Styling a Blog Post on WordPress with Meta Tags: Make It Work for Humans and Robots
I’ve been doing Hop Online’s visual editing for a while now, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that not every content creator knows how to use meta tags (or how to properly style their articles with SEO in mind).
That’s why I’ve compiled some of the best practices that you should follow, long before you hit the ‘publish’ button.
1. Format Directly on WordPress
No matter if you’re using Google Documents or Word files, when you copy and paste it directly into WordPress, some of the file’s script will be pasted along with the text. You’ll want to avoid this since it can hurt your formatting by adding extra unnecessary code.
If you switch to the “Text” view (as shown below), the “Visual” view shows us text and images without the HTML code or any other scripts.
When copying content to WordPress, use the Ctrl+Shift+V instead of copying from the clipboard. This way, you’ll only paste plain text without any scripts. Now you can format your text using the editing bar above the post section.
2. Wrap the Headline of Your Page in H1 Tags
Blog post titles should always be formatted with H1 tags. In WordPress, all you need to do is to paste your article’s headline in the headline field.
This field is coded as “H1” by default and doesn’t require additional formatting. It’s also the default headline that appears on the post’s page once it’s published. If you include the headline in this field and post section, you’ll have duplicate H1s on your blog post.
As a rule of thumb, you should only have one H1 tag on each page.
3. Use H2, H3 and H4 Tags for Section Headers
Inform crawlers and readers what your blog post’s section headers are by using appropriate meta tags. Use the headline tags in hierarchical order. Heading 2 formatting (or H2’s) are used for the main section headers, H3’s are for subtopics that fall under a single H2.
In WordPress, simply select the subheader text and choose the respective Heading Tag from the dropdown menu (as shown in the screenshot below). Alternatively, you can use the command Shift+Alt+2 (3, 4, etc.).
Don’t bold or resize your section headers. <b> or <strong> formatting might look fine to the reader, but it’s not a good enough signal for search engines.
Your blog’s WordPress Theme might also break if you resize parts of the text. Manual resizing and formatting are not only time-consuming but can easily lead to visual and formatting inconsistencies, so it’s always best to use the visual editing bar above the post section.
4. Always Include a Title Tag and a Meta Description
A title tag of a web page appears in the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Along with the URL of the page and the meta description, they form the SERP Snippet of your page in the search. The better the snippet, the higher the chance of people clicking on – and interacting with – your content.
Since the SERP Snippet has a direct effect on your content’s click-through rate (CTR), writing your own title tags and meta descriptions for each blog post or page should be already in your list of best practices.
Once you have these two elements ready, quickly implement them on the page using the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
After installation, the plug-in appears at the bottom of the post section. Scroll down and select “edit snippet.” If you don’t include manually edit your optimized SEO title and meta description, an automatic snippet will appear instead.
Since you’re pasting plain text into WordPress, you’ll lose all the hyperlinks in the copy. That means you’ll have to manually include them again. Remember the importance of the anchor text (the phrase that replaces the hyperlink). Make sure the anchor text isn’t too long while being specific enough for the reader.
This is also a good opportunity to play with your hyperlink settings. Your best option is to make each link open in a new tab. Just click on the link, select the edit icon, and a pop-up with settings will show up:
This improves user experience and allows the reader to keep your article open while checking out other links you’ve provided.
6. Image Alt Tags
Alternative text (also known as alt tags) is the text that helps search engines understand the content of your images. Without alt tags, your images can’t be indexed.
If the image breaks or doesn’t appear quickly on the viewer’s screen, your readers will see an image icon and alt text next to it. It’s good practice to write image alt tags that are specific and descriptive short sentences, not just a list of keywords.
7. Choose a Blog Category
This is an easy step to forget but it’s really important for SEO and for your readers. Most blog designs contain the category field below the headline – you don’t want your blog post to appear “uncategorized”, do you?
If you have this option on your blog page, readers can search through your blog more easily. This is extremely useful if you have a lot of content.
The categorizing settings are on the right-hand side of the post section. You can even create new categories directly from there.
8. Don’t Forget the “Read More” Tag
This tag is usually included after the first or second paragraph of the article. Just place the mouse cursor after the chosen paragraph and click the “Insert Read More tag” button. The command Shift+Alt+T works, too.
The text before the tag will appear (or not, depending on your blog homepage design) as an excerpt between the headline and the CTA button <Read More>.
In some cases, if the “read more” tag is missing, the whole blog post appears on the blog home page. Therefore, the best practice is to always include it.
Learn How to Write Effective SEO Content!
Everyone can write a blog post, but writing for both readers and search engines is a different task entirely. Check out our 14 rules for creating an SEO optimized content – make the most of your blog!