WordPress is great at giving everyone, regardless of their technical level, an opportunity to make great web content. The tools are mostly visual, and very similar to text editors like MS Word & Google Docs. Still, there’s a lot to know! A first look can be daunting, but we aim to make everything clear. We’ve thrown in some very simple SEO best practices as well, just to get you started!
Creating our first WordPress Post:
Once you’ve logged into your WordPress site, and decided whether your new content is a Page or a Post, it’s time to create! For this article, we’re going to create a Post, but the process is identical for Pages and any differences will be noted as we get to that section.
First, we’re going to hover over “Posts” in the sidebar to reveal the Posts -> Add New link. If you click on the (All) Posts page, you’ll also see a button at the top allowing you to create a new Post.
Choosing a Title:
Starting from top to bottom (we’ll deal with the sidebar on the right afterwards), the first thing you’ll see is an empty Title. We suggest you choose a title for your content with two goals in mind:
- What title will interest a user into reading this article?
- What are users probably going to Google?
Once you’ve chosen a title, you’ll notice a “Permalink” appear using the title. We’ll see this update once again from when you choose a category for your page/post later. You can edit the permalink as well, but we suggest leaving it be unless you’re familiar enough to understand what that may impact (eg: SEO, broken links, etc).
This may look familiar to you, as the visual editor in WordPress attempts to make web content as easy as MS Word. You’ll find many of the features you expect from any editor, so we’ll note the unusual ones:
|Read More||Insert -> Insert Read More Tag||Anything above this line will be displayed in the teaser you see in blog listings or previews of the page/post. The rest of the content will appear when someone clicks to open the full article (typically a Read More link).|
|Visual/ Text||Top right of the editor||If you want to use the editor like MS Word, leave this on Visual. Text mode will show you most of the source code, so that feature is best used for troubleshooting/writing your own code by hand, if you have the technical chops.|
|Styling Options||Format -> Formats -> <Style of your choice>||Most of your content will be in “Paragraph” styling. Headers work just like MS Word, but have extra importance when it comes to SEO. Use Headers wisely, and try to use important search words here, just like your title (which is a header!)|
|Add Media||Above the editor, on the top left||This provides you with a quick method to add or upload new images, create galleries, add audio and/or video.|
If you’re unsure of a button, feel free to try it out! You can hover over any of the editor buttons and a tooltip will appear with the button’s function & hotkey. Undo (Ctrl + Z) and Redo (Ctrl + Y) are also available from the Edit menu, just in case things get a little out of hand.
Microsoft Word Users, Beware!
Be careful when copying and pasting from MS Word. Word has a habit of being “overly helpful”, and will copy the formatting from a Word document to the editor. It sounds nice, until you examine the source code for the web page and realize it often brings a huge amount of garbage “code” over as well. This can cause web pages to load in weird ways, or break entirely. It also has a nasty habit of disrupting screen readers and other accessibility tools. It’s a much bigger headache to fix than it’s worth! You’re best off using the Edit -> Paste As Text feature, or copying your content from a formatless text editor, like Notepad.
This is actually a third-party feature, not part of WordPress. But it’s so useful, we just couldn’t ignore it!
Yoast SEO does a wonderful job of managing a lot of your search engine optimization for you. It shouldn’t be considered a replacement for a proper SEO expert, and any new website owner is recommended to learn at least the basics, so they can start working towards that lofty first place on Google. But SEO is a deep rabbit hole, and Yoast SEO takes care of a lot of the heavy lifting for the fundamentals in the meantime.
We encourage you to aim to use your well-thought out titles from the first section of this article as your keyword for the content. Yoast SEO will let you know what you’re doing right, and encourage you to use those terms throughout your content. Don’t sweat it too much if Yoast SEO seems like it’s never happy. These are guidelines, not hard and fast rules, and SEO is a fast-changing environment. This is one area where knowledge is power, and you are far better off learning why Yoast SEO is recommending something, rather than following it blindly.
Writing New Content with the WordPress Editor, Part Two: The Right Sidebar