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If you have started creating content for your new blog, you know that writing high quality blog posts is time consuming. Content creation is no joke, and you want to make sure that you get a return on your time investment. There are a few key things that I make sure to do before hitting publish to optimize my posts.
This post will go over the seven things that you should do to your blog post before hitting publish to make sure that your readers love and share your work.
1. Make Sure Your Title is Engaging and Includes Keywords
Your title may be the most important part of your entire post, because it’s what determines if someone will actually click through to read what you have written. There are a few different strategies for crafting the perfect post title:
- Use Power Words- Some examples of power words you can include in your title are: Secret, Hacks, Simple, Try This, Mistakes, Fears, Free, New, Useful, Should Never, No-Brainer, Costly, Supercharge, Drastically
- Make Titles Personal- An example of this would be something like, “How I Make 5-Figures Using Instagram.” You’re still telling your audience that your blog post serves them, but you are providing details of your experience.
- Provide a Formula for How to Do Something- Provide people with a strategy for how to do something that’s of value to them.
- The Definitive Guide to….
- 5 Ways to….
- Avoid….and Do This Instead
- Quick, Simple Way to….
You also want to make sure that your title includes keywords based on your keyword research for the post. This will help you optimize your posts for search engines. If you want to learn SEO fundamentals, I wrote an entire post on how to get started as a new blogger.
2. Use H2 and H3 Subheadings Within Your Post
One of the quickest ways to have a reader click off of your blog is to write long, hard to read paragraphs. Most people will come to your site, scan the main points, and decide if they are going to stay to read the full post. I recommend keeping your paragraphs to no more than 4-5 sentences long. I’ll even write 1 sentence paragraphs sometimes.
Using bullet points is another great way to make it easier for your readers. It goes against almost everything we learned about writing in school, but it’s going to keep people on your page longer.
Break your post into subtopics using H2 and H3 headings. If you go to the top of your drafted post in WordPress, you will see a drop down menu with “Paragraph” at the top. This is where you can choose the size of your headlines. Besides being easy to read, H2 and H3 headings optimize your post for search engines as they indicate to the bots what your post is about.
3. Link to Other Relevant Posts on Your Blog (Interlinking)
One of the best ways to keep people on your blog and increase your page views is to link to relevant posts on your blog in every post. Every time you write a post that mentions something you have written about in the past, you can link to those old posts. This provides your reader with even more relevant information to the topic they are interested in and keeps them on your blog longer. It’s a win-win for everyone!
You’ll often see me do something like this where I just slip a related blog post into my current post:
“Related: SEO Basics for New Mom Bloggers”
I also like to add related content to the bottom of my blog post in a list format. I usually label is something like “Other Posts You Might Like.”
This one is fairly obvious, but I think a lot of people don’t take the time to thoroughly proofread their posts. We get excited that we finished an epic blog post and we just want to hit publish after reading through it once. Unfortunately, I do my best proofreading AFTER hitting publish unless I take my time.
There are a few tactics I use to minimize my errors:
- Don’t publish your posts in real time. This just means that I generally don’t publish a post the same day that I write it. It gives me the chance to slow down and read through the post several times before the scheduled post date.
- Use Grammarly to help eliminate spelling and grammatical errors. I have been happy with the free version.
- Read your post backwards. This is a tip that I learned in high school for finding spelling errors. Oftentimes we just fly past spelling errors as we read full sentences. Reading backwards makes these errors far more obvious.
- Read your post out loud. I think I find 90% of my errors using this method when I read through the post at a normal speed.
- Get a second set of eyes to read your post. We’re really invested in our own work, so having a friend or family member read over a post can give us objective feedback.
5. Add Photos
Besides the fact that photos make our blog posts more exciting to look at, they also help us optimize our posts for search engines and make posts shareable.
For each blog post I include:
- A featured image- The featured image is what will show up on your blog page for most themes.
- An image with Facebook-friendly dimensions- If you have the Yoast SEO plugin, this is really easy to do. Scroll down to the Yoast SEO section under your blog post draft and click on the “social” tab under the stoplight icon. This section will allow you to add a Facebook optimized photo (940 px X 788 px) along with the description you want to be included with the post when shared on Facebook.
- A pinnable image (or 2) for Pinterest- When I first publish a post, I like to create at least 2 pins. I will create more down the road, but 2 is a good start. I generally create pins with the dimensions 735px X 1102px or 600px X 900px.
When you add a photo to your blog post, you want to change the photo title and alt text to include your targeted keywords. A picture title may show up as something like “IMG_123.jpg.” If you’re writing a post on breast pumps, you would just change the title to something like “Best Breast Pumps.”
The alt text of your photo is particularly important, because this is the text that most themes use as the “description” when someone pins your photo to Pinterest. You want it to be full of Pinterest-friendly keywords based on your keyword research.
6. Have a Conversation Starter or Question
One of the best ways to encourage engagement on your post is to ask a question at the end. People usually need to be told what to do, so a question encourages them to leave a comment on your blog post. This is great for building relationships with your readers and getting to know what they want to see from you.
7. Add an Opt-In or Content Upgrade
I’ve talked about how and why you need to be building an email list, and this is a great way to be working on that goal. The more often people are exposed to your opt-in, the greater likelihood they are to subscribe. I like to conclude with an opt-in at the end of my posts, because these are the people who have stuck around long enough to actually read a full blog post. This is generally an indication that what you wrote resonates with them.
Another way to encourage readers to join your email list is with a content upgrade. A content upgrade is a freebie that is directly related to the post you wrote. It could be a checklist that breaks down exactly what you just said in your post for them to print out and reference later. It could be something like a pretty printable that’s related to the topic of your post (ie. chore chart).
These little freebies don’t have to take you long to create, but they can be a great way to build your list.