How to Optimize Your Blog Post for SEO: 7-Step Checklist

How to Optimize Your Blog Post for SEO: 7-Step Checklist

There are a lot of SEO tricks and hacks to get your blog post to come up higher in search engine results, but a lot of people ignore the basic steps that make the most difference.

Once you write a blog post, you want people to find it and read it.

The most important part is writing good content. Without good content, you don’t stand a chance in getting found.

But after that, companies often resort to complex ad strategies to get more traffic to their post, but most of the time they ignore the basics. The advanced strategies work, but they only move the needle a little bit in comparison to the basics.

Related Read: How to Write Viral & Relevant Blog Posts

Basic SEO and quality content will make the most difference in web traffic. The rest will only give you incremental growth.

SEO (search engine optimization), is formatting your web page so that it shows up higher in search engine results like Google or Bing.

Back in the medieval times of the internet, you wrote your web page for robots. You tried to stuff your article with as many key words as possible and paid web directories to include your link.

Now search engines are smarter, and a little more human.

The old tactics don’t work any more and they’ll only get you penalized.

However, basic SEO strategies have always worked. They continue to work today and they’ll work in the future. They’re time-proof.

And they’re so drop-dead easy that you can quickly apply them to all your blog posts and see a tangible boost in web traffic coming from search engines.

 

Before You Start – Pick a Keyword Phrase for Your Topic

You already have your blog post topic, but make sure it’s specific. I mean really specific. Not something general like “How to exercise.” I mean specific like, “Short exercises you can do at home to burn fat.”

The more specific (and clear) you are in what you’re writing about, the more traffic you’ll get. Really.

Once you have a topic, decide on a specific keyword phrase to represent it. This would be 3-5 words that both describes your topic and is a common search term.

How do you know if it’s a common search term? Enter it into a Google search. Then scroll to the bottom of the search results, and you’ll see related search terms. Pick any one of them – they are popular search phrases that people have actually typed in.

Optimize your blog post - Google search
Google Search

 

Optimize your blog post - related searches
Related Search Results

 

You’ll use your keyword phrase in these optimization steps.

1 – Optimize Your Blog Post Title

Opt for as descriptive a title as possible. Make sure it says exactly what the blog post is about. Avoid vague or general titles.

That doesn’t mean it has to be boring. Write an engaging title that people would want to read, but make it so that both people and search engines know what your article is about.

Lean on the longer side. Your article title should be at least 5 words long, and ideally closer to 7-10 words.

And of course, work your SEO keyword phrase into the article title.

2 – Use Descriptive Headings Throughout the Article

Search engines rely heavily on headings in your blog post to determine what the content is about.

Try having at least 2-3 headings to break your article up, but ideally closer to 5. You should have a heading every 3-4 paragraphs – but naturally whenever there is a change in sub-topics of your article.

Weave in the individual words of your keyword phrase if possible, but focus more on long, descriptive titles that really summarize what the section is about.

Format them as H2 for your primary headings, and H3 as sub-headings if you have them. This is important for search engines to actually recognize them as headings. It should be a feature readily available in your editing toolbar of any website CMS like WordPress or Squarespace.

3 – Write a Clear Intro Paragraph

Keywords that are higher up a page hold more weight and relevance than words that are lower down the page. The first paragraph of your article holds the most weight.

In those first few sentences, make sure you clearly identify what the blog post is going to be about. Include your keyword phrase in that first paragraph, and in the first sentence if possible.

But again, it doesn’t have to be a boring description. You can still be engaging and hook your audience in while telling them what they’re about to read. SEO optimization is just as much for the reader as it is for the search engine.

4 – Optimize the Content of Your Blog Post

Search engines like Google are constantly improving their algorithms. Rather than relying simply on the quantity of keywords in an article to know what it is about, it looks for the context of surrounding text. In short, search engines are becoming more human.

This is good news for you. It makes it harder for people to “hack the system” to make their page show higher in search results. If you naturally write good quality content and stay focused on the topic, your blog post will have better SEO.

But you can still be intentional and conscious of how you write your content. Be sure to sprinkle your keyword phrase a few times throughout the article, but in a natural way without making it sound forced.

Related: 5 Ways to Write Engaging Blog Posts That Your Visitors Will Want to Read 

5 – Make Your Images Part of SEO

While the actual text is the foundation of SEO, blogs often ignore the importance of images in your post.

When inserting images in most CMS editors like WordPress or Squarespace, there is the option to add an “alt tag.” This is an invisible descriptor that tells search engines what the photo is about.

The easiest thing to do is to add your blog post title as the alt tag. If you have multiple images, describe the section, preferably the heading title you used that section, as the alt tag.

6 – Optimize Your Meta Description

Your meta description has zero effect on search results. Google, Bing, and other search engines will exclude it when factoring results. So why is it important?

Because it will influence people clicking on the search link to your page.

Your meta description is the max-160 character description that shows up under the title in search results. It gives people a brief description of what the page is about before they click.

Make that meta description clear and relevant. Think of it as an extension of your title.

As a side note, ignore meta tags completely. Search engines have excluded them and they don’t appear in search results, so they’re pointless.

7 – Remember Inbound Links from Other Articles

It’s pretty good practice to add links in your new blog post to older blog posts you’ve written. Having a good amount of internal links (links within your site that go to other places in your site) helps search engines to better find and index your pages.

But a lot of people forget to include links going to their new blog post.

Go through your old blog posts and find 3 articles that relate to your current blog posts. Somewhere in the old articles, add appropriate links to your new article. This will make sure that it’s found and indexed quickly.

Use this SEO Optimization Process Every Time

All these steps are really basic, but they will have greater impact on your SEO than any other tactic.

But you need to be consistent with it. Add this as a checklist to your article-writing process and be sure to follow it every single time.

If you do, you’ll ensure that web traffic grows continuously and steadily overtime and you’ll get a lot more traction from your blog.

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