Editor’s Note: this post first appeared in April of 2016. But SEO changes fast, so we figured it was time for a refresh on this one. We’ve included new tips and information and updated the Blog Post SEO Checklist with all of the latest and greatest thinking on blogging SEO in 2018.
Many of our customers tell us that SEO is one of the primary reasons they blog. And it’s a great reason – blogging can have a profound impact on your organic rankings and traffic. But, to realize that benefit, you need to do a number of things, one of which is to ensure your blog posts are “optimized” for SEO success.
Read on for more on how to do that and for our blog post SEO checklist.
What is SEO for Blogging Anyway?
“SEO optimization” and “SEO optimized” are terms that get thrown around liberally in the online marketing community. They simply mean that your blog post (the content and the supporting formatting and webpage that content lives on) include a number of things known by the search engine optimization community to help your blog post rank well on Google. Among SEOs, this is typically referred to as “on-page optimization”. Optimizing blog posts for SEO is a lot like optimizing other content and website pages, but there are some blogging-specific things you’ll want to pay attention to.
On-page optimization is an incredibly powerful SEO tool and believed by some experts to be more important than ever in getting your website to rank well on Google. The challenge is that on-page optimization is 1) fairly complex and 2) changing frequently.
So, we’ve created our below checklist to use the most up-to-date thinking on optimization and distill down tons of resources and thinking into one simple checklist.
A Blog-Post SEO Checklist
It’s a great idea to use a checklist for on-page SEO – there are a lot of things to do and a checklist will help you ensure all the right boxes are checked. This is our version for blogging. It also happens to be the same checklist we use ourselves – this post, for example, is optimized for search queries like “blog post SEO checklist”.
Stop! Before you jump in, do note that in 2018, it’s important to keep in mind you should optimize your blog posts (and all of your website content) for human users first, search engines second. So if creating an awesome post for your human users and creating a perfectly-optimized post ever conflict, choose the humans over the machines.
|Optimization||Best Practice||Add’l Info|
|Focus on 1-2 keywords||Pick keywords that fit into your overall keyword strategy – are they terms your prospects and customers are likely to use?||Google is getting smarter and smarter. Including related terms – keywords that make sense to be talked about in the same post – can be helpful to SEO.|
|Body Text||Use keywords at a normal pace throughout. Don’t “stuff” them in|
Include keyword in first 100 words, if possible.
|Title Tag||40-60 characters. Include the keyword(s), near the beginning of the title tag if possible.|
|Date||The publish date of a post, in a format recognized by Google as a date.||For some search queries, Google biases toward showing more recent results, so including a date on your post can help it rank better. Most blogging platforms (like WordPress and Hubspot) format dates in a way that’s understood by Google.|
|URL||<90 characters. Include the keyword(s) if possible. Uses dashes to separate words and skip connector words like “and”. Make your URLs human-readable as humans will see them in search results!|
|Meta description||100-160 characters. Include the keyword(s). Make your meta descriptions a mini “advertisement” for why a searcher should click on your result instead of others!||While meta descriptions aren’t actually a ranking signal, Google bolds keywords in your meta description if they match the search query typed by the searcher. In addition, a good meta description “ad” can increase the number of people who click on your result, which in turn can increase your ranking.|
|Alt text for images||Use for all images; keep it short; no more than 16 words. Include keywords *when appropriate* – if an image relates to your keyword.||It’s important to ensure your image alt tags describe the images they’re attached to. If those images relate to your keyword, your alt tag will naturally include keywords. But DO NOT stuff keywords into your image alt tags if they don’t make natural sense. Google has written about this here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en|
|H1 Tag||Use your primary in your H1 tag in a natural way if possible.||In blogging, your H1 tag and your blog post headline are often the same, as defined by your blogging platform. This is one place where you may have conflicting goals for human users and SEO. If you’re creating a headline that’s amazing for readers but doesn’t include your keyword in exact form, that’s ok – go with the great headline!|
|External Links (links to other websites)||Link to reputable, useful content where appropriate in your post (1-3 external links as a very rough rule of thumb – “when appropriate” is key)||Google wants to deliver the best possible results to searchers. External links are useful for human readers, and also signal to Google that 1) your post is high-quality and 2) help Google understand the topic of your post – if you’re linking to other external content related to what you’re talking about, this will help Google build it’s “model” of what your post is about.|
|Internal Links Out (links to other content on your own website)||Link to other pages on your website to help users find other content on a website that should be of interest to people reading your blog post.||In addition to serving some of the same purposes of external links, internal links can help people stay on your website longer and get more value from your content. Since Google now measures “engagement” – how much users engage with your site, keeping folks on your site can be valuable for your SEO.|
|Internal Links to Your Post||When appropriate, find other places on your website where it makes sense to link *to* the post you’re writing||this will help Google understand how your post fits into the overall theme of your website and help users find your blog posts.|
|CTA (call to action)||Include one! 🙂||A CTA, or call to action, is a button or link that helps users answer the question, “well, I read this post, now what?” Help users get more value from your website (similar to internal links), help yourself get more leads, and help search engines see engagement by keeping folks on your website, getting more page views, time on site, etc.|
|Add canonical tags (or use sitewide canonical tags)|| |
Include a canonical tag in the <head> section of every blog post.
|Canonical tags tell search engines what the “true original” source of content is. So if your content gets copied by spammy websites (or well-intentioned folks for that matter), having a canonical tag will ensure you get credit for being the original publisher of the content and don’t get dinged for having duplicate content.|
This may seem like a long list, but, believe it or not, we’ve tried to stick to the basics. If you want more, check out the resources below. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed about this whole “wow I need to create a lot of content and optimize it!” thing, read on.
Learn More About On-Page Optimization
If you want to learn more about some of the advanced techniques or more detail on on-page SEO, you can read on.
On-page blog post optimization resources:
- How to Make Your Blog Posts SEO-Friendly (Source: HubSpot). This is a more detailed version of our checklist above. If you have questions about why and how to optimize your blog posts, this is a good checklist with additional information.
- A Visual Guide to Keyword Targeting and On-Page SEO (Source: Moz). Like the first article, this is a bit broader in scope and goes beyond a blog post. However, the recommendations here are excellent for web pages and blog posts. This resource gets into more complex and advanced tactics for on-page SEO. Regardless of time and resources available, you should familiarize yourself with this more ambitious on-page SEO.
- The Anatomy of a Perfect Blog Post (Source: Buffer). If you want an optimized blog page and a blog post with quality content, start here. This is a must-read for tackling the essentials in any blog post you publish. And beyond SEO, this is a fantastic post about the tenets of a what differentiates good blog content from crap.
- Which Page Markup Tags Still Matter? (Source: Moz). How to add advanced markup to your page to get the most from your content optimizations.
How Should I Keep My Blog Writers Using This Checklist?
To make it easy for the rest of our team, we share those resources on our editorial calendar so that you don’t have to hunt for them when you need it. You can download a version of our editorial calendar here.
(Check out the “Resources” tab and the “SEO Optimization Checklist” tab.)
Wow, This All Sounds Like a Lot of Work. Does Verblio (Formerly BlogMutt) Offer Blog Post Optimization Services?
If you’re a Verblio customer, you can add “Publish It!” to your subscription. Publish It ensures that every post you get from Verblio is ready to publish with on-page SEO best practices in place.
If you’re not a Verblio customer, we’re a blog post writing service that utilizes 3,000+ content writers to help you create awesome content for your business. And with Publish It, we’ll optimize all that great content for SEO.