First off, whoops! This post is much later than anticipated! Jess is off in Portland for her wedding (congrats guys!) and pregnancy brain has a serious grip on me right now and if I’m being honest, I forgot it was Thursday! But, alas, I’m back and sharing some tips for making each and every one of your blog posts count.
The past few months I’ve been doing a lot to get prepared for the birth of our first baby as I really want to have time off from my blog to enjoy all that newborn goodness (and lack of sleep), without letting my blog dry up and die while I’m out. So, what does that mean exactly? I’ve been writing, shooting and scheduling content for those months with any spare time I can find.
I eventually got into a good pattern and noticed that I doing a better job of
Coming up with all this extra content in advance has been a challenge, but after a few weeks, I found that I’d gotten in a pretty good pattern and posts were getting finished and scheduled faster. Here’s a list of 10 things I made sure were complete before hitting schedule or publish!
1. Write a Catchy Title
This is something I used to not think about much, but writing catchier headlines will lead to more clicks than a generic title. To try to get a sense of what headlines work well, I love using Co-Schedule’s Headline Analyzer. It gives you a score based on that, and makes it easy to try different variations until you land on one you like and that performs well. It’s tough though, typically my headlines rank in the 70s and that’s good enough for me! If you’re getting a higher score—please, come teach me your ways!
2. Spend the Time Doing SEO
I’m guilty of not spending the time doing keyword research, adding keywords or configuring Yoast for every post. Sometimes I’m finishing up posts at the very last second (today’s post is a perfect example!) and this is the first thing to go. Why? Well, it’s not the most fun part of blogging, at least not for me, and it’s time-consuming. But, it’s so worth it! If you spend a few extra minutes on your post SEO, you’re giving it the chance to live much longer than it would with no SEO. If that means the post goes up an hour later—that’s okay.
3. Update Your Permalink
Your permalink is the direct link to your blog post. You’ll want to make that permalink something that’s SEO-friendly. Even if your post title is something un-related, you’ll want to make the permalink easy for search engines to crawl. Here’s an example: Post title: “5 Reasons Why I Love Chicago Winters” (does anyone?!) & permalink: http://yoururl.com/best-winter-coats.
You can easily make your title something catchy, and make the permalink something that gives context to what’s inside that post! Cool, right?
4. Proofread It
Want to lose your credibility in a hurry? Of course not! But, having posts that consistently filled with spelling and grammar mistakes will do that. So, take the few minutes and re-read your post or have someone else read it to make sure it looks good. I find that by writing and planning my content in advance, I’m not pressed for time and spend more time making sure that my post is easy to read and free of spelling and grammar mistakes. Of course, I’m no English major so it does still happen occasionally, but this knocks a ton of mistakes out before I publish!
5. Write at Least 300 Words
It’s tempting to write super short posts, especially if your blog is image heavy! But, search engines and Google really like that content! Make sure that your posts have at least 300-500 words (more is great!)! This tells Google that there’s good stuff in here that people want to read. So, make sure you’ve done that before you hit publish! If you’re unsure of how many words you have, Yoast actually tells you. So, after you’ve written your post and hit save, scroll down and you’ll see the word count under Yoast’s Analysis.
6. Compress Images & Make Them SEO-Friendly
Jess and I both use Lightroom to edit our photos, and when exporting, we make sure to compress them for the web. Ideally, I try to keep my images under 300-400KB per image. You can change your setting in Lightroom when you export, and limiting the file size is an option. The downside is that images might not appear quite as crisp as the higher quality, but it’s barely noticeable and will help your site load faster and keep hosting expenses down as they take up much less space on your server. Make sure to name your images with SEO-friendly names (instead of IMG321.jpg) and add Alt Text when uploading them! FYI, WordPress will compress your images a bit more, but do make sure you’ve got them compressed before uploading to save space!
7. Add a Featured Image & Excerpt
Depending on your blog’s theme, you may or may not need to utilize this feature, but I’ve found that it helps either way. It gives Facebook and Twitter something to pull from and lots of themes do use these, so it can’t hurt to add one now in case you switch themes in the future—you’ll thank me when you don’t have to go in and manually select featured images for old posts!
Not every theme will utilize excerpts, but a lot do. This is that short bit of text that shows up on your homepage above the read more button. You can customize this by selecting the text you want to appear and pasting it in this box (at the very bottom of the post editor!). If you’re not seeing it, scroll to the top and in the right hand corner, click on ‘Screen Options’ and make sure excerpt is checked.
8. Add Affiliate Links
Not everyone is monetizing their site, but if you are, make sure you’ve added affiliate links where necessary. And, make sure they’re set to open in a new window. You never want to take someone away from your site!
9. Add Internal Links
Internal links are links back to other posts you’ve written. I make sure to include at least two links to other posts in every new post I’ve written. I do this at the bottom of my posts by linking to two posts like this: ” BTW, 8 ways to choose joy this season, and a fall outfit you need to try.” I like to pick things that relate to the post above them. When possible, I link back to my old posts within the copy as well. Again, make sure you’re having these links open in new windows so readers don’t get taken away from the post they’re currently reading!
10. Add Tags
Tags make your content easier to search on your site and can help with SEO. I’ll add a few long tail keywords here as well as things like “spring outfits, red sweater, skinny jeans” or other words that would help my readers find exactly what they’re looking for on my site.
Once you’ve gone through that list, it’s time to hit schedule or publish!
Do you have any other things that you do before hitting publish on your posts? We’d love to hear!