Since the Penguin update last year, SEO has become less about trying to swindle Google and more about writing useful content your audience cares about. This overview will help you write and structure your WordPress blog posts so they appeal to your customers, and ensure they’re searchable in Google.

With WordPress and Yoast SEO, you don’t need a great deal of SEO knowledge to optimise your blog posts for search engines:

Ideas + regular blogging + well-structured content = a winning strategy.

In a rush, or looking for something in particular? Skip ahead to the section you need:

Blog posts vs website pages

WordPress websites have pages and posts. Your website pages includes your home page, contact page, gallery page, etc. These are our website pages:

Unramble’s website pages as viewed in the WordPress Dashboard.

Generally, your website users will be able to navigate to these pages from your main menu. All going well, they’ll also come across them by searching in Google.

Your posts function much the same as pages, but are grouped together on your posts page (in our case, this page is called ‘Blog’). Like pages, posts are searchable in Google.

While pages form the core structure of your website and will often be relatively static, your posts give you the freedom to explore topics in much more detail.

Importantly, they attract regular traffic to your site for a number of reasons, not least because search engines recognise when you’re posting new content and give your site more prominence in search results.

How to come up with ideas for blog posts

Your audience are out there in the world somewhere, searching for your information and help. But if you’ve never met them before, how can you draw them in to your business?

If you have user personas, focus on these people – your target audience. Brainstorm the different problems and interests they might have.

Once you’ve brainstormed some of their issues and interests, pick out some the key themes or topics you can help them with.

The idea is to find a link between your services or products and the things your audience is interested in or have questions about. In Unramble’s case, our key themes include community, WordPress and content strategy.

Once you have some key themes, it’s time to drill down into specific blog post titles. For example, the thought process for the blog post you’re currently reading went something like:

WordPress as a theme + my audience struggles to keep their blog up to date + I know about writing = Writing WordPress blog posts efficiently.

Simply combine your themes with your audience’s issues or questions and your relevant skills. By repeating this process with your various themes, audience interests and services, you’ll soon find you come up with loads of ideas.

Try thinking laterally about users’ needs too. For example, my new business audience want to know how to write WordPress blog posts – but they may also want to know about the most inspiring co-working locations in Brighton.

Don’t worry if your ideas aren’t fully formed – that’s where keyword research comes in.

Using keyword research to deduce audience search intent

Once you have some ideas, you can help your audience find your posts by including keywords they’re actually searching for.

Going back to the idea: ‘Writing WordPress blog posts efficiently,’ there are some tools I used to form this idea into the post you’re reading now.

One tool gaining popularity is LSI Graph. Type in your idea or target keyword, and LSI Graph comes up with a list of related keywords you can use in your post.

I’m also a big fan of using Google Keyword Planner. Again, this gives you lots of keyword ideas to use in your content.

Using these tools, I decided to focus on the target keyword ‘WordPress blog posts’ as this is something real people are searching right now. This post also includes a range of related keywords. And it still gets across the original idea of efficiently writing blog posts.

Including related keywords gives you a better chance of meeting the search intent of your readers, and therefore increases the likelihood of them finding your post in search.

But aside from being good for SEO, planning your keywords in this way will inspire you anytime you get a bit stuck for what to write.

Writing your WordPress blog posts

Every blog post should start with a title. This is called the header 1 or h1. There should only ever be one h1 per blog post and it’s written in the first box when you add a new post in your Dashboard:

WordPress blog post header 1 box
Your header 1 goes here in this box (only one per post)

The h1 summarises what your post is about and will include the main keyword you’re targeting (aka your target keyword). Your target keyword should also be in the permalink (i.e. the post URL), which is automatically generated when you write your h1.

For this post, after I had decided exactly who I was writing for, what the post was about and the search intent of readers, I settled on: ‘Quick guide to writing WordPress blog posts.’ Don’t get so wrapped up in keywords that you forget to make the title sound interesting!

You’ll also include your target keyword in the introductory paragraph and 5 or 6 times throughout the rest of a 1000-word post.

There’s no need to get carried away repeating the same phrase over and over – that’s just going to annoy readers.

Remember those related keywords you found in LSI Graph or Google Keyword Planner earlier? Now’s the time to pull some out. These are a great source of inspiration when writing, and the phrases Google understands as related to your target keyword. So not only are they great for keeping the ideas flowing, they’ll also strengthen your SEO.

How much you write depends on how much there is to say. As a general rule, if a blog post is worth writing, it’s going to be at least 600-800 words. If it’s really short, you’re probably not covering a topic in enough depth. Try revisiting your keyword research to see if there’s more you could or should be discussing.

Remember to break up your writing with subheadings. You’ll notice I’ve used header 2s for each main idea I’ve written about so far in this post.

You can further break up the text with header 3s and bullet points if needed. In fact, that’s what I’m just about to do…

Intro to Yoast SEO

Having tried out various other SEO plugins, Yoast for me is my absolute favourite. It’s relatively easy to use, it’s not clunky, and it genuinely works.

By this stage you’ve put quite a lot of effort into your blog post. So I’m going to keep this final optimising bit simple.

If you haven’t installed Yoast SEO, go do that now:

  1. In your Dashboard click Plugins > Add New >
  2. Search ‘Yoast’ and click Install Now
  3. In your Dashboard click Plugins > Installed >
  4. Find Yoast SEO and click Activate
  5. Click on Yoast SEO (called ‘SEO’ in your Dashboard sidebar)
  6. Whizz through the configuration wizard

Once Yoast is set up, if all you do is add a title tag and meta description to your post, you’re doing great.

Title tags and meta descriptions are snippets of information about your posts that appear in a Google search. You can (and should) also edit these for all your website pages).

They’re hugely helpful for SEO and increase the likelihood of people clicking through to your site.

These snippets also appear when you or others share your posts on social media. With Yoast, you can even edit your meta data separately for social media in SEO > Social so it’s unique on each of your channels.

Anyway, here’s how to edit it for your search engines:

Title tag

A title tag (called SEO title in Yoast) shouldn’t be too long, otherwise it may be truncated in search results and lose meaning.

Equally, if it’s too short, you won’t be able to make it descriptive enough to encourage people to click through.

While the recommended title tag length used to be around 60 characters, this is no longer strictly true. So how long should it be?

Google will display different title lengths depending on screen size, so the number of pixels used is more important than the number of characters.

There are also other factors at play, including what type of search results Google displays to a particular user and whether results are grouped. Basically, it’s a bit unpredictable how much of your title will show, so there’s no hard and fast rule for correct length.

Your best bet is to use Yoast’s snippet preview as this generates a preview most similar to what will show in search results.

It’s best practice to include your brand name in all your post title tags so we add ‘• Unramble’ to the end of ours. To save adding this in manually each time, you can edit your default SEO title structure in Yoast’s settings.

Your SEO title should also contain your target keyword near the beginning. Aside from this, it’s all about making your post enticing within the suggested space.

With all that in mind, the title tag for this post is:

Writing WordPress blog posts – a quick guide to get you started • Unramble

Meta description

Your meta description is a short summary of your post. It should appeal to your readers, let your readers know what the post is about, and entice them to click through to find out more.

The recommended length for a meta description used to be around 160 characters. This is a good starting point, but again, it’s not that hard and fast. You’re better off using Yoast’s snippet preview as your guide.

It’s best practice to also include your target keyword in your meta description. Aside from this, use the space you have (which isn’t much) to really sell your post:

Yoast snippet preview
Example title tag and meta description written in Yoast snippet preview

Plan, write, post

So there you have it – a quick guide to getting your blog strategy up and running. Really, it’s all in the planning. The more you plan, the more you’ll have to write about.

 

Don’t have the time to take care of this blogging lark yourself? You might like our WordPress website content management service.

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30th May 2017

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