I’ve had several clients come to me with this exact problem:
They’ve written a blog post for their company website. They did the research, checked their spelling and grammar, and wrote compelling content.
And no one viewed it.
What makes some blog posts rise to the top of search results and others never see the light of day?
Well, writing a blog post blindly just isn’t effective. You need an SEO checklist for blog posts to rank well. Otherwise, the posts that do prioritize SEO will always rank higher.
Thankfully, you don’t have to be a marketing expert to write a search engine-optimized blog post. I’ve created this in-depth SEO checklist to get you started.
@iamrodneywarner 6 Point SEO Checklist for Blog Posts 📈 #searchengineoptimization #bloggingtips #digitalmarketingsecrets #seo ♬ Chill Beat – LoFi Addiction
1) Identify Your Target Keyword and Use It Strategically
If you want your blog post to rank highly in search engine results, you need to use the right keywords.
Keywords are the terms in web pages that the search engine algorithm matches to a search query. For instance, if someone searches for “how to fix a leaky pipe,” Google will crawl the web for pages with that exact keyword string. It will also look for shorter keywords within the query, like “fix a leaky pipe” or just “leaky pipe.”
Of course, Google looks at many other factors when choosing pages to display. But having relevant keywords is a great first step.
Maybe you already have an idea for a blog post. If so, you’ll need to identify a target keyword to use. (If you don’t have a topic in mind, you can start by finding a keyword, then building the content around it.)
I recommend using a keyword research tool like Google Keyword Planner or Google Trends to find the terms your website should be ranking for. This tool is free and can key you into the keywords you may not have thought of on your own.
If you already have a topic in mind, put yourself in the shoes of a customer. What search query would they use to find your blog post? Or what query would ideally lead them to your website?
Once you have your target keyword in mind, you need to use it strategically in your website content.
- Using your keyword too few times can negate the purpose of choosing a target keyword.
- Using it too many times can hurt your search engine rankings — Google will think you’re keyword stuffing, a form of webspam that the search engine rejects.
Instead, sprinkle your target keyword a few times throughout the content. Aim to include it once in the introduction, once or twice in the body, and once in the conclusion.
Then, make a list of a few synonyms of your target keyword — you’ll want to use these, too. Google understands synonyms and semantically related keywords and looks for these terms during the crawling process.
2) Use the Keyword in your Title Tag — And
Before you hit “post” on a blog article, you’ll want to create an engaging, SEO-friendly title tag.
What is a title tag? I like to say it’s the page title the search engines look at.
Using an H1 at the top of your blog post doesn’t necessarily mean this title will translate into the search engine. You’ll need to use an actual title tag as an HTML tag on the web page.
Your title tag is the title that appears as a link in search engine results. It also auto-fills when people share your blog post on social media or in a text message.
You’ll want to use your target keyword in the title tag to ensure the search engines know what your blog post is about. But you’ll also want to use that keyword as part of a more engaging phrase for the following reasons:
- An enticing title tag will make people more likely to click on and read your blog post.
- Your title paints the first impression of your blog post and should reflect it accurately.
You should also follow these rules to make your title tag SEO friendly:
- Use AP title case or sentence case — not all caps.
- Include anywhere from 50 to 70 characters — that’s the length Google shows in search results.
Aside from these rules, take the time to create a title tag that captures your audience’s attention and accurately describes your blog post’s content. Focus on addressing the reader’s pain points and making your title stand out from the other search results.
Notice the differences between these title tag options for the target keyword “blogging tips”:
- Basic: ”10 Blogging Tips”
- Better: ”10 Blogging Tips To Increase Organic Traffic”
- Best: ”These 10 Blogging Tips Will Double Your Web Traffic”
It doesn’t hurt to come up with a few title tag drafts before publishing your blog post.
3) Create a Descriptive and Efficient URL
Your blog URL is just a link, right? It doesn’t need to be anything special…does it?
Your URL is hugely important to your blog post’s performance. You shouldn’t just use whatever URL your blog platform picks for you.
Your blog post URL should be:
- Specific, providing details about your blog post
- Accurate, reflecting the final version of your blog content
- Short and sweet, only including the necessary terms without any “stop words” like “a,” “an,” “but,” “the,” or “so”
Consider the following example. You’re a plumber writing a blog post about common plumbing issues. Your first URL idea is:
This version is a little too short — it doesn’t provide much context for the article. So you try:
This version is too long and contains a few “stop words” that aren’t necessary for URLs. You refine this URL into your final version:
This version is short yet descriptive and unique enough that you probably won’t overlap with any other blog posts on your website.
4) Use Headings! It Makes Your Content Digestible
The next point on my SEO checklist for blog posts is headings. If you’re not using headings, what are you doing?
No matter how long your blog article is, whether you’re writing 100 words or 10,000, headings are vital for any type of blog content. (Then again, 10,000 words is a little excessive for a single blog post.)
Here’s a quick breakdown of the different types of headings you’ll use in your content:
- Heading 1 (H1): The title of the page. Most blog posts only have one H1, and it comes before any other content.
- Heading 2 (H2): Subheadings. Your first H2 will come after your introduction.
- Heading 3 (H3): Sub-subheadings. These headings provide subpoints of your subheadings.
- Headings 4, 5, and 6 (H4, H5, and H6): Additional subheadings. Most blog posts don’t go past H3, and you’ll rarely see H5 and H6.
Your headings should allow readers to skim through your blog post and gain a pretty good idea of what your content covers. If you need an example, scroll through this blog post right now. Notice how I used H2s to define the six points of the SEO checklist for blog posts. If you didn’t have time to read through my whole post, you could skim to find the points you need clarity about.
It should be relatively easy to come up with the heading placement for your blog posts. Simply place headings before any new points you make.
If you’re having trouble determining where to put headings, you may not have a very organized blog post. Consider how you can readjust your content to fit into a logical outline structure. Every heading should directly relate to the heading above it and the H1.
As a rule of thumb, you should be writing your headings (or have a good idea of them) before filling in any of the body content. Doing so ensures your content flows naturally and relates to the title. It can also help you map out your blog post, allowing you to quickly fill in the details later.
Your headings should be short yet descriptive. They should also be user-focused. It’s a good idea to use questions as headings to show readers you will answer those questions within the text.
Consider these headings for a blog post about common plumbing issues:
H1: 5 Common Plumbing Issues — And What To Do Next
- H2: Common Plumbing Issues
- H3: Leaky Pipes
- H3: Clogged Drains
- H3: Constantly Running Toilets
- H3: Low Water Pressure
- H3: No Hot Water
- H2: What To Do When You Experience a Plumbing Problem
- H3: Mitigate the Damage
- H3: Contact a Plumber
- H3: Avoid DIY Repairs
- H2: Contact California Plumbers Today
This outline has a logical structure where each heading addresses the topic in the heading it falls under. When search engine crawlers look for web pages that answer a user’s search query about plumbing problems, they’ll find your blog post.
5) Name Images Descriptively, Use Alt Text, and Geotag Them
By now, you should realize that every element of your blog post affects your search engine rankings — including images.
Search engines don’t know how to identify images on their own. To make your images SEO-friendly, you’ll need to include image names, alt text, and geotags.
First, the image name appears when you mouse over the image. The name should be relevant to the image and include keywords, if possible. For instance, in the plumbing issues example, you might include a picture of a leaky pipe under the Leaky Pipes H3. The image name could be something like “Common Plumbing Issues Leaky Pipe.”
Next, alternative text (alt text) is a text description that would appear if the image didn’t load for a user. Similarly, if a visually impaired user visits your blog post with a screen reading device, they would hear the alt text.
Alt text should be descriptive, allowing users to understand an image without seeing it. “Leaky pipe” is too vague; “A brass pipe dripping water from a crack” is much better.
If you want to boost search engine rankings, consider geotagging your images. This process attaches geographical coordinates to the image. If you’re targeting local users with your content, geotagging can increase your search volume and click-through rates for this population.
6) Link to Your Post From Other Pages on Your Site
Internal and external links are SEO tools that can bring more people to your website and boost your conversion rates. When writing a blog post, you should include both types of links within your content — internal links to encourage readers to visit other pages on your site and external links to show credibility.
Once you’ve published your blog post, you should also take the time to include links to your new post on other pages of your website. Doing so is a great way to improve the visibility of your new post in search engines.
Don’t just insert links randomly throughout your content. Instead, brainstorm relevant pages on your website.
For instance, if you’re a plumber who just wrote about five common plumbing issues, you could include links to your post:
- On your plumbing repairs service page
- On other blog posts about plumbing repairs
- On landing pages about plumbing repair services
Make sure you use relevant anchor text for links. An anchor text consists of the words that contain your hyperlink.
For the plumbing blog post example, good anchor texts may look like this:
- “plumbing problems”
- “common plumbing issues”
- “signs you need plumbing repair”
All of these examples are relevant and short yet descriptive. Meanwhile, bad examples of anchor text include:
- “five common examples of plumbing problems you’ll want to know about” (too long)
- “click here” (While it may feel intuitive to direct readers where to click, this type of anchor text isn’t descriptive enough.)
- “plumbing” (too short)
- “water heater” (irrelevant)
I’m confident that once you follow this SEO checklist for blog posts, you’ll see a noticeable increase in your search engine rankings. But if you don’t want to waste any more time trying to help your content rank, there’s no shame in hiring an expert to do it for you.