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Creating a blog post can seem straightforward, there are however lots of different aspects that you need to remember to do before publishing a post.
Have you remembered to change your post’s URL, did you check the title length? Also did you make sure all your external links open up in a new window and have you used nofollow links, did you proofread your content before clicking on the “Publish” button?
The list of things to do is endless. It is important therefore that for every blog post that you write, you follow a strict checklist to make sure you have not missed anything. Forgetting an important step can have a negative impact on your post which in turn could mean less people get to read it, which is not what you want. In this article we have come up with an easy to follow checklist of 20 items to do before you go live with your blog post.
1. Use an Effective Title
The title in your blog post is one of the most important aspects. It will likely be one of first things apart from the meta description that a user will see when they come across it in the search engine results.
If you have a dull title and if it’s not descriptive enough, users are unlikely to click through to your post even if it is a fantastic read, so all your hard work will go to waste.
There are billions of sites out there, so you need to give your user a reason to click on your post. The way to achieve this is with a great title.
The key to a great title is keep it concise and clear but it also needs to arouse their interest. You also need to mention the main keywords preferably as early on as possible. Search engines use your title to determine how relevant your content is and therefore you should always use appropriate keywords to help you rank in the searches.
When you come up with the title, ask yourself, how likely is someone going to type it into Google? If the answer is not very likely, you will need to reword it so that it’s more relevant.
2. Is Your Title the Right Length?
When coming up with a title for your blog post always consider length. Your title should be less than 60 characters, if it’s not, Google will cut part of it off.
If your title is longer than 60 characters, it’s not going to fully show up, which means your potential visitors may not know what your post is all about, and therefore they won’t click through.
If you have the Yoast SEO plugin installed, it will display how your title will look in the search engines, so you can easily correct it if it’s too long.
3. Ensure You Use Long-Tail Keywords
Before coming up with a post, you first need to perform some initial research on the keywords you want to rank for. Using a keyword research tool such as SEMRush will allow you to see the number of monthly searches for a particular phrase as well as the difficulty to rank for that term.
Ideally you want to be going after long-tail keywords, these are normally less competitive than a single word. You should be looking for long-tail keywords that have high monthly search volumes in excess of 1000 ideally and that are less difficult to rank for.
Once you have uncovered a good keyword, you will need to optimize your post for it. This is extremely important, as you want to rank for that particular keyword in order to get valuable organic traffic to your post.
In order to optimize your post for the particular keyword, ensure you mention the keyword in the following sections:
- In the title
- Include it in the meta description
- Include it within the URL
- Within the body of the post (beginning and end)
- Include it in at least one of the header tags
- Image alt text
While it’s important to include the keyword in your post, avoid keyword stuffing. It won’t improve your chances of ranking higher and it could mean that you get penalized by Google. Aim to write with the reader in mind and not the search engine.
Yoast SEO is helpful as it will highlight if you’ve used the keyword effectively throughout your post (see below).
4. Use Keyword Variations
Once you have identified the long-tail keyword that you’re aiming to rank for in you article, ensure that you also find relevant synonyms which you can include within your article. If you’re using SEMRush, enter your long-tail keyword and it will list alternative keywords which you can use.
The more keyword variations and related keywords that you have within your post, the more likely you will rank for those terms.
5. Does it Contain an Introduction?
A visitor to your site may have clicked on your post from a search engine as you managed to catch their attention because you came up with a great title and meta description.
That’s great, but now your job is to convince them to read your post and you only have a few seconds to do this in. This is where your introduction comes into play, all your posts should have one. Coming up with an engaging one is extremely important, you need to connect with your reader.
The secret to coming up with an introduction is to keep it concise, you don’t want your reader to get bored before they reach the actual content and just leave your site. You also need to draw your reader in. Depending on your post, identify with their issue and explain how you will help solve it for them. Finally, provide them with an overview of what your post will cover and make them curious so that they continue reading on.
Remember, people are time poor, your job is to convince them that what you have written is worthwhile and will add value once they have read it.
6. Use Nofollow for External Links
When linking to external sites always ensure that you use nofollow links, that way you won’t pass PageRank to another page. It also means Google can’t penalize you for linking out too much, which can happen.
Don’t forget for outbound links to also always have them open in a new window. Your aim is to keep your visitors on your site for as long as possible and therefore reduce your bounce rate so have all external links open in a new window.
If you’re monetising your site through affiliate marketing, think about using an affiliate management tool such as ThirstyAffiliates. ThirstyAffiliates will automatically use nofollow links by default, so you will never need to remember to do this.
7. Use Categories and Tags
Before you click on the publish button always remember to assign a category to your post. If you fail to do this, it will show up as uncategorized which is not what you want.
Categories allow you to organize your content and it also helps your visitors to easily find what they are looking for. This allows them to navigate through your site. It is also beneficial in terms of SEO as it allows Google to know which posts relate to one other.
Remember to always add relevant tags to your posts as well. Tags allow you to link posts that mention particular words. This will allow your site visitors to locate similar posts that they may be interested in.
8. Use ALT Text for Images
Images are a perfect way to make your posts more engaging. They can also be a great way to drive traffic from Google Image searches to your site.
For example, if you run a fashion blog, a potential visitor may type into Google Images search “square neck midi dress”. If you have added “square neck midi dress” to the Alt text of one of your images, it may show up in the users search results and they may click on it to get to your site.
It is important that you always remember to populate the Alt (alternate) text for each image. This assists the search engines in understanding what your image is all about and this will help them rank in the Image search results.
Not only does it have a SEO benefit but it also has benefits for your visitors to your site. For example, if an image can’t be found or displayed it will display the alternative Alt text instead. This is extremely useful for users with visual impairment issues who are using screen readers.
When populating the Alt text aim to use your main keyword, providing it’s relevant, as this will help with your blog’s SEO.
9. Optimize Your Images
Before you upload your images to WordPress always ensure that they are fully resized and compressed. Too many large images on a post can slow it down and can affect your SEO rankings.
Try to keep all images to below 1200 px in width and your images should ideally be less than 100 kb in size.
Consider installing an image compression plugin such as Smush which will automatically compress your images without losing quality as soon as you upload them to your site.
10. Use Interlinking
When writing a post try to link to other related articles on your site. Often this may be overlooked, but internal interlinking allows your visitors to find related content easily and it also means they will remain longer on your site. This helps reduce your bounce rate and increase your pageviews and session duration.
It also has a valuable effect on SEO as it allows search engine crawlers to better understand the structure of your site, the relationship between pages and the importance of each page, and it also helps spread the link juice.
Where possible try to link to at least 3 old posts. As your site grows this should be particularly easy as there will be more content to link to.
11. Update Your URL
If you don’t provide an URL for your post, WordPress will use your post’s title instead. It is important therefore that you manually optimise your slug (URL) for your post.
If you have Yoast SEO installed, changing the URL is straightforward. Simply head to the Yoast SEO section under your content editor and click on “Edit Snippet”. In the Slug textbox, enter your URL.
When changing your post’s URL, ensure it includes your long-tail-keyword and keep it relatively short but make sure that you can tell from the URL what the post is all about.
12. Meta Description
Meta description is the snippet of text that search engines display underneath your title, which details what your article is all about.
This is extremely important as it provides a potential visitor to your site an overview of what your post is about. With the meta description, you are essentially trying to entice your visitor to click on your article instead of someone else’s.
A good Meta description can determine your click-through rates so it’s vital that you come-up with an engaging one that tempts the user to click on it.
If you don’t provide one yourself, WordPress will by default use the first few lines of the opening text of your post which often may not be ideal. It is beneficial that you therefore come-up with one of your own.
A good meta description must contain the following important elements:
- Description must be engaging and accurately describe the contents of your post.
- Aim for it to be less than 160 characters long. Anything over this, the text will be cut off in the search results.
- Include long-tail keyword terms so that your audience and search engines understand what your content is all about.
If you use Yoast SEO you can easily modify the meta description (see below).
13. Use Call to Action
With each of your posts you will probably want to include a call-to-action (CTA). The desired action that you will want your visitor to perform will largely depend on the type of site you’re running, as well as the specific blog post.
Some common CTA examples may include:
- If you’re monetizing your site/post through affiliate marketing, you will want your reader to buy the product that you’ve just mentioned in the post. For example, if you’re promoting a product listed on Amazon, you could ask them to click on the following link to check the product out on Amazon.
- If you want your reader to promote your content, you could ask them to “Like” your article, or you could ask them share it on Pinterest, Twitter or Facebook. Ensure you have sharing buttons on each post for this.
- If you would like your visitors to sign-up to your email list, you can ask then to provide their email address.
- If you want to encourage user engagement, you can ask them to comment on your post.
For an effective CTA, ensure that is stands out and grabs your visitor’s attention in order for it to convert well. For example, you could use a different colour, or you make the font bigger (see below).
It is important to understand what works best so experiment with the look as well as the placement of your CTA. Does the CTA work best if it’s placed at the beginning of the article or in the conclusion? Does it work better if I use red text or if I highlight the text in yellow?
14. Make Your Content Easy to Read
However good you think your post is, people are unlikely to read it fully, they are more likely to skim through it. It is for this reason you should make it as easy as possible for your visitors to do this, so that they can read the relevant sections that they are interested in.
In order to make your content as easy to read as possible, ensure you perform the following:
- Use subheadings to group similar content together. H1 headings should be used for the blog post title only. H2 headings should be used for your main sub-headings and headings 3-6 should be used for content that is less important. Ensure you mention your keywords in the relevant headings as search engines will use these to rank your content.
- Keep paragraphs to no more than 4 sentences long this way you can hold onto your visitor’s attention for longer.
- Use images to break-up your text and use them to draw your user’s eyes to important sections of your post.
- To make important text stand out, make it bold this will attract your visitor’s attention. Don’t go overboard and try to make all your text bold as this defeats the purpose.
15. Is Your Post Mobile Friendly?
Open up Google Analytics and check the “Sessions by device” section for your site. Depending on the nature of your site, you may see that the percentage of people viewing it on mobile devices is relatively high, it may even exceed desktop devices.
This trend is only likely to increase. More and more people are now using mobile devices to browse the web. It is for this reason your site should be mobile responsive and each of your posts that you publish should be viewable on these devices.
If you’ve written a post where you have used lots of graphics and tables, make sure that they can be viewed correctly on mobile devices. If you’re using tables, ensure that all columns are viewable, the last thing you want to find is only part of the table is showing, as it’s too large.
16. Are You Capturing Users Emails?
Growing your email list should be one of your top priorities. Having a list of subscribers will allow you to engage with your visitors. For example, you can inform your subscribers when a new blog post has been published or you send them an email to inform them of a new course that you’ve created. It is therefore a great tool to increase your site’s traffic, and you can also use it to increase your earnings.
When you create your post, don’t forget to include an email opt-in form into it, which will allow you to get more subscribers.
Creating opt-in forms is a relatively straightforward process. A great lead generation tool that we would recommend is OptinMonster. It allows you to create a number of different sign-up forms including sidebar forms, lightbox popups etc. OptinMonster integrates with most email newsletter tools including MailChimp.
17. Proofread Your Post
You’ve created a wonderful 10,000 length post which has lots of engaging images, unfortunately you have not proof-read it and you haven’t realised it is littered with lots of typos and grammatical errors. Visitors are reading your post but they are not staying for long and you’re not sure why this is the case.
However good your content is, if it has lots of spelling and grammatical mistakes your visitors will take one look at it and they will just leave, as they won’t trust what you’re saying. Proofreading your posts before publishing them is vital.
Once you’ve completed a post, leave it for 24 hours and then come back to it and re-read it. You will see it in a new perspective and you’re more likely to spot any mistakes. If you can get someone else to read your content all the better, they will bring a fresh pair of eyes.
Consider installing a grammar checker such as Grammarly which will catch grammar and typo mistakes that you may have missed.
18. Preview Before Publishing
Before publishing an article, always preview it so that you get to see how it will actually look like on your site.
While you’ve seen your article in the backend using the content editor, you can easily miss simple issues relating to formatting, design and other issues, so it’s important to preview it.
Check the images and formatting and also check that all links are working. Missing such simple mistakes before publishing a post can have a detrimental effect in the eyes of your visitors, so avoid this, and always check before clicking on the publish button.
19. Publishing Your Post
Once you’ve completed your post and fully reviewed it and corrected any mistakes, it’s time to publish your post. Instead of just clicking on the Publish button, it’s advisable that you schedule it instead.
Try to keep to a consistent publishing schedule. If you publish a new post weekly, try to publish it on the same day and time every week. If you follow an inconsistent publishing schedule, your readers will likely get confused as to when new content will appear on your site, so consistency is key.
In order to determine the best day of the week and time to publish an article, check your site’s statistics in Google Analytics to find out when it’s the most popular with your audience. With this key information, you will then know the optimal time to publish your posts.
20. Promote Your Post
When you click on the Publish button you can’t expect your post to rank overnight. In order to promote it, you should use social media. Try to promote your post on at least 3 social media channels i.e. Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc.
Create great looking pins using Canva and add these to your Pinterest account. It is advisable to create several pins so that you can experiment to see which ones works best.
Following a publishing checklist for each of your posts can be a useful way to come up with quality posts that are consistent in nature. If you focus on creating engaging content and follow the steps listed in this checklist, we’re sure that you can grow your site successfully.