The Perfect Blog Post (Free Checklist)
The challenge of blogging to market or make money is that there are over 30 million bloggers in the world. Note that I said bloggers not blogs. Many bloggers have more than one blog, so the truth is, there are a ton of blogs that you’re competing with.
In the past, posting great content with some SEO was enough to get noticed. Today though, most of the work in getting a blog post read has little to do with the actual content of the article. While the article still needs to be top quality, there are a variety of other steps you need to take to insure it reaches your market.
Here is my actual checklist that I use to make sure I have the perfect blog post.
Before I actually do all the other tasks on my blog post, I make sure my SEO is set. That includes:
- Title: Not only do I want my title to appeal to readers, but also, I need to have my main keyword in it.
- Description: This info is not only used by search engines to help understand your article, but also, Google uses it as a preview. So you want to use your keyword, as well as something catchy to encourage people to click to read.
- Open Graph: Facebook continues to make changes on how you can share your content on it’s platform. One way to help it along is through open graph data. You’ll want open graph for all important data (title, description, image etc).
- Twitter Card: This offers some extra bells and whistles such as graphics or video to your Twitter share options to help increase engagement. Make sure to use your keyword.
- In post keyword use: You want to use your keyword several times in your article as well as in a header (H1, H2, H3).
- Keyword variation: You want to use your keyword several times in your article, but you don’t want to overdo it. Using keyword variations not only avoids you looking like you’re keyword stuffing, but it’s possible you’ll rank for one of the other keywords. For example, if I’m writing about work-at-home jobs, I’ll use “work at home jobs” as a keyword, but I’ll also use telecommute, telecommuting, home-based job, and other phrases that mean “work at home jobs.”
When it comes to SEO, I finally did what all the other successful bloggers do and invested in Yoast’s SEO Premium plugin. While there is a free option, the premium offers a lot of features that makes it easier and faster to beef up your blog posts’ SEO. This includes help with keyword selection, listing options for internal linking, adding your preview snippet (description), and more. It will even give you keyword density and feedback on the readability of your article.
Blog Post Checklist
Once I have the SEO all set up, I move on to the basic blog post checklist to make sure I’ve covered all the important details:
- Appeal to reader: On occasion, I get requests for guest posts that have nothing to do with working at home. Posting such content would confuse you and Google. Ultimately, a blog success depends on the quality and value you offer to a targeted reader. I stick to working at home topics because that’s what you expect. Within that, you want to make sure you also provide plenty of articles on your top topics. Studying your analytics to get a sense of your most popular posts can help you design articles that relate to what your readers want.
- Grammar/spelling/clarity/etc: Granted, I mess this up sometimes, but you want to check that you have a well-written article that is not only free of errors, but also makes sense as people read it. Reading your articles outloud can help you know if you have any flow or clarity issues.
- Link to internal post: If you haven’t already done this in the SEO portion, you’ll want to make sure you do it here. Google likes to see internal linking (a link to another post on your site), and it encourages your readers to stay on your website, giving you more opportunities to make money.
- Link to an external post: While you don’t want to send your readers away, at the same time you want to offer them the very best content, which is sometimes posted elsewhere. Or you might refer them to a tool or resource. Further, Google judges a page on links you refer to (as well as judges you by sites that link to you). I always set the link to open in a new tab so that my readers don’t actually leave WAHS (target=”_blank”)
- Social share graphics: If only there was a one-size-fits-all social graphic. Unfortunately, there isn’t so thank goodness for Canva. You should have graphic for each platform your reader uses to share your content, as well as for you to promote it. I use Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and for some content, Instagram as well. I use the Facebook graphic on the blog, and the others are hidden in the post (I use Social Warfare for Pinterest, and CoSchedule to add Twitter image). To make it easier, I use Canva to make the Facebook image, and then use the “resize” option (in the paid option) to instantly make the others. Because the size changes, you have to tweak them, but all the basic elements are there. At this time, I put in the social info using Social Warfare.
- Headings: As already mentioned, Google looks for keywords in header tags. However, header tags also serve to help make your blog post easier to read.
- Green button on Yoast: A great feature of Yoast is that it will let you know the readability of your article as well SEO with a red (not good), yellow (okay) and green (good) button. Strive to have the green buttons. Sometimes it can be hard because of the way your post is structured, but Yoast will tell you why you’re getting the rating you are so you can improve it.
- Category: Make sure you’ve organized your post into a least one category on your blog. On WordPress, you’ll find this option to the right of your blog content.
- Tags: These are the keywords and other terms your reader might use to find the article. On WordPress, you’ll find this option to the right of your blog content.
- Click to Tweet: Make it easy for your readers to share your content with a click to tweet option within your article. I use Social Warfare, but there are other plugins you can use.
- Affiliate link or link to another post with an affiliate link (or your own product): If you’re goal is to make money with your blog, you need to give your readers options to buy or sign up for things that will pay you money. Affiliate marketing is a great, easy way to share valuable tools and resources with your readers. Just make sure you’re giving great recommendations. If you’re article isn’t conducive to an affiliate link or your own product, link to another article on your site that already has an affiliate link.
- FTC disclosure: If you are getting paid in a sponsored post, affiliate link, received something free or otherwise benefiting from the post, you need to put a disclosure. I have mine set to appear automatically at the bottom of all my posts.
- Content upgrade/Post Gopher: The new big thing in attracting readers and subscribers is through content upgrades. These are extra content add to enhance a post. Usually, to get them, readers need to submit their email (so it grows your list). Not every post needs a content upgrade, and you can re-use content upgrades. For example, if you have a website on baking, you can have a content upgrade on making chocolate candy that is offered on all your posts related to chocolate (or candy). Being a lazy sort, I like tools that will help me built my list through content offerings automatically, so I use Post Gopher. While I do offer content upgrades (like The Perfect Blog Post Checklist), I can still build my list and give value through Post Gopher which allow readers to get a PDF copy of any post on the site (you can see this option at the top and bottom of my posts).
- Email optin: If you’re not using a content upgrade for email optin, you can add your regular lead magnet email optin. Chances are you have it in your sidebar, but you can boost sign ups by having it in your post as well.
- Prompt for CTA or discussion: Get your readers engaged with you by asking them to do something. It could be take your poll, checkout an affiliate resource, or simply leave a comment.
- Promote: Once your blog post is live, you need to have readers. My promotion starts in my blog post by scheduling the sharing of the post. I use CoSchedule to send my blog posts to WAHS’s Facebook fan page, WAHS Kickstart Group, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I’ve also just set it up to post to Pinterest, however, I use Tailwind to maximize Pinterest marketing. When I decide to post to Instagram, I use Hootsuite as it can post automatically (most other social share tools send you a notification to post to Instagram). Plus I use Linktr.ee to list my blog posts from Instagram since Instagram doesn’t like you to post URLs except in your bio. If my posts mentions other people (like Wednesday’s profiles or Friday’s tips posts), I always add their Twitter handle when set up Twitter social share so they’re tagged. Next, I set up to add the post link to one of my weekly emails. Finally, if you belong to any syndication sites (i.e. Alltop, Outbrain, SimpleReach, Taboola, Yarpp, Igit, etc) share the link with them.