7 out of 10 marketeers are planning to spend more time and money on writing good blog content in 2014 according to this Social Media Examiner report. However, writing a blog post is so much more than getting an idea, writing up some content, adding an image and hitting ‘publish’. There are many things you can do to improve the readability of your post, to ensure that it is SEO-friendly and will attract traffic, to maximise the sharing potential of your post and to encourage people to take action upon reading it. Some of these will almost happen automatically as you put the post together, some may require a little more thought and effort. Do you have a blogging check list yet? If not, here’s one with ten things to check:
Click ‘preview’ to look at the structure of your blog post. Does it look like a long wall of text? Remember that people read books and newspapers very differently to how they read online articles. Your blog post will need images, white space, sub-headings and bullet points to make it ‘easy on the eye’ and improve the readability. Never centralise all of the text, it makes it very difficult to read.
I have to admit I dislike proofreading my own work and I’m not the only one. I type quite quickly though so typos can creep in. My spelling is good but I have been known to make silly errors such as writing ‘there’ for ‘their’ or not adding on an ‘s’ to make a word plural in my haste and those errors won’t show up with a nice wiggly red line underneath. Always proofread. If you find it hard to pick up on the errors, either read it aloud or ask a friend to check it over.
Are your images well positioned? Are they large enough? If they are beautiful images, don’t detract from their quality by making them too small. Have you named each image and included relevant keywords? With the increased use of Pinterest, there should be at least one portrait image in the post as that works better on Pinterest. Are the images relevant? There is one social media blog that I read regularly but I never pin from it as the only images are the same ones from the sidebar every time – the blog logo and the blog author.
Have you included your main focus keywords in the title, the first and last paragraphs, the body of the text, your metadescription and the permalink? The Yoast plug in is really handy (with wordpress blogs) as it tells you how well your blog post is performing for that particular keyword. Here’s how to add the Yoast plugin to your wordpress blog.
5. Crediting Sources
Have you credited the source of your images (if relevant)? Have you linked to any written sources that you have quoted from or derived inspiration from – using a hyperlink means that it is inobtrusive and neat.
6. Your Reader
Have you focused on your reader in your blog post? Your post shouldn’t be about “me, me, me” or “my product, my service”, it should be about how your product or service can benefit your reader. Perhaps you are providing information on key benefits, perhaps you are entertaining your reader, maybe you are focusing on sharing a story so they can learn something from it. Have you looked after your reader in your blog post? Have you addressed them as ‘you’?
7. Easy To Follow
Is your argument easy to follow? Is there a clear beginning, middle and end to your blog post? Are your sub heading clearly visible by being of a larger size and perhaps a different colour? Are there long words and difficult jargon? Do you have bullet points to summarise the main points? Just like a good presentation needs a good speaker as well as good content, a good blog post should be easy to read.
8. Title That Hooks Readers
Is your title compelling? Will it hook readers in? Lots of bloggers use a draft title to write their post and then revisit it to make it more focused. In a tutorial post such as this one, list titles are good as readers will know what it will do what it says on the tin, that it will provide a checklist with ten things to look out for.
9. Call To Action
Now that your readers have read your blog post, you need to tell them what you want them to do. They may not do it but if they have enjoyed your content, a percentage of them will take the time to sign up to your newsletter, write a comment, like your facebook page or look at the product you have recommended – if you ask them to do so. Calls to action are important as otherwise people will just read and leave.
10. Keep Readers Reading
Your blog post is one of many on your website. If the reader isn’t going to visit another page, how about attracting them with other blog posts. I use a “related posts” plugin to display 5 related posts at the bottom of each post, some bloggers suggest other posts within the text and hyperlink across to them. Apart from encouraging readers to read more of your content, these cross links are good for your website’s SEO.
Once you have hit ‘publish’, don’t forget to share it on your social media platforms too. There’s your blogging check list. I hope you found it useful. Do let me know if you have something else that you always check before you click ‘publish’.