Blogging has come a long way since its 1990s inception. Once the territory of digital diarists chronicling their personal lives, it’s now a key component of digital marketing and SEO. Successful business blogging is an art in itself, though. With millions of new blog posts published daily, it takes finesse and strategy to make posts stand out.
The foundation of that strategy is a detailed blog checklist. From initial research to final proofreading, every item on your checklist can take you one step closer to a well-written, well-optimized blog post, and two steps closer to better rankings and more traffic.
15-Step Blog Checklist
Writing successful blog posts is challenging even when you take extra care and time to produce quality content. So if you’re cranking out one rushed, haphazard post after another, neither readers nor search engines will be impressed.
Instead, follow a blog post checklist to create consistent content and get consistent results.
- Choose a Topic
- Consider the Shelf Life
- Research Keywords
- Optimize the Title
- Create an Outline
- Write an Engaging Introduction
- Flesh out the Body
- Craft a Unique Wrap-Up
- Craft a Custom Meta Description
- Add Links
- Confirm Compatibility
- Schedule and Publish
- Update as Needed
1. Choose a Topic
When choosing what to write about, always keep the blog’s purpose and audience in mind. You’ll be able to come up with topics both relevant and interesting to readers.
Running short of ideas? You can try:
- seeing which topics get results for direct competitors;
- polling readers on potential topics;
- getting inspiration from previous high-performing posts; or
- using a tool like SEMrush to find blog topics.
2. Consider the Shelf Life
Before you begin writing a blog post, it’s crucial to think about its intended lifespan. Do you want your post to be evergreen (remain indefinitely relevant) or time-sensitive (remain relevant for a limited period of time)?
If you want it to be evergreen, remember to avoid words like recently and last week/month/year. Instead, use wording that will always be true. For example, write “a 2020 study” rather than “a study published last year.”
3. Research Keywords
Once you’ve settled on a topic, you’ll need to identify the keywords you want to be found and rank for. To do so, enter your general topic into the keyword research tool of your choice.
From the list of results, identify those most relevant to your topic before narrowing down your options to those best-suited to your audience and the context of your post. Include the primary keyword in the post’s title, meta description, introduction and first H2 to further reinforce the page’s topicality.
4. Optimize the Title
A blog post title has three jobs: indicate the post’s topic to both readers and search engines; attract clicks to drive traffic; and boost rankings. To do all of that, your post titles need to include the primary keyword, and reach out and grab searchers as they scan the SERPs.
If you need a little help in the title-writing department, you can use a tool like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer.
5. Create an Outline
Take a few minutes to make an outline before you start writing. You’ll boost your efficiency and make your post easier for both users and search engine crawlers to navigate.
Be sure to include descriptive headings to help separate topics within your post, make it easy for skimmers to find what they need, and break up the text on the page.
6. Write an Engaging Introduction
Given the sheer number of blog posts floating around the web, it’s vital to grab readers’ attention right off the bat. Your post’s introduction presents a perfect opportunity to do so—don’t let it go to waste.
Focus on making your introduction unique and natural-sounding, and keep it to no more than a couple of paragraphs to hold readers’ interest and keep them reading.
7. Flesh Out the Body
Once you begin writing your post’s body text, be sure to thoroughly address the topic and concentrate on providing value to the reader.
As you write, remember to:
- use an on-brand voice and tone as specified in your internal style guide;
- adhere to your chosen general style guide;
- write for the target audience; and
- add relevant images or videos where appropriate.
8. Craft a Unique Conclusion
You’ve probably seen plenty of blog posts with conclusions preceded by headings like “Final Thoughts,” “Conclusion” or “In Summary.” There’s nothing wrong with such headings, but you can make your post stand out from the crowd by crafting a one-of-a-kind conclusion with a more creative heading.
In your wrap-up, be sure to remind readers of the value of the topic being discussed, and try to limit yourself to a paragraph or two. If you plan on including a call to action (CTA), add it here.
9. Craft a Custom Meta Description
Google doesn’t always use the meta descriptions written for blog posts, and will instead pull from the page. If you want to keep this from happening, apply three tactics when writing your meta descriptions:
- Make them unique to each post.
- Keep them short enough to avoid truncation in the SERPs.
- Ensure they match user intent for the content on that page.
10. Add Links
Outbound links can help build site authority, nurture relationships with other sites and provide value to readers. Internal links enhance a site’s crawlability, improve the user experience and pass link equity from one page to another.
Make an effort to include both internal and outbound links throughout your blog post where appropriate and relevant. When adding internal links, don’t forget to optimize—but not overoptimize—the anchor text.
You’re not going to publish a first draft, are you? Even if a professional editor is going to go over your post, it’s incumbent upon you to edit your own work and make sure you’re turning in the best content you’re capable of producing.
Get out your fine-toothed comb and check:
- grammar, punctuation and spelling;
- style guide adherence and consistency;
- readability and flow;
- link validity and placement; and
- logical organization.
Also, give it a once-over for plagiarism. You’d never intentionally copy someone else’s work and call it your own. Of course not. That’s just wrong. But maybe you pasted in a passage from another post to use as a reference, and forgot to delete it.
Maybe you plagiarized past work of your own—self-plagiarism is real, and it’s unethical. Make sure what you’re about to publish is unique and totally your own work.
12. Confirm Compatibility
From smartphones to laptops to desktops, readers use a vast array of devices to access your blog. With that in mind, remember to check how your post will render on various devices.
Yes, you already edited the post. Now take some time to give it at least one more read to check for all the little things. A missing period. An apostrophe where there shouldn’t be one. A “their” that should be a “there.”
No one is immune to those tiny mistakes, and they love to sneak through when you’re not looking.
14. Schedule and Publish
Schedule your post to be published using the content management system of your choice. If you’re not sure when to publish it, refer to your past posts’ analytics to identify timeframes which have historically delivered good results.
Check the post preview to make sure everything’s in order, and then hit publish. You’re done! Well, almost.
15. Update as Needed
After all that work, it can be tempting to forget your blog post once it’s published. However, you can achieve greater long-term SEO if you update it periodically.
For example, you can go back to add relevant internal links as they become available, or provide updated statistics and graphics. This is true for both evergreen and time-sensitive content.
Stellar Blog Posts? Check. Stronger SEO? Check.
Blogging is no longer the niche activity it once was. Today, the internet is teeming with both business and personal blogs vying for attention. But while the competition may be stiff, writing exceptional blog posts to stand out from the rest is as easy as following a checklist.
Get your pen (or your clicker finger) ready. With a comprehensive blog checklist in your toolkit, you’re well on your way to creating professional-quality blog posts that visitors—and search engines—will love.