In this blog post, a highly effective 8-point SEO checklist to apply to every blog post you write to get your content found by Google.
“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Philosophical questions aside, a similar principle applies to posting blog content on your website. If you publish a blog and no one is around to read it, was it worth writing in the first place?
Anyone who writes blog content for their website needs to ensure it is found.
There are several ways of improving the discoverability of your blog posts; you can share them with your network on social media, include links in emails to your clients, or run paid online adverts.
But Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a must for improving the chances that Google (other search engines are available) will share your blog post with its users when they type in a relevant search term.
8 SEO checklist items to consider
SEO is about making it easy for search engines to present your content in response to a keyword search about your content.
If your business sells accessories for pink kittens, and you write blogs on the subject, you want Google to send people your way when they search for ‘pink kitten accessories’. (Editor: Please make sure this blog post doesn’t rank for pink kitten accessories).
So, how can you ensure that your blog posts rank for the relevant keyword or phrase? There’s an SEO checklist for that!
Before we enter the SEO checklist
Before I dive into the 8 SEO checklist items I believe you should be ticking off each time you publish a blog, a few critical points to consider.
Firstly, optimising an individual blog post is unlikely to get you incredible results in isolation.
I’m a huge advocate of building a ‘long tail’ of blog content, each targeting a specific keyword or keyphrase. You might not win big from one of these blog posts, but a small amount of traffic driven to a large amount of content is a winning strategy for sure.
Secondly, please take some time to get your site in good order before investing time in optimising individual blog posts.
You need to make sure your website loads quickly, is secure (HTTPS?), and is easy to navigate.
Do this simple website maintenance before diving into my SEO checklist to get much better results.
With that said, here we go.
1 – Start with the right keywords!
The perfect SEO keywords for your blog post are a) relevant to your business, b) searched for in sufficient quantity to make the effort worthwhile, and c) with a low level of competition from other blog posts targeting the same keywords.
A useful tool here is Google Keyword Planner. While designed for building Google Ads, this free tools offers valuable insight when planning keywords.
Click on Get Search Volume and Forecasts, enter one or more of your keywords, and click Get Started.
The results will show you the average monthly searches along with the competition for your keywords.
For the search term ‘SEO checklist’, we see there are 1k-10k monthly searches (on average) and ‘medium’ competition.
The Holy Grail here is a high search volume (100k plus) and a ‘low’ competition level, but I’ll happily settle for at least a thousand searches a month and medium competition for a relevant keyword.
2 – Choose the right title
Your chosen keywords should feature in the title of your blog post, preferably at the start.
Resist the temptation to make the title of your blog post your keywords alone.
While you want the title to be attractive to the search engines, it’s arguably more important that website visitors and social media followers are suitably motivated to click through to read more.
We use various tools to come up with ideas for blog post titles, but our favourite harnesses the power of AI to write titles.
The title of this blog post? It was written by AI.
3 – Write at least 300 words
Search engines are extremely unlikely to rank your blog content if it is too short.
300 words seems to be the lower end of what Google and others will consider before presenting your blog content in their search results.
Why are more words better when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation?
The more you write, the more words you give the search engines to understand your content better.
Please don’t write more for the sake of it. Only add more words if they genuinely add to the understanding of your subject.
4 – Make your slug your keyphrase
What’s a slug?? The words that appear after your website address, with a hyphen between them. That’s your slug.
In the case of this blog post, where we are optimising for SEO checklist, the slug becomes /seo-checklist.
5 – Add an optimised image
I’ve always considered this a bit of a sneaky SEO tactic, but it seems to be well tolerated by the search engines.
When you add an image or featured image to your blog post, include your chosen keywords as the a) file name, b) image title, c) alt tag (the part that helps visually impaired readers access your content via a screen reader), and d) the image descriptions.
First and foremost, you need to use relevant alt tags for your image that are descriptive of the image itself – especially if you use multiple images in a blog post.
But including your chosen keywords, where appropriate, can be a huge help as you tick off the items on your SEO checklist.
6 – Include the keywords in your blog post!
When search engines ‘read’ the content of your blog post, they are looking for the number of times your keywords appear.
Depending on the word count of your blog post, you might need to include your keywords on multiple occasions.
Getting the right keyword density is a case of including your keywords as 0.5% to 3% of your word count.
For example, for a 1,000-word blog post, be sure to include your keywords between 5 and 30 times.
Take care not to over optimise by including your keywords too often, especially in shorter word count blogs, where this mistake is easily made.
7 – Optimise your meta tags
Meta tags are the items of code ‘read’ by search engines and often displayed in search results to give prospective readers a flavour of what you are about to cover.
Your meta description doesn’t necessarily drive better search engine optimisation, but it can help improve your ‘click-through rate’ when search engines present your blog post as a result.
The better your click-through rate, the more likely search engines will display your blog as one of the first results.
Keep your meta description to a maximum of 155 characters. A tactic I like to use, which seems to improve the click-through rate, offers an incomplete meta description, finishing with a…
Curiosity drives clicks!
8 – Add some outbound links
Where appropriate, include links to external websites.
Linking to external sources helps improve your blog post’s credibility, so include at least one outbound link to anything relevant you reference.
What’s missing from this SEO checklist?
In writing this blog post, I’m conscious that SEO is a huge area and constantly changing too.
The 8-point SEO checklist shared here works incredibly well based on my personal experience and would be a significant enhancement for any blog post where little attention was previously paid to SEO.
But what else would you add? What SEO best practices to you include each time you write a blog post?
Would you like a free download PDF checklist for handy reference? Click on the image below!