How To Publish an SEO Optimized Blog Post With Featured Image

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Phil Singleton

Phil Singleton is a Google Marketing and SEO expert in Kansas City. Contact Phil today for a free SEO strategy consultation.

seo optimized blog post

Table of Contents

This is the process we use at our agency(ies) to post text-based blog posts in WordPress (with a featured imaged) to quickly and seamlessly create an SEO optimized blog post every time.

This process has changed over time as Google’s algorithm changed, but what you see on this post is up to date  – and will continue to update the process as SEO evolves and adapts to Google, AI, etc.

This particular example show screenshot in WP Admin using WordPress Classic Editor plugin, but the process is very similar in the default Gutenberg editor if that is the admin interface you prefer to use.

Set the SEO optimized blog post title & url

Get the article to be posted from the writer or from your appropriate team member.

Make sure the blog post(s) have been approved by client. You are accountable for any blog post that has been posted without client approval.

Please note that our SEO 2.0  process is now “Video First” which means all new blogs that we publish feature a video with a summary blog post, but there are times we may use text based blog post to serve legacy client that are still in SEO 1.0, or for SEO 2.0 clients that may be stuck in video scheduling or have slow turn around times on video shoot scheduling.  We call these filler posts at our agencies.

Most of our SEO 1.0 blog posts are 600 to 800 words long.


Set the SEO Optimized Blog Post Title

In our process, the blog post should be provided to you with an optimized blog title and the Yoast Focus Keyword in bold.

How To Publish an SEO Optimized Blog Post With Featured Image

Simply copy and paste the blog title into the WordPress post title bar.  You can see that the keyword is in the title (“seo optimized blog post”)

post wordpress blog title

Set the Permalink (aka url, slug, etc)

WordPress will automatically generate the Permalink.

In most cases, you can leave the blog post permalink the same.  In some cases, it might make sense to remove the stop words (like “a” or “the” etc) and / or consolidate to a shorter url provided that it maintains the bolded keyword phrase in the blog post url:

how to set worpress permalink

For clients that are targeting a specific metro area, please add the name of the target in the post (if not in the title already).

For example:

seo slug optimization

Add the main copy into the body of the WordPress Post

In our SEO 2.0 process, the blog post provided to you (in Microsoft Word or via a Google Doc) will have the title, meta description and the main page copy including subtitles and possibly additional formatting such as numbered or bulleted lists.

The focus key for the Yoast Settings is in bold.

How To Publish an SEO Optimized Blog Post With Featured Image


WordPress blog copy optimization


Check for junk code

When you copy text in from MS Word or Google Docs, or any other source, please be sure to check the “Text” tab and verify that no other unnecessary HTML or other code is carried over.

wordpress junk code


Add / check for internal links

In most cases, these links are already included in the MS Word or Google Doc provided to you, but if not, you need to add at least three links to other pages on the site:

  • One link to a relevant core service page
  • One link to a relevant previous blog post
  • One call to action link to the contact page (in the last paragraph or sentence)
  • No links in first paragraph

It’s easy to add a hyperlink to an existing page or blog post on the website if they’re not already there when pasted in the copy from the source document.

wordpress blog copy hyperlinking


Check for Proper Formatting (Htags: H1, H2, H3, bullets or numbered lists, etc)

wordpress htags h1 h2

This one should be self explanatory – just be sure that the headings and subheading are properly tagged from H2 onward.

For all of our websites, the H1 tag is automatically generated in main post title, so no need to add an H1 on a Kansas City SEO client’s WordPress Website.

Set Taxonomy for an SEO Optimized Blog Post

Set Blog Post Format

This is a custom formatting option we use at Kansas City SEO, whereby we have a standard formatting as well as a format for a featured video instead of a feature image.

This example is for a static featured image post, so in our WP framework, you would select “Standard” for this type of post:

set blog post format wordpress

Select the proper category

It’s really important to properly categorize each blog post.

The blog category to select should be obvious, but if for some reason you are unsure of which category to select, please escalate this to the appropriate team member for guidance.

You can see in this case we selected the “SEO Process” category, so our team and web visitors can find all posts that are similar to this one.

Please don’t leave this as “uncategorized”!

setting wordpress post category


Select or add up to 3 post tags

Setting post tags is really important, but having a strategy behind the tags is absolutely critical.

In our SEP process, our goal is to add 3 post tags.

Many time people will incorrectly just add something random, or guess at something, or just stuff a random word in as a tag.  Please don’t do this.

In most cases, you should be able to choose from a list of previously used tags.

But if is a new site, or a site with a new blog (and not many previous entries) you may not have many relevant tags to choose from.

You can see in this case, I chose the “SEO Process” main category, and I used common sense to add three more that are clearly related to this post.

If you’re still unclear about what to put here, don’t guess – escalate this to your team leader so we can set a pool of tags for you to chose from going forward.

Tags are a very powerful way to consolidate content and if properly optima, the tag links can rank for highly competitive keywords phrases.

You can see in this example I selected blogging, content marketing and WordPress, three existing tags that are highly relevant to this post.

In all honesty, tagging is an art.  It’s so powerful yet takes extra effort to think about how to group content into tags, and maybe be outside the skillset of many agency personnel, even with a lot of training (at least to get the full benefit).


setting wordpress blog post tags


Add a Featured Image

Images, just like blog post tags, are a tremendous opportunity for SEO.

With just a few simple steps, we can vastly improve the ranking power and visibility of a blog post and the content within the blog post.

There are several critical tasks involved with a feature image:

Optimize the image

The image needs to be at least 1200 pixels wide: you must resize the image to 1200 or 1280 max, and be sure to optimize the size and not load large image sizes.

Do not rely on compression plugins alone – re-size the image if needed and change the file name as per above.

Rename the image file

Rename the file name with the focus keyword.  Do not leave an autogenerated name or and Adobe Stock name or default camera-generated file name.

Set the image alt tag

Use the focus keyword phrase as the alt tag.

Set the image title

Use an actual description of the image as the image title, or a longer variation of the focus keyword

wordpress featured image


Set the Table of Contents

Google and humans love structure and having a table of contents not only improves the usefulness of the content, but is also make for excellent op-page optimization.

If you are client of our, we set this up in our custom web design & development, you don’t have to do anything to set the TOC as if will automatically generate when you publish the post.

YOU DO HOWEVER need to check the format to make sure a blank Htag did not sneak into the post and cause a gap in the TOC list.

Note: if you’re working on an agency account and there is no TOC, please escalate this to a team member to see if our dev team can create a new blog page template to accurate.


blog post table of contents




Set Focus Keyword, Title & Meta Description (via Yoast Plugin)

The great thing about our SEO Process is that when our SEO specialists gets the blog post content, it includes the Title, Meta and focus keyword!

Our system is designed for you to drop in the content and almost all of the time you will get a Yoast Green Light that passes their Good rating threshold.

Set the Focus Keyphrase

At our agency, the focus keyphrase is provided to you in the MS Word Doc or Google Doc file.

As mentioned at the beginning of this post the focus keyphrase is provided to you in bold:

How To Publish an SEO Optimized Blog Post With Featured Image

Simply add the the bold words in to the Focus keyphrase field:


yoast seo blog settings

Set the Page Title

Even in today’s SEO, in terms of SEO basics, setting the page title is super important for blog post optimization.

This is super easy – simply copy and paste the same blog title here.

It should already have the focus keyphrase in the SEO title:

yoast seo title

Set the Meta Description

Also very easy: the Meta Description should be provided to you in the MS Word or Google Doc.

The keyword phrase must be included in the Meta description

But if you’re reading this as an informational guide, you may need to create this on the fly.

yoast seo meta description

Check the Yoast SEO Analysis Suggestions

The goal is to get to a green light, but it’s great if you can check the suggestions for a quick and easy fix to make any improvement you may have missed:

yoast seo analysis


Get Yoast SEO Score to Green

Our blog posts are engineered to be Yoast green “out of the box”, so as one of our SEO specialists you should be able to have a happy face waiting for you at the bottom of the page.

If not, you may need to address some of the suggestions until you get to a green light.

yoast green light

Publish the SEO Optimized Blog Post

Be sure to check the date and time

publish wordpress blog post

Be sure to attribute authorship to appropriate author

At Kansas City SEO, we focus on Google’s E-E-A-T principles.

We MUST tie content to the author!

wordpress author settings


Add Structured Data & Schema

Structured data is on of the most powerful, underutilized, and improperly used on-page SEO elements.

We use WP SEO Structured Data Pro – an inhouse plugin we made a few years ago for our own use, then released to the WordPress community.

Our free version is not great (pretty labor intensive) but the Pro version makes things really easy to make custom while not being auto-generated.

The pro version should already be installed on all client websites.

Every blog post should have at least the Blog Tab marked up:


Test Structured Data & Schema

While structured data and schema are an important part of on-page SEO, it not only takes extra effort to properly markup a page, but no schema is better than wrong schema.

Therefore you must ALWAYS check the blog post to make sure it passes Google’s Rich Snippet Test Tool:

google rich snippet test tool wordpress


You need to verify that all structured data on the page passes:

google structure data test


Prepare for Social Media Distribution

In our process, after a blog post is optimized and published, the next step is to distribute across the client’s social media platform

In our client relationships, this is handled on a case by case basis.

We always send and email to the client so to notify them that a new post has been published and provide a link to the blog post on their site.

In some cases, we leverage technology to distribute new blog post to social media channels.

Our goal is to publish non-video blog posts to the following client platforms:

  • Google Business Profile
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

If you’re a prospective client and need someone to help you with op-page SEO or search engine optimization in general, contact us today for a free SEO strategy consultation.