Let me know if this one sounds familiar.
You just finished writing a legendary blog post. Your primary keyword is in there, you’ve picked some awesome photography and one or two hilarious GIFs. You’re about to hit publish… and then, panic sets in.
The writing part is important, sure. You’ve got that down. But have you done everything else? How are your headlines? What about your title tag and meta description tag? Are your images named properly? You are suddenly overwhelmed with anxiety, and your fight-or-flight instincts start to kick in.
I promise you, there’s no need to stress! You’re not being chased by a tiger, but there ARE a few things you can do to make sure you’ve covered all your bases before you hit that big shiny publish button.
Since blogging has many elements, it can be easy to forget them.
To help you succeed, we’ve created an ultimate blog post checklist that consists of the main tasks you should take care of before publishing any new post.
Use this blog post checklist every time you optimize your content for readers and search engines.
Keep on reading this post if you want successful blog posts that attract new traffic and customers every month.
Let’s get started!
Set up your WordPress.org site and install the Yoast SEO plugin.
Make sure you have performed your keyword research and mapping.
Keyword Research and Mapping
Select the keyword and searcher intent you want to use for the page or blog post you want to optimize based on your keyword research and mapping.
Remember: in general, you want to make sure each page targets only one searcher intent (or a “bucket” in the keyword mapping spreadsheet you have worked on). For this example, here is a blog post that’s being optimized for “Google search operators”.
Write the content of the page or blog post without optimizing it for the target keyword. It’s better to write the content without worrying about the optimization process or the keywords you need to use. This way, you will be able to produce more natural content that is focused on the users, rather than the search engines.
Optimize the Meta Data
The meta tags on each of your pages and blog posts are just as important as the content itself – so first make sure to optimize it before moving on to optimizing the content.
Start by optimizing the page/post title with your chosen keyword. On Yoast SEO, you can enter your desired SEO title (including your target keyword).
Remember to keep it under 65 characters – otherwise, Google will truncate it when displaying it in SERPs. This will consequently lower your CTR.
Yoast will help you determine if the SEO title is too long. As long as the bar underneath the “SEO title” box is green, you haven’t exceeded the 65-character limit. If the bar gets orange, you have exceeded this limit (or the title is much too short, as you can see in the second caption below).
Headers & Subheadings
Run your title through CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to check its attractiveness.
Rankings are not just influenced by keywords. The CTR on your search result is an important ranking factor, so this step will help you write attractive and compelling titles.
Aim for a score above 70 on CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, but don’t stress or obsess over it—it’s an automated tool and you should only use it as an indicator.
As you can see in the example above, our initial title was “How to Gather SEO Intelligence”. After adding the keyword and checking it with CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer, we changed it to “Google Search Operators: How to Gather the Best SEO Intelligence”.
Optimize the URL Slug
Keep it as short as possible (4 words at the most – it makes it easy to understand and remember by users, but it also improves your SEO as well).
Also, try to include the keyword in the URL as well – it will help with the on-page optimization.
If your page has already been published for a while, do not change the URL, especially if it’s already ranking in the SERPs or if other pages already link to it. Doing this would mean you are migrating your URL – and it’s best to avoid it in most cases.
Optimize the Meta Description
Include the target keyword in this description.
Remember, the meta description should be under 230 characters – anything above that will be truncated by Google in the SERPs.
Same as with the page titles, keywords are not everything. Your meta description should be compelling and tell readers exactly what information will be provided on the page.
While meta descriptions don’t have a direct impact on rankings, they will increase the CTR – and that is a ranking factor.
Optimize the Page Content
Now that you have optimized the metadata supporting your page or blog post, it is time to move on to optimizing the actual content on it. Here are the steps you need to follow to do this:
Try to include the keyword in the h1 heading, but do not force this. Again, it is far better to publish natural, rather than keyword-stuffed content.
Make sure your page or blog post has an h1, but remember that there should be only one h1, and it should be above the fold. Typically, your h1 will be the actual title of the blog post or page.
Same as with the metadata optimization, focus on creating an attractive, compelling h1, rather than something that feels built exclusively for Google’s crawlers.
You can use the CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer to analyze your headline.
Optimize The Content In The Body of The Page
Try to include your target keyword in the first 100 words of the page or blog post.
In general, avoid including the exact target keyword more than 3-4 times/page.
Add other related keywords from the same keyword bucket in the body of your content. This will help Google contextualize your page or blog article so that it shows it to users searching for the information you provide.
Try to add synonyms to your target keyword as well. This is an excellent move not only because it will help Google contextualize your content, but also because it will help you avoid using the exact target keyword too many times.
Include LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) keywords too. These keywords are semantically related to your target keyword, and they will help improve your SEO. To find more LSI keywords, go to lsigraph.com, enter your target keyword, and pick the most relevant suggestions to include in the body of your page content.
Optimize The Images
Rename the image you want to upload into your page or blog title with a descriptive name. For example, “img17348.png” is not a descriptive name, but “search-operators-quotation-marks” is a descriptive name. Always use the “-” sign to split the words in the image names.
DON’T include keywords in the file name unless they are relevant to your content.
Include descriptive ALT text for each of the images you upload into your page or blog post.
Make sure your ALT text is relevant and descriptive. For instance, “image 17348” is not a descriptive ALT text, but “google operators quotation marks” is.
Again, do not try to include keywords in the ALT text if they are not relevant. Adding ALT text to your images will also improve accessibility. For instance, this feature can be used by screen-reading software applications for the blind or visually impaired.
Include Internal Linking to Other Pages Within Your Domain
Try to include at least 2 or 3 internal links to relevant related posts that are already published on your site.
Include External Links to Other Domains
Our advice is to always link to authoritative sources of information or pages that are already ranking very well on the search results for your target keyword.
For our example, we chose to link to a Search Engine Land article (the first result on Google when searching for “search engine operators”).
Choose A Featured Image
Add a featured image to each post as it acts as a visual complement to your post’s headline.
The image will appear not only above your post’s content, but it is also used on your blog’s homepage and when the content is shared on social media.
It’s always good to proofread your posts to check your grammar and spelling before you publish your content.
You can use the Grammarly browser extension and you’ll never have to worry about silly grammatical errors and typos ever again.
Add Content Upgrades
One way you can grow your email list is by adding a content upgrade to your posts. For example, if you have a blog article on email copywriting, you can offer an option for users to download a checklist, swipe files, templates, worksheets, etc for giving you their contact information.
Here are some lead magnet/content upgrade ideas:
- PDF guide
- Case study
- Research study
- Product catalog
- Swipe file
- Video content
End Your Post With A CTA
After users read your blog posts, you will want them to take some action or move them down the funnel. Maybe you ask them to join your email list or attend a free webinar, etc. Minimize CTAs per touchpoint. Stick to one clear ask. Be concise, descriptive, and action-oriented. Where is your target audience landing and why?
Promote On Social Media
Social media allows you to reach massive audiences who are actively seeking content.
There are 2 steps in social media content distribution: Picking the right social channels & Setting up scheduling tools.
Picking the right channels is about selecting channels that match your target persona, message, and goal.
After you’ve picked your channels, you will use social media scheduling tools to automate the process of posting across all of those social channels.
That’s it! If you have completed all of these steps, the content of your page or blog post will be perfectly optimized.
It wasn’t that difficult, right? Yet, if you consistently do this for all your content, you will see its benefits in the long term.
To help you out with this, we created a free blog post checklist you can use to make sure your great blog post has everything it should before you publish.
Don’t forget to download it below!