1. Optimize Your Titles
A page or post’s Title is the most important piece of on-site optimization because it has the most visible affect upon your search engine rankings. If the only optimization you do is to optimize the Title element, you may see incredible increases in your site’s rankings.
Quick Note: The Title element is in the HEAD section of the HTML output that appears at the top of your browser window. The code for it is located in the header.php file in your WordPress theme.
Individual posts should have unique titles that reflect the post itself, rather than simply duplicating the blog name across all pages. If you want fine-grain control over the titles, the easiest way to handle this is to install the SEO Title Tag plugin. When it makes sense to do so, include the relevant keyword phrase within the title. Don’t spam the title with a long list of keywords. It is very important that the title be compelling – making users want to read more. But if you can get an important keyword phrase within that compelling title, then you’ve achieved title optimization zen. 🙂
2. Redirect non-www to www
You should always choose one form for your url – either www.yourblog.com or yourblog.com (without the www). It really doesn’t matter which you choose to use, but only one should available. The other should automatically redirect (via a 301 redirect) to the chosen form. Why? The strength of a page is derived mostly from the links pointing to the page. If some of the links point to the www version, and some point to the non-www version, the strength is being diluted because the search engines see each of those as different pages. Yes, we know that in reality, they are the same page (in 99.9% of cases), but since they MIGHT be different, the search engines can’t assume they are the same. That means that you should take control and redirect one to the other so that all incoming links will focus their strength-giving powers to only one version – the one you’ve chosen.
You could muck around with .htaccess files and funky mod_rewrite code, or you could do it the easy way, by installing a simple plugin to do the work for you. (Guess which way I recommend!) I like the Enforce www preference plugin. You simply upload and activate it, and you’re done. It doesn’t get simpler than that.
3. Link to Your Best Posts
Links are votes. Links pass strength and voting power to the pages they link to. While getting links from external sites to your blog posts is always wonderful, internal links from your own blog to those blog posts are also beneficial. Yes, your own pages can pass link love to other pages within your blog. Therefore, choose a few of your very best posts, link to them within your sidebar, and let your other blog pages pass some link love to those important posts. Linking to these posts will not only draw search engine attention to them, but your visitors will notice them as well. And if your visitors notice them, they may link to them, thereby passing even more lovely link juice to them. This just creates a beautiful, expanding vortex of link love to your best posts. Want an easy way to control this? Of course, a plugin is the way to go. I like the FeatureMe plugin for displaying Featured posts.
4. Socialize Your Best Posts
Social sites such as Digg, del.icio.us, and StumbleUpon play a part in your SEO efforts as well. These types of sites get your posts noticed, and the after-effect of that notice is that some visitors will then link to your posts. And as noted in #3 above, links are votes and pass strength to your pages. You should make it as easy as possible for others to socialize your blog posts, and as always, there are plugins to make that task dead simple for you. My favorite social networking plugins are Social Bookmarking Reloaded and Sociable. Either works well, so choose whichever you like the best.
5. Be Attractive
Now that it’s understood how important attracting links are, you should know that the best way to attract is to be attractive. And the best way to be attractive is to tell others how attractive they are. This means you should liberally link out to other bloggers. This act of linking to others will inevitably lead to some of them eventually linking back to you. In that same vein, you should reward commenters for participating in your blog’s conversation. WordPress, by default, uses the nofollow tag on comment links. Regardless of whether or not the nofollow tag is useful, there are times it should be over-ruled. Your faithful readers and participants in the conversation can be rewarded by removing the nofollow tag on their comment links. You can use a plugin such as LinkLove to allow that to happen. So, give links liberally within your posts, and let your participating readers receive link love as well, and the laws of attraction will inevitably bring links full circle back to you.
We’ll discuss other SEO tips in the future, but these 5 are a great start for a fully-optimized blog.