This is a question that comes up fairly regularly. Once you’ve written your blog post there is more to do than just clicking on the publish button. In fact promoting your post is probably more important than writing it in the first place. There is no point in producing a work of art if it remains hidden from view where no one can find it!
Here’s a list of things to check off once you’ve completed your writing:
1. Have you maximised the SEO potential?
You want your blog post to get some organic traffic from the search engines, of course. It’s essential that you make sure you have all the bases covered and put things in the right places.
If you’re running a WordPress self-hosted blog the plugin WP SEO by Yoast will provide guidance. If you’re not, here is a checklist to help you get your SEO right.
- Keyword or keyword phrase (the keyword phrase for this post is ‘blog post’). It’s important to include your keyword in various parts of the blog post. The keyword needs to be found in the:
- Post title. To fit into the search results this needs to be more than 40 and less than 70 characters.
- Heading. Use the ‘heading 2’ text format for the main headline and maybe one or two smaller ones (heading 3 or 4). You’ll find these in the tool bar above the editing window by clicking on the down arrow.
- Meta description. That’s the description under the title & URL in search results and needs to be no more than 156 characters in length.
- URL. The permalink address of the blog post just under the blog title.
- Sprinkled throughout your content. Around 1% of content must contain your keyword so if it’s a 300 word blog post you’ll need to mention the keyword at least 3 times. By the way from an SEO point of view 300 words is considered the minimum for a blog post.
- In the ‘Alt’ tag of the image. You are using an image, aren’t you? The reason for adding this little tag is to make the blog post readable by screen readers. That’s a piece of software used by those who can’t see your content due to poor eyesight. It will speak the words on your post and when it comes to an image it will tell the listener what the image is. Some can also produce braille. So you need to describe it so your content is accessible for them, and use the keyword for the search engines to know what the image is referring to.
- In the first paragraph of the text. For both search engines and readers they need to know what you’re talking about after reading the first paragraph. Keep on topic so you don’t lose the search engine’s or your reader’s attention!
- Use a different keyword or phrase for each blog post and page. If you have two or more pieces of content with the same keyword the search engines won’t know which one is most important.
Here’s what the search engine entry for this blog post will look like once published. The keyword will be highlighted in bold text.
- External and internal links. Google likes to know if you’ve done some reading and research around your subject matter. It’s good to have one or two links to other websites or blogs where what you’re saying is backed up in some way or explains more fully what you’re talking about.
It doesn’t have to be too academic but at least one link to an authority site will give your piece some credibility. Likewise do some relevant linking to subject matter you’ve already written about in other blog posts. It gives readers a chance to delve deeper into the subject and lets the search engines know that your knowledge is more than one post deep!
Having said all that, I encourage you not to depend on just search engine traffic. In fact some purists will say not to think about SEO at all when writing a blog post. That’s great if you have a flair for writing but if you’re starting out and have not developed your own style, visibility is your first goal.
- Paid for and promotional links. If you have any sponsored links make sure you make them no-follow. Google frowns upon passing on page rank through a do-follow link and they can take action to downgrade your page rank or drop your site from their search engine. All that hard work down the drain!
2. Is your blog post easy to read?
People’s attention span decreases by about 25% when they read from a screen. So you have to write more simply than you might think. This is my process for making sure that my blog posts are readable and of good quality.
- Proof reading. This is where I cheat a bit and get my partner, Judy, to help. She’s a much better writer than I am and is a whizz at spelling and grammar. Plus she can cut down what I write by about 75% by taking out stuff that is padding. Basically she’s a brilliant editor and I’m very grateful to have her at my disposal. If you’re not too hot on proof reading find someone who can help you. It’s important for your credibility and readability.
- Split up your paragraphs. A big thick block of text puts people off reading your post. Make sure you split it into bite sized chunks for your visitors to consume easily.
- Use lists and bullet points. Like I’m doing here! It helps people feel they are progressing and getting through your post one step at a time rather than focusing on how much more text there is to get through underneath.
- Highlight important points in bold. Grab their attention by making words and phrases stand out from the other text.
- Use images. It’s not that difficult to find free images on the web and now there are various image platforms that you can use to make your own. Canva is a relatively new design app that I’ve found and I’ve been using Picktochart for infographics for some time.
Plus with your smart phone you can take your own. Instagram has made it possible to produce great images without being a professional photographer. That’s one of mine on the right from my Instagram stream.
It is not a sensible idea to take images from the web. Be aware that copyright laws could catch you out if you haven’t sought permission to use it or paid for it from a stock image library. Make it your own work if possible. It will communicate more about you and make you stand out from the crowd.
3. What is the optimum time to publish your blog post?
Timing is very important when publishing blog posts. They are relatively transient in that they will often appear fairly high in the search engines once published but then fall back down as time passes. So what do you need to consider to make sure you’re posting at the best time?
- Who are your audience? Are you a business to business blog or a business to consumer? What demographic is your audience? When will they be most likely to be consuming your material? These are good questions to ask yourself as there is no definitive solution that fits all blogs.
- When are they going to be online? Business professionals tend to consume material early in the morning, at lunchtime and early evening. Mums or dads are likely to be on their smartphones during the school run as they wait for their kids. Step into your customer’s place and imagine when they are likely to have the time to fire up their devices.
- When are they going to be able to read your blog post? Often people will not read your content as soon as you publish it. It is more likely to be bookmarked, saved on Evernote or Instapaper or favourited on Twitter (my next blog post will discuss promotion on social media).
- Try out different times. See what works by analysing how much traffic you get when posting at different times.
- Be aware of holidays. It’s sometimes easy to forget about Christmas and Easter and bank holidays when people have more important things than your blog post to think about!
- Don’t get too formulaic. Sometimes you can post to a specific formula and that’s good. Consistency is important so you might post at particular times of the week which works for you. However, you may want to deviate from your plan sometimes to attract a different audience.
- Are you local or global? Have you checked where your visitors are coming from? As in my point above you might want to target a different time zone by posting out-of-hours.
And you’re not done yet as the next thing is promotion via social media. But I feel that’s enough to think about for one post. Watch out for the next one which will give you a strategy for social media sharing of your blog posts.
As always your tips and ideas will not only help me but also other bloggers who frequent my blog. So please leave a comment with your ideas about what you do when you’ve finished writing a blog post.