After you’ve written that amazing content and before you press that “publish” button, every blogger should take a quick assessment of their post and be certain that it’s ready to go. What do I mean by ready to go? I’m referring to tweaking your article for the search engines (things like filling out meta tag data and making sure that any special characters like apostrophes and question marks don’t appear in the URL). I’m also talking about not uploading images that are worthy of printing and framing but instead have been formatted to display efficiently on a computer monitor.
So, where do you start? Some bloggers research their keywords and know exactly what words they want to rank for in the search engines. Other bloggers write from their heart without really thinking much about SEO. Still others, write for their readers while keeping SEO in the back of their minds. (Count me in that camp.) Whichever group you fall in, a little SEO can go a long way.
SEO Data – What You Need to Keep in Mind
First, I hope everyone who is reading this has a basic understanding of SEO and how simply incorporating keywords in your content and in “meta tag” fields (like Alt text and descriptions) is important. If you need a refresher on this, check out 4 SEO Tips to Optimize your WordPress Blog. In that article, I talk about your post title, meta description tags, formatting text as headings and optimizing your images. You’ll also find a mention about the “TinyMCE Advanced” plugin along with a screenshot (just in case the theme you’re using doesn’t include a WYSIWYG editor).
As for how you enter meta tag data, WordPress does a good job of providing you with data fields to enter a title, alternate text and a description for your images (all opportunities to incorporate the long-tail keywords that you want your post to rank for) but it does a lesser job of providing you with fields for SEO titles, keywords and meta descriptions. Many premium WordPress themes like Genesis, Headway and Thesis have SEO built into them. If your theme doesn’t provide you with data fields to enter this information, check out the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. At the time I’m writing this, it’s been downloaded 3,445,392 times!
Resize and Optimize Your Images
A common mistake bloggers make is that they upload large images (for example photographs taken with 16 megapixel cameras) without ever resizing or optimizing them for a computer monitor. The average blogger does not need to upload a 3.5MB image that is 3240 pixels by 4320 pixels. It will not display on most monitors. (I have a fairly good sized monitor and my display setting is 1680 px by 1050 px – for the entire screen.) Before I upload the graphics that I use for my posts, I resize them to 200 pixels wide and the average size is about 15KB (not MB). The screen-shots that I use run bigger and someone who is posting photography will probably post larger images than my graphics but they will also use smaller optimized thumbnail images that open larger images for viewing. (As always, feel free to “chime-in” in the comments and let us know whether your agree or disagree and share your tips.)
Start by determining the width of the content area where you are going to insert your image. Then, use that width as a guideline before resizing your image. For example, the width of the content area of this article is set at 655 pixels. If I were to insert an image that was larger than that width, the server (computer that I’m hosting on) would have to resize it before displaying it. So, for better performance, I always use an image editing program to resize and optimize my images for the web (compress them).
In this article, I covered some of the basics of how to enter some SEO data and get those images ready. In my next post, I’ll share tips with you on how I keep track of my SEO data for my blog posts. By tracking the data that is related to each article, I ensure that I don’t miss keying any important information (before I publish it). I also have that info on hand when I’m sharing my post (on sites like BizSugar.com) and tracking also provides me with an overall snapshot of the content on my blog.
Now over to you . . . What tools do you use for entering meta data into your content? Are you using a premium theme? Do you use Joost’s plugin? What tools do you use to resize and optimize your images? We’d love to hear from you.
(Update: You can read my follow up post here: Tracking Your Blog Post SEO Meta Tag Data.)