Having completed your pillar posts and other initial setup, time has now arrived to do some search engine optimization (seo) for your site and its contents. We are not yet talking about doing the SEO using paid external services but more of how to seo yourself stuff and tips to optimize your blog to make it more search engine friendly.

Phase 6: Make the content SEO friendly

In the last post, I mentioned that WordPress is an amazingly powerful platform when it comes to creating search engine friendly content, in the context of tags, post slugs, categories etc (In fact the term WordPress SEO is redundant) There are a lot more that WordPress can do which we will talk about soon. At the same time, there are a number of things that you could do manually to make sure that your blog’s technical structure (theme code mainly) is optimized as well.

Keywords, description, meta tags etc.

The header part of your blog theme (or page HTML’s top portion) is the first candidate for optimization and this includes mainly the various meta tags and title. There is particular sequence in which these tags need to appear and there are guidelines on the length of the tag contents. Fortunately for our rescue, there are some FREE tools available to optimize them.

I used the following free tools to optimize my meta tags. Once these tools are run and some error reported you can correct them by editing your header.php file in your WordPress theme (or relevant template design link if you use a free blog account). DO NOT FORGET to make a backup copy of this file before attempting any change and if you are not good at editing HTML please get some help. Most errors reported will be related to the number of keywords, their relevancy to the content, description text length, sequence of meta tags (ideal sequence should be Title, Description, Keywords) etc. There could be also mention of your robot tag which should have ‘index,follow’ parameters set so that search engine spiders can crawl and index your pages successfully.

SEO Centro Meta Tags Analyzer

Submit Express Meta Tags Analyzer

Finding the right keywords

There are a number of ways to find the right keywords for you. You can use some FREE tools (or high-priced software if you have money) such as SEO Centro keyword suggestion tool and Keyword density tool. These are really powerful tools to do self analysis of your keywords.

The other method is to visit your highly successful competitor blogs dealing with similar subjects and take a look at their keywords (by viewing the page source using your web browser application). You may get some cool keywords using this method. You can try them one by one and in parallel analyze using the above mentioned tools.

Another technic I used is to check with Google and Yahoo on their highly searched for keywords. Probably there is no direct way to do this but we could do it a little bit differently. Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing are highly paid services to promote your blog – however, they don’t charge you unless you complete your order. You could sign up with them, and design your ads during which they will show you what kind of keywords or phrases are getting maximum searches. Some of these keywords will be useful for you and could use them in your meta keyword tag or even later in your post content. If you sign up (FREE) with MSN Live Webmaster tools, they have a search for page ranks feature as well.

Please note that having the right keywords alone won’t get you a lot of search based hits. You need to have a good search page rank and great (optimized) content as well to achieve that.

Optimize body elements

After working on the header, now you could concentrate on the body elements. The most important tag here is the ‘H1′ tag that MUST be present in your blog theme somewhere in the beginning itself. This is the single most important tag that will be looked up by search engines in the body part. Ideally your blog’s name should be represented by the H1 tag. If not the name, some major title could use this tag. Whatever be the case, you need to make sure that some of your ‘keywords’ should be present in this H1 tag. Unfortunately, in my case my H1 tag was lost during redesign of the theme as I opted to represent my banner header completely using an image!

After the H1 tag, the important elements are your anchor tags (your category links, tags, even content links) and image ‘alt’ tags. It is ideal that you use some strong keywords in those tags that will help to obtain visibility from humans as well as search spiders. Also, while writing the posts you should try to create internal/external links where keywords are present. It is also a good habit to make certain keywords bold while you post new content.

Code Compliance

There is a theory that making your website code XHTML compliant will make the search engines like your site more. There is no proof to support this argument yet, at least I haven’t seen any, nor did I do this for my blogs. However, if you would like to check your pages for XHTML compliance, you may use the FREE W3C Markup Validation Service. You can see that the big daddy of search engines, Google itself is not XHTML compliant!

Robot.txt and sitemap.xml

We already talked about sitemap creation but we haven’t opted to submit it to search engines yet. Let it be that way for the time being as we don’t want to make our beta site visible to outside yet. However, we could change the robot.txt file present in your domain’s root directory a little bit to make sure that the search engine spiders will follow your site content and index it in the future. I don’t want to talk too much about robot.txt here but there is an excellent online tool that can help you to optimize your robot.txt file for various search engines. Please use this tool to find out how ideally your file should look like.

Further references

There are a couple of other things you have to do as well to optimize your site via content changes as well as WordPress configuration and plugins. I will talk about the same at a later point of time, however, you could run through some of my old posts listed below to get to know some other promotional aspects.

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