- Over the last couple of months, we’ve explored how to publish your first blog article in WordPress, the anatomy of a perfect blog post and using the Yoast SEO plugin.
Today, I’ll be sharing my blog publishing checklist with you which gives you a list of 13 things to check before you hit publish, as well as some suggestions for what to do to promote your article once it goes live.
Your blog publishing checklist
Stage one: Edit for people
As much as you want a blog to appeal to Google, your human readers should be your priority. As I always say, put them at the heart of your website and your SEO will follow. So, how can you make sure an article wows your audience? We’ve got you covered with the first seven things in our blog publishing checklist:
1. Re-read it
If possible, try to leave at least 24 hours between writing an article and publishing it. If you re-read something you’ve written straight away your brain will trick you into seeing what you think you wrote, not what’s actually on the page.
It’s amazing what you can notice with fresh eyes.
My top tip is to read your blog article out loud. This will help you to spot repetition or strange phrasing.
Read through your article wearing your editor’s cap. This means checking that each sentence is as clear and strong as it can be. Here are some pointers:
- Use an active voice (e.g. “The dog chased the squirrel”, NOT “The squirrel was chased by the dog”)
- Delete filler words that are padding your content but weaken your voice
- Ditch pointless modifiers such as very, quite, really, that, possibly, probably, actually, or completely
- Use strong words to convey meaning – one strong word can have far greater impact than three weak words, e.g. not very good atrocious or a bit of a pain excruciating
- Cut out the clichés – by definition a cliché is an overused expression that can turn readers off as it feels unoriginal
- Write using everyday language – you want your ideal customers to feel like you’re sitting in the room with them and resonate with what you say
3. Analyse the structure
We read blog articles on a screen and that changes how we read.
Research shows that digital reading taxes the brain a lot more than reading from paper and that we tend to read quicker and to less depth.
Take a look at the structure of your blog article. Are you making it easy for people to skim read? If they just read the main heading and sub-headings, would it give them the top level information they need?
Are important messages pulled out as bullet points?
Are your paragraphs short? Are you using a variety of sentence lengths? Can you break longer sentences up into shorter, clearer sentences?
4. Check the spelling and grammar
Even though your blog might have a fairly informal tone (depending on your audience), people still appreciate correct spelling and grammar.
One of my favourite writing tools is Grammarly, which offers a choice of free and paid-for features. The free version will pick up spelling mistakes, common grammar mistakes and sentences that could do with simplifying.
While Grammarly (or even the spell and grammar check in Word) will pick up any glaring technical problems, reading out loud will help you spot any missing words or style inconsistencies.
5. Fact check
One of the downsides of the internet is that people are free to spread misinformation and poor quality content.
Google’s ever-evolving algorithms are trying to combat this (the EAT/Medic algorithm is one example).
The search engine want to send its customers to high authority, reputable websites where they’re going to get trusted advice and information.
So, how can you show Google that your blog is trustworthy?
If you mention any facts, figures or quotes from other people in an article, always make sure that you link to the source, if possible. If you’re quoting from printed materials, give a citation telling people as much as possible about the source material.
This will tell Google and your readers that you’ve done your research and can back up your claims with reliable sources.
If you can’t support a claim, it’s better not to make it.
6. Fine-tune the main heading
It’s a stat I’ve mentioned before but eight out of 10 people who land on a blog post will read the title whereas only two out of 10 will read the whole article.
Your main heading has some seriously heavy lifting to do. If it’s weak, it won’t carry your readers any further down the page.
It’s worth devoting some time to writing a great headline.
I think this is often easier after you’ve written an article because you know exactly what the heading needs to communicate by that point.
The Advanced Marketing Institute has a free headline analyser tool. Pop your proposed headline in the analyser and see what score you get.
(When I checked the title of this blog, the analyser gave it an “Emotional Marketing Value (EMV)” score of 42.86% – apparently, professional writers usually aim for a score of 30-40%, so I’m pretty happy with that!)
7. Add a call to action
What would you like your readers to do after they’ve read the article? Tell them with a clear, benefit-focused call to action.
Here are some suggestions:
- Do you agree that guest blogging is dead forever? Share why (or why not!) in the comments!
- Like what you’ve read? Subscribe to our blog here and you’ll get more great content like this every Tuesday
- Want all of the benefits of blogging without you having to write a word? Call us today on XXXXXX to discover how our blog writing packages can skyrocket your rankings
- Did you find our SEO checklist helpful? Feel free to share on Twitter or Facebook by using the super-easy share buttons on the left!
A call to action can stop people from bouncing away from your site and instead propel them towards the next step of your sales pipeline.
Stage two: Edit for SEO
You’re almost ready to hit ‘publish’ but there are just a few more checks to make. We’ve thought about how readers will respond to your blog, now it’s time to think about search engines. Take a look at the remaining things in our blog publishing checklist:
8. Doublecheck the SEO essentials
My recent article – How to write a perfect blog post (and format it in WordPress) – explains all of the SEO essentials for a great blog post. Hopefully, you have everything in place but, just in case, here’s a reminder of some things to check for:
- Does your article have a single topic that reflects the main keyword/keyphrase?
- Is the keyword as near to the start of your main heading as possible?
- Does the article have a simple slug that includes the focus keyword?
- Have you checked the hierarchy of your heading tags?
- Are you using your main keyword/phrase near the opening of the article?
- Does the main keyword/phrase appear naturally a few more times throughout the blog?
- Have you included at least one image, video or infographic that reflects the content of the article and encourages people to stay on the page and/or keep scrolling?
9. Get linking
Backlinks are an important part of any successful SEO strategy.
If high quality, trusted sites link to your content, it acts as a vote of confidence that your content can be trusted too.
If you provide outbound links to external information, it shows your readers that you’ve researched your sources and you’re happy to share them.
Internal links can also be helpful because they link together related content and make it easier for visitors to move around your site, especially when they’re interested in a particular subject.
Brian Dean of Backlinko recommends including 2-4 outbound links (i.e. to external websites) for every 1,000 words you write.
Have you linked to all of your sources?
If you have content on your website that is relevant to the article you’re writing, have you included internal links?
Make sure that you have each link’s destination open in a new window, so that people don’t leave your site when they click on the link.
10. Optimise your images
If you haven’t already, now is the time to check that any images in the article have been properly optimised. I wrote a guide about how to do this here.
11. Apply a category and tags
Before you publish your blog, it’s sensible to assign it to a category and add any tags that apply.
This is another way to help people find your content, even if they don’t know what’s on your site.
In case you’re not sure of the difference, think of a blog category as being like a category in a library or a genre on Netflix, whereas as tag is a term that someone might use to find a specific article or closely related articles.
My overall site, for example, is about SEO but, within that, my articles sit within one of four broad topics: SEO, social media, content marketing or analytics. These are my blog categories.
Tags are much more specific. For example, I might apply tags such as blogging and WordPress to this article.
12. Double check Yoast
If you use the Yoast plugin, you’ve hopefully been through the steps I explained in my recent blog. Before you hit ‘publish’, double check that you’ve filled out all of the relevant fields and you’ve got green lights wherever possible.
If you’ve edited your blog article in WordPress, it may have affected the readability stats, so it’s worth reviewing them with your blog in its finished state.
13. Look at Google Analytics
If your site is regularly attracting visitors, you can see the busiest days and times in Google Analytics. This could help you pinpoint the best day to post new content to your website.
To find this information, log in to Google Analytics. On the Home screen of the dashboard, you’ll see a panel that says “When do your users visit? User by time of day”.
As we can see, the website I screenshot this panel from clearly has more visitors on a Monday. This could well be the best day for them to post a new blog.
It’s time to hit publish
With the improvements from this blog publishing checklist complete, it’s now time to share your blog with the world. You’ll find the Publish button on the top right-hand side of the Add a new post screen in WordPress (the page on which you inputted your latest blog).
If you want to check that everything looks OK, including the formatting and images, and that all of your links are going to the right destination, you can click on the Preview option first to see what the blog will look like when it’s live.
After publishing an article
After all of your hard work, your blog deserves to be read by as many people as possible. While SEO and organic rankings can help with this, you’ll also need to actively promote your blog.
You can find many ideas for how to do this in my article: How to promote your blog and get the most mileage out of your content
I use these ideas myself and for my clients because they work.
Having taken a moment to enjoy having published your article, especially if it was your first one, your next step is to think about what related content your ideal customers might want to read in future articles.
As your blog grows in size, remember to keep a track of the topics covered and go back to older blogs to add internal links to new, related content.
This will give your clients extra value and ensure that every article you create keeps working for your business.
Short of time?
If you’d like more help, we do provide a complete Optimised Blog Content Service. Want my team and I to research and write your content for you? Fully optimise your page, publish it and also provide you with some posts to share on your social media platforms? We can do that all for you. Find out more about our optimised content package here
If you found this article helpful, I’d love it if you could share it – thank you.
Hazel Jarrett, director of SEO at SEO+, is well-known in the SEO space, has won many awards during her 20-year career and has been published on various well-known sites. Through her services and training programs, her SEO strategies have generated 10s of millions of sales for her clients, earning her a big reputation for delivering the results that matter.
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