A great blog post is a work of art. It’s not a set of words randomly strung together. There’s an elaborate process involved in writing up content for a blog post – mine is made up of 9 steps. Even once you’ve got a solid draft post in your hand, things aren’t over yet. When you’re in the writing zone, it’s easy to forget the little things that complete a post – particularly those that boost your search engine optimisation (SEO). Here are 10 things to tick-off before you hit the publish button on WordPress to turn an OK blog post into an outstanding one – don’t forget to grab your free copy of the checklist! (link at the end of the post)
Jan On The Blog’s (JOTB) Blogging Checklist
1. Included correct references?
I’ve got this at the top of the list because I think it’s an important one. If you read my 9 Effective Steps for Writing with Impact post, you know that my view is that every piece of writing should be backed by facts from credible sources. Why? Because it gives your writing more credibility in the eyes of readers. It shows that you haven’t simply shared your opinion but rather have supported it with research and factual information. This check is a reminder to make sure you’ve included one or more such references in the post your about to publish, and that you’ve cited the sources correctly.
2. Linked related posts?
Each time I blog, I try to link back to one of my own related posts, if I can. I see every new post I publish as an opportunity to promote previous content that readers may find useful. A fringe benefit of this is that such internal links also help to improve your blog’s SEO – which in simple terms is how search engines like Google rank your site and direct traffic to it. That’s why I always make a point to make sure I’ve linked to related posts, if possible, before publishing a post. To practice what I preach – click here to learn the smart way to link posts on WordPress.
3. Added a call to action?
This check is a reminder to add a call to action at the end of your post. Why? Because it’s a great way to create engagement with your post. It invites your readers to share their views, ideas or feedback. Which gives you the opportunity to develop relationships with your readers and gain valuable insight of their response to your post. Your call to action could take any form. My favourite is to end the post with an open ended question e.g. ‘what are your thoughts xx?’. But you could get creative based on the intent of your post. The important thing to is not forget to include it – that’s why it’s on this checklist.
4. Noted any disclaimers?
This wouldn’t apply to all posts, but I like to have it on this checklist because it’s important. I’m going to start this with a disclaimer of my own. I’m not a legal professional and this shouldn’t be considered as advice on using disclaimers for legal reasons. But as a blogger myself, I like to be responsible about the content I create. You’ve heard me say before that ‘words have power’. The content of your post can have an impact on your readers. According to TermsFeed, a disclaimer can limit your liability to others. That’s why particularly when I write a health or wellness related post, I like to include a disclaimer to indicate that my views shouldn’t be considered as professional medical advice. If you’ve already done your homework and included any disclaimers within one of the pages/ footer of your blog, great work – you can simply skip this check.
5. Assigned Categories and Tags?
Categories and tags are all about SEO. They help readers and search engines find your blog posts, based on the tags you’ve associated to them. For example, if someone searches for ‘blogging checklist’ on WordPress Reader this post should come up once it’s published, because I’ve added that as a tag. Categories can also help you structure the content in your blog. I think of them as chapters in a book, where tags are headings within the chapter. It’s easy to forget to add these in your excitement to publish the post. But don’t stress, JOTB’s Blogging Checklist has you covered.
6. Wrote a catchy Excerpt?
Have you ever judged a book by its back cover? Or decided whether to go into a weblink based on the few preview lines that Google show about it? I sure have. That’s what this check is about. A reminder to take every effort to carefully write an Excerpt for your post. Less is more with this because you only need a few words. But those few choice words need to complement the title of your blog and really induce curiosity in your readers or spell out what value they stand to gain from reading the post. I tend to use the same excerpt when setting up my automated social media sharing on Jetpack (more on this below). Tick-off this check so you don’t forget to write a killer excerpt.
7. Added the Featured image?
There are few things about a blog post that are ‘do or die’. The Featured image is one of them. It’s the face of your blog post. That’s why I make a point to take my time making sure I select a featured image that captures the essence of my post. It needs to match the brand of your blog and invite readers in. It’s simply too important to forget to do this. That’s why it’s on this checklist.
8. Set up social media sharing?
We have all heard at some point how powerful social media can be in building the brand and reader base of your blog. I’m sure most of you already share your posts on one or several social media platforms, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. As I’ve said before, I like to take up Jetpack‘s offer for help here and share my posts automatically on Facebook and Twitter, as they are published on WordPress. However you choose to do this, this check is here to remind you to set up your social media posts to tell the world of the valuable content you’ve just produced.
9. Attributed images correctly?
Writing isn’t simply about words – well, it is and it isn’t. If you want to write with impact, you need images in your toolkit, not just words. Simply because readers are humans, and humans are visual creatures. As important as it is to use images to complement your writing, it’s just as important to make sure you do it the right way. This check is a prompt to make sure you’ve added attributions to images where relevant, to give credit to the creator. By taking this simple step, you become a responsible blogger and avoid potential legal violations.
10. Wrote alternative text for all images?
I saved this for last, not because it’s the best (as you could probably tell from the Spongebob GIF). It’s my least favourite thing to do when blogging – it’s even on my WordPress wishlist. Alternative text (or alt text) describes an image to those who can’t see it, e.g. vision impaired person, Google, if image doesn’t load. It’s exhausting to do, trust me I know. The sad reality though is that SEO bots love alt text because that means they can understand what the images mean. Therefore, in the name of equality and SEO, take some time to add alt text for all the images you’ve used. Don’t overthink it. Keep it simple and explain the image as if you are describing it to someone who can’t see it – because that’s exactly what you are doing.
For the love of blogging – I think that’s why most of us blog. We are writers who strive to create beauty with words. While we each have a method to the madness, it’s easy to miss the little things as we are immersed in creativity. I’ve had many facepalm moments from hitting Publish too soon. That’s why I created this blogging checklist. It’s tried and tested and will help you make sure your post is at its best before it goes out for the world to see.
Wish you could save this checklist for future reference?
It’s your lucky day! Keep JOTB’s Blogging Checklist handy every time you blog – grab a copy here for free.
Did you ever forget to do any of these before publishing a blog post? What other checks do you typically do?
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© Jan Perera 2021. All rights reserved.
© Jan Perera 2020. All rights reserved.