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The blog post template that you can download above provides you with 10 areas that you should consider before, during and after you’ve written your blog post. It’s simple to use, just full in the details under each heading, and then transfer each section onto your blog. You can make one for to plan every blog post you write, not just to ensure you don’t forget to add these essential details that will improve SEO and readability, but you can also use it as a method to outsource your blog posts.
We use a version of this template for our SOP Template blog posts, and you can easily customize this template to fit your own blog post requirements.
Do Some Keyword Research
Before you start writing your blog content, do some keyword research. Although keyword research is becoming more difficult, you can still get a good idea of a keyword or phrase by simply searching for it using google.com/ncr and the Moz Chrome plugin. You will be able to see how your competitors are ranked for that specific keyword and decide whether you are able to write something that is quality enough to rank higher.
If you have a search bar on your site, you can use a plugin or service such as Swiftype to see what people are searching your site for. This may give you clues as to what to write about in future blog posts. You should also consider that certain content will be searched for in Google at different times of the year, so you may want to write content associated with a specific holiday or event.
Write a Compelling Headline
In order to persuade people to read your article, you want to craft a headline that will captivate your audience enough to click through and read more. To improve your SEO, try and use your chosen keyword or a variation in your headline.
It can sometimes be difficult to know if your headline is catchy enough, and there are tools and resources that can help you write a headline that your potential readers will be interested in. Coschedule have a great tool, called the Headline Analyzer. It breaks down your headline and gives you a score out of 100 based on a variety of elements, including how ‘wordy’ your headline is and the emotional and unusual words you have included.
Check that your headline does not exceed the limit for Google results, as the title will be truncated once you hit a certain amount of characters. You may do this on purpose to create suspense and add further interest to your content. Also take into consideration if you want to include your site’s name at the end of your title.
If you’re using the YoastSEO plugin for WordPress, you can see a preview of your headline before you publish your blog post. You can also see a basic preview if you use Coschedule’s Headline Analyzer, but Yoast also allows you to edit your SEO title, post URL and metadata.
Include Optimized Images
Having an eye catching feature graphic will help attract your potential readers attention, whilst also promoting and increasing the chances of shares on social media. Images help break up your text, and hold the reader’s attention as well as providing a relevant visual aid to your content.
When choosing images either for your blog post’s featured image, or images that appear in your post, make sure to use royalty-free images, or include a citation if you have taken the image from another source. There are plenty of resources for royalty-free images, including Pixabay, Shutterstock and GraphicStock. Some of these resources offer free images, but many provide a yearly subscription of high quality, unlimited downloads on vectors, photos and video content, or a package of X amount of downloads for a one off payment.
Alternatively, you can create your own images using a graphic design platform, such as Canva and BeFunky or you could outsource image design to a freelancer, if you want something different and customized.
If you optimize your images, which is explained in the SOP, your images may also help your SEO and drive traffic to your site if they’re found in a search engine. Don’t forget to resize and compress your images as big files will slow down your site and affect your SEO.
Categorize and Tag It
Your blog post categories should be decided before creating your content and all of the posts that you write should fit into one of these categories. There are some ways in which you can decide which categories to choose for your blog
Consider the ‘tone’ of your category names, and try and make sure all the categories have a similar level of specificity (the category shouldn’t be too broad a topic, or too narrow). You should also try and have as few categories as possible.
If you’ve already got your blog up and running, you may want to do a ‘cull’ of your existing categories, if you only have 1 or 2 blog posts under one category or rename those that aren’t self explanatory or too broad a subject.
Tags are a way of narrowing down content that may overlap across several categories. They should be more specific than categories, and are also a great way to help your visitors navigate your site more easily. If you’re using WordPress, you can keep track of your existing tags from the Posts area in the menubar. When you’re adding tags to your blog post, you can choose from ‘Most Used Tags’. The larger the text, the more posts include the tag. You can also hover over the tag to see how many blog posts contain that particular keyword.
External Links to Other Blogs
Although you might think that linking to external sites will take your audience away from your site, this is a great way to improve your SEO, as it shows that you content has been researched and therefore more valuable. Linking to other sites that may be related to your content may also promote positive engagement between the sites and lead to further cooperation down the line.
When you link to another site, you can have the page open in a new tab, instead of replacing your site with someone else’s. You can do this simply in WordPress by ticking the ‘Open link in a new tab’ box when adding a link.
Your blog’s meta description provides the reader with a brief overview of what the blog post is about, or what they will get from reading your post. If you don’t edit this before publishing, Google, or other search engine will pull the first few lines from your blog post and use that as meta. It’s best to customize this to ensure click throughs to your site. If you’re using the YoastSEO plugin, this can easily be edited and you’ll see a preview of how it will appear in a search engine. The meta description should ideally include your keyword(s) or a variation of them.
Call Your Readers to Action
Your blog post’s call to action is probably one of the most important sections of your post after the actual written content. A call to action is meant to prompt the reader to take the next step or ‘action’ after reading your post. Your call to action might be a free PDF for your reader to download in exchange for their email address or a prompt to get a free trial of your product. Your call to action should combine an attractive image with text that is to the point and interesting.
Get ideas for your next blog post’s call to action from HubSpot’s article, 8 Types of CTAs You Should Absolutely Try on Your Blog.
As mentioned at the beginning, you can use this blog post template in a few different ways; fill it out yourself and use it to make sure elements of your blog aren’t forgotten about, outsource your content by handing the template to a freelancer for them to complete. You may even want to complete the template yourself and then pass it onto a colleague who put the content onto your blog.
You can also use this Blog Post Template in conjunction with our Content Calendar Template.
Download this Blog Post Template at the top of the page to start planning your blog posts today!
WHAT IS A CONTENT CALENDAR?
Whether you’re working with a group of freelancers or you’re going solo to produce content for your site, it’s easy to get bogged down with content. You can easily keep track of who is writing an article for you, on what subject and at what stage they are at in the writing process with a content calendar.
A content calendar is also known as an editorial calendar. Not only will it keep you and your content more organised, but it also creates accountability for yourself and other team members. Everyone knows their deadlines and responsibilities which in turn helps streamline your business. If you set dates for when you will publish your blog posts, you’re more likely to write and post on those days if they’re scheduled in your calendar.
HOW DO YOU USE A CONTENT CALENDAR?
My editorial calendar is often where I start my day. I know what content I need to work on or at what stage another article might be at. Although I use Google Docs and often use a filename to quick search a document, having all the links and information for every single piece of content allows me to quickly access documents for all our blog posts, podcast notes or video scripts all from one place.
In the beginning, it may be easy to remember what content that you have written about in your blog but consider that you may be running this blog for several years or even decades if you’re successful, so you may not remember all the topics that you’ve covered months or years down the line. A content calendar is a quick way to sift through all the content that you’ve already posted to make sure that you avoid duplicate posts on the same topic. You can do a quick search by using the ‘find’ tool in Google Docs.
Of course, you can always add other content as well as blog content, however, I like to keep my various different mediums in separate tabs of the same spreadsheet. You can easily add a new tab to the template by clicking the + button on the left-hand side. Some of my additional tabs include video, podcast and pages for the site. However, I keep my social media separated because it’s quite extensive and this is something I outsource to a freelancer using a Social Media Schedule.
I often use our editorial calendar to brainstorm ideas for future blog posts, podcasts etc. I may have a random idea and just add them to the calendar without including a publishing date or even started writing any content. It’s great to to go back through the the ideas that I’ve had as sometimes they can help prompt me in the future to write content for these ideas and titles.
Since this content calendar is a spreadsheet, it’s easy to move content around. So, even though I often use the editorial calendar to brainstorm ideas I can move my content easily so that all the content that I’m working on at present is altogether and easiest for me to view and work on.
There may be times when you have an idea for content that would be better published at a later date, especially if it is a keyword that might get a higher search during a certain holiday. For example, an idea about goal setting might be more relevant at New Year than during the summer. Some topics may have lost popularity by the time you come to write it, but there may be a chance to write something in the future, so keep these ideas for a later date.
ADDING NOTES FOR UPDATING BLOG POSTS
A content calendar is also good place to add notes about the posts that you’ve already published. For example, you may need to update images and content at a later date and you can this information to remind you in the future. You can also keep track on when your content was published, updated or may need updating again, especially if you have seasonal posts.
You might also want to use the editorial calendar as a way to highlight which posts are more popular. This will be extremely helpful for creating content that will more likely to engage your audience.
OUTSOURCING CONTENT CREATION
If you working with a team of people who are writing content for your blog, the editorial calendar is the perfect place to make sure everyone stays organised and knows when they are expected to post content. If you have freelancers who are researching or writing blog posts they can also add information so you can keep track of that progress.
You should make sure that your freelancers keep track of their work by filling in the content calendar where necessary. Forgetting to update the status of an article they are working on, this will slow down efficiency and create more work in the long run.
Even if you’re currently working as a ‘one-man band’, consider that as your blog expands you may want to add more content writers to your blog. Getting in the practice of using an editorial calendar is good exercise in staying organised and will greatly benefit any future writers who work on your blog. It is a small and easy way to look professional and make an easier transition from working on the blog by yourself to employing team members to help you. Retrospectively filling in this content is way harder than filling it in as you go. That’s why this template is extremely valuable even if you are working alone.
CUSTOMIZING YOUR CONTENT CALENDAR TEMPLATE
Although there are many paid content calendars available now, using a content calendar spreadsheet is not only free but is also easily customizable to fit your own personal (or team’s) needs. In my own editorial calendar, I use colour coded tabs so that I can easily scan through my sheets and see which posts are in the research, writing or published phase. This also means that well researched and written content never gets forgotten!
If you’re using Google Drive you can easily add the links of all your content, so that you can easily access any blog posts that are currently being written, as well as view images, audio or video files that will be part of your content.
Although I have a main sheet that I use to schedule blog posts that I’ll publish or update during the week, I also have individual sheets for each type of content. For example, this spreadsheet includes sheets for blog post, reposts, videos, podcasts and any important social media campaigns we currently have running.
You can download our Content Calendar Template by entering your email in the box above and having it send to your inbox. You can start using the content calendar immediately to organise and streamline your content creation.