Before you hit the publish button for your latest post, there are a few things you should do to make sure you get the best results. After going through this blog post checklist, you will be able to hit the publish button with confidence!
A lot of effort goes into producing your outstanding content so it makes sense to take a few extra minutes to make sure your posts will be seen by a maximum number of people. These steps will help to achieve better search engines rankings and get more click throughs.
It might seem like a lot to do but once you get into the habit, you’ll find yourself doing most points without thinking.
1. Write an effective, appealing title
Your title is probably the most important part of your blog post. It’s the first thing people will see in the search engines. A good persuasive or descriptive title, that catches their eye, will encourage searchers to click through and read your content. This headline analyzer will help you to create better titles
Besides aiming to get click throughs, Google also considers your title in their ranking algorithm. So you should include your keywords in your blog post title. By having the keyword in the title it will help Google determine the subject of your page.
Your title will also be used when your posts are shared on social media, here again, a good title will encourage click throughs. It’s also possible to create titles that differ from the main title for the different social media sites.
The length of your title should generally be under 60 characters otherwise it risks being cut off and some important words may not be visible.
Therefore, your title has 2 goals:
- To help your rankings
- To make people want to click your page and read your article
2. Include a meta description
Although Google says the meta description provides no direct ranking benefit, there is an indirect benefit. And that is click-through-rate (CTR). If your CTR is better than expected for your search engine ranking then you may move up a few places, of course, the opposite is also true. Therefore a good meta description can improve your rankings.
Your meta description should be between 135 and 160 characters, although there is no exact number Google may show a longer description or even another description depending on the search query.
The meta description should read naturally, include the keywords your post is targeting and encourage the searcher to click your article. Your meta descriptions should also be unique for all your posts.
If you don’t create a meta description Google will take a snippet from your page or post.
Social media sites may also use the meta description. Again a good description can help you attract visitors to your site. Not having a description, they may use the opening text in your post, this may not create a good user experience.
All in One SEO and Yoast SEO make it very easy to add and edit both the title and meta descriptions. Below you can see the Yoast snippet editor.
3. Use H2, H3 and H4 tags to simplify reading or scanning
On the internet, people like to scan posts to get an idea of what they are about before deciding to read the whole post or to click away and find something more relevant.
- Break your posts into small sections
- Use short paragraphs, of no more than 4 or 5 lines
- Include H2, H3, H4 headings
- Use numbered lists or lists with bullet points
This will enable your visitors to scan your articles. Having a wall of text with no headlines will make it hard for people to see what your post is about and will probably cause them to click away.
Related: How To Write For Your Website
4. Internal linking
Internal linking is the process of linking to others posts on your blog. The idea is to link to articles that will provide added value and information to your readers.
Thus you will get added user engagement with your site. When a visitor sees a link to another post on your site that’s highly related to the content they are reading, they are likely to click that link.
The visitor stays longer on your site and may read several posts. You provide a good user experience and at the same time reduce bounce rate and increase the amount of time they spend on your site which is good for SEO.
5. Link out to reliable resources
These are links that point to other domains from your site. When you want to give an explanation of a certain term or topic in your post, link to reliable trusted resources. One such source that is often linked to is Wikipedia.
Generally, you should link to websites:
- That are trusted and have a good domain authority (this link points to MOZ.com, domain authority of 93)
- Pages that add value and explain the topic well for your readers
- Within your niche, linking to relevant sites will help the search engines relate your content to other sites and understand your content better
If you do the above you can improve your SEO and provide your readers with useful resources. Another fringe benefit is that some of the sites you link out to may link back to you, which can be very beneficial.
6. Add images and videos
A good blog post isn’t just about having a page of text. A great article will have text plus images, charts, screen captures and maybe a video.
An image will make your post more visually attractive and can break up your text. Ideally, your images should be related to your post and used where they are relevant to the content.
However, I have seen some images used that are amusing and have nothing to do with the content. But as they were comical I read the article to try and understand why they were there. So that can work as well!
Images may also help to get traffic from the image search engines. Add your keyword to the filename, description and “alt text”.
Having images in your posts will also attract more social shares and drive more traffic to your site. You need to make sure that the image used is optimized for social media. By using All in One SEO or Yoast SEO you can choose the image you want to be used on the social media sites.
Resize and Compress Your Images
Before uploading your images it’s good practice to resize. If you upload a large image, yes you can resize it with the WordPress image editor. But having lots of large images hosted on your site’s server may ultimately slow down your site. Resulting in increased load times, increased bounce rate and poorer search engine rankings. Not good!
Compressing your images can decrease your image sizes dramatically. But if you compress too much you will seriously affect the quality of an image.
There are many tools both online and offline for compressing images such as Gimp, TinyPNG and also WordPress plugins WP Smush or EWWW Image Optimizer. For resizing Gimp, Paint, or Pixlr.
7. Add a featured image
Adding a featured image seems to be something I often forget when I first publish my posts. I often have to come back a few days later to add my featured image. I’ll have to keep a copy of this checklist handy!
Featured images are used in several ways, depending on your theme:
- As a thumbnail on your blog roll
- Above or below the post title on an individual post
- As thumbnails in the latest post widget or related posts
It should be noted that not all themes support featured images.
8. Add image “alt text”
Every image in your post should have an “alt tag or text”. Alt is an abbreviation for alternative. This text is good for SEO but will also help visually impaired or blind people, who use a screen reader, to understand what your image is about.
Anyway, say you have added an “alt tag” to all your images. For SEO purposes Google will use your “alt text” to determine what your image is about and also to understand what the surrounding text is about.
Write a good descriptive text, that makes it possible to visualize your image if you close your eyes. As screen readers will cut off your text after 125 characters you shouldn’t make the alt text too long.
The first priority is to describe the image but if it makes sense you can include your keyword in your alt text. Always try to have a least one image alt text that includes your target keyword per post. You shouldn’t stuff keywords in your alt text, this may result in a penalty from the search engines.
9. Add your post to one or more categories or use tags
To help your visitors find your posts more easily don’t forget to add them to one or more categories. If you use tags you can also add some of these.
Remember the goal is to make your website as user-friendly as possible.
10. Use simple language and a conversational tone
When writing your blog posts don’t try to come over as too clever by using long complicated words. Keep it simple!
You should write as if you’re talking to a friend and no need to use long words. Some of your readers may appreciate fancy jargon but the majority will like simple, easy to understand short sentences.
Easy to read text will improve the user experience. Everything you write should be for your audience, strive to give them the best experience possible.
If you use the Yoast SEO plugin they have a readability check which is useful. It gives you feedback on:
- The length of your sentences
- Presence of a passive voice
- Paragraph length
- Use of transition words
- Your Flesch reading ease score for each post
11. Include a question at the end to encourage comments
Asking a question at the end of your post may spur someone to leave a comment. You may think it’s cool to have some comments on your post but it can also help your rankings.
The search engines seem to favor long content and the comments you receive are added to your post’s word count. Therefore the quality comments you receive can improve the ranking of your posts and the traffic to your website. And when you get some good quality comments on a post this attracts more comments.
Although it’s nice to receive comments don’t hesitate to delete any comments that aren’t relative or short comments such as “great post” that don’t add any value.
You probably think this is an obvious step to take before publishing and think maybe that it shouldn’t be on this list.
When writing a blog post you know what you want to say, you understand your subject and it’s very easy to miss errors that are obvious to someone reading your post for the first time. The odd typo or missing punctuation may not be the end of the world but many mistakes will give your readers a poor experience.
Before publishing, I try to put the post aside for an hour or so. Then come back to check the draft in preview mode. I try to read through the post two or three times before publishing.
Different people have different methods for finding errors. Some people read the post from the end taking one sentence at a time. This way your content is out of context and is perhaps easier to find flagrant grammar mistakes. Others read aloud, finding mistakes that you may miss reading on screen.
I also use the Grammarly browser add-on to catch spelling and grammar errors. It’s not perfect and sometimes suggests incorrect alternatives but it’s a great help in catching spelling errors.
Well, that’s my blog post checklist! Did I miss something? What other things do you check before you hit the publish button? Lets us know in the comments area below.