If you’re a blogger I’m sure you’ll agree that writing a blog post really isn’t as simple as most people assume. A lot of work goes into blogging and it means learning lots of new skills.
Of course, it’s important that you can actually write content. However, there is so much more to it than simply writing.
As someone who loves writing, I’ve found that I’ve had to learn lots of other skills to help make my blog successful.
Not only am I the writer/content creator but I’m also the editor, marketer, SEO specialist, promotor and more for this blog!
It’s a lot of work but I love that I’m creating new content all the time. My blog is going from strength to strength and I love the challenge of making it better.
If you’re reading this then you probably want to make your blog posts even better than they already are or are a new blogger and wondering how to write a successful blog post. And so this is the ultimate blog post checklist for you!
Part One covers everything you need to do BEFORE you publish your posts. Part Two (coming soon) will cover everything you need to do AFTER publishing your post.
To save this list for quick reference, here’s a pinnable image I’ve created for you. Pin it to Pinterest so you can find the list easily whenever you need a refresher. I’ve also created a free PDF checklist for you to use too, you can download it at the end of the post.
Save this blog post checklist to Pinterest:
Before You Publish Your Blog Post
Write Great Content
I can hear you saying “Well duh” but honestly, I’ve read some blog posts that are dull and completely uninteresting.
This tends to happen more with sponsored content. Just because it’s a sponsored post doesn’t mean it can be boring! You still need to be writing with ‘your voice’.
Make sure your blog post:
- Includes keywords or phrases.
- Is informative.
- Is persuasive or encourages someone to read your other content.
- Has at least 300 words. I prefer my blog posts to have a minimum of 1200 words as it is recommended by SEO experts.
Use a long-tail keyword & variations of your keyword
A long-tail keyword consists of a few words or a short phrase that someone might search for in Google to help them answer a question.
If you choose a single word or a common phrase as your target keyword, you’ll be competing in google search against huge authoritative sites. When you’re up against high authority sites it’s unlikely that your post will be found.
I use a plugin called Yoast SEO. It helps me to make sure that I’ve got my blog post SEO ready. Ps if you are unsure about SEO then have a look at this super simple guide to it.
Yoast lets me know if I’ve inserted the keyword into my blog post the best amount of times. It essentially gives me an SEO checklist to follow at the bottom of each draft post.
However using your keyword the right amount of times isn’t enough. You can’t just scatter it throughout your post and expect it to rank well. You also need to make sure that your post has variations of your keyword and other words that you’d expect to find in related content.
E.G: if my long-tail keyword is ‘how to motivate yourself at work’ I would also include phrases such as:
- ‘inspiring yourself’;
- ‘improving work-life balance’;
- ‘Using your initiative’ etc.
Most of the time I achieve this without needing to think about it – the related phrases tend to find their own way into my writing. That being said I do occasionally go back and add a few.
If you struggle with this, a simple trick is to google your main term and check the ‘related’ keywords. The options shown will be included in the suggestions on google because they’re driving a high volume of traffic. You can see an example of this below, for this post I would try to feature other phrases such as ‘how to write a blog post’.
Format your blog post
Whenever I come across a blog post that has huge chunks of text my mind tends to lose focus.
It’s important to make sure that you break up your text with headings, paragraphs and bullet points. Also, it’s a lot easier to read text that is aligned to the right rather than centred.
You’ve spent all that time writing great content – don’t miss out on people actually reading it by skipping this step!
Choose the right blog post title
Is your blog post title catchy? If not people are less likely to actually click through to your post.
Is it between 40 – 69 characters long? That is the best length for a blog post title. If your post title is longer, the title will be cut off at 69 characters in search results. If it is shorter it might not grab people’s attention.
Edit the SEO title and meta description
Your SEO title aka the meta title and the meta description is what shows up in Google searches.
These are two more places that it’s important to make sure your long-tail keyword appears in.
I edit mine quickly and easily using the Yoast SEO Plugin which is a plugin I highly recommend to all bloggers.
Link to other posts
There are two types of links you should always add to your posts:
- Deep links to past blog posts
- Links to external urls
If the post is sponsored or paid you also need to add:
- No-follow links to the relevant products or sites
Deep links to past blog posts
Deep linking is basically just linking to past posts from your own blog in a new post. Every time I write a post which mentions a topic that I’ve written about before I add a link to that post. This improves your SEO but also keeps viewers on your site for longer.
For example; when I wrote a blog post about my trip to Iceland I mentioned that it was a destination that had always been on my Bucket List. As I have a whole post on my Bucket List I added that link too.
Links to external urls
Linking to external URLs mean that visitors to your site get more information on the topic that they are interested in. It can also help your Domain Authority (DA). When you link to other sites it is important to take their DA into consideration. For example, if their site is seen as spammy to google it can risk your blog authority.
I use the Moz DA checker here to check out sites before I add a link to them.
As a rule I use no-follow links when writing a paid or sponsored post. These links basically help google see where content and promotion has been paid for and keeps the system fair.
I use another really simple plugin for no-follow links.
Green Lights in Yoast SEO
One thing I find very useful about Yoast SEO is that, as I’ve mentioned, it provides an SEO checklist of sorts. Once you have installed the plugin, at the bottom of every new post you are writing, it will give you a scoring card.
As you can see here the bullet points are green. When you first start writing the post they will all be red, will change to amber if they need improvement and green if acceptable. It is however only a basic list where SEO comes in, so I simply use it as a reminder rather than as a final authority of my blog post’s SEO.
Add high quality and “on brand” images
Images are important for many reasons. Humans are highly visual and in general, images can help keep veiwers engaged for longer. They also help break up large chunks of text and are great for SEO.
Your blog or site has it’s own brand – it’s how people recognize your blog posts and will help you when producing marketing images and promotions.
It’s important that your images are consistently high quality, match your blog post and the style of your blog post.
I find taking photographs is the most time-consuming part of blogging. I often have great ideas for posts but not the right images to use in them.
Add “alt text” to your images
The alt text of your images is important for two reasons. It is another place you should add your long-tail keyword too which will help your images to show up in relevant Google searches. It is also the wording that automatically gets added to the ‘pin description’ when someone pins an image from your site to Pinterest.
This is something I’m still getting the hang of but basically I try to make my alt text a couple of sentences long, feature my long-tail keyword and bulk it out in a similar way to my meta description. I find that people are more likely to repin images, and to click through from Pinterest when I do this to my images.
Try pinning the below image and you will see what alt text description is automatically pulled through for the images in this particular post:
Add a featured image
My blog theme looks best when I include a featured image for my post. It’s also the image that my site design automatically pulls into the ‘slider’ on my home page.
Categories and Tags
The way that I have my site set up and my pages displayed means that my blog posts are automatically sorted according to the categories I link them to. As you can see below the drop-down parts of my main menu are separated into different categories. If I don’t add a category to each individual blog post they won’t be archived in the right section and could be missed by viewers. It makes it a lot easier for viewers to navigate my site and the tags also help Google to link similar blog posts.
Add a Pinnable Image
Pinterest is a big source of traffic for my blog and so I ensure to include at least one pinnable image in every blog post. This makes it a lot easier for people to share my content on Pinterest. I also have a social share plugin which adds share buttons such as those for Pinterest, Facebook and G+ to every page on my site.
Prep your post with Click To Tweet
I find it a lot easier to share a blog post via Twitter if it already has the text ready for me to pull into a quote in a tweet. I got the Click To Tweet plugin which makes it easy to add a tweetable quote in every blog post to make social sharing really simple for my blog viewers.
This is a fab in-depth blog post checklist for all #bloggers who want to improve and grow their blog!
Add a question at the end to encourage discussion.
I love getting comments on my posts and I love engaging with the people who read my posts. To help promote that I try to always add a question at the end of each post. It reminds people to comment and engage with me too!
Last but certainly not least – ALWAYS proofread your blog posts before you publish! I downloaded a free computer programme called Grammarly which helps me check my spelling and grammar. If this is something you struggle with you can always write your posts in word and use a spellchecker before moving them over to WordPress drafts.
I like to read my post out loud before publishing when possible as personally, I find it a lot easier to spot errors when I’m reading it aloud.
Don’t forget to come back shortly for Part Two of the Ultimate Blog Post Checklist. In Part Two I’ll be covering everything you need to do AFTER your post is published.
Did you find this useful? Is there anything you’d like me to talk about in more detail?
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