Note: I originally wrote these instructions to help a client who was just getting started in blogging.
As I reflect on the many small-business clients I’ve dealt with over the years, I think the difficulty of finding clear, thorough instructions for things as fundamental as posting to your blog is one of the biggest hurdles many people face. In that light, I’ve decided to do semi-regular updates here that will serve as a sort-of training manual for my clients – and anyone else who finds them useful. They’ll all be categorized under Training-The Basics.
These instructions are for a self-hosted WordPress blog using the Thesis theme.
Posting to Your WordPress Blog
Log on to <yourdomain.com/wp-admin> using the log-in and password information provided.
You will be in the Dashboard.
From here, under Posts on the left side, click Add New. (If Posts is collapsed, you may need to click the down arrow.)
ADDING A NEW POST
- Enter the Post Title
The title is essentially the headline. Like newspapers, blogs should use compelling titles to draw readers in and make them want to read more.
Try to use keywords that potential customers might use; this step is key for the blog contributing to your SEO efforts, but it’s more important that the title be interesting.
- Enter the Content
You can use the WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor to format the text, add images, video, audio, and more. If the editor is one line (as shown above) you can expand it to get more options by clicking on the ‘Kitchen Sink’ icon on the far right of the icon display bar.
Note: If you are cutting/pasting the content from Word or another text editor, be sure to paste it into the post using the appropriate icon in the WYSIWYG editor. (The W if using Word, the T if using any other word processing tool.) This is necessary to remove unnecessary formatting that Word (and some other programs) add when you do a copy/paste. DO NOT paste the content directly from Word into the content area.
- Custom Title Tag
Choose from one of the Categories. If you believe that there are major categories missing, you can add them, but try to keep the number of categories to a manageable number. Remember, people might want to search by category, but if there are hundreds or even dozens, that becomes cumbersome.
- Post Tags
Tags are like categories, but can be more specific.
- Custom Title Tag
If you leave this field blank, the Post Title will be used as the Title Tag. If the Post Title does not include any keywords, you may try rewording it here to include one. The Title Tag will appear in the search engine results, as shown below. The Title Tag should be 70 characters or less.
For more in-depth information, see the SEOMoz Knowledge description of Title Tags.
- Meta Description
The meta description MAY be used by search engines to ‘describe’ your post in a search. Length should be ~155 characters or less.
For a more in-depth overview of meta descriptions, see the description from SEOMoz’s Knowledge Center.
WRITING YOUR POSTS
Consider Your Audience
First and foremost, always remember WHO you are writing for. Having a regularly updated blog is helpful for SEO, but getting visitors to your site isn’t the main goal; getting them to convert into customers is.
Always think about your customers and potential customers, about what things they would find useful and/or interesting and what kinds of things would attract their attention. Consider the tone (casual/friendly or very professional?), the readability level (most of the time, the level should be at a high school equivalent for B2C businesses), and whether you’ll use images in your posts.
Proofread, proofread, proofread! Edit, edit, edit!
Misspellings and bad grammar can make you look unprofessional and turn off potential customers before you’ve even had a chance to show them how brilliant you are. Likewise, a reader (particularly a first-time reader) who comes across a post that is confusing or not well-structured will probably never return.
If you are not 100% confident that your writing skills are strong, hire a copywriter or editor. Even if it’s only temporarily to learn what common mistakes you make, you’ll find that it’s well worth the cost to have a professional who can harness your good ideas and turn them into well-written, engaging content.
Titles and meta descriptions
Remember, if a reader finds you through search, they’re going to decide whether to click on your site by what they SEE on the search engine results page. The title is the equivalent of a newspaper headline; be sure it’s relevant to the content, but make it catchy. (See the example on the previous page, which is from a search for Orlando Internet marketing; the hope is that the title – ‘Customers Are Looking For You Online’ – is compelling enough to draw readers in.)
Also, on the Titles, keep in mind that it’s useful from an SEO standpoint to include keywords that potential customers might use. For most writers, this will come naturally, but before publishing always take a minute to look at the Title to be sure it’s as good as it can be. (But as noted previously, it’s more important that the title be interesting than that includes keywords.)
Write a custom meta description for each post. Try to summarize the main point(s), but leave a reader wanting more. (Don’t, however, waste space with things like “read more.” If the description is useful enough, they’ll know to click to get the full article.)
I highly recommend that you NEVER publish your post immediately after writing it.
Instead, you can write the post in WordPress and then press Save Draft, or you can write your posts in Word or another text editor. (Note that this method creates the need to copy/paste using the correct icons from the WYSIWYG editor as mentioned previously.)
My main reason for suggesting this is simple: time. Time is your friend when it comes to writing and editing.
You should write the post, re-read, and edit as necessary. Then, leave the post and come back to it later; that can be a few hours or a few days, but it’s amazing what a difference a little time can make. You’ll be able to spot errors and find better ways to say things if you get a little distance between the act of writing and the editing.
(And if you don’t believe me, read this Copyblogger post called Improve Your Writing Overnight With the Rule of 24-Guaranteed.)