Effective content marketing and writing for the Web takes skill. It’s not as easy as writing a blog post.
The work doesn’t stop when you’ve written the article or post. The distribution channels you’ve developed and relationships you’ve cultivated over the years (read: reach and impact) affect the success of your content. It’s equally important to track your results and report back to your brand or agency partners.
But I’ll cover distribution and reporting another day. Here are the bare bones you must do before you hit that “publish” button:
- Your headline is key. Make sure it’s compelling, captures attention and clearly explains the value your post delivers. Cute but unclear won’t cut it.
- Make your post 300 to 700 words—no more, no less.
- Images are important. Sometimes an image is what makes me read a post, so be sure to include one.
- Your first paragraph is important. Make sure it’s short and compelling, and delivers the key message of the post.
- Cite your sources, and make sure you link any claims to clear sources.
Search engine optimization:
- Your headline must be 60 characters or fewer.
- Your first paragraph must be strong and must include the keyword or keyword phrase from your title.
- Make sure a link in your first sentence or paragraph connects to a related piece from the blog on which you’re publishing.
- Within the body of your post include two to five additional links that connect to relevant material on external sites, as well as to the site on which you’re publishing. Every link in your post should not be to your site. Nor should they be solely to the site your post appears on.
- Make sure your links use text phrases two to five words long and describe where the links lead (i.e. use “writing for bloggers,” not “click here”).
- Use bold subheads in your post for readability.
- Use keywords wisely in your subheads.
- Make sure all images have captions, alt text and titles relevant to your topic.
- Proofread the post aloud before you publish.
- Use contractions. This will help your writing sound conversational.
- If you used needless jargon, ditch it.
- Be 100 percent certain your post delivers what its headline claims, otherwise you’ll annoy your readers.
- Don’t ramble. This is where reading aloud will help you. If your content isn’t on topic, get rid of it.
- Provide valuable action steps instead of vague, empty statements.
- Finish the post with a strong call to action.
- Edit, edit, and edit again.
This is your pre-publish writing checklist. Bookmark it, print it out, tattoo it on your arm. Whatever you do, make sure you keep these tips in mind as you create content for the Web.