Looking for an ultimate blog post checklist to help you optimize your content for SEO and get more website traffic?
Well, get ready, because this post is PACKED with information to help you make sure you’re getting the most out of your content.
If you’re more of “give it to me quick and sweet” type of person, I also created an interactive checklist that goes through the 3 stages so you can download it and keep it near and dear to you when writing your blog posts to keep you on the right track.
But for the ULTIMATE info, quick tips, and insights scroll down and read on my friend…
Stage #1. Planning:
#1A: Keyword/Keyphrase Research
The key to writing a successful SEO-friendly blog post is knowing WHO you’re writing for and then being able to figure out WHAT phrases those people would type into a search engine in order to find your content.
Make sure you’re utilizing long-tail keywords (aka keyphrases). Single keywords like “Gluten Free” are WAY too competitive and broad to try to rank for. Using a long-tail keyword like “Gluten free vanilla birthday cake recipe” is less competitive and more specific….and ultimately more worth your time because the people that type in that long tail keyword are more likely to click and read your content.
Think of the context of your keywords; what information will someone expect to see when typing that search term into Google?
Quick Tip: Google the keywords you want to use. Do the results make sense? What if you switch the words around? Does it create a new meaning? (Like the example “Singer” vs. “The Singer” When you type in Singer, you get sewing machine results. When you type in “The Singer” you get songs, books, and movie results.
Check out this post: 3 Factors for Finding Your Ideal SEO Keywords
#1B: Write an Effective HeadlineWhen it comes to formulating your blog post title and headline, you want to make sure it has 2 things:
Includes your keywords or keyphrases.
It’s persuasive or encourages someone to click through.
Your blog post titles and headlines are one of the most important parts of marketing your new content, not only for SEO but for your audience. If your title is weak — even if your content is great — then people are less likely to click through and actually read it. By creating a persuasive and descriptive title, you’ll get more people to check it out. Check out this post by CoSchedule for awesome advice on writing effective headlines.
Here’s an example of a “meh” post title: “Get Traffic to Your Online Store”
Here’s a better version: “10 Ways Online Shop Owners Can Increase Their Website Traffic.”
The second example is better because:
- It targets a specific group (online shop owners)
- It includes keywords (“increase website traffic” and “increase website traffic to online shop”), which are things that someone might search for on Google in order to find your post.
***These 2 planning steps above are SUPER important and will allow you to create a strategic framework for when you’re writing.
#1C: (BONUS IF YOU’RE ON WORDPRESS)
Install and Setup the Yoast Plugin.
Yoast is a FREE plugin for WordPress that runs through your content and gives you suggestions on how to make it as SEO-friendly as possible. It also gives you the flexibility to customize your blog posts titles, keywords, meta descriptions, and social media sharing information.
Important notes for before you starting drafting and writing your blog post:
- Don’t stress about using your keywords and keyphrases too much. When you create a blog post around a certain topic, you should be using your keywords and keyphrases naturally.
- DO try to use your keyword/keyphrase naturally in the first paragraph. This helps reaffirm the content to both Google and your blog post readers.
- Stuffing your keywords (and sounding like an SEO robot) is BAD for SEO and a complete turn-off for website visitors.
- Google picks up on context and the use of synonyms
- Check out this blog post: 5 SEO Keyword Mistakes That Are Preventing Results
Stage #2. Before You Publish:
After you’re done writing your blog post, the other half of the fun begins…these don’t have to be done in a specific order, but they should ALL be completed before you publish that post in to the web world.
#2A: Utilize Your HeadingsHeadings not only make your content easier to read but they also tell search engines what your post is about, and how your content is organized.
There are six different headings to choose from in WordPress. And it’s a good idea to use a few different ones in your post (I usually use the H2, H3, and H4 headings for my content).
Heading 1 is your blog post title. You should not use this heading anywhere else in the post. If you’re using WordPress you only need to include it once in the post title box at the top of the page.
Heading 2 is your sub-heading. Search engines will look for keywords in your sub-heading to get a better idea of what your content is about. Use the H2 heading as the main heading for separate areas of ideas in your posts.
Headings 3, 4, 5 & 6 are also sub-headings, but they aren’t as prominent as the H2. Use these headings to break up your content into different parts so that your blog posts are easier to read for your visitors.
It’s a good idea to take advantage of as many headings as you feel comfortable with using. It helps search engines to determine the key points in your content. It also makes it easier for people to skim through and find exactly what they’re looking for.
IMPORTANT NOTE: A BIG mistake I see blog post writers make is that they use headings for STYLE instead of purpose. Dropping random H1 tags around the post because it visually looks pretty will not only confuse your readers and make your content hard to digest, it’ll confuse the hell out of Google too.
#2B: Customize The Meta Description
What is it? A meta description is the snippet of text that appears underneath the link of a search result.
The meta description is read by 90% of users before clicking on the link.
The meta description is one of the best ways to explain what the article is about. That way when someone is reading your meta description they will know if the article is what they’re looking for. So make sure it’s well-written to help you stand out.
Try to use your keyword/keyphrase here
If you’re using Yoast on WordPress, this is a breeze.
If you’re on Squarespace, your post excerpt is used as your Meta Description.
Technically, it’s been said by Google that the meta description doesn’t technically affect your SEO rank, but it DOES effect if people are going to click on your blog post in search results and on social media. THIS is why it’s important to not leave it as the default “beginning of the post” text.
#2C: Add Internal and External Links
Hyperlinks are how Google bots find and index content. It’s also an easy way to make your site easy to navigate for your website visitors AND help reduce your bounce rate.
Make sure you’re adding at least 2 internal links to each blog post. Meaning, make sure you’re linking to your other related blog posts and pages on your website.
Add 1-2 external links to each blog post. External links give Google more hints about your content and trustworthiness.
#2D: URL Optimization
It’s important that each URL is easy to understand, explains what the article is about, and includes your long-tail keyword. Here are a few examples:
Optimized URL (we want one like this!)
Difficult to Understand (we don’t want one like this)
Impossible to Understand (we don’t want one like this)
#2E: Select Category + Tags
Categories and tags are a way to organize your blog content for both your website visitors AND Google. Each post should have 1 category, and usually around 5 or 6 tags.
Never leave content as “Uncategorized” — it looks unprofessional to blog readers and confusing for Google.
Not sure the difference between categories and tags? Check out this quick video explanation.
#2F: Optimize Your Image Before Your Upload It
Resize your images BEFORE uploading them to your website. No website ever needs a 4,000 pixel wide image. All that’s doing is slowing down your website.
Run your images through an optimized to remove all of the extra data that could be attached to the file.
Make sure your images correlate with your content. Adding random images, just to add an image is confusing for both website visitors and Google.
#2G: Add ALT Text to ALL Images
Google can’t “see” images, so the only way it knows what the image is…is by using the ALT text.
Try to make sure your keyword or keyphrase is included in this ALT text….but don’t try to stuff it in there. It should come naturally if you’re using an image that is closely related to the topic of your content.
This will help you rank higher AND drive traffic from Google Image searches.
Quick Tip: If you change the alt tag after the image is already in your post it may not save or update in the post itself. Change the alt tag before inserting the image into your article.
#2H: Add Pinterest Friendly Image
Pinterest is considered more of a Search Engine, then a social media platform, and just about every industry could benefit from taking advantage of it. BUT it’s important to have a Pinterest-friendly image to pin. These images are vertical, in comparison to the other social media platforms that prefer you post horizontal images.
Quick Tip: Have a few Pinterest-friendly blog post templates available that match your brand and these will be a breeze to do. It’s totally worth the extra few minutes to create and add one of these to your new blog post.
#2I: Add Obvious Social Sharing Buttons
Make sure that your social sharing buttons on your blog post are extremely obvious, easy to find, and even easier to use…..especially on mobile. If you have the floating social buttons on the side of your post, make sure they don’t block any of your text on a mobile device!
My personal favorite social media sharing plugin is Social Warfare!
#2J: Proofread + Make Content Scannable
2 things that turn away blog post readers right away: grammatical errors and big blocks of text.
A writing mistake here or there is fine and most people will overlook it, but if you’re not proofreading your stuff before publishing it could be giving your readers a bad impression.
Utilize headings, lists, and line breaks to help break up content and make it more scannable. People don’t read content online like they do print materials, so big blocks of text are a big no-no.
#2K: Take a Look at Yoast Suggestions
If you’re using WordPress and the Yoast plugin, you’re in luck! Yoast gives a list of recommended suggestions to take a look at to help you make your post even MORE SEO-friendly.
Getting the green light in Yoast is awesome, but just make sure by doing so you’re not lowering the ease of reading for your website visitors. AKA if your content sounds like an SEO robot wrote it….the green light in Yoast won’t matter because no one’s hanging around long enough to finish reading your content.
#2L: End with a Question to Engage Readers
An awesome way to increase brand awareness, trust, and authority with your blog readers is by engaging with them. Ask the question or their opinion on your content. Start the conversion. This won’t have a direct impact on your SEO but it will improve the relationships you have with your visitors….and as humans, we typically only by from people we like and trust 😉
Stage #3. After You Publish:
#3A: Submit Your New Post to Google Search Console
Want your content to start showing up in search results? Well in order to make that happen, your content has to be added to Google’s index of web pages….and to do that, Google has to know your content exists! After you publish your blog post, log in to your Google Search Console Account and submit your new blog post to Google. What that does is poke Google on the shoulder and let them know that you have new content on your website that needs to be crawled and indexed.
#3B: Pin Your Post to Pinterest
You made a Pinterest-friendly graphic, but now you have to pin that bad boy! Pin your blog post graphic to your website Pinterest board, and then pin it to a few group boards as well.
#3C: Schedule to post in Tailwind Tribes
Tailwind Tribes are a genius way to build your traffic from Pinterest. Tailwind allows you to schedule pins into different groups, at different times, to increase your pins exposure….and in turn, increasing your website traffic.
Want a free month of Tailwind? Just click this link to snag a free 30-day trial!**
#3D: Share Your Post on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn
You put in all of the time to research, write, edit, and publish your blog post, now you have to share it! As a rule of thumb you should be spending JUST as much time, if not more, promoting your blog post, then you did writing it.
You don’t have to utilize every.single.social.media.platform. It’s important to focus on the social media platforms that your target audience hang out on. If you’re clients/customers are Business Owners or focus on B2B, don’t overlook LinkedIn. If your audience is of the older generation, maybe stay off of Twitter.
#3E: Make a Shoutout on Instagram or Instagram Live
Is your audience hanging out on Instagram? Make a special graphic about your blog post and post it to your feed. And if you’re feeling extra saucy, go live on Instagram and let your people know what kind of information they can find in your blog post…..after all, you wrote the content with them in mind anyway, right?
#3F: In 1-2 months, go back and share your content on social media again
Sharing your content 1x isn’t enough….especially if the content you wrote is still relevant.
If you’re worried people are going to think you’re spamming them by shouting out your blog post numerous times, don’t fret…social media moves SUPER fast. There’s SO much content being published and shown to people that know one will remember that you shared your blog post a month or 2 ago.
And if you’d prefer all of this fun stuff in an interactive and fillable checklist, I got you covered:
So, what’d ya think?
Did you find this blog post helpful? Let me know in the comments which step you were missing out on!
And share this post with your friends so they can get BETTER results from their blog posts!