Here we suggest 14 important steps to take, yes 14 hoops to jump through, BEFORE publishing your blog post. This mainly centres around WordPress, but can work for any online publishing software.
It used to be so simple to write a blog post, but now there’s a lot more to consider if you want people to read your carefully crafted words.
Although I’m not a digital professional, or for that matter, an editor – I know how important it is to write regular and informed online stories. I’d been researching this topic for my own work, and decided to share my findings. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but shows that it can take a long time to get a post optimised and ready to go!
Here’s our really useful checklist to use before you post anything on WordPress:
1. Choose a suitable category title.
The category title option is built into WordPress. In the case of this feature, it sits under the ‘Digital Advice’ category. Try not to be too generic, so add enough detail to explain and categorise your post to fit with the content. This all helps google know what you’re writing about.
2. Think up a good idea, that fits well with your brand.
Choose something you can talk confidently on. Find a subject that people would be interested in, search for and which will help promote your brand and way of thinking.
3. Write it clearly.
Don’t use a lot of jargon, this may put some readers off if it’s not immediately understood. Try outlining what you’re going to write first, so it’s nice and quick when you come to write the post in full.
4. Write a long post, but keep it conversational.
5. Don’t forget pictures.
I think it’s easy to overlook this, when so much emphasis is put on keywords. However, don’t underestimate the importance of impactful images, and diagrams to explain your thinking. Also, remember to research your thumbnail carefully as this can really help with reader understanding.
6. Come up with a descriptive headline.
Your headline is important for SEO. If you need some ideas try the Google trends tool. This is useful to see what people are currently interested in. Make sure your post title isn’t too long as this can affect how it appears when shared via Facebook.
7. Come up with a good intro to explain the post.
This is so readers know at a glance what you’re writing about, and why.
8. Spell check it.
Cut and paste your work into a word processing program to be sure. Bad spelling is not professional.
9. Get someone else to read it.
You’ve done your hard work and research, so make sure that what you write makes sense.
10. Use an SEO plugin and write a good description for the meta tags.
We use All in One SEO Pack to add descriptions. The meta tags are there, of course, to help search engines find you.
11. Use a Schema plugin to be really clear to google what you’re doing.
Schema is an html mark up that describes pages in a more human way – which makes it better for Google to understand. So, all in all a good idea. However, Schema is a vast subject and there are loads of tags/types you can use – so more about Schema later. We are currently using WP SEO Structured Data Schema to help with this. You can use the Structured Data Markup Helper from Google to create bespoke Schema html to add directly to your WordPress post. The code won’t show up if you add it the Text part of your post.
12. Spend time naming your photos.
Reduce images to the correct size so the page loads quickly, and add captions and alt tags to aid google and the blind community.
13. Try not to let the above list hold you back.
We’re amazed by how much work has to go into post writing. It’s a big list, but don’t let it put you off. Keep a clear head so you can write with confidence.
14. Prepare for promotion on social media.
Double-check that your share links are set up correctly, and use an SEO tool if necessary.
After you’ve published your story, check if it shows up on Google.
There’s no point in writing something if no-one else reads it. Try searching for your page on Google in the first instance, then leave it a week or so and try searching with a range of keywords and phrases and see if you’re listed. If not, don’t despair – tweak and update the post, or failing that move on to your next post, as this time it could work. There’s no time to waste in creating new valuable online content!