This post is going to discuss how to write, format, and optimize a blog post. The tutorial is directly for WordPress users, but can be applied to any blogging platform.
Here’s the break down (the first two are for WordPress newbies, so if you’re already familiar with WordPress skip to number three).
- How to add a new WordPress post
- Adjusting screen options
- Write a first-rate title
- Have captivating content
- What to do before you publish your blog
- Publishing your blog post
Add a new WordPress post
Once you are logged in to your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Posts – Add New. This brings you to the screen commonly known as the post editor or edit post screen. Before writing your first WordPress post, adjust your screen options.
Adjust Screen Options
To adjust the settings for what type of boxes you see on the edit post screen, head to the upper right corner and click Screen Options. This will display a drop down box for you to select the elements you want to see on the page. Once this is set you won’t have to do this on future posts, unless you change your mind on what you would like to see.
Write a first-rate title
To start your post, write a relevant, yet enticing title for your blog post. The title should give your readers a good idea of what the blog post is about and it should also prompt them to read further. Below are formats for successful blog titles.
4 basic formats of blog titles are:
- How to and something extra
- A number list
- How to do something
- How I did something and what it is doing for me
Examples of these types of blog titles are: How to start a blog and do it the right way, 5 Reasons you should start a blog, How I started my blog the right way, and How I started my blog and why this method is getting me a lot of traffic.
Adjust the Permalink
Once you write the title, a permalink will show up beneath the title. A permalink is the web address to this specific blog post. You can adjust how your permalink defaults by adjusting your reading settings. I have my default set to the post title. However, I always edit the title to make the slug a little shorter. The slug is the text after your domain URL.
For example, the title of one of our blog posts is How to Start a Blog the Right Way, the permalink automatically showed up as: yourdomain.com/how-to-start-a-blog-the-right-way. The bold part is the slug. In my opinion, this URL is too long, so shortened it to “how-to-start-a-blog”.
If I wrote this post now (2018) I would probably change the permalink to “start-a-blog”
Always make sure to uses dashes in the title. Dashes represent spaces in code language, so make sure to use them if your slug has more than one word. No one is going to search for howtostartablogtherightway.
Follow these ideas and you’ll have great permalinks every time.
Write Captivating Content
Once you have a title and permalink set up it is time to start writing! Content is the main purpose of a blog, so it is important to strut your stuff well. When writing content, consider including these elements:
Introduce the subject
There are several ways to introduce the subject. Some bloggers use a tagline or two at beginning of a post to indicate the exciting parts of the blog. Other’s use a story to introduce the topic. The point of an introduction is to capture your reader’s attention and convince them to read on.
Another suggestion I have for you is put your best content at the very beginning. I have an analogy for this. Devin and I like to eat good food (who doesn’t?). We used to save the very best food item on our plates for last, to savor the good taste. We realized though, that by the time we get to the bottom of our plate, we’re full and aren’t able to fully enjoy the best part of the meal. We switched up how we eat dinner now and eat the very best course first, so we can fully enjoy it.
You can do the same thing with your blog post. If you are talking about a recipe, talk about how delicious it is in the beginning, and then talk about how to make it. If you are teaching photographers how to edit photos, show them the amazing edited picture first and discuss why the edited picture stands out more than the unedited picture. Which brings me to the next subject for captivating content.
Pictures really enhance great written content. To add a picture to your blog, click the button that says Add Media. From there you can upload a file or chose a file already uploaded to your blog. Add a title and an alt text to your image. What is an alt text? An alt text is short for alternative text. An alt text describes what the image is about. This text will show up if the image cannot display. Having an alt text also allows image search engines to know what the picture is about.
Make it readable and easy to scan
Pictures aren’t the only way to make your blog posts look visually pleasing. Other ways are to break up the text in smaller paragraphs, and to use headings, bullet points, and quote boxes.
Heading Tags enhance design and improve SEO
Headings are used to structure the content of a blog. Headings are just like outlines, the kind you learned all about in High School. To change text to a heading, highlight the text and then click the drop down arrow from paragraph and select the type of heading you want to use. H1 is typically used for the title of you blog post. H2 is the next most important item followed by H3 and so forth. In short, heading tags should be used when you want to emphasize importance and structure flow.
Bullet points, numbered lists, and quote boxes can all be achieved by highlighting the text and selecting the related icons from the post tool bar.
Throughout your post, and especially at the ending of your post, make sure you are engaging your readers.
Link to related posts on your blog to keep readers reading and exploring your blog.
End your post by issuing a call to action. Some ideas are: encourage readers to do something related to the blog post and then report back on social media, ask readers a question to answer in your comment section, encourage them to share the post on social media, and/or issue a challenge.
You’ve probably noticed that I usually ask a question at the end of my posts. I’ve also activated the sharing plugin associated with Jetpack to include icons that will make it easier for our readers to share the blog post on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and email.
Before you publish
Once you are done writing the blog post there are a few more things to do before hitting publish.
Set Featured image
If your theme uses featured images, make sure to set a featured image. Our featured image shows up as a thumbnail next to a post excerpt on our blog roll. If you don’t choose a featured image, one will be selected randomly.
Review your posts
Proofread your post for clarity, and for spelling and grammar errors. In addition to proof reading the post myself, I also like to have Devin read through it before I publish it. Sometimes his eye catches things I miss. I also use the Spelling and Grammar feature from Jetpack.
If you’ve included links, make sure they work and go to the correct page.
Assign categories and tags
Categories and tags can be powerful tools for your blog. They help you keep things organized and they help readers navigate around your blog.
Categories help organize your blog into different sections. For example, if you have a cooking blog you could create the categories: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Desert. Then, whenever you write a blog post about a breakfast recipe, you would assign the breakfast category to the post.
Categories can even be set to appear as pages on your blog. Read our post on pages that teaches how to set up categories as pages.
Tags can be used as keywords to describe the content in your post. Keeping with our breakfast post example, if the post was about chocolate waffles with caramel syrup, you would tag the post with: waffles, chocolate, caramel, syrup. Then, when a reader is viewing your tags they can click an ingredient and see all recipes with that particular ingredient. Make sense?
BONUS: check out my extensive guide to using Categories and Tags
Adjust SEO Settings
If you have a Genesis theme or you have the Yoast SEO plug-in, you will want to adjust the SEO settings for your post. The most important elements to adjust are the Custom Document Title and the Custom Post Meta Description.
The document title is what shows up as the blue link in google search results and is also the text that shows up in the browser tab. If your blog has been approved for rich pins on Pinterest it is also the title that appears there.
Document Meta Description
This description is the text that shows up underneath the title in search engines result. Most search engines only include two lines of text. Also, the keywords used in the search will be bold in the description. In a rich pin, this description shows up under the pinned image. When writing your document meta descriptions make sure to write a short yet descriptive sentence about the blog post.
Publish your blog post
Now that your post is all set up, the last thing to do is publish your post. In the box on the top right corner of your Edit Post page you can either hit publish and the post will go live right away, or you can schedule a specific time for it to go live on your blog.
Good luck writing your WordPress blog post. Leave a link to your very first post on your blog, we’d love to read it and I’m sure others will too!
Hey Kristie (and others reading),
I only just found your blog and some fantastic info for us beginners, Thank you! Just posted my first post a few days back, kinda wish i’d seen this blog first but thought i’d post a link here anyway see what people think.
Kristie Hill says
It looks great Matt, keep it up!
[email protected] Interior Frugalista says
I’m using the Blogger platform but still found this post very helpful as I can apply a lot of these tips using that format. Thanks!
Kristie Hill says
Yes, the same techniques can apply to every platform. Glad you found it useful Marie!
Thanks for the great info…I still have much to learn but tutorials like this make it so much easier!
Kristie Hill says
This is actually one of my favorite posts. I even gp back and read it every know and them to make sure I’m formatting my posts well.
Deonna Wade says
Ok just read this after you switched me over and am ready to write my first post. It is kinda complicated but I already LOVE it 🙂
Kristie Hill says
You’ll get the hang of it! Watch your video too, the section where I talk about writing posts. Can’t wait to see your posts.
This is very helpful info. Random question about tags and categories. I’m doing a Blogger to WP transition and I have hundreds of posts that need to be categorized and tagged. Is there a way to do them in groups or is it a one by one painstaking approach? Once you pick a Category name are you stuck with it or can you change it later if you find a more SEO-worthy choice?
Mary St. Dennis says
I just started my blog. It’s about gardening but I always include a recipe. When I make the title I can only include one title. (I’m assuming) So only the gardening OR the recipe will be advertized. Is there a different way to do this or is this just a bad Idea?
Kristie Hill says
Hi Mary! Congratulations on your new gardening blog! You can only have 1 title, but heading tags (example H1 H2 H3) will help you with different subtitles which help increase SEO. So, say you are talking about Peas. The main title could be “All about Peas” and then within your post you could use Heading 2 for “How to Grow Peas” and another Heading 2 for “Recipe for Pea Soup”
To learn how to turn text into a heading, scroll up in this post to the section title Headings.
I hope that helps! Good luck blogging!