From the very first second you think of a new post idea, aaaall the way to when you hit publish (and the hours after), your brain is probably running at a million miles an hour. There are SO many elements that make up each post, and inspiration is coming thick and fast. It’s easy to get a little lost in a post, sometimes focusing in on certain areas and sometimes forgetting the bigger picture, and that’s okay! There’s no better way to be than consumed by each and every post you write. We’re here to provide a helping hand and guide you from start to finish of any post. Soon you’ll be taking the training wheels off and pedalling at full speed on autopilot!
They say first impressions count, and your blog certainly isn’t spared from that idea. Your post title neatly summarises your content for the reader, enticing them to click through and learn more. Post titles should be engaging without being clickbaity – clickbait doesn’t do well in search results, and we’re all a little jaded by posts that promise the world and deliver absolutely nothing.
While your post title should be appealing to potential readers, it also needs to be optimised for search – after all, it’s weighted heavily in Google’s ranking process and needs to easily related to a user’s search query. Why would anyone click through on a post that doesn’t sound like it covers the answers they’re after, even if the stunning content inside does. How are they to know?
Your URL should be closely related to your post title, if not identical. Matching URLs are a clear signal to both potential readers and Google that the post does indeed cover what the title suggests. When your post appears in search results, the URL will be visible just below your post title. Showing a connection between the title and actual page the user will be visiting helps build trust (and your click through rate) as users know the page centres around the content they’re promised. If a post title is ‘Top 10 Wedding Dress Fails’, would you really want to be taken to a page like ‘dresses.com/buy-wedding-dresses’? It’s probably not the content or value you’re after, and you’ll leave quicker than you can say ‘that post is full of lies’.
WordPress automatically removes ‘stop’ words such as ‘and’, ‘or’, ‘the’ when generating URLs – check whether these exclusions will impair or improve your readers’ experience. Your end URL needs to be easy for users to type out and remember – whether that’s including common spelling, using numeric values (‘10’ instead of ‘ten’), or simplifying – that means no unnecessary info like parent pages or categories. Messy or long URLs like ‘dresses.com/blog/dress-ideas/wedding-dress-fails’ can confuse the reader.
Not only important for your titles, URLs and headings, keywords and variants can be effectively used throughout your content – and they naturally should be, since it’s the thing you’re talking about! It’s important to prioritise the reader’s experience over getting in that one extra keyword mention, and utilise variations or synonyms for keywords to keep the reader engaged. For more on keyword research, check out our introduction to keyword research to prepare you for the full class.
There’s no miracle length for blog posts or any content on your site. The most important part is that your content is engaging, and covers the topic effectively without repeating. You may want to reiterate, but don’t repeat for the sake of hitting a word count. As a guide, 500 words is a reasonable benchmark. However, shorter and concise posts can perform well if they provide the reader with everything they need. AND, long posts are fine too – sometimes you may want to cover a topic in greater detail, and need a few extra paragraphs to flesh out your ideas. If your post is bordering on the longer side, consider breaking it into shorter, succinct topics that create a journey for the reader, while also providing value to those only looking for more specific information.
Headings are used throughout posts to break up content and provide direction from the reader. While an unbroken slab of content may provide exactly what a reader is looking for, they’re not always prepared to go hunting for it. Headings and subheadings guide them through your content, helping the skimmers of the world find exactly what they’re looking for in a matter of seconds.
Headings should always follow standard document structure – the main heading (your title) appears at the top of the page and should summarise the overall post. Subheadings (and sub-subheadings) appear below, that break down content into smaller sections, connected by the overall theme. You can examine your current heading structure with Stylish, a free Chrome plugin that reveals coding across your website.
If you went to the effort of writing a blog post in the first place, why would you resign it to the depths of your post archives? Linking to your previous posts is a triple threat – you provide your reader with further knowledge, increase their time on your site AND reinvigorate older content. You may link to your content throughout your text (can you spot some in this post?) or around your content, with ‘read more / related content’ sections at the bottom of posts.
Hot tip: when writing a new post, consider areas where readers may need further explanation, and what will peak a readers interest – if you don’t already have a post on this to link to, why not create a new one?
Categories and Tags
We often see a lot of bloggers go a little too heavy on categories and tags, sometimes actually making them unusable. If your reader visits a particular category, consider their intent – how strongly related is this post to the category? Is it the main focus, or is it a kind-of-related-but-not-really-but-I-feel-like-it-needs-to-go-somewhere situation? Consider whether they’d really get extra benefit out of each post in a category, whether it’s simply distracting from other content that could serve them better. Take the time to understand how your audience is really using your categories and tags to see where you can improve their experience.
Call To Action
This one’s not quite SEO, but will help you engage your readers and build a relationship. Consider what you want your audience to do with the knowledge you’ve provided – do you want them to share their own ideas in the comments or your Facebook group? Is there a download available to compliment your content, or do you want them to join your mailing list or course? Include your call to action as a clear closure to each post.
Spelling and Grammar
This is one we all try our best to do, but often our own brains aren’t the best watchdogs. You THINK you know what you’ve typed, and are likely to miss out on mistakes – whether it’s a spelling mistake, or repeated words, or a sentence that just doesn’t make sense. Utilise spellcheck in programs like word, and natively on your computer (super handy for the next time you need to prove your point in Facebook comments). If you reformat a post inside your blog’s backend, take the time to re-read and spell check before hitting publish – you may have removed a word, duplicated a whole paragraph or added a weird space into a sentence.
To combat your brain filling in the blanks, take the time to move away from your post and reexamine at a later stage – a few days (or even a few hours) gives you a whole new set of eyes AND a fresh perspective.
Whether you’re linking internally to your own content or external posts, including downloads, images or videos in your posts, it’s important to make sure each element is working before sharing the post with your audience. Utilise the ‘preview’ feature of your CMS to check all aspects are working as they should before hitting post, and check your post shortly after it goes live as an ‘anonymous’ visitor – that means NOT logged in to your account so you can see things as your audience really does.
Hot tip: checking your post anonymously in a different browser or incognito tab allows you to remain logged in in another window, to correct and observe changes in real time.
While some of your readers may read your content and automatically interpret it as truth, others may be more sceptical. Referencing external content, whether it’s the source post or further reading will help establish you as a credible authority – we all love positive facts and figures, and backing them up with evidence to support your claim will let your readers know they can trust your content and views on the world.
If you want to recover a certain topic, consider whether you can create a new post that stands on its own two feet, or whether it’s worth revising and updating a previous post. Consolidating content helps Google understand which page provides the most value for that topic, rather than having your own content fighting for ranking positions.
Many of our bloggers engage in guest posting, and may sometimes receive unusual propositions to include external content on their blog that’s already published elsewhere. As a general rule, all content on your blog should be original – consider if external contributors can repurpose their content for your audience and give it a fresh new spin. Adding entirely duplicated content (i.e. the entire post) can harm your rankings, and will bring you little to no organic traffic for that post.
When your post appears in search results, a short description appears below the title. This is your meta description – did you know it can be changed? As a default WordPress will generate your meta description using the first few lines of your post – unless your opening sentence is particularly enticing and descriptive (while being incredibly succinct), you’re wasting prime real estate. Take the time to craft a short description that summarises your post and demonstrates the value a reader will gain by clicking through.
Published a new post? Make sure Google knows about it! Don’t sit waiting for Google to crawl your site with your fingers crossed, hoping it finds your new post. Regularly submitting updated sitemaps helps your posts appear in search results MUCH sooner, bringing you traffic you would have otherwise missed out on.
Our NUMBER ONE offender in bloggersSEO Support! Make sure all images are compressed to the smallest file size and uploaded at the maximum size (or under) your CMS allows. Uploading images that are physically larger than the place they’ll appear on your site adds unnecessary load time, ruining your user’s experience and your rankings.
We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again – Google is JUST a robot. It can’t see images and relies on cues to interpret what they depict. Make use of ALT tags, image titles and filenames to help not only search robots, but your audience too. Consider the experience a person using a screen reader would have with your posts or those with slower internet connections where images fail to load – use these extras to add detail about images that may not be visible. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but not if it can’t be seen!
What’s the NUMBER ONE thing you do for each and every post? Share your must-do’s with us!