Is Your Back-End Killing Your SEO?

You spend time and effort creating high-quality content for your website. At least part of your goal is probably to improve your organic search results and SEO. But there are some pieces of the back-end of your website itself that could be killing your SEO efforts.

You can put a lot of effort into choosing the best topics for your blog and honing the right keywords and key-phrases to feature your content. And realistically, approximately 90% of modern SEO is just about writing well. But that other 10% can improve the return on that investment. And that has to do with your back-end (I mean your content management system, not your rear).

Particularly if you are using a robust back-end software like WordPress, there is no reason not to make the most of it to fix your back-end search engine optimization. (I’ll be referencing WordPress because it is one of the most common back-end softwares, but most have equivalent tools if you know where to look.) Web developers have been making it easier to manage your SEO. Here are some things to check before you click “Publish”.

Cultivate Your Keyword Phrase

It is worth taking a moment to emphasize the importance of a well-made keyword phrase. Novice SEO writers focus on the core keyword every time they write on the topic. However, using a word-for-word unique keyword phrase in your title, headings, and text will improve your search engine optimization and keep your blogs and white pages from competing with your core practice area pages.

Many WordPress plug-ins, including Yoast, can help you make the most of your keyword phrase. By entering your keyword into the appropriate fields you can see how well your post will rate for it. You may also get tips on how to improve your score.

Make the Most of Your URL Slug

One of the most common missed opportunities I see while writing for other lawyers and small business owners is the URL. Particularly on your cornerstone pages, like your attorney biography page or your practice area pages, your URL slug should highlight the core keyword of your page. Your bio page should be named after you because that’s what the page is all about.

Having a keyword focused URL tells the search engines in no uncertain terms what your page is about. The slug (the part after the last slash) should feature the keyword so users know where they are and search engines find your page more easily.

In WordPress, you can change your URL by clicking on the “Edit” button next to the Permalink at the top of the page.

Talk to Search Engines in your Browser Titles

SEO used to be all about talking the way computers listened. Thankfully, the search engine algorithms used by Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other large companies have improved. Writers no longer have to load their content with repetitive keywords just to get the browsers’ attention.

But the one place where you still want to talk to computers instead of people is in your browser title. Even more than the URL, having your exact key phrase in your browser title will tell search engines what to boost, and will push you up the list of search results.

Usually, modern back-end software will automatically turn your post title into your browser title. Sometimes, that is a good thing. But if your keyword is buried at the end of a lengthy title, Google isn’t going to find it. You only have a few dozen characters to catch search engines’ attention. So rewrite your browser title to put your keyword phrase front and center.

Search engine optimization plug-ins, like Yoast or Jetpack, will allow you to edit your browser title to speak directly to search engines.

Pay Attention To Your Meta Data

Meta-data is not necessarily in your written content. Instead, it is a snippet that search engines “think” reflects what the reader is looking for in his or her search. It is displayed below the Browser Title in a list of search results.

It is also editable. Take the 5 extra minutes to write a clear, concise, and interesting summary of your post that contains your unique keyword phrase and put that in your meta data field. This will improve the chances that search engines pull your desired text and give your readers the teasers they need so they know to click on your post instead of scrolling by.

The same search engine optimization plug ins discussed above will most often have a place where you can edit your metadata. They may also give you guidance on how long, or how strong, your summary is.

After you have stressed and strained over writing high-quality web content, the last thing you want is for that blog post, white page, or web page to fall into obscurity because of some bad back-end choices. Take the extra time to correct your back-end SEO. It will be worth the effort.

Lisa Schmidt is a writer for Legal Linguist in Ferndale, Michigan. If you need help creating online content for your law firm or small business, contact Legal Linguist to schedule a meeting.

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