Do you love blogging? Great! But, writing an awesome content and updating it on your blog is not enough. You need to optimize your blog post to make it search engine and user-friendly.
Most of you might know this already but you do not have enough time to put together a systematic optimization process.
To make the process smooth and handy, today I am sharing with you a 12-point pre-publish checklist to consider every time you write a post.
Pre-publish Blog Post checklist
#1. Post Formatting
When you put your post on your blog, format it the way your reader find it most engaging. Make use of different formatting elements to make your post easy to read.
Here are some of the key things:
1. Use of bold and italics
Emphasizing on important words and sentence throughout your post is important to draw the attention of your reader where you want them.
For instance, if you have shared tips in your post, you can highlight it by making it bold or italics. You can also use a different color.
In my last blog post, I shared quick tips at the end of each point. To grab the attention of my reader, I made it italic and changed the color to red. Have a look here.
But remember not to overdo it otherwise you will loose the plot!
2. Use of quotes
People love reading quotes and sharing it. It’s always a great idea to search for quotes related to your topic and add it in between your post.
Don’t forget to give credit to the author of the quote.
You can create click to tweet button for the quote to make it easy to share. More on ‘Click to Tweet’ button later in the post.
3. Use of internal and external links
Google always gives importance to relevant internal and external links.
Wherever possible use internal links to your other blog post or web pages. It has many folds benefits, such as It reduces the bounce rate, Increases clicks on your post, make the post more engaging etc.
I recently wrote a post on tips on how to smoothly return to work after a career break. I added 4 internal links to my different blog posts.
Also, if somebody else has written some great post that can add value to your readers, do not hesitate to make that as a part of your blog.
For any external links, use ‘open link in new tab’ option so that readers do not directly move away from your website.
4. Short paragraphs
Reading long paragraphs are boring. If you use long paragraphs in your post, there are high chances that your reader would leave your post in between.
Try not to make your paragraphs more than 3-4 lines. Having lots of white space on your blog makes it easier for your reader to read through the blog.
5. Bullets and numbers
To make your post easy to read, divide your content into bullet points or numbers. If your post is in numbers, then it is not only easier for your reader to read but also they can easily scan the post and know the important points.
I personally never prefer to write without points. Also, if you are writing in bullets, you can also use jump links. I have talked about jump links in detail further down the post.
#2. Shorten URL
From SEO perspective; URL is a very important factor for blog post optimization.
In WordPress, by default post title becomes the URL. But having such a long post title is not user-friendly as well as search engine friendly.
So, here are some ground rules for writing SEO-friendly URLs:
Add focus keyword to your URL
The length should not be more than 3-4 words
Use dashes instead of underscore. Underscore connects the word and makes it one.
Including stop-words are not necessary (For Example: and, to, in, at etc)
#3. Adds Category
Adding a relevant category to your blog post is one of most important thing to do before publishing the blog.
It not only good from SEO perspective but also help your reader to sort your post.
Keep your category relevant and focused. For example, If you are writing a post on how to get organic traffic to the website, Use ‘SEO’ as a category.
When I wrote a post on lead magnet ideas, I kept the category ‘lead generation’.
#4. Add Tags
Adding keywords as tags are great to optimize your post for the search engines.
You can add any number of tags on your post. Just keep it as relevant and related to your post as possible.
#5. Header Tags
In WordPress and other major CMS, Title of the post is an H1 tag by default. But if it is not, make sure that you put your blog post title in an H1 tag.
Apart from the H1 tag, H2, H3, and H4 tags are also equally important. Consider adding at least Hi, H2 and H3 tag, if not more.
The headings of bullet points can be an H2 tag, any Sub-headings can be H3 tag and so on. It not only make your post impactful but also make it optimized for the search engine as Google consider header tags as one of the criteria for ranking the page.
#6. Image Optimization
Not many people know the power of images in ranking your page.
Images make your post beautiful. But Google cannot read images. So, to make your images count for search engines, you have to optimize it.
Here are some quick things to do for image optimization:
Create a descriptive keyword rich name to your image.
Add Alt tag of the image to let search engine crawl your image
Reduce the file size of the image to minimize the impact on website load speed. There are various WordPress plugins available for this purpose.
Give image credit wherever applicable
#7. Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
If you are in the blogging world, you can’t ignore investing in SEO. Although WordPress is very well coded and SEO friendly but the real benefit comes from using SEO plugin.
Yoast SEO is by far a complete SEO plugin for WordPress.
You can add custom snippets to your post, focus keywords, meta title, meta description and more.
One of the interesting and useful features of this plugin is the suggestion they give to improve the SEO of the page. You just have to follow the steps and you are done! Don’t worry about few yellow signs. Even if you have it you are good to go!
#8. Add Excerpts
It is an optional summary or description of the post.
When you add an excerpt, it is shown in search engine results, social media shares and RSS feeds.
Adding a custom excerpt gives you an option to introduce your blog post to the world the way you want it.
Technically there is no limit on characters in adding manual excerpts. But it is advisable to keep it just a few lines long.
You can also use HTML codes as well like a link to the entire post etc.
#9. Create ‘Click To Tweet’ Button
Increasing the social share of your post could be one of the objectives for many bloggers.
To encourage your reader to tweet content of your post, add ‘click to tweet’ button. With this feature, you can add pre-written tweet which your reader can tweet in just a click.
It also let you add your twitter handle with the tweet that will increase your twitter followers and engagement.
Here is an example from my previous post.
#10. Add Additional Resources
Even if you write an in-depth post on a certain topic you can’t include each and everything about the topic. So, you can add a list of additional content written by others that are worth sharing.
Don’t forget to reach out to people whose link you have added on your page. It will encourage them to share your post on their network.
#11. Add Jump Links (if applicable)
It is one of my favorites. I discovered it while reading to one of the blog posts by Robbie Richards. And, I just loved it!
If you are writing long posts with lots of sections, create jump links at the start of the post for each section. It will help your reader to directly hit the specific section of the post without doing much of the scroll.
Look at the example below for one of my previous posts.
Also, when you create a jump link, a unique link is created for each section. It is great to share these links on your social media accounts instead of sharing the whole posts several times.
#12. Add sectional share link (if applicable)
It is related to the above point. If you have created jump links to each section, then there would be a unique link created for each section.
And when you have several unique links on our post then you should make the most of it.
To make each section easily shareable, create a click to tweet button with content and call to action.
When you have all above checklist done, you are all set to hit the publish button. Even after publishing the post, you can edit the post if you find anything not worthy of being the part of the post.
Before I end this post, I just want to quickly tell you that the second part of this post is coming very soon where I discuss how to promote your post once you have published it. Stay tuned!