Good WordPress blogging is not about mass production of mediocre articles. Nor is it simply writing about things you love. Use these detailed guidelines as a starting point in proofing and improving your new blog posts. The checklist touches on various parts of a blog post – content, title, formatting, hyperlinks and URL structure.
As bloggers now know, the days of hastily written, low-quality articles are gone. Your blog needs to have only top-notch content if you want it to thrive in today’s Web. Sure, you can’t expect all of your posts to rank high in search engines or go viral on social media. But everything you publish makes a statement about the quality of your blog as a whole. Don’t post anything in a hurry. Run a quality check before you hit the “Publish” button. The following checklist assumes you use WordPress, but the same principles should work no matter what blogging software you use.
An initial draft of a WordPress blog post is seldom ready to be published. If you look hard enough, you should find something there that needs to be corrected, deleted, or improved upon. Go over the content and ask yourself what you can do to make it better. If it is hard for you to judge your own work, show it to someone you trust and ask for their honest critique.
While reviewing the content of your post, either on your own or with a friend, ask questions such as:
- Is this article worth publishing on my site?
- Is it an original work, or did I knowingly copy from someone else (even myself)?
- Did I put real effort into it, or was it hastily made?
- Is this post suitable for my target audience?
- Does it have a strong introduction?
- Is it rambling or straightforward?
- How would I feel if I had to put my real name in the author byline? (For those who publish anonymously)
- Have I cited authoritative sources to back up any claims?
- How does this article measure up against the competition?
- What can I do to improve this post?
- If it is text, does it contain “fillers” to meet a minimum word count?
- If it is text, are there misspellings or incorrect grammar?
- If multimedia is included in the post, is it of poor or high quality?
- If I’ve used copyrighted material, do I have permission to use it and have I given proper attribution?
WordPress saves multiple versions of each post. If you regret any changes you make, you can go back to an earlier revision. Open the post in the editor, click “Screen Options” and check the “Revisions” box to access this feature.
Speaking of content, you may like my article on effective content: The Four Parts of Effective Content.
The title of your post is very important. More often than not, search engines use a page title as the clickable link for that page. A well-targeted title will attract more clicks than a poorly written title (or no title at all). Even if your post doesn’t make it to the top spot in a search result, it can still grab a searcher’s attention if it has the right title. Also, if you have a built-in search engine that lets visitors search your site, good titling will help them find what they need.
Remember these rules when writing your blog post title:
- Make every post/page title on your site unique.
- Keep your target keywords in the beginning or middle of a post.
- Limit a title to no more than 60 or 65 characters if possible. (Long titles may get truncated by Google.)
- Use proper capitalization.
- Choose an appealing title that will make people want to see the rest of the article.
- Avoid phrases or words that may mislead the reader or exaggerate the contents of the post.
Usually, the title you enter in the WordPress post editor will become the page title. Some SEO plugins may let you enter a different title from what appears on the post page itself; but even if a plugin can do that, it does not guarantee that search engines will use the title you want.
3. Blog Posts URL
The URL of a WordPress post depends on the site’s permalink settings. For SEO and aesthetic purposes, use the post name as the post URL or slug. Don’t use dates or numbers. To change the permalink settings, go to the “Permalinks” section of the admin dashboard and choose “Post name.”
From then on when you write a new post, WordPress will use the title you enter as the slug. You can change this anytime by clicking the slug and editing it. Use your desired keywords in the post URL, separating words with dashes. Like the post title, the slug shouldn’t be too long. Settle on a URL wisely. Once you publish that post, you must not change it. Switching URLs may cause you to lose hard-earned back links.
There are two types of links you can insert in a post: internal links or links that take the reader to other pages/posts on your site, and external links that point to other websites. Every post you make should have at least one internal link (if possible). You want your content to be interconnected. If a particular post fails to deliver, internal links can give you a second chance to serve the visitor. It’s like saying, “If this page doesn’t help you, maybe these other ones can.”
Don’t be afraid to add outgoing links to your post if you think those links could help your readers. Linking to other sites shows you care more about your blog followers than SEO or making money. But link to quality websites only! Do not exchange links with questionable sites or join a link-building community. Think of a link as a referral or vote. If you link to just anybody in return for a favor, you sell yourself out.
You could have killer content in your latest WordPress entry, but few would bother to read it if it were poorly formatted. So how do you make words look good in a blog?
First, if your blog is text-oriented, use a typography-centered theme. A typography theme is designed to make your posts look inviting to read. Everything from margins to fonts, line spacing, and colors help draw visitors’ attention to your writing. The WordPress marketplace abounds in superb professionally made themes, and there are even free ones that are excellent. You can even create your own if you know how to 😉
Second, use formatting elements in the WordPress post editor to “dress up” plain text. Use headings to divide long articles into segments. Keep paragraphs short and sweet. When you need to itemize things, lay them out on a table or a list. If you want to emphasize certain words or phrases, highlight them with bold formatting or alert boxes (You would need a WordPress alert box plugin for the latter). Create original pictures, videos and charts to illustrate your ideas more clearly.
Admittedly, putting your work through a quality check like this will take time. You may end up publishing fewer posts than you want in a given time-frame. But unless you have a pressing deadline, slowing down a bit for the sake of a higher standard is worthwhile. Quantity can be built up over time, yet skip on quality now and you may regret it later.