Here is the most successful checklist for blog posting in 2020. You may have heard the adage “content is king”. That’s truer today than ever. It’s becoming increasingly important that businesses create unique content for their web pages and blog if they want to convince Google that they’re the experts in their field. Writing for blogs is distinctly different than writing for other formats. It’s important that many different factors are considered when creating and writing for your business blog.
Having a blog and regularly creating posts really is complicated. If you want to be found by the search engines, there are several factors you need to consider and implement when writing your article. I have created what I feel is the most comprehensive checklist for blog posting. If you master even a few of these techniques, you could gain a real competitive advantage in your industry. I have broken down the considerations into four groups: Content Considerations, User Considerations, Search Engine considerations, and General Considerations.
The first portion of this checklist for blog posting is the content considerations. This involves the way you will write and layout your blog posts.
- Headline: First on the checklist for blog posting is the headline. This is the most important part of the blog article. Stay away from common blog headline formats and tactics. Create bold, unique headlines that stop the reader’s eyes and beckon them to read more.
- Reading level: for most audiences, write at a 3rd-grade reading level. Google knows that articles written for 3rd graders are more easily understood and read more often. Of course, this depends on your audience. If you’re writing articles for doctors, you’ll want to increase the grade-level much higher. There is a great tool for this and many other factors here: https://wordcounttools.com/
- Conversational tone: don’t speak at your audience, speak to them. Try your best to write the same way you would talk to somebody. Don’t be stiff and robotic. Use contractions such as “don’t” instead of “do not” just like you would if you were talking.
- Bolding: data shows that people often skim instead of, or before reading an entire article. Bolding key sentences cater to these types of readers and clarifies the main points the author is trying to convey.
- Bullet points: it’s important to break up long content with occasional bullet points to help structure the content for ease of reading. Create a few short paragraphs and then a bullet point list to break up your article and make it easier to digest.
- Synonyms: don’t stuff your article full of keywords over and over. Use a thesaurus and find words that mean the same thing, or are very similar, to your keywords.
- Storytelling: if possible, write your blog article in a way that tells a story. The human brain is hard-wired to love a good story. There is an excellent and informative article about this topic in the Harvard Business Review located here. Storytelling should conform to a structure. Common structures include:
- Past, present, future
- What? so what? now what?
- Problem, solution, benefit
- Sub-headers: by dividing your blog article into easily readable sections, you improve the overall user experience. Increasing the user experience helps your SEO. Google wants you to focus on the user. You should want the same thing.
- Word count: always create blog posts that are at least 1,500 words. Google knows from billions of pieces of data that users don’t read 500-word articles nearly as much as longer articles. If you’re still writing 500 or 1000 word articles, you may be wasting your time. It’s better to write one 1,500-word article than three 500-word articles. In fact, 1,500 words may already be past their usefulness and on the way out. Research by SerpIQ shows that the majority of the top 10 search results on Google that feature blog articles have 2,000 – 2,400 words. People’s attention spans have become more extreme. They seem to either want to read 140 character snippets or they want to dig in and really learn. This article is about 2,600 words.
- Paragraph length: break your paragraphs into 3 – 5 sentences. Create 3 – 5 paragraphs and then create a bullet point list or other breaks from the paragraph structure, such as a “Did you know?” or “Quick Facts”
- Sentence length: keep your sentences as short as possible. Read and reread your sentences to eliminate any unnecessary words.
- Font: a lot of people that like to read are older. Make sure that your font is readable. Increase the font size and don’t use strange fonts for your blog posts.
- Proofread: your blog article can’t have any typos or grammatical errors if you want to rank highly in the search engines. Read and reread your blog article over and over to ensure it’s proper. Take a break from your article and read it the next day to help gain a fresh perspective. Ask a friend, colleague or highly-literate employee to copy edit your work. A great tool you can use to ensure this is www.typosaur.us.
- Supporting data: if you can, use numbers and statistics to back up your points. Numbers and statistics have been proven to increase trust by illustrating the research you put into your article. This gives your readers more confidence in your information and increases the likelihood that they will share your article.
The next consideration on this checklist for blog posting is user considerations. This involves things like who you’ll be writing for how you’ll be helpful to them, and the useful elements of the article.
- Know your audience: ideally, you would have developed 3 key buyer profiles. By identifying the types of people, you want to read your article or your customers. You’ll do a better job of writing content that speaks to their needs. It’s helpful to understand the 3 stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness stage, consideration stage, and decision stage. Most people who read long blog articles are researching and fall into the consideration stage. They’re most likely looking for solutions to problems they’re having. By structuring your content with this in mind, you can focus on providing solutions that might appeal to them.
- Authority links: especially when referencing arcane, technical or industry-specific terms, these can be very helpful for readers to include authority links to define and explain what these terms are.
- Conclusion: near the end of your article, prepare your reader that the end is near. Create a synopsis of the entire article, for those who skim, and to fortify the meaning of your article. End your blog post with a pleasing conclusion, or in the case of storytelling, with a happy ending.
- Call to action: incorporate a call to action into your conclusion by offering advice with a link for more information, contact form, a link to a related article, a to-do list, a phone number, and free consultation or a link to your shopping cart website, if promoting a product.
- Social: be sure to include your social sharing icons. Because there are so many social platforms, list as many as you have. Be sure to invite them to share it politely. Don’t just stick the icons there and expect readers to share. Ask them nicely. Like this: “if you enjoyed this article, maybe somebody you know will too. Please share ☺”
- Introduction: introduce the author at the end of the article. Include a brief BIO and a picture if possible. Stay away from headshots and include a more personal picture, such as the author with their children, or dogs, or a snapshot of them playing a sport. This can humanize the author and help them to resonate with the interests of the reader and increase their fan base and subscriptions.
- Gratitude: thank the user for taking their precious time to read your article.
- Participation: encourage your audience to participate in the process. I recommend ending with a question. If the article was about cleaning gerbil urine stains out of Persian rugs, ask the audience what their favorite urine stain removal techniques are.
- Moderation: leave your blog open to comments and make sure to moderate them. Be kind to off-the-wall comments, delete comments that are clearly spam, and use each comment as an opportunity to build trust and connections.
Search Engine Considerations
When ticking off your checklist for blog posting, you can’t ignore the search engine considerations. These are the considerations you must make regarding how search engines like Google will read your article.
- Keywords: it’s crucial to identify the proper keywords to use in the article. If you have performed keyword research, focus on one or two of your primary keywords for the article. It’s crucial to insert the researched keywords and incorporate them in a natural manner into each blog article. Ideally, these keywords are included in the blog headline and at least one heading. Keywords should be included in the introduction and conclusion of your article.
- Meta-description and snippets: create a compelling and persuasive meta description that helps search engines create a dynamic preview of your article in the search results. The preview in the search results page is the bit of text below the search result link. This description can make or break your blog article. If the description isn’t compelling, the user may choose a different article with a more interesting description, even if the article ranks lower.
- Internal links: always have at least one link to another page on your website. A simple way to do this is to link to an older blog article that goes more in-depth on a topic that you referenced in the current article. You could also link to one of your subpages that discuss your services on a related topic. The reason for this is that if your blog starts to rank, it will pass SEO juice to the internal page. And if you do it in a way that’s helpful for users, this will help your SEO.
- Hosting: always host your blog on your own domain, such as www.company.com/blog. Don’t host your blog on another site, such as www.blog.company.com.
- Speed: Test your blog to see if you can reduce loading time. You want your blog to load as quickly as possible, ideally under 2 seconds. 50% of users will leave if your blog takes longer than 5 seconds to load. There are quite a few excellent speed test websites. Google even has its own located here.
- Compatibility: readers are using all kinds of devices to read with. It’s imperative that your blog is responsive and adapts to any device being used. If you need help making your blog or website responsive, feel free to check out our excellent services in that arena on our services page.
- Yoast: if using WordPress as your blogging platform, consider using the Yoast plugin. This fantastic plugin guides you through the process of optimizing key elements of your blog post.
The final portion of this checklist for blog posting is the general considerations These are considerations that are less specific to your article, and more about your blog overall.
- Your blog article URL: your blog article URL should be a friendly URL that’s as short as possible and easy to read. Some blog articles are still using a technical structure, such as https://www.quicktally.com/blog/2016/10/24. Google has a clear preference for articles that use a friendly structure, such as https://www.quicktally.com/blog/How-Hedy-Lamarr-Invented-ARS
- Introduction: start your blog with a bang and rapidly get their full attention with a surprising fact, a quick and unusual question, or a brief story that ends in a cliffhanger that’s resolved at the end of the article.
- Subscription: offer readers the ability to subscribe to your blog. When new articles are written, subscribers can be notified. When they visit your blog repeatedly, you gain a fan base and traffic to your blog. Webpage traffic is a top SEO factor.
- Be different: choose interesting articles that ideally have never been written about. Write in a compelling and unique manner that engages the reader. Often creating a unique topic is the most important aspect of the blog. If you write an article that 1,000 other people have already written about, there is little chance that your article will ever rank on the first page of Google or be found. Sometimes it’s very easy to write about a topic that hasn’t been written before. You can do this by being more specific. For example, instead of writing an article on how to create a great headline, write an article on how to create a great Vimeo video headline. Or instead of writing an article on how to remove stains from carpets, write an article on how to remove cat feces stains from shag carpeting. It’s important to not write on a topic that nobody will ever search for. Use your good judgment and whenever possible, do some Googling yourself to see what other people are searching for.
- Images: include at least one attractive image and preferably multiple images that paint a picture of the takeaways from your article. Ideally, each image is a unique image that’s not a stock photo. The image can be a photo, a cartoon, a sketch, a video or many other types of media such as social media posts, quotes, and presentation slides. Be sure to caption images with a helpful and thoughtful description. If using a video, be sure to include the length of the video to respect the user’s time. Finally, be sure to use keywords in the alt tags used for the image or media.
- Voice: have a consistent voice for your blog. This can be informative, humorous, helpful, family-oriented, technical, sarcastic and more. The key point is to choose a voice and stick with it. By having a specific voice, you cater to a specific segment of the population instead of trying to appeal to everyone. Targeting a particular section of your market increases the likelihood of readership and shares.
- Outreach: this is a whole other topic, but it’s important to understand that if you build it, they will not come. Or at least you can’t assume this. You have to promote your blog posts. Share the posts on your social media profiles, ask your friends to share it, ask your colleagues if you can share it on their wall. Include a link to the newest blog posts in your email signature, your bio, your social media profile descriptions, and other directory profile descriptions such as Yelp and Superpages.com. Consider posting your article on Linked-In Pulse. Perhaps even pay to boost or promote your post on Facebook and LinkedIn. Sometimes you have to prime the pump a bit to get things going. Here is an article that will introduce you to some possibilities for blog distribution outreach: https://www.inklyo.com/content-distribution-sites/
- Be regular: it’s crucial that if you embark on creating and maintaining a blog you stick to a regular schedule. If you decide on once a month, then make sure to post your articles exactly one month apart. Never abandon your blog. It looks very bad when potential customers or fans come to your blog only to see that the last article was posted months, or years ago.
- Have fun: if you really want to have the most impact on your readers (and search engines), have fun with your blog articles. There are billions of articles out there. Many of them are dry and boring. By having fun and taking chances with your writing, you’ll stand out from the noise and vastly increase your chances of being found, creating a readership base, and enjoying your job as a writer.
Thanks for taking the time to read my checklist for blog posting article. If you know anybody who might like this article, please share it. Did I miss anything? What are your favorite business blog SEO tips?
Robert Portillo, founder of Nimbus Marketing, and his family.
Robert Portillo is the founder of Nimbus Marketing. Nothing satisfies him more than expressing his thoughts well. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two sons. He can often be found at local farmer’s markets, hiking trails, and the beach.