10 Items Checklist Before Publishing Your Blog Post

10 Things You Should Do Before Publishing Your Blog Post

Once you have a well written post that you know will provide value to your website visitors, there are still tasks you need to take care of to make sure your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Think of these as fine tuning and optimizing your content in order to product the results you are looking for whether that is increasing leads, sales or getting more traffic to your site.

In order to have a well written post that you know will provide value to your website visitors, there are tasks you need to take care of to make sure your hard work doesn’t go unnoticed. Think of these as fine tuning and optimizing your content in order to produce the results you are looking for whether that is increasing leads, sales or getting more traffic to your site.

You are probably familiar with the term Search-Engine-Optimization (SEO), the process of getting traffic from the “free,” “organic,” “editorial” or “natural” search results on search engines. All major search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo have primary search results, where web pages and other content such as videos or local listings are shown and ranked based on what the search engine considers most relevant to users. In essence SEO refers to the process of making sure the contents of your blog appear high on search engines mentioned above.

1. Perform Keyword Research

First things first. You need to know which keyword or keywords you want to concentrate upon in order to build your in order to build your content. You do this by performing some keyword research which lets you know what keywords and/or phrases are relevant and see how many users search for them each month.

You can build your content around these keywords. By finding out what keywords your target audience is looking for, you can design content that drives them to your site.

Once you have decided on a keyword or keywords for your content, you can then use Google’s Keyword Planner tool to search for related keywords.

For instance, let’s say users find your site based on the keyword “Web Design” You can add this term into the planner. In turn, it will offer a list of keywords by relevance you can use, along with data about average monthly searches and how high the competition is for each one.

Google Keyword Planner Dashboard

Once you’ve done that, you can create posts that are organically centered around the keywords your users are interested in.

2. Optimize the post based on your keyword(s)

Once you have one or more keywords, you can create content that’s optimized for them. The easiest way to do this is by utilizing a dedicated WordPress plugin. The WordPress free plugins section lists several, such as Yoast SEO or All in One SEO Pack, both can help you craft content based on a given keyword.

Yoast SEO makes this task very simple. You can simply enter a keyword to get real-time information about your post.

Yoast SEO will show you how you can improve your post to make it more applicable for the chosen keyword. For example, you may have included the phrase too many times in your text, or placed it in the right locations.

Although it is important to optimize your post, try not to overdo it. You may instead hurt your SEO rankings by ‘over-optimization’. Meaning if you go too far in your attempts to make your content primed for search engines, they’ll actually penalize you for it.

All this means is that you need to be cautious. Don’t use the same keyword too many times, and don’t use irrelevant keywords in an attempt to ‘trick’ the search engine into indexing your page. Ultimately, SEO is important but it should be in service to your content (not the other way around).

3. Optimize Your Headline

The headline is the first thing your visitors see when they come across your post. In fact, it may very well be the only thing they see if they come across it on a search engine or social media post. For this reason it is important to make your headline informative and interesting enough that will make people read your article.

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to writing a very good headline, there are a few common tricks that tend to work. For example, headlines with numbers and how-to guides often get more clicks.

For example, let’s say your initial headline is “Optimize Your Blog Post.” While this accurately reflects the content of your post, it’s vague and doesn’t exactly attract attention. A better alternative would be “10 Ways to Optimize Your Blog Post for A Higher Click Through Rate.” Not only does the second headline describes the post’s content, it also it does so in a way that says something about its format as well.

There are several other ways you can write a snappy, attention-grabbing headline. You could add a question that the article answers or include specific brand names that are mentioned in the content of the post. Think about your audience and their interests and try to create a name that addresses their needs.

However, it is important not use ‘clickbait’ to promote your articles. Your headlines should always reflect each post’s content without promising too much. They should not trick people into clicking through as this will ultimately frustrate your visitors. Compelling but accurate headlines are always the best bet.

4. Write a Meta Description

A meta description is the code placed inside the head tags of your webpage

<meta name="description" content="This is the description sentence or short paragraph about the article or post.">

which in turn gets reflected as the snippet of text you see underneath a page’s title in search results which normally is used to summarize the contents of the page.

Think of this as the elevator pitch for your post. The purpose of the meta description is ultimately to get users to click through to the actual article. It gives an opportunity to sell your post to a would-be reader, therefore it should match the content and feature the post’s keyword.

A meta description can only be between about 100 to 320 characters ensuring that your descriptions make sense in the first 110 – 130 characters as this will work well on mobile as well as the current average length of desktop search snippets. For that reason, you need to consider the key points of the post and ask yourself why someone would want to read it. Then, engage your reader with that information right away. The benefits of reading your blog post should be clear to the reader on the headline and the description.

Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t allow you to add meta descriptions by default, but plenty of plugins include the option. For example, I’ve already mentioned Yoast SEO, which also lets you create meta descriptions for your posts when editing.

Yoast SEO Snippet Preview

It is important to know that if you do not supply a meta description, search engines will randomly generate one. They do so by simply pulling out a snippet of your content that they think is relevant. They aren’t always good at making that call, therefore you’re better off creating dedicated meta descriptions.

5. Proofread Your Post Thoroughly

Everyone makes mistakes regardless how good your grasp is on the written word. You will certainly make at least one or two errors when writing a post. If you are lucky this could range anywhere from a simple typo to a miscalculation or a broken link or it might be something involving much more time to fix.

Regardless, you avoid publishing errors by proofreading your post. Proofreading is an integral part of writing, as it helps you catch mistakes before publishing. This is extremely important, as even minor errors can give the impression of being sloppy and unprofessional. It also gives you an opportunity to revisit your post from a more analytical perspective, enabling you to improve it before publishing.

Like writing, proofreading is a skill that can improve over time. Here are some tips* to help you get started:

  • Don’t rely on spell checkers. Grammar and spell check software can be a great resource, but they can also be unreliable.
  • Allow some time to pass after you finish writing/editing and before you start proofreading.
  • Print out your text and proofread on paper.
  • If there is some reason that prevents you from printing, use a distinctive typeface and dramatically increase the point size before proofing.
  • Pay particular attention to names (people, books, movies, songs), addresses, titles and dates.
  • Check what Daphne Gray-Grant calls the “big, obvious yet somehow invisible” stuff.
  • Start at the end.
  • Put a ruler underneath each line as you read the text.
  • Consider what you might have left out.
  • Make a list of your own common spelling or grammar errors
  • Read your work aloud at least once.
  • Proofread early in the day. This is when you’re most alert and can give the most attention to the details.
  • Read your post aloud. You’ll catch a lot more errors this way.

It is also a good idea to show the post to someone else. Ask someone you trust to read through it and provide you with some genuine and constructive feedback. This will also help you gauge how well the purpose and point of the text come across to your intended readers.

6. Format Your Content

The way you present your content is just as important as the content itself. Therefore, you should take a moment to check the formatting on your post before publishing it.

Beginning with your paragraphs. The most significant aspect to consider when it comes to structuring paragraphs well is length. Make sure the paragraphs on your post are brief and have a good rhythm, so that each one logically leads into the next. Aim also at varying longer and shorter paragraphs to create a good flow when reading.

Another aspect to consider is the separation of your content with subheadings. A useful rule of thumb when using subheadings is to keep your sections to no longer than 300 words. Therefore, unless your blog post is very short, always have some subheadings.

You’ll also want to make sure that you use the right heading levels. H1 tags should only be used exclusively for the page’s title, followed by H2 and H3 tags. You shouldn’t be using H4 unless the post is long or contains topics that require a lot of complexity.

This will make your post much easier to read and allow users to find the information they need quickly. It also makes your text more skimmable, which is necessary since many internet users only skim through articles rather than reading every single word.

Finally, you should use a consistent formatting style across all your posts. You can ensure this by creating a style guide for your blog. A style guide defines your blog’s format, which is especially useful if you share it with other writers. Make sure that the formatting and tone you use always matches that of your style guide to create a coherent voice that speaks to your target audience.

7. Add Optimized Images

A picture is worth a thousand words. Using images adds plenty of benefits to your posts.

Images complement the written word in a visually appealing way. They help your post feel more substantial and can add extra value through in the case of including infographics or other visual aids. Images can even be used to improve your SEO. However, to get any of these benefits, you’ll need to use images thoughtfully.

It is important that you optimize your images for size. Large, high-quality images in particular demand a lot of storage space, which makes your site slower and can have significant negative effects on your site. When you optimize your images, you can reduce their size without affecting their quality.

There are several image optimization solutions available for WordPress, but I would recommend the ShortPixel plugin.

This free plugin can compress all your past images and PDF documents with a single click. New images are automatically resized/rescaled and optimized on the fly, in the background. It can even bulk-optimize your entire gallery to significantly cut down on loading times.

Another important task is to add a featured image to every post. The featured image essentially acts as a visual complement to your post’s headline. Not only is this the image that will appear above your post’s content, it’s also used on your blog’s homepage and when shared on social media.

Finally, it’s very important to add all required attributes and formatting to your images. One of the most important elements is the alt text, which is a text snippet that describes the contents of the image. The alt text is used when the image cannot be loaded, and by screen readers for visually impaired users. Alt text also makes your site more accessible, which is always beneficial.

8. Link to Internal Content

When someone visits your blog, you want them to stick around for a while. A way to do so is by linking to other content on your own website. This allows your readers to find additional related posts they might be interested in.

Internal linking is key for SEO because it helps search engines find all of your content faster while giving them a better understanding of the structure of your site. It also increases your post’s link equity, which is a metric used by search engines to determine the quality and value of a blog post.

There are several things to consider when adding internal links. First, avoid linking to your homepage or contact form too much. Consider the end user and don’t sprinkle in links just for the sake of doing so. Only add links where they’re relevant and use clear anchor text.

9. Include Links to External Content

Why should I send my precious users to other sites? External links are almost as important as internal links.

First of all, external links gives your post more value to your readers. It shows that you support the ideas you’re sharing and provides additional resources, so readers can explore the topic further. A blog which links only to itself can quickly come across as untrustworthy.

External links also help improve your SEO, since search engines use them to calculate relevancy. Meaning that if you link to high-quality sites similar to yours, search engines may raise your site’s ranking as a result and makes it easier for search engines to understand your site’s purpose and subject matter.

Avoid linking to ‘bad’ sites, and stick to trusted, authoritative sites instead. Otherwise, Google, Bing and other Search Engines may penalize you. You should never resort to link farming, as this is considered a type of spam that will hurt your site.

It all comes down to considering the user and how you improve the content for them. Find quality links from trusted resources and don’t cram in links with no added value or are irrelevant.

10. Add a Clear Call-To-Action (CTA)

You’ve written your post with a purpose in mind. Whether the purpose is to drive traffic to your site, generate leads or turn visitors into buyers, consider how you will get your readers to do what you intend for them to do.

Writing a quality blog post that meets their needs is the most important step, but you also want something that pushes them over the line to complete the desired action. This is known as a Call to Action (CTA).

A CTA is a message — usually a button, a highlighted link, or a signup form — encouraging the reader to complete an action. This can be as basic as “Buy now!” or “Sign up for our newsletter.”

If you want your visitors to purchase your product, click on a link, or sign up for a service, you need to create a strong CTA. Here are some tips to help you get started:

  • Use the right colors. Different colors have varying connotations and using a color that stands out from the rest of your site will make your Call to Action more clickable. For example, red tends to work better for CTAs when compared to green.
  • Make the benefit obvious. It should be clear to your visitor how they’d benefit from taking the next step. A free gift for example or provides a limited-time offer.
  • Place the Call to Action in the right location. Perhaps the most important consideration is adding your CTA to the right place. For example, you could place it in-line with your content at a critical moment or at the end right after the reader has finished the post.

For best results, experiment with different CTAs throughout your posts. Try different placements, colors, and messages, to find the combination that gets the most clicks!