Each page or post needs a 'focus keyphrase'. It can rank for many terms, but ideally you optimise around one keyphrase of a handful of words.
Post and page optimization has a number of elements:
- Title Tag
- Meta Description
- Summary snippet
- In-page SEO
The title tag is not same as the post or page headline element you see in the browser which is usually a deliberately formatted HTML heading - H1 or H2 tags. It may be similar or contain the same keywords, but structurally these are two separate elements.
Using the Chrome or Firefox browsers, you can see the title of the current post or page by hovering your mouse over the browser tab. A title box will pop up for that page.
Good title tags are six to twelve words, or around 55-60 characters. Too short a title tag is an opportunity wasted to get a fully descriptive title; too long and the engines will ignore some of the valuable keywords toward the end.
Having the main focus keyword in the title pushes that conent up the relevance index for the terms people are searching for.
Meta DescriptionThe Meta Description is the one-line summary that exists as an HTML element not actually seen in the rendered post or page in-browser but is very important to the engines when indexing. The engines may not show the meta description you provide and may compose their own if they think the page content diverges from the meta description you provided - no trying to 'game' the system. Save them the effort of getting it wrong and provide your own *accurate* meta description.
Summary snippetThe summary snippet is another chance to craft what the search engines show in the results pages. If there isn't one the search engines try to extract a relevant excerpt of the post or page to show in the results. This will be 'best efforts' or possibly a semi-informed best guess. Again, you have the opportunity to provide a carefully crafted summary snippet.
Page or Post URL
Which URL's are most understandable and also most likely to rank for SEO?
Day and name
Month and name
These are the options that WordPress presents in the setup options under Permalinks.
Custom Structure lets you go off and set categories and tags as part of the URL, as well as truly 'custom' structures that you can set based on your own arbitrary rules. Going off-piste with your own rules could be counter-productive if it muddies the focus on post titles and keywords by introducing extra layers of irrelevant addressing.
Simple and direct is best. That means proper English words and not post numbers from the database; ideally your key focus words plus the next most relevant content words. Don't make your URL's overly long, there is definitely a sweet spot in the results pages before the URL displayed gets line-wrapped or truncated.
That's the last of our seven steps for SEO beginners. We'll summarise what we've got and how it stacks up soon. RC
Image credit: "Collection of attributes for embroidery and sewing on blue background" by wuestenigel CC BY 2.0