The 7 Most Important SEO Factors for Bloggers

Blogging software, such as WordPress, automatically gives your content an advantage when it comes to the “on page” factors that search engines consider important in determining what content to show in search results.

Ranking higher in Google

photo credit: Stuck in Customs via photopin cc

That’s one of the reasons I promote the use of blogging software for every small business site on the planet. Right out of the proverbial box your site stands a better chance of ranking for key terms.

Of course that assumes that are consistently feeding your blog high quality, keyword rich, educational content. (But that’s a story for another day.)

Today I want to focus on the most important SEO factors for bloggers and talk a little about how you can do a few things to modify your blog’s default settings and get even more optimization.


The title is an HTML attribute that does not actually show up on your pages, but is displayed at the top of the browser window. By default, most blogging software makes the title the same as the post title or headline.

This may be one of the most important elements to consider altering. Many times your headline for a post benefits from being catchy or even intriguing to attract readers from Twitter, but that may not make the best title for people searching.

You can change default settings in the code or you can use one of the many SEO plugins designed to give you the flexibility to alter the important the elements I address in this post. I use a plugin from Yoast called WordPress SEO.

With the plugin installed you will see a screen below your post that allows you to change elements such at the title and description.

In most cases I create a much more search engine friendly title, with important search terms, no matter the headline of the post.

SEO factors in blogging

Preview of how this post, with modified settings, might show in search results.


The URL or permalink for each blog post is also something you can alter. The first step is to make sure you are using search friendly URLs. By default WordPress creates database URLs with numbers and such that aren’t search friendly at all. You can create customer URLs by going to settings – permalinks and choosing a custom structure that includes the post name.

Once you do this WordPress will by default create URLs from the headline of your post. You can edit these URLs and in some cases this makes sense. Some blog posts headlines, as I’ve mentioned, don’t make the best URLs, so this is the place to shorten and edit in some keywords for more SEO impact from the blog post URLs – another very important factor.

How to edit URL of blog posts

You can edit the URL in post screen for keywords and length

H1 tag

H tags are used in HTML to show hierarchy for things like heading and subheadings. (They are often used incorrectly by designers for styling as well.) Search engines use these tags as yet another way to make a determination about what’s important on a page so wise use of H tags can help emphasize keywords in the content.

By default your blog post headline is shown in the HTML as an H1 tag. You may also want to style subheadings with H2 or H3 tags (Something that you can easily do with the Visual editor.) Careful use of keywords in these headings and subheading can give your post a boost.


The description is another HTML attribute that does not show up on the page but does show up quite often when your post in featured in search results – it’s the text that describes what the post is about.

If you don’t complete this for your posts the description text will likely be the first few words in the post. This may or may not be a good way to draw someone in to reading your post.

Using the SEO plugin mentioned above I write descriptions that read more like an ad for the post so that someone reading it really wants to dive in and read the entire post.

Adding Alt image tag

You can add a title and alt image description in the Add Media screen


If you use images in your posts, and I believe you should, take the time to complete the title and alternate description fields when you upload an image as search engines can’t see the image so your descriptions in these fields offer another opportunity for keywords related to the post topic.

Also, choose the featured image setting for the image that you want to show when someone retweets or shares your post to Facebook.


Sitemaps are files or pages that as the term suggests map out all the pages on a site. There was a time when these were popular navigation tools but for the most part site maps have become a tool to let search engines easily access content and changes on your site.

The WordPress SEO plugin comes with a sitemap function and there are many others available as well.

Make sure that you also submit your sitemap to the Google and Bing Webmaster Tool Portals.


This last item isn’t an SEO or on page factor directly, but search engines, not to mention humans, hate sites that load slowly. Google has repeatedly implied that slow loading sites are being penalized in their latest updates.

There are many factors that impact site load speed, including theme issues, caching and plugins. Using a caching plugin such a W3Total Cache has become a pretty standard recommendation.

Another factor is hosting. Larger WordPress sites have big databases and when that’s coupled with lots of traffic a host configured for WordPress is a must. Over the years my site started to drag so I switched to Synthesis hosting recently and coupled with the Genesis Theme framework my site is once again lightning fast.

You can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights test to see where you might have issues.

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  • Neil Ferree

    All of the above elements should be taken into consideration when posting a new article on a WP blog. The one thing I would add to this equation is KW density. Many WP Bloggers use Yoast plugin to track this dynamic and many of us use SEO Pressor to confirm the density score to confirm the obvious.

    • ducttape

      I stayed away from that one as there’s so much confusion around it – but when I really want to get serious I use Scribe from Copyblogger

      • Neil Ferree

        Good tip John. I use SEOPressor mostly for its real-time calcs, albeit, in the “old days” and to a certain extent even today, most of my on-page optimization of a WP article is done manually. I try to sync up with the Jetpack stats on the “longtails” people use to find my SEO Blog.

  • Dan Leavitt

    Great post John. I need to forward this to a few of my clients as a friendly reminder. That way they can’t say to me “how much does it really matter?” Social proof can be your best friend! :)

    • ducttape

      So true Dan – send em over to me and I’ll yell at them for you.

  • Barry Welford

    I realize 7 is a kind of magical number but I would have been tempted to add an 8th particularly given Google’s recent Panda and Penguin updates. I believe it is important to create quality links to posts and that includes internal links to relevant posts. The Zamanta plug-in is a very useful way of covering this.

    • ducttape

      I don’t disagree Barry – but that one takes us in another direction and probably warrants its own post. My purpose today was to cover the known and proven offenders.

  • Carrie Chase

    I’ve been confused about some of these points since I read your article on Open Forum. Don’t some of your points in that article (paragraph 5) conflict what you’re saying here and with what Scribe tells us to do?

    • ducttape

      wow Carrie, way to hold a guy accountable :) – actually in the AMEX article I was referring to stuffing of keywords which is overdoing it in unnatural ways. I’m a huge fan of Scribe and as you point out use your keywords in all of these elements and in variations that make sense just doing abuse it.

      • Carrie Chase

        Thanks for clarifying. It’s an overwhelming topic at times.

  • Crazzy Kylex

    Got a question! Will using only H3 tags on the whole post be enough? as H2 tags are very BIG!

  • OBVAVirtualAssistant

    The title and speed has to be bang on
    for blogging. I personally get motivated or captivated when I read a good
    caption and further inspire me to read the article. Once the blog captivates
    the customers it is very necessary that the whole page is visible. Due to speed
    issues I many a times see that the blog has appeared but the images take a long
    time. Thanks John this is really very helpful article. Nothing could have been
    better than this.

  • Lisa CH

    I’ve never loved SEO but I love when people make it so simple thanks for this :)

    • ducttape

      Why thank you Lisa, next thing you know you’ll forward to the dentist :)

  • Andrew Rondeau


    You have covered all the big points. I would also mention:

    1. Make you blog post at least 300 words in length
    2. If your post is a video, use Yoast’s new video SEO plugin
    3. Add your post to one ‘targeted keyword’ category
    4. Bold your targeted keyword phrase


    • ducttape

      Thanks Andrew – yes the list of little points probably never ends!

    • Renee’ Groskreutz

      John, this is a great list. Are you suggesting to bold the so that it becomes an H1?

      • ducttape

        Renee – H1 is a setting, bold is an attribute

  • Renee’ Groskreutz

    This is a great post. The one thing that I am not doing is the sitemap but I guess that I better get on it. This is not the first time that I am reading this. I just have not made the time. Shame on me.

    • ducttape

      Do it this weekend Renee!


    Thanks for this post. Lots to use.

  • Janet Janowiak

    Love the post! These are the exact strategies that I use for blogging
    and Internet visibility. Simple, easy, and basic. It’s great to see my
    SEO strategies confirmed by a top-gun such as yourself!

    • ducttape

      Hey Janet sometimes validation is the most potent form of information!

  • Louise Mandar

    You’ve cleared up the title issue for me! I was always finding my titles – because I structured it around keywords – lacking and not generating enough interest. I was wondering if I could enter a different search engine friendly title via my SEO plugin and write a more reader attractive one in the title field. Thanks!

  • Mike Alder

    Thanks for the tips they’ll help my blog get better views

  • Jason Fierstein

    John, quick question for you: how did you get your blog to mimic the look of your site? And, by the way, your site’s updated look is amazing. I’m just looking for your guidance for a site makeover, and how to get the WP blog to look the same. Thanks.

  • Guest

    services are affordable then I will use SEO services for my

    All factors are good of SEO. But the Speed factor is the best
    in SEO. Without speed SEO work is very tuff.

  • Catalyst Concept LLC

    All factors are good of SEO. But the Speed factor is the best
    in SEO. Without speed SEO work is very tuff.