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8 essentials of a stellar blog post

Before accelerating down the runway, a pilot reviews a pre-flight checklist to ensure his plane will take off and reach cruising altitude safely.

If you write content for a company blog, then you’re the pilot. Do you review a pre-publish checklist before posting? Or do you just wing it?

If you’re new to blog publishing, this checklist will help you create posts that engage readers and grow your subscriber list. If you’ve been blogging for a while, you might be stuck on “content autopilot.” Review the checklist to see if there’s something you can tweak to take your blog to even greater heights.

Assuming your blog has a clearly defined purpose and audience, let’s get started.

BLOG CHECKLIST

1. Tell a story

Storytelling is integral to our lives and indispensable to content marketing. Remember this mantra: show, don’t tell. Don’t just tell readers about how your nonprofit helps homeless people, show them how your donors’ generosity helped a young mother find an apartment and open a new chapter for her family. Present a vivid before and after picture of the client’s situation in story form to keep your readers engaged.

2. Make the content skimmable

Numerous studies show that people read electronic media differently than the printed page. While people are more comfortable reading dense, longer copy in a book, they tend to skim online content. That means you should write in short paragraphs and use bulleted or numbered lists. Use subheads and images to divide content. For older subscribers, use a font size they can read easily.

3. Include relevant SEO keywords

Use the right keywords with the appropriate frequency, and you’ll increase your blog’s search engine ranking. Before writing, identify the keywords and phrases you want to use, then work them into your copy naturally. You no longer need to use keywords repetitively to achieve high rankings. Google recognizes keyword flooding and penalizes those actions. Remember, quality over quantity.

4. Insert links to related content

Blog readers are a captive audience. Why not share more content with them? Keep readers on your site by including links to related posts or additional web content. Internal links are also a good way to drive traffic to your older posts, make your site user-friendly and boost your SEO.

5. Add visual content

Besides illustrating the points made in your copy, compelling images and graphics also make web pages easier to skim. Use a few visuals throughout each post to divide content. If you don’t have an in-house graphics team, you can rely on free stock images from sites like MorgueFile, PhotoPin, Pixabay, StockVault and Unsplash.

6. Write an irresistible headline

If your headline doesn’t stop readers in their tracks and entice them to read your blog, then you’ve lost an opportunity to attract people to your website. A solid headline is often one that touches on a pain point for your target audience and promises to deliver a solution. That’s a powerful incentive to get your audience motivated to learn more. Draft as many headlines as possible before publishing. Review them carefully and seek feedback from your colleagues. Choose one that best addresses the most important point you want to make.

7. Write a strong call to action

Every post should encourage readers to take the next step. Before writing, define the action you want them to take. Is it to contact your nonprofit for help? Schedule a medical appointment? Call to learn more about your services? Refer someone to your business? Create content that leads to that inevitable next step and use a bit of self-promotion to inspire readers to take action.

8. Invite comments

Enabling readers to post comments not only creates a social community, it also supports your SEO efforts. To jump start a discussion, try adding a thought-provoking question at the end of your post. (Just be sure your team responds to comments so it doesn’t look like you ignore your readers.) If you’re worried about spam responses, a WordPress plugin like Akismet will flag those messages and help you manage them.

Now that you’ve reviewed the checklist, is your blog ready to take flight?

Is there anything else you’d add to this checklist? Let us know in the comments section below.

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