I consider onsite SEO (i.e. optimizing your post’s content to make it more likely to rank in search engines) to be the last item of consideration when it comes to your post’s written content.
By this I do not want you to think that I do not consider onsite SEO important. When done correctly it can result in a steady stream of “passive” referrals and as such is highly valuable as a tool for driving traffic. But the optimization of your content must be done with care.
I am occasionally asked how one should deal with clients who prioritize SEO above the quality of the writing. My answer is simple: fire them. I have never met an SEO-obsessed client who has been a good client. While a healthy interest in SEO is only natural, it should never compromise the quality of your writing. If a client asks you comprimise the quality of your writing for the sake of “better” SEO (whatever that is), I advise you to take a stand.
With that said, let’s take a look at the fundamentals of SEO that I practice.
The quality and makeup of your content should never be compromised by your search engine optimization efforts. I practice what I like to call “incidental” SEO, which essentially means utilizing all legitimate SEO practices that do not compromise the readability of your post (as such, the SEO is “incidental” to the content).
This is something that I already touched upon earlier when I recommended that you only edit a headline for SEO purposes if it does not damage its message and impact, and is something that you should always bear in mind when optimizing your content.
How to Optimize Your Content for SEO
If possible, you should always have a keyword in mind when writing a post. Whenever it is natural to do so, the relevant keyword should be included within your content. Ideally, you should be able to include the keyword within a sub–header. Try to include synonyms (e.g. “automobile” for “car”) and natural variances (e.g. “mitt” for “baseball glove”) of your keyword within the content.
Essentially, a search engine “spider” should be able to scan your content and understand its relevancy to a particular keyword by regular occurrences of the keyword itself as well as related words.
As you can see, I like to keep things pretty simple when it comes to onsite SEO. I don’t think there is any reason to overcomplicate matters — so long as you make the relevancy of a page clear, the rest of the work is in structuring your site appropriately and ensuring that plenty of other sites link to yours.
With regards to site structure, I recommend that you read the following two posts:
- A Complete Guide to WordPress SEO by Yoast [Part I]
- A Complete Guide to WordPress SEO by Yoast [Part II]
When it comes to offsite SEO strategy, there are an astonishing number of sites out there. However, my favorite is Point Blank SEO (and by extension the Point Blank SEO course), so I recommend that you start there.
- Read my complete guide to WordPress SEO by Yoast (Part I / Part II) and improve your blog’s infrastructure accordingly.
- Refer back to the post you wrote as part of the Action Steps in the previous section and consider what the most appropriate keyword to target would be.
- Try to include natural occurrences of that keyword into the article as well as synonyms and natural variations.