This is a guest contribution by Kate Toon, an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter.
You have a blog post.
Who cares whether you wrote it yourself or paid someone to create it? It’s the right length.
You’ve shoe-horned your chosen keyword phrase ‘Pink llama-wool pyjamas’ into it five times. You’ve downloaded a cool image and even managed to code it into WordPress.
It’s time to press upload, right? Wrong.
Before you do anything, stop and ask yourself these seven critical questions.
Does your blog post target your audience?
Have you written a generic ‘appeals to everyone’ (read ‘no one’) vanilla article? Or are you targeting a particular niche? Try to get inside the mind of your audience, then read your blog post again. Does it address a particular need or concern? Or is it all blah yawn blah?
Is the blog post credible?
An especially important question to ask if the blog post has been written by a third party. Even more so if you used a $5-a-post copy shop. Very few writers will care about your business as much as you do, or write with true passion about your subject matter. True heart in writing shines through.
So be sure not only that the facts are checked but also that the blog rings true and doesn’t sound like marketing fluff.
Is the blog post unique?
This sounds impossible, right? With so many articles being posted in your niche, how can you write something unique? But even the most well-trodden ground can be given new life. Your tone of voice. Your viewpoint. Your inside knowledge can add a certain something to your blog.
It’s very important to write with a strong voice if you want to stand out from the crowd.
Is the blog post useful? (Or at least entertaining?)
A great place to start with useful content is by addressing the customer enquiries and questions you’ve received. Each one is potential post. But when these are all covered it’s important to keep your finger on your audience’s collective pulse. What are the market trends? What’s in the news? What are they talking about on Twitter?
If all else fails, at least try to be entertaining, interesting and funny.
Is the blog post easy to understand?
Now I could direct you to some snazzy readability tool, but how about we just use common sense? Check your writing for:
- Long rambling sentences.
- Long complicated words.
- Poorly phrased sentences.
Pay extra attention to those first 100 words. If a reader can’t get through those as easily as a knife through warm butter, your post is in trouble.
Would you share this blog post?
If the blog didn’t have your name on it, would you forward it to a friend? What would you say in the email that accompanied it? ‘Check out this awesome history of llama wool production in Peru’?
If you wouldn’t share it, why would others?
Does the post address a your goals?
All the other points have been about your readers and rightly so. But this one is all about you. Why are you posting the article? Is it just to add some fresh content? To give you a boost for a certain keyword? To cover off a reader enquiry? To launch a new product or idea? To attract a new audience? To give your opinion on a news event? Or all of the above?
Don’t blog for the sake of blogging. Be clear what your blogging objectives are.
If you can’t answer each question with a confident ‘YES’, then you need to go back to the drawing board. This might seem like tough love, but it can just take one crappy post to put a potential customer off your blog.
When it comes to blogging, ask yourself the tough questions and don’t settle for second best.
Kate Toon is an award-winning SEO and advertising copywriter with over 18 years’ experience. She’s also a well-respected SEO consultant, information architect, strategist, hula hooper and CremeEgg-lover based in Sydney, Australia.