Maximizing Your Time
In today's world, it is pretty common to feel like your to do list is never-ending. Trying to keep up on your blog can be a challenge and it can be tempting to click the "publish" button before doing your usual double-check. But - it is the little things that can make or break your blog. Most of us are not blogging just for fun... We are trying to add value, and generate income as well. With these objectives, it is imperative that you take the time to cross your t's and dot your i's.
To help you maximize your efficiency, we put together a checklist as an easy reference so you can be sure you didn't miss anything important.
The Checklist Explained
A strong headline is essential. Without one, you simply won't get any traffic. No one wants to waste their time, so ensure your title implies or directly states the benefit the reader will receive from reading your post. You want the reader to say "Oh, that's relevant to me!" and click. Try to stick to 5-7 meaningful words to ensure the title is readable, search engine optimized, and specific.
If you want your page to rank in search engines fill out all of the available fields in your blog manager. Meta data informs the website crawlers that index your site, and when you use keywords effectively it will tell those spiders what your page is all about.
Meta descriptions are HTML attributes that provide concise summaries of webpages which usually appear underneath the blue clickable links in a search engine results page (SERP). Ensure they are keyword-dense, appealing to your target reader, and no more than 160 characters (if it is longer, search engines will truncate your snippet).
If you want your post to rise to the top of search engines, use a URL that contains recognizable words - keywords are even better. You want the reader to understand where the link will take them simply by looking at the URL. If a human can quickly ascertain what type of content to expect when they click, you will improve your click through rates (CTR) which will in turn boost your SEO.
The photo below is from a phenomenal article, 15 SEO Best Practices for Structuring URLs, by Rand Fishkin, a co-founder and self-proclaimed Wizard of Moz. We'll post more on this topic in the future, but in the meantime, if you need some clarification or further information, I'd give his blog post a look.
Original + Relevant?
To be valuable to your reader, your content can't be a regurgitation of what is already available. If you are creating content related to a thoroughly covered topic, find a unique and original angle. Be sure to have in mind the type of person you would want to have read your post, and write as if you are writing specifically to them.
The "spray and pray" method of marketing is dead. Niche-specific and personalized marketing is where you will find the greatest ROI. Niche down your content so that you can be hyper relevant to SOMEBODY, and that will ensure you have a nugget worth sharing. Organic traffic is far more valuable than paid traffic, so it has to be shareable!
To create "shareable" content (an objective of any savvy blogger). you need to ensure your content is optimized for search engines and social media. Address a problem or question the reader has in a fresh way, making it clear what benefit they will garner from taking the time to read your post. Draw them in with a punchy first couple of sentences, because these are what will show up in the link previews.
Have you ever noticed how much of the available media is presented in negative terms? Many old-school marketers still use the scare-tactic ideology. However, for millennials in particular, this methodology is quickly losing it's clout.
You have to ask yourself how you want people to feel about you and your brand when they leave your page. Do you want them to leave feeling; uplifted, informed, and empowered, or anxious, worried, and disheartened? The majority of people see through fear-based media, so always focus on providing your reader with solutions and use words that you want people to associate with your brand.
Length, Organization + Appearance?
Many blog posts are read on mobile, which is one of the most attention-deficit channels. Take the extra effort to make sure your posts do not look intimidating. Utilize lots of white space, subheadings, and short paragraphs. Break up your content with photos, gifs and videos if appropriate. 6-8 paragraph posts will get the best read-through. If you find your post getting much longer, it would be better to splice your content into multiple posts. This can be a win-win, because your content will be more specific, get better read-through rates, and you'll already be half-done with your next post! Yeaaaah!
Did you incorporate a clear call-to-action (CTA)? Usually, you want to only ask your readers to do one thing per post. With too many action items, they will be less likely to do anything, so it is better to just keep it simple.
When you are concluding your piece with a reiteration of the solution you've offered to the problem presented, be sure to ask your readers questions to encourage commenting and engagement.
Lastly, do you have any relevant content you have posted in the past? Link back to those pieces of content to give them new life and help your users find the content they will be most interested in and maybe give them the answers they were searching for in the first place - another value-add!
Do you link to other authoritative sites? Linking out to other highly-optimized and highly-trafficked page will give your post more link juice AKA improved SEO. And of course - be sure your post is set up for social sharing + wahlah!
Is there something missing from our checklist? Comment below to let us know your thoughts.