Whether you have more time on your hands or less, writing a blog post is a great way to add something new to your website. It is a great SEO tool and can offer extra value to your clients. However, do you sometimes feel like it’s not quite finished or wish you could have an experienced copywriter give it a quick ‘once over’? Although I would love to offer to read and edit all of your blog posts, instead, I thought I would offer you 5 suggestions that I always check when editing a blog. Hopefully, you can apply some of these ‘checks’ when you are giving your next blog post a final proof-read and check.
1) Check headings and your title/headline
Before you give your entire blog post a proofread (see no. 5), read only the title (or headline) and each heading in order. Ask yourself these questions:
- Does the blog post seem to develop naturally?
- Does it need re-ordering?
- Do you have enough headings?
- Have you formatted the headings correctly?
- Do they contain relevant keywords?
- And finally, does the title of the post accurately reflect the content?
The most important element of a title or headline is that it is accurate – there is nothing worse than a click bait style headline. However, you also want to make sure it is inviting and will draw in as many readers as possible. Make it as positive and as encouraging as you can.
If you are struggling, I came across this great tool from Co-Schedule – https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer . Enter your chosen title and it will give it a score and brief analysis. You can compare lots of options and decide on the best one for your post.
2) Check for consistency
Consistency and use of consistent ‘features’ will give your blog post a polished feel. If you think about a published textbook – all of the headings use consistent formatting, the features remain the same throughout, as do the style of imagery and any illustrations.
When checking for consistency in your blog post, pay attention to the following:
- Are all headings consistent in format – i.e. use of bold, level (H2, H3, etc.), initial caps/title case, style?
- If you start your blog post with a summary or list about what the post contains, does this follow through and is reflected in the content of your actual post?
- Have you used a consistent tense or ‘person’? What I mean by this is sometimes we start talking about something that happened in the past, but then wanting to sound more ‘up-to-date’ switch to the present – this can read very oddly and confuse the reader. Another common inconsistency is to switch between using ‘I’ and ‘We’, when meaning yourself and your company and, perhaps, even the third person, ‘They’. Sometimes, this is completely necessary, but check for the consistency of use and relevance. Don’t confuse your reader!
3) Look for ‘missing details‘
This is the hardest bit of proofreading – checking for what isn’t there! It is really obvious to spot typos, errors or inaccuracies, but it is the items that are ‘missing’ that often get forgotten. I know it sounds strange but a good example of this is a list of people’s names – I once proofread a show programme and asked everyone to check their name was spelt correctly; they dutifully did. But I had missed someone off completely. I didn’t ask them to ‘check their name’ because it wasn’t there! This is why you need to have other checks and measures in place.
Key details that I often see missed are:
- Call to action – you’ve written a wonderful blog post…but what do you want people to do now? You need to tell them!
- Contact details – if you ask people to get in touch or contact you – how are they going to do that? Make it as easy as possible
- Not covering everything you stated you would – this is similar to above, but I read many posts that suggest they are going to talk about one thing and then this does not come to fruition, or worse still say things like “I’m going to cover three areas” or “…five points” and then only three or four are actually covered! …or it is in there but it’s not very obvious.
- Using technical jargon without explanation – this will depend on your audience but consider the words you use and whether anything technical may need added explanation.
- The ‘why’ – You probably have lots of important information to share, but often blog posts miss the ‘why’ and this is the bit that engages the reader and convinces them. For each paragraph, ask yourself, “So, what???”… the more sarcastic the better! If you feel you have a compelling argument then your post will be engaging.
4) Check for link opportunities
Adding just a single link to your blog post will improve its search engine optimisation (SEO). Ideally, you want to link out to another website, but always make sure this is relevant and a reputable source. If this is not possible, consider how you can interlink to other pages on your website. This may be to your services or products page, your contacts page, or better still, another blog post.
Try not to make it contrived, but do look for linking opportunities whenever you can.
- Link text must be clear – this will help reduce bounce rate as the blog post reader is clear where they are being ‘taken’
- Include the full URL – it is considered good practice, to include the URL, again so that the reader knows exactly where the link leads. There is some mixed views on using URL shortening. I would suggest if the URL is really long then using clear link text instead. And if you are interlinking within your website, again, link text is probably best.
- Use buttons – if you have a really useful link or a link is part of a ‘Call to action’ then consider using a button rather than a link within the text – they stand out more!
5) Thorough proofreading – Read your blog out loud
This is an absolute must. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Proofreading your own work is really hard! Your brain is really naughty and likes to read what it “thinks it sees” and what was “meant to be there”, rather than what is actually there. So, my best advice is to read the blog post out loud. We generally read around 250 words a minute, perhaps fewer when out loud, but even if your blog is 1000 words it won’t take that long.
It will make a massive difference. Here’s how:
- It will help you to identify missing words.
- It will help you check punctuation is effective. If you are struggling to breathe then you’ll probably need some more commas, semi-colons and full stops.
- It will help you identify long sentences – when you are reading for line after line!
- You should notice how often you are saying your keywords and this can help with SEO too, but never at the cost of readability.
- It will help with editing headings. When reading out loud, your headings should read like natural introductions to your ‘next section’ or ‘a new slide’, like in a speech or presentation.
Finally, remember to run a spell check!
Do you want more support?
As I said at the start, I am sorry I can’t read everyone’s blogs posts and edit them! However, if you want to learn more ways to help yourself, to come up with a continued stream of topic ideas and how to create a structured blog, let me know. My Blog Starter training (which I can do via video call) is just £55. In the meantime, any questions about blogging, give me a shout on firstname.lastname@example.org