You’ve written your blog post. Congrats! You’ve tackled the toughest part of the process – getting it written. Take a moment to give yourself a pat on the back.
But wait! DON’T HIT ‘PUBLISH’ YET!
What? Why not?
Because you aren’t done. There are a few more steps between getting it written and getting it out there. And trust me, these are just as important as the post itself. Because this is where snazzy is separated from sloppy, ‘good enough’ becomes ‘great’, and your one-off post gets some legs.
1) Headline Assessment.
Does your post have a snappy headline? Does it contain keywords? Would it convince you to act? If the answer to any of this is ‘no’ or even ‘well, … hmmm.’, then give your headline a bit more time and attention. I’ve said before that some of the ways you can boost engagement with your headlines is to focus on who rather than why, use a bit of alliteration, swap in active/strong words instead of passive ones, or include numbers.
Here’s a quick example: Which is stronger? ‘Widgets You Can Use’ or ‘5 Reasons Entrepreneurs Need More Widgets’?
2) Internal linking
Have you considered how this post can do a bit of extra work by boosting previous content? Assuming your new content is related in some way – or can be made to relate – to something you’ve already produced, make that connection literal. It’ll give readers more information, keep their attention on you and your service/products, and save time by reusing content instead of having to reinvent the wheel.
4) SEO-ready Images
Does your post contain images? Is the name of the image file something like ‘2762_1015510__o’ or ‘IMG_1213’? Sure, it works just fine but it doesn’t add value and legs to your post. Change the file name to something helpful such as ‘vintagecar_2018’ or ‘carrotcake_glutenfree.’ Not only does this boost the SEO on your content, it will make images easier to find if you ever need to track it down.
Alt-text for images is also useful for boosting SEO – while at the same time, ensuring that the usability of your content and your site is as broad as possible. Alt-text helps readers who are visually impaired understand what the image is about. When composing a description for a blog post image, I tend to use the headline for my post and a description of the photo involving a couple of keywords for context.
Extra tip: pick an image size (or two sizes – one for landscape orientation, one for portrait) and stick to those whenever and wherever possible. Consistency of experience for the reader also contributes to return visits and perception of usability.
3) Wrap Up with Engagement.
Social media is a two-way street. One-way content is – essentially – a press release. Press releases have their time and their place. But if you want feedback or insights from readers, you need to invite them to engage, to leave the door open so to speak.
How? End your blog post with a question.
Ask if anyone has experienced the situation you are describing? Do they have any tips, tricks or hacks for products you’ve reviewed? Have they seen your services implemented somewhere else? Some people will comment on anything and everything, but most people need a bit of encouragement and that’s all the wrap up question is about.
Don’t roll your eyes. We all know we should do it and most of the time we do. But we’ve all been in that rush where we think ‘yes, it’s fine’ only to discover it isn’t. Or people get overly dependent on electronic spellcheck – which isn’t going to tell you that you’ve used the wrong ‘they’re’ in there or that you wrote ‘shut’ when you meant ‘shout.’
It doesn’t matter how much of a rush you are in. Take a breath; go do something else for just a minute or two – then come back and read it. Ideally, read it in another format or even out loud. If I’ve composed something in Notepad or in WordPress directly, I’ll always paste into Word and read it there. Ah ha, I hear you cry – you said not to depend on electronic spell check. I don’t. I find it a useful aid, but I still actually read the whole thing – one sentence at a time, often starting from the bottom just to strip away the chance that I ‘see what I expect to see’ vs what is actually there. I don’t let the machine do the heavy lifting.
That’s my post-writing, pre-publish check list. What’s yours? Have you found other steps helpful as part of your blogging process? I’d love to know what others are doing and finding work for them.