In the previous post, we took a look at the permalinks of your website and how they are used to optimize your site for search. An image illustrated how Google used the search keyword and highlighted the keyword in a webpage URL showing the keyword’s relevance to the webpage.
This post looks at the two other elements that appear in the search results namely, the page title and the description of the page.
Before we dive into optimizing your titles and description, I would like to introduce you to one of the best SEO plugins available. WordPress SEO by Yoast is as user friendly and very effective plugin that is helping many websites in the world. To download, click the link below and if you have any problems installing or setting it up, you can contact me to install and setup the plugin for you. (This service is up for grabs, if you leave a comment in any of the posts in the SEO series)
There are loads of other SEO plugins out there and you might ask, “why this one?”. The answer is simple. It works! And if something goes wrong, Yoast (the developer) personally sees to it that your problem is solved. You can read more about Yoast here.
This plugin allows you to setup and create “Title” and “Description” templates for all the pages on your website. Together with the title templates, it allows you to write custom post title and descriptions for each post. For photographers, I believe the title templates are a perfect solution. Custom titles and can maybe looked at a later stage.
There are four main areas of your blog where the titles and meta descriptions have to be optimized.
- Home Page
- Category Pages
- Tag Pages
- Post Pages
You want the titles on all of these pages to engage users and make them want to click on your website search result. We need to find a way of making our titles gripping, whilst still getting a keyword or two into the title and meta descriptions.
1. Home Page Titles
A home page title usually describes you and the market you want to serve. An example of a home page title would be,
John Doe – Wedding and Lifestyle Photographer Cape Town
From a user and search engine perspective, we can see the topic of the website (photography), who the website is about (John Doe), what field of photography (Wedding and lifestyle) and where the business is located (Cape Town). This title would be relevant to a wide range of search terms, for example “Wedding photographer Cape Town” or “Cape Town lifestyle photographer”.
Using Yoast’s plugin, you can set the home page title by navigating to “Titles” option under the SEO menu and entering your home page title in the homepage template title block.
If you are using a different plugin, navigate to the plugin settings and see if there is an option for setting “Page titles” and “meta description” options.
2. Homepage Meta Description
Your home page description should describe you, what you do and where you from. This is similar to the home page title, as it gives us a way of telling the user and the search engines what your site is about. An example of an effective description is:
Again we see the influence of keywords in the description, while maintaining the appeal of your site. I am a firm believer that well written descriptions triumph over keyword stuffed descriptions (like below).
What if you specialize in more than just wedding and lifestyle? Do I put as many keywords as possible into my home page title and description? Rather than stuffing all the keywords into your homepage title, rather create a page for that section of work. Place your main focus areas in your home page title and description and create a page called “Baby Photography” and write small section about your ideas on baby photography and include some of your baby photography images. In some cases you might have a portfolio page for a particular focus area and this also can be used as your focus area optimization page.
3. Category and Tag Titles
An important part of any blog is the categories and tags set on posts. Categories and tags not only help search engines navigate through your website,but also provides an excellent opportunity to increase your search engine traffic. Each tag and category has an archive page, displaying the posts in that particular field. If we can describe the page and optimize the title, we can show the search engines what we are displaying.
Tags bring in “long tail traffic”. A long tail keyword is where a user has entered a broad and unique search terms such as “edenheim wedding pictures”, so we if we had a tag from a particular post called “edenhiem” and wedding somewhere in our title, description or content we would probably have a good chance of being displayed in the search results.
An ideal structure for tags and category titles is as follows:
Category and Tag Descriptions
Generally, you will have a small number of categories compared to tags. For category descriptions I would suggest writing a description for each category. Again, we use the method of using keywords in the description while maintaining its appeal to users. You can set the category description under the posts menu, as shown below. Describe each category in about 2-3 sentences.
For tags, I would suggest creating a generic description where you can insert the tag term into the description. Otherwise, you can navigate to Post Tags in the post menu and set each tags description. An example of the generic description would be,
John Doe’s “insert term” photography. Showcasing the best wedding photography in Cape Town.
In the WordPress SEO plugin the category and tag titles and meta descriptions using the following settings.
4. Post Titles and Meta
For posts the guidelines are not as rigid the other pages, rather have a more descriptive ”pretty” title and use the post excerpt or introductory paragraph as the description.
In the next post, we will discuss writing good content and how to use your optimize your post images. And in future tutorials we will look at making your website super fast, a good layout, linking and social media.
Just a note on these tutorials, SEO doesn’t take a day to get right so as we follow each of these tutorials we will be building towards get better search engine traffic. So take note of your current analytics search portion of traffic as it will begin to measure just how well you are doing. If you do not have analytics set up and would like to get an analytics account please contact me.
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