12 things to check BEFORE you publish your next Second Life blog post
Have you ever published a post only to remember a bunch of things you wish you’d done before pressing publish? I find that one of the most annoying things about blogging is knowing what to do, but forgetting to do it. As blogging gets more and more complicated however, it’s really tough to remember everything. Instead of wracking my unreliable brain before I hit the publish button (and inevitably missing something important), I now use a blog post PRE-publish checklist and a blog post POST-publish checklist for every blog post I write.
When I made these checklists, I thought it might be useful for other Second Life bloggers who would rather not have to remember every single little thing before they publish a post – and instead use a checklist to help them remember everything – and there is a lot!
So here is my 12-Point Pre-publish Blog Post Checklist. Bookmark this page or download my checklist as a PDF so that you can keep it on your desktop – it’s up to you!
My 12-Point Pre-publish Blog Post Checklist
1. Have you titled the blog post effectively?
Blog post titles are important to get right because they are one of the most important factors influencing search and click-through. Is it catchy? Would it grab you among a listing of other similar blog posts? Is it descriptive? Does it communicate what the post is about? Can you numberise it? Can you make it into a list? Are you promising something in your headline that you are delivering your post? Is it at least 5 words? Does it contain a relevant keyword phrase? I’ve written a post about writing compelling headlines if you want to know more about this.
2. Have you included a compelling and optimised featured image in your blog post?
Featured images are a specific WordPress core function which is great because featured images show on feeds, social media, and lists of blog posts on your own site (e.g. related posts, popular posts and other lists). Have you chosen a featured image that might attract a someone to click on the post? Is it the right size? 640 is typically a minimum width for a featured image. Some themes require larger ones (e.g. SL Blogger Support’s theme likes featured images that are about 1200 pixels wide), so check your theme specifications to find what the theme developers recommend. Is it a JPG (did you know you can often shave 75% off your image memory size by converting PNGs to JPGs alone)? Is the file as light as possible without compromising quality (100kb or less is a good aim). Converting PNGs into JPGs in online image tools like PicMonkey can often address this, but sometimes you might need to further optimise an image using Optimizilla to keep your page speed fast.
3. Have you added Headings to your blog post? (e.g H1, H2, H3)
Headings not only help visitors scan your posts, but they also help search engines understand what your post is about. Google tends to look inside those heading tags to help index your post in its search engine. Have you added at least one heading to your post? And have you got keyword phrases in the headings?
4. Have you written enough body copy in your blog post? (e.g at least 300 words)
I know many bloggers don’t write, which is probably the number one reason they don’t get a lot of visitors finding their posts on search engines. Simply put: If you want to rank there, you need to write, and typically no less than 300 words per post. Have you added your keyword phrase to your content a couple of times? Is the blog post long enough for search engines to index and rank it?
5. Have you linked to other relevant blog posts on your site or other sites?
Links help your visitors find relevant content, they are a search engine factor, and linking to others often compels them to link back to you – increasing your search engine authority and visits to your blog. It’s a good idea to link to other posts you’ve written that relate to the post you are writing now. They can be on your site or elsewhere, just make the links open into a new window so that you have a better chance of keeping your visitor on your site when they’re done with the link. Have you added at least one link in your post? Does the link open a new window?
6. Have you written a descriptive blog post excerpt?
Excerpts are a good feature of WordPress because many themes and feeds will share your excerpt as part of the post snippet on their site. Sometimes the default first 35 words aren’t always best, so handcrafting your excerpts can help attract visitors to visit the post. I tend to copy my description into the excerpt, or vice versa.
7. Have you categorised your blog post?
Categories can be useful for finding related posts later, and for making category-based menu selections should you ever want to. They can also be indexed by search engines. Do it as you go and life will be easier. Also, be careful not to add too many categories, which makes categorisation meaningless. Have you added at least 1 or 2 categories to your post?
8. Have you tagged your blog post?
Both categories and tags can sometimes show up in search engine results and readers (e.g. WordPress Reader) but it’s important to be careful to not to add too many. In fact, adding more than 15 tags and categories might get your post booted off the WordPress reader. Also, to many tags sends a confusing message to search engines (and visitors as well) as to what your blog post is actually about. Have you added around 4 -6 tags per post?
9. Have you optimised the images in your blog post?
Again, search engines can index your images by reading the alt tags. In other words, they can’t tell that you’ve featured a hat in your picture unless you’ve actually added the word ‘hat’ into the alt tags. Just like featured images, try not to burden your visitors with massive file sizes they have to download. Make them JPGs and around 100K or less each. Have you optimised and added alt tags to the images you’ve included?
10. Have you previewed your blog post?
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve published a post to only see an obvious error after I’ve hit the publish button. It drives me nuts and fills me with shame (well, not really, but it does really annoy me). Read your whole post in preview mode so that you can see what it looks like. You’ll still miss errors this way, but hopefully fewer. If you can have someone else read it at least once, so much the better. It really is amazing how blind you can be to your own mistakes. Have you previewed your blog post at least once?
11. Have you checked the spelling and grammar of your blog post?
I know that spelling and grammar isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but visitors and search engines don’t look fondly on misspelled words or grammatical mistakes. If you’d like a safe and easy place to check common grammar mistakes, bookmark Hayley Mullen’s Grammar Cheat Sheet which covers most of the commonest grammar challenges. A spelling and grammar checker is available in WordPress’s Settings > Writing panel, so turn it on and check your post before you hit publish.
12. Have you done some basic Search Engine Optimisation?
Basic SEO includes optimising the PageTitle and Meta Description tags for your post around a focus keyword phrase. WordPress and Blogger platforms don’t give you easy access to meta tagging, but if you self-host, then plugins like Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO have got you covered. If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, then read my post on Second Life Bloggers’ Quick and Easy Guide to SEO . Have you written these meta tags so that search engines can find your post more easily? Have you written the description so that it attracts clicks?
Ok, that’s enough – we’re not launching a rocket here, we’re just publishing a blog post! Here is the checklist as a handy PDF: Canary Beck’s Pre-Publish Blog Post Checklist.
I’ve stripped away all the instructional information I’ve included above and limited it to the bare basics so you can do a quick review of your post before you hit the publish button. I hope you find it useful. If you have any more tips, leave them in the comments so I can include them in future versions of this checklist.
Supplementary tips you might also find useful:
Fashion bloggers cite credits at the end of their posts. I don’t have an opinion about this since I don’t blog about fashion. However, from a visitor’s perspective, I’d like to see fashion posts include often overlooked credits like:
- Posing animations
Cajsa Lilliehook has written a useful post on how to check your photos to makes sure they’re ready for primetime. It’s well worth a look; no need to repeat her advice here.
In my next post, I’ll share my 12-Point Post-publish Blog Post Checklist to help you share your post in all the right places.
Don’t forget to share this post with all your blogger friends!