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Blogging Checklist: Take Your Blog Posts From OK to Spectacular

By on Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Are your blog posts dull? Do you want to improve readability and interaction on your blog? Blogging can be a great way to generate new content and share information about your small business, nonprofit or association. But what elements do you need to make your blog posts successful?  Here’s a checklist to help:

Create a captivating headline. A headline that grabs attention is key – or  no one will read what you have to say. Unlike press releases where there is a tendency to do longer headlines because you hope journalists will read it and pique their interests – blog posts do not benefit from extremely long headlines. Keep your headline informational and brief.

Have an introduction that gets attention and drives home the benefit the reader will reap from reading your blog post. Many readers will click on your blog post because of the headline, then start reading your introduction. If this does not grab them, they won’t continue to read. Many will convert to skimming or move off your post if you don’t grab their attention at the very start.

Convey information in short nuggets and use sub-headlines. Use sub head-lines, at least every 2-3 paragraphs, to break up information. Much of the information on a blog is skimmed, so sub-headlines help readers survey the information and then decide what to read.

Blog your passion. How you feel about something shows in your writing. You can read lots of great and technical advice about SEO and formatting. They’re important because they can help your voice rise to the top and get attention. But your voice needs to be authentic and true – share your passion and that will shine through.

Use a vibrant photo that relates to the topic. A great photo is essential to the success of a blog post. It’s best if you can take your own photos, but if you can’t, then credit the images you do use. I tend to favor Creative Common licensed images, but there are many websites online where you can look for images.

Include outbound links and anchor them with smart text. Include links in your blog post to other sources, and link to other content you’ve written too on the same topic. It’s important that you “anchor” these outbound links by choosing good words to hyper-link to in your blog post. I always try to write text that is informational so the user knows what they are clicking on.

Don’t use “click here” when sharing hyperlinks. I have never been a fan of the practice of  putting links at the end of a paragraph with “click here” as the copy to hold the outbound hyperlink. I am always amazed when I find clients still doing this on their websites or in their blog posts – as I have advocated against this practice for at least 10 years. If you are doing “click here” you are hurting optimization and the likelihood of being found – not to mention ensuring your readers who skim have no clue what “click here” goes to. All those “click here” links add up to a big boring “click here.”

Do smart search engine optimization (SEO). Include key phrases in your first paragraph. Carry a key word or phrase from your headline into your first paragraph. But don’t overdo it with keyword cramming for search engine optimization. Some “experts” will advise you to include keywords many, many times in your posts, but Google’s algorithm is smarter than that. Yes, keywords are important but they should not impede readability or lower the value of the content to the reader. If there are keywords you want to include because you are trying to draw a particular audience, include them if they naturally fit in the copy, but don’t shoe horn them in. Learn more about optimizing for SEO.

Use bold and/or italics to add emphasis. Formatting can draw attention to your key points.

Call to action. Ask your audience to do something as a result of your blog post. Perhaps you are asking them to get more engaged in a project, or want to make them more aware of an issue.

Proofread and edit. Read through your work again and make sure your thoughts are clear. I am always amazed at how frequently I find errors in things I put together and see prominent errors (headline mis-spellings) in other blogs, that would have easily been caught with a quick read-through.

Ask for a critique. One of the best things I did for my blog was ask a couple of fellow bloggers for advice on how I could improve. They spotted things I had missed and gave me a lot of encouragement, and my blog posts improved because of their input.

Resources
How to Write Great Blog Content – ProBlogger
How to Write a Blog Post: A Simple Formula +Five Free Templates – HubSpot
26 Tips for Writing Great Blog Posts – Social Media Examiner

Talk to Us: What tips do you have to offer that can make a blog post more successful? 

Photo credit: Photo courtesy of Mike Licht and licensed by Creative Commons.

Ami Neiberger-Miller is a public relations strategist and writer. She is the founder of Steppingstone LLC, an independent public relations practice near Washington, D.C. that provides public relations counsel, social media engagement, writing services, and creative design for publications and websites. She blogs frequently about media relations, social media and work-family balance. She also reviews books on her blog. Follow her on Twitter @AmazingPRMaven.

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