12 Things Every Blog Post Needs Before You Hit the “Publish” Button
When I began blogging I wrote a post and then published it. Easy Peasy. I published frequently. Writing as quickly as I could, adding a few images, proof-reading, publishing and getting on to the next post. I wanted to fill my blog with new posts, to keep the front page filled with new content. Since that time I have learned better. Quantity does not trump quality. None of these earlier entries included the 12 Things Every Blog Post Needs, but I was hitting publish anyway.
I know that there’s tons of advice out there to publish frequently when you are a new blogger. But with age (length of blog ownership) comes wisdom and I’ve come to a few different conclusions. A blog post needs to do a lot of things: grab readers, flesh out who you are, have images beneficial for social media and Pinterest, use good SEO for Google, increase sharing, induce a reader to sign up for email and so many other things. Phew! That’s a lot of heavy lifting for one post.
In order to craft a post, that can carry the weight, I’ve come up with a checklist; 12 Things Every Blog Post Needs. Before I hit Publish I make sure that each item is checked off the list. A well crafted post takes a bit more time to write, but it does all the things that I need a post to do. If you are publishing posts without these items you need to work so much harder to get the same results. If you’re going to put the time into your blog why not work smarter, not harder.
Every Blog Post Needs Good SEO
Search Engine Optimization isn’t fun. It’s confusing. There are some SEO tricks that I could be doing better, but each post should be optimized for the major search engines so your site can be found organically.
“What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
SEO is a marketing discipline focused on growing visibility in organic (non-paid) search engine results. SEO encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve rankings, drive traffic, and increase awareness in search engines. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way other sites link to you on the web. Sometimes SEO is simply a matter of making sure your site is structured in a way that search engines understand.
SEO isn’t just about building search engine-friendly websites. It’s about making your site better for people too. At Moz we believe these principles go hand-in-hand.” – MOZ-The Beginner’s Guide to SEO
ONE: Title and Subtitles with Keyword or Keyword Phrase
I’ve seen many newer bloggers discus that they don’t see the need to use SEO – in any way, shape or form. But SEO will help you gain organic traffic, and makes your site more user friendly. As I stated above, I could be doing more to benefit my SEO. But at the very least, I make sure to use keywords in my Title and Subtitles then sprinkle these keywords throughout my post.
When you use keywords you’re enabling Search Engines to assess the topic of the post. The post can then be indexed and found through an organic search. The keyword phrase that I used in this post is “Every Blog Post Needs”. If you look through the post you will see this phrase used repeatedly.
Using H1, H2 and H3 Heading tags in your article helps to structure your post. They enable Google, Bing and Yahoo to pinpoint the topic you’re writing about, it also gives structure to your reader. Search Engines skim posts using Heading Tags. Readers also skim a post to see if it is worth reading all the way through. If your post doesn’t have Heading Tags, calling interest to the next area of discussion, you could be losing readers as well as organic search traffic.
The title and permalink of the post should include your keywords. You should have only one H1 tag in a post, this is usually the first line of a post and should include your keywords, it may be the same wording as used in your title. As you write your post the H2 headings should be a subtitle of your H1 tags. And if you need to break things down even further use H3 headings for a subtitle of a subtitle.
Remember term paper outlines from college or highschool? They create the framework of a post, designating what each area of the article will discus. Your heading tags are similar to an outline. These tags are great for SEO but they also make your post user friendly. Two great reasons to use Headings and keywords.
For further explanation of Heading Tags read: SEO & Heading Tags; Stop Tying Your Hands Behind Your Back
TWO: Yoast Green Light
If you have a WordPress site I strongly suggest utilizing the Yoast SEO Plugin. This tool pushes you to use SEO in all posts, in every area needed. You are prompted to correctly optimize your Title, URL, Meta, Headings and Images. The plugin also looks for links embedded in your post, gauges the Flesch Reading Scale, post word count and density of the keyword or phrase.
Yoast makes writing an optimized post simpler, ranking each post as a color on a stop light. I make sure that each post I write gets the green light before I hit the publish button. If I’m taking the time to write a post I want it do all the things I need it to. Otherwise I’m wasting my time, why write a post that may not be found? Especially once that post moves off the front page of my blog.
Every Blog Post Needs Images
A picture is worth a thousand words. Images pull readers into your post and break up the content. Using good images is a must. Whether you choose stock images or take your own photos, make sure they are of good quality.
THREE: Standard Sized Images Throughout Entire Site.
Nothing is more visually annoying to me than clicking over to read a post and seeing that the images are all different sizes. It is extremely distracting. Choose an standard image size for your posts and use them every time, creating a uniform style to your site. And a professional look.
Images should be used to accentuate your post, not distract readers from your words.
FOUR: Two Image Sizes For Each Post
Most WordPress Themes have a Featured Image. This image is shown on your blogroll, excerpt or Social Media Platforms. I like my images to fill the post area on my blog, it keeps the edges clean looking. To find your blog post area in pixels-right click on your blog post area and click “inspect” . My post area is 778 pixels wide. So I created my Featured Post Image to be 778 x 550. This size shows well on Facebook and Twitter. Making each Featured Image this size also creates a uniform look to my excerpts and posts.
I have also created an image template for Pinterest worthy images. If you want your image to do well on Pinterest the image needs to be a longer vertical image. The perfect size has been estimated to be 735 x 1102. Since my blog is 773 pixels wide I have made a template for Pinterest at 778 x 1200. I use this template to create an image for each post for Google+ and Pinterest.
When I create these images I do it with sharing in mind. I want the images to catch your interest and match my site’s branding.I have found that images with text do much better on Pinterest, so these images always have graphics describing the post. Similarly, I have found that Featured Images with graphics do better on Facebook and Twitter. Not only do images with graphics do better on Social Media they get clicked more often in a linkup. SCORE!
Creating templates with graphics not only helps me create standard sized images for my site, quickly and easily, it also brings me more pageviews. Work smarter, not harder.
FIVE: Optimize Every Image
I cannot tell you how often I click to Pin an image to Pinterest and the Description reads “IMG 12530”. Seriously? I may really want to Pin your post, to share with others or save for a later date, but I won’t bother if this is the description listed. If I really want to save the information I will Pin the post, but I’ll Pin it to a secret board and no one else will see it. Doing you no good.
When you upload your photo to your media library you need to fill in some blanks. First, name your photo what it is. If your image does not load, for any reason, the Title of the image will be displayed in its place. “IMG 12530” tells me nothing. Neither does “Scarf 1”, “Scarf 2”, “Scarf 3”. These image titles may help you organize your images, but it’s doing nothing for you on Pinterest, it’s actually hurting you.
For this post my image title is “12 Things Every Blog Post Needs”. If my image does not load readers see this description and get an idea of what the post is about. Fill in the title area.
When Pinning an image either the ALT Tag or the Description on the Image will display for Pinterest. Fill in both areas, on every image. I use the same ALT Tag and Description for each image in the post, this way I can control what description is shown to Pinterest viewers.
For this post the image ALT Tag and Description is “12 Things Every Blog Post Needs Before you hit publish!” Not only does this help for Pinterest, this is good SEO too. My keywords are in every image’s ALT Tag and Description, helping the search engines determine what my post is about.
You are seriously handicapping yourself if you do not fill in these areas with a great description using your keywords. Pinterest is a search engine just like Google, make sure you are labeling your images so they can be shown to users in a search.
Every Blog Post Needs Sharing Capability
It’s a given that we bloggers share our own posts on social media. But we need to maximize the eyes on our posts. If you have the proper sharing tools available readers will share your posts with their followings. WIN!
SIX: Share Buttons Appropriate for the Post
I can’t emphasize enough that you need to have share buttons on your post in multiple places. If you only have share buttons at the top of your post then when I finish reading I have to scroll back to the top in order to find the share buttons. So inconvenient. Most readers will just leave. You lost the opportunity for them to share your post with their entire Facebook following. UG!
I have a share bar that sticks to the right side of my page, as you scroll down it’s always within sight. At the end of my post I have 2 sets of sharing buttons, a bright blue set and the set that came with my theme. Make it easy on readers to share, if they have to look for the share buttons you are the one that loses out.
If you write recipes HAVE A YUMMLY BUTTON, please! There are so many times I would share a recipe on multiple platforms but the share buttons are not available at the end of the post.
Even if you don’t have a StumbleUpon account you should still have a Stumble Button, you can reach thousands of people on this platform, you don’t need an account, but you need to make it easy for readers to add your post to their StumbleUpon account.
Same with Pinterest. You may not be an avid user, but I bet a lot of your readers are. Make it easy for them to Pin your images. (Not only by having a Pin It button, but by labeling your photos for Pinterest and having correctly sized Pinterest Worthy Images.)
SEVEN: Make it Easy For Me to Share and I Will
I make sure that I have at least one Tweet Embedded in each post. Most often I have 2 or 3 “Tweet This” boxes. The Tweet This Plugin makes it so simple. Craft a well written Tweet, describing your post, written in an informative or fun way. All readers need to do is click on the tweet! Easy Peasy.
When I visit other blogs I love to share. If you have well crafted Tweets in your post, I’ll Tweet them. It helps me on Twitter, readers love to find new things in my feed, and it helps you. I just shared your post. But if I click on your Twitter Share button and it doesn’t give me a great Tweet I move on. You lost the share.
Work smarter, not harder!
EIGHT: Related Posts
The goal of a great blog post is to interest readers, to give them solutions to their problems, make them laugh, teach them how to do something new. When you achieve this, readers will want more. Give it to them. At the end of each article have a few Related Posts for them to choose from.
I have tried several Related Post plugins, but I have not been satisfied with the posts chosen by the plugin, so I made my own. This allows me to really target the subject and lead readers to more information related to the post they just read.
Not only does this help the reader, it also helps you. When your reader clicks through to a Related Post you reach higher pageviews, gain new readers and your bounce rate lowers. And if you have ads on your blog you make more money.
Not to sound like a broken record, but this is working smarter.
NINE: Call to Action
At the end of each post direct readers to complete an action. I have a sign up for the VIP Lounge, filled with tutorials for bloggers, these tutorials can be accessed for free. If you are a member. Growing your email list is vital to your monetization efforts, even if you haven’t begun to add affiliates you can still work to grow your email base.
You don’t have to have a VIP Lounge as an incentive for email sign up, you can offer free printables, a mini ebook, or checklist. Or just write a really great email. My subscribers get the real me, they hear it all, good and bad. I feel that I owe them my best for hanging out with me each week.
Here’s an example of my Call to Action, it’s linked to an email signup at the end of my posts.
TEN: Affiliate Link of some kind-Amazon Native Ads
Not every post is going to be about a product or service. But you do want to make sure you are attempting to monetize each and every post in some way. Amazon Native Ads can be added to the end of each post and tailored to work with the subject you’ve written about.
The Related Posts can also be used to highlight other posts with affiliate links, assisting your monetizing efforts. I attempt to link each post with an affiliate of some kind. I don’t want to sound like a commercial but I do want to assist readers who are looking for a great product or service.
ELEVEN: Links to Other Posts You’ve Written
Linking to your own posts, where relevant, is a great way to give the reader more information and give you more pageviews. But it’s also a boost for your SEO, the titles of the older posts should be full of keywords that you want to rank for.
So, when linking to a post, use the title of the blog post. I see so many bloggers add a link the wrong way. The anchor text that you use for the link lets the search engine know what the link is about.
Here’s one of my most popular blog posts; Why I Do What I Do on the Blog. This post is jam packed with the how’s and why’s I do the things I do on my blog. Actionable tips for you to put to work on your site.
When I added the link I used the title of the blog post. I didn’t write “If you’d like more information about the topic click here. The link above is the correct way to link within a blog post. When you are using the word “here” as your anchor text the search engines have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no benefit in it. Plus, when I read a post that says “click here”, within the paragraph, without telling me what I’m clicking on, I rarely do it. Few readers will.
Another tip-use a bright color for your links and underline them. This is the universal signal to a reader that this is a link. If your links are a dull color I won’t recognize them as clickable, or when the link is not underlined I don’t realize it’s clickable. Once again, work smarter not harder.
Links also trigger the Search Engine Spiders to crawl your post, and these are the good kind of spiders, promise!
TWELVE: This is the Most Important Thing that Every Blog Post Needs
This is the biggest thing that separates the professional blogger from the hobbyist. Proof reading. You may look over your post before you hit publish but do you really edit it? I read and reread and reread my posts. Sometimes it takes longer to edit than it did to write. Misspellings happen, I get that. Dropping a word here and there, well that happens too. But when I click over to read a post with misspellings, dropped words, bad grammar and the flow is bad, I will rarely revisit that blog.
After I read, reread and reread my post I then read it out loud. To myself. Does it sound right? Does it sound like a conversation? Am I talking at you or with you?
Write like you talk. If you talk in run-on sentences, use them. If you are excited use exclamation points. Sometimes I make up words, like ARG! UG! Spaztastic! That’s me. It’s my voice, it helps you get to know me.
It takes a while to find your voice, but you should always be working towards this goal.
When I talk about bad grammar I’m speaking more about “There, their, and they’re.” That kind of thing. When you read your post out loud you notice these issues.
This is the most important thing. This will be the deciding factor on whether readers come back regularly to read more of your posts. READ YOUR POSTS OUT LOUD before you hit the publish button. PLEASE, for the love of all things good, PLEASE!!!
There are so many things every blog post needs
I get it, it can be overwhelming. But if your post is well written and you’ve added all 12 of these tools, your post will do most of the heavy lifting for you. Since you’ve now made it easy to share, your readers will help out by using your share buttons.
We have a lot of hats to wear as a blogger and new things to learn, all the time. You don’t need to be posting daily, in fact I think that could be detrimental to your site. Quality not Quantity. Use this checklist-12 Things Every Blog Post Needs before you hit publish, work smarter, not harder! You got this!
If you’d like to ensure that you are making your blog posts work for you, click on the image below to print your own checklist. 12 Things Every Blog Post Needs Before Hitting Publish.