A new post, a new opportunity
That has always been my motto when publishing a new post within WordPress. I treat every article as a possible link to success. It will be an ambassador of my business and a true reflection of me and my skills. – James Middleton – Short Fuse Creative.
What we write about in our posts needs to be fresh, compelling and well researched. A well written post will encourage inbound links, likes and web-gossip. Not only should the content be of a high standard, but the format allow for easy digestion.
This tutorial outlines practices for good article writing with WordPress. It is also a guide to the technical aspects of copy and image formatting for improved SEO.
Think keywords & phrases
Before you begin, it is worth doing a little research into the best keywords for your given subject matter. You may find that a unique angle will put your article above the rest. Applying a different word scheme may capitalize on variances in user searches. This will also cast a refreshing light on your post. I use Google’s new Keyword Planner (part of Adwords) to find the best keyword and phrase. I try to allow my keywords to naturally bubble up in my copy as I write.
Never force your keyword or phrase. Spamming will only do your blog harm. Write primarily for the human visitor. SEO considerations should be an after thought and a mere ‘tweak’ before publishing. The following guidelines are set out to encourage a natural SEO-friendly writing style. This will take the emphasis away from SEO and apply your strengths to the content itself.
Let’s start by creating a new post: (menu)->Posts->Add New.
Add a Title to your post. This will be the main article title and heading that will appear on all links and in Google result listings. Make sure it is as concise as possible and contains your targeted keywords.
For most blog posts, ‘Standard’ will suffice. The availability of other formats will depend on your chosen template.
Choose one option from the Categories panel to the right. It is possible to select as many as you like, but from an SEO point of view, this is to be avoided! If your category list is too long, may be you are spreading your subject matter too thinly. If there isn’t an appropriate category for your post, then add one by clicking on the + Add New Category.
Now that we have set up the basics of a new post in WordPress, let’s turn our attention to content.
Important note before continuing: In order to do the following, please locate and click the Show/Hide Kitchen Sink icon on the toolbar above the main copy area. This is the last button in the row and will reveal another row of important tools.
Say it with Headings
Headings provide you with large, bold text. They can be set by selecting a sentence or word and clicking on the Paragraph drop-down option on the toolbar. They are very powerful SEO indicators and you should try and include your keywords or phrases within them. Don’t go overboard with this. Remember, you’re trying to impress the reader and not Google.
All newspapers and magazines employ short and sweet headings to capture your attention. Writing a post should be no different. Sum up your article in as few words as possible, including all important keywords and phrases.
Don’t use Heading 1 anywhere in your post! Your blog automatically uses Heading 1 for the main Title. From an SEO perspective, Heading 1 should only appear once on a every page.
Try and structure your heading in a logical manner. For example:
Title (Heading 1 – don’t add this to the copy area!)
Secondary heading (Heading 2)
Sub heading (Heading 3)
Secondary heading (Heading 2)
Sub heading (Heading 3)
Remember, you’re writing for web-visitors – not for the Rose Theatre! Less of the decoration, keep it to the point and write well. Short sentences are a must for online copy. Remove any unnecessary words.
Make sure you make use of spell-checker. Red underscores will appear beneath erroneous spellings. Right-click to reveal the correct spelling. Read through your copy to ensure it makes sense and hosts good grammar.
Keep your format as simple as possible! Don’t try altering your font colour, unless you really need to. Doing so only complicates the HTML behind your copy. This may have a negative affect on your SEO performance. Use bold, italic and underline to emphasize very important words and phrases and not as decoration.
I like to add at least one image to every post that I create. It introduces a bit of colour and accentuates the theme of the article. If you are stuck for an idea for a photograph, an image doesn’t have to be directly related to your piece. If you are writing on the subject of mathematics, you could include an image of a calculator or abacus. I use the alarmingly named Morguefile.com for all of my images. It’s totally free and they have an enormous gallery or high-res images to download.
Firstly, ensure that your image file is SEO ready before uploading. You can do this by renaming it with your chosen keyword or phrase, i.e. ‘growing-roses-coastal.jpg‘. Always use hyphens to separate each word.
Place your cursor at the point where you want your image to load. Click on the Add Media button above the tool palette. Follow the onscreen instructions.
Removing or modifiying
To remove or modify a placed image, click on it and choose either Edit Image (landscape thumb) or Delete Image (no entry sign).
Alignment options are None, Left, Center and Right. This can be set during the insertion process or afterward by clicking on the image and then the Edit Image icon. I tend to heavily rely on the Right alignment for most images. Right alignment doesn’t interrupt the flow of text too much.
When you are adding an image, you have a choice of showing it as Thumb, Medium or Full Size. Medium is usually fine. If your visitor needs to see the image at full size, all they need to do is click on it to enlarge.
Don’t over do it with your images. One or two will usually work well. If you need many, consider searching for a gallery plugin to host your photographs.
Depending on your chosen template, this will set an image of your choice as the main photograph to be shown as an Excerpt. Either upload a new image or select one from your library of previous uploads.
Proof read before publishing your post. Remember, your reputation is on the line here! You can Save Draft if you need more time. It would be better to come back to your post at a later point than to rush it off the press. You can also Preview your article to get a better idea of how it will look onsite.
I would highly recommend you use Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin. This will give you advice on what you need to change in your article to improve search results. Carefully study it’s findings before publishing. Although you are writing for your visitors, you will need to guide the search engines to the heart of your subject matter.
After publishing, Google will be notified via a ping. Expect up to an hour before you see your post appear within search results. It can be quicker. The more articles you write, the more interest Google will take in your site.