You just wrote an awesome blog post. It's well researched, it will help your audience, and the tone is spot on. The excitement to get it on your site is so overwhelming, you scurry over to the 'publish' button and hover over it, about ready to push.
Don't make another move. No matter how remarkable the content of that blog article is, there are still countless things that could be wrong with your post. Before you ever hit the publish button on a blog post, make sure you've checked these 11 items off your content publishing to-do list to prevent internet humiliation.
11 Things to Do Before Publishing a Blog Post
1.) Did you do your linking? Readers love your blog because you provide them with not just a killer post, but links to other killer content that will rock their world. Find opportunities throughout your post to link to other content, whether from you or external sources, that is helpful to the reader. This boosts your credibility, moves people through your site, bolsters lead generation, and creates potential for inbound links in the future as you establish yourself as a link sharer, not a link hoarder.
2.) Did you optimize the content? Most people know they should do this, but it's just such a drag, isn't it? Make it easier on yourself. Before publishing, check these five places for keyword optimization: URL, page title, header tags, anchor text, and image alt text. And remember, when you optimize content, you're striving for a natural keyword density, not keyword stuffing. If the inclusion of a keyword phrase sounds unnatural to you, leave it out.
3.) Did you include a call-to-action? You're (probably) not business blogging just for fun. You want to get something out of it, right? Maybe some leads? Make sure your blog includes a call-to-action so readers don't get to the end of your post and leave your website. Move readers along to another piece of content related to the one they've just read with an effective call-to-action that links to a landing page with a lead-capture form in every blog post you write.
4.) Did you use at least one image? We're visual creatures, so a blog post without images is...well, boring. If you leave out images because you don't want to pay for the stock photography, make use of Creative Commons for free image sourcing. All you have to do is give attribution to the artist.
5.) Did you cite your sources? If you've used any data, statistics, or research in your post (and you should!), give credit where credit is due. Not only is neglecting to attribute the source of your data plagiarism, but it also makes readers call into question your validity as a thought leader.
6.) Did you rework your title? Did you rework it again? Great titles are really, really hard to write. Furthermore, the title you started out with may not be relevant to your post, as blogs can sometimes take on a life of their own as you research, write, and refine. Experiment with a few different titles, bounce ideas off of trusted friends and colleagues, and find one that both explains what the post is about and gets people so excited they just have to read it.
7.) Did you write a meta description humans can decipher? Lots of people have stopped writing meta descriptions since it became clear search engines don't consider them when deciding search rankings. But content is for humans first, crawlers second, and people still do read meta descriptions. They also get automatically pulled into social networks as the description when someone shares your content on sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+. Make sure you've written a 150-character or fewer meta description for your blog post that makes it clear to readers what will be on the page when they click through.
8.) Did you categorize the post appropriately? Tags help crawlers know what your post is about, but they also help readers find the content they're interested in. If you're categorizing blog posts for readers, choose just one or two of the most appropriate tags for your blog. Too many and it's confusing, none at all and you have that pesky 'uncategorized' section that makes your blog look disorganized.
9.) Did you format the post to be reader-friendly? Formatting can be the difference between someone abandoning your blog and someone reading and sharing your blog with their entire network. Imagine clicking into this post and seeing no headings, numbers, or bolded headlines; it would look like a maniacal brain dump! Breaking up text with visual cues like bullets, numbers, images, bolded text, links, and headlines makes your content more accessible and therefore more useful for readers.
10.) Did you run the post by a proofreader? Give your blog to someone you trust to review for spelling and grammatical errors. It's not that you're not a good writer; you've just spent too much time with the post to notice mistakes. While Google's algorithm doesn't take spelling and grammar into account yet, they have talked about exploring it as a factor in the future, and have nonetheless found a correlation between poor spelling and grammar and low PageRank.
11.) Did you preview for layout? Your WYSIWYG editor can be deceiving. You thought you aligned that photo to the left of your third bullet point, but somehow it's wedged above the bullet in the middle of a sentence. Previewing your post as it will be seen by your readers gives you a much needed reality check. Ensure blocks of text aren't too long, lines of text wrap around images correctly, there aren't too many or too few graphics, all your links work, and when you scroll up and down, everything looks generally balanced.
When the final preview looks right, congratulations! Now you're ready to hit 'publish.' And you don't have to keep double checking for embarrassing errors that hurt your brand and reputation.
Can you think of other things people should check before publishing blog posts? Do you have any embarrassing stories from pressing the publish button too soon?
Image credit: Alex E. Proimos