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Welcome back to another “head-spinning” rendition of Google SEO and All That Jazz! (Thanks Jacquelyn for that great description of this series! Even my head spins…). If you haven’t read the first post in this series, please head on over to “Google SEO: A Beginner’s Guide” and start there. 
 
I want to apologize before for not specifying that there are different approaches for WordPress and Blogger!  WordPress makes this easy by giving you plugin options (which is why I mentioned that you should download a SEO Plugin. If you have WordPress, go ahead and do that to be ready for this post!). But if you have Blogger, I will include compatible steps you can take within Blogger to get the same result.
 
Google SEO Example
 

Take a look above at how a post can appear in Google.  My posts are not completely SEO-compatible, but do you see how the post is unique?  (THAT is what Google looks for – uniqueness.)  It has a specific title that includes the site name.  It has a simple permalink.  And, it has a unique meta description.  I will cover authorship in another post, so check back later.  I am going to try to cover five top aspects of Google SEO – areas that plugins really help with!
 

(Before I start, I want to say that I have learned that Google does not use keywords to determine SEO – so there is no reason to overload your post with quality keywords.  If you want to specify one keyword, you can do this within each plugin.   But, I am not going to list them as my “Top Five”.)

 

1.  Titles

Your posts’ titles are super important for good SEO.  I like to format my titles to be “post – site name”.  This gives Google two ways to maximize the post.  If you want to pack your titles with keywords, here is a guide.

WordPress SEO by Yoast:  

Navigate to SEO → Titles & Metas and you’ll see a bunch of tabs for different types of pages on your site. For each post type and taxonomy you can set a called template.  There’s a bunch of variables you can use in the titles and meta description, they’re all listed and explained on the bottom of the settings page.  For posts, I use %%title%%  – %%sitename%%.  When you write each post individually, you can preview the post’s display, and manually change the title and description to get the best SEO-unique combination.
 

All-in-One SEO Pack:

Go to Settings → All in One SEO.  Settings are here for titles and meta descriptions.  Templates are used the same as the Google SEO Plugin – and they allow you to customize them.  I like the template  %%title%% – %%sitename%%.  You can actually format your titles with any title template – but this is the one I like.  When you write each post individually, you can also manually change the title and description to get the best SEO-unique combination.
 

Blogger:

There is not an easy way to change the configuration of post titles in Blogger.  This must be done in the HTML (which isn’t that hard) and instructions can be found here!
 

2.  Meta Descriptions

Meta Descriptions are AWESOME!  Instead of just showing an excerpt of your post when it airs on Google, you can customize those descriptions to show unique descriptions for each post.

 

WordPress SEO by Yoast:  

Navigate to SEO → Titles & Metas and you’ll see a bunch of tabs for different types of pages on your site.  For Meta Description you can set it to %%excerpt%%.  Once this is done, you can optimize individual posts when you write them – by changing the descriptions.  I check my meta descriptions!  Sometimes the excerpt is fine – but more than naught, I decide to manually change these for each post.  When you write each post individually, you can preview the post’s display, and manually change the title and description to get the best SEO-unique combination.
 

All-in-One SEO Pack:

The All-in-One Plugin uses the “automated descriptions”. They use the first sentence of a post to fill the meta description by default. Again, these are just excerpts used as meta descriptions.  Change them manually for each post if you want Google to pick up on them.  You can do this when you write each individual post.
 

Blogger:

When you create a new blog on Blogger, this setting is turned off by default and thus you will be unable to set a meta description for your blog posts. To enable meta description for posts and pages, turn on this feature from your blog’s dashboard. After you enable the meta description, a box will appear in post editor of your Blogger blog allowing you to set meta description for your all posts.  This is in Settings → Search Preferences → Enable Meta Descriptions.  You now can edit meta descriptions when you write individual posts!
 

3.  Images: Titles and Alt. Attributes

I love Googling images – it makes finding some results so much easier!  Your images need a unique name and alternate attributes so they can be found.  To make this easier to understand, pretend someone is pinning your picture to Pinterest.  Your image’s title will automatically populate the Pin Description.  Would you want your image to be described as Image_12345?  I try to rename my images with a “pin-able” name!

 

WordPress SEO by Yoast:

For me, this is a LONG process – but I am working on re-writing image titles and alt descriptions in the plugin add-ons.  For each images, I am manually changing these titles and alt titles to searchable terms – not random numerical nonsense!
 

All-in-One SEO Pack:

Same process as with WordPress SEO Plugin.  It’s a manual change – but worth it!
 

Blogger:

In Blogger Dashboard, select image by click on image on post editor.  In the image option panel either top or bottom of image, click on properties, now small window will open, containing title text and Alt text boxes.  Enter title and Alt text for your images.
 

4.  XML Sitemaps

An XML Sitemap is a XML document which lists all of the URLs on your Blog/Website. This XML document is used by Search Engines to identify and crawl pages on your website.  After you establish a Sitemap, you will need to add the link to Google Webmaster Tools (explanation coming next week!).  This allows Google to catalog all your urls.

 

WordPress SEO by Yoast:

Go to Settings → XML Sitemaps and click the check box.  Clicking this box will give you some options but in most cases you won’t need those. It generates an XML sitemap for all your posts, pages, custom post types and all your taxonomies like categories and tags and (if applicable) other custom taxonomies.  When you publish a new post or page, the XML sitemap is automatically submitted to Google & Bing allowing them to easily (and quickly) find your new content.
 

All-in-One SEO Pack:

Use the XML Sitemap generator and then plugin that sitemap’s url to Google Webmaster Tools (explanation coming next week!).
 

Blogger:

There is no way to do this inside of Blogger yet – but there are great instructions here to use an outside Sitemap source.
 

5.  Permalink Structure

**PLEASE NOTE.  I changed my permalinks arbitrarily in WordPress and it accidentally caused thousands of crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools.  This means that previous links to my blog could not redirect to the actual posts and there were thousands of broken links.  Don’t arbitrarily do this.  If you need to redirect any 404 links, Redirection is a good plugin.

 

WordPress:

Permalinks are changed within WordPress, and just have settings in your Plugins.  Here are ways to change them in WordPress.  Again, be careful!

You’ll find the permalink settings in WordPress under Settings → Permalinks. The default permalink is ?p=<postid>, but I prefer to use either /post-name/ or /category/post-name/.  For the first option, you can change the setting to /%postname%/.  To include the category, you select “Custom Structure” and change the value to /%category%/%postname%/. If you previously had ?p=<postid> as your permalink WordPress will take care of all the redirects for you. This is also true if you change from /%postname%/ to /%category%/%postname%/. If you change from any other permalink structure, consult the article on changing your WordPress permalink structure and the tool that you’ll find within it.
 

Blogger:

While writing your posts, always set the custom permalink for it. You might not want to leave the auto-generated permalink for your posts.  You can set permalink for your posts and pages from sidebar of editor while writing the post.
 

For a complete guide to the  WordPress SEO Plugin – read this tutorial.  For a great guide about the All in One SEO Pack, read this guide.  More questions about optimizing your Blogger Site?  Take a look at Optimize Blogger Blog Well for Search Engines.