You’ve just finished writing a quality-rich, highly engaging blog post packed with value for your readers. After all the brainstorming and writing, you’re anxious to get it in front of your audience to create more buzz around your brand and generate new traffic to your site. You believe it’s ready to publish…
But not so fast!
Before publishing a blog post, there are some important finishing touches that need to be made to ensure you get the most from that fresh, new piece of content. Failure to implement these strategies can negatively impact the reader engagement, search engine visibility, and lead generation most people hope to gain from blogging.
So, before you send that new blog post out into the ether, review this 7-step checklist to ensure you’ve crossed your Ts, dotted your Is, and done everything in your power to create a well-crafted and effective blog post.
1. Have a killer blog title.
Your title is the first impression readers get of your blog post. In fact, headlines account for up to 50% of your blog post’s effectiveness! If your headline fails to catch a reader’s attention, they’ll simply scroll on past to something more interesting. So, before you click “publish’ on your next great post, be sure you craft a headline that is catchy and that piques the interest of your audience enough for them to click, read, and heck, maybe even share.
Here are a few suggestions for writing a compelling headline that draws in browsers and turns them into readers:
- Use numbers in your title. Human curiosity always spikes when numbers are involved. Plus, it shows that the content will be quick and easy to process.
- Set expectations. Your headline isn’t the place to be mysterious. Readers want to know what they will gain from reading your post. Tell them right from the beginning.
- Keep your headline under 70 characters so it doesn’t get cut off in the search engine results.
- Add an eye-catching adjective to make your headliner descriptive. Words that are powerful, emotional, or controversial will always grab readers’ attention.
- Don’t forget your long-tail keyword. Whenever possible, include a relevant, long-tail keyword in the title.
2. Create an intro that captures your audience’s attention.
After your killer headline, you only have a few sentences to hook your readers into what your blog has to say. The goal of your introduction is to briefly highlight what the article will cover and why it’s important or how it will benefit the reader. The sooner you do this, the more likely it is that your reader will remain engaged.
Are you quickly grabbing your audience’s attention with your introduction? If not, check out these ideas to spice it up:
- Include a shocking statistic.
- Ask a question.
- Use controversy…but with caution.
- Lead with a memorable story.
- Get readers nodding in agreement with you.
3. Optimize your post for SEO.
Incorporating effective SEO tactics positions your content to be found by your target audience in search results. With online search being the preferred choice for finding answers to problems, optimizing your blog post for SEO is a vital step towards increasing exposure and driving traffic to your content.
The beauty about search engine optimization is there are simple yet highly effective strategies you can implement to improve your ranking. Here are some quick tips you can employ now in your post:
- Include your long-tail keyword in the subheadings. This has a valuable impact on SEO ranking.
- Also, have your keyword sprinkled naturally throughout your post, including the meta description.
- Incorporate credible outbound links in your content. Studies reveal that websites that referenced external authority links ranked ahead of those who did not, so cite them appropriately in your post. This builds your credibility in the process, offering more resources for visitors to utilize.
- For your visual content (which we’ll get to in Step #5), use your keyword for the image file name, alt tag, description, and caption. This helps your photos (and, therefore, your blog) appear in the Images Search of Google.
- Be sure your entire site is mobile-optimized. Since April 2015, Google started to penalize sites that were not mobile-friendly in mobile search. Take these steps to ensure your site is mobile-ready.
- Finally, engaging content always wins. The longer and more value-rich your content, the greater your SEO traction will be, as visitors will remain on your site longer to indulge in your great content.
4. Use proper formatting to make it easy to read.
Your viewers are busy and are most likely reading your content on the go via their mobile device. Enhance your reader’s experience by using formatting that makes your content easy to digest and scan through.
- Break up large paragraphs into shorter ones with 2-3 sentences max.
- Use subheadings to introduce new topics within your post.
- When possible, include bullet points and numbers to list key details in shorter segments, making it much easier for your reader to follow.
5. Add visuals—lots of ’em.
Content marketing is becoming increasingly visual. According to HubSpot, content with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. Also, articles with an image for every 75-100 words received double the number of social shares than articles with fewer images. It goes to say that including ample visual content within your post is highly recommended to increase engagement with your viewers.
How is your blog post looking in the visual department? Do you have sufficient images that complement your message? If not, snag a few from these cost-efficient resources:
- Public Domain Libraries – Find quality images that cover tons of topics.
- iStock Photos – Search through millions of royalty-free images that suit every budget.
- Adobe Stock Images – Receive 10 free stock images when you create your new account.
6. Check it twice! (Proofread your work.)
It always pays to take a double look at your content to ensure it’s ready for your audience. Too many grammatical and spelling blunders can distract and repel readers from truly enjoying your rich content. Be sure to spend time proofreading your work to deliver polished, well-done content.
A winning tool to use when reviewing your blog post is Hemingway App. Hemingway helps you to write bold, clear content that engages your readers using active voice. Tidy up lengthy sentences, make your writing concise, and gain feedback easily by copying and pasting your article into this tool.
Or simply have a colleague or team member run through your post for a second glance. The good news is that they may offer some valuable insight that further enriches the quality of your content.
7. End with a strong CTA.
The call-to-action is the final instruction to your reader. This is where you tell them exactly what to do next, directing them to take action. This is crucial to your overall content marketing strategy and can mean the difference between your content being shared to a larger audience simply by extending the invite…or not.
Whatever your desired end goal is for the blog post—whether to generate a new lead, increase exposure, or foster engagement—you want to provide clear instructions to your audience so there’s no room for guessing.
Tell them to click on the link that leads to your landing page. Offer a link to download a free e-book or white paper. Direct them to the sharing buttons on your blog, so they can easily send your content to their social networks. Ask them to give feedback in the comments below. You’ll be amazed at the difference one simple request will create in your conversions and responsiveness.
Following this checklist for each of your blog posts will greatly enrich you reader’s experience with your content. It’s the perfect solution to ensuring that your content strategy is actually effective in reaching your intended audience and increasing engagement with your market.