Your new article has been proofread and polished, so it’s now finally ready to be published.
Or is it?
If your ultimate goal for your new post is to solely present information to the wider public, you can ignore this article. However, beyond that, if you also want to build a relationship with the reader and amplify your visibility, follow this 3-3-3 checklist created for bloggers and online publishers; it’ll make sure your new article is complete and ready to be shared with your audience.
Table of Contents
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1. Create content hierarchy and organize your article
Creating an organizational structure for your content is obviously great for your users as it helps them to navigate through the article, but it’s also great for Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The easier you let search engines such as Google and Bing interpret your content, the better.
Create a clickable table of contents on your blog post or article that link to different sections of your content as I have done for this article. I’m aware that there are lots of WordPress plugins that do this for you, but it’s actually really easy to create manually, and also, the fewer the plugins you have on your site, the fewer the security vulnerabilities and less code bloat.
To do this, create the table of contents (TOC) in a list. The screenshot for creating one for this article via Gutenberg on WordPress is illustrated on the left, and plain HTML on the right.
<ul> <li style="list-style: none;">User Experience</li> <ul> <li>Create content hierarchy</li> <li>Make article visually appealing</li> <li>Maintain consistency within website</li> </ul> <li style="list-style: none;">Page settings</li> <ul> <li>Set post category and tags</li> <li>Optimize URL slug</li> <li>Set title tag and meta description</li> </ul> <li style="list-style: none;">Marketing</li> <ul> <li>Link to other internal pages within post</li> <li>Create a content upgrade</li> <li>Include 1 clear CTA</li> </ul> </ul>
Note: You can ignore the style=”list-syle” none;” part. I added that in because I didn’t want a bullet point for the main headings.
Then, create anchor tags for each section of the table of contents. This functionality will allow for users to click on any text in the table of contents to jump to the relevant section on the page.
First, think of the text you want to use for the link. We’ll call this the link fragment. For the first line of the TOC, where it says “User Experience,” I chose “ux”. Add the link fragment to the text in the TOC.
In plain HTML, it looks like the following:
<li style="list-style: none;"><a href="#ux">User Experience</a></li>
And here it is through Gutenberg/ WordPress:
Then, add that anchor to the heading in the article as a CSS id like so:
<h2 id="ux">User Experience</h2>
That’s it! Repeat those steps for the rest of the TOC.
The final point I want to make for content organization is to optimize the heading tags.
For SEO best practices, have the article title appear in an <h1> tag, the main headings of the article in <h2> tags, the subheadings in <h3>, and if they have subheadings, in <h4>. Most Content Management Systems (CMS) such as WordPress and Squarespace allow you to quickly set headings tags in a drag and drop editor. Technically, you should be using CSS ids, classes, and span tags to stylize certain text rather than wrapping the text in headings tags even though they’re not headings. I know. It’s a lot easier, and I’m guilty of taking this shortcut.
2. Make the article visually appealing
In this age of short attention span, the visual of the article will make or break the readership of many articles. Quickly scan through the post and ask yourself if it’s easy to read. Common mistakes bloggers and content creators make are the following:
Not breaking up very long paragraphs into shorter ones.
Creating too many short paragraphs (it’s annoying to scroll down a long article that has a line break between every sentence).
And posting too many distracting ads or posting them in inappropriate places. For example, if you use display ads, understand what kind of ads you are permitting to be served on your article. You don’t want a Chevy Suburban ad to appear within an article that talks about the danger of carbon emissions.
Finally, adding images and videos will also not only help with making the article look more digestible and fun to read, but will also help with sharing on social media since graphics tend to attract attention. If you haven’t included any in the article at this point, quickly grab one from one of these websites that provide free images: unsplash.com, pixabay.com. Make sure you check their copyright policies first.
If you have time to create your own graphic, hire a freelance designer on fiverr.com or upwork.com or quickly create one yourself through canva.com (freemium). That’s what I used to create the infographic at the top of this article.
3. Maintain consistency within website
Keep the article category page clean and consistent by following the same rules such as
– Capitalization: Is every word in the title of the post capitalized, or just the first word?
– Do you manually cut off the “preview” portion of the article by using a read more tag? If so, don’t forget to include it.
– Other distinctive rules all posts follow such as setting the first letter of the article with a drop cap or using columns for certain sections.
1. Set post category and tags
Use the correct post category (= folder directory) and tags. This one is self-explanatory, I hope.
2. Optimize URL slug
The URL slug is what appears at the very end of the URL after the domain and the directories. The URL slug for this article is “website-content-checklist”.
Make sure it is readable (no weird numbers or strings), not insanely long, and includes a keyword, which is text that users would use to find your article on Google or Bing. Words should be separated with hyphens.
3. Set title tag and meta description
The title tag and meta description are what people see when they see your page on a search result like in the image below. The title tag for my homepage is indicated in the red box, and the meta description is indicated in the black box below.
Entice clicks to your result by making them interesting. Include your keyword in the title tag, and also in the meta description if it makes sense to include it.
Finally, include the most important content in the beginning before it is cut off, as you can see in the meta description example below. Google constantly changes the way the search engine results page looks, but for best practices, keep the title tag within 55 characters, and the meta description, 155.
I don’t want to overwhelm this article by getting deep into SEO. Stay posted on my upcoming SEO course for beginners here.
1. Link to internal pages
Linking to other internal pages keeps your audience on your website, and also helps with SEO as well. If there are related posts to the article that you just finished writing, link to them using keywords in the anchor text. Anchor text is the text that users click on to visit the page that is linked to, e.g., in the text “SEO course for beginners here” above. Most editors allow you to create links quickly. If yours doesn’t, simply wrap the anchor text in an <a> tag like so:
<p>Stay posted on my upcoming <a href="https://jenniferprufer.com/seo-course-for-beginners/" target="_blank">SEO course for beginners here.</a></p>
Don’t use generic text such as “click here” as anchor text because you’re losing out on an opportunity to tell Google that the linked page is related to a certain keyword.
To encourage readers to finish the current article and to not jump to the linked page just yet, add target=”_blank” to the <a> tag. This extra bit of code will open the page in a new tab.
2. Add a content upgrade
Give your readers something extra related to the article that’s not available to the general public. It helps you to build a relationship with them, and gives them an incentive to subscribe to your newsletter.
Speaking of which- would you like this article summarized in a printable checklist so that you can refer to it every time you publish new content? If so, subscribe via the form below.
3. Conclude the article with 1 clear CTA
Many of your readers will finish reading your article and then leave your website. Encourage interaction by concluding the article with 1 clear call to action (CTA). Tell them to share the article with their friends, write a comment, subscribe to your newsletter, read another article, check out a product, or anything else that would help you build a relationship.
Once the hard work of writing your article is finished, you can be tempted into publishing the article right away. However, with just a little extra effort as outlined in this 3-3-3 checklist, your article will be better optimized for your readers and search engines so that you can keep the readers on your website and also reach a wider audience.
Did you learn anything new? Anything in your own checklist that you want to share? Let me know in the comments below. (Very meta, yes. I’m aware.)