One common mistake most bloggers make is failing to have a predefined blog post checklist to help them evaluate and ensure the post is well-optimized for search engines and their readers before publishing.
User experience is one of the most important Google ranking factors and ensuring your blog post is user-friendly is key to lowering the bounce rate and increasing dwell time.
Google already revealed it uses User Experience (UX) as one of its ranking factors. You can have a look at the disclosure here – Helping users easily access content on mobile.
Please note an update was made to include both mobile and desktop users, so be sure your website offers a great user experience for both sets of users.
That being said, this post will guide you through the most important steps you should take to ensure you get quality traffic to your new blog post.
In case you are new to SEO, then this might seem a little advanced for you.
Nonetheless, I will use the simplest language possible to make it easy for you to understand and implement these strategies.
Blog Post Checklist Before You Publish
Here are 15 things you need to do before you hit the “Publish” button.
1: Write a compelling and optimized title
A post title (also called H1-tag) is the first thing readers see when reading a blog post. It is the title of your blog post (what readers see when they click on the blog post).
A meta title (also called title tag) is what users see on search engines when they enter a search query. It also appears in the title bar above the address bar on browsers.
Optimizing these two helps increase organic traffic due to a higher organic CTR.
Take for example a blog post about “how to increase website traffic” and think about these two title options:
- How to Increase Traffic to Your Blog Fast
- 17 Ways to Increase Blog Traffic Fast: [2022 Update]
The second title will get a higher organic CTR and generate more traffic for 3 reasons;
- The reader knows they will get 17 strategies to increase traffic
- The year “2022” indicates the strategies are up-to-date
- The use of brackets captures the readers’ attention
According to a study by V3B, titles with bracketed clarifications e.g. (PHOTOS), (VIDEO), (SLIDESHOW), (INTERVIEW), etc. increased CTR by 38% compared to headlines without brackets or parentheses.
Another study done by Conductor found that a title with a number generated the most clicks compared to all the others, with odd numbers generating 20% more clicks than even numbers.
Thirdly, include modifiers such as best, top, most, step-by-step guide, reviews, etc. Such modifiers have been proven to increase both the CTR and shares, according to a study done by SiegeMedia.
Here’s a comprehensive guide on catchy blog titles you can use to boost your blog traffic.
2: Write a good meta description
You also need to write a good meta description that contains your target keywords.
Meta descriptions appear just beneath the meta title on search results and help boost organic CTR and traffic to your website.
However, you do not have to worry about the meta description if you’re not using any SEO plugin because Google will identify the most ideal meta description to display.
3: Use a clean permalink
A permalink is a URL for a specific blog post, page, or category on a website. You can customize your permalinks to show different attributes such as date, month, category, page, etc.
It is advisable to set it to “Post Name” when setting up your permalinks for blog posts. That makes them clean and easy to understand what each URL represents.
Post name permalinks are good for both search engines and readers. Readers can tell what the link is about even before they click, especially when you share your links on blog promotion platforms and forums.
You only need to configure your permalinks once and you won’t have to do so every time you publish a new post.
To do so, go to the backend of your blog (dashboard), hover the mouse on “Settings” and then click “Permalinks”. Choose the “Post name” option and save the changes.
4: Use short URLs
According to a study done by Marketing Sherpa, using short URLs lead to 2.5 times more search marketing clicks.
Users are more likely to click a short URL as they can easily tell what it’s all about while it takes more time to understand what a long URL is about.
Some URLs are too long to an extent they seem spammy, which scares users from clicking.
5: Use colorful images
Consumer research by Xerox found that using colorful visuals and placing them above the fold increase the chances of consumers reading the product guide by 80%.
Buffer also did similar research and found that adding a featured image in your blog post ensures all the social shares contain images, which leads to 150% more retweets on Twitter and 53% more likes on Facebook.
Using multimedia within your content increases user engagement because they are user-friendly and users are highly receptive to attractive visuals.
Keep in mind that User Experience (UX) is one of the key ranking factors Google uses and using attractive and relevant visuals in your content increases the users’ engagement.
According to research done by Springer, using a combination of text and illustrations (such as infographics) to give directions yields better results by 323%.
Infographics are unique and make your content stand out. You can also add videos, especially YouTube embeds, to boost dwell time and user engagement.
Positive user engagement sends positive UX signals to Google, which helps in your overall rankings and more organic traffic.
On the other hand, colorful images and infographics will generate shares on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other platforms and can also lead to more backlinks.
6: Use subheadings and short paragraphs
Research by HubSpot shows that 43% of readers skim through posts to gauge if the content is worth their time. Using subheadings helps break up long text and make the post more readable.
A long block of an unsegmented blog post doesn’t appeal to readers, considering the fact that most people will visit your blog from mobile devices.
Long paragraphs can also be a deterrent and is a huge turn-off for mobile users. No one wants to read a seemingly never-ending paragraph that covers their entire mobile screen.
Highlight your points in small paragraphs and use bullet points where applicable. The more readable and user-friendly your content is, the more dwell time your blog will enjoy.
7: Link to reputable external sources
Linking to authoritative websites or blogs in your niche will increase your Google rankings. A while ago, Reboot conducted a study on external links as a ranking signal.
They created content and published it on 10 brand-new domains. Five of the sites had outbound links while the other five had no outgoing links.
They then followed through by fetching the results on Google Search Console until all the links had been indexed. Then they tracked the rankings of the ten websites.
The five websites that contained external links outranked all the websites without external links. This indicates that Google uses external links as an on-page ranking factor.
Include a few relevant links to other websites as this will play some part in getting your post ranked higher on Google.
8: Compress your images
While you aim to use colorful images, it’s also important to compress all the images you use on your blog.
Compressing images ensures they are small in size and that your page and website loading speeds are high.
There are dozens of free online image compressors that do a good job, such as I Love Img.
Alternatively, you can use a plugin such as Plus WebP which converts images to WebP format without losing quality.
The converted images are significantly smaller in size with the same quality or even higher.
9: Include a table of contents
Most bloggers do not understand the significance of using a table of contents. For one, a table of contents increases sitelinks on search engines as it adds in-page links to different sub-sections of the blog post.
The in-page links will appear on search engines as sitelinks (just under the meta-description). A user can click on them and be directed to a specific part of the page/post. Sitelinks boost organic CTR and traffic.
The table of contents also allows a reader to quickly understand what the post will focus on without skimming through the entire post scrolling from top to bottom.
If a reader can see what they are looking for is highlighted within the table of contents, they are more likely to read through the entire post or just skip to that specific part of the page.
That way, your dwell time will be high and the user is more likely to engage with your content by clicking on related links, sharing, or commenting.
10: Include ALT text on all images
Image SEO is very important, and using keyword-rich ALT text is one way to do it.
Every time search engine crawlers crawl your posts, the ALT texts you use will help them understand what each image represents.
So, do not just do on-page SEO and forget about image SEO. Each is equally important.
Besides, you can generate organic traffic when your images rank on search engines, just like content and videos do.
11: Link to related posts
Internal linking is an important on-page SEO practice that helps new blog posts get indexed faster as well as generate more traffic.
For example, if you publish a blog post about “ways to monetize your blog” then it’s ideal to link to a related post such as “how to start a blog that makes money”.
If a blog is generating organic traffic, internal linking will help the new post get indexed faster and get referral traffic from the older post.
12: Use topic-related tags
While using categories to group together related blog posts, most bloggers forget to use tags.
Google crawlers always check your blog tags to better understand what your content is all about.
Use tags closely related to the keywords or topic your blog post is based on. You can use as many tags as possible, but avoid repetition as they look spammy.
13. Use targeted CTAs
A study done by Hubspot found that using targeted Call To Action (CTAs) generated 42% more engagement than generic CTAs. Hubspot also found that personalized CTAs perform 202% better than basic CTAs.
Generic CTAs such as “sharing is caring”, “share this post” or “subscribe to our newsletter” rarely do well. Examples of best CTAs for blog posts include:
- Example 1: Curious about how content marketing could help your business take the next step? Call us today for a free consultation at 1-800-XXX-XXXX
- Example 2: Are you ready to start a blog that makes money? Download our free ebook today and contact us for a free blog setup.
- Example 3: Did you find our content marketing guide helpful? If so, feel free to share on Facebook or Twitter using the super-easy share buttons below.
The study also found that button-based CTAs convert better than images regardless of the type of CTA.
In a nutshell, you are giving someone a valid reason to take action. The reason could be;
- The content was helpful and they would like to share
- They would like to start a blog and a guide would be much appreciated
- They would gladly join a free webinar to learn about content marketing or something else
14. Add a nofollow tag to affiliate links
Google has made it very clear that all affiliate links should bear a nofollow tag. Ensure you add the nofollow tag to any affiliate link within the post.
The easiest way to do so is by using the “Rel Nofollow Checkbox” plugin. This plugin adds a small checkbox in the insert/edit link popup for including a nofollow attribute.
15. Add share buttons above the fold
Another great way to increase user engagement is by adding easy-to-use share buttons just before the content.
A Google study found that elements above the fold get 68% median viewability while contents below the fold get only 40% median viewability.
Such elements could be display ads, banner ads, or share buttons. It is, therefore, ideal to place your share buttons just before the content to increase shares.
Alternatively, you can use floating share buttons but on desktops only. Using them on mobile devices can cover parts of the content and create a poor user experience.
Wrapping it up!!!
You might have a great piece of content, but if you do not structure it well or make it stand out, it will just float among the mediocre pieces of content out there.
Take your time to craft an awesome meta title and meta description, use the right CTA, and use appropriate multimedia among other things to make your content stand out.