Working with Wordpress

Jump to navigation Jump to search

This page is useful to those Writing Blog Posts at the McNair Center.

Producing a good blog post means Working with Wordpress to set up your blog post effectively. Our guide will help you create a post and use the Yoast SEO tools to optimize your post so that it will be found by search engines. The Blog Team's online editor is there to help you but following the best practices will make us all more effective.

Creating a post

Inputting your copy

You can copy and paste your post's contents directly into wordpress's post editor. There are two ways to view your post - visual or text. Remember to check that there are no annoying tags in your post by checking the text view.

  • No Span Tags: If the post is copied and pasted out of Google docs, there will HTML span tags everywhere that can cause problems. The best way to avoid these tags is to copy and paste into a text editor (like Textpad on the RDP). Delete all of the span tags that are visible in the text editor and then copy and paste out of textpad into the blog.
  • First 260 characters (includes spaces): The first 260 characters of your post, including spaces, will appear in the featured box when the blog post is promoted on Make sure these first few words are compelling. Do not use a heading for the first section.


We must link all of our sources within blog posts. To do this, highlight any word or phrase in your post and click on the icon that looks like a chain in the text toolbar above your content. Then past a link into the box that appears and press enter.


All graphics must be licensed for reuse. Contact the Graphics Editor for help choosing and citing graphics.

To set the photo icon for the blog post, click on the "featured image" link on the left toolbar in WordPress for the post. Upload your chosen image. Make sure this is a photo which will entice viewers to click on the post! Be aware that this is the photo that will appear in the slider, featured posts, related posts and the inline image in the list of blog posts.

To place a photo within the blog post, click on the "add media" button on the top toolbar in WordPress for the post. Upload your image. Once it is in the content, you can move it around as you please within the post. If you click on a graphic it will let you align it left, right, or center within a paragraph, as well as a standalone image. It is probably best to put a graphic at the very start of a paragraph. Every post should have at least one graphic.

Dimensions of photos

Slider: 1200x600

Inline image: 200x150

Featured post: 355x250

Related post: 140x80


Use the visual above to keep in mind how the photos you choose will be cropped into the different dimensions. Set photos that are 1200x600 as your featured photo for optimal display.

Categories and Tags

Every post should be assigned to at least one category. Try to use existing categories when you can. When you have to create a new one, make sure you check with an editor that you are creating something sensible.

Every post also needs to be tagged. The tags help link the posts together, are used in the tag cloud, and are used by search engines. Use existing tags when possible but create new tags as needed. Make sure your capitalization is consistent. Don't use stopwords or very common words as tags. Try to be broad and descriptive with your tags.

Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a tool which analyses blog pages and attempts to identify areas for improvement, both in terms of how the text is structured and how it is presented in search engines. If you want a more in-depth description of Yoast SEO and some of its main features, you may visit their online webpage [1].

The Yoast SEO tool has two tabs: Content and SEO. The Content tab focuses on analysis of trends within your content to check for basic readablity components. The SEO tab allows you to adjust your settings for how search engines find your post. In both tabs, the tool uses a color-coding system to indicate your performance for difference aspects of its analysis. If it is red, you should probably fix it (unless it is something we have chosen to ignore or take lightly). If it is yellow, you should try to fix it, but it isn't a huge priority. If it is green, leave it be, and way to go! Not all points need to be green; we will survive as long as we are happy with our content!

To get to the Yoast SEO tool for any post in the McNair blog:

  1. Go to the McNair Center dashboard by scrolling over the "The McNair Center" tab at the top of the McNair blog homepage and clicking "dashboard"
  2. On the left side of the screen, click on "Posts"
  3. Scroll over the title of your chosen blog post, then click the "Edit" button
  4. Scroll past the content box for the blog. Below the content box, you should find the "Yoast SEO" tool

Content tab

The Content tab uses algorithms to determine whether your text may be too complex for readability by a general internet readership. It will provide you with information about trends in your writing and offer suggestions for altering the text to make it easier to read and understand. Try to get the general score in this tab to orange or green. These are relatively straightforward, but more information on content analysis can be found at the Yoast SEO webpage [2].

Our priorities

Although we don't need to satisfy all of the plugin's standards for readability, we do want to make sure that our posts are not so high-level or unreadable that people will not want to read our pieces.

  • Reading ease: The Flesch reading ease test is used to determine what kind of reading level is necessary to read your post. Although we do not need to reach the plugin's standards for reading ease, try to keep your reading score to about 25-50. For reference, anything below 30 is meant for college graduates; 25-50 is approximately high school or college reading level [3].
  • Passive voice: The plugin specifies 10%; this is a good goal.
  • Sentence length: You should try to get your percentage of sentences with more than 20 words to approximately 40% or less. Click on the eye symbol next to the bullet point in the plugin to see which sentences are too long, and use this feature to find sentences which may be too complex or have too many points.
  • Paragraph length: We are looking for one main point per paragraph. Try to keep paragraphs short, but do not cut them to a point where they are no longer effective.
  • Subtitles: Anne has said that subtitles are a great idea for every blog post. Try to get at least 1 into every piece!
    • To make a subtitle: Type "<h3>Title name here</h3>" in the "text" function of WordPress for your blog post. The number after h (ex. 1, 2 3, ...) determines how big the subheading will be. For a big heading, use "<h1>". For a smaller heading, use a bigger number.
  • Other: Use your common sense.

SEO tab

This section describes some of the more common features of the SEO tab. More information on SEO analysis can be found at the Yoast SEO webpage [4].


The "slug" is the part of the URL that identifies your article (ex. for "/taylor_jacobe" is the slug). To choose your slug, use the "Snippet Editor" feature and use the "Slug" box. The plugin will say something if you slug includes a stop word. See below for more information on stop words and whether they will hurt or harm you in your specific case.

Focus Keyword

Note: We think that focus keyword may not be used by Google anymore, even though the plugin says otherwise. Google meta tags function similarly to the focus keyword, and we are allowed to have multiple. Because of this, you should just make your focus keyword something that will make the plugin happy and can be included in your meta description.

Your focus keyword is the word or phrase that you would put into a search engine to find this post. Picking a good focus keyword requires strategy in order to increase your chances of having your post ranked higher in search results. See link [5] for more on how to choose an appropriate focus keyword. Please also note that your focus keyword must also be in your meta description, so it should be a word or phrase that could be used in a sentence (ex. "Egan dog" for a post about Ed's dog would not be a good focus keyword because the phrase would be hard to use in a sentence in your meta description). We cannot specify more than one focus keyword per blog post, so be thoughtful in your choice.

Meta Description

The meta description is what is shown in the Google description when a link to your page comes up as a search result. It is important to use your focus keyword (see above) in your meta description. If there is no meta description or the meta description does not contain the focus keyword, Google will grab a random piece of text (usually the first sentence or two) from your blog and use that as the description. This is not optimal in terms of drawing in readers. To create the meta description, use the "Snippet Editor" feature in the SEO tab and input the description in the "Meta Description" box. See link [6] for tips on making a good meta description.

Common Pitfalls

Alt Attributes

For images, the alt tag describes the picture and its purpose. This function can also be used for disability access, as the description can be read aloud by a computer, allowing for individuals who are blind or cannot read to understand what the picture contributes to the post. See link for more details on how to create an alt tag and why it is important [7].

Stop Words

"Stop words" may be pointed out in the analysis, especially in your focus keyword or slug. These are words are often ignored by search engines, so if you include them in your URL or focus keyword, it could affect your chances of coming up as a search result. A list of Google stop words can be found here: [8]. Here is a tip on how to determine whether or not to use stop words in your title, keyword, or slug:

Search for the title of your blog post, with stop words and without them. If the results are different in both the cases, then it is clear that Google is considering the stop words. So, it makes sense for you to retain stop words in your title [9].



The slider uses the featured images of posts. Therefore, these images can vary wildly in size.

The current size of the sliders on the rotator are 1200x371 at 300dpi. This is a double golden ratio, and the psd file used to make new ones is:

E:\McNair\GraphicsAndWeb\Graphics Development\Double Golden Slider.psd


The dimensions of thumbnails for the list of blog posts can be changed in Settings > Media > General. As of 1/30/2017, thumbnails for these posts are 200x150 (confirmed with inspection).

Changing the thumbnail size for images in related posts is possible under Appearance > Widgets > Right Sidebar/Blog Right Sidebar > Yuzo: Related Post(s) > Style > Height & Width image (relative). However, as of now, it is not possible to change the proportions of these images. Currently the dimensions are supposed to be 140x80 (1.75:1 ratio) but are actually 138x78 (confirmed with inspection).

Slider/Thumbnails Comparison

The main thumbnails are squarer than the sidebar thumbnails, which show 133% more content width-wise.

A bigger issue is that the main and slider thumbnails are cut out of the middle of the sliders, when a slider is used as a featured image. Thus a slider actually breaks down as: 29.4% - 42.2% - 29.4% (352.5px - 495px - 352.5px) width-wise for the main thumbnail and 22.6% - 54.7% - 22.6% (272px - 656px - 272px) for the side thumbnail.

Currently, using the double golden ratio for the grey text box on the slider, the edge of the grey text box will appear in both the main and side thumbnails.

Other Resources for Search Optimization

This link has some details on how to tag your blog posts for Google search optimization through meta tags: [10]