20 Tasks Before You Hit Publish
Content publishing is easy right? After all you have done your keyword research and content creation; how hard can it be to hit ‘Publish’? Well, there are plenty of moving parts and without a checklist to keep you on track, you could be repeating the same mistakes again and again. What differentiates a great organization from a good one is repeatable processes and a checklist is just the start. So here is the content publishing checklist with 20 things to do before you hit ‘Publish’.
You can use any of our Infographics in your site with a link-back to us.
1. Is my Heading Click Worthy?
We often get carried away with using keywords in our title and sometimes forget how a typical viewer perceives the heading. There is a sea of information in both search engine land and social media land. There are 2 ways you can stand out:
- Using an image (Search engines do not display images in their search results unless it is an image search of course.)
- Making your heading engaging, click worthy and maybe even curious.
You can include a buzz word or two like top, best, tips etc. You can also use words to create an emotional connection with the viewer. For example, your heading may contain the phrase – ‘the sad truth’.
2. Does my Content have a Direction?
In short one direction, not the boy band but your content needs a single direction. What is the main take away of the content? Will viewers read my content and get my message or will they think ‘what was that all about’? Be clear and concise about your main objective and use sub objectives to get there.
3. Do I have a Call to Action?
Every piece of content needs a call to action. You need to clearly tell viewers what to do when they finish reading your content. This could be leaving a comment, an email subscription, a social share or a sale. You might also have specific posts that ask users to download an eBook or register for a webinar. Don’t ask your readers to do multiple things in a single post rather ask them to take one action. You can vary your call to action in different posts.
4. Is my Content Useful?
This is a question you need to answer honestly from a reader’s point of view. Is this piece of content worthy of the reader’s time? Is there a value or a lesson to the person consuming the content? Of course, you should have asked this question even before producing the content but it is always better to tick this off in your checklist.
Smart marketing starts with producing helpful content – Jay Bear.
5. Are there Errors in my Content?
This is quality content 101. If your content has grammatical errors or spelling mistakes then it is a massive barrier or turn off to the reader. Finish your post, take a break or sleep on it before reviewing it; read out load if you have to. Use Microsoft Word or similar to write your content instead of WordPress to catch errors. You can also use a plugin like TinyMCE to help with grammar and spelling.
6. Do I have Engaging Images?
I have started to consume a lot of content from the start of my blogging journey; some are worth the read and some are not. A quick 5 second check I do to see if the content is engaging:
- Is the text formatted and
- Does it catch my eye or attention?
We will get to formatted text later but the only thing that can make people stop and take note is an eye catching image. Now I am not a scanner but there are many who are. Don’t just wack any old image on your post, take the time to find an image that portrays your message. Here is a Visual guide to 28 free image sources that can help you.
7. Is there a Featured Image?
I often forget to assign a featured image for my posts and hence it is in my checklist. The featured image may work differently based on the theme you are using but nevertheless a good check to have.
8. Do I have Sub Headings?
Break your post into sub headings as this will help readability. You don’t want to be just having a wall of text. Remember, the sub objectives or supporting pointers? Sub headings are a great way to cover these. When people say provide a better user experience; it does not have to be animation or graphics but could simply be readable text with sub headings.
9. Have I Formatted my Text?
Each of the pointers in this post are sub headings and have 3 to 5 lines. You can also use the following:
- Bold text to highlight things
- Use italics
- Use underlines,
- Colored text and so on, to break the content so it is easy on the eye.
10. Are my Images Optimized?
We all know how hard it is to rank for keywords but the competition is slightly less for images. When you search for anything in Google you also see images matching the search term. Search engines do not know what is in the image and they go by the information you provide about the image in the ALT tag and image file name. Try and keep the ALT tag more descriptive than the image name.
So the file name might be: ‘performance improvement’;
where as the ALT tag might be: ‘Website-performance-improvement-tips-image’.
11. Do I have Internal & External Links?
This is a very important check and easy to forget. There is no hard and fast rule as to how many links you should have and it varies depending on the content length. The key is to have natural links rather than forced. Internal links will help promote your content and keep readers in your site while external links can point to additional or backup information.
12. Have I Set-up Tags and Categories?
It is easy to forget tags and categories for a post but this is an awesome way to build index-able links. This just means more keywords that have a direct URL from your site. For example, a category on this site is blogging tips and the URL looks like – https://yourescapefrom9to5.com/category/online-business/blogging-tips. Now there are arguments for and against this from an SEO perspective but that is a debatable topic. From a user experience perspective, tags and categories make content easier to find especially when you have built up your content library.
13. Are my Meta Information Correct?
Some plugins like ‘All in One SEO’ make this task easy but you still want to check this information. The character limit for the title is 60 and 160 for the description. You don’t want text to be cut off so you always have to check to make sure you are happy with it. Search engines display the title and description in the search results so make sure the description is punchy to get more clicks.
14. Am I Happy with the URL?
Traditionally, your URL matches your title by default, depending on the content management platform you are using. But if you have changed your title mid-way through the draft stage of your post; you have to manually change the URL to match the new title. Beware of changing the URL after you have published the post as there may be links that are pointing to the old URL. This could be links to your post in social media. If you need to change something – either you can simply change the title and not the URL or put a soft redirect using a plugin. A redirect simply tells web browsers and search bots that the page has moved to a new URL so they know where to find it.
15. Have I Targeted One or Two Keywords?
Some people start their content creation with keywords and some end with it. This item on our checklist is for the latter group. Sometimes it is hard to have keywords and a click worthy title and you may have to compromise on one. Don’t go overboard with keywords and use them sparingly in your heading, sub heading and content. Use Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) Keywords or similar keywords where possible.
16. Did I Use an Expert’s Reference?
This does not have to be an Expert’s quote and could be a statistic to back up your point; having something like this gives your content substance and credibility. If you do use an expert’s opinion then you can hit them up in social media when sharing and with a bit of luck they may share your content.
17. Do I have an Intro and a Conclusion?
Some of my earlier posts don’t have a conclusion and now I make it a point to wrap things up in 3 to 4 lines. Scanners can be turned into readers at 3 potential locations. Engaging image is one, intro and conclusion are the other two. You can also call for an action in the conclusion to get more sharing, comments or subscribers.
18. Have I Previewed my Post?
Always preview your post before you go live. You could be blogging on your own site or guest blogging where the look, feel and theme may all be different. Don’t publish a guest post without prior permission. You may have to submit for final review and the site owner might be the one to publish the post.
19. Is my Post Scheduled?
If you do not publish posts and prefer scheduling to go live on a pre-determined time slot then check the scheduled date and time. Many established blogs do this as they have plenty of posts to publish and work through. Some new bloggers may also do this due to time zone differences in various countries.
20. Do I have a Marketing Plan?
Last but not least, the success of your post depends on having a marketing plan. Typical new blogger syndrome dictates you drop links into your social media profiles and start looking for your next topic. All that has been done up to this point is to make sure viewers read your content but this last step is what will get people to visit your site. A marketing checklist may include submitting to content syndication sites, sending subscriber emails, following up influencers in social media, using social media groups and tags. This point is a whole new topic on its own but it is included here as an important reminder.
Go forth and hit the ‘Publish’ button, don’t be scared, after all you have gone through a checklist. Use this list, create your own or better yet add to it.