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11 Dec Blog Post Checklist: 25 Points to Better Content Marketing

Do you have a tried and tested blog post checklist? Do you make use of one when you blog? If you don’t, your content marketing isn’t as effective as it could be.

Studies show that the average B2B marketer now allocates up to 33% of their marketing budget to blogging and off-page SEO.

Not optimizing that content for maximum engagement, visibility, and exposure is downright silly, yet this is often overlooked.

It’s a wasted opportunity!

Imagine how many more sales leads you could be generating if your posts were effectively optimized. Consider how many more prospects you could be converting. Think about the time and money you save when your content is working harder.

To help you out, I’ve compiled a 25-point blog post checklist based on the latest SEO and content marketing guidelines and best practices. I have also included links to a number of relevant resources on the web.

Bookmark, share, and enjoy! Do let me know if I missed anything.

Article Introduction Section Intro Section

1. Your blog post title grabs attention and appeals to targeted readers.

The title, or headline, is the most important part of your article. Why? Because people use it to determine whether or not they are going to read your content! If your headline isn’t appealing, catchy, and relevant to your target audience, prospects simply will not click on it. Make your headline clickable.

5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click
41 Classic Copywriting Headline Templates

2. The title of your blog post is around 55 characters in length.

In line with Google’s recent SERP redesign, keeping titles under 55 characters is a good idea. If your post title is too long, it may be truncated in search results, lowering click-through rate. If it is too short, it may not be descriptive enough to entice the reader. Around 70 characters used to be the limit, but it’s lower now.

Advanced SEO Experiments: Google’s Title Tag Changes
New Title Tag Guidelines & Preview Tool
Title Tags & SEO: 3 Golden Rules

3. The title of your blog post contains your main keyword (at the beginning).

The title of your post (H1 tag) tells search engines what your page/content is about. In fact, it is considered quite an important on-page search engine optimization factor. It makes sense then to include your primary keyword in the title. Another best practice is to include it (unmodified) as close to the beginning as possible.

Page Title Tag Best Practice for Google
How to Write Title Tags For Search Engine Optimization
On-Page SEO: Anatomy of a Perfectly Optimized Page

4. The meta description tag is around 140-160 characters in length.

The meta description is the text snippet that appears in search results below your page title. According to Moz, the optimal length is about 155 characters. If it contains more than 160 characters, there’s a good chance it will be truncated. Not terribly important for rankings (not directly), but it does affect click-through rate.

Meta Description
SERP Simulator
How to Write an Effective Meta Description

5. The meta description contains your primary keyword (at the beginning).

As mentioned, the meta description doesn’t affect your rankings – Google announced this in 2009. However, if you include your main keyword and it matches user queries closely, Google highlights the term in the description. This makes your listing more attractive, which makes it more likely that users will click through.

How To Write Meta Descriptions for Maximum Clicks
Our Forgotten Friend, The Meta Description
Those Little Things Called SEO Meta Descriptions and Titles

6. The lead paragraph is engaging, inspiring, and thought-provoking.

The lead (or lede – opening paragraph) is the second most important part of your post. Open with a bang and readers will continue reading, but give them a weak intro and they will surely hit the back button. Ask an engaging question, share a powerful quote, cite a shocking statistic… many effective ways to open a post.

What Is a Lead Paragraph?
Seven Leads to Hook Readers
5 Simple Ways to Open Your Blog Post with a Bang

7. The lead sentence/paragraph contains your primary keyword (at the beginning).

Keyword prominence appears to be a relevancy signal for Google, so including your primary keyword in the first sentence of your post could help it rank. Additionally, if the search engine doesn’t display your meta tag and pulls the first few lines of copy from your web page instead, your keyword stands out if a user query matches.

Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List
Why Won’t Google Use My META Description?
Review your page titles and snippets

Article Body Section Body Section

8. The body of your article lives up to and delivers on the blog post title.

If you manage to get readers to the body, there’s a good chance they will read to the end – if you keep them engaged. The goal of each sentence/paragraph should be to get the next one read. That means write content that is useful, interesting, and relevant. N.B., the body should deliver what is promised in the title and lead.

Why You Should Always Write Your Headline First
Look: Another misleading blog post title!

9. The voice and tone used in your article suits the blog and brand.

Your voice and tone expresses your company’s unique personality, setting it apart from other blogs and brands. While most bloggers understand that “writing as you speak” makes it easier to connect with readers, specific word choice is what makes content appeal to an audience. It’s also important to maintain the same voice.

Finding Your Brand’s Voice
10 Steps to Finding Your Writing Voice
4 Steps to Finding Your Ideal Writing Voice

10. The blog post is written and optimized for specific buyer personas.

“A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers,” says Sam Kusinitz at HubSpot. If your post doesn’t appeal to the ideal customer, revise it. Aspects to consider include word/tone choice, level of sophistication, and pain points.

The Definition of a Buyer Persona
Buyer Personas – 9 Steps to Profiling Buyer Personas
What’s a Pain Point?

11. The body of your blog post contains your main keyword.

The body of your blog article should include your primary keyword for search engine optimization purposes. Google recommends it. So do most SEOs. However, too many instances of a phrase could be interpreted as “keyword stuffing.” For best results, use keywords naturally and try to keep them at least 100 words apart.

Google Webmaster Guidelines
Irrelevant keywords
The Dangers of SEO Keyword Stuffing

12. The body of your post contains synonyms for the main keyword.

Google uses latent semantic indexing (LSI), which interprets the relationships between words. By using variations of your keyword and terms related to it, you help the search engine understand the context of your page. Type “dog food” in Google. Scroll down to “Searches related to” – these are LSI keywords.

LSI Keyword Tactics for Advanced SEO Experts
How to Find LSI (Long-Tail) Keywords

13. The body contains links to appropriate pages on your website.

Linking to inner pages (2-3) on your site is considered a good practice. Internal links are important for search engines and visitors because they improve navigation and help pass link juice (authority/ranking power) to other web pages. However, your article should link to relevant webpages. Also, have an internal linking strategy.

Internal Links
Link Building in Blog Posts: How to Use Links Effectively in Your Blogs

14. The body links out to trusted authority websites in the industry.

Outbound links are equally important. They provide value for the reader, drive valuable traffic, and it is thought that they act as a trust/relevancy signal for Google. The key is to link to (a few) reputable, high-traffic websites (in new tabs) that are relevant to your topic and theme. Too many links can have a negative effect, though.

External Links
5 Reasons You Should Link Out to Others From Your Website
Is External Linking Good For SEO?

15. The body contains supporting data that is accurate and relevant.

Data, facts, and statistics strengthen arguments in your post and make your article more credible. They also make it more engaging and sharable. Bear in mind that when you correctly cite a study, statistic, etc., it is always best to link to the original source. The source should be trustworthy and the information should be current.
How Not to Steal People’s Content on the Web

16. The body contains suitable, correctly referenced, high-quality images.

Images make content more appealing to people and search engines. In fact, there are several reasons to add images to every blog post. Hi-res stock images, custom pics, and screenshots are best, but there are tons of free professional images that are licensed for commercial use. Just be sure to credit your sources correctly.

The Definitive Guide to Finding Images for Blog Posts and Content

17. The images used in the body (and elsewhere) suit the design and theme of the website.

Not all high-resolution images are appropriate, even if they do look cool. Any visuals used in your blog article should suit the design and overall feel of the site where it will be published, matching both your (or your client’s) branding standards and the purpose of the content. Maintaining a consistent look and feel is important.

Three Ways To Brand Your Blog With Images

18. The images used in the body of the post (and elsewhere) are search engine optimized.

Google can’t read pictures – you need to tell them what your images are about. You can do this by adding alt text and using captions, and optimizing file size and name. This helps the search engine index your visual content and bring it up in image search. Optimizing your images also improves user experience in several ways.

How to Optimize Images for Better Search Engine Rankings
10 Must Know Image Optimization Tips

19. The body is broken up into readable sections using H2 and H3 tags (subheadings).

Subheadings (header tags) break up big chunks of text and outline the body of your article, improving readability – consider that readers ‘scan’ pages on the web. They also help search engines understand and prioritize your content, so writing descriptive subheads that incorporate your best keywords is smart.

How to Use Heading Tags for SEO
Web copywriting 101: Sub-headings

20. The sentences in each paragraph are short, grammatically correct, and free of jargon.

Readers generally digest shorter sentences more easily, so use punctuation. Just be sure to use it correctly. While there are bloggers who argue that grammar doesn’t matter, mistakes can hurt (and even kill) your credibility. Speaking of credibility, you may want to avoid unnecessary fluff and jargon.

Sentence Length: The Power Of Placing Periods
Why Poor Grammar and Spelling Are Bad for Your Blog
Plain Speaking Works Best

21. The same letter case is used correctly in all subheads (and your headline).

Sentence case or title case – which one should you use? There are many opinions on the subject, as well as numerous different style guides. It really comes down to what you, your audience, or your client prefers. What’s important is that you pick one style and use it correctly. If appropriate, use it consistently.

Capitalizing Titles
Automatically Capitalize Your Title

22. The article body contains bullet points that break up lengthy paragraphs for easy reading.

Bullet points improve readability and make your blog post more appealing to the average reader. As mentioned, surfers tend to scan content on the web, rather than read from start to finish. They skim through pages and absorb relevant information in bite-sized chunks. Long paragraphs and blocks of text are generally ignored.

8 Quick Tips for Writing Bullet Points People Actually Want to Read
How to Get People to Read Your Online Content

Article Closing Section Closing Section

23. The closing paragraph is engaging, thought-provoking, and delivers your key message.

Your closing paragraph is your closing argument – your last chance to make a point or leave an impression. A strong ending ties up with your headline, summarizes key points, and delivers your intended message. It is essentially what keeps readers coming back to your blog for more awesome content.

7 Powerful Ways to End Your Next Blog Post
How to Go Out In Style With Your Ending

24. The blog post contains a suitable and compelling call to action.

As a blogger/business/marketer, you want readers to continue engaging with your website and brand after they have read your content. Invite them to do that by ending off every post with a tempting call to action. A sentence or two is all it takes to attract blog comments, improve conversion rates, and increase crawling.

The Importance of Including a Call to Action in Your Blog Post
The Definitive Guide to Crafting Winning Calls to Action in Your Content

blog-post-general General

25. The blog post serves its purpose.

Lastly, a very important question to ask yourself once you have checked all points: does this article serve its intended purpose? Ask it again. By the way, if achieving that purpose means skipping points, skip them. These are just guidelines and best practices. It comes down to what will benefit your user, client, and business!

Did I miss anything in this content marketing blog post checklist? Add your point in the comments below and help me make it a great one.

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