I know, it sounds like a tall order, doesn’t it? But you can do it with a little forethought, some planning and an eye on the SEO ball. Here is a checklist I use for my posts. Understand though, sometimes I get two out of three, sometimes only 1. A really good post will have all three, so that’s your goal.
Post Preparation Checklist
Gather Your Intel.
In this step, I gather up the research I am performing, material I want to quote, related sites, links or resources I want to include. I gather all that into once place. I use notepad or Dreamweaver for this, since a post’s resources will grow as I build it. Remember that to benefit a reader, it needs to offer them exactly what they are looking for.
If you reference a cool piece of software or a great online tool, be sure to include the link!
Find/Create a Photo.
Since I tend to select themes that are thumbnail driven or that look good with images added to each post, I spend a little time on this step. A photo or image can engage your reader, connect with them emotionally or set the tone for the content piece.
In fact, while I am creating a post, I have both my image editor (either Fireworks or Photoshop) open and a browser window with Google Images open.
I am careful to optimize the images (see 3 Ways To A Faster Page Load for more info). I am careful to only select images where I won’t be violating owner copyright or to create my own.
Create A Clickable Headline.
Do not scrimp on this step. Remember, Google serves your headline to the searcher. This means your potential visitors evaluate this before deciding to come visit or not. A lousy headline will turn off your visitor before they ever had a chance to see your photo or content.
I recommend writing 5-10 headlines AFTER your post content has been written to find the best one. Still having trouble? Here’s a tool I use from time to time to Create Eye-Catching Headlines in 32.4 Seconds.
My headline must contain my primary keyword for the post. That keyword (or keyword phrase) should be as close to the beginning of the title as possible (for maximum search engine benefit). Google weights the first 65 characters of the title as more important than the rest (some even say Google does count anything after 65 character). So, important up front!
Create A Clickable Description.
Like the step before, I know that the description is the “ad” for my post. I know that directly under the headline, they are going to read a description of the post that will decide them on whether they make the click or not.
What is the implicit or explicit benefit to the reader? What will they get out of it? Does it solve a pain? Answer a question? Then I need to clearly state it. The primary keyword I have determined is applicable to this post also needs to appear in my description. Be consistent.
Determine Your Top 3 Related Keywords.
Semantics. Something to avoid in normal conversation if you don’t want to upset your conversational partner, but Google isn’t just anyone.
May the computer gods forgive me saying this, but Google is stupid. Well, okay, not stupid, but software none-the-less. And software — as a rule — is stupid. It can only do what it was programmed to do, and we humans lack the necessary skills to even approximate human decision making.
So, we have to teach Google what we mean, what we intend and what’s important to us (and likely to our visitors). We do this with clear and defined keywords, and semantically related words. As humans, by the age of 3, we understand that car and automobile mean the same thing. Google has to be taught. And it takes a lot of repetition. It takes a lot of validation. Google compares your site about RC models to other sites about RC models to see what words you each think are important.
So, a little research into common phrases and semantically related keywords is a necessary step in producing content Google will serve to your intended target audience. You should use those related keywords within the body of your content to help teach Google when to serve your content.
Part 1 of 2 on Creating posts that engage your readers, attract the search engines and invite comments. Stay tuned for Part 2 of creating posts that engage your readers, attract the search engines and invite comments shortly. In the meantime, start putting into practice your checklist. Like baking a cake, following a recipe can help ensure success.
Are there things you do to get ready for a post that I didn’t list? I would love to hear your ideas