How would you like a blog checklist, designed to help you with pre-and-post-publishing of your blog posts?
After failing at blogging for the longest time, using a lot of elbow grease, I know for a fact that blogging is not a cakewalk, especially the content creation, bits.
You need to wear multiple hats – all working simultaneously – to be able to create that epic post that makes readers drool over it. And to drive-in traffic.
And to do all of it effectively, there are many critical elements right from on-page optimization to grammar check to content formatting that contribute to making your blog post a success.
However, keeping a track of everything can be an overwhelming task.
BUT, it doesn’t have to be that way.
A simple checklist that breaks down the whole blog publishing, promotion process into easy, actionable items can make your job 10x easier.
That’s exactly what this blog post will help you with.
It’s going to give you one of the most – if not the most – helpful blog checklist.
So remember to bookmark, print and use this as a holy grail of simplifying your blogging process.
It’s going to be awesome.
But before we get into that… I want you to think about this for a moment.
Why do only a handful of bloggers manage to make each one of their blog posts a success, while most others just make it?
How does Brian Dean rank his content so high on Google – almost every single time? How does Neil Patel drive thousands of visitors to each of his posts?
From my 2.5-year long attempt at blogging, and going through a huge learning curve, here’s what I think separates them from others. It is not very complicated. In fact, it’s just common sense.
Here's what they do: Strategy + Effort (a lot of it).
And this checklist is all about efforts. It’s about helping you do what only the top 1% do, consistently.
I want to jolt you out of your comfort zone, and help you leverage your time in a way that gets you better results. Keep you from spending the same time on poor strategy, creating mediocre stuff and failing.
So, let’s begin…
Blog Post “Pre-Publishing” Checklist
Search Engine Optimization
Check #1 – Optimize for One Keyword
There are many views around keyword optimization. Some suggest optimizing for multiple keywords; since many suggest to limit it to just one main or focus keyword. However, many experts say that it works best when you: optimize your blog post around one main keyword.
Rand Fishkin of Moz.com explains in his article on targeting multiple keywords vs. singular keywords:
“It’s also likely that you’ll be competing against pages that are more targeted on that keyword phrase and could lose out if you don’t have that singular, pinpoint focus.”
So to begin with, make sure that you have only one main keyword for the blog post.
Check #2 – Use The Main Keyword and Related Keywords Appropriately
The primary and related keywords must flow smoothly within the post, especially if you want readability to go hand in hand with SEO.
If you under-use keywords, you’d compromise on your SEO. Overuse them, and you’d compromise on your reader’s experience and risk getting penalized by the big G.
So, strike a balance.
Also, remember to use the main keyword in these places in your blog post as a thumb rule:
- Beginning of the post
- At the end of the post
- At least one sub-heading as header tag
- Image alt text
And then sprinkle the other related or semantic keywords across the blog post.
On-Page Optimization Resources:
- A Step By Step Guide To Integrating Long-Tailed Keywords Within Blog posts
- How to Seamlessly Include Keywords in Your Web Content
- Turning Keywords Into SEO Content
Check #3 – Image Optimization to Rank Images
Image searches can drive a large chunk of search engine traffic to a blog. And if you don’t leverage it by properly optimizing your images, you're missing out on all that juicy traffic that you could otherwise get.
Image optimization is a subject in itself, but there are two image optimization essentials you need:
- At least one of your images must have the main keyword as a file name.
- At least one image needs to have an alt tag, at least one with the main keyword.
Check #4 – Select the Blog Post Categories
Categorizing your blog post may not seem important for SEO but in reality, it really is. By properly categorizing your blog posts, you can let search engines easily pick up on the categories, and determine what category it belongs to.
This is especially true if the category is mentioned in the website permalink.
Here’s an example of category keyword in the permalink:
It can then direct people to your blog post whenever they type a keyword from that category.
Check #5 – Post Slugs (Post URI)
This is an often neglected check, but it is actually quite crucial. Your post slug is important when it comes to search engines indexing your pages – so much so that it can affect your rankings.
It is also important for website visitors. In many cases, people will look at the URL and determine if it is something they may be interested in reading.
Here are a couple of quick guides to learn how to create SEO-friendly slugs:
Check #6 – Internal & External Links
Adding valuable internal and external links play a huge role in SEO. And while everybody knows this, most do not know how to use internal / external hyperlinks effectively.
I usually try to keep it between 2-4 internal and 3-4 external links / 1,000-word post; however, it sometimes varies depending the blog post. For a post as massive as this, I use more hyperlinks, to provide additional value to the readers.
Few reasons bloggers usually want to internally link to other pages on their website are:
- To help with website navigation (especially those search engine crawlers).
- To define the hierarchy of a website.
- To evenly distribute ranking power throughout the website.
Internal linking keeps blog visitors on your website, improving bounce rate. And keeping them relevant to their anchor text will lead your readers to other posts that are in line with what they are seeking.
Here’s an example of how Brian Dean internally links to his content.
External links build your credibility especially if they are high-authority links. They also give the reader more value. So it’s only wise to make sure your external links open in a new tab, though. This keeps your readers from completely leaving your website.
SEO tools are:
Check #7 – Grammar
Seems like it’d be common sense, but many bloggers neglect to check their grammar before hitting that publish button. It’s true and it simply pushes people away from the blog.
As a blogger, trust me when I say this; you may make a grammar mistake from time to time. However, by self-checking, or by using an automatic grammar checker like Grammarly, you can cut the grammar mistakes down to a minimum.
Remember to carefully review your sentences. Read it aloud to yourself, or use the Dragon Speech Recognition software, and you will catch them.
Also, there are several plugins including Yoast SEO, that let you check the difficulty level of reading your post.
Check #8 – Headlines
“Headlines affect things like user engagement, readability, conversions, SEO, social sharing, and even click-throughs.” – Neil Patel
Neil displays a lot of wisdom in that quote. Your headlines can attract or detract readers. It should grab the reader by the eyeballs and say “Read Me!”.
Put yourself in the eyes of the reader… would you read the article you just wrote, based solely on the title you chose? If your answer is no, then you may want to hone your headline writing skills.
Here are a few articles to help you come up with attractive headlines:
- 5 Blog Headline Formulas Readers Cannot Resist
- 47 Headline Examples: Steal the Nifty Formulas from Popular Blogs
- 49 Headline Formulas to Skyrocket Your Conversion
Also, here is a new tool that can help with this: the Headline Generator by SumoMe.
Check #9 – Central Theme
Examine the best teachers in the world. What do they have in common?
They do not attempt to teach about several subjects at once. It’d confuse their students.
As bloggers, we risk confusing our readers if we delve into various vaguely related subjects all in one blog post.
Stick to 1 central theme, and let it guide the sub-topics you want to talk about.
There is nothing wrong with offering a plethora of tips or suggestions, but it needs to be tied together by one central theme.
Check #10 – Real-Time Examples
If you are not using real-time examples, you’re missing out. By doing so, you’d be able to better communicate the ideas in your blog post. It makes it easier for readers to understand what you’re saying.
Check #11 – Takeaway
Every blog post should have at least one takeaway, preferably more. The value that readers derive from reading a blog post is exactly that – the important lesson they apply to solve a problem or better their situation.
The takeaway needs to be powerful enough that the reader will talk to others about it, leave a comment asking for more details from you, and have it benefit him considerably.
Sue Anne’s post on mistakes that bloggers make, and how to avoid them, is a great example of a blog post that has multiple takeaways.
Check #12 – Value
It is imperative that as you reread your blog post, you need to ask yourself what kind of value you are giving to the reader. This will include #11.
Some of the others ways that readers will find value are:
- Case studies
- Actionable content
- Content that solves problems
- Content that holds additional resources
Check #13 – Call-To-Action
You needn’t have a call-to-action in all blog posts. But you need to have CTAs in many of them if conversion is your aim.
It could lead them to a capture page in which you get their email in return for your newsletter. Or to a course you are selling.
The CTAs can be subtle, just a link within the text, or you can prominently display your call-to-action between a post.
Check #14 – Be Current and Up-To-Date
I absolutely had to add this check in this publishing blog post checklist.
In multiple instances, I’ve found bloggers using out-of-date case studies and old resources. Circumstances change, some information becomes invalid, some information becomes more thorough. Bloggers need to check and re-check their sources before they publish.
I made that mistake once when I included a product from Yaro Starak that was not one of his current products, in a blog post. Yaro was, however, kind enough to let me know it to me so I could correct my mistake.
Check #15 – Formatting
Blogging has evolved. As time goes by, we’ve learned what works and what does not.
These days, it’s become more action-oriented and aim to be easily digestible. In Sue Anne's words, blog rules are based on two simple facts:
- It’s become more difficult to read material on a screen versus print
- People tend to just skim through when reading on-screen material
So you’d want to format your posts for skimmers.
Here are more resources on how to format your blog post better:
16 Rules for blog post Writing and Layout
Check #16 – Content Upgrade
This content strategy has been proven to increase conversion rates for anyone who has applied it effectively.
For example, SEO expert Brian Dean — one of the early adopters of the content upgrade technique — has found great success with it.
He’s even written about how he’s boosted conversions by offering content upgrades in his blog posts.
Content upgrades provide your readers with more value.
It can be you offering a printable download of your blog post, an eBook on the same subject,even a comprehensive course you have developed.
Some tools you can use to offer content upgrades are:
- Plugmatter Promo Box
Check #17 – Product or Service Mention
Usually, you can subtly mention a product or service within a blog post. Whether it’s your own product or affiliate’s, it is a great way to pull in personal sales or affiliate commissions.
Just like mentioning my Optin Feature Box in this blog post, it is a great way to promote products without being overbearing.
Check #18 – Influencer Names
Using influencers in your blog posts as references to make points could be really powerful.
What I mean is, when you use influential names within your blog post, those people might share your post, and their followers might visit your website – boosting the traffic.
However, we’re not talking about just a mere mention of their name. It means mentioning them in a noticeable way by talking about their product, or reviewing their website or product or just sharing their thoughts / quotes. You can then share your post with them, and there is a great chance they will share it with their audience.
Check #19 – Blogger Email List
A great way to promote your content is to email bloggers within the same niche. However, you do not want to sound “spammy”. Just share content that is relevant to their material, and it will usually be read and shared.
There are 4 types of bloggers that you will want to share your post with:
- Those who write similar material
- Those who comment on similar material value to the reader
- Those who link to similar material
- Those who share similar material in social media circles
Check #20 – Tweet Power
You already know Twitter is a great platform to share your blog post on. You can reach bloggers within your niche, without, along with others who are just simply attracted by your tweets.
It helps schedule tweets. We normally set a spread of about 10 Tweets across 10 Days after we publish a blog post.
It pays to:
- Set Tweets with attention grabbing, and helpful quotes from within the blog post
- Set Tweets that mention the names of bloggers you have referenced in the blog post
Here are a few resources for you on blog post promotion:
Check #21 – Author
It’s become an unspoken habit for bloggers to have an author biography section. Even if it is a guest post, readers want to know about the person who wrote the post, and what authority they actually have.
It is important to show a Gravatar image of the author, your name, and a short description of yourself.
Check #22 – Preview
It seems like a no-brainer, but when bloggers are in a hurry, they sometimes neglect this all-important check.
You may have reviewed your article 50 times, but you won’t know how it looks on your blog unless you preview it.
Doing just that before clicking the publish button can save you from simple mistakes in formatting, design, and other small issues.
Check #23 – Downloadable Version
As I mentioned earlier, readers tend to skim material. By offering the post as a downloadable version, you can create more value for your readers.
They can read it on their own time, and will always have a digital copy of your blog post. It won’t just be in a browser tab that they can swiftly close and forget about.
Check #24 – Social Media Distribution
In most cases, there are automated methods of sharing your blog posts at all the social media outlets. But, after it is published, you need to leverage the comments to build more focus on your blog and posts.
It is important that after the post is published that you engage with your audience. Answering questions and just showing that you are reading their comments will get them be invested in your blog, and your brand.
Check #25 – Did You Reach Out To Other Bloggers?
This is a reminder of check #19: it is now time to reach out and let other bloggers know about your post.
Here are some resources on doing that:
- 7 Steps to Get Influencers to Share Your Content
- How to Encourage Influencers to Share Your Content
- How to Get Your Content Shared by Key Market Influencers
Check #26 – Repurposing Content
Blog posts can be used more than once. That does not mean re-posting the same piece, but blog posts can be used as:
- Using the data within the posts for case studies
- An expert advice ebook
- Newsletter material
Here are some resources on how to repurpose content:
- 11 Genius Ways to Repurpose Content
- The Ultimate Guide to Repurposing Content
- The Art of Repurposing Content
Check #27 – Email List
Check if your post got sent to your entire email list.
Check #28 – Buzzfeed
Promoting your content on Buzzfeed, is a sure way to gain a lot of traction.
Check #29 – Slideshare
Developing slideshow presentation of your content is another way it can be promoted, to a more visually stimulated audience.
I highly recommend making a slideshow of your expert advice. Just go to Slideshare and upload it, and the audience will come if your presentation is visually appealing, concise, and info-rich.
Check #30 – Link Building
Building links is hands down one of the most important parts of the post-publishing blog post checklist. It is where you personally knock on the e-door of another blogger and spread the word about your blog post.
There are multiple ways to build outside links. You should:
- Approach bloggers and website owners
- Provide testimonials
- Submit to trustworthy directories
- Comment on niche related blogs
How to Use This Checklist?
Publishing blog post checklist tool
This handy plugin allows you to use this publishing blog post checklist I have provided and develop your own checklist that you are “forced” to follow before you publish your posts. Check it out here.
Step 1: Download the pre-publishing checklist plugin.
Step 2: Add everything that you decide to do pre-publishing
Step 3: Dedicate time and execute
By following a blog checklist, you can guarantee that your blog posts will be as near to perfection as possible.
Feel free to use this publishing blog post checklist, or create your own. By doing so, you will have a method of posting that is professional, and consistent.
Remember that consistent work shows you are trustworthy, and will get you a loyal readership quicker than if you are erratic and unpredictable.