Writing & Publishing Content

image of a WordPress 'add new post' screen

Learn how to write a blog post and then another and another and then publish them.

Writing and publishing are two distinct processes. The first, writing, is pure word craft: capturing your ideas and drafting them in a way your visitors will appreciate and hopefully act upon. 

The second, publishing, is about how to help your words reach an audience. The publishing process involves things like appearance and aesthetics and “on page SEO” (aka search engine optimization). Basically, publishing is all about making sure Google can find your post so that readers can. 

Before tackling these two processes separately, below is a summary of my writing to publishing steps. 

Contents 

Top Tip - If you prefer to read these materials in bite-size pieces, start here and select "Next" at the end of each post.

A Breakdown of my Writing Process 

  1. I capture ideas and inspiration for posts.
  1. I write out drafts by hand often while traveling (long plane or train rides). For reasons I cannot explain I initially write better by hand than on a keyboard.
  1. I dictate what I wrote, sometimes adding thoughts as they come to me. I do this because I dictate much faster than I type. Sometimes I will “write” by dictating too as doing so captures the elements I need, but these first drafts are usually terrible.
  1. I print the draft in hard copy. 
  1. I review it by hand usually adding lots of edits (and I mean LOTS). If there is insufficient room in the margins, I add (1), (2) etc. where I want to insert text and write the accompanying text either in the bottom or top margins, or on separate sheets of paper.
  1. I’ll then print out a revised version of the draft and re-work it again.
  1. I’ll then research some keyword and other “SEO” aspects (explained later) and further adjust the draft. Some would recommend doing that first, but I find doing it first makes the writing far too artificial. I prefer instead to “tweak” my almost finished posts with SEO considerations towards the end of the writing process. Google is anyway smart enough these days that you don't need to engage in the old fashioned “keyword stuffing” of yesteryear. 
  1. I provide the latest hard copy to my editor (my wife) for input. I then consider her input. I appreciate her fresh eye, especially as she more closely represents the target audience than me. However, I do not blindly accept her input given that I am the subject matter expert.
  1. I’ll then often finalize the draft for publishing.

A Breakdown of my Publishing Process 

So far, so good but the post is only about 50% done when the writing is finished. The importance and time involved in the publishing process should not be underestimated.

  1. At this stage I transform the written draft into a WordPress post. This can take a surprising amount of time as it's rarely a mere copy-and-paste from Word or Google Docs into WordPress. 
  1. I add at least 1 image to the post and set a Featured Image (this sets the default thumbnail image used, for example, in site search results or social media sharing). This also takes time and thought as you need to make sure the image is not only appropriate but also optimized. For example, if the image’s file size is too large, the post will load too slowly and visitors will punish you by bouncing out quickly (hitting the ‘back’ button even before your post has fully displayed). Google also hates slow-loading posts and websites, and will drop you in its SERP rankings.
  1. I use the WordPress plugin Thrive Architect to fancy up the post. Usually this means adding colourful and prominent calls to action including buttons, pull quotes and summary tables. This is quick and easy to do if you have pre-saved these elements as Content Templates in Thrive.
  1. I add the necessary internal links to the content. These are links cross referencing other materials on my site. 
  1. I add external links. These are links to other websites, including affiliate links to partner websites. To keep people on my site even when they click on an external link, I set up external links so that they always open in a new web browser tab. This is an option in WordPress and in Thrive Architect you can select when adding an external link in a post. For the affiliate links, I shorten them (sometimes called cloaking) with the free plugin, Pretty Links.
  1. As I use the Yoast SEO plugin (it’s free), I add a focus keyword for the post and check that Yoast shows as many green lights as possible. I’ll then also carefully draft a powerful meta description (this is the snippet Google often displays in its search engine results pages or SERP for short). For any elements that Yoast reports as falling short, I tweak the post as needed, but I am never blindly follow Yoast. I temper its suggestions with common sense.
  1. If needed, I then add any tracking codes or other such elements in the raw HTML of the post (WordPress and Thrive Architect let you edit post in raw HTML too).
  1. At this point, I can finally select Publish. But I am still not yet done.
  1. I’ll check the newly published post in other web browsers and devices, such as my iPhone. If the post needs further tweaking, I attend to it right away.
  1. If all is OK, I’ll then head over to Google Search Console’s Fetch menu item and submit the post’s URL for indexing by Google. This ensures the new post gets picked up by Google as quickly as possible and is displayed in Google’s search engine results.

Even if I use a freelancer in the writing process (a great technique for leveraging your time if and when you can afford it), my role in the process starts at step #4: I’ll review the draft, sometimes asking the freelancer to make changes, and then I’ll complete the rest of the drafting and publishing process myself.  

Similarly, if I was to use a freelancer in the publishing process (to date I do not), I’d get involved only at about step #15. 

The Writing Process 

Introduction 

The writing process I outlined above is by no means what I’d recommend.  In fact, my jumbled writing process only serves to illustrate that there is no “right” way to go about things. I doubt many experts would recommend my steps but, hey, they work for me. 

The point is that you need to find what works for you. Below, I break down the writing process into further steps and techniques you may want to try.

As you see, the writing process for me is simply to write, write, write and write some more. I'm a very inefficient writer in that I write a lot, rewrite, rewrite and rewrite again. 

Unfortunately, I am not so gifted or blessed that the text I draft the first time is what makes its way into the published post.

Some people can write flowing prose which needs little editing afterwards. These people can write and capture their ideas perfectly the first time. I am certainly not one of those people. 

I work by getting all the ideas down in a big brain dump of sorts and then rework, rearrange and restructure the text. But you must find what works best for you.

For me the writing process is a long and laborious road. I tend to write or dictate in fits and starts sometimes without any structure. And often I am dictating little snippets of ideas into my smartphone that have come to me while walking to work or running on the treadmill at the gym.

I then rewrite these edits and add more text. This process continues in cycles until the work starts to become more cohesive.

The slow pace of this should not be underestimated. The initial rewriting to implement my edits and comments takes me about half an hour per page.

Capturing Ideas 

I use a bunch of different ways to capture my ideas. That’s because ideas come to me at all different times. 

I use Evernote for content capture (such as saving full online articles) but Google Keep for ideas and my to-do's. I also use Google Docs for more detailed analysis and lists.

In the past, I used Evernote for everything, but found it too cumbersome for jotting down quick thoughts and ideas such as “for my xyz page I should change the image". Google Keep on my smartphone is great for capturing those quick to do’s.

It is easy to use Evernote to capture a news article or post I’d like to consult in detail later or use as inspiration for a new post. Although I must admit that things I send to Evernote often go there to die. There’s some comfort knowing I’ve captured the item, but often I’ll never consult it again.

What also works well for me is printing the interesting things I come across and keeping them in topical hard copy folders. These include: To Do (print-outs of my own posts to edit or enhance), Pipeline (new ideas), To Read (SEO tips & techniques). 

Sometimes good old paper and pen just can’t be beat. I find that especially true when travelling for example.

Longhand Drafting 

I often draft in long hand, especially for editing hard copy posts. I try to print my draft posts single-sided or, if double-sided, with wide margins because I ultimately do a lot of my drafting as part of the editing process. 

If you also adopt editing in longhand as part of your writing process, make sure when you print any drafts for review that you leave a large bottom margin, so you can add further text. I usually insert a number in a circle where I want to insert text and then write that text in the bottom margin space designated with the same number. 

The large space is handy when you want to add lots of text such as inserting a new sentence or even paragraph, or when crossing out a significant portion of a sentence and writing the replacement text for it. 

My draft posts also usually end with a Car Park heading. This is a place where I move content that I'm not yet sure about but don't want to delete either. 

Sometimes these Car Park materials make their way into the post or serve as the basis for another post.

Dictating Drafts 

Dictating can be a very fast way to capture a lot of content. I am a big fan of the voice recognition software on both my iPhone and Android tablet. 

I find dictation especially handy for capturing my longhand drafts. I’ll draft with pen and paper and then dictate the written text into Google Docs for later pasting into a WordPress post.

If you place your hand over your mouth, you can even dictate in public without causing too much disturbance, even when on public transportation or in a busy place.

For me, dictation is a lifesaver as I type very slowly. That said, dictation is also a skill which takes a little time to master. Be patient.

Using Freelancers for First Drafts (Fiverr, Upwork, etc.) 

My experience with hiring freelancers online for writing has been hit and miss. I have hired some real stinkers, but also a handful of gems.

To me, Upwork is the best place to find a decent blog post writer if you follow some tips below.

In general, Fiverr is more suitable for less time-intensive tasks than writing, such as logo design but that seems to be changing as the portal moves further away from $5 flat rate jobs.

Tips for Posting Tasks on Upwork, Fiverr etc. 

I have learned the hard way not to post “open” tasks. These are tasks that everyone and anyone can apply for and believe me, everyone and anyone will do exactly that! You will get a lot of stinkers if you do this. 

Help yourself by composing a very clear task and then invest some time researching potential freelancers that you invite to bid on the task. 

By inviting only freelancers you have carefully selected, you get exactly what you want. 

Don't open your task up for everyone!  You will get a lot of people promising the moon for dirt cheap rates and you will end up with poor, late or no work done and will have lost precious time.

I will attract some ire for saying this, but I would generally recommend you to be careful with very low-priced freelancers

I say “generally” because of course there are some quality freelancers to be found at low price points. It is just that my experience with many of these freelancers was to receive work largely of poor quality. That said, some of the rates are attractively low and hopefully your targeted freelance searching will unearth some gems. 

You also must take some responsibility yourself: make sure your posted task is clear and sets out the expected deliverables and timeframe.

Using Evernote to Develop First Drafts 

As mentioned elsewhere, it is fast and easy to capture research and categorize it with Evernote.

Once you have collected five or more articles on a topic with Evernote, a post can sometimes almost write itself.  

You go into Evernote and select the relevant tag. Presto, a nice set of headlines is there which you can reword and use as inspiration for your post’s headings and structure.  Write two or three paragraphs under each heading and you'll have a decent first draft.

Blog Writing Tips 

No matter how you go about researching and doing your initial writing, your goal is to end up with a draft post in Word or a Google Doc. 

But web content needs to be very digestible. This means using short paragraphs, bullet lists and indenting to help move your readers through the piece and to the desired call to action, whether clicking an affiliate link, subscribing to your mailing list, making a donation or moving them further along a sales funnel. 

No 250-word long paragraphs please! 

Here are some tips organized under various subheadings to make your drafting process a little smoother.

Use Only Basic Formatting 

Pasting from Word or Google Docs into a WordPress post will only keep some formatting. 

Other than the elements mentioned below, just stick to default settings whether in Word or Google Docs. Fancy fonts and advanced formatting will not paste correctly into WordPress and will only make publishing your post more difficult and time-consuming.

Do yourself a favour and use only the following formatting in your draft documents:

  • headings (H1 ⇾ H4). Don't use the Title or Subtitle style in Google Docs or Word. Your document should only have one H1 heading which will be the post’s title in WordPress. 
  • underline, bold and italics
  • lists, whether numbered (ordered) or unnumbered (unordered)
  • indent
  • hyperlinks (hot key: Ctrl+K) especially for external links which are easy to lose track of if you don't implement them right away while writing. But don’t bother with any default ‘open in new tab’ settings as they will not be retained when pasted into WordPress. 
  • interestingly, basic tables done in Word will paste rather OK into WordPress, but the plugins Tablepress (free) or Thrive Architect are better tools for professional looking tables.

How to Decide on Consistent Terminology or Terms 

If you are ever unsure about what terms or terminology to use in a post, keep in mind Google's Keyword Planner tool.

For example, one of my draft posts was peppered with differing terms such as external storage media, portable storage devices, portable hard drive, USB thumb drive, USB stick, etc.

After investing only a few moments in Google's Keyword Planner tool, you can determine what are the most popular terms being searched on Google. These are the terms you should use in your post as they will capture the most searches.

Of course this best applies to general terminology for which there are multiple options. If you are intentionally targeting a specific focus keyword, that’s a different story and, of course, stick with that term.

Embrace “Copy Writing” for Your Posts 

Act now! Limited time offer! Deal of a life time! 

These are hallmarks of classic copywriting. The trouble is: it doesn't work online. You are much better giving up on the hard sell and adopting instead a subtle funnel

By "subtle funnel" I mean rather than trying high pressure sales speak, it is better to approach the writing like how you would explain things in an email to a friend. 

Adding Links to Your Posts 

Every link you add while writing a draft post should matter.

When adding external links ask why you are doing so, as this will send readers off your site. However, this can be mitigated by ensuring the link opens in a new tab/page (this is discussed in more detail as part of the Publishing Process).

Internal links should move your readers closer to your money-making links, pages or calls to action.

Top Tip - For affiliate links, make sure when using Pretty Links to select the nofollow attribute. Otherwise, you will leak precious “SEO juice” to the destination site.

Use Verbs in Headings 

One excellent tip I received from a professional editor was to try and have a verb in each subheading

In other words, try and have lots of words ending in ING such as keeping your data safe, encrypting your files, protecting your children, removing trace data from your computer etc.

Avoid these Common Punctuation & Grammar Mistakes 

The same professional editor also convinced me to remove most, if not, all my exclamation marks (i.e.,!). 

Instead of using too many exclamation marks, you should use powerful language to make your points, rather than overly relying on punctuation. 

Related, it is easy to overuse the word “very”. It is much better to rely on powerful language than to rely on this adverb. 

Also pay attention to how you use emphasis. It is too easy to be inconsistent; sometimes using italics, sometimes bold, and other times underline. I am still guilty of this even today.

Ideally, settle on one way to stress important words or terms in your writing and stick with it.

Finally, it is also important to write as much as possible in the active voice. There are plenty of resources available online showing you how to achieve this. But in general, write as simply as possible: subject (I) + verb (wrote) + object (the blog post) rather than, The blog post was something I had written

Don’t Edit While Writing 

Don’t mix up editing with writing. 

When you're writing, just write. Let the ideas flow and don't worry if you don't get the words exactly right. 

It's more important when writing to get the ideas down. The editing can come later.

Use Placeholders for Missing Information 

While writing, if you are at a loss for words, or missing some details, just put in a placeholder. 

I do this when I suffer a momentary writer’s block or for any elements that are missing or require further research. In whatever case, I insert a placeholder to return to later. 

I like to use the less than (<) and greater than (>) signs for my placeholders as these characters rarely comes up in written form (unless you are writing about html). For example, <insert further explanation here>.

This makes it easy for me to zip through a document using the Ctrl+F hot key or Edit > Find menu items when looking for elements that I need to complete and fill in.

Plan for Images While Writing 

The web is increasingly visual as the success of Instagram proves. While writing your posts, this means thinking a little about where you might place images in the content. 

I go into all the details about images in the Adding Images to Posts section. But for the writing stage, suffice to say, use the placeholder technique above to indicate where an image could be inserted. For example, “<place screenshot image here>”. 

Having 100 half-finished posts is useless and nowhere near as good as having 5 finished ones

There is no need to pay for any premium plugins (or themes) when you are first starting out.

Backing Up Your Writing as You Work 

Given some bad experiences I had losing work, I have taken this to new levels of paranoia. 

Whenever I invest a sizable amount of time writing, I save the file in two “redundant” locations. If working off a USB stick I make a copy of my draft post to Google Drive or Gmail it to myself.

Either technique takes 10 seconds and ensures that you have a backup copy. 

You need a redundant copy in a different location (rather than, for example, saving it to another USB stick) as it’s no use having your electronic files backed up on your laptop, USB stick or a portable hard drive if your whole apartment burns down. 

Of course, you can just work in the cloud to begin with, such as Google Docs. I often do, but you can’t always be online especially if travelling a lot. As a result, I find myself working on files saved on my laptop or saved separately on a USB thumb drive (because I am often on different computers even when offline).

File Naming Tips 

It sounds trite, but the sooner you come up with a standard file naming and file saving practice the better. 

There's nothing more frustrating than having a bunch of files on your computer or saved in the cloud which you've lost track of.

I generally name my files starting with the date in the format yyymmdd


Finishing Posts 

Having 100 half-drafted posts is useless and nowhere near as good as having 5 finished ones. Read that again.  

Having a collection of partially completed posts is not going to bring you any visitors or income. You must complete posts and publish them for that to happen!

It is better to have one post published and live on your site than to have five drafts that are “almost ready”.  

At some stage, you must get rid of the blanks, placeholders and comments in your draft post. This is a vital stage because it's very easy to keep editing and adding suggestions and further things to research or check. 

Eventually, you just have to bite the bullet, make some decisions and get rid of all the placeholders and comments. Don't let perfect be the enemy of good. It is better to have a good but imperfect post published, than to have a post forever in draft waiting until it’s perfect. 

This step will include shrugging your shoulders and deleting some of the remaining placeholders and comments, addressing others right away, or adding them to your To Do list, perhaps for the next edition of that same post, for a different post entirely or to be forever deleted.

Use an Editor if You Can 

While it’s true that blog writing is informal and conversational in nature, that is no excuse for sloppiness. 

You need an editor, ideally for both content and copy editing. A content editor helps make sure your writing makes sense whereas a copy editor helps catch typos and other mistakes.

Nothing will send visitors away faster from your website than typos, obvious grammatical errors or content that just sucks.

Now, if my recommendation that you have an “editor” has you seeing money flying out the window, don't worry. 

My “editor” is my wife. ☺ Your editor could just as easily be your spouse, a friend or a friend of a friend. 

My wife may not know the content as well as me (my primary role), but you can look at that as a good thing. 

I’m often too close to the materials I’ve written and can’t spot issues in the details or even in the structure. But there are things my trusty editor usually does spot. 

Choosing a Professional Editor 

I once used a professional (paid) editor. It was many years ago for my first ebook, long before I even had a money-making website.

I chose my editor by simply searching on the web. I identified about 10 editors from typing in searches such as “IT book editor". 

I looked at potential editors’ resumes and portfolios to see what they had worked on. 

In the end, I contacted probably half a dozen and selected two. One was based in the UK, was not cheap and did not have much time for me. He edited two of my most important ebook chapters and did an excellent job.

I would have been thrilled if he could edit all my drafted content. However, I couldn't afford it at the time and anyway he simply didn't have the time to edit all the chapters I had drafted. 

What he did do though was perform a very comprehensive edit and added more comments than usual as a form of coaching that I could then apply throughout the remaining content.

Once I had implemented the editor’s suggestions throughout the remaining contents, I then provided the entire revised draft to the a second, less-expensive editor. 

This second editor did a reasonably good job especially at finding typos and picking out grammatical errors, but they did not do anywhere near the sort of Cadillac job that the first editor had done. 

Nonetheless, by the end I was happy with the editing process and what I had paid. 

The Publishing Process 

As already mentioned, the writing process probably represents only one-half to two-thirds of the battle for getting a post online. 

After writing the content, the rest of the time you need to invest is for publishing it. This includes formatting and technical WordPress matters to get the content “live” online.

And just as there is both art and science to writing a post, it’s the same for publishing posts too. 

Many steps are needed to turn a piece of writing into an effective blog post.

Below, I go into more detail for some of the elements that appeared in ‘My Publishing Process’ bullet list earlier.

But first, let’s talk a little about establishing a standard or common layout for your posts.

Post Layout 

Early on, it is good to establish a “standard” layout and format for your posts, and then use it consistently. 

If you fail to give this some thought and planning, your site will look like a hodgepodge of different looking posts over time. It looks very unprofessional when every post on the same website looks completely different!

But don’t get too hung up on this either. Simply spend a little time thinking about it, then settle on a general layout and format for your posts and stick with it. 

Like my advice about your initial web hosting service and WordPress theme, you can always revisit your initial choices and change the layout and format of your posts if needed once the money starts rolling in. 

By layout I mean where to position the main elements of a post in relation to one another.

Get inspiration about your post layout from sites you like and from your competitors and try to achieve a “best of” layout. And, of course, the layout of your posts may be influenced by your WordPress theme.

While there are also plenty of template layouts available, such as those offered by ThriveThemes, there is no need to go down that path until you start experiencing some success (and profits). 

I tried a few different layouts and the one I settled on can be broken down as:

  • H1 title
  • By-line in bold and italics 
  • Full-width image with caption
  • Introductory paragraph or two
  • H2 heading 
  • Rest of content including generous use of bullets, H2-H4 headings indentation, buttons and tables 
  • End with a call to action (often a button, clickable image or summary table) or referral to Related Content

For the last bullet, there are plugins and services you can use to auto-generate Related Content items. But you cannot always rely on their algorithm so, in some cases, it may be better if you add these manually to posts, especially if your goal is to send visitors to your cornerstone content. Of course, the manual process is not suitable where you have a lot of content that changes quickly (which would make your manually added recommendations quickly out of date).

Add at Least One Image to Every Post 

It’s good to have at least one image on every post. 

Images are crucial because the web is increasingly visual as the success of Instagram proves.

But there is also an SEO consideration here: adding an image gives you yet another kick at the SEO can as it provides an opportunity for you to embed some keyword(s) in the image’s filename and meta tags. 

Always remember to be mobile-aware. Mobile traffic could be more important to your blog than normal desktop and laptop computer traffic. You don’t want to overdo images because this slows down the loading time of your posts and can turn off mobile visitors who will bounce off your site as quickly as they enter it.

Sources of Images 

Images don’t have to be professionally taken or sourced at great expense. You can take them yourself. My wife is a decent photographer and I use her pictures for most of my posts.

If you take outdoor photos yourself, help your cause by taking them during the “golden hour”: that’s the time around sun set and sun rise. The soft lighting during each golden hour really helps.

If you want professional images and can afford it or have a website where this is mandatory (such as a photography or design website), it’s hard to beat Shutterstock or Picfair, the latter having much more straight-forward pricing.

Optimize Images Before Adding them to Posts 

Optimizing images before adding them to posts is easy but too often ignored. Do so at your peril.

Uploading large pictures - especially photos - can really make your posts load slowly and turn visitors off, resulting in lots of "bounces" away from your site. A bounce is when someone visits your page and leaves almost immediately without further interacting with your site.

Optimizing Images with Software 

To optimize an image with software, use IrfanView (free) or a similar image app. On a Mac, you can resize your images easily in Preview.

If the image you are starting from is large, resize it (IrfanView hot key: Ctrl+R) so it is not too big. 780 pixels is a good maximum width for images. 

Then further optimize the image by saving it in only as high a resolution as necessary. To do so, in IrfanView select File > Save for Web. This will open a new window and let you see the quality and file size of the image in different file formats (JPG, GIF and PNG). For example, screenshots will usually be smallest as .GIF files and photos as .JPG files.

Choose the smallest file size of good visual quality and save it. IrfanView compares the original and resampled images side-by-side (see screenshot).

IrfanView screenshot

The image is 90% smaller but looks exactly the same.

Keeping good SEO in mind, when you save the image, make sure its filename includes the post’s focus keyword. ☺
 

Optimizing Images with Online Tools 

You can also optimize images using TinyJPG’s online tool (free). 

The free version of TinyJPG won’t accept images that are too big or too many and won’t resize or crop them for you. This means you will first need to resize any large images to a reasonable size before submitting them to TinyJPG. 

TinyPNG Screenshot

TinyJPG.com is an easy (and even fun) way to optimize images.

“SEO” Elements to Pay Especially Close Attention 

SEO stands for search engine optimization. This simply means the stuff that helps your posts rank higher in Google searches.

Higher ranking posts = more visitors to your site = more conversions on your calls to action = more revenue and profits.

Once the content of a post is drafted and ready, it’s time to think about SEO.

The elements listed below are important from an SEO perspective when turning a draft post (finalized Word or Google Docs document) into a published one (live webpage on your blog).

  • post focus keyword: this is the main word or, better yet, words your post is themed around 
  • post title: the words shown in the tab of your browser when viewing the post (this is separate from the post’s H1 heading but the text is often the same) 
  • subtitle or by-line: a line under or near the post title further explaining or summarizing the post 
  • headings: H1 to H4, with a single H1 being the post’s main subject title at the top of the post
  • featured image: usually the post’s main image which is shown as a thumbnail when the post is shared on social networks or displayed in your own site search results 
  • first and last paragraphs: these are key parts of the text of your post, your opening and your closing
  • calls to action (CTA): think about the purpose of the post: is it intended to produce an affiliate click or entice someone into subscribing to your newsletter, is it a landing page at the start of your funnel or an intermediary page, moving readers along the funnel to a final call to action
  • meta description: the snippet that Google shows on its search engine results pages (SERPs). Think of it like a free ad: it should be written accordingly: brief yet punchy and intended to entice a visit 

For more about focus keyword research, including about your competitor’s posts, see my Focus Keywords section. 

If you use the free Yoast plugin, it will help guide you in all these respects.

The Chicken and Egg Problem of Focus Keywords 

Should you research a focus keyword for a post and then write? 

Or should you first write the post and then do keyword research, tweaking the post’s content later?

I think the second approach is better and that’s why I include it among the Publishing steps rather than the Writing steps on this site.

However, if you prefer to do the focus keyword research first, all my techniques here still apply 100%.

Focus Keywords are Important but Don’t Blindly Follow Them 

You want to make sure your posts contain good keywords, especially posts that represent your cornerstone, flagship, traffic-generating or income-generating posts. 

Keyword research is a bit of a chicken and egg situation as outlined above, but my advice is to check focus keywords at the start of the publishing process rather than towards the end of the writing process. 

This is my recommendation because the easiest way to do this is to analyze the draft post with Yoast and you can only do this once you have pasted your draft’s contents into a WordPress post.

Plus, a well-drafted post will get you more traffic and goal completions than a poorly drafted post stuffed with relevant keywords, so focus on content first and foremost. 

It is not a huge job to inject or tweak some juicy focus keyword(s) into an all but finished post, but don’t underestimate this process either.

How to Inject Some More SEO into Your Posts 

Here are some handy tips when turning your draft post into a published one for a little extra SEO juice.

A great opening line is to repeat the questions that your readers are asking, such as:

A common question I often get asked is: “How can I be sure my VPN is working?” or “How can I test my VPN?”

The last paragraphs of your post should be a recap of your post. 

This is helpful for SEO because your last heading can then repeat (legitimately) the focus keyword for the post. For example, “<keyword> Wrap-up / Conclusion / Bottom Line / Final Thoughts / Summary”.  

You can do that with the content at the end too, not just the heading. For example, you could match the opening paragraph above with closing content such as: “You should now easily be able to answer the question, "Is my VPN working?” 

But don’t get too spammy about it. If it starts to smack of “keyword stuffing” Google as well as your readers will detect this and punish you accordingly, either by dropping your ranking in search results or increasing your bounces.

Focus Keyword Research as the Final Touch 

You could spend years of your life analysing keywords. I don't recommend you do.

However, some basic techniques will go a long way. For example, doing some quick keyword research can tell you whether your post will be going up against too much competition. If this is the case, it won’t have a hope of attracting visitors unless it is tweaked for less competitive keywords. Your research might also help you come across a hidden gem that propels your site forward.

The best way to research keywords is to look at predictive data with Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool, especially for any new posts that you are planning.

For existing posts on your website that already have a track record, you can also look at the historical data in Google Search Console.  

How to Use Google AdWords' Keyword Planner 

Go to Google AdWords’ Keyword Planner tool. 

Get search volume for a list of keywords (not G​​​​et traffic forecasts ...)

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Now sort by the volume of searches to see which keywords have the most searches per month but pay attention also to the level of competition. 

To really make sure you are conducting thorough research, use the search churning technique to cover all related keywords, including some you hadn’t thought of. This means checking for keywords and then also their “related searches” as recommended by Google at the bottom of its search engine results pages.

AdWords’ Keyword Planning tool lets you search dozens of keywords at a time, so take advantage of that functionality.

How to Use Google Search Console for Keyword Research 

Another excellent resource for keyword data is your own website: which keywords have people already used to find your content. 

Knowing this can really help you to understand what keywords to emphasize in a post and which posts to beef up, add to or tweak and how.

Google Search Console keeps data about your website for only 90 days. It lets you see which keywords have brought visitors to a specific post and the posts’ SERP ranking for them.

       Update: Google Search Console now has 16 months’ worth of data.

This can truly be a gold mine of data. 

For example, if the data shows that you are hovering just outside the 10th or 3rd position for a certain keyword, this tells you that with a little more work on that post you might be able to breakthrough and make it to the top 10 or 3. 

Such movements in search engine rankings for your posts can make all the difference. Moving up even 1 rank can suddenly bring in hundreds or even thousands more dollars a month. ☺

Of course, the more profitable a focus keyword, the more competition you can expect for it. Just try to get on the first page of Google’s search engine results for a popular keyword. Good luck!

Even focus keywords made up of many words (so-called long tail keywords), including those of five or more words, can be very competitive.

Once a Post is Published, Let Google Know about It 

To help people find your published post as soon as possible, you need Google to index it. Only then can the post start to show up in Google’s SERPs.

You do this by gently nudging Google and letting it know that your new post exists. The best way is to manually submit your post via Google Search Console’s Fetch

This prompts Google to fetch and then crawl your post, adding it to its index for visitors to find. There is no need to pay for any app or service to do this. Do it yourself. It is quick and easy.

In Google Search Console go to Crawl > Fetch as Google, enter the post’s URL and then select Fetch.

Fetch as Google

Telling Google to fetch and index your new post is free and easy.

Once submitted, the URL of your new post will be added to the list just below where you typed it in.  

Then select the Index button beside it in the list. 

This should display the result as 'success' which means Google has confirmed the post exists and has added it to its queue for indexing. Yeah!

You may be asked to prove you are not a robot. You will also be shown a warning about how many submissions you have remaining for the month. You can submit 500 posts per month to Google in this way, so there is little risk you’ll ever run out.  🙂

This will help Google "find" your post quickly and ensure it is added to Google’s index and thus its search results as soon as possible. 

Sometimes I have had posts indexed almost immediately, but sometimes it can take some hours or even a few days.

After doing this, I add a short note to my Posts Master List spreadsheet that the post was successfully submitted to Google for indexing.

Make Sure any Updated Posts Are Indexed by Google Too 

To confirm Google has indexed a post on your website, use relevant keywords to search for your posts in Google. For example, "Cogipas how to download torrents anonymously". If your (new) post shows up in the SERPs, great!

Perhaps you took my earlier advice to keep a running list of your posts in a spreadsheet as you publish and update them. Add an Indexed column which will remind you to ensure posts you publish or update are indexed and crawled by Google.

Whenever I finish updating a post I also immediately ask Google to fetch it as above. This ensures the updated post is indexed and showing up in Google results as soon as possible, rather than hoping Google will find it. 

Maintaining Your Posts (How to Avoid and Fix Common Issues) 

Once you have established your site and published a critical mass of posts, maintaining your site starts to become more important. 

This is all about making sure the user experience (or UX for short) of your visitors is a good one.

Do You Pass this Basic Speed Test? 

How quickly your posts load in visitors’ web browsers is very important and affects your rankings with Google.

To check it, go to Google Search Console and then Web Tools > Other Resources > PageSpeed Insights or visit it directly here.

PageSpeed Insights

It is important to check your site speed using Google's PageSpeed Insights.

One at a time, enter a few URLs (such as your homepage and your most important posts) to see what it reports. 

Implement the easiest suggestions, such as optimizing images

Depending on how bad your score is and the impact that may have on your posts, consider hiring help (this shouldn't be needed in most cases).

If your score is over about 65, you're fine. Fixing other things that Google lists such as Minify HTML (to this day I still do not know what this means), are advanced and you shouldn't worry about them unless they are placing the post “in the red”.

How to Avoid Dead Links to Other Content 

When linking to other posts on your own site (internal links) or to posts on other websites (external links), you want to keep those links timeless. That way, you don’t have to keep updating them. 

If you are using a WordPress plugin, like my recommended Broken Link Checker (free), you will be notified about dead links by email as soon as they are detected. This lets you quickly identify and correct any broken links. Just remember not to set the plugin’s scanning frequency too high as this could slow down your site. The plugin’s default settings are just fine.

Another method is to link to the search results of that site’s internal search. Chances are their search will display the latest and most relevant results, helping you to keep your link timeless. 

For example, instead of me linking to a page that will (quickly) be outdated on TorrentFreak, I link to their own search results for that same term. This helps ensures the external link will always be recent and relevant. This method works for internal links on your own website too.

However, this probably doesn't have as good an SEO impact as a specific, static link. If you know for sure, please comment below. 

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Last modified: September 5, 2018

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