Congrats! You've finally got buy-in to spend time blogging for your business, and your CMS is all set up. You even got a designer to make your blog layout look fabulous! Now comes the time you've been waiting for: Finally whipping up that first blog post and publishing it for the world to see.
... But don't click "publish" just yet! When you're in a hurry to get started with your blog, it can be tempting to overlook some of the key elements that'll help make it successful. But after investing all that time to get your blog up and running, you'll want to be sure you're getting the most out of each post.
So, what does an optimized blog post look like? Below, you'll find a graphic showing elements of a successful blog post, followed by a checklist you can reference any time you write. Next time you're about to publish a blog post, take a look at this image and make sure you've included each of the elements in your own post. (Truthfully, if you're using the right marketing software, some of these will already be taken care of -- so you won't have to worry about them when publish time comes rolling around.)
So if you want to make the most of every blog post you publish, keep on reading. (And if you want to learn best practices for the other key components of inbound, check out our brand new offer, The Anatomy of Inbound Marketing.)
The Anatomy of an Optimized Blog Post
1) URL Optimized for Search
Your blog post URL is one of the first things that search engines crawl on a page, so make sure to include keywords in it and make it reader-friendly before posting. (Want more info on URL optimization? Click here.)
2) Headline That Appeals to Humans and Search Engines
Your headline is crucial to attracting both humans and search engines, so make sure it’s enticing and naturally contains words and phrases that people are searching for. Then, be sure the rest of your article delivers on the headline.
3) Some Relevant Keywords
You definitely shouldn’t keyword-stuff your posts, but it's wise to create blog posts on topics that people are searching for, and then naturally include commonly used words and phrases on that topic within your posts.
4) Relatively Informal Language
No one wants to dig through industry jargon to understand what you’re writing about. Use simple language to explain things. (And remember: if someone’s reading your blog, they might not know what that jargon means anyway.)
5) Properly Cited Featured Image
You should always make sure you have the rights to use every image in your post and that you’re properly citing the source. Here’s a quick primer on that if you need it.
6) Section Headers
People love to scan articles on the web. If you want your blog to be skimmable, you should break up sections with large, bolded headers. Headers make even the longest pieces seem easy to read.
7) Shorter Paragraphs
Also, part of catering to that whole people-love-to-scan-articles-on-the-web thing is writing short paragraphs. It’s much easier for people to scan when there are small chunks of content to look over -- so make sure you’re keeping your paragraphs short and sweet.
8) Relevant Internal Links
Blog posts are often the first interaction people will have with your company, but you don’t want it to be the last. So make sure you’re including a reasonable number of relevant internal links to other pieces of your content throughout your post. These links could be helpful to your readers.
9) Share Buttons
Share buttons should be prominently displayed -- having them next to your post is a little reminder to your readers that they should share your post. Learn how to make social share buttons in fewer than five minutes here.
10) Comments Enabled
Even if you don’t have comments enabled, people are going to make remarks about your content -- and often, this feedback is incredibly helpful for future content. So why not enable people to have that converation all in one place?
11) Smart CTA
Smart CTAs help you show tailored content to people in different lifecycle stages or lists in your database -- and because the content is more relevant to them, they’re more likely to convert.
12) Responsive Design
Just like your homepage, it’s important to have a blog design and elements within the post that look and work great on mobile -- you never know what device your readers are using.
Want to dissect more best practices for landing pages, homepages, social posts, and emails? Download The Anatomy of Inbound Marketing.
Image credit: Startup Stock Photos