Six Quick & Easy SEO Tactics Anyone Can Do — Part I

Seach_Engine_Optimization

Search Engine Optimization continues to be an enigma to many bloggers. There is probably no end to the tweaks and tricks one can implement to rank higher in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), but some of those tactics require a full-blooded Geek to perform. The point of today’s post is to share the first of six tips the average blogger can take without spending half your salary on an SEO expert or most of your vacation days to set up.

Keyword Rich Permalinks

Quite possibly the easiest thing you can do to better optimize your site for search engines is to include keywords in your permalinks. A post’s permalink displays in the address bar when a reader clicks on the post title. The WordPress default structure is www.yourdomainname.com/?p=123. Looks confusing, right? Google thinks so, too. And if Google ain’t happy, nobody’s happy. There’s a big discussion in SEO-land about which structure is best, but everyone agrees you need to change it from the default setting.

You can adjust your blog’s settings in the dashboard. I use /%postname%/ but some gurus say you should start with a numeric value and suggest /%year%/%monthnum%/%postname%/. I’ve read so many opinions on which one of these structures is best, that my advice to you is pick one or flip a coin.

Once you’ve selected your actual blog permalink structure, you’ll likely need to change the permalink for each post. Why? After you set /%postname%/ as your blog’s structure (whether or not you choose to include the year and month), the permalink will automatically include your post’s title in the unique URL for that post (which is what a permalink is, in case you didn’t know). Problem is, headlines are written for humans, not Googlebots. You’ll want a great headline to intice your reader to continue reading (such as “Six Quick & Easy SEO Tactics Anyone Can Do”), but you’ll want your permalink to be short and include the keywords you’d like the post to rank for. (If you’ll look in your browser’s address bar, you’ll notice I changed this post’s permalink to “Easy SEO Tips.)

How do I change my permalinks?

This is done in the New or Edit Post screen of your WordPress dashboard. (See image below.)

Permalinks

Simply click on the “Edit” button next to the title tag, type in your new text (highlighted in blue in the above image), and the button text will change to “Save.” Click “Save” and you’re done.

Why should I change them?

As far as search engines are concerned, when it comes to permalinks, shorter is better. A longer title may intrigue your readers to click open the post, but few of them look up into the browser’s address bar after opening the post. And if they do and notice the permalink is different than the actual post title, they’ll likely think, “Hey — this is one smart blogger! She’s optimizing her site for search engines.”

Is this a big deal?

Well, like I said, if Google ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Should I go back and change my previous posts to include keywords?

No. And I know this doesn’t make sense because first I tell you to input keywords in your permalinks and now I’m telling you to leave well enough alone for the posts you’ve already published. That’s because changes to your permalinks after publishing a post can also upset the Google applecart due to redirect errors (the dreaded 404 page), duplicate content in feed readers, and other issues. So, the morale to this story is to make sure you’ve got the permalink you want before you click the publish button.

This series will continue on SEO Saturdays, but should you want the entire list of six quick and easy SEO tactics immediately, sign up for my email newsletter (form is in the upper right sidebar) and you’ll get the remaining tips spread over the next five days instead of the next five weeks.

Until next time,

Happy Blogging!

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13 comments ↓

#1 Jennifer on 11.21.09 at 10:43 am

Titles are so very important – both the reader version and the link version. I’m on the Blogger platform. I haven’t found where to edit permalinks on it yet but I’ll keep looking. Thanks.

#2 TwinToddlersDad on 11.21.09 at 11:44 am

I agree, adding keywords in the title and setting up the Permalink format the way you have described works quite well. I really like the way you have explained the “how-to” of doing it on WordPress.

Having said that, I should mention that bloggers should not worry too much about SEO optimization at first. In the beginning, it is most important to produce compelling content that someone would actually want to read. Focus on trying to solve a problem for people in your niche.

When you write good content, you also get linked by other bloggers. That will build your authority and improve your search rankings.

Good luck blogging!

#3 Angie on 11.21.09 at 2:44 pm

Great info, Linda.
Angie

#4 Linda Fulkerson on 11.21.09 at 3:06 pm

@Jennifer — I’m not sure about changing the permalink structure in the Blogger platform. I’ve done a bit of research on it but haven’t found the answer. My first blog was on Blogger and I think it’s a great way to get started, but I migrated that entire blog into WordPress about 3 or 4 years ago and I’m very happy with the flexibility of WP.

@TwinToddlersDad — You made a great point about targeting your content toward your niche as you grow your blog. I’ve written several posts on that topic and having a specific purpose for your blog is important for your audience & search engines to find you.

On the flip side, this is the first blog I’ve started using SEO tactics from the first week, and within that week I was on page one of Google for several of my target search strings, so I recommend starting off with both SEO and a tightly focused niche.

It really depends on your goal as a blogger, though. If you’re sharing to your community and they know where you are, don’t worry about SEO. If you’re hoping to expand your blog or monetize, then SEO is necessary.

@Angie — Thanks for stopping by!

#5 Shannon on 11.21.09 at 8:04 pm

I am enjoying reading your blog! I am a new blogger and have been looking for ways to get more people to find my blog, find interesting things to write about, and be able to blog everyday! I’ll definitely be back to see more of your blog!

Happy ICLW!
Shannon
NaBloPoMo

#6 Linda Fulkerson on 11.21.09 at 10:02 pm

@Shannon — Thanks so much for stopping by and introducing yourself! I’m glad you find the info here helpful and I look forward to getting to know you!
Linda

#7 Tina Dee on 11.22.09 at 8:36 am

This is so interesting. I once wrote a blog and befeore I finished writing it, I had put the title in the title bar (Blogger). I hit Save (but not Publish) and then later changed the title of the post. I think I did this when I finished writing the post, or saved as a Draft and went back in later. Well, the thing saved the very first title I gave it and although I it published with the 2nd (final) title, my hits reports were showing the old title. Perhaps that was from the feedburner subscriptions (I still haven’t figured out how it all works, so I’m glad you’re doing this blog, to throw some light on it all). This may have absolutely nothing to do with what you’re talking about, LOL, but I’m still learning. Thanks, Linda!

#8 Tina Dee on 11.22.09 at 8:38 am

PS–am I missing the little re-Tweet buttons for these articles? I was so positive you had a re-tweet button on your posts.

#9 C on 11.22.09 at 2:56 pm

Great blog, Linda. I look forward to reading your previous posts! Thanks for the kind comments on my blog :)

ICLW

#10 Linda Fulkerson on 11.23.09 at 7:37 am

@Tina,
There is a “Share This” icon at the end of each post. If you click on it, you can tweet or share on Facebook. I use this plugin instead of some of the other Re-Tweet programs because it gives some good analytics data in the admin backend. :)

#11 Linda Fulkerson on 11.23.09 at 7:38 am

@Cats with Passports — glad you stopped by! I enjoyed visiting your blog!

#12 Skye on 11.27.09 at 9:34 pm

What Tina Dee is describing also happens on some blogging platforms when people start composing a post without a title, save it and come back. Then the permalink is whatever the beginning of the post was when they first saved it – ugly!

#13 Linda Fulkerson on 11.28.09 at 6:54 am

@Skye — I just love WordPress. I haven’t converted many yet, but I keep preaching it, LOL!

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