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WP essentials: Anatomy of a blog post

Once you have installed your theme, you are ready to start adding content to your website. This can be as easy as typing guff into a box, but there are a few points to note that will get you into good habits, and help ensure that people read, and want to read, what you publish.

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The key components of every blog post are words, pictures, tags, categories, links and comments. You can also add sound clips, video, polls and email contact forms.

I don’t pretend to be an expert in Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, which is an ever-evolving bore of gargantuan proportions. However, making sure you’ve considered the following things when writing your blog will not only make it a blog post, it will help make a more visible, and more readable blog post.

Title. A good headline is probably the single most effective way to get your post read. Your headline should be short, to the point, and include one or two key words relating to the post’s topic. Failing that it should be unbearably witty or ‘clicky’, one quick look at the Buzzfeed website shows the popularity of the ‘open question’ and ’10 of the best’ headline formats.

Screen Shot 2015-09-21 at 16.09.34Tags. To the left of the text box is a drop-down menu called ‘Tags and Categories’. Tags and Categories are key words relating to the content you have just posted, examples could be ‘costume’, ‘1890s’, ‘textiles’, ‘silk’, ‘colour’, ‘exhibitions’. You should fill these boxes with relevant tags religiously, every time you post on your blog. Tags will help visitors navigate your website, and tell search engines about the type of content you are posting. WordPress will store the tags you have previously used to speed things up.

Categories. As above, categories are general topics. You might create a new category for all your posts that relate to a particular course module, niche, or subject set. As a general rule: be broad and generous with tags; precise and sparing with categories.

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Illustrations. This is a big topic that I go into in more detail in other posts, but the essential point is that the internet demands visuals. Posts with high-quality images are more appealling and therefore generate more traffic. To add a featured image to your blog, simply upload your images via the ‘featured image’ widget when you create a new post. Featured images will appear at the top of a post and, depending on your theme design, along with a post synopsis on the home page. You can add further images into the body of your post by pressing the add media button at the top of the page. See this post for details about how to save, store and tag images for use on your website.

The best rule of thumb when creating online content is to keep it simple. If you find yourself droning on, consider whether you could break the topic into two or three posts and connect them with links. If you find writing difficult, think about adding extra images, quotes and links to related content.

If you forget all of this tomorrow, you should take one thing away: your website must be useful. Only blog about things you find personally inspiring or relevant to your project and about techniques, ideas or skills that are worth sharing with others.

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