How to optimize WordPress for search engines, Pt. 5

The blogger’s checklist for high-performing posts

The behavior of consumers and businesses alike has changed dramatically over the last decade, driving more and more people online to research their next purchase decision. At one time, it wasn’t uncommon for the sales representative to be the first person to call on a prospect and the prospect had never heard of the solution or the offering the company was selling. Now it’s the norm for the sales representative to be the last point of contact, with the purchase decision almost complete.

As search engines have become a great resource to that research, creating the content to display in those searches has become a focal point of every company’s marketing efforts. Content marketing is key, and instituting a blogging strategy to keep relevant content recent and frequent is a baseline requirement.

With so much content being generated and search algorithms improving, it’s imperative that your blog posts differentiate themselves from the norm.

One single blog post can drive thousands of visitors and hundreds of leads for a very long time. Here’s our ultimate checklist for high-performing blog posts.

Preparing for your next blog post

You’ve got an idea for a post so you start writing, right? Not just yet. There are several preparation steps you can take prior to writing that can have a dramatic impact:

1. Can you embed a YouTube video that helps with the topic? Videos in posts get found in video searches, typically have visitors stay longer, and can explain a complex topic much better than textual content. Even better, you can create your own video.

If you've got a smartphone, you can shoot videos to beef up your blog.
If you’ve got a smartphone, you can shoot videos to beef up your blog.

2. Is there an infographic that you can insert into your post (with permission) that helps to explain the topic further? Infographics are shared a ton socially and can drive great relevant traffic to your site.

3. Are there studies or statistics that you can include and reference in your post? Providing evidence from a third party builds credibility around the topic and shows the reader that you’ve done your homework. Statistics are also great to share socially.

4. Has a competing site already written about the topic? Go find out with a simple search on Google and read the top articles. What are you going to do different with your post that they haven’t done? Perhaps you just need to update the stats, video, or graphics. Perhaps you can add a presentation, a checklist, or additional resources for the reader.

Writing your next blog post

There are multiple elements to every blog post that you should pay attention to in order to drive both traffic and business.

Page title

The page title is the element that is shared on search engine result pages and social shares. We’ve talked about using a WordPress SEO plug-in that will allow you to set your page title different than your post title. Think of it as an advertisement that’s used to compel a user to click through. Utilizing keywords is essential to search engines indexing your article for relevant searches.

Post title

Your post title might be different than your page title if you wish to drive home a more compelling title to ensure readers engage. Your post title also isn’t limited in character length as your page title is.

Positioning your post title as a question, directing it to the reader, and setting expectations are all great strategies to compel someone to read on.

This post is called The blogger’s checklist to high-performing posts. We’re speaking to our audience, setting the expectation of a complete article, and the expectation that it will be a checklist to use.

Post slug

WP5_slugMost people don’t modify the URL slug of the article that they’re sharing on their blog, but we’d recommend it. Making a simple slug can ensure it’s easily shareable and fully displayed within search results. Perhaps for this one, a good slug would be wordpress-blogger-checklist.

Meta description

Again, utilizing an SEO plugin, you should be able to write two to three sentences that expand on the title and set expectations for search and social media users to click through. When we optimize client sites, this is one of the first steps we take to increase click-through rates from search engines. You can learn more about structured data here.

Media

In the preparation stage, you identified some great videos or infographics. Screenshots, charts, or other representative images are imperative to dress up your blog. A great image can dramatically increase click-through rates and sharing with your audience.

cat with calculator
Interesting images boost sharing.

Writing

Aside from spelling and grammar, the style of your blog posts can improve their readability and likelihood that a reader will stay or even do business with you. Utilize strong and emphasis tags on words that you want your reader to hone in on. Utilize checklists to make reading the page easier.

Call to action

You don’t need to go infomercial, but ensuring your audience knows that they can call on you for additional help with the topic is vital. Tell your audience what you want them to do next! Do you want them to call you? Download a whitepaper? Register for a demo? Subscribe to your newsletter? Share the article? You’d be surprised at how much more business you can drive when you actually let readers know what you want them to do next.

After you click Publish

You’re not done yet! Writing a post and publishing it is only half the effort — now you need to ensure your audience knows about it. Utilizing plugins, you can automatically get your post published to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn. Don’t just share them on your business page; share them on your personal accounts as well. You may also want to submit them to sites like StumbleUpon that are great discovery tools for articles.

And if your budget allows, a post that’s truly superior is worth promoting with social advertisements.

After a while…

Here’s a tip you might not have expected, but we’ve seen some incredible results in maintaining our high-performing posts. We often go back, update stats, add additional resources, re-share and promote older blog posts. If the post isn’t news or event related, it can provide a ton of attention all over again. Don’t hesitate to edit or even re-publish posts that performed well for you or that rank.

Image by: garryknight via Compfight cc

Bryant Tutterow
Bryant brings over 18 years of business acumen to DK New Media focused on strategic marketing and e-commerce. He has more than a decade of P&L responsibility, leading in-house marketing organizations at Fortune 500 companies and building three separate marketing departments from the ground up into world-class teams of as many as 14 people. As the Chief Marketing Officer for DK New Media, he provides overall strategic direction for marketing and e-commerce while leading business development of all strategic advisory and measured marketing services.