Simple SEO tips to improve your blog’s search rankings

Every blogger has heard of the term SEO. SEO blog category is among the fastest growing – you have to look no further than the number of authority blogs that cover the topic extensively. Having some SEO knowledge is essential for every blogger to improve his luck with search engines. More organic traffic is important for blogs, especially those monetized by pay-per-click schemes.

SEO has two sides – things you do to your blog theme, and things you observe while writing(which are rather difficult to change, when there are several posts). Things to observe while writing are rather tedious, like checking the keyword density, duplicate content, optimizing titles etc. On the other hand, things to do on your theme are easier, and they need to be done only once(unlike while writing). Below, you will find some easy tips to improve your blog’s SEO, by meddling with your theme files(this post assumes that you have a basic understanding of the WordPress templating system, else refer to help files).

  • Optimize your titles: The title is the single most important tag in your page. Make sure that you use them wisely. WordPress uses the same sentence for heading and title tags. For better appeal to search engine traffic, use All In One SEO plugin to rewrite your titles, such that the title is eye-catching.
  • Optimize your headers: The post-title tag (usually <h2>) is important. Make sure that you put keywords in your header. Also, change the header tag to h1 in single pages (this is debated).
  • Change your blog title: Most themes use h1 for blog titles, while relegating post titles to h2. From an SEO view, this is suicidal.

    You should put your most important header in h1.

    Now, ask yourselves: is your blog title more important than your post title? No. So, make sure that you use h3/h4 tag for header. Changing the tag is easy – just replace the tags in the theme files. Open up style.css and replace the h1 with h3/h4(you are on your own with this, so do this only if you really know what you’re doing).

  • Use h4/h5 tags: Use h4/h5 tags as sub-headings, and use them to demarcate the different parts of your post. Use CSS to beautify them.
  • Change the sidebar headings: Most themes use h2 for sidebar headings. This is another of those weak-points of the default templating system. Change the sidebar headings to h4/h5.If you use widgeting system, this is a bit complicated. You may have to use functions.php to overwrite the default widget system.
  • Modify title format: The default title format for WordPress is Blog name → Post name. Modify this to Post name ← Blog name for better results. Replace your title tag with this code(this is what I use):
    <title>
    <?php if ( is_paged() ) : ?><?php $paged = '— Page '.$paged; ?><?php endif; ?>
    <?php if ( is_404() ) : ?>Page Not Found — <?php bloginfo('name'); ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_home() && !is_paged() ) : ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_search() ) : ?>Search Result : <?php echo
    wp_specialchars(stripslashes($_GET['s']), true); ?> <?php echo
    $paged; ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_attachment() ) : ?>Attachment : <?php echo trim(wp_title('—', false)); ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_single() ) : ?><?php echo trim(wp_title('', false)); ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_category() ) : ?><?php echo trim(wp_title('', false)); ?> category <?php echo $paged; ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_author() ) : ?>Author Archive : <?php echo
    trim(wp_title('', false)); ?> <?php echo $paged; ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_archive() ) : ?>Archive : <?php echo trim(wp_title('', false)); ?> <?php echo $paged; ?>
    <?php elseif ( is_paged() ) : ?><?php bloginfo('name'); ?> <?php echo $paged; ?>
    <?php else : ?>
    <?php echo trim(wp_title('', false)); ?> — <?php bloginfo('name'); ?>
    <?php endif; ?>
    </title>
  • Serve Category names in h2: Category names in category pages is invaluable, as they are related to the content. Use h2 tag to emphasize the category name.
  • Replace other h2: Replace other instances of h2, where it does not make sense. For example, the Comments heading is usually placed in h2/h3, but it does not merit such an important position. Change it to something more sensible, like h4/h5.
  • Use the footer’s real estate: Footer is usually the last part crawled by the search engine. To make a lasting impression ( 😉 ), include a very short description of your blog in the footer(see this blog’s footer).
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