Blogging can be daunting – there is a lot to think about beyond deciding what you are going to write about if you want your blog to be in with a chance of being found in search results.
This blog post provides a guide to optimising blogs on the WordPress platform specifically – although much of the guide can be applied to all blogs when it comes to following best practice for content optimisation.
Introduction to WordPress
WordPress is completely customisable – meaning there is no limit to what type of website or blog can be created! This means all themes will have a different layout, and so keep in mind the dashboard view may vary in appearance slightly to the one shown in this blog post.
The purpose of this blog is to explain how to use the sections present in the majority of WordPress themes that allow you to create and manage content. It will not just cover the basics – such as how to add new content to your blog – but it will also explain how to do so in a way that follows best practice for SEO.
An easy way to check your site is well optimised
Before getting familiar with the whole of WordPress, Browser Media recommend that a plug-in is installed to make it easy to check whether your posts are well optimised for search engines.
The recommended plug-in is called Yoast, and while it has lots of features that are useful for developers, users who are simply uploading content will also find it useful.
Basic benefits of Yoast:
- You can easily change meta titles and descriptions on each post
- You can check how well optimised your post is with a handy ‘traffic light’ grading system
- You can see how your meta titles and descriptions will look in search results
To install Yoast, from the Dashboard navigate to Plug-Ins > Add New and type ‘Yoast’ in the search box.
Click Install to add this to your website. This plug-in is compatible with most versions of WordPress.
Yoast also provides a whole host of other configuration options. It’s best to discuss the advanced configuration options with a developer before changing anything as selecting a single tick box in these settings could result in your site being blocked off from search results completely!
For the purpose of this guide, we are using a basic, default theme. When logging into WordPress for the first time, you will see something very similar to this:
Chances are, you have already had a developer install a theme, so unless you want to change the whole look of your website or blog, we would recommend that the only areas that are edited are Pages, Posts and Media.
Pages vs. Posts in WordPress
When using WordPress for the first time, you will find that you can add content in two ways: pages and posts. There are a few differences between pages and posts, and while both are key components of a WordPress site, neither are mandatory, meaning your site can consist of either all posts, or all pages.
If you are using WordPress as a blog, posts will be the most suitable place to publish your content. This is because posts (unlike pages) are listed in chronological order. You can also add ‘Categories’ to posts to help organise and categorise your content. Today we are looking at the optimisation of posts.
Pages are areas of content that are more commonly used as ‘static pages’ and are not listed in any chronological order in the same way that Posts are. Pages are normally used for creating content that does not decay. An example of this would be an About page. An About page has content that does not get old or outdated, and it stays on your site in a ‘static’ position. Therefore, pages are not as suitable for use as a blog. Pages can also be added in so as to create a menu to help to break up sections of your site and make it easier for users to navigate.
Adding Other Content in WordPress
The media section of WordPress is where you can upload images into a library that can then be used throughout your website, or on individual posts or pages.
Create a new post in WordPress
From the Dashboard view, navigate to Posts > Add New
You will then be presented with a very boring blank template, as shown below:
Two key parts of this page are the Post Title and the Post Content sections. The final layout of your page when you publish your content will depend on the theme installed. Starting from the top, the first editable section is the Post Title. When published, the Post Title can act as the article title (or headline), but also as the first H1 heading tag on the page. Bear this in mind when entering your content so as not to repeat the same content in two H1 tags on the same page.
The next section to complete is the Post Content. In this example, we have added some basic, unformatted text into this area, and then clicked on Save Draft > Preview on the top right of the screen to see how this looks when published.
As you can see, this looks pretty boring if I was to publish it now (the basic theme doesn’t help). Fortunately, formatting a post to make it look better is easy. You can add styling to the content in the same way that you would in a Word document using the options in the toolbar that appear above the Post Content box, and you can also insert images from the Media Library.
There are two ways of styling content – by using the WYSIWYG editor (this is the default view known as visual) or by editing the HTML directly (text view). For most themes, it should be simple enough to make edits to content using the WYSIWYG editor only.
To change normal paragraph text into a header in WYSIWYG (visual) mode, toggle the toolbar and simply highlight the text and select the heading from the drop down menu.
If you’d like to edit in HTML (text) mode, toggle to the text tab on the far right of the top of the content editor box, and mark up the headers as required.
Note: Using the HTML editor to style content will not be necessary for the vast majority of themes!
To add an image to your post, move the cursor to the section you want the image to appear in, and then click on Add Media at the top right of the content editor box.
Click on Save Draft > Preview on the top right of the screen to see how this looks – it should resemble something similar to this:
These are the basics of publishing content, and this part is easy. Optimisation of this post is the next step to help your content be found in search.
Optimising your blog content
This is where the Yoast plug-in really helps out.
Let’s say that this example post is about making instruments out of fruit. To make sure that anyone searching for this information has a good chance of finding this post, we need to look at optimising the following:
- Post title (article heading)
- Page content (including headers)
- Meta title
- Meta description
It’s also a good idea to make sure that the post is properly categorised, and that it is constructed in a way that makes it easy and pleasing for the user to read using formatting options to change headers and fonts, by adding quotes, and media.
To change the URL, simply edit the permalink that appears underneath the post title:
Enter a fabulous post title that will act as the ‘Headline’ for the article. Think about making this something catchy that users will want to click on while navigating the blog.This is not the same title that will be displayed in search results (unless you want it to be the same).
Ensure that your content contains the keywords that you want your post to be found for – this includes using relevant headers. No need to over-think this or go overboard with shoehorning in the exact phrase you think people will be searching for – just keep the content natural and don’t fret over including keywords a certain number of times. For most blogs, you should aim to write at least 300 words, the exception being when using other types of media, such as images, audio or video – in which case word count can be reduced.
Meta title (AKA SEO title) and meta description
If you scroll right to the bottom of the post, you’ll come across the Yoast SEO plug-in.
Here you can enter a meta title and description. The snippet preview shows exactly how the post will look in a search engine results page, and the meta description has a character counter (note that 156 is the maximum, but we’d recommend between 149 – 151 to ensure it fits as some letters are wider in pixels than others, and the last few letters can sometimes end up being truncated because of this).
Once you have completed all of the above, enter the keyword that is most relevant to the post in the focus keyword field, and you will be shown how well optimised the post is for that term.
It’s worth noting that you won’t necessarily score green for ‘focus keyword usage’ all of the time. Don’t worry too much about this, just ensure that the content is relevant to the SEO title, and that you have written an enticing or informative meta description, as this is what users will be shown in search results.
For a more in-depth check of how well optimised the post is, click on the Page Analysis tab.
To optimise images that appear in your post, click on an image, and then on the pencil edit symbol.
Enter a description of the image in both the Alternative Text and Image Title Attribute to help search engines understand what the image shows. Searh engines can only crawl and understand text – not images.
You can also add a caption (or an image source accreditation) if you wish.
Before hitting publish, there are a few other things to consider:
Located in the right-hand column is the categories section.
We’d recommend that you decide on a few general topics that you write about frequently, and use these as categories. Any post published without having a category associated with it will show as ‘Uncategorised’ by default, which can result in navigation issues for users looking for a specific type of blog post.
Under categories, come tags. Tags are fine to be used in a similar way to hashtags – one or two words that sum up what the post is about. Don’t overuse tags. Also, speak to your developer to make sure that they are not being indexed – otherwise you can end up creating lots of duplicate content.
To add links, highlight the text that you want to link from and click on the link symbol in the toolbar. We’d recommend checking the ‘open in a new window’ box, as if this link leaves your blog to go off to another resource, you could lose the visitor.
Video and Audio
You can embed video and audio content by copying the embed code and pasting this into the HTML (Text) editor.
Right at the bottom of the right-hand column, you will find an option to add a featured image. This will be the main image that users see when browsing through the blog home page.
Once you have finished, you’ll have a well optimised, media-rich blog post like this!