Good question. I’m learning as I build my skill set in the web design field of the twenty-first century that we actually have two audiences for our websites in our online visibility world: humans and algorithms (specifically search engine algorithms).
Humans we know pretty well, and many of us know how to write stories or product descriptions or instructions in our native natural languages. Quality writing with valuable advice or information on how to solve human problems or inspiration for humans; yep, most of us learned the basics here.
But why do we need to write for an algorithm? Well, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is designed to get the attention of a search engine’s algorithm (= instruction for how to solve a problem—in this case how to index your site to make it come up in searches).
Trouble is, the complex language we use to create wonderful posts and pages for humans doesn’t really suit the search engine algorithm. It wants just the substantive keywords (like the index terms in the back of a book) in a string and hyperlinked web addresses (URLs) it can pick up easily and spit out in a search result. All those extra words just take longer to process (I know, it’s just milliseconds or maybe faster, but it adds up).
So, in addition to writing kick-ass posts on great subjects to make your site more visible, SEO is a good idea. My problem with many of the current plugins or services that promise to enhance your SEO is that taking their advice can often turn your prose into a chain of mindless keywords (or close) just to make the SEO rating happy.I hate being told that I didn’t get my main keyword into the first paragraph, or didn’t use it enough times (ugh!). I prefer to give precedence to making the human reader happy, with SEO in the background, not the foreground of my composition.
I do think I’ve found a happy medium that uses four tools: An automatically generated sitemap, tags on all my blog posts, permalink modifications, and basic metadata information.
Lovely little tool, the sitemap. It lists all the hyperlinks for the pages and posts in your website so the web crawlers can find them more easily and make sure they don’t miss any. If you have the suite of features called Jetpack from WordPress’s company, Automattic, you can check the Jetpack settings’ Traffic tab and scroll down to see if the sitemap feature is turned on. That’s easy!
Tags on Posts
When you are composing and editing your blog posts in WordPress, you should see a Tags widget over in the sidebar that gives you the option to add keywords to your post. Do be nice and only add keywords that actually apply to the content of your post; Google looks down on folks who engage in “tag packing.” It’s also rude for folks who search on your tags looking for a subject and then find that you didn’t write about that at all. So, take a few seconds to decide what your article is really about and use tag keywords that directly reflect the main topic and maybe three more subtopics or synonymous terms.