Publishing with confidence - a beginner's guide to posting in ExpressionEngine
Pages, blog posts, content updates - all of it is possible (and intuitive) from within ExpressionEngine. Managing multiple websites from one location, viewing the blueprint of your website and editing anything your heart desires from an easy-to-read layout of your site is one of the many reasons we advocate for this CMS. Nevertheless, it’s never a bad idea to consult a how-to article, and we’ve got your back. Bookmark this page or print it out and keep it on hand - this is your official ExpressionEngine cheat sheet when it comes to time make some changes.
Before you start publishing anything, you should decide what you’re in the market to do while you’re logged on. The two general tasks we’ll cover here are: adding or editing a static page on your site (or in other words, one of the core pages that make up your website) and adding or editing a one-off content item, like a blog post or an event.
For the former, we recommend heading to the Structure tab once you’ve logged into ExpressionEngine.
Here, you’ll be looking at a blueprint of your website, and making a change to any page is as easy as clicking the one in question.
For the latter, we suggest hitting the Content tab, and navigating to either Publish or Edit. Once you’ve chosen any of our bolded items above, editing, changing and creating content is all relatively similar!
To make the information we’re about to share as accessible as possible, we’ll break down each tab and the role it plays on your journey to publishing with confidence. We’ll also include examples of what we choose to use while writing this guide and search engine optimization (SEO) best-practices to keep in mind that will help maximize your readership.
*The following guide is an example of how to publish a blog post, however the process for publishing or editing a static web-page is very similar.
The ‘Publish’ tab
Title: Your blogs name.
URL Title: This will come after your website's domain as well as any category you may be classifying the post under. For SEO purposes, make it the same as your title with dashes separating each word. If it is a longer title use the main keywords the page is targeted for. Considering this guide has a longer title, we decided to align our main keywords with the URL /blogs/how-to-publish-in-expressionengine.
Author Type: The author can typically be categorized as ‘team member’ or ‘guest writer.’ Guest writers can be a great investment for your blog when you want to write about a topic out of your team's realm. They can also bring an online following with them which sometimes makes a significant contribution to your long-term readership.
Author: Choose the author responsible for drafting the blog. To create your list of authors, you will need to add each one as a team member.
Excerpt for listing pages: This section will act as a teaser for your blog when it is listed on your homepage or blog page. One to two sentences should be sufficient enough to give you readers a good idea of what the blog is about, and a hook for why they should want to read it. If you found this guide by browsing our blog page, this is what you would have read in our excerpt. Before you start publishing anything, you should decide what you’re in the market to do while you’re logged on. The two general tasks we’ll cover here are: adding or editing a static page on your site and adding or editing a news post or an event.
Main article content: Insert blog here, but don’t type it! It’s much easier to type and format your blog somewhere else and paste it in once it’s ready to go. The important part to keep in mind here is that formatting like bold words, hyperlinks and images will not carry over, so some fine-tuning may be required inside of this section. You’re now ready to scroll to the top and enter the date tab.
The ‘Date’ tab
Entry Date: Just because becuase you’re finished your blog doesn’t mean you have to post it right away. In fact, there are certain days and times that have a much higher chance of getting your content viewed. The other important publishing practice to adopt is planning a consistent content schedule. By posting on a consistent basis, you give any new reader that enjoyed your content a reason to return tomorrow, next week, next month, etc.. If you don't post consistently, they don’t know when (or have a reason) to come back.
Expiration Date: There’s no real reason to expire a blog post. It makes sense to expire informative posts like news and events, because they are only temporary information pieces, compared to long-term value-adding pieces. Some websites most value-adding resources in terms of SEO were published four to five years ago!
Comment Expiration: We highly encourage you to interact with your readers in the blog comment section. Unfortunately blog comments tend to get spammed by robots over time, so it may be wise to disable comments after 6-7 months. In the meantime, you can require all blog comments to be pre-approved by an editor in order to directly communicate with your readers and promote communication.
The ‘Categories’ tab
This is where you assign the category(s) for your new blog. You can also edit or add new categories from this section. There’s no perfect amount of blog categories, because it really depends what your website is publishing for and how large your audience is. Charcoal Marketing specializes in helping companies increase their web presence with custom built sites and an inbound marketing strategy, so naturally we write blogs about that! Digital marketing is somewhat niche, which is why we only use eight blog categories. There more broad your content is, the more categories you can use, but be careful to not over-do it as it can cause your users to get overwhelmed with options. We categorize our blogs with Design & UX, Inbound Marketing, Technology, Branding, Web Highlights, Tips, Web Highlights and Infographics.
The ‘Structure’ tab
Unless you’re trying to move this page to a different place on your site (which can also be achieved by dragging pages around from the Structure section available to you when you first log in) you’re safe to ignore this tab on the way to putting your new page/changes live!
The ‘SEO Lite’ tab
SEO title: This is the title that will show up in Google. This does not directly affect SEO, but will affect search engine users decision to click on your link over another. You are limited to 60 characters, so choose attention grabbing words related with your topic, don’t just repeat your title. An ideal SEO title for this blog would be something like “Easiest way to publish a blog in ExpressionEngine.”
SEO meta keywords: An added layer of communication to Hummingbird, Google's search algorithm, to tell it which keywords the article is about. In this guide, we targeted ExpressionEngine, SEO, how to publish a blog, CMS tips.
SEO meta description: Similar to the SEO title, the meta description is designed to capture users attention. If you successfully captured their attention with your title for 1 second, you have about 3 more seconds and 160 characters to convince them to click on your link. Considering you caught their attention with your SEO title, this is where users will be looking to find out what they can expect in exchange for their click to your link. If you found this guide through a search engine, we probably caught your attention with “Step by step guide for publishing content in expressionengine that will leave you with more time to write, not more confusion.”
Once you have entered all the above fields, you are ready to submit! If your entry date is set to today, your blog will publish right away. You can also schedule a content calendar, by submitting content to be published in the future. If you would like any more tips or help with publishing in ExpressionEngine, let’s talk about it!