So you wrote a nice post blog, have good images and want to post it. Seems like the hard part is done, you copy and paste it on your blog post editor, publish it and it looks great. However, if you want your blog post to be found by search engines, you need to do more, aka SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
I understand not everyone is tech-savvy and that’s why I’m explaining here as simple as possible how to post and publish an optimized blog post. Even your grandma would understand it, I promise!
Once you learn the basic structure and how search engines and bots work, it’ll be easier to do it correctly.
Choose the blog post subject and do keywords research. (H2)
Keywords could be one or more words that are the main topic of the post. In this case, my keywords were “Optimize Blog Post” because that’s exactly what someone would type in Google when looking to learn how to optimize their blog post. However, the specific your topic is, the better. According to SEO experts, my blog post wouldn’t be the best idea because I'm talking about many different things here such as keywords, images, subheadings, etc. So ideally, I should write a separate blog post about each one of those topics but, I’m doing this mostly for my clients and that's why I put it together.
I know website optimization can be overwhelming so it’s better to cover the basics of it and doing it than nothing.
How do you know which are your keywords? (H3)
If you’re not an SEO expert, the easiest way to do it is looking it up in Google. Type in the search bar what people would enter to find your blog post. While you start typing Google will show you what are the words and phrases people use the most.
Then, look at the articles and pages Google is showing you on the first page to know what you need to compete to.
You can also use Google Ads Keyword Planner (it’s free) to know how many monthly searches a keyword has and what are other related keywords.
So here I found out my keyword “optimized blog post” doesn’t have many online searches so I compared similar ones.
And now I organized them by Average Monthly Searches. A keyword with 10-100 is low and one with 100k-1M is too high. 100-1K and 1K-10K are good numbers to start with.
Now I’m changing my keyword for SEO Blog Posts =)
Structure your content. (H2)
Throwing out there 2000 words in three paragraphs wouldn’t help your readers nor search engines. Your content should be easy to read to humans and bots. Be creative. Use bullet points, create lists, quoted text, etc. The best way to organize your text is with subheadings, but…
What are subheadings? (H3)
Subheadings are subtitles that help you organize and structure your content throughout the post. They are important because they’ll make your post easy to read and will help bots to see what you're talking about in your post and how the content is organized.
There is something you need to know. Bots don’t see blog posts (and any web page) the way humans do. They see a long list of codes like this one:
That’s what exactly optimized means. Making it not only easy for bots to read it but good for them to show it as a related result on the first page to someone’s query.
How should you use subheadings? (H4)
I’m sure you have seen already in your blog post editor the options H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, and H6. I use WordPress and this is how it looks like in the blocks editor:
And this is in Thrive Architect editor:
As you can see I’m adding in this post which subheading I’m using as a guide.
Subheading order: (H5)
This image is from a blog post from Yoast SEO site that explains in-depth how to use them, but here are the basics:
- H1 should be used only once and that’s the title of the page or post.
- Use the rest in order: H2 should be for subtitles and subjects opening. Let’s say your blog post is about 5 steps of how to get something done. Step number 1 should be H2, and if you have subjections use H3, H4, etc in order.
- Then go back to use H2 for Step number 2 when listing the content.
You can also use them by importance. Use H2 for the most important idea and H6 for the least important one.
Don’t mix them up. Don’t use H6 then H3, and then H6 again. This will confuse bots about how your content is organized and how you’re presenting it to your readers.
You don’t need to use them all 6. You can have an optimized and organized blog post using H2, H3, and H4.
How long should your post be? (H2)
There is not an exact number of words a blog post should have to rank well in search results. However, it is a fact that search engines prefer long posts over short ones. SEO experts suggest that your blog post should have at least 1000 words. Less than 1000 is a waste of time, and more than 3000 could be too much.
The best way to know how long your post should be is by looking at what Google is showing up right now as a result when you type the keyword related to your upcoming blog post. Open the articles on the first page and see how long they are. That’s what you are competing to.
Blog post paragraphs and sentences: (H3)
Breaking down your content in paragraphs would make it easier to read. SEO experts recommend to write paragraphs up to 7 or 8 sentences and each sentence with not more than 20 words. If you end up with 4 or 5 paragraphs together, try to add a subheading in the middle to bring structure and re-organize your ideas.
Other things to keep in mind about your blog post copy are: (H4)
- Use connector and transition words.
- Avoid difficult words.
- Check out spelling.
- Read it out loud before you publish it.
- After writing your content, close your draft and wait at least 2 hours to review it before publish it. It’ll help you to see it with fresh eyes.
Add related links. (H2)
Search engines can see if your article has been added as link in other sites and take it as a good sign to show up your blog post. You can do the same and add ONLY RELATED LINKS in your blog post.
If you're linking an external website, try to do it once and at the end of your post. When you send your readers to another page, they might not come back to you so try to keep them in your page as long as possible.
If you have enough blog posts, try to link at least one of them (again, only if the content is related) to you new blog post. This is called internal links and search engines pay attention to it too.
IMPORTANT: When you link another article or page in your blog post, ALWAYS set it up to open it in a new window. This way, your visitors will stay in your site and you increase the chances of they coming back to you, which should be your ultimate goal.
Here is how you do it in the classic WordPress editor:
NOTE: All website platforms have the "Open in New Tab" option, so please use it.
Add images to your blog post. (H2)
Finding the perfect images for your blog post could take you some time but once you have them, they MUST be optimized if you want to appear in search results. This is SO IMPORTANT. More important than you think! Why?
Remember I showed you above how the code bots read looks like?
The same happens with images. Bots don’t see images. They read the file information such as image name, Alt text, description, image size, pixels, weight, and file type, and according to all that image information, bots decide whether your images are relevant to a search query and optimized to be shown in search results.
Most bloggers aren’t aware of this. They have great content with huge and heavy images and search engines punish posts with big pictures because they take too long to load and reduce significantly your site speed.
I’ll explain here how to optimize your blog post images and photos step by step. (H3)
1. Image name: (h4)
This is the file name. Never upload pictures with file names such as “098742627483.jpg” or “Screenshot-2019-12-10.png”. Take the time to give the image a proper name. This is so easy to do on your computer. Just need to right-click the file and click on “rename”.
Give the file a name that corresponds to the picture, or even better, name it with the keywords of your blog post.
Have you ever searched an image in Google and when you click on the one you like, it takes you to a blog post or article? This is because the name of the file is optimized and matches your search query.
Always give files a proper name. It’ll give you more exposure and you’ll be more likely to show up in related search results.
2. Image Size and Weight. (h4)
This was something that took me a while to understand because I used to think that only big heavy images would look good. But images sizes and weight work differently depending if you need them for screen or printing. Since this is about blogging, the biggest screen size someone would likely use to see your post is a 20+ inches desktop screen. However, remember that most people use their phones so you don’t need an image cinema size for your post.
Try to keep your image under 300 KB. Smartphones now have great camera resolution and take amazing photos but they are usually over 3 MB each. You CANNOT include an image that big in your blog post. Believe me, I’ve seen posts with several pictures, each one around 8 MB. That’s way too much.
How do you know the size of an image? Phones and computers always give you the “Image details” of the “info" option where you can see that information. Now you just need to re-size that file and optimize it.
You have several options to resize an image: (H5)
Let’s start with the basic one. I use a mac and image preview does that easily.
- Open your image with Preview
- Click on Tools and then on Adjust Size. A new pop-up window will open.
- Here you’ll see the actual size of the image.
- Be sure the Scale Proportionally mark is checked.
- Now change the width size. I usually change it between 500 and 700 pixels width.
- Keep resolution at 72. If the resolution number is higher than 72, change it to 72 which is the resolution for screens.
- When you change the width, the height will change automatically proportional to the new measurement.
- Once you type a new width, it’ll show on the bottom “Calculating size”. Wait a couple of seconds and you’ll see the new image size in KB. Remember to keep them under 300 KB.
- Click ok once you’re done and now your image has a new size and weight.
NOTE: This is the easiest way to do it and once you reduce the size of an image with this method you cannot make it bigger. What I do to not lose the original big image is duplicate it before changing the size, in the case is too small or I need to change it again, and always work on the duplicated new file.
For more advanced people, Photoshop is the best program to resize images due to all the options it offers.
Some websites do that too. You can Google “Image Optimizer” and you’ll find several websites where you can upload the original file, choose the desired size and download the new optimized image.
What kind of image file you should use? (H4)
If it’s a photograph use .jpg or .jpeg, and if it’s a logo or graphic use .png. Simple =)
*Preview from mac will give you the option to export to one type of file to another. Just open the image, go fo File, then Export and choose the file you want to convert to at the bottom of the pop-up window.
Mac saves screenshots as .png with extremely high resolution, so what I always do is open the original screenshot, export it to .jpg and choose the desired size of the new file. This is a way to convert to .jpg and resize a file in only one step.
You can also Google “convert to png to jpg” and you’ll find websites that do it for you.
As you can see in the screenshot below, it’ll give you the option of choosing the quality of the new file, and as you slide that little triangle left and right, it’ll also show you how much your new file will weight.
Now your files are optimized and ready to upload to your blog post, so let’s start with your featured image.
You always need a featured image. (H4)
This is the image that will be shown when you share your blog post link in social media and the one that will appear at the top of your blog post. (Have you noticed that almost all blog posts start with an image just right after the post title? That’s the feature image).
When you open a new blog post in WordPress, you’ll see in the right sidebar the option to upload your featured image.
Use ONLY horizontal images because that’s the display image size social media channels show. When you use a vertical image, it’ll crop it and it won’t look good. See this example:
Above is a vertical image used as featured image. Bellow is how it'll look once shared in social media channels.
Once you upload your image you need to insert the Alt Text.
What is Alt Text and why I need it? (H4)
Alt Text has three main different purposes.
Remember I told you bots only read text? So the Alt Text of your image is one of the things search engines will read about your image. You should enter there a brief description of the image, ideally contenting your keyword. That’ll help search engines to decide whether your image is relevant or not to a search query.
As Alt Text is a short description of the image, it plays an important role in digital accessibility helping people with low or no vision who use screen readers to know what’s the image about.
Alt Text is not visible on your website unless your image won’t load, is broken or cannot be found. Then visitors will see the Alt Text instead of the image with a broken image icon next to it and in case your image won't load, it'll look nicer than 2642900.32743928-70230230.jpg.
Do this with every single image you use in your blog post and website related to the page content. (No need to add Alt Text to a puppy GIF).
After uploading the image and before select it and add it to the post, you’ll see a bar that says Alt Text. Add it there.
Last but not least:
Edit your SEO Title, Slug, and Meta Description. (H2)
To edit this information in WordPress, you need an SEO plug-in. I use the free version of Yoast SEO and that’s what you’ll see here in examples.
But first, what are those things?
SEO Title, Slug, and Meta Description are the information about a page or blog post that search engines show on the results page.
Let me show you:
They are very important because that’s your opportunity to convince someone to click on your page rather than on your competitors' one.
How to edit SEO Title, Slug, and Meta Description: (H3)
After you installed your SEO plug-in, you’ll see it at the end of each page classic editor.
Your SEO Title Is the title of the page. (H3)
It usually shows the original name of the page, unless you change it.
If your post title is too long make it shorter. Search engines don’t have a specific character's length and it might show up differently depending on the screen size the reader is using. However, SEO experts recommend to keep it between 50 and 60 characters to avoid incomplete SEO titles showing up in search results. You can see in this screenshot that some tiles are too long and Google doesn’t show them completely.
Your SEO title MUST have your keyword and be compelling enough to make people click on your page. If you’re shortening your original post title, keep in mind that you must include your keywords in it. It’ll help you to be found easier and rank better.
Your page slug, or URL. (H3)
These are the words that go after your domain.com/ that will create a full URL for each specific page. By default, WordPress would assign the whole page title with a dash between words to the slug but it always can be edited. If your post title is xxxxx WordPress would create a URL xxxx.
SEO experts suggest making it shorter including only your keyword and deleting unnecessary connecting words, pronouns and articles.
Here my URL by default:
And this is my new shorten URL:
KEEP IN MIND that if you change the URL from an old post, and you had shared that URL before, whoever clicks on the old link WILL NOT find the new page but a 404 error page. Only edit the page slug for new pages to avoid page errors.
Meta Description: (H3)
As you saw in the last screenshot, the meta description is the information about your page or post that appears under your page title in search results. Google has been changing the length of meta description over the last years and right now it's pretty much up to their algorithm how many words they show. As you can see, it shows ones longer than others but and there is nothing you can do to guarantee Google will show a longer one for you.
To avoid incomplete meta descriptions, try to keep them between 120 and 160 characters. If you’re using Yoast SEO plug-in it’ll tell you when your meta description has good length, it’s too short or too long.
This is very important because you have basically 160 characters to convince someone to click on your page, so choose wisely your words and make it compelling!!
If you’re using other website platforms such as Squarespace, Wix, or Kajabi, they all offer the option to add your SEO information to each page or blog post. You’ll usually find it under page settings, then SEO and you’ll see something similar to this one:
I hope now you don’t feel overwhelmed anymore about optimizing your blog post. I promise you it's not as hard as you had thought. It’s all about knowing how search engines work and doing it a couple of times to learn it and remember it.
Not tell me, what is your biggest struggle about blogging? What was the most useful information for you in this blog post? Let me know in the comments! I’d love to hear from you.
If you want a read more about SEO, here are some useful articles: