Blogging is not simply writing and publishing a text. Even if it is an excellent text. A good blogger has a ton of tasks that already start long before the blogger even starts to write a blog.
Blogging is far less about writing posts than many new bloggers (or non-bloggers) think.
It is the same with every kind of business venture: The “product” is only a small part of your success. There is always a lot more that needs to be part of the equation than the product (in your case, the content creation) – or the blog post.
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So here are 14 things you absolutely need to do BEFORE you publish a blog post.
1. Rethink if the topic and content are great for your audience
Before you start writing your post, stop a second, and think if your topic is really a good fit for your target audience? Or are you just writing about it because you want to write about it? Or are you writing it because your readership wants to read about it?
A great blog post is useful for your target audience. Blog post ideas need to come from your audience. Blog writing is not so much what you want to write about but a lot about what your target audience is interested in.
So, before you jump right in, make sure your topic is right for your audience.
2. Write the post
3. Check formatting, add structure
Writing blog content is not like writing a novel. You have one chance of grabbing – and keeping – people’s attention. And nothing will lose you your audience faster than a post with a lot of text without structure.
People like to skim online content. You have to consider this when writing a blog post. You need some sub-headlines as eye-catchers, images to break up the text and keep the attention high.
Use paragraphs, headlines, and subheadings. The easier it is for people to skim your post, the more of your post they will read, and the more they will take away from it.
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Text without structure is hard to read. Don’t make it hard for your audience to read your posts!
4. Check if you are using the right keywords
I have seen some fancy posts where I had to guess what the post was actually about. Why? Because the author used some flowery speech that sounded great but was not to the point at all.
What may be right in a novel is terrible in a blog post. People want to know what your post is about at first glance. Make sure you use the most common keywords for your topic so that people can instantly recognize the topic.
5. SEO optimize your post
Haha, 4 words and a whole secret world behind them. SEO optimization includes a ton of aspects. In reality, #4 was already part of it – some of the following points will also influence your SEO. Without using the best keywords in your post, your post cannot be found via a search for the most commonly used keywords. So SEO optimization starts with keywords. But there is more to it, here are just a couple of small hints:
- add the keyword more often – without overstuffing
- add related keywords
- use the keyword in the image file names
- use the keyword in the headline and the URL
For more SEO tips, check out Jonathan’s post about SEO for bloggers.
If you are using WordPress, there are a couple of plugins to help you with your SEO optimization. The YOAST SEO plugin can tremendously help with your SEO efforts.
Image Source: WordPress
6. Add images that emphasize your arguments
This aspect is strongly related to #3. Images help to make a long text easier to read. In fact, some research suggests that a picture every couple of sentences can multiply the number of social shares a post gets.
Image Source: BuzzSumo
Images also help to keep the reader’s attention and make content easier to skim.
I know that you are fully aware that you should proofread your content.
However, when you are writing a lot of content, maybe even in a hurry, the little typos may just slip through.
While blogging is not a test on who can write with fewer mistakes, too many writing mistakes kind of show some disregard of your readers.
A typo is not the end of the world, it makes you human. A lot of typos, broken sentences and grammar mistakes make your post hard to read – and in the worst case, you will lose an audience.
I have heard from readers who did not share a great piece of content because they felt it contained too many spelling mistakes.
Proofreading is not an option, it is a must.
And to make it easy and find some other mistakes, I strongly recommend using the writing assistant tool Grammarly. The Chrome extension allows you to check grammar and spelling directly in your browser. We use Grammarly for almost any kind of content we create.
8. Set a meta description
The meta description is a short (160 character) description of what your post is about. It is what Google and other search engines will display in the search results added to the title. If you don’t actively set the meta description, Google will simply pull an excerpt from your blog text.
A proper meta description can multiply your click-through rate from search engines. A wrong meta description may result in very low click rates even though your post does rank in search.
Don’t forget this and do it after publishing! Once your post is published, you should not change your URL.
A search engine friendly URL is not too long, but it includes the keyword you want to rank for. Often the title of your blog post will be the starting point for your URL – but you can leave out all stop words.
10. Add images for the most important social networks
Social sharing is always a large part of a blog distribution strategy.
If you want your post shared on social media, you need to provide the necessary requirements. An image for every social network that you and your target audience are active in is the minimum you should do. Make sure that your images use the optimal image size for each network. For instance, Pinterest absolutely requires a vertical image!
Don’t expect your audience to take the time to create new images for your post if they want to share it. If you want your posts shared on social media, you have to provide images!
You can use tools like Canva to create your own beautiful and branded images for your most important social networks.
11. Rethink your headline
Maybe I should have mentioned this earlier in this list. But the perfect headline has the power to make your post spread – while the same post with a boring headline will be bound to fail.
The simple reason is that before people see your post, they will, in many cases, only see the headline. If the headline does not speak to your audience, they will never even visit the post.
Image Source: Quicksprout
There are some types of headlines that have proven to run well. And if you notice that a post does not perform well, you can try a different headline – it may just be all it takes to make it go viral.
12. Link from your post to old posts
Internal linking on your website is one way of improving your SEO. There are various ways to improve your internal link structure.
One simple thing you should always do to improve your internal link structure is to think of some older blog posts that are relevant to your new post – and add a link to these posts. Don’t always link for the exact keywords or titles; vary the anchor text. The easiest way is to link a sentence or a part of a sentence – as for instance, I have done in #11, where I link to my blog post about creating perfect headlines.
13. Add links to sources and additional information
Don’t be shy about external links. When you use screenshots or you know an awesome source for additional information, simply link to it. Again this will have a positive impact on your SEO.
Image Source: Search Engine Journal
Also, links are a great way of getting on other people’s radar. If they see some traffic from your website, they will notice you.
14. Add a call to action
A call-to-action can tremendously improve the performance of your post. Whatever you are after with your post, simply ask your audience to do it. You want more social shares? Ask people to tweet or pin your post. If you are looking for engagement, simply add a question at the end of your post and ask people to answer in the comments.
Image Source: Melyssa Griffin
Don’t be shy. If you want people to take action, say so – your results will improve!
Wow, that was a long list of blog tips that you need to do when you create a blog and before you publish your post. But there is also a lot to do AFTER you published a post. Stay tuned, I will write about what you should do after you published a post in my next article!
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