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How to set up WordPress blog posts for Beginners (On Page SEO)

Its taken years for me to understand how to effectively set up a wordpress blog post.  In fact, I still struggle with setting up my post with the best “on page SEO”.  I do however, have a good handle on how to set up my posts so that they at least have a chance of ranking in google.  After all, “on page SEO” is essentially about optimizing your posts for search engines.

What is SEO (Search Engine Optimization)?

On-page SEO is all about optimizing your blog posts so that they get maximum exposure in search engines like Google.  Where you appear in a search engine (ie. what page and where you “rank”) directly impacts how much search traffic comes to your blog.

Why do you need to “rank” in google? (or other search engines)

You don’t HAVE to rank in Google (or other search engines) to be a successful full-time, part-time or hobby blogger.

You can focus on Pinterest traffic, other Social Media traffic, your Email Subscriber list, etc.

They can all bring you views, traffic, and income.

However, Google ranking (which you can achieve through awesome posts and SEO) allows your blog to gain traffic all day, every day, 24/7 without the need to constantly engage your readers.

A well written and organized blog post will help you rank in google (and other search engines), and increase traffic to your post(s), which in turn increases your ability to make money.

We could all use a little side income, right?!

“Good” SEO Post = Potential Ranking in Google = Increased Traffic = Money

Isn’t Ranking in Google hard?

Getting a blog post to rank in google is hard, especially if you are a new blogger.  But, it can be done.

The most important thing is to set up your blog posts as if ALL of them will rank in Google.  If you make this a practice early on in your blogging journey, you will put yourself on the fast track to success.

I was blogging for two years before I started to focus on SEO.  I still had posts ranking in Google, but almost none of them were ranked on the first page of Google.

Research shows that “75% of Internet users never scroll past the first page of search results”.

The bottom line for On Page SEO

Google ranking is not the end all be all for successful blogging, growing an audience, or making money.

Many bloggers make a great income (or side income) with blog posts that don’t rank well in Google at all.

But, it is an important component to successful blogging.

Take me for example, I had written close to 100 blog posts that didn’t even use Headings (I’ll explain this later).

Now, I know use of headings is super important for On Page SEO.

It took me weeks to go back and add Headings to my posts.  To this day, I still have poorly written posts that will NEVER rank anywhere near the first page of Google, simply because I don’t have headings and the posts are not SEO ready.

Don’t make the mistake I made not paying attention to SEO.  It will cost you a lot of time and potential traffic.

Needless to say, you can go deep into Search Engine Optimization, but I don’t have the knowledge or experience to explain every way to optimize your posts.

Here’s how I set up my WordPress Posts step-by-step with tips and tricks to stay on the “good” side of search engine optimization (SEO).

How to set up WordPress blog posts for Beginners (On Page SEO)

*Disclaimer:  I am sharing what I do that works for me in an effort to help others who don’t have the time or the financial means to pay for a course that DOES teach you the best way to SEO your blog posts from bloggers who generate WAY more traffic and money than I do.  My hope is that you take away something from this post, or are encouraged to take more steps towards learning SEO.*

Starting post now…

Let’s use one of the posts I currently rank for in Google.

I’ll detail how I used SEO to encourage Google to rank this post on the first page, and what I did wrong.

1.Titles and Descriptions (Also called Meta Titles and Meta Descriptions)

The title of this post is: Tarte Cosmetics Custom Kit Info + Review – Build Your Custom Beauty Kit 2020

Good SEO: My title describes what the post is about using key words that I know people will search for (ie Tarte Custom Kit, Tarte Custom Kit Sale, Tarte Custom Kit 2020).

Bad SEO:  This title is too long.  Google likes titles to be 60 characters or less.  This title is way longer than that.

The YOAST SEO Plug-in tells me that my title will be cut off.  Keep your titles short enough to tell your reader (and Google) what the post is about.

I have kept this post title long because it ranks in Google, but normally I wouldn’t have a title this long.  You want the entire title (and description) to fit within the preview.

1.a Descriptions (Meta Descriptions)

Notice that some of the words I used in my description are bolded.  This is because I told YOAST SEO that “Tarte Custom Kit” was my target keyword.  Including your target keyword(s) helps readers and Google identify what the post is about.

You can leave the meta description section empty.  Google will then extract a snippet of your post as the description.   However, its best to create your own description (with target keywords) whenever possible.

A “Keyword” is the main term (or terms) added throughout your blog post in order to improve search engine rankings.  Its generally the main topic of your post.

The YOAST SEO Plug-in is an essential to my new posts.  You can download it for free here. (The premium version does cost per year).

2.Permalinks

The permalink is the web address that your post is going to “live” under.  Once you add a title to your post (and save the draft), a permalink will auto generate.

Good SEO: My permalink is describes the topic of the post.

Bad SEO: My permalink is too long.  Ideally the link will fit nicely without the addition of a lot of “dashes” and “dots”.

Use a shorter version of your title for the permalink.  Something like tarte-custom-kit would have worked well here.  But, be cautious.  DO NOT change your permalink after your post has been published.

This will create a new permanent link to that post, and you will end up with essentially two links for one post.  The original link will create a 404 error.  I messed up trying to change permalinks in the past and it was a pain.  Update or change your Permalinks while the post is a draft!

3.Publish Menu

The Publish menu is a place for you to save drafts, schedule, and share your content automatically (if you choose).  Take advantage of this option, sharing your content increases blog views.

Good SEO: Linking your social media accounts via the Publicize option (for WordPress blogs) allows you to automatically share your content with Facebook, Twitter, and more.

Bad SEO: The only thing to keep in mind for this area is to schedule your content AFTER you are completely done and satisfied with your content.  I have made the mistake of scheduling a post for when I thought I was going to be done editing and it posted to my blog, unfinished.

4.Categories

Categories indicate the topic (or genre) of your blog post.

Good SEO: Attributing your post to a Category is important for user experience.  Your readers should be able to find similar content easily on your blog.  I generally use the “Home” Category and one other category per post.

Bad SEO:  I have this post categorized under “Subscription Boxes” which is a Category I thought I would write more on, but never did.  Be careful using too many categories for a single post.  You don’t want readers to select a different category, only to see the same post.

5.Tags

Tags are the more in depth companion to Categories.  They indicate the individual things or subtopics that the post talks about.

Good SEO: Tags are great to use, if you have content that covers a diverse set of subtopics.

For example, I used four tags for this post.  If I wrote alot of content on mystery bags/mystery boxes, then adding the tag “mystery bag” would be relevant.

Bad SEO: I don’t write enough content on mystery bags, mystery boxes, or on the brand Tarte to justify using these tags.

Of course, this decision is up to you, but you don’t need to overload your blog with tags especially when you have a new blog.

You can always go back and add tags for content that you have written many blog posts on.  Some bloggers don’t use tags at all, so don’t feel pressure to add them if it doesn’t feel right.  Categories will work just fine.

6.Blog Post Introduction

It’s a good practice to introduce your blog post with a sentence or two.  These few sentences should align with your blog post title, and include your target keyword.

Good SEO: A sentence or two that gets your reader’s attention, and includes your target keyword, in this post the target keyword is “tarte custom kit”

Bad SEO: The first sentence of this post doesn’t introduce the topic well.  That’s because this post is time sensitive (the Tarte Custom Kit is a 1 day only sale) so instead of doing a great intro, I opted to provide update information.

This is an exception that I will likely change back to something more fitting.

7.Headings and Subheading

The use of subheadings is very important to your blog post.  Headings actually clue Google into what your blog post is about. (Note: The H1 tag is the title of your post.)

I use H2 and H3 headings to answer common questions a reader might have about the topic.

This has really given me a boost in Google.  If someone was to search “Tarte Cosmetics Custom Kit Dates”, I have a much higher chance of showing up as a result with an H2 or H3 heading answering that question.

Good SEO: The rule of thumb is to separate your text with some sort of Heading (H2, H3, H4) every 300 words or so.

Bad SEO: Writing a lengthy blog post without Headings won’t help search engines learn about your post.

8.In Content Pictures

Adding pictures to your post can help break up text and increase readability.  No one wants to read a long post about a topic without visuals.  Without pictures, charts, or some visual your post will feel like an essay.

Good SEO: Add relevant pictures, graphs, charts, etc. to your post in at least a few places throughout your blog post.

Also be sure to add a title and description to EVERY picture (or other visual).

The description and alt text can be the same thing but ideally the description is what the photo is, and the alt text adds other descriptive words that may be associated with the picture.

Money Tip: Use the “Link To” option to add shopping links if your picture is of a product!

Bad SEO:  This photo has no Alt Text, don’t do this. Including Alt text or picture description increases your visibility in the “images” section of search engines.

Can you find my blog post in the Google Search screenshot below? I’m there! Yay! (hint: second row, right side)

9.Adding a Pinterest-able Image

Pinterest is a great resource for gaining traffic to your blog.  Including a Pinterest-able Image is a great way to encourage your readers to share the content you have worked hard on.

A Pinterest-able pin can be made with sites like Canva or PicMonkey, you can learn more about that here.

Good SEO: Consider adding a share plug-in so that readers can add your content to their favorite platform.  You don’t have to add a specific (and huge) image to the post but a share button goes a long way.

Bad SEO: Not having any way for people to share your content on different platforms.

10.Linking more of your content

Another way to get more blog views is to encourage readers to stay on your blog to read more content.

Good SEO: Simply add links at the end of your blog post with other related content.  You can also use a Plug-in that will automatically related content for you.

Be careful with adding these types of plug-ins though, some can slow down your Sitespeed.

Bad SEO: Don’t publish a post without adding at least one link to one of your other posts.  This may be hard when you first start blogging, but you can always go back and add similar post links as you write more posts.

SEO is not something that any blogger can master in a short period of time.  Search engine algorithms are changing constantly.

As a new blogger SEO can be overwhelming, but start small by implementing these changes to your posts then work your way up to more advanced SEO.

If you want more advice on blogging consider join my Blog Help Newsletter.

I share my blogging posts as well as tips & tricks for new bloggers!

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