You’ve read that solid web content, more than any other factor, determines the success of your website. But what determines whether or not you’ve written a ‘good’ blog post?
It’s impossible to say objectively, but there are a number of generally agreed items that can contribute to the effectiveness of your blog posts. Incorporate these into every post you publish and you’ll be in good stead.
With the above in mind, in this article we’re going to start by exploring the anatomy of a blog post, then show how you can incorporate the constituent parts mentioned into a plugin-generated checklist that you can run every single time you produce a blog post within WordPress. Let’s get cracking!
The Anatomy of a Top Quality Blog Post
So what should be included in a typical blog post? Let’s go with a medical metaphor. If a blog post outline were a skeleton, its structure would be comprised of ten dominant ‘bones’. Here’s a look at each of them:
- A solid topic and focus keyword. Choose a blog post topic that’s somehow beneficial to your readers, then find a related keyword that’ll help anchor your topic and help both humans and search engine spiders know what your blog post is about.
- Compelling headlines and subheadings. It takes time to learn how to write headlines that’ll grab your readers’ attention, but it is an essential skill, because your headline is often the difference between a click or a pass. And since most site visitors scan blog posts, the same concept holds true for subheadings.
- Proper formatting. Depending on the type of blog post you write, what’s considered ‘proper’ formatting will vary. That said, in general, you’ll want to use subheadings (h2, h3, and so on) and incorporate bold, italics, lists, and other similar elements to provide variety within your blog posts.
- Meta descriptions. These are summaries that show up in search engine results; they’re also used by social media and social bookmarking websites. Yours should be no longer than 160 characters (including spaces). Meta descriptions aren’t as important in terms of SEO, but they let your readers know what to expect when they come across your page in search engines or on social media websites.
- Media. Every post should include at least one image, and other forms of media if possible. Videos, infographics, podcasts, and audio files enhance the reading experience and encourage social sharing. Also, not all of your site visitors will be able to read every post; some might need to listen to a podcast as they work out or commute to work. As you get to know your audience, your choice of media should become more targeted.
- A conclusion and call to action. Conclusions help readers digest your blog content and decide what to do next, and a call to action encourages readers to engage with your blogging community.
- Appropriate linking. Aside from making you look unprofessional, broken links can lead search engine crawlers to believe that your website is untrustworthy, which can cause your site rankings to plummet. WordPress plugins like Broken Links Checker can scan your website to ensure that internal and external links are working properly.
- Categories and tags. Aside from helping you structure blog post topics, categories communicate to search engines the core concepts written about on your blog. Similarly, tags have a broader reach and should incorporate related terms.
- Editing. Regardless of how many times you read your article in the visual or text editor, reading it as a WordPress preview should definitely be part of your routine. This is the best way to edit and proofread your blog post because it allows you to see the bigger picture and pick up on typos, structural problems you would have otherwise missed.
- Scheduling. You’re not writing something that you’ll publish straight away, right? Of course not – your editorial calendar is planned out in advance. With that in mind, once you’ve finished a post, you need to schedule it!
There you have it – a reliable structure for every WordPress blog post you publish. Depending on your blog topic, audience, and business goals, you may need to make additions or otherwise alter this list. That said, if you incorporate what’s described above, you’re off to a good start.
Now we know what we want to do, we need to transform our intended structure into a checklist so that we can ensure it gets done every time.
Why Are Checklists So Important?
You may be wondering if it’s necessary to have a WordPress blog post checklist. I was just as skeptical when I first began to blog regularly. But before long I realized that I needed to have a system in place if I was to make this ‘blogging thing’ really work out.
You see, even with the best of intentions, it’s easy to forget a task or two without a formal reference to what makes a blog post ‘complete’. Atul Gawande, author of The Checklist Manifesto, wrote that even experts such as skilled surgeons need checklists too (he should know – he is a surgeon).
A checklist isn’t a crutch; it’s an invaluable aid to your effectiveness. They hold us accountable and streamline a process that can become monotonous or forgettable.
Discover the Magic of the Pre-Publish Post Checklist Plugin
With the Pre-Publish Post Checklist plugin you can create a customized checklist specific to your own blog post structure and never forget a step. Let’s go through its setup.
After installing and activating the plugin, click Add checklist item from the plugin’s settings menu. Type in each reminder, and then click Save. Your list should look similar to the image below:
Once you’ve added all desired items to your list, you can then determine how WordPress should respond if you attempt to publish a blog post without ticking all of the items listed. You can program it to prevent publishing altogether, send a warning to the user, or do nothing at all.
This is how the checklist looks when embedded into your blog post template:
If all items aren’t checked off, this warning appears on the screen:
Although activating this plugin is optional, it can help you to get into the habit of creating blog posts that incorporate all of the necessary elements that will pull your readers in and keep them engaged.
Writing content that engages your readers and encourages them to take action doesn’t have to be impossible – you just need a checklist.
You’ll need a focused topic, a captivating headline, and supporting points highlighted with subheadings and other formatting elements. You’ll want to include a featured image and other forms of media (if possible) to hold the readers’ attention. Meta data, categories, and tags make your blog post more searchable, and your summary and call to action are the icing on the cake. Once you’re done previewing and editing your post, all that’s left is to schedule it for publication.
When you incorporate the items listed above into all of your blog posts, the result will be a well structured and engaging post that’s ready to be crawled by search engines and shared across the web.
What’s included on your WordPress blog post checklist? Have I left out any items? Feel free to add to this list and/or share your thoughts in the comments section below!