You have a blog. Maybe an excellent one! My question to you is: are you optimizing your blog posts for SEO before you hit “Publish”? If you aren’t, let’s fix that right now with my SEO for bloggers checklist.
Your website has to give Google the right signals. If you’re not leveraging SEO for your blog, your awesome posts may just get lost in the Google shuffle, never to be enjoyed by readers who would adore them if they could only find ’em!
This SEO for bloggers checklist is here to fix ’em woes and help get you more readers and website traffic. Part of a thorough and smart SEO strategy is publishing your rad content intelligently, in a way that gives it more value to Google so Google can work for you.
What I’m sharing below is my personal SEO checklist that I use every single time I’m prepping a blog post for publishing. I’ve added explanations to break down the steps and provide resources to get you more comfy and adept at SEO.
(Psst… at the end you can download a simplified version to print + keep by your monitor for easy access each time you publish a post. I recommend you bookmark the recommended resources on your browser too.)
Steal This: The Ultimate SEO for Bloggers Checklist
1. Select a keyword for your article
This is the foundation. No SEO for bloggers checklist would be solid without mentioning the importance of an intelligently chosen keyword for your content.
Now, don’t be afraid to use long-tail keywords. After all, it’s easier to rank for “vegan brunch blueberry waffles” (a longer keyword a.k.a. long-tail keyword) than for “vegan waffles” (a shorter keyword) when you have a ton of competition!
Shorter keywords typically have more competition, so long-tail ones can be smarter depending on your industry and what you want to rank for.
2. Craft a great headline for your article
Now that you have your keyword, create a headline that includes that keyword (hot tip: it’s best to use your keyword at the beginning of your title when possible).
To make your headline as bananas-level awesome as possible, run it through Coschedule Analyzer. There you can tweak it until you come up with something that includes your keyword and ranks 70+ (“Steal This: the Ultimate Seo for Bloggers Checklist (Free Download!)” got a 72 and full disclosure: I had to go through about a dozen variations to get to it). The Coschedule Analyzer is a free tool totally worth making an account for, for reals!
You can use this trick to improve the headlines on your emails and boost your open rates, get more clicks on your Facebook ads and social media posts, etc. too!
Psst… to optimize your article itself, you can use the artificial intelligence plugin Watsonfinds if you like, to make your content convey the desired sentiment to your audience (read more about it in the May edition of Keep Your WordPress Happy.)
3. Grab a stock photo
Select a stock photo – check out The Website Superhero Guide to Free Stock Photos listing my favorites or try a paid site like Shutterstock.
Whether you apply a branded template to it or not is up to you – what’s important is that you include an image with your post!
It’s far better for every post to have an image not just when shared on social media, but also on the blog itself. This is a best practice that increases engagement, because wayyy more people are drawn to read a blog post when it has at least one image. Plus, this makes people wayyy more likely to share it on social media, too!
4. Crop + optimize your image
The best thing is to crop + optimize your image before you upload it to your website.
You can use Toolur or another free image optimizer to compress it. I’ve been using Toolur for months because, out of all the tools I’ve tried out so far that let you compress the images prior to upload, it preserves the best image quality.
Then, a compressing tool brought to my attention by Lily, one of you lovely readers, is this one, which lets you upload images as big as 50MB.
Compressing a.k.a. optimizing your image for your website is beneficial for the SEO of your blog or website because it helps keep loading speed down, and Google likes fast websites better than slow ones!
When you save the optimized image to the computer, include your keyword in the file name. Then, insert your image as the featured image for the blog post so it’ll appear with your post when you share it on social media. You also wanna check whether it shows up above the post automatically after you add it as featured, or whether you need to additionally paste it into your editor (this depends on your theme’s settings, just add it as featured and preview your post to check).
5. Paste your content into WordPress
Paste your article headline and article into WordPress and follow the Yoast SEO plugin‘s best practices until you get a green light (you’re using the Yoast SEO plugin every time you publish a page or post, aren’t you?!).
This is a huge part of a great strategy when it comes to SEO for bloggers: use good tools. And Yoast is one of the very best!
If you’re not on WordPress, that’s OK — you can still follow SEO best practices for blogging, such as:
- Including the keyword in your H2 and as many headings as you can get away with without it sounding ridiculous
- Using it in the URL
- Using it in the first paragraph
- Writing a meta description with your keyword
- Using the keyword in your image name, title, and alt tag (for the featured image and any others in the article)
- Having a keyword density of between 0.5% and 2.5% overall in your article
6. Format your post
Apply web design best practices to your formatting, such as using the following in your posts and pages:
- White space (ample padding and margins that give your text room to breathe)
- Short sentences
- Short paragraphs
- Subheadings (H2-H6) to make the article easily scanable (Google loves ’em too if you include your keyword in ’em!)
These tips will help make sure your text is easily digestible for your readers. Because nobody likes fat ol’ blocks of text!
Check out my pal Whitney Ryan’s post 5 Tips for More Readable Emails for more on this, because you can apply her words to your blog posts too.
And to edit your content so it’s easier to read, try the Hemingway App (thanks for the tip, Whit!).
7. Link out
Link to relevant blog posts, pages, and/or products – because link-building is important! Both for Google and for your readers to find more useful content easily.
You also wanna link out to other people’s content when relevant. This actually helps with SEO if you link to high-ranking websites (think: Wikipedia, WordPress.org, The New York Times, etc.) because Google starts to see your website as associated with high-ranking ones, and your domain authority starts climbing as a result.
8. Hit publish, superhero!
You know how to do this!
9. Submit your URL to Fetch as Google
Once you publish your blog post (after applying the SEO for bloggers checklist, of course) submit its URL to Fetch as Google via the Google Search Console.
This action tells Google to index your post faster than it would on its own – it can mean a difference of Google indexing it within an hour versus 45-60 days later (!!!!!).
All right, we’re done! I’m excited to hear how it goes for you and what results you get over time.
P.S. If the SEO for bloggers checklist seems long or complicated, ask me your questions below (I’m nice, promise!) And I assure you: the first few times it’ll take longer, but soon you’ll get used to it and start flying through the steps. More importantly, it’ll pay off! Do it for a few months and you’ll notice your organic reach growing, superhero!
Download your SEO for bloggers checklist below!
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