You just finished your next big blog post—the one that you are sure will go viral—and you are about to hit that publish button.
Have you done everything you can to make sure your blog post will seen by your audience? Have you made it easy to read and enjoy? Does it look good? Does it make YOU look good? Does it make a great first impression?
Too often you will read a blog post that looks promising, but as you dig in, you start to find many errors. Mistakes. Inconsistencies.
Or the post drags on. Or there’s no takeaway. Or it’s booooring.
Pretty soon, you’re ready to move on . . . to someone else’s website.
Don’t give your readers any reason to bounce. There are a handful of easy steps to take before you publish your next blog post that will make a big difference in whether your audience sees your post and whether they will stick around to read it.
And of course, if you do everything right, your audience is more likely to read more of your best stuff and become a fan.
So follow these steps before you hit publish on every blog post, and you will likely see more traffic, more engagement, and happier followers. (And guess what? There’s a bonus below: 8 Actions To Take After You Hit Publish!)
Blog Post Action Plan: 16 Things To Do Before You Hit Publish
1. Proofread for spelling and grammatical errors.
In addition to utilizing spelling and grammar checkers, there is no substitute for careful proofreading. And by careful we mean reading each word and sentence deliberately and intentionally and not just skimming it because you have read it several times before. You would be surprised how easy it is to skip over a mispelled word. Like the word misspelled in that last sentence.
As we discuss in our recent website writing blog post, the writing on your blog (and website) is critical to establishing authority, likability, and trustworthiness. We always recommend engaging a second set of eyes for proofreading. At the very least it gives you someone else to blame for any missed mistakes. (Just kidding). If you are writing your blog in English, and English is not your first language, please make sure you proofread your writing carefully to make sure your grammar and usage are correct. You don’t want to lose readers with awkward or confusing phrasing.
2. Make sure your title, slug, and meta description are SEO friendly and enticing to readers.
Does your title, slug, and meta description contain your main keyword for the post so that your post will show up in search results? Is your title, slug, and meta description interesting and enticing to readers so they feel compelled to click through? Like the content itself, don’t be boring!
3. Research pertinent and competitive keywords and make sure they appear throughout your post.
But make sure NOT to “keyword stuff” your post. Some people think that the more often you include the same keywords on your page, the more likely it will be relevant in search results. Not only is that not true, but your content suffers from this approach as well. These days, most people are savvy enough to know when keywords are thrown around like confetti. The more confetti, the bigger the mess, and the more people think you’re just trying to hit #1 in search rankings instead of providing great content and truly being a trusted resource who wants to help them out.
4. Is your post long?
Consider breaking your post into sections, otherwise your audience might find themselves facing a wall of text, which we discuss a bit more in this post. Find natural breaks in the content and add a separator. Any type of separator will work, including headings, lines, or ellipses, or images, or graphics. Make sure these separators are consistent with your branding. Breaking up the text into more bite-size sections will make the post easier for people to read.
By the way, Google likes longer posts and page content, so aim for more than 300 words; longer content with more useful information will also establish you as an authority.
5. Format the post.
This means using paragraphs and sentences that are varied in length and complexity. Use emphasis sparingly. <—- Do that. Not THIS.
You might think about making the first line of each section bold. But don’t—please don’t—resort to all capitals for extended amounts of text. YOU DON’T WANT THE READER TO THINK THAT YOU’RE SCREAMING AT THEM. Do you? DO YOU??
Use a hierarchical heading strategy to lead readers through your post. Use larger headings for main sections, smaller headings for subsections.
Take care when using colored text. Use it sparingly and make it consistent with your branding. (Speaking of color, are you curious about what the colors in your brand mean? Take a look at our Color Psychology chart.
6. Did we mention to check for spelling and grammatical errors?
We just can’t emphasize this enough. Please make your writing technically correct. Your readers will thank you.
7. Make sure to link to other relevant blog content and affiliate links.
You probably wrote a past blog post that you could mention in your current post. If so, link to it in your new post! Internal linking is important for SEO. It also has the benefit of encouraging readers to stay on your site longer. The key is to make it easy for your readers to find interesting and relevant content on your site. And if you have affiliate links, make sure you use the correct link to whatever product or service you are promoting.
8. Double-check that all images have the alt text filled in.
Alt text helps search engines understand the image (good for SEO) and, bonus: it will help persons who use a screen reader—the alt text will be read, giving persons who have poor vision a description of the image.
9. Add a featured image (on WordPress).
Readers love awesome images. Make sure that any images you use on your post are consistent with your content and your brand.
If you are using a featured image in WordPress, you should be aware of how your WP theme or plugins use the featured image. Sometimes the featured image will be placed above the title. Sometimes below. It may also be used as a thumbnail if your home page displays blog posts. It may also be the image that is pulled by social media (e.g., Facebook) when sharing from your blog. Double check that your featured imaged is actually being featured correctly.
10. Make sure all links are working (and that they open in their own windows!)
Broken links are a pain. They create a disjointed user experience. You might find your users going somewhere else if they feel like your site maintenance is sketchy. And if you are linking to content outside of your blog, don’t let your audience leave your site or the page they are on! Make sure links open in their own tab/window so your audience can easily come back to where they started on your site.
11. On Pinterest? Be sure to include an awesome pinnable image created in Adobe Illustrator, Canva, or other favorite design or drawing program.
Did you know Pinterest is an awesome and powerful search engine? Use awesome pinnable images you create to drive interested traffic to your site. Creative and captivating Pinterest images can get shared over and over, increasing your reach, traffic, and engagement with your brand.
12. Include a call to action at the end of the post.
What do you want your readers to do on your site? Read another post? Opt in to your email list? Comment? Make sure you tell them what to do. Don’t make them guess. A call to action will get your audience engaged. And engaged readers are more likely to stick around.
13. Don’t forget to set your categories and tags.
Put your blog posts in the most relevant categories and tag them with accurate, meaningful tags. This will allow your audience to easily browse by topic. And ease of use should be a priority for any blog.
14. Spell check and edit. Again.
You may be getting tired of us saying this, but here at Chapter 2 Creative we are on a mission to improve the quality of blog and website content, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to encourage everyone to proofread and edit continuously to correct as many writing errors as possible.
15. Look at the post in tablet and mobile form to make sure it looks good.
If you are writing posts on your desktop computer, make sure you review each post to see how they look when someone views them in mobile or tablet form. Sometimes your blog post formatting may be messed up when it is resized for smaller screens. Because most views will come from mobile devices, you should optimize the formatting for them.
16. Preview to check for final errors.
It’s remarkable how when you preview a post before you publish (to see how your audience will actually see it), it looks or reads differently from how it looks and reads as you edit it. For some reason you can see awkward phrasing or identify grammar errors more easily in preview mode. So even after you have finalized your post, make sure to preview it one more time to identify any errors and make any final edits.
■ ■ ■
If you include these items in your blog publishing checklist, the quality of your posts will improve, and so will your audience engagement. Don’t have a blog publishing checklist? We’ve got you covered! Download our blog post action plan checklist that contains these action items and more!
Bonus! 8 Actions to Take After You Hit Publish
You didn’t think we would leave you hanging without an action plan for AFTER you publish your blog, did you? Of course not! Here’s our list of 8 steps to take after you publish your blog post:
1. Double-check your published post for any spelling, grammar, or punctuation errors.
It shouldn’t surprise you that we recommend taking a look at the published piece. Invariably you will see a mistake you didn’t pick up before you hit publish. If you see an error, don’t ignore it! You can be sure your audience won’t. Just take a few seconds to edit the post.
2. Share your post via social media.
A basic post-publication action item, but one that shouldn’t be forgotten. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Snapchat. Google+. LinkedIn. There are many places to promote your blog content. Find out where your audience hangs out and promote your post there!
If you’re posting to Facebook, you might want to make sure the link will appear correctly when you post it. (Because, as well all know, Facebook likes to change things up continuously.) A handy little tool to use is the Facebook Debugger. Run your link through this to make sure Facebook will pull the image.you want to appear with your post. You might have to run it a few times for it to pull the image correctly, and if for some reason it doesn’t, go back and make sure you remembered to include a featured image in your post.
StumbleUpon.com is also a great way to get your post in front of a larger audience. Make sure after stumbling your post, you click the Stumble button again to ensure it’s submitted completely. And remember that for each one of your own posts you stumble, it’s important to stumble at least 10 other blog post that don’t live on your blog. The platform will think you’re spamming the system if you just keep doing it from your own site!
3. Pin your pinnable image on Pinterest.
And don’t forget to proofread your pinnable images. We recently saw a pinnable image on a blog and actually pinned on Pinterest by its creator, that said “HOW TO CREAT A BLOG.” Take your time to proofread everything you write, including your pins. You’ll save yourself from embarrassment and will be able to better establish yourself as a competent authority.
4. Go through your old posts and link to your new one. (And link your new post in your old posts if it makes sense to do so).
A good internal linking strategy helps readers navigate your website and stay on your site longer. Importantly, good internal linking improves SEO performance. Learn more about internal linking here.
5. Respond to comments on your blog posts and subsequent social media posts.
Engaging with your readers is critical to having your audience feel welcome on your blog. Responding to comments on your blog as well as in social media will help keep your readers feeling connected to you on a more personal level, and connected readers will keep coming back because they will know, like, and trust you.
You should also keep an eye on where your blog posts are shared by others. If another blogger has re-posted your content on their blog or their social media channels and it has garnered comments from their audience, try to reply to those comments.
6. Shoot a quick email or message to anyone you may have linked to or mentioned in your post.
This action item is an easy way to engage with potential influencers by giving them a heads up that you referenced their content. Tag them in your post, or send them an email. You never know—they might take a look at your blog and might even share your post in their circles, too! This is of course a good reason to make your own content error free and engaging. No one will want to share your content if it lacks credibility.
7. And speaking of sharing, make sure you thank anyone who shares your post.
Having your posts shared by others is a sign you are on the right track to creating helpful, interesting content that other people want to read. Whenever someone shares your content, make sure to thank them with a comment, email, or tweet.
8. Check your analytics.
After each month of blogging, check your analytics (Google Analytics is your go-to source) so that you can identify which of your brilliant blog posts performed the best. And when you identify which ones performed the best—write more content like that! Don’t be afraid to experiment with your content, of course, but when you can identify why certain blog posts are favored over others by your audience, you can structure your posts to take advantage of that knowledge.
■ ■ ■
This action plan should help you create the best blogging experience for your readers. Following these action items will help your target audience find you so they can get to know you, like you, and trust you. And when they do that, you will be well on your way to creating a successful blog.