7 things you need to do before posting your next blog post

A desk top with a check mark on the screen.

Blogging is hugely valuable to your business. Adding regular content to your blog boosts your SEO and helps position you as an industry expert. In order to generate that traffic to your site, high-quality content and blog posts are crucial.

Below, we’ve listed 7 steps to make your next blog post even more valuable than the last one.

Recommended reading: 7 Different Content Formats: How to Mix It Up

1. Sort out your editorial calendar

Editorial calendars have been a feature of writing teams since publishing began; they’re a great device that saves you a lot of time and systematizes the process of creating content for your blog.

Use an editorial calendar, to prime your content to be released at a time that’s likely to reach maximum engagement. Most content management systems and social platforms have their own analytics, while Google Analytics should be a feature of every business. Which one of your blog posts have the highest views? Most shares and most comments? Use the analytics to establish what posts perform the best.

Review your analytics and establish when your followers are most active. Day or night? What days? Use what you find to publish your post at the right moment. Also, what topics get the best engagement? The data and analytics gives you tons of information on how to perfect your topics as well.

2. Look wider: link your content to bigger timeframes & seasonal events

Once you’ve sussed out the optimum times during the day to post your content, you need to widen your gaze. Now we need find the optimum times during the week, month and year. This helps to keep your content relevant and hit your audience at times when it’s the most appropriate and generate the most engagement.

Some of the things you should think about when designing your editorial calendar are:

  • Global events
  • Industry conventions
  • Anniversaries and commemorative dates
  • Holidays
  • Product launches
  • Monthly round-ups

For example, schedule some content and have it lead up for specific holidays or special occasions, like Black Friday. Reflect what is happening in the news, calendar and popular culture to keep your content topical. With good planning and writing targeted content at the time when a topic is most popular, you introduce your business to a whole new audience.

Planning out your calendar means to be proactive and create well-thought-out content at your own speed, rather than reactively producing poor content against the clock.

3. Do your keyword research and content optimization

SEO has changed and evolved since its early days, but keyword research and content optimization have neither gone away nor become less important. If you want your blog posts to be found in Google searches, research keywords and optimize your content is a must.

Start by creating an SEO checklist before you get down to writing your next blog post. Among the things you should include on your list are:

  • Long-tail keywords – Three or four word terms. These are more specific searches made by your customers. For example, if you are in marketing a short-tail keyword would be “marketing.” A long-tail keyword could be “millennial marketing for Pinterest.” Long-tail keywords are easier to rank for than short-tail ones, as less businesses will be using them. Decide which ones this post should be ranking for
  • URL slug – This is the precise address of a specific website. The more exact your keywords are in it the better the chance your blog post will rank well. Check out this great article for tips on optimizing url slugs
  • Page title – The most important part of on-page SEO. It’s the first thing your readers see in a SERP (Search Engine Results Page) and one of Google’s most important ranking factors. It’s often the difference being your blog post being found or lost forever
  • Image alt text – This is the tag you give your image so that Google can build an association to it. It explains what the image is and what its purpose is in your blog post

You can also use discussion forums like Quora to find out what topics your audience are talking about and the language they’re using. Tools like Google Keyword Planner also lets you know which keywords are valued by the search engines.

Using all of the above features correctly will help you to optimize your content, as Google will take all of these factors into account. You should be writing for both your readers and Google though, so make sure you’re not stuffing keywords into your blog posts to rank well, because you’ll end up isolating readers with poor quality writing. Aim to achieve a balance.

Content optimization means:

  • Fitting your long-tail keywords into specific parts of your posts so that you rank high
  • Including keywords in an organic way throughout your writing so that you don’t isolate readers
  • Making sure that your post reads well. Stay away from excessively long paragraphs and sentences that make readers zone out
  • Checking your post scans well too — could a reader get a feel for your content by skimming through? Have you included enough white space and visual content?
  • Optimizing to make your post mobile-friendly too — readers will appreciate this, as will Google (which displays mobile-friendly results first)

Take all of this into consideration and you will end up with strong content that is optimized for both readers and search engines.

4. Research your competitors

The purpose of your blog post ranking well in search engines is to give it visibility. To gain that traffic, the most important thing is that your target audience sees it before other blog posts in your niche.

Carrying out competitor research is a vital way of turning your rivals into unwitting allies. By reverse engineering the skills that have seen their blog posts rank well, you can then use them to repeat the trick for your own blog.

Using software like SEOquake, you can find out which keywords your competitors are using for their blog posts. For example, say that WordPress is your game and you want to write an article on the best content to use for a blog built on WordPress:

An example of search engine result page.

As you can see, the first result is an article by Neil Patel that focuses on plugins. And this is what we find when running Neil Patel’s article through SEOquake:

Examples and suggestions from result page on SEOquake.
Example of result page from SEOquake

Tools like SEOquake help you to highlight relevant keywords and establish useful patterns. You can see the short-tail and long-tail keyword phrases used by your competitors.

Take inspiration from these and use them to form the title, subheadings, outline, direction, and words for your next blog post. In this case, you might want to include a section about plugins and how they fit into content production.

Keep running with this, stealing the best bits from high ranking content and re-angling it to suit your blog post.

5. Use unique featured images (or at least copyright-free)

Images are a huge part of a successful blog post. Not only do they help with the aesthetics, but they also break up your text, to help readers understand, process and retain information quicker.

Visual elements like images can also help make your post more likely to receive social shares. According to Medium, Facebook posts with images earn 87% of all engagement, and tweets with images earn 18% more clicks, 89% more favorites, and a huge 150% more retweets.

In an ideal world, every blog post you create will feature your own unique images, as these are certain to be in keeping with your brand message and identity. Your best aid for clear and high quality photos is a decent camera and good lighting. And remember, you can always use tools like Canva to help you edit images after and add in your own touches such as color, tone and writing.

This could turn out to be quite time-consuming, but thankfully, we can always look online. But then you need to be sure that you are allowed to use them. By selecting images from a free photo library you can be certain that you aren’t infringing on any copyright laws. This is something that saves you the risk of an expensive lawsuit, which could be enormously damaging to your blog and business. Stock image sites are a great place to pick up attractive, copyright-clean images that will add value to your post.

6. Know your editing objectives

Who checks your blog posts before they’re uploaded to your blog? Regardless of whether it is you or an editor who does the final checks, be clear on what your editing objectives are and how you achieve them.

The different aspects I look at when proofreading and editing are: 

  • Grammar – Are you using the correct regional spellings (US or UK)?
  • Language – Generally, you want your blog post to be at a grade 8 reading level. If you’re unsure whether your blog post meets this then use GiftRocket’s tool to check
  • Title – Is it clear and does it contain a hook?
  • Introduction – Have you summarized your topic in a way that entices your reader?
  • Subheadings – Including these gives your readers to skim your post and find the relevant content at the relevant time
  • Visual content – Have you included imagery to break up your text and enhance your arguments?
  • Conclusion – No, you don’t have to say “in conclusion.” But you do need to make it clear that there is an end to your blog post and a summary of your argument

You might look at some of these parts already, but it’s all of them working together that results in an optimized post.

7. Optimize your post promotion with automation & cross-pollination

Using automation software and tools can save you masses of time, while cross-pollination can help bring your blog post to the attention of a wider audience. Cross pollination is where you distribute one blog post over a range of outlets. These outlets include:

Some of the best automation and cross-pollination tools you can use are:

  • eMarketeerPut your cross-pollination on autopilot. eMarketeer is a marketing automation platform where actions taken by your readers (for example, sign up to receive your blog updates or link clicks) can trigger certain automations (like sending an email or an SMS). It’s simple to schedule and delay your automations, giving you fluidity when posting your content
  • Viral Content Bee This puts you in touch with a community of other bloggers; share their content and they’ll share yours
  • HootsuiteAllows you to schedule your posts on a huge range of social media platforms, and has a handy CSV import tool. This saves you time and you can upload your blog post when your audience actually wants to see it.

There are plenty more tools out there, but these three are a great place to start. Do your research and decide which automation and cross-pollination software works best for you.

While these help you save time and spread your reach, it doesn’t mean you can hand all of your promotion over to a robot (yet). Even big brands like Netflix still engage organically with their readers:

Example of Netflix reply to a tweet from a customer.

Some light-hearted and organic posting shows that your blog personality and that you care about your audience.

The beauty of using automation and cross-pollination tactics is that it frees you up to add more of this real content (like the Netflix tweet above) to your social media accounts. This in turn drives up engagement levels in your audience. Better yet, it increases your chances of them looking out for and sharing your next blog post.

So, there you have it: 7 things that can make your next blog post even better than the last one. Put these tips into practice and you get a blog that’s even more valuable. You rank higher in Google, get better engagement from your followers, and add more value to your readers. All of which helps your bottom line of getting more customers for your business!

What tips do you have to make your blog a success?

I create and share ecommerce and marketing content for entrepreneurs and business owners alike. I’m especially interested in how content marketing drives business and sales, and I hope to be able to help you achieve the same.

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