Happy New Year! Tis’ the time of New Year’s Resolutions. I know some of you have added “blogging more” to your resolutions. Hopefully, you won’t procrastinate like I do.
During projects with clients, I always include a task to explain the importance of creating regular content on their websites. One of the best ways to do this is posting articles and information on their blogs. This is true for the established business, new business, hobbyist, and anyone wanting to increase their website’s traffic.
As a designer and developer, I do not create “content” for the websites I build. I am no content guru but I have found that a good starting point is to have a checklist/guide of those items needed for every blog post/article. This also allows you to think about your post strategically and include those things that the search engines and readers are looking for.
A strategy I suggest to my clients is to post any content to the website’s blog first and then share that post across their social media outlets as part of their link building process. This can be automated using tools like https://zapier.com/. A Zapier article is in the works.
Why is blogging/posting articles important? Simply stated – It Builds Trust. It shows your reader quickly that you know something about your topic. Regular and consistent blogging shows Google that your website is being updated on a regular basis with fresh and new content.
Blog Posting Checklist/Guide
This list can also be applied to pages on your website. Just remember that these are suggestions. The important thing is to post to your blog and do it as regularly as possible.
You may notice that I put keywords/keyword phrases after the Content and Title. This is where I get sidetracked in posting. Instead of focusing on the article sometimes I will go down the keywords rabbit hole. I have to repeat to myself, You should focus on creating content. Keywords/phrases can be reviewed during the editing process.
I start my articles usually in a Word or Google doc for outlining, notes and rough drafts. Once I get some ideas down, the Title then becomes easier to determine. When entering the article in WordPress, I set the title of the document first as this will be end up being the URL/permalink to the article.
- Keywords: Title should have the article’s main keywords/key-phrases.
- Permalink: This will end up being the permalink/URL/website address to the blog article – According to my research Google and other search engines do check the URL for the key words.
- Title Tags: When you create a title for your article, WordPress adds a Title Tag automatically to the <HEAD> section of the web page. These are hidden but these will show up in Search Engine Results Pages or SERPS.
This is what you are trying to communicate. The content of the article. I suggest starting your post in a Word or Google doc until you get your ideas, etc organized. This will help you with coming up with a great Title.
- Scannable: Articles/posts should be scannable with bullets, headings, bolding, columns, etc. Your reader will scan your article first to see if it is worth reading.
- Shorter Sentences: Sentences in general should be short but descriptive.
- Shorter Paragraphs: Paragraphs should be shorter than one would think. If the text looks long people will not read as much. People see a wall of text and think – work. Let’s repeat that… No walls of text.
- Images and info-graphics: Images and especially info-graphics can help you convey your information quickly.
- Video: Including video in your posts and pages, allows you to communicate with another medium besides test. Plus, most people would rather see a video rather than read.
- Headings: Headings should be organized correctly with main topics having larger headings than subtopics. For instance, this article has the title at H1, main topic – H2, and subtopics – H3. This will help your reader and search engines understand your content.
- Cornerstone Content: For cornerstone content expand on details and do a thorough in-depth explanation. What is “Cornerstone Content”? This is the content that regularly appears at the top of the search engine results page for your important keyword and phrases. It is important to keep cornerstone content updated on a regular basis. Here is an article that covers this in more depth: The Complete Guide to Cornerstone Content for Your Blog in 2019
- Internal Links: Remember to link to any other relevant articles or pages on your website.
- External Links: All links to external content should open in a separate tab or window. You want to keep your reader on your website as long as possible.
Now that you have written the first draft of your content/article you need to review it and make sure you are using the proper keywords and phrases you want your reader to be searching for.
- Content Review: Proof read your article and make sure you are using the keywords and/or phrases. This is where you want to refine what words your searcher may use to find your content.
- Focus Keyword: We used to make sure the focus keyword field (Yoast SEO) is filled out but apparently most search engines ignore this field as it was highly abused. I would say put a couple of keywords in that field but do not over worry about it.
This is one of the most important pieces of information. It is what the searcher will see on the search engine results page.
- SEO Plugin: Using a SEO plugin like Yoast or The SEO Framework will open up this field on your posts and pages.
- Marketing Hook: It is the first chance to hook the searcher into reading the post or page.
- Short summary: Should be related to the content of the article.
- Length: Most SEO tools like The SEO Framework (this is what I use – free version) or Yoast SEO recommend about 130 characters. This is just a guide set by many SEO plugins and agencies. Google truncates the meta description at 160 characters on desktop and 120 characters on mobile SERPs.
- Optimize Images: Remember to optimize images before uploading to your WordPress website. They should be “Right-sized” and optimized so that they are the smallest possible size without losing the image quality needed. Image size is a major factor to website performance and performance is a factor in ranking on SERPs. I use Caesium as it will compress and resize the images at the same time. I will be creating an article to cover this topic in depth so stay tuned.
- Related: The featured image should be related to the content.
- Original Images are Better: Most articles you read about blogging say to avoid stock images. I try to do this, but I do use stock images from Unsplash. If you do, remember to cite the authors.
Right-sized images: So what are right-sized images? This is the idea of reducing the dimensions of an image so that it is only as large as what is needed. For instance, if you are using an image in an article and the blog’s container width is say 800 pixels then do not use a image larger than that. With today’s cameras and smart phones images can be very large. I have worked with images that were 6000 x 4000 and over 10 MB in size. I can usually get these images down to 100 KB or less by right-sizing and compressing. A detailed article on this is in works so stay tuned.
- At Least One Category and Tag: Remember to assign a category and some tags for each article.
- Rename Uncatorized: It is recommended that you either remove or rename the “uncategorized” default category in WordPress.
- Related posts: This will allow the reader to easily view and find other related articles/posts.
- Edit in the Sidebar: You can set these in the sidebar in the WordPress post editor for the article.
- Summary: The excerpt field can be used in a couple of ways. It is mainly used as a summary of your article when you are listing your posts in an archive.
- Other Uses: I use the excerpt field as the text for my social media posts. Using Zapier.com, I created a Zap that automatically posts to Facebook and LinkedIn. Zapier allows me to use the excerpt field as the text of the post. Do not forget to use your hashtags… Pretty sure this will be another article on this blog.
- Similar to the meta description/snippet: This is what people will often see first on social media or your blog archives. As you can see below, I used the same verbiage as the snippet and I have added the most important hashtags.
Hopefully this guide is helpful and will get you motivated to “post all the articles…”. We all procrastinate. The important thing is to post to your websites blog on a regular basis. It is all about building that trust.