You’ve spent hours writing that perfect post, reread it again and again; you are the ultimate critic of your own work. You finally work up the nerve to click “publish,” then you notice that one little grammatical error…you’d think you would know which “your” to use by now. But, somehow you’ve overlooked it. You keep reading and realize that one paragraph just doesn’t quite flow. It’s like you didn’t even proofread this.
Chances are, you’re probably overanalyzing just a little bit. At some point, you have to just click that button and not look back. But, you want to make sure you’ve optimized every piece of your post first. The quality of your blog post could be the difference between thirty shares or two, ten backlinks or one, five new customers or multiple people bouncing from your site. I write weekly posts for Designs’ blog, a national office cubicle manufacturer, so I understand how important those shares and backlinks really are. Unfortunately, I also know how difficult it can be to get them.
Whether you blog for a business, you make money off of a personal blog, or it’s just a fun hobby, this checklist will help you optimize each blog post for your readers’ enjoyment; which will hopefully lead to likes, shares, backlinks, and loyal customers.
- The Perfect Title
In my opinion, choosing a title is the most difficult part of writing a blog post. The title should be optimized for your chosen keyword, include keywords that people are searching for, and catch viewers’ attention. After doing some keyword research, transform your keyword rich title into a heading that has proven to perform well, such as ultimate guides, “how-to” posts, and numbered lists. (There are other popular headings; just do some research.)
It’s okay if the title is the last thing that you write. Come up with a few options and narrow it down to the best one. Maybe even combine your two favorite choices.
- Keyword Optimization
Optimize your post for one main keyword. Which means that your article will be centered around one specific point or theme. Then, include other related or long-tail keywords.
Avoid keyword stuffing. Try not to repeat your main keyword more than two to three times per 800 words.
- One Idea Per Paragraph
Try to limit your paragraphs to just one idea per paragraph. They should be short, sweet, and to the point. No one wants to read a paragraph that’s an entire page long. You’ll lose your readers after a few sentences and your piece will be hard to follow and intimidating to look at.
Short paragraphs of only a few sentences each are inviting to readers, flowing, and effortless to read.
- Relevant Images
Pictures, infographics, and videos will also help break up the lines and lines of words on the monitor. But, make sure these pictures are relevant and help clarify or expand on the point that you’re trying to make in your article. Remember to optimize the image tag for keyword optimization as well.
- Internal & External Links
Include relevant internal and external links throughout your article. These links should relate to the point you are making in your post and expand on a specific point; not appear promotional or spammy.
I try to include about two internal links per post. Be sure that all external links are from a credible source with established authority. Site or credit ALL of your sources by linking back to them.
- Headings, Subheadings, and Lists
Headings and subheadings help you and your readers organize each main point in your piece. The use of headings and bulleted or numbered lists also helps to optimize readability for a flowing, easy-to-follow blog post. Readers would much rather sort through a list than a long paragraph that’s difficult to comprehend, not to mention visually unappealing.
- Tone and Language
Be sure to use the same tone and language throughout. For example, if your piece is very professional or written about a serious topic, you wouldn’t want to include jokes or write in a casual tone. However, if your post is personal or more relaxed and casual, use personal stories and experiences, jokes, and utilize words and phrases that you might say often during casual conversation.
Expressing your voice and tone in your writing while sharing stories is also a great way to engage your readers and make your blog relatable, helping you establish a loyal fanbase of readers.
- Optimal Length
The average length of a blog post has increased to about 1,200 words. Your post should be descriptive and not leave out any important or applicable information. With that being said, DO NOT ramble on, repeat yourself, or state irrelevant information just to increase your word count. You’ll lose the attention of your readers very quickly. If a paragraph has no value or is unrelated, delete it.
I try to aim for a minimum of 800 words per post (which is typically very easy to accomplish). However, don’t feel like you absolutely have to reach this number. If you have a shorter post, include pictures, infographics, or videos for additional clarification.
- Flowing, Easy to Read Format
An easily readable article is a necessary component in establishing loyal readers and regular/frequent likes and shares. Many of the points that I’ve made above will help optimize readability, such as short paragraphs, relevant pictures, videos, or other graphics, headings, subheadings, and lists, examples, and a consistent tone and language.
Think about the purpose of your blog post. Are you informing readers about a specific product or service? Maybe you’re introducing a new product. Or perhaps your sole purpose is to entertain readers. Which actually means that you hope to gain traffic, social engagements, and backlinks on your post.
Whatever your purpose may be, it should be very clear to your readers what you want them to do. If you are introducing a new product that you want them to try, create a link in your post which will take them directly to your product page. If you want your readers to share, comment, or like your post; tell them so. Ask them a question in your conclusion encouraging them to leave their answer or opinion in the comments.
- Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Proofreading is arguably the most important step to complete on your checklist before clicking “publish.” Aside from correcting any spelling, grammar, and formatting issues, this is also your chance to check off each of the above points.
When I proofread my pieces, I first read through the whole post, then I read each paragraph again starting from the bottom of the page and working my way up. Typically, when I read through the posts from intro to conclusion, my brain is fixing any mistakes as I read by the time I get to the last few paragraphs, so I tend to miss a few. Which is why I start from the bottom the second time through.
With each blog post you create, read through your piece and check off each item on your checklist before publishing to ensure only the best quality work. Never regret hitting that “publish” button again.