The beautiful part about content marketing is that it can bring you thousands of social shares, new email subscribers, and tons of comments, but only if your blog posts are masterpieces and you do content marketing right.
But content marketing has so many elements to it that it’s really easy to forget them, right?
To help you succeed, I’ve created a checklist. If you hit at least the majority of the items on the list below, your content will perform well.
Here are the questions to ask yourself when crafting a headline:
- Would someone type my headline into Google? – If they would, then you are more likely to get more search traffic.
- Does my headline evoke curiosity? – Curiosity-evoking headlines tend to get more clicks.
- Is my headline short and to the point? – If your headline is longer than roughly 57 characters, it will get cut off on Google’s search results page.
- Is my headline clear? – Clarity is important. If people don’t know what they are clicking on, they will bounce right off your site.
- Am I using emotions? – If you can invoke a common desire within your headline, it will appeal to more people.
- Does my headline contain any popular keywords or phrases? – If it doesn’t, don’t expect to rank for any terms on Google.
Every blog post should contain an introduction. Here are some of the questions to ask yourself when creating an introduction:
- Am I hooking my readers? – You can do this by asking a question within your introductory paragraph.
- It is concise? – You want to get into the body of your post as quickly as possible. Three paragraphs is typically long enough.
- Does it provide a detailed overview? – Once people read your introduction, they should know if the post is a good fit for them.
- Did I include a picture? – You should start your blog post with some sort of media. Whether it is a picture or a video, it should be something that entices people to click through.
When writing your blog post, make sure you ask yourself:
- Did I use subheadings? – They make it easier for your readers to read and skim your content.
- Are my paragraphs fewer than 5 lines? – Your paragraphs should never be more than 5 or 6 lines. Anything longer will make your content seem overwhelming to read.
- Am I creating a conversation? – You should be using the words “you” and “I” within your content. It will create the illusion of a conversation.
- Did I italicize my questions? – Italicize questions within your post. It will make your content seem more personalized.
- Am I telling a story? – Your readers will be bored unless you keep them hooked. There is no better way to do this than to tell a story.
- Am I using media to enhance my content? – From charts and images to video and audio, media will help personalize your post.
- Is my content concise? – If your content is filled with fluff, no one will want to read it.
- Am I trying to act smart? – Using fancy words and talking down to your readers is a great way to lose them.
- Did I tie in any current events? – Using Google and Yahoo news to identify trends will help you generate content that will bring in traffic.
- Which emotion am I appealing to? – Your content should appeal to certain emotions such as humor or anger. Pick one or a few of them, and use them throughout your content. The goal is to put your readers through an emotional roller coaster like soap operas do.
- Did I format my post correctly? – From bullets to block quotes, the formatting tools WordPress provides will make your content more digestible.
- Did I link out to anyone? – Link out to other websites when appropriate. This way, you can email those sites once you publish your post and ask them to share it on their social profiles.
- Did I mention any experts in my post? – Including other people’s quotes an opinions within your post, you will help your content gain more credibility. Plus, you can also ask those experts to share your content via the social web.
- Did I back up my claims? – You can’t make claims and expect not to be questioned. Using stats and data will help you create trust with your readers, and it will brand you as an expert.
When wrapping up your post, ask yourself:
- Did I end my post with a question? – This is a great way to help you generate more comments. Also, italicize the question.
- Was I able to summarize my post within 3 short paragraphs? – A summary should be short and to the point and provide the gist of your post to your readers.
- Is my summary shorter than 200 words? – If your summary is longer than 200 words, you are rambling. Ideally, it should be around 100 to 150 words.
- Did I leave things open? – Your post shouldn’t read like a final verdict on a subject. Instead, invite your readers to participate in a conversation about it.
- Does my conclusion encourage people to read my content? – Some people will scroll down to your conclusion before reading your content. If it is enticing, they will scroll back up to read the rest.
Before you publish your post, ask yourself:
- Am I publishing my post during the ideal time and day? – There is a science to content marketing. This chart will tell you when to publish your content.
- Should I publish the post on my site or someone else’s? – The best place to publish your awesome content is typically on someone else’s site. This blog post will explain why.
- Am I collecting emails? – You shouldn’t publish content unless you are collecting emails. Emails are the best way to get people to come back to your site.
- Do I have a lead magnet? – A lead magnet entices people to give you their email addresses. You can offer a free ebook or a PDF in exchange for an email.
- Do I have social sharing buttons throughout my post? – From using scrolling social plugins like Flare to placing click to tweet links within your post, encourage social sharing any way you can.
- Did I create a list of social profiles within my space? – Every time you publish a post, you should do outreach, asking people to share your content. I still do this even though I get hundreds of thousands of visitors each month.
- Am I using social media meta tags? – If you aren’t, then your content won’t do as well as it could when shared on the major social networks.
- Did I mention my expert sources when sharing? – Including their user names in your tweets will increase the likelihood of them re-tweeting your content.
- Have I direct-messaged influencers on LinkedIn? – It’s a simple tactic that can help generate more shares. Read this blog post for template messages for LinkedIn.
- Have I re-purposed my content? – By turning your blog post into a PDF or a slide deck and sharing it on the web, you can get more traffic. Just submit these different versions of your content to sites like Slideshare, and you’ll see more traffic. Make sure you adjust the content, however, as you don’t want to be hit by a duplicate content penalty.
- Have I shared my content more than once? – You should be sharing your post at least 2, if not 3 times, on social channels like Twitter. Not all of your users will see your content the first time you tweet.
By asking yourself the above 40 questions, you’ll quickly find out if you are doing everything you need to ensure your content marketing success.
Don’t worry if you aren’t doing everything on the list… Just look at this post. I didn’t leverage every tactic. But the more you do leverage, the better off you will be.
So, what other questions should you ask yourself before publishing your next blog post?