DIY SEO: Step 2 – Page Title, Page Description and Keywords

This is the fourth post in our DIY SEO for WordPress series.

You’ve done your keyword research, you’ve got your list of keywords you want to optimize for, and now it’s time to put all that good research to use.

Ready?

When it comes to SEO that you can do for your site, the page title, page description and the keywords in your keyword META tag are extremely important. But let’s clear up a point of potential confusion before we start.

Your page title is NOT what you think it is. It’s not the title of your page or post that you enter in the box called “Title” when you’re writing a page or post. Well, ok, that’s a page title to you, yes, but the search engines see that title as merely a header. To the search engines, your page title is the title contained in the <title> tag in your code. (Click the image to see an example.)

If you click (in FireFox) View then Page Source, or (in Internet Explorer) View then Source, somewhere near the top you’ll see the title tag:
<title>The Page Title</title>

The page description and the keywords are contained in META tags, also in your code:
<meta name="description" content="This is the page description. Make sure to utilize your keywords." />
<meta name="keywords" content="this, is, where, you, put, your, keywords, and, keyword phrases, all, separated, by, commas" />

WordPress configures these for you automatically, but maybe not in the most optimized fashion, depending on your site and your content. To override what WordPress does, I recommend a handy plugin called All In One SEO.

Helping All In One SEO Help You

Immediately upon installation, this plugin is ready to go. Its defaults are based on current SEO best practices and are updated frequently through plugin upgrades. That’s both good news and potentially bad news for you, because the defaults are dependent upon what you enter as titles, categories and tags. So the good news is, if you’re already in the habit of making sure your keywords are in your post and page titles, and you’re using your keywords as categories and tags, you’re good to go. Just install this baby, activate it, and continue blogging. The bad news is, if you’re not doing these things, the defaults aren’t going to help you as much as they could, so you’re going to have to do some overriding.

Titles
This is where you’ll want to do the bulk of your overriding, as this is the single most SEO-important element on your page…period. This is also where you’ll feel the greatest conflict between what’s good for your readers and what’s good for the search engines. By giving you access to override the META title for your page, this plugin gives you a way to cater to both:

  • Continue to use your eye-popping, attention-getting, smarty-pants post titles. They’re for people and people like when you’re interesting. Cater to them when you write your post titles and continue to grab their attention in creative ways.
  • Override the META title the plugin generates from the title you’ve given and load it with your most effective keywords relative to the content of your post. You don’t have to work so hard to be interesting and attention getting here, at least not in the same way you do for human readers. Search engines are much more Maxwell Smart-like; they want “just the facts, ma’am. Just the facts.”

Page Description
When your pages show up in search engine results, the page description is the part that shows below the clickable link to your page (aka the META page title) in the results list. You want your keywords in there, yes, but you also want it to be descriptive of what your page is about in an enticing way that will encourage people to click through to read it. This is the “commercial” for your page. Make it count.

Keywords
Here is where you can help this plugin do its job more effectively: start using your keywords as your tags on your posts. Do this, and you won’t have to override anything here.

Once the plugin is installed, you’ll see a new section on the post and page edit screens, right below the categories section, aptly named “All In One SEO Pack“. Here’s what it looks like:

Site-wide settings can be found by clicking Settings -> All In One SEO Pack from your WordPress Dashboard. Fill in the Page Title, Page Description and Keywords with your WHOLE site in mind, here. Leave the default settings for the rest of the options you find. Don’t forget to save your changes!

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