You might be nervous before posting your first article - but you shouldn't worry. EVERYTHING can be changed later. But here are some pointers to help you get things (mostly) right first time. JUST DON'T MAKE THE ONE MISTAKE I MADE THAT COST ME 34,000 DOLLARS! Read on to learn what that was.
Note - if you can't find some of these things on your version of Wordpress, check Screen Options at the top-right:
Title and URL
I said that you can change anything, and you can, but it's a pain to change your post's URL. You'll lose any links to it and just mess things up. If you publish a post and notice something's wrong, go ahead and change it quickly. Otherwise, make sure that's the one thing you get right.
Generally speaking, use your keyword as the URL. If you want to rank well for 'best microwave' then that's a pretty good starting point. website.com/best-microwave looks good to me.
Tip - shorter is better. I have URLs with all dates and sub-categories and words and it's just ugh. Those pages can rank well but I'd rather they were short, clean, and told people what the page was about.
So start with the URL. Then think about the title. You can change it easily unless you make featured images for it. If your featured image says 'Best Microwaves in America' and you change the Wordpress title to 'Best Microwaves in the World' it will look dumb and you'll lose credibility.
Otherwise, think of the title as a way to broaden which keywords you target. If your URL is 'best-microwaves' you can have as a title 'Top Microwave Ovens in the USA 2017'.
Let's look at the pros. Here's the top result for 'SEO guide':
The URL is nice and short, and the title expands on it. Common sense, really, though I bet that combination has been tested to death.
If you're doing a product review, your URL can simply be 'samsung-XV5-review'.
In your Wordpress it looks like this:
The first time you press 'save draft' it will change the 605-2 thingy to match your title. So be careful that it doesn't over-write any changes you make. A good SOP is to write a title, save the draft, then edit the URL and save it again. Check your edit isn't re-edited!
The best writing you can get, structured with headings and sub-headings, friendly but expert tone, not over-selling.
Also check you have images, see if there are YouTube videos you can drop into the article, and break up long stretches of text with images or page separators.
Tip - if you can hook people into reading the whole article, great. The thing at the start about me losing 34,000 dollars? That's fake news. It's just a dumb way to keep you interested. If you're doing a product review you might write an intro like 'this is a great product but 10% of Americans shouldn't buy it. You'll see why as you read on.' And when you read the text you'd find the product wasn't suitable for people over 6 foot. But you can't always do that.
Categories and Tags
Assign your post to the relevant category. If you have a kitchen site you might have categories like:
You can easily create sections on the site that show all the blog posts in a certain category. That's obviously useful. And you can tell widgets to show posts from a certain category. For example, we can create a 'microwave sidebar' that shows all our microwave reviews on all our microwave posts. Useful, but more on that later.
You can use multiple categories, but I almost never do.
Tags have their uses, too, but at the moment I only use them on sites where there are a few key brands. I tag the product with the brand and have a page that shows everything with that tag. Makes sense where people do searches for 'brand x microwave'.
We're going to use the default layout on 99% of posts and pages. If I have a large comparison table I might switch to the full-width option, but when you do that you lose the sidebar so use this sparingly.
Note that if you change the layout the preview won't show it until you save draft or republish.
Always use a featured image. You might have to experiment to find the best width. Normally 800 pixels wide is good. These images will show up all around the site, so it's worth getting them right.
Yoast: Focus Keyword
Down in the Yoast SEO section you should type your keyword into the Focus keyword field.
Yoast: Meta Desciption
Having set the focus keyword, you'll notice that it bolds those words if you've used them in the URL and meta description. Yoast calls the latter the 'snippet'. Click edit snippet to change it to what you want.
Google doesn't always use what you type in here, but sometimes it does, and so it's worth making it interesting. If you are ranked #3 but have a more interesting title and snippet than the #2 guy, you might just steal some of his clicks.
Aim to write enough for the bar at the bottom to turn green, but don't overstuff this text full of keywords. Use synonyms and try to make it seem like a good answer to someone's question.
Since you've crafted that meta description/snippet into something attractive, why not use it on your own site, too? Copy paste that text into Genesis's Excerpt section.
Yoast - Traffic Lights
The Yoast traffic lights are a mix of good advice and time-wasters. Here's what it shows for my draft article.
First it encourages me to link from this page to somewhere else on my site. Makes sense. If I was reviewing the CV5 as one of microwave reviews I'd link to other microwaves I mentioned ("the CV5 isn't as cheap as the BRP13") but especially to my big article on 'the top 10 microwaves'.
Next Yoast complains about the keyword density. It's a good idea to mention the keyword or phrase at least once, but then just write naturally. If the page doesn't do well you'll probably find yourself REDUCING the keyword density. But you can worry about that 6 months from now.
Using the keyword in a subheading? Well, it's in the title and/or URL, isn't it? But sure, you can throw it into a subheading if you find a good place. "CV5 Review: Our Final Thoughts" Sure, why not.
Outbound links. Yes! This is a big one. Link to appropriate sites a few times per article. Some technical terms you can link to Wikipedia, medical words to Web MD. That kind of thing. The only people I don't link to are affiliate sites like my own. I try to link to good informative websites 3/4 times per text. Note that when we get approved by Amazon there will be several outbound links then. You should get into the habit of linking to authority sites. Make sure the links open in a new tab.
Next Yoast says something about moving words around in the title - fuck that - my title is for humans to read. Leave me alone! I'm an ARTIST.
Next is an interesting one - Yoast recommends 300 words as the minimum article length. Actually your article should be exactly as long as it needs to be. A dictionary definition of the word 'bewbs' might need 20 words or a good photo, but 'What Caused the First World War?' can't be done in 300. Yet Yoast will give you green if you write exactly 300 words for either, which is obviously WRONG. Write as much as you can, but not more than the page needs.
Then there's some other stuff which you can take or leave. I took Yoast's advice on this page and added the keyword as an alt-tag to an image, and I did rewrite the opening paragraph to include the keyword.
The preview tool is your friend, by the way. Here you can see
- my featured image
- the title
- breadcrumbs that I switched on, showing this article as being in the category 'Gift Ideas'
- some information - date, author, that I thought I had switched off because it's not relevant to this site
- my Yoast-optimised first paragraph including an outbound link to a strong authority site
Finally the last piece of advice on that Yoast chart is 'don't have the same focus keyword for more than one page'. Makes total sense - you normally only get one article that shows up on Google, so if you have two they are actually competing against each other.