Welcome to Marketing Monday, where I give you tips and tricks for being your own content marketer. This week’s post is a checklist of everything you should have in each blog post before you hit “publish.”
Last week I asked if 2019 would be the year you start blogging. Whether you answered in the affirmative or you’ve been blogging for a while but are looking to level up your content, I’ve created a checklist of everything you should have in each blog post before you hit that “publish” button. I initially created this checklist for my own use, but then I thought there might be some other bloggers out there who could use this, so here goes:
1) Is It At Least 500 Words?
Google likes long content because it assumes that longer = better quality. As a writer, I highly doubt that’s the case, but we still have to play by Google’s rules if we want to improve our online visibility, which is why I recommend to my clients that all their blog posts be at least 500 words long. That said, if you want to write content that’s a little shorter (I would not recommend going less than 400 words), that’s fine, and if you want to go longer, that’s fine, too. There’s certainly a case to be made for longer content getting people to spend more time on the site and convert more leads, with the most recent data showing that the sweet spot was a little over 800 words.
2) Does It Have A Strong Headline?
A strong headline means it has relevant keywords, it’s the right length, and it’s interesting enough to prompt people to click your link to get more information. I wrote a whole blog post full of tricks for creating engaging headlines.
3) Does It Have Subheads?
Subheads are great for SEO and readability. They break up your content in a way that makes it easy for Google’s algorithm to scan your content and determine what it’s all about, making it more likely that Google will put that content in front of the readers you’re trying to reach.
Subheads are also great for the readers who come to your site who just want to scan the content quickly to determine what it’s about and what points you’re making. When they see a subhead that interests them, they can dive in to read more, but breaking up the content makes it more readable and more valuable to your audience.
4) Does It Have Relevant Keywords?
For this you’ll want to use either Ubersuggest (which is free) or SEMrush (which requires a monthly subscription) in order to make sure you’re using all the relevant keywords for your topic. Just make sure you don’t stop at using a few good short-tail keywords (a mistake that too many content marketers make). You also need to use relevant long-tail keywords, and if you’re not sure what I mean by that, check out this blog post.
5) Does It Have Backlinks to Other Posts/Pages On Your Site?
Linking to other blog posts and pages on your site is a great way to get people to spend more time on your site (which improves your SEO), while also proving that your site is full of valuable information. For example, my site is full of blogging tips, and by pointing readers to some of those posts, I further demonstrate my expertise in this area, while also providing value in the form of tons of content they can use to improve their own blogging skills.
6) Does It Have Backlinks to Other Relevant, Quality Sites?
Pointing people on your blog to other relevant sites is another great way to demonstrate your authority by proving that you know where all the good information is. It’s also a good way to get the attention of the people behind the sites you’re linking to because they’ll see that backlink to their own site, which will prompt them to check out your site. If they like what they see, they might return the favor, since backlinks are often a tit-for-tat game. Just make sure the sites you’re linking to are high quality and relevant to what you’re talking about because if they’re not, linking to them could actually hurt your SEO.
7) Does It Have Quality Images?
While words are great for building a story, demonstrating authority, convincing leads to become customers, and giving Google something to read so it knows in what categories to put your site, proper use of images can help in all but that last one. No matter how important words are (and they are important), we are still a visual species and few things can make a point or be as memorable as a good image. So take some photography courses and/or graphic design courses so you can start making your own images. If that’s not an option, use these tips to source royalty-free images online.
8) Does It Speak to A Persona?
In order to create engaging content, you need to know whom you’re trying to engage – that’s where audience personas come in. Ideally, you should have at least one persona that guides all your marketing efforts, although multiple personas are generally recommended for different products/services, leads in different phases of the buyer journey, etc. Before you write any piece of content, you should determine for whom you’re writing because that’s the only way you can address their pain points and convince them to take the next steps towards working with/buying from you.
9) Do You Know Where the Reader Is in the Buyer Journey?
This goes along with #8 in that you should know who your reader is and what they want from your content before you publish that content. Are they in the exploratory phase of learning about your industry, or have they known about your industry for a while and now they’re starting to look for companies in that industry that can help them? Are they looking for something specific from those companies? You need to consider all these factors when producing your marketing content so you can make sure your content is fulfilling the needs of your audience.
10) Does It Have a Call to Action?
When you know who your reader is and where they are in the buyer journey, you can determine the next steps you want them to follow towards working with you, and you’ll know what kind of language will prompt them to take those next steps. All that needs to go in your call to action (CTA) at the very end of every blog post. If you’ve managed to keep your reader engaged all the way to the end, don’t lose that opportunity by letting them slip away. Ask them to sign up for your newsletter or reach out to you to learn more about your products/services. For example, you could put something like this at the end of each of your blog posts:
Thanks for reading! If you like what you see here, you can sign up for my newsletter at the top of this page to make sure you never miss an update. If you’re ready to level up your content, reach out now so we can talk about how I can help you.