Now that you’ve copied and pasted your carefully crafted words into the WordPress Edit box, inserted an image, and typed in a title, is it time to hit the “Publish” button?
No! Stop! Don’t!
There are 13 things to do before you post a blog, all of which will help your posts get found and seen by information-hungry readers.
Sure, you can always improve your post after publication, but it’s better to perform the following tasks on this 13-point blog checklist prior to posting. That way, your work will go out in professional style.
After loading your perfectly-spelled, well-punctuated, key-worded text and giving the post a title, here’s what you do:
By Scheduling the post, you are effectively saving yourself from the horror of premature publication. You really don’t want the post alert to go out before the post is ready. That’s embarrassing.
2. Add Links
Every post must have some links, as that is the rule of the Web. Include both external links – set to open in a new window – as well as internal links that reference your previous posts. Google loves that.
3. Insert Images
Thou shalt not post without images, as that will infuriate the Google gods and bore your readers. Find copyright-free pictures, or use some of your own, and pre-size them to under 1000 pixels. Load ‘em up.
4. Add Featured Image
If your theme supports a Featured Image, use it. Featured Images are not the same as Inserted images. They are like the book cover of the post and will follow it wherever it goes. Get a good one.
5. Optimize Images
In Media Manager, put your keyword in the image’s Title, Alt Text, and Description. Alt Text is comma separated for search spiders and blind people. Description is sentence structured clear to anyone who stumbles upon the image.
6. Add Excerpt
If the Featured Image is your post’s book cover, the Excerpt is the book blurb. Excerpts tell what the post is about and follow the post around the Web. If left alone, your excerpt defaults to the first few lines of the post, which is ok too if that’s what you want.
7. Add Headings
Readers and search engine spiders love Heading tags, like H2 or H3. They break up the text into chewable bites and make the post more scannable by calling out the important topics. Use your keyword in at least one heading tag for good SEO.
8. Add Category
Categories are like your post’s table of contents, meant to sort topics at a high level. Categories wrangle your posts into the right corrals according to your settings. Use no more than 3 categories per post, as sometime too many will confuse your site.
9. Add Tags
Tags are like your post’s index, meant to improve the user experience. Use liberally for names of people, places, and things, but keep each tag unique.
10. Optimize SEO
Use a plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast to optimize the keywords in your post’s Heading, URL, Title, Content and Meta Description. Yoast provides colour-coded Analysis of the post to nag you into getting it right.
11. Shorten Slug
Even though Yoast suggests using 70 characters in your title, that doesn’t mean 70 characters belong in your slug, (or permalink.) Edit your permalink down to the essential keyword phrase and eliminate stop words such as, “and”, “the”, “of”, which dilute the slug’s meaning.
Use a plugin, like Jetpack’s Publicize, that will shoot your post straight to Facebook, Google+, Twitter, Linkedin or other social media. This is a big time saver for promoting the post.
13 Add Social Descriptions
In Yoast>Social, customize your post description for Facebook and Google+ for when the Publicize plugin shoots your post out. This feature also allows you to be picky and add an image other than the Featured Image.
Shall We Post ?
Yes! Now that you’ve done these 13 things it’s time to release your blog post to the world. By following this blog checklist, your post will be more readable, sharable, and ultimately more searchable. Print it out and tape it to your screen. Use it next time.
And if you think there’s anything important that I missed, please leave it in the comments below so that others can dig it too. We all want to be better bloggers.