Many of the creative friends I chat with online all say the same thing: “I know I need to be blogging more, but trying to use WordPress makes me want to pull my hair out!” Girrrrrl I know it can be frustrating to deal with programs you don’t fully understand, but let’s just kick that frustration to the curb, shall we? Because I’m here today to show you exactly How to Format a Blog Post in WordPress from start to finish for maximum results.
DON’T split, girlfriend. I promise I will break it down step by clear step so you can master this blogging thing once and for all and finally feel confident enough to start creating the content you’ve been holding in that big beautiful brain of yours for so long.
In fact, I’m going to show you how to do this 2 ways: 1) I’ll write the process out and 2) I’ll screen capture exactly how I format a blog post in WordPress so you can watch it in action!
By the end of this post, you’ll be a champ at:
- Writing and backing up your content (so you’ll never lose a post once it is done!)
- Choosing a keyword for your blog post
- Understanding what the heck a permalink is and why it matters
- How to input your written content and images into your WordPress Post Dashboard
- How to format your content with headers that stand out
- How to quickly optimize your post for SEO (the easy steps, I promise!)
- How to use blog categories and tags… the correct way
- And lastly, how to change your blog post’s featured image!
I know, I know. Sounds like a LOT. It actually goes real quick, especially once you do it a time or two. You’ll be a blog formatting pro in no time!
Let’s do this!
Watch the Video Tutorial on How to Format a Blog Post in WordPress!
Or read the step by step how to below!
My best practice for writing WordPress blog posts
You might find this odd, but I don’t actually write my WordPress blog posts in WordPress.
I learned this lesson the harrrrrd way back in early 2017 when my website got hacked for the first time. It was not a fun experience, but thankfully, my assistant was a BOSS and dealt with it quickly and swiftly.
But even though she was a total hacking lifesaver, she couldn’t save the latest blog post I had published because there wasn’t a backup completed in the time frame of writing that post and the dreaded hack.
I could have re-written the post, but 1) it was really personal and I didn’t feel like going back there emotionally and 2) who wants to re-write a blog post?
Not this gal!
So I changed my ways and now I write ALL of my posts in Google Drive. I save them all in a special blog folder in case of emergency later down the road. (You could also do this in Word and save it to your computer or another cloud-based program!)
I still suggest frequent back-ups, but just in case an emergency happens and you can’t save one of your posts, you’ll always have a backup elsewhere to easily copy and paste it back in.
To keep things easy and organized, I write in Drive just as I would write in WordPress, paragraphs, headings, links and all. That way, when I copy paste it into my WordPress Post Dashboard, all I have to do is highlight those special spots and apply the correct formatting. (I’ll show you how to do that in a minute!)
Related: How to protect your blog from a hacker
Choosing a keyword for your blog post
Every single one of your blog posts needs to have a keyword attached to it.
This is an SEO thing… but an important one.
The keyword clues Google and other search engines into what your blog post is about and helps populate your content into the mix when someone goes to look up whatever you are writing about.
But here’s the thing: Your keyword doesn’t just have to be ONE word. It can be a string of words (called a long tail keyword) and often, long tail keywords perform better than their single word sisters.
For example: This exact blog post’s keyword is, “how to format a blog post.”
If you look closely, you’ll see that keyword in my title, in my permalink, and in the first paragraph of my blog post, as well as in the title and alt text of every image included in the post.
I’ll explain why I do that in just a bit, but this is exactly how Google determines what websites should appear when you search for any given search term!
Best Practice: Long tail keywords are great, but don’t go writing a paragraph here! Think like someone who is actually searching on Google when coming up with your keywords and keep it natural!
*There is an entire strategy behind what keywords perform better than others, but I’ll teach you that another day. For now, I just want to introduce you to the concept in the scope of formatting your blog posts. Let’s not get in over your head just yet, mmkay?!
I blogged for about 2 years without understanding the in-depth strategy of keywords and have done just fine, so seriously, don’t stress about it right this second!
What the heck is a permalink… And should I do something with them?
A permalink is just a fancy word for… a link. Your domain is yourdomain.com. And your permalinks are what point users to specific pages and blog posts within your domain. Example: yourdomain.com/about or yourdomain.com/my-awesome-blog-post.
What you need to know about permalinks in relation to your awesome blog post is the “slug.”
Thankfully not the disgusting bug kind!
The slug of your permalink is what comes after the “/”
So for yourdomain.com/my-awesome-blog-post, “my-awesome-blog-post” is the slug.
And the reason why I’m telling you about it is that it is good SEO practice to edit the slug of your permalink.
In your WordPress Blog Dashboard, you can find your permalink directly under the Title Input Box. To edit, simply click “edit” and a text box will appear to edit only your slug.
Use that keyword we talked about above in your permalink! And put a “-” in between each word, link in “my-awesome-blog-post.”
Best Practice: Shoot for about 3-5 words for your slug so it isn’t too long!
How to input your copy and images into your WordPress blog post
Copying your blog post copy from another platform
If you take my advice on drafting your WordPress content elsewhere, you’ll need to copy paste it into your WordPress Post Dashboard once done.
When you’re ready to do that, simply copy all of your text from Drive (or wherever).
But don’t just simply paste that text right in the WordPress Post Text Editor.
If you do so, you might end up with some really weird formatting issues that will seriously make you pull your hair out.
Instead, do this super duper easy trick to paste your content in the right way:
Right before you go to “paste,” in your WordPress Post Dashboard Tools Panel (it is just under the Title Section and a button that reads “Add Media”), click the icon that looks like a clipboard with a capital T on it (aka “Paste as Text”).
Then paste your text as you normally would.
Putting images into your blog post (the right way)
So you’ve got some GORGE images to go into that awesome blog post. Cool!
Here’s the thing: It isn’t enough to just pop those pretty gals in your post. You need to take 2 tiny extra steps when inputting images into your post to optimize them for SEO.
Yep, that’s right! Your blog post images can be a huge boost for your SEO. And all you have to do is edit two little text blocks.
But first, let’s backtrack. Here’s how to even get an image in your blog post. Juuuuust in case you’re super new at this whole WordPress website thing.
In your Post Dashboard, right under the Title Box and Permalink, you’ll see a little button on the left, “Add Media.”
Click on that. In the pop-up window, you’ll be greeted with any and all images and other media you have loaded into your site. This is your WordPress Media Library.
Right underneath “Insert Media” click on Upload and then follow the prompt to upload your images to your blog post.
Once your images are loaded in, here’s where you’ll do the magic SEO stuff. In the right column of the Insert Media pop-up, I want you to focus on two text boxes: 1) Title and 2) Alt Text.
- In the Title Textbox, I want you to input your blog’s keyword with dashes. Example: my-awesome-blog-post. If you have more than one image, title the next my-awesome-blog-post-2 and so on and so forth.
- In the Alt Text box, I want you to describe your blog post. But the KEY is to also include your keyword (minus the dashes). Example: My awesome blog post is the best blog post there is. The Alt Text is also what happens to populate the description text when someone goes to pin your image to Pinterest.
So if you’re really smart, you’ll also add some keywords that correlate to your post.
But make sure if you have more than one image that you don’t copy and paste the exact same Alt Text description. You’ll want to change them up a little for each image so Google doesn’t rank your images against each other.
For this post, the Alt Text of my first image is: How to Format a Blog Post in WordPress to maximize your SEO and blogging efforts on Megan Martin Creative. Blogger, how to create a blog post, how to optimize your blog post for SEO, creative entrepreneur.
You will find my keyword at the beginning and then some different variations of what people may search for that relates to my post.
*Don’t get too nutty here. Search engines don’t like what they call “keyword stuffing” aka repeating words over and over again in an effort to rank higher. Just keep it cool and use a handful of terms you think make sense!
Once you have edited your title and alt text, click “Insert into post” to insert that image! Go girl!
*Pro Tip: You can upload all of your images at one time and then click on each new image in the Insert Media popup to edit their respective titles and alt text. Once you do it once, it will automatically save the info you input. You can choose to insert just one of them at that time or as many as you want by selecting multiple images. Batch editing your titles and alt text descriptions is a HUGE time saver over uploading images one at a time!
How to format your content with headers
Another good practice for formatting a blog post in WordPress is to break up the text with headers.
This is a paragraph.
This is a header.
To do this, all you need to do is highlight a given portion of your text that you want to make into a header. Once highlighted, in your text toolbar (under that Add Media button), select the drop-down where you currently see “Paragraph.” You’ll see a bunch of different formatting options including your headers.
The style of these headers is determined by the actual coding of your site. Most WordPress templates come pre-designed with headers that work with the look. Let’s not get into changing the styles right now. Just go with what you have!
*Pro Tip: Using your keyword in your headers is a good idea. Another easy SEO boosting tip! That’s why you’ll see some of my headers look like “Keyword: Header Text” if I can naturally fit the keyword in there!
How to quickly optimize your post for SEO
We’ve already dived into some of the quick steps you can take to optimize your post for SEO. Let’s review:
- Choose a keyword for your blog post (can be more than one word!)
- Edit your permalink slug – Use your keyword in dash form (Example: my-awesome-blog-post)
- Edit your Image Titles – Use your keyword in dash form (Example: my-awesome-blog-post, my-awesome-blog-post-2, etc.)
- Edit your Image Alt Text Descriptions – Include your keyword and any other relevant descriptions or keywords (without going overboard!)
- Include Headers in the body of your blog post text and include your keyword
Here are a few more quick things you can (and should!) do to optimize your post for SEO:
- Include your keyword in your blog post title. Some suggest it be at the beginning, but I don’t stress too much over this. Just make sure it is in there!
- Include your keyword in the first paragraph of your blog post. This is important! Even if it feels funny, get it in there one way or another. It may read a little odd, but it is necessary if you really want to rank in search engines for your selected keyword.
- Include your keyword in other places throughout your post. Where natural, use your keyword in other places beyond just the first paragraph.
- Include Inbound Links in your post. Inbound is another way of saying links that direct your user to other posts or pages within your own website. That’s why you see me reference “Related” articles in my posts! Just make sure that your inbound links actually make sense. You don’t want to go confusing your audience 😉 There are times when this doesn’t make sense for me so I don’t always do it!
- Include Outbound Links in your post. Outbound links are links that point to other people’s websites. I always give credit to the photographers who help me create images for my posts, so that is an easy place to pop an outbound link to their site in my blog!
One BIG tip that will help you to optimize your blog post for SEO in WordPress is to install the free Yoast Plugin. Once installed, Yoast will give you a set of prompts at the bottom of your individual WordPress Post Dashboard to help make sure you have done all of the above! Easy peasy!
- Lastly, edit your post Meta Description. The reason why I’m plugging this in here is that I want you to install Yoast to your WordPress blog before you do this for each post. Once installed and activated, you can easily edit your post meta description right in your Post Dashboard where the additional Yoast SEO prompts are given.
Your meta description should be a quick sentence explaining what your post is about that includes your keyword. Yoast will help grade the length of your description as you type. If the bar is orange, you need to lengthen your description. If the bar is green you are GOOD! If the bar turns red, your description is too long. Seriously, go install Yoast now (all the instructions are there!)!
How to use blog categories and tags the correct way!
Before you hit publish, there are just a few more things you need to do. Promise they are easy!
First, you need to choose the category your blog post will go in. Keyword: Category.
I repeat: You need to choose only ONE category.
Choosing more than one category for your blog post is a big fat SEO mistake. Without going into too much detail and making your eyes glaze over, if you choose more than one category for your post to go in, you are, in essence, creating “copies” of your blog post in multiple locations on your website. Let’s just leave it at this is NOT what you want to do for SEO.
Just choose one.
If you chose 100 categories for all your past posts, go fix it now. Make them only live in one category!
Categories are meant to be broad. Example: Marketing. But what if you want to just read posts about Instagram? This is where tagging comes in.
Tagging helps relate your blog posts to each other and creates an index for your blog.
So if you were on my blog and wanted to learn about Instagram, you could use the blog search bar and simply type in Instagram. From there, WordPress would do it’s sorting magic and find posts that relate to Instagram. Tags help ensure the most relevant posts to the search topic appear.
You can assign as many tags as you want to each post, but I would suggest 10 or less.
Tagging isn’t about SEO, but rather words that describe what your post is about for ease of user blog searching and reading, so keep your readers in mind when coming up with your tags!
How to change your blog post’s Featured Image
You’ve made it to the last official step on how to format a blog post in WordPress! (See how I worked that keyword in there? 😉 )
Namely, changing your blog post’s Featured Image.
Ever wonder why your blog post doesn’t populate an image when you go to share it on Facebook or elsewhere? It is because you didn’t select a Featured Image. To do so, on the right-hand side of your Post Dashboard, underneath the Category and Tags sections, you’ll see a “Featured Image” block. Simply click the link to choose your Featured Image for your post and use one of the images you uploaded to go into your post.
Easy! And now all will be right in the social media sharing game. 🙂
*If you do this and you STILL aren’t seeing your Featured Image when you share your post, you may need to debug your site with Facebook. Here is how to do it.
HIP HIP HOORAY!
You just learned how to format a blog post in WordPress for maximum results!
Go forth and post away, friend!
Cheers to good content and growing your biz!
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