Frustrating isn’t it?
You work tirelessly on your blog post.
You hit publish with anxious fingers and wait….
Wait for the comments. Wait for the likes and shares. Wait for the virtual pats.
Not because your content sucks…Or you’re not working hard enough.
It’s because you’re not doing the right things before you hit publish.
I know what you’re thinking….
Sure, you proof read your post. Follow a certain template. Edit it. Check your grammar. Correct the typos.
Can I give it to you straight?
That’s not going to cut it. It really isn’t…
And I had to learn this through months of painful trial and error.
Do you know what you have to do instead?
Pass your blog post through a rigorous quality check.
I like to think of it as an assembly line with 30 stops.
Every stop in the assembly line gives your blog post an uplift. A buff at one stop. Some shine at another. Abit of sparkle.
Go through the questions and check it off.
When your blog post emerges at the end…
It’s swanky. In tip-top shape. And ready to for you to hit publish.Use the 30—point checklist. It’s the only formula you need to make your blog posts ready for publication.Click To Tweet
I’ve broken the post down into
Download the 30-Point Blog Post Optimization checklist and go through it before you hit publish on your next post.
#1 Is your blog post headline clear?
Does your headline only talk about 1 main idea?
Is it clear what your headline is about within 10 seconds of scanning
Is it clear what you want your readers to achieve or obtain from your headline
Your headline and blog post should only convery 1 main idea. E.g. the main idea of this post and what I want my readers to know is that having a checklist before publishing their next blog post.
I initially had what to do before and after publish, but decided to break it off into another post.
Have a swipe file of headlines you can refer to. Never use your first headline. Write a couple and pick the best.
Related: These are my best picks for headline swipes —
- Jon Morrow’s 52 Headline hacks
- Brian Clark’s How to Write Magnetic Headlines at CopyBlogger.com.
- Peter Sandeen’s 101 Headline Formulas that Capture Attention and Get Your Message Read
- Digital Marketer’s Headline Swipe File to Get More Clicks from Social Media
#2 Is your headline specific?
E.g Numbers, Percentages, minutes, hours, days
- Take X minutes to get started with [blank]
- X Questions Answered About [blank]
- How I got X subscribers in [time period]
#3 Does your headline communicate a benefit or promise?
- How You Can [desired result] Almost Instantl
- The Quickest & Easiest Way To [desired result]
- Increase Your [desired result] In [time period]
#4 Does your headline use adjectives?
E.g. Free, easy, painless, essential, clever
The Quickest & Easiest Way To [desired result]
#5 Does your headline evoke an emotion?
E.g. Fear of losing out, wanting to achieve happiness, fear of failure, wanting results, wanting to be loved or liked
- Do You Recognize the [number] Early Warning Signs of [blank]?
- X Shocking Mistakes Killing Your [blank][blank] May Be Causing You To Lose Out On [desired result]
#6 Did you run it through a headline analyzer?
Run your headline through the CoSchedule headline Analyzer. It’s free and rates your headlines for length, emotion and power words.
If you have a happy problem, with 3 or more headlines scoring top marks, pick the best one for your blog posts.
But don’t discard the rest!
Plug them into your social media spreadsheet. You now have fresh headline versions of the same blog post to spice up your tweets and Facebook shares.
#7 Does your headline include keywords?
If you want to rank well on Google, use an SEO tool like this to optimize title tags and meta description.
There are several SEO tools which are paid and free. Pick one that is easy to use. You don’t want to spend hours learning to work the tool.
A quick tip…Ask yourself…
Is this headline something my reader would type into Google?
If your answer is yes, then BINGO, you’ve got a great headline.A great headline is one that a reader would type into Google. Click To Tweet
#8 Is your headline eye-catching in Google’s search results?
Neil Patel and the Quick Sprout Blog Team say that the perfect length for a headline is 6 words)
If your headline is longer than about 60 characters, it also gets cut off on Google’s search results page.
It appears like this below with 3 trailing dots.
Want to see how your headline fares before hitting publish?
Plug your title into Google SERP Snippet Optimization Tool. The tool generates a visual on how your title and description shows up on Google search.
You could also use the CoSchedule headline Analyzer which shows a Google Preview for your headline.
Introduction and Body
#9 Did you include a hook?
A hook is a compelling statement or paragraph in the introduction of your blog post.
It grabs the reader by the throat and urges them to keep reading.
Here are 4 examples of hooks you can use:
Ask your reader a direct question
What if you had 10 extra hours a day? How would that work for you? Would you spend more time with your family? Write a book?
A shocking statistic
Did you know that 80% of daily blog visitors are new?
Did you know that once you accumulate 51 posts, blog traffic increases by 53%?
Showcase a benefit or an end result
Imagine having 100,000 daily page views.
Imagine clicking send ad seeing the sales pour in.
Add a Cliffhanger
See how Derek Halpern does it in his post These 5 little words can help you achieve anything. here’s why…
Share your personal story with a question
See how Jeff Goins does it in his post I Got Everything I Wanted This Year (and It Wasn’t as Thrilling as I Thought)
#10 Do your subheads pique interest?
You’re guilty of neglecting your subheads right?
So do I.
But your subhead is the one that pulls your reader through the length of your blog posts.
This Blogging boost article states that great subheads have 1 or more of the elements below:
Once you’ve written your blogpost, isolate your subheads and and see how they fare against the 4 elements above.
At the very least, your subhead should evoke curiosity.
#11 Did you use ‘YOU’?
No one really cares how amazing your checklist is…
How it has saved you countless hours…
Or how you’ve been churning out 2000-word blog posts in half the span of time…
Really…no one does!
Yes, you are helping your readers by showing them your model.
But ever read a post like that and feel a tad bit distanced from the writer…
Writing with ‘you’ focuses on the reader. The reader is engaged. The reader has a reason to stick through the length of your posts because you are writing for her. The reader starts to trust that you care.
Always count the number of ‘YOU’s and the number of ‘I’s and ‘ME’s in your posts.
Make simple tweaks and you’ll see how your copy transforms.
Related: Copyblogger’s Brain Clark calls ‘YOU’ one of the most important words in blogging.
#12 Have you included trigger words?
Yes, you want to instantly turn your words into persuasive copy.
Yes, you want your blog posts to help, inspire and move your readers.
Yes, you want to get more engagement.
But how do you do it?
How do you connect with your readers when thousands of blogs clamor for their attention?
You can by including trigger words in your writing.
These are words which are powerful. Words that persuade the reader. Words that get your posts read. Words like instantly, because, you, how…
Be strategic. Place them in your headlines. Lead your blog posts with them.
Boost Blog traffic outlines these trigger words in their article 17 Trigger Words That Work Like Cheat Codes for Getting Your Content Read
I’ve compiled these into the cheat sheet that you can download below.
#13 Break the school English rules—Have you used contractions?
Do you not (Don’t you) want to connect with your reader?
This is not (isn’t) a fail-proof strategy.
It is (it’s) amazing how a simple tweak can turn your writing around.
See what I mean?
There’s, They’ll, he’s, we’re…words that didn’t get a nod from your English teacher is A-ok. They sound informal and keep your writing conversational.
#14 Break the school English rules (again)—Did you start your sentences with And, because, but?
Use them. It feels weird at first
They keep your sentences short and give your reader breathing space.
#15 Have you asked questions?
Questions engage your reader. Ask the right questions and your reader nods and agrees with you.
Social media examiner always start their blog posts with two questions.
#16 Have you killed passive voice?
I appreciate your email is much better than your email is much appreciated.
Plug your writing into Hemingway app —a free web tool
The tool scans your writing and highlights adverbs, passive voice and complex sentences.
Take it with a pinch of salt. Over editing using the app’s recommendation might skew your writing voice…and that’s the last thing you want.
#17 Have you eliminated fuzzy, filler and bland words?
These are words that don’t lend any clarity or authority to your writing.
Do a search for these words during your edits.
Remove them. And your copy gets an immediate facelift.
Fuzzy Words look innocent. They make you look humble. But a sprinkle of it all over …and they make you look weak and unsure of yourself.
Hopefully, I think, Generally, In my opinion
Filler Words slow down the reader and add no real value
Just, really, there
Bland words sound plain dull and drab.
Good, nice, amazing, ultimate
Replace them with words such as dazzling, fantastic, awesome and blew my mind.
#18 Have you included links, screenshots to back-up your claims?
Yes, it takes longer to complete your posts.
But the added time will pay off. You borrow authority by linking to influencers’ links and research.
#19 Does your conclusion inspire and ease their woes?
Your readers are probably feeling overwhelmed, lost and intimidated.
Especially if you’ve written a long list post or a technical how-to post.
Here’s what you can do to inspire and ease their woes in 4 quick steps:
- Remind them of the first step they can take
- Give them confidence to implement 2-3 tips at a time
- Nudge them to your content upgrade if it makes it easy to implement the steps
- Show them how amazing the end result can be
See how Neil Patel at the Quick sprout blog does it with his post on Want a 150% Boost in Traffic? Then Use This Idiot-Proof Guide to Google Authorship Markup.
He reminds the reader of the benefit of going through the technical steps in his post. He gives them confidence by telling them it’ll take 5-10 minutes to implement the steps.
See how Dustin W. Stout does it with his post The Best Free Tools to Create Visual Content. His conclusion is a burst of energy and inspires readers to take action.
- Use repetition
- Use the power of three
- Use sound bites
This is not easy to do and stump even the most skilled copywriters.
Start by trying to implement the rule of 3.
Our brains understand, process and remember anything in 3’s.
Here are some examples:
- Just do it.
- Ready. Set. Go!
- Blood, Sweat and tears
- Past, present and future
One of my favourite bloggers Henneke Duistermaat at Enchanted Marketing (who also writes killer guest posts for Copyblogger) rocks her conclusion every single time!
See how she uses the rule of 3 in her post: Why Adverbs Stink (and the Magic of Editing)
#21 Did you include a call to action?
What do you want your readers to do?
Download your content upgrade?
Make a comment?
Share your article?
Adjust your call-to-action based on the type of post you create but have one!
#22 Did you keep your conclusion to 200 words or less?
Your conclusion shouldn’t include any new point or information.
It closes the loop, inspires and is short. Try to keep your conclusion to about 3 paragraphs or 200 words.
#23 Did you add click to tweets and social share buttons?
If you want your readers to share your content, you have to make it easy for them.
Click to tweets are great way to do this. You just have to head to the click to tweet site, pre-write a tweet you’d like your readers to use. Generate a link. Add a button or ‘tweet this’ with the link on your blog posts.
Or simply use the Better Click To Tweet plugin on wordpress. All your readers have to do is click the “tweet” button to share it.
#24 Did you add related posts?
You want your readers to stick around, click and keep reading.
The more time they spend on your blog, the more they know about how awesome your content is.
Add related posts at the bottom of your blog posts to serve up relevant content.
I always spend way longer than I intend to do so at Abby Lawson’s Just a Girl and Her blog because of the way her related posts are displayed. See below.
Use a related post plugin like Jetpack or Related Posts by Zemanta (that’s what Abby uses).
#25 Did you format your post for scanners?
How often have you clicked out of a site because of thick, dense, blocks of texts?
According to The Nielsen Norman Group, most visitors stick around for a mere 10-20 seconds before leaving. It also says that “people rarely read Web pages word by word; instead, they scan the page, picking out individual words and sentences”
A scanner protected post:
- Includes sub-heads every 3-4 paragraphs
- Keeps paragraphs 3-4 sentences long
- Is generous with bullet points
#26 Does your blog post follow your content style guide?
One of the mistakes online entrepreneurs make is not having a content style guide.
Are your headlines and subheads presented in the same way across your blog?
Are you consistent with the way you present your numbers (one or 1)?
You can get a content style guide template at this post.
These are minor things which add up to the whole branding experience.
#27 Did you link to older posts which are relevant?
When you start to blog for sometime, you can lose track of your older content.
You need to put in place a system to capture your old content and keywords that go with each article. A simple spreadsheet like this will totally do the trick.
This way, anytime you feature a keyword in your writing, you can reference back to your spreadsheet to get the link.
None of your old content will slip through the cracks again.
#28 Did you include a content upgrade?
But trust me.
You don’t have to create a new upgrade for every post. Start of by creating 1 for each category that you write about and expand from there.
Or something as simple as a checklist that your readers can print off like I’ve done for this post.
#29 Is your image synchronous with your brand?
I think enough has been said about the importance of including iamges. You have to go a step further to create a signature image that is consistent with your brand.
2 bloggers who absolutely shine in creating a consistent visual image are Regina at byregina.com and Caitlin Bacher at www.caitlinbacher.com
Look at their images below which I’ve gotten off their Pinterest boards.
Regina – www.byregina.com
Caitline Bacher – www.caitlinbacher.com
Both sets of images:
- Follow a certain mood/theme/colours
- Have 1-2 fonts
- Have a clear logo display
#30 Are your images optimized for social media?
This is a pain.
But a must. You can optimize your images in 2 quick ways.
1.Use predefined image templates for different social media.
- 1280×720 (Google+, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn)
- 735×1102 (Pinterest)
- 900×900 (Instagram)
2.Make your images SEO friendly.
Pictures should include the keyword in the title, alt tag, and filename.
Before uploading any pictures, change the filename of the image to match the keyword. Make sure to make the title and alt tag of your image match the keyword as well.
Related: How to Optimize Social Media Images
Little steps at a time
If you’re feeling overwhelmed that you’re not doing many of these, don’t be.
Just look at my post and you’ll notice that I haven’t leveraged on all of these strategies myself.
But simple tweaks and edits do make a difference. Start by implementing 2 or 3 in every blog post you write and build up from there.
And you will notice that your readers will start to show your blog posts lots more love.