Blog Post Checklist: 16 Things Every Blog Post Must Have Before You Hit Publish

by Mercy Mmbone / 8 comments

Blog post checklist

I love SEO.

I enjoy writing search engine optimized content. When I was new to writing, I thought SEO writing was all about keyword stuffing.

However, this strategy didn’t take me far.

But don’t get me wrong, keywords are still crucial for SEO. However, the days when keywords used to make all the difference are long gone. Search engines are becoming more sophisticated and meaning, rather than just keywords, is increasingly becoming important.

In fact, a research conducted by SEMrush revealed that up to 18% of top-ranked web pages did not even have the searched keywords.

You’ve got to do more than just use keywords or write long-form articles to rank high on search engines and be read.

If you’re a new or seasoned blogger, don’t hit publish before you check out this blog post checklist.


1. A catchy title

The title is the selling point of your article. More often than not, it’s what readers will see first. And just by looking at it, they’ll judge the rest of your work.

If you doubt me, consider your own search habits. Don’t you scan the search results looking for something that’s both relevant and interesting? I thought so.

It’s practically pointless to write the most interesting article in the world and then cap it with a mediocre headline. A drab article with an attention-grabbing headline will get more clicks.

To get your blog post read and widely shared, spend a good amount of time crafting a catchy title. Change it as many times as you wish until you’re satisfied that it’ll make the sort of impact that you’re hoping for.

A few tricks that might help you coin a riveting, attention-grabbing or thought-provoking headlines are” numbers, engaging adjectives like “unique”, “incredible” and “strange”, and trigger words like “how”, “what” and “why.”


2. Eye-catching introduction

A catchy title will entice people to click your article. However, is that the only thing you want your visitors to do? I hope not. But if you don’t follow it up with a powerful introduction, your readers will bolt out.

A reader has got to be hooked early on. And aim to do that with the opening sentence.

How about starting by sharing a shocking fact or stat? Sensationalism sells like hotcakes.

Another proven way to open your post with a bang is to ask a thought-provoking question. Something that will get your readers thinking as you begin to deliver what you promised in the headline.

You can also start by debunking conventional wisdom. Debunking convention wisdom goes against the grain and will certainly get you some attention.


3. Optimize your post for long-tail Keywords

Long tail keywords

The aim of using long-tail keywords is to cut down competition and attract a specific audience that you are actually looking for.

Let no one lie to you: SEO doesn’t work immediately. On average, it’ll take about 4 to 6 months for someone to start seeing results. And when you are only using short keywords, it takes longer. There’s just too much competition for shorter keywords.

A long-tail keyword is more specific, and as the name suggests, longer. They may not attract as much traffic as shorter keywords, but they attract better traffic and can actually help you outrank your competition.

For instance, ranking high for keywords like “SEO expert” may be a tall order. Using a long-tail keyword like “freelance writer and blogger for hire” is far much effective.


4. User-friendly content – Short sentences, short paragraphs, simple words

Nothing turns off a reader faster than blocks of text and long sentences. They are just a pain in the neck and reading is supposed to be easy and even fun.

Shorter sentences and paragraphs are far easier to read and understand. An average sentence length of between 20 and 25 words is advisable. Then, let your paragraphs be just a couple of sentences long.

Lastly, no one wants to read your blog post with a dictionary. Your words should be able to communicate the message but at the same time be simple enough to be easily understood.


5. Featured image

If you aren’t sure what a featured image is, it’s that image that’s displayed at the top of a blog post. It’s also the image that accompanies the title of a blog post when it’s shared on social media.

Featured images are particularly common in WordPress blogs.

They make articles more appealing to read and complement the message. In fact, research has shown that blog posts with images attract 94% more views than those without images.


6. SEO-optimized Images

SEO-optiized image


As you optimize your content for search, do not neglect your images. They are also part of the content.

So, how does someone optimize images for SEO?

Firstly, you obviously want to choose relevant images that go with the message of your article.

Secondly, use keyword-rich descriptive names for your images. That way, Google will have an easier time locating them.

Thirdly, compress your images as much as possible without compromising on their quality. Low file-size images load faster which is good for SEO.

Fourthly, include an alt-text (alternative text) with your keywords to further describe your images, especially when they are unable to load for one reason or another.

Lastly, create image sitemaps if possible. Image sitemaps, also provide search engines with more information about images.


7. Internal linking

Internal linking is an SEO tactic that you should constantly leverage to boost the SEO performance of your posts.

Google normally uses internal links to navigate through the pages of a website and figure out the relative importance of each page. The more the number of internal links pointing to a page, the more authority that page wields.

When internal links are created in authority pages, the authority of such pages is distributed among those links.

Therefore, you can give your new blog post a massive SEO boost by pointing to it from your authority page.


8. External linking to authoritative sites

Many bloggers don’t want to link out to other sites in their niche because they think such links will hurt their rankings. However, those fears are mostly unfounded.

While external links can help the sites you’re pointing to, they also boost your site because external links constitute a ranking signal. Google wants to give its users the best user experience and will return pages that contain links to resourceful sites.

Moreover, when you link out to other sites, those sites may return the favor. In that case, it becomes a win-win situation.


9. Sub-heads

If your article is long, use subheadings to break up the text. And by long, I mean an article that’s more than 150 words long.

Subheadings keep the reader going because the article becomes much easier to read and digest. By standing out, they help the reader take note of the main points.

Moreover, some readers may just want to skim your post. Others may be looking for something specific. In such cases, subheadings will draw their attention to what they are looking for.


10. SEO-friendly URL

URLs with keywords are SEO-friendly because they facilitate a better crawling experience for search engine bots. That’s why URL is a crucial ranking factor.

SEO-friendly URLs also give humans a better user experience since they accurately describe their destinations.

For instance, the URL of this content clearly shows the title of this blog post. Such a URL can also act as its own anchor text when used as a link in other domains across the internet.

URL 1:

Contrast it with the one below. There is simply no telling what to expect with “123456”.

URL 2:

Therefore, it’s always wise to customize your URL to include your keywords.


11. Categories and tags

Using categories and tags to sort your blog posts into topics in a WordPress blog can facilitate greater engagement with your content and even increased traffic to your blog.

These are key navigational elements to both search engines and readers. A well-structured category and tagging system will give your readers a great user experience.

Use categories to group the main topic of your blog and tags to fine-tune those categories.

For instance, if you are reviewing electronics in your blog, your categories could be “computers”, “cellphones”, “digital cameras”, “tablets” and “webcams.” One tag could be something like an “iPhone X.”


12. Check your HTML – H1, H2, H3

Header tags may not wield as much SEO power as they once did. However, they are still key elements of on-page SEO and should not be ignored.

When a search engine wants to understand the contents of your website, it reads your header tags. Therefore, if you fail to include these tags in your post, you reduce your chances of being found and indexed for your keywords.

Header tags are hierarchical and span from H1 to H6. However, H1, H2 and H3 are the most important for SEO. The H1 tag is the title tag and should include the title of your post. H2 is a subheading tag. H3 is a subheading tag of the H2 tag. For best results make sure that your title tags carry your targeted keywords.


13. Give Value

Will your ideal reader find value in what you’ve written?

Let’s face it: if you want to attract traffic, carve an audience and make money from your blog, you have no choice but to provide value to your readers.

Luckily, valuable posts can take various forms.

For instance, you can review products. Many people want to read about other people’s experiences with a product before making a purchasing decision. According to a 2017 survey by Podium,  93% of consumers say that their purchase decisions are influenced by online reviews.


consumer reviews

How-to posts also sell because many online searchers are looking for solutions to pressing problems

Finally, you can be resourceful by providing your readers with checklists, workbooks or even recipes.


14. A conclusion

Few things frustrate bloggers more than writing a conclusion. Sometimes, you can write the perfect article but lack words to wrap it up.

Nonetheless, including a conclusion is important if you don’t want your post to have a flat ending.

It’s your chance to recap your main ideas and give your readers key takeaways. It’s also the best place to include a call to action. Be brief, be real and provide a disclaimer if you think you might be misconstrued.


15. Call to action

Don’t assume that your readers will automatically engage with your content. If you want them to comment or share your post or subscribe to your list, invite them to do it. However, the call-to-action shouldn’t appear forced. Make it a natural part of your blog post.

For example, to get your readers to comment, you can leave something out and ask readers to add what you didn’t cover. Alternatively, you can end with a personal question to your readers related to your article.


16. Decide On the Best Time to Publish

Publishing your post at the right time can help you generate tremendous traffic to your blog and may just be as important as an effective SEO strategy.

So, what is the best time to publish a post?

There is no one-size-fits-all approach. It basically depends on what you post is about. The best time is when the largest number of your target readers is active online.

For example, if you review cellphones, you want to beat your competition by being the first blogger to publish a review of the latest cellphone in the market. In such a case, your blog will attract virtually all the initial traffic generated by interested buyers.

A tool like Google Analytics can help you figure out when you target audience is most active online and schedule your posts effectively.




There you go!

With this blog post checklist, you should be able to not only write an interesting and valuable article but also optimize your content for SEO to attract your target readers.

Be sure to bookmark this content to always review it as you write each articles so that nothing important is left out.


What did I miss? Please let me know in the comments section!
    • Mercy MmboneSteve
    • March 9, 2018

    Great article

    • Reply

      Thank you Steve, I’m glad you liked the article.

  1. Reply

    This post has opened my eyes. Not that I was blind but some of the important things discussed here I didn’t know whether they matter a lot.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply

      Thank you for reading the post, Boniface. I’m happy this has been an eye opener for you.

  2. Reply

    it was such a useful information. As I am a Digital marketer so it is very useful for me

    • Mercy MmboneOlive
    • March 30, 2018

    I’m enlightened, thank you.

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