Once you've written posts for your VPN website, it's time to publish them.
Publishing is all about how you get your posts online so that your words reach an audience. The publishing process involves things like appearance and aesthetics as well as keyword research and “on page SEO” (aka search engine optimization) of the content.
Basically, publishing is all about making sure Google can find your post so that readers can.
The importance and time involved in the publishing process should not be underestimated.
Breakdown of My Publishing Process
Just as with the writing process, your publishing process might end up being very different from mine below:
- At this stage I transform the written draft into a WordPress post. This can take a surprising amount of time as it's rarely a mere copy-and-paste from Word or Google Docs into WordPress.
- I add at least 1 image to the post and set a Featured Image (this sets the default thumbnail image used, for example, in site search results or social media sharing). This also takes time and thought as you need to make sure the image is not only appropriate but also optimized. For example, if the image’s file size is too large, the post will load too slowly and visitors will punish you by bouncing out quickly (hitting the ‘back’ button even before your post has fully displayed). Google also hates slow-loading posts and websites, and will drop you in its SERP rankings.
- I use the WordPress plugin Thrive Architect to fancy up the post. Usually this means adding colourful and prominent calls to action including buttons, pull quotes and summary tables. This is quick and easy to do if you have pre-saved these elements as Content Templates in Thrive.
- I add the necessary internal links to the content. These are links cross referencing other materials on my site.
- I add external links and affiliate links. These are links to other websites, including affiliate links to VPN partner websites. To keep people on my site even when they click on an external link, I make sure external links always open in a new browser tab. This is an option in WordPress and in Thrive Architect you can select when adding an external link in a post. For the affiliate links, I shorten them (sometimes called cloaking) with the free plugin, Pretty Links.
- As I use the Yoast SEO plugin (it’s free), I add a focus keyword for the post and check that Yoast shows as many green lights as possible. I’ll then also carefully draft a powerful meta description (this is the snippet Google often displays in its search engine results pages or SERP for short). For any elements that Yoast reports as falling short, I tweak the post as needed, but I am never blindly follow Yoast. I temper its suggestions with common sense.
- If needed, I then add any tracking codes or other such elements in the raw HTML of the post (WordPress and Thrive Architect let you edit post in raw HTML too).
- At this point, I can finally select Publish. But I am still not yet done.
- I’ll check the newly published post in other web browsers and devices, such as my iPhone, as well as with Screaming Frog. If the post needs further tweaking, I attend to it right away.
- If all is OK, I’ll then head over to Google Search Console and submit the post’s URL for indexing by Google. This ensures the new post gets picked up by Google as quickly as possible and is displayed in Google’s search engine results.
If I was to use a freelancer in the publishing process (to date I do not), I’d expect to get involved only at about step #6 above.
Introduction to the Publishing Process
As already mentioned, the writing process probably represents only one-half to two-thirds of the battle for getting a post online.
After writing the content, the rest of the time you need to invest is for publishing it. This includes formatting and technical WordPress matters to get the content “live” online.
And just as there is both art and science to writing a post, it’s the same for publishing posts too.
Many steps are needed to turn a piece of writing into an effective blog post.
Below, I go into more detail for some of the elements that appeared in ‘My Publishing Process’ bullet list earlier.
But first, let’s talk a little about establishing a standard or common layout for your posts.
By layout, I mean where to position the main elements of a post in relation to one another.
Early on, it is good to establish a “standard” layout and format for your posts, and then use it consistently.
If you fail to give this some thought and planning, your site will look like a hodgepodge of different looking posts over time. It looks very unprofessional when every post on the same website looks completely different!
But don’t get too hung up on this either. Simply spend a little time thinking about it, then settle on a general layout and format for your posts and stick with it.
Like my advice about your initial web hosting service and WordPress theme, you can always revisit your initial choices and change the layout and format of your posts if needed once the money starts rolling in.
Get inspiration about your post layout from sites you like and from your competitors and try to achieve a “best of” layout. And, of course, the layout of your posts may be influenced by your WordPress theme.
While there are also plenty of template layouts available, such as those offered by ThriveThemes, there is no need to go down that path until you start experiencing some success (and profits).
I tried a few different layouts and the one I settled on can be broken down as:
- H1 title
- By-line text in bolded italics
- Full-width image with caption
- Introductory paragraph or two
- H2 heading
- Rest of content including generous use of bullets, H2 to H4 headings, indentation, buttons and tables
- End with a call to action (often a button, clickable image or summary table) or referral to Related Content
For the last bullet, there are plugins and services you can use to auto-generate Related Content items. But you cannot always rely on their algorithm so, in some cases, it may be better if you add these manually to posts, especially if your goal is to send visitors to your cornerstone content. Of course, the manual process is not suitable where you have a lot of content that changes quickly (which would make your manually added recommendations quickly out of date).
Add at Least One Image to Every Post
It’s good to have at least one image on every post. This is crucial because the web is increasingly visual in nature.
But there is also an SEO consideration here: adding an image gives you yet another kick at the SEO can as it provides an opportunity for you to embed some keyword(s) in the image’s filename and meta tags.
Just always remember to be mobile-aware. Mobile traffic could be more important to your blog than normal desktop and laptop computer traffic. You don’t want to overdo images because this slows down the loading time of your posts and can turn off mobile visitors who will bounce off your site as quickly as they enter it.
Sources of Images
Images don’t have to be professionally taken or sourced at great expense. You can take them yourself. My wife is a photographer and in the early days of my VPN site I used her pictures for most of my posts.
If you take outdoor photos yourself, help your cause by taking them during the “golden hour”: that’s the time around sun set and sun rise. The soft lighting during these hours really help.
If you want professional images and can afford it or have a website where this is mandatory (such as a photography or design website), it’s hard to beat Shutterstock or Picfair, the latter having much more straight-forward pricing.
Optimize Images Before Adding them to Posts
Optimizing images before adding them to posts is easy but too often ignored. Make sure you optimize the images in your VPN blog posts.
Uploading large pictures - especially photos - can really make your posts load slowly and turn visitors off, resulting in lots of "bounces" away from your site. A bounce is when someone visits your page and leaves almost immediately without further interacting with your site.
Optimizing Images with Online Tools
You can optimize images quickly and easily using the free online tool at TinyJPG.com.
The free version of TinyJPG won’t accept multiple images or images that are too big and won’t resize or crop them for you. This means you will first need to resize any large images to a reasonable size before submitting them to TinyJPG.
You can also use Google’s own Squoosh. It too only lets you optimize one image at a time.
To optimize multiple images in bulk, consider ShortPixel. This wonderful online tool is free for optimizing up to 50 images at a time in a single batch.
Optimizing Images with Free Software
To optimize an image with software, use IrfanView (free) or a similar image app. On a Mac, you can resize your images easily in Preview.
If the image you are starting with is large, resize it (IrfanView hot key: Ctrl+R) so it is not too big. 780 to 900 pixels is a good maximum width for images.
Then further optimize the image by saving it in only as high a resolution as necessary. To do so, in IrfanView select File > Save for Web. This will open a new window and let you see the quality and file size of the image in different file formats (JPG, GIF and PNG). For example, screenshots will usually be smallest as .GIF files and photos as .JPG files.
Choose the smallest file size of good visual quality and save it. IrfanView compares the original and resampled images side-by-side (see screenshot).
Keeping good SEO in mind, when you save the image, make sure its filename includes the post’s focus keyword (discussed more below).
Elements of your Posts to Pay Especially Close Attention
The elements listed below are the most important for your posts, including from an SEO organic search perspective.
Your whole post is important, but you should pay special attention to those listed below. We recommend you make your life easy and use the free Yoast plugin which will guide you in all these respects.
- focus keyword of the post: this is the main word or, better yet, short phrase your post is themed around. Read more about Focus Keyword Research.
- post title: aka H1 heading, the post’s main subject title at the top of the post
- post URL: the link to the post containing your domain name (for example, https://ww.example.com/my-new-post)
- subtitle or by-line: a line under or near the post title further explaining or summarizing the post [optional]
- subheadings: H2 to H6
- SEO title tag: the words shown in the tab of your browser when viewing the post (this is separate from the post’s H1 heading but by default the text is often the same)
- featured image: usually the post’s main image which is shown as a thumbnail when the post is shared on social networks or displayed in your own site search results
- first and last paragraphs: these are key parts of the text of your post, your opening and your closing
- calls to action (CTA): think about the purpose of the post: is it intended to produce a click which sends the visitor to your VPN affiliate partner’s website or entice someone into subscribing to your newsletter, or convince them to share the post on social media, etc.
- meta description: the snippet that Google shows on its search engine results pages (SERPs). Think of it like a free ad: it should be written accordingly: brief yet punchy and intended to entice a visit
Top Tip - This is a good juncture to do some keyword research if you haven't already done so as part of the writing process. Keyword research is a great way to beef up your post's SEO value and increase its chances of ranking high in Google's search results.
Once you have finished polishing your post, preview it in WordPress and make sure that it looks good on desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
Apply any further tweaks that may be necessary. Once you are happy with it, you can publish the post.
Congratulations on publishing a new post! It's always a great feeling. 🙂
Top Tip - The first thing I do once a post is published, is check to it with Screaming Frog (free) for any issues like broken links or other problems. It only takes 2 minutes to check a post and I'd much rather catch any errors before Google does!
Once a Post is Published, Let Google Know about It
To help people find your published post as soon as possible, you need Google to index it. Only then can the post start to show up in Google’s SERPs.
You do this by gently nudging Google and letting it know that your new post exists. The best way is to manually submit your post is via Google Search Console.
This prompts Google to crawl your post, adding it to its index for visitors to find. There is no need to pay for any app or service to do this. Do it yourself. It is quick and easy.
In Google Search Console, simply enter the URL of your new post in the "Inspect any URL..." box at the top (see screenshot).
Give Google a moment to retrieve the URL. Once it's done, click on "Request Indexing" (see screenshot). That's it!
Taking these quick and easy steps will help Google "find" your post quickly and ensure it is added to Google’s index and thus its search engine results pages (SERPs) as soon as possible.
Sometimes I have had posts indexed almost immediately, but sometimes it can take some hours or even a few days.
After doing this, I add a short note to my Posts Master List spreadsheet that the post was successfully submitted to Google for indexing.
Make Sure any Updated Posts Are Indexed by Google Too
To confirm Google has indexed a post on your website, use relevant keywords to search for your posts in Google. For example, "Cogipas how to download torrents anonymously". If your (new) post shows up in the SERPs, great!
Perhaps you took my earlier advice to keep a running list of your posts in a spreadsheet as you publish and update them. Add an Indexed column which will remind you to ensure posts you publish or update are indexed and crawled by Google.
Whenever I finish updating a post, I also immediately ask Google to fetch it as above. This ensures the updated post is indexed and showing up in Google results as soon as possible, rather than hoping Google will find it.
Rinse and repeat, writing and publishing posts until you have something you can call a "website".
Unfortunately, this is really just the beginning of the hard work. Now your task turns to attracting more and more visitors over time. While is no shortage of methods for attracting visitors to your VPN website, some are better (and free) compared to others.
What's next for your VPN website?
attracting more visitors!