Ever wondered if professional bloggers have some sort of checklist that they use before publishing their blog posts? Yup most of them do. In this article, I’ll share my 14-point blog post checklist that you should use before you hit publish.
If you follow this blogging checklist, you will minimize errors and ensure maximum benefits.
At the end of this article, I’ve also shared a tool that you can use to prevent accidental publishing as well as a PDF download of this checklist that you can give to your writers.
[yellowbox]Exclusive Bonus: Download The Blog Post Checklist to use before you hit publish.[/yellowbox]
Having that said here’s my blog post checklist that I use before publishing a post.
1. Do You Have a Catchy Title?
If you don’t have a catchy title, then chances are that your blog post will not be read or shared by many.
Just like you would ignore a book with a bad cover, people ignore blog posts with bad titles. Yup we’re shallow.
Before you publish your blog post, make sure that your headline is catchy.
The best way to find out is to run your headline through EMV headline analyzer to find the emotional marketing value of your headline.
You can also use Headline Analyzer by CoSchedule which also gives tips on how to improve your headline.
2. Make Sure Your SEO Title is Under 60 Characters
Usually your blog post title and SEO title is the same, so you need to make sure that it is less than 60 characters long.
Why? If it’s not, then Google and other search engines will cut it off like this:
That’s why I always try to make my SEO titles the right length. In some cases, my SEO title and blog post title may be a little different to meet the character limit (for example this post)
If you’re not using Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, then I highly recommend that you do so because it has a preview area that shows you how your title will be displayed in Google.
3. Do you have a Meta Description?
Meta description is the short description that search engines and social networks display below your post title.
If you don’t write a custom meta description, then search engines simply grab the first few sentences and cut it off which doesn’t look very good.
That’s why you should write a custom meta description that’s under 160 characters long.
Again, use Yoast SEO plugin if you aren’t doing so already.
4. Is your Focus Keyword in Title, Description, and Post Content?
Whenever you are writing an article, it should have a central theme also known as focus keyword.
You need to make sure that your title, meta description, and your post content includes the focus keyword that you are trying to rank for.
For example: the focus keyword of this article would be blog post checklist.
You could manually read your article, use Ctrl + F to find how many times you mentioned the focus keyword, or you could use Yoast SEO plugin which automatically tell you all this.
If you aren’t getting the theme already, I love Yoast SEO plugin and even use their premium version.
5. Do you have related keyword variations in your article?
Often beginners make the mistake of keyword stuffing their article. Don’t do that!
Instead what you should do is write in natural language and make sure that you add related keyword variations in your article.
To do this, you need to Google your main keyword, scroll down and look at searches related to … section.
This is one of the ninja blog tactics in most SEO’s on-page blog post checklist.
6. Are you interlinking your blog posts?
Interlinking is great for both SEO because it helps with increasing pageviews and reducing bounce rate.
In every post you write, you should try to interlink at least 1 – 2 of your previous articles.
This is hard at first, but becomes easier as you write more content on your site.
7. Make sure all external links open in a new window
Having external links that helps your user learn more about the topic is great and helpful.
However if that comes at an expense of user leaving your site by clicking on that link, now that sucks.
To prevent that from happening, you should always open all external links in a new window.
This will reduce bounce rate from your own site when linking to external resources.
8. Add proper image credits and sources
When I first started blogging, I didn’t care much for image credits and sources. I would basically google the image, find the first one I see, and add it in my article.
DON’T DO THAT! —- You’ll regret it later.
You should make sure that you have added proper credits and sources for your images.
I personally use Shutterstock for a lot of my images now. I bought their subscription and honestly one of the best investments I made for my blog.
Here are few other royalty free image resources that are completely free.
9. Do your images have alt tags?
Make sure that all the images that you add have proper alt tags.
This helps with accessibility and image SEO. I won’t write too much about this.
Read more: Image Alt Text vs Image Title Tag
10. Check post thumbnail for proper social media dimensions
First, make sure that your post has a thumbnail.
Second, make sure that it is the right dimension for Facebook, Google+, Twitter Cards, etc.
Since each network has different image sizes, I find that if you’re over 500px by 300px – you’re good to go.
If your theme has a smaller thumbnail size, then you can upload a separate thumbnail image for Facebook, Twitter, etc by using Yoast SEO plugin’s social setting.
11. Do you have proper sections (h2, h3, lists, formatting?)
You need to make sure that your blog post is easy to read.
Headings (h2, h3 tags), lists, bold, italicize, short paragraphs, and other formatting can help with the overall reading experience.
Make sure that your article is easy to read.
12. Check for call-to-actions
Does your post have a call-to-action?
Usually at the end of the blog post, you should ask your readers to comment on your blog post, purchase your product, follow you on social media, etc.
My favorite call-to-action these days is a content upgrade which you can see in this post as well. Here’s some numbers on how this helps me increase conversions by 845%.
Whatever your call-to-action is, make sure it is there!
13. Add categories and tags
It sucks when you publish a post and completely forget to set a category. In which case it shows as uncategorized.
That’s why it’s always recommended that you add your post to a category and add relevant tags.
Read more: Categories vs Tags – Best practices
14. Preview and Test
Last thing before you publish, you should preview the post to see how it looks on your website.
Click through the links to see they all work and make sure all images and formatting are good.
Once you do that, go ahead and publish.
I know you’re probably wondering if there’s an easier way to put this system in place without sending people to Syed’s blog post.
Yes, there is (actually two easy ways).
If you’re using WordPress, then you can use this free plugin called Pre-Publish Post Checklist.
It allows you to create a checklist in your WordPress posts area and would not allow you to publish a post unless all items are checked off.
Alternatively, some folks may prefer a PDF download of the checklist, so I created one for you:
I hope this article helped you create a blog post checklist that you can use when you publish your next post. This list will help you avoid a lot of those silly publishing accidents.
If you liked this article, then please consider sharing it with your friends and leaving a comment below.
Also make sure you’re following me on Twitter because I share tons of awesome resources there.
Thank you for posting this! This article is a great resource! I took notes and will definitely be using the Blog Post Checklist for future posts.
Thanks for leaving a comment Morgan, and I’m glad you found the checklist helpful.
This is one of the best ‘to the point’, ‘succinct’, ‘action based’ articles on Blogging that I have seen in a long time – I will be emailing a link to this article to all my customers who keep asking ‘why are we not being found when a search for XYZ’
Well done Syed…
Thanks Dave – glad you liked it 🙂
Thank you so much for so generously sharing very important information about having and using a checklist before hitting the publish button. It was very educational to me. I am a new blogger, so your tips were new to me. I certainly will be using them!
Please feel free to include me on your email list. I like your stuff.
You’re welcome Sage – glad you liked it.
Thanks for sharing such wonderful information i have just started blogging and i find your posts very useful for my blog.
I am starting to rely on you as I am a newbie and the learning curve in front of me gets overwhelming at times.
I tried the “Pre-publish” plug in last night. Unfortunately, it appears not to be compatible or work with the current version of WP. Used it while writing a blog post and unfortunately, the site froze. I attributed that to the plug in. I lost the post as it would not let me “save draft” (but was able to reconstruct it from memory). I uninstalled this plug in and everything works fine.
Just an FYI.
Thank you very much Syed. I have book marked your post and will be going back to it many times. This the kind of help I need thanks again.
Thanks for commenting George. Glad you found it useful 🙂
Great article. My readers are very confused by SEO but you make it understandable. I’m bookmarking this.
Thanks for commenting Janice. Glad I can add value 🙂
Thanks a lot for the comprehensive checklist to follow when writing a post. It’s surely very instructive guide. I have joined your list.
I really appreciate the effort.
Thanks for leaving a comment Isa. Glad you enjoyed the post 🙂
thanks for sharing your Blog Post Checklist, but the download link is dead (Firefox, WIN 7): http://screencloud.net/v/taB3
Could you please fix it? Thx!
Disable AdblockPlus so you can see the modal box 🙂
Great tips. Those should be follow to make blog be better. Tks for showing.
Awesome checklist, downloaded and shared with my social circle.
Thank you for this info! It is exactly what I was looking for!
FYI – the link to “download” your checklist takes you to the same page.
Also, when I enter my email address, I don’t see the follow-up emails in my Inbox. So…the Download Now button is misleading. I haven’t been able to get your checklist or toolkit even though I’ve provided my name an email address.
Is there something I should do differently? Please let me know!
The download link opens a popup. If you’re not seeing the popup, then you’re probably using adblock, so I ask that you whitelist my site. Once you submit the popup, in the thank you message, you’ll see the link.
If you’re not seeing my toolkit, then please check your spam folder. Sometimes the emails end up going there.
This article was huge for us. We’re already doing 80% of it but the other 20% we were not doing. Cant wait to start employing some of your blog post tactics right away.
Thanks for the tips.
I am getting back to writing and blogging this year, after going through past experience of having a blog that I updated infrequently. Your article and checklist make the process simple and blogging less of a task.
Happy to help Nikhil 🙂
Although, I was aware of all the points mentioned above but this guide will help me a lot the next time I hit my publish button. So thanks for the useful check list. Syed I want to ask you a question. At the last paragraph of this post you have attached a PDF file but to get it downloaded one have to enter his email id and name. I want to know the plugin you used for it. Your reply will be highly appreciated.
I’m using one of my own plugins, OptinMonster – http://optinmonster.com/
The feature is called MonsterLinks and I have written about here highlighting how well it works.
I too had the same question. I just checked optinmonster, what a awesome plugin. And even I know most of things you mentioned, Social media dimension is new to me and I just started using it in my blog. Thank you Syed.
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Thank you for posting this! This article is a great resource!
useful and helpful info Syed just discoverd This blog I thought u have only http://www.wpbeginner.com/ , will follow your updates thanks
Thank you 🙂
I just learnt something new today syed balkhi
Awesome – happy to help 🙂
Best post, i will check out All this…
i like #11
The advice is solid. And repurposing the same content into downloadable PDF lead magnets is also well and good.
But you’ve managed to hit my pet peeve: Not clearly stating that the price of admission is subscribing to the newsletter.
Some people will believe that the name and email address is a form of proof that they are human and not bots. And when they end up on a list they didn’t ask for? They become the opposite of a fan. They now have a negative impression of your brand.
On our family business site, we offer post-specific lead magnets on our most popular posts. And we ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS clearly state in the signup form that they are subscribing to the newsletter. They may very well still forget that when they get the first or second email, but they have been clearly informed and we tell them again in the newsletter that they are receiving this email because they subscribed on our site.
Even without double-optin, this best practice ensures that people know they’re going to get yet another email in their inbox just for agreeing to download the PDF.
It’s just the right thing to do.
I’am replying to you Daniel because i endorse your comment, i do think the same.
To respect people you have to tell them that they will need to subscribe to a mailing list to download a guide.
I felt somehow manipulated this time even though in wpbeginner website it didn’t happen…
However thank you so much Syed for the grat article.
Thanks Syed for covering up all these impressive checklists. And thanks for letting me know confirm that I am doing right till now for my blog. Following your checklists I came to know about one new task for my future posts that are “Call-to-action”.
I will surely look into it and will implement it on my blog too. Again thanks for sharing such informative piece of article with us.
Dear Syed Balkhi,
Do you not think you have missed a lot of things?
140 words tweet, YouTube video to increase time on site and a lot of think?
P. S Thanks a lot for the post
This is great to the point information. I’m running a personal experiment this year with a new blog/website. My question is about #8. I (like you do) purchase my images. Do you still recommend giving credit to the site you purchase them from? I didn’t think I needed to do that since I purchased them.
There’s definately a lot tto learn about thuis issue.
I like aall the poiknts you’ve made.
Thank you for the post I enjoyed reading it and have learnt some new stuff.
Thank you sir, This is very helpful to create perfection of a blogpost, Specially for beginners as me.
Really insightful and v helpful. Thank you!
Hi Syed, this is a great post, thanks for sharing your knowledge. You may want to check the PDF link though, as it’s linking to ‘#’ at the moment.