Posted: May 17, 2013
Posting a blog isn’t as simple as writing your content and hitting the publish button, there are many other things to keep in mind if you want your post to reach as many readers as possible. How the search engines will index your post, how social media services will display your post, and other features, like categorizing and tagging, are just some of the ways to help potential visitors find your content.
Remembering to do all of these can be daunting so I’ve created a list below of things to do and check before publishing your blog post.
The title of the post should be engaging and contain keywords that are also in the content. Keep in mind that it will most likely be the post title that appears in social media when your post is shared so you want the title to be enticing enough for people to click.
Your content should be well written, free of errors, and properly formatted.
Ideally, your post’s content should be divided into sections by using the appropriate Heading tags (ie. h1, h2, h3, etc.). Generally, the post title is h1 so you should use h2 or lower, depending if they are sub categories or beyond.
To properly use bullets, you should be using the icon options in the editor. A common mistake is to use hyphens but using the editor tools ensures the content is properly coded in HTML, making it easier for search engines to read.
Whether the photos you use are inserted into the Posts themselves or you’re using a Gallery or Featured Image, you should always make sure that your images have proper ALT tags with a brief description of the photo. This description helps the search engines understand what the photo is about and how to index it in their search results. The description should contain keywords that match the keywords in the content of the post.
Also, it is best-practice for images within posts to have a Caption, or a brief description that appears on the webpage under the photo. It just helps the reader to know where the photo was taken and connects that photo back to the content in the post. The Caption can be similar to the Alt tag.
Assigning your post to one or more Categories is a great way to organize your content. It may not be clear when you first start your blog but after you’ve got a large number of posts, you can start using Categories by linking directory to those posts of a certain topic. Using Categories at the start saves you a lot of hassle in the long run.
Tags are often forgotten about and left blank but they’re important because they offer another way of organizing your content. By applying tags, you can add a large list of keywords and, as your blog grows, using tools such as a Tag Cloud will help identify the popular content on your site for your users. Tags can sometimes be thought of as similar to Categories, although with Categories, you will tend to add a post to 1-5 Categories, with Tags, you can easily add a dozen or more.
The SEO elements to check on your blog post are ensuring your Page Titles, Meta Description, and Meta Keywords contain proper keywords that match those in the content of your post. WordPress tends to auto generate Page Titles and will not automatically add in Meta Tags, so best practice is to review these elements and customize them so they compliment the content.
I’ve found either the All In One SEO Pack or WordPress SEO by Yoast to be the most useful plugins. Both plugins add options directly onto the Post Editing Page below the content field for you to customize Page Titles and Meta Tags. If you decide not to, they will also automatically generate Page Titles based on the Post Title and a Meta Description Tag based on the first sentence of the post.
Facebook uses a number of Open Graph Tags to understand the content on a page that is Shared or Liked. You can customize this content by using a simple plugin, like WP Open Graph Meta, so that the Title, Description, and, in some cases, the image that appears in Facebook is what you want it to be.
Once you’ve pressed the Published Button, double check your blog post for all of the above and make sure it appears correctly. Make any changes to the post quickly. Once your confident everything has been done properly, share your post on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and any other social media networks where you have built your audience.