You’ve got your website and you’ve installed WordPress ready for blogging about your products, services or passion area. But are you ready to get the most out of this platform?
Do you have a plan, a strategy? Are you aware of the pitfalls that could jeopardise your efforts? Well, we’re here to help – this post is designed to help you understand how to get the best possible start.
1. Post Fundamentals
Let’s start with the basics, WordPress has ‘posts’ and ‘pages’ – in this exercise we are going to concentrate on ‘posts’- this is your blog. Posts are individual entries listed on your blogs homepage.
Navigate to WordPress Posts from the Dashboard
When you are logged in to your Dashboard you can find your way to posts as illustrated above. To create a post, you simply click on ‘Posts’ > then ‘Add New’ – you will then be presented with a blank page prompting you to add a title and content.
Now let’s look at the best practices for writing a WordPress blog.
Each post requires a title (what your post is about), choose your title with care, perhaps with SEO in mind and make sure it’s relevant to the content you are going to add to the post. TIP: Write your content outside of the WordPress editor first, use a text editor or Microsoft Word.
Once you’ve added your content to the post you can save it in draft form. After you have saved the draft post you can view it in a browser by clicking on the ‘View Post’ feature at the top of the posts Edit display. You can also preview the post by hovering your mouse over the Title of a post.
Before you make your post live you need to add taxonomy. WordPress has two key taxonomy features: Categories and Tags.
2. Add Categories (Compulsory Taxonomy)
When you are viewing your posts in the WordPress editor you will see ‘Categories’ panel on the right-hand side. You can also navigate to the Categories from the left-hand side main menu under the title ‘Posts’.
Categories allow the classification of your posts within WordPress. Think of the categories as contents of a book. If you wish to do so, you can categorise a post in more than one category. Each Category may be assigned to a Parent so that you may set up a hierarchy within the category structure. This is all about organizing your content. If you don’t use categories you will lessen your engagement and traffic opportunities, potentially you could lose visitors to your blog and experience big drop-offs.
The WordPress Category Panel (Taxonomy)
As an example – if you are a car manufacturer a hierarchy might be Cars > New Cars > Make or Model. When creating categories, it is important to recognise that each category name must be unique, regardless of hierarchy.
IMPORTANT: You must categorise your posts.
3. Add Tags (Optional Taxonomy)
When you are viewing your posts in the WordPress editor you will see the ‘Tags’ panel on the right hand side under the Category panel. You can also navigate to the Tags from the left-hand side main menu under the title ‘Posts’.
So, what are Tags and how should you use them? Tags are smaller in scope than Categories and should generally be used to focus on specifics of a category. Think of Tags as keywords used for topics discussed in a post (the detail). Tags make it easier for users to find your content.
The WordPress Tags Panel (Optional Taxonomy)
As an example – if you are a travel agent blogging about your holiday products and services, your categories might be Holidays, Cruises, Tours, Fly-Drive etc. If your blog post is about a cruise in the North of Norway then you would categorise your post like this: Holidays (parent) > Cruises – you might then consider using Tags for the post itself, as a suggestion you could use ‘northern lights’ or perhaps the ports the cruise stops at, Bergen, Stavanger etc. You could also use specifics like ‘Fjord’ in your tags, this all depends upon the content.
IMPORTANT: Do not confuse Tags as an SEO short-cut – if your categories are set up well then, the nature of tags can work to your advantage.
The use of tags is completely optional.
4. Avoid Duplicate Indexing
Google and other search engines can index not only your post but a copy of the post that has been indexed via a Category or Tag. In general, duplicate content is not good for your SEO – the initial set-up of your WordPress preferences requires careful management to avoid duplicate indexing.
In a recent exercise, we discovered problematic duplicate indexing on a client’s WP blog and investigated the cause and its impact on their SEO. Category and Tag indexed pages flagged as duplicates via third party software, we then set about correcting the problem by managing the Noindex Settings with a newly installed plug-in called All-in-One-SEO (there are other SEO management plug-ins available but this is our weapon of choice).
We also applied the Noindex to Categories and Date Archives.
All-in-One-SEO Noindex Panel
Blog information is generally time sensitive, search engines tend to index posts quickly when they are published. Before you publish your post make sure you’ve implemented optimisation and got the basics in place.
In most cases indexing problems or search problems occur when the fundamentals haven’t been addressed. Bad or no optimization is a route cause to many posts that don’t get found. When a search engine such as Google visits your post, it does the following: index the content (text and images) and read the meta data in the code of the page. Meta data such as Title & Descriptions are key ingredients in influencing the position of your post in SERPS (Search Engine Results Pages), but they are NOT the only factor.
All in One SEO: Title, Description & Keyword Panel
Titles and Descriptions remain core basics in SEO management, get these right and your already in a good place, get them wrong or ignore their importance and your already back tracking. For a greater chance of success your Title and Description of your post needs to adhere to the following guidelines:
Make sure your Title and Description accurately reflects the content of your post.
Avoid long Titles & Descriptions (use approx. 55 to 60 characters for Titles and a maximum of 160 characters for Descriptions).
Do not repeat keywords in Titles or Descriptions eg. ‘Cruise Holidays, Holidays with Cruises, Cruising’.
Blogs generally provide a mechanism to enable indexing when a post is published however you might want to give the indexing bots a little nudge with free services such as Ping-o-Matic. When you’re ready to list your post, follow the instructions on the homepage and let the search spiders do the rest.