About to publish that blog? Read this first...
(First published by Beacon in June 2018)
It’s tricky to keep going at full pelt when you’re in an endless loop of creating content > publishing content. So, for all that time and work invested, you want to be making sure that you publish it as ‘efficiently’ as possible when it’s finally ready to be released into the world, reaping the rewards from that point onward.
How many times have you spotted a typo or seen a missing link after hitting the ‘publish’ button...?
...Or realised the auto-generated URL for the page is massively long or prematurely truncated at the end?
All publishing platforms / CMS are different, but here are some universal things you should be doing before you make your latest blog live.
Give your draft a final final proof
You’ve got the draft signed off – great. Getting something over the approval line is often the hardest part. After all that hard work, you need to make sure your content is as polished as possible before your audience sets eyes on it.
Yes, you may be totally sick of the sight of it by this point, but now is the time for a final check for grammar, typos and general layout.
Grammar and typos are pretty self-explanatory, and it’s just good practice to try and eradicate any errors as these can undermine the credibility of the content.
When I say ‘general layout’ though, I mean how the content is broken up on the page – if it’s a blog, for example, does the way the content ‘flows’ facilitate readers being able to actually read it easily?
The ‘scanning patterns’ of people reading content online can really vary (with the ‘F-shape’ being regarded by some as the pattern type to aim for, whilst others recommend you avoid it):
But keeping in mind principles like:
Using bullet points where appropriate
'Bolding up' important words and phrases to draw attention to them
Using headings and subheadings effectively
…can take out a great deal of work for the reader; making it more likely that they'll actually read the majority of the page.
Also, double-check the tone of voice used in the content – is it definitely pitched at the right level for the intended audience? Is it going to resonate? If you can see a mis-match of tone in places, now’s your chance to make a few tweaks.
Fill in the back-end stuff. It’s not a waste of time
The vast majority of content management systems (CMS) will have an SEO-related module or particular tabs which make it fairly straightforward to add all your meta data, meta descriptions, alt-tags (for images), build out your search engine preview snippets, H1s / H2s etc.
Whilst these things won’t dominate where you end up in search engine rankings, everything contributes positively - if done with accuracy and diligence.
I feel like some kind of digital marketing Mary Poppins-type now - but it’s just good practice to fill in this stuff.
In addition, remember to look at the permanent URL link your CMS might auto-generate for each new post – it won’t be creating these with a ‘best’ url in mind. If the url is massively long - make it more succinct. If it’s not specific enough - make it so.
Think about how the url relates to the keywords and phrases your intended readership may be typing into Google...
It’s totally within your gift to craft the URL so it’s fully-optimised from the moment your new blog goes live, so don’t miss your chance to mould this.
Add links… but use your judgement
Enriching a blog post with some related links is a beautiful thing if done with good judgement and some restraint.
There are generally three things you can do when it comes to incorporating links in your blog:
#1 Add internal links
This is a great opportunity to signpost other relevant native content to your readers. Without ‘over-egging the pudding’, see what’s reasonable to link off to (e.g. a related blog).
#2 Add external links
Again, use your judgement before hyperlinking those words.
If you’ve referenced someone or something that’s 100% relevant to your content, fair enough. BUT - try to avoid adding any links which fall into the brackets of ‘manipulative link-building’ – that is, someone offering you money to place a link (or otherwise trying to persuade you to put something in there, when it’s their idea to do so).
Another thing to bear in mind is that Google tends to penalise you if you’re taking money for links.
#3 Add call to action (CTA) link
There may be occasions when adding a CTA-type link or button is appropriate. Some users may read your content and be warmer to the idea of having a conversation about ‘that’ service / product now, register for a regular mailer, or perhaps an event you’re running in the near future.
Creating that content may have been a ploy to get your readers to ultimately do something, but try to avoid adding these devices for the sake of it. Too much, and it can come across as a bit salesy –it may spoil the initial perceived ‘value’ of the blog for the reader…
You’ve put time and effort into creating that blog. How you ‘process’ that content now it’s at publishing stage is ultimately down to you. But why stop making the effort at this last hurdle, when there’s so much to be gained through being a bit more analytical and systematic about it all?