A couple of weeks ago I came across this widely-recommended post sharing a great blog post checklist. While it does tackle some essential SEO aspects, I decided to create a more SEO-focused version offering you a quick one-reference checklist on making sure your post is SEO-friendly enough to go live (the list is not too long because SEO is not — and should not be — your main concern when writing a blog post, and I mentioned only "MUST-do" points to never forget about):
Now, let's discuss each point in more detail:
Using the right tools for keyword research is essential for three important reasons:
- They allow you to make your writing more diverse (by suggesting synonyms, related terms and definitions);
- They let you brainstorm more post topics and subtopics (by suggesting related topics and neighboring terms);
- They account for your content organic rankings.
- Use this post listing some keyword research tools to start with to choose a preferred online thesaurus and dictionary to research synonyms, related terms and more!
- Get this FireFox addon by Wordtracker FireFox addon that lets you run some basic keyword research in your browser sidebar to never leave the blog post editor page;
- Consider using Wordstream's FireFox addon (paid) that lets you research keywords and shows you the count of each keyword in your post editor:
I use these basic rules to make sure my post URL is going to be SEO-friendly:
- I make it meaningful (this is why I recommend using /%postname%/ variable in WordPress setting);
- I make it short (about 5-6 words in it);
- I make sure there are important keywords in the URL.
- Be sure to read this post on URL File Names as well as this one listing some SEO Best Practices for URL Structure
- Drop by this old but still valid post on SEO Friendly URL Structure for WordPress Blogs
The only reason why I am listing this after the URL slug is that titles are more for people than URLs. While you are almost free to make your URLs for robots rather than people (because people pay little attention to the actual address), title tags determine your page click-through, social media success and overall performance.
This is why my rule of thumb is to optimize the title tag for the keywords (as this is still the most prominent place to put your keywords at) while still primarily thinking about its "viral" component (making it catchy and, well, cool).
Note: This is especially valid for blog post titles where rankings are (most often) not the major concern.
- Check this post listing criteria of an effective page title
- Find out how long the title tag should be
If you are like me, you love visual data representation and use plenty of screenshots and other types of images in every post. The good news, this makes your readers' life easier. The bad news, images may dramatically effect your page load times.
Be sure to note:
- You need to make sure your images are optimized for the web in terms of the size;
- You want to use "Alt" text for images for both SEO and accessibility.
- Learn the difference between image Alt Text and image Title (note that WordPress editor usually forces you to use a title tag and doesn't care about the alt text, so be sure to insert an alt text for each meaningful image);
- Read my detailed guide on how to optimize images for search engines;
- Learn how to optimize image size to make your pages load faster.
Internal links are crucial for rankings. Besides that, they make sure the stolen posts still have links back to your domain.
- Learn how to (semi-)automate interlinking in WordPress (take special note of "Insights" WordPress plugin that suggests you related posts while you edit the post and allows to quicker insert links in our editor);
- Learn why links in content are more powerful.
Any other essential steps to mention? Please add in the comments and I'll add that to the list!
Ann Smarty is a blogger and SEO consultant and professional blogger. Check out Ann's personal project My Blog Guest - the forum meant to connect guest bloggers to blog owner for plenty of mutual benefits. Ann also provides guest blogging services.