Great content will keep readers coming back for more. But presentation is also key, both for finding readers and for keeping them engaged. After you’ve written the body of your blog, make sure you get everything in tip-top shape so that users (and search engines) will want to come back. There’s no point in creating great content if no one can find it.
There are quite a few tasks beyond writing your headline and body copy and uploading images. Having a checklist will make sure you don’t forget each of these important steps. While many of the tasks below are written with WordPress blogs in mind, they still can be applied to most any blog.
Also keep in mind that while some of these steps are written for SEO purposes, you want to always maintain an editorial balance, both for your readers and so the search engine bots don’t think you’re trying to game the system.
Time required: 15 minutes.
- Know Your Keywords. Which ones are you hoping to optimize for in this particular post? Have you used (but not overused) them in appropriate places, such as URL, headlines, SEO fields (see below), and links? Of course, keywords should also be in body copy — particularly in the first paragraph.
- Optimize your permalink. In many blog platforms, you have control over the post’s URL, even if it is initially generated automatically. For example, before I changed the permalink for this post, the URL would have ended with /create-a-pre-publish-checklist-for-your-blog, but you can see that it has been modified, not just to include keywords but also to eliminate words with little or no SEO value, such as “a” and “for.”
- Optimize images. Before you upload an image, make sure it has an SEO-friendly name. Instead of “IMG24681.jpg,” for example, you can change it to “sunset-los-angeles-downtown.jpg.” In WordPress and other platforms, you also have the option of adding other meta data, such as title, description, and alt copy. Fill these out for your users’ benefit, but you can also use the description field for additional information that can help you search for the image in your media library down the road, such as copyright info or size.
- Add images. On WordPress, your blog can have an inline (within the body copy) image and a featured image, which, depending on your WP theme, is often used in internal search results. Images can be a useful way to get more search traffic, so both of these images should be optimized, per the above bullet.
- SEO fields. There are numerous plugins out there that help optimize the SEO for individual pages and posts. (One of my favorites: Yoast.) This helps you control what shows in search results, such as the title and description. You can see from this example that the description that shows in Google search is not merely the first few words of the actual blog post, which is what search engines will often use if no meta data is specified.
- Excerpts. Much like the meta description, the WP excerpt allows you to control copy that shows on numerous parts of your site, such as internal search results and promotional spots like a section for recent or related blog posts. In many cases, you may choose to use the same copy for the excerpt as you used for the meta description, since they serve a similar purpose. Or you might want to use a particular voice in your excerpt that wouldn’t be appropriate for the meta description.
- Hyperlinks. If you have related content on your site, you can help your site visitors and give a slight boost to your SEO for a specific term by linking to it. For example, if I were to write a blog post that mentioned creating secure passwords, I could link those words to my previous post about that subject. This also helps you, as you don’t have to repeat information but rather can link to a reference about it. If you link to a site other than your own, remember to make sure the hyperlink opens a new tab so your visitor doesn’t leave your site.
- Tags & Categories. These help both classify your content and can provide SEO value. As a rule of thumb, you should only have one category per blog post, while you can have as many tags as are relevant.
- CTA. When relevant, include a call to action at the end of your blog post. On my post about managing your business’s Facebook page, I included a CTA to contact Siteseeing if you need help with that particular task. Or you can just have a generic “Contact Us” or “Sign Up for Our Newsletter” button/link, or even ask readers a question about the topic, as I did below. But give the reader a next step.
You may have other steps you want to add, depending on how your site is setup and the platform you are using. And once your blog is published, you may have another checklist for getting the blog out to as many places as possible, such as sharing on Facebook and Twitter, sending out the blog in a newsletter, etc.
What steps do you always take with publishing your blog?