image in a Google Image search, they will land on our blog post.

If you choose not to use such a plugin, you can always manually add ALT (alternate text) when you upload an image.

I have seen positive results when using keywords in image anchor text (when naming an image), so you should at least use keywords in your image alt text.

Interlink and Anchor text:

When we write a new post, it’s always a good idea to link back to old posts so that readers will find the old posts, and search engines will re-crawl the old blog posts.

When you interlink, you should use the anchor text technique to interlink. Simply put, when you link to a blog post you see an option to add link and title. Make sure to fill out the post title or main keywords for the post you are linking to.

Interlinking-in-WordPress

At ShoutMeLoud we also use a plugin called WordPress Insights which helps you to interlink quickly. You can check out this video to learn how to work with this plugin.

Permalink and remove stop words:

editing-post-permalink

When we write a post, we usually use a post title with lots of stop words. You can find a comprehensive list of stop words here and here. So for example, when we write a post with the title:  3 Ways to Make a Blog Business Plan, our post permalink by default would be: domain.com/3-ways-to-make-a-blog-business-plan.html

“To” and “a” are stop words in the example above.  You can click on edit permalink and change the permalink to blog-business-plan, thus eliminating the stop words.

Note:  Never change your post permalink once the post is published.

H1, H2, H3 Headings:

post-heading-tags

We use the Thesis post styling feature to create the style of our blog post.  This is fine, but we must not ignore one of the most important aspects of SEO, and that is using proper H1, H2, H3 headings. By default, in any SEO-optimized theme, the post title uses H1 tags. So for the next sub heading you can use an H2 heading, and an H3 heading, and so on.

It is always a good idea to use proper heading tags for effective SEO, especially when you are writing a long post. Please refer to the following posts for a better understanding of how to use headings within blog posts.< Link1>  <Link 2>

According to the SEO community, it’s a good idea to use your keywords in H1, H2, and H3 tags.

Quick Checklist:

  • Post title for readers & search engine (keywords in H1, H2, H3 and post title)
  • Post permalink (remove stop words from permalink)
  • Interlinking within a post with anchor text
  • Image Alt text (use keyword)
  • Post meta description (optimize it for better CTR, and use your target keyword once)
  • Post meta keywords (leave it blank)
  • Add links to reliable & trustworthy resources within the blog article

Let us know if you have any questions, or if you have any other suggestions .  Feel free to use our comments section below!

Also, please remember to share this post via Twitter, Google Plus or Facebook if you think others might benefit from the information in this post.

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Article By
Harsh Agrawal is a blog scientist and a passionate blogger. He is blogging since 2008 & writes about Blogging, SEO, Make money online & tech. His blog, ShoutMeLoud receives 1 million Pageviews/month and have over 700K subscribers.

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COMMENTs ( 103 )

  1. says

    Thanks for such a wonderful article on how to write SEO optimized content. My question is will i make some keyword of my post in italic or Bold format? is it helpful or not?

        • says

          @Robin
          We all make such mistakes initially to make the article titles & subheading look more prominent. I also did the same mistake, and later on edited all 2K+ posts on my blog to improve it.
          Result: I’m getting 1 million page views a month & 90% of traffic is organic.

  2. says

    Nice and brief article. Shoutmeloud is a great website and I learn many things from here. Really appreciate your work. Can you plz share an article about write seo friendly content. Most of time I write good articles specially tutorials that are originally written by me. But most of my post does not rank well in google. I am using only low competition keywords. Plz guide me to clear my concept about writing seo friendly content.

  3. says

    Why should one remove stop words from the post permalink? Even though a user searches for a keyword with stop words in it, we should still keep them out of the URL?

    Please explain Harsh :)

    • says

      @Anchit
      That’s a very good question & to answer that:
      Search engine like Google doesn’t count words like “A”, “An”, “The” & many other stop words. This helps them to keep their database size at minimal, and they pick the important words to rank a page. Though I would suggest to use keywords like “How to” “Tutorial” as users use such words to search. For all other stop words, it’s good to not have them in permalink. This way, your post stays more targeted to your target keyword.

  4. Muhammad wahab says

    such a amazing website and useful article get more knowledge. many conclusions to writing SEO optimized article but know every thing is clear

  5. says

    Thanks for this post, Harsh. I am not that new to blogging, but my starting days in blogging were not that easy. Nowadays I started SEO optimizing the articles. I got many tips from this one especially. Thanks Again. BTW, I am a regular Visitor to your Blog.. :) Almost Daily :D

    Cheers Bro, Your Blog Quality is Making me Return Everyday :)

  6. says

    One of the most useful info i have ever read dude. Thank u so much for this article and the inbound links you have used in this article.

  7. says

    really a great information, but still a doubt. Is it necessary to change default permalink ? Means, as per my view, whole title in permalink gives better SEO. However, you suggested to change it. One more question, as there is a limit of permalink that cannot exceed 70 characters. Is there any short limit beyond which we cannot shorten our permalink ?
    -Nitin

  8. Jaikishan says

    Hi Harsh,
    The mentioned site is my free blog which I build using wordpress. I want start my own blog but due to money constrains I wouldn’t get started for next 2 months.
    I m not a good writer and I m confused of what to write how much to write and where to find ideas to get started.
    I tried to write SEO optimized articles but in no vain.
    Please suggest some tips or ideas so that i can get started.
    Thank you

  9. says

    Hi Harsh Bhayya
    i am a big fan of you from Pakistan. I am new in this blogging field and i have found some answers in this great article. Can you tell me more about stop words like if our focus keyword has a stop word then what to do? and one more question that can we write an article of 100 to 200 words length? Actually i have made a magazine site and i want to make a category of latest news. And some news don’t have enough content to write. I will be thankful to u for reply.

  10. SURAJ SINGH says

    Harsh, thanks for this nice reply for my help :-) . I am using SEO by YOAST plugin for WP but after publishing post Sometimes it shows some red alert for SEO to reduce the slug. What should i do harsh, sorry for asking again a question but this is my final doubt

    • says

      @Suraj
      Are you talking about Permalink Slug? Before you publish the blog post, click on Edit permalink below post-title in post editor, and remove un-necessary stop words like “An” “the” “and” and so on.

  11. SURAJ SINGH says

    Yes a Complete detailed post. I have got a lot of results of how to write a SEO optimized post in wordpress. but none of them explained it properly with images, i got it from here,
    but my only doubt is related to ‘interlinks’ . Harsh, Is this a SEO friendly way to link my content to the link of wikipedia to provide a better information to the visitors?

    • says

      @Suraj
      When linking out, it’s not just Wikipedia. Think of links as adding value to the post and which helps your reader to learn more about the topic you are writing about. Since Wikipedia is one great source of information, but it’s not necessarily need to be wikipedia only.

  12. Abhishek Tavasalkar says

    Atlast I found a post which I was searching for or rather expecting from a webmaster. It always bugs me how to properly use keywords in my post. But still I have a very big doubt Harsh. You chose long tail keywords like “Best iPhone RSS reader, Pulse iPhone RSS reader”

    So are you going to fit them in the article and in headings?
    I don’t know if my question is silly or serious but its one big doubt I have. Please do resolve it… Hope to get a reply from you sooner

    • says

      @Abhishek
      So I will be using that long tail keyword in Title, Permalink and 1 or 2 times in the post body.. The idea is to keep article writing very natural, like we normally write..At the end (Time of proof-reading) simply tweak the article a bit to optimise it for that particular keyword. The basic Onpage optimisation is going to be the same for Short-tail and long-tail Keyword. You should check out this article on On-page SEO: http://www.shoutmeloud.com/onpage-optimization-factors-seo.html

  13. Ankur says

    Great post. I followed many things already mentioned but some points are new and very logical.
    Only doubt is weather its still relevant after Google panda update.

  14. Hari Prasad Chaudhary says

    This is great Harsh Bro. That is why I like to read article in your blog. It is full of information. Thanks for sharing this.

  15. Mahesh says

    thanks for sharing post harsh,But i am facing the issue with bing API i have done everything you mentioned in the post still when i paste that generated api key into LSI field i am getting the Error”Invalid key”.I tried to generate it several time still the issue remains same..help me out.

  16. Ashish says

    We all know that H1 tag is most important heading tag. So, I changed my heading post title tag to H1 from H2. But within 1-2 days my page views dropped from 600-700 to 50-60. Does changing headings really harm ranking. As after the changes that I have made in heading tag most of my post is not showing in search results that were previously showing in first page. I also keep in mind that there is only one H1 tag on single post, no less important heading tag before H1 tag etc. Or there may be another reason for decreasing in ranking of my posts. Almost all of my post is not showing in search results that were in first page previously.

  17. Kajal says

    Hello Harsh,

    This is really an informative post shared by you. I want to ask you a question. We always search for keywords with high searches and low competition. For example, I want to write one post “Headache Remedies” or “How to get rid of pimples”. There is low competition and high searches for these terms. But I have seen some top results of Google Search Results. Their content seems to be unbeatable. I want to write over these topics. Can you tell me some tips to beat such posts? I have taken care of keywords density, uniqueness or any basic requirement that is necessary while writing. But it’s not giving any result. Please help me for the same. Any tips and suggestions would be really helpful.

    Thanks.

  18. Abhishek Taneja says

    Thanks Harsh for this article on seo optimized post.
    i thoroughly read this article and got my all doubts cleared by looking at the comments with some great replies.

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