On September 26th, 2015 at 9AM, I delivered a presentation titled “Blog Post Checklist” at the 2nd Annual WordCamp Tampa.
This blog post is an example of all the items discussed in the checklist, as well as providing all the slides to those in attendance and those who were not able to attend.
1. Topic/Keyword Research
Google Keyword Planner/Google Trends
Internal Site Search. What are users on your site searching for? Are they finding it? If not, a perfect topic has appeared.
Google Search Console. Find out what keywords you’re getting impressions for, but could be ranking better. You’ll be surprised what you can improve.
- SEM Rush
- And many others
2. Write The Post
First, write the post without SEO in mind. This will help you focus on the topic and your users so you can get the most valuable information down.
If you’re not a great writer, don’t have time to do it, or just seem to stare at a blank page for hours, there are a few choices for you.
- Record your thoughts into a recorder, then have someone transcribe it for you.
- Hire a writer
3. Revise With SEO
Now that you’ve written the post, now you can go back and add keyword sparingly. But remember, it should be human readable.
This is also your first chance to checking for spelling, grammar, run-on sentences, and clarity. All these certainly matter to your readers and to SEO.
4. Add Images
Images help provide examples or assist the them or concept of your blog topic.
The filename should also be SEO/Human friendly
- Not friendly: DSC-21234.jpg
- Friendly: blog-post-checklist-example-image.jpg
Add ALT text and sometimes Title Text
<img src=”http://www.your-website.com/this-is-a-descriptive-filename.jpg” alt=”This is descriptive ALT text” title=”This is the title of your image”>
ALT text helps screen readers read to users who are visually impaired. This is not a place to stuff keywords.
Credit Image Creators
When appropriate, be sure to credit image creators when possible.
Where to find images?
There are endless stock photography websites available to you and images with a reasonable resolution tend to be less than $2 each. We’ve been using Dollar Photo Club, which is now Adobe Stock for quite sometime with great results.
Add H2s and H3s
Headings help organize your content and sections
Use keywords in your headings when appropriate
H3s are excellent for sub-sections
Usually your Blog Post Title will be your H1. So don’t add another. There should only be 1 H1 on each page.
H4, H5, and H6 headings are also available, but usually aren’t necessary
5. Internal Linking
Find and link similar content on your site to and from your new blog post. This keeps readers on your site longer if they click on those links.
Double-points if you use keyword-rich anchor text. Example: WordPress SEO Basics. That link will take you to a presentation I’ve done previously on WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
Internal linking is a under-appreciated way of helping users navigate through deeper sections of your website or to point them to other content you’ve written previously.
Take time to go back to your previous blog posts and pages to find internal linking opportunities.
6. Link Out or External Linking
Also known as external linking. This is a great way to pass credit on to source that you’ve used or to blog posts that triggered you to write a blog post.
Be sure those links are opened in a new tab/window. Use “Open Link in a new window/tab” in WordPress’s editor. Or if you’re HTML savvy, just add rel=”_blank” to your anchor tag.
Linking externally can help you be a credible source of information to your readers. But be careful, linking to poor websites or untrustworthy websites can harm your SEO and your credibility.
The category feature in WordPress, and tags, tend to either be under-used or abused. I recommend that you find one category that your blog post belongs to and add it there, and it should be the best category for your blog post.
Think of categories as chapters in your non-fiction book.
Consider re-structuring your categories to have a more concise structure. I’ve done a presentation about categories and tags before. There’s an example of internal linking.
Add tags liberally. Add as many as you wish. But be sure they are words and phrases that best describe your content
Don’t duplicate or provide too many variant tags. It reduces the effectiveness of the phrases and becomes confusing at a certain point.
Tags are about organizing and describing your content, not stuffing keywords.
Think of tags as items in the index of your non-fiction book.
9. Add a Featured Image
Most theme use the featured image function very well. They typically appear at the top of your blog post and as thumbnails in category and tag archives.
Featured images become the visual poster for your blog post and catch the reader’s eye.
Find out the best width and height for your theme and stick to it.
Social media networks use the featured image as the image of a post in most cases.
10. Revise Again!
Trust me, you’ve missed something.
Our minds play tricks on us and the English language can be confusing sometimes. Wrods look fine mpeelisled wenh we’er in a rsuh. And synonyms can also confuse our subconscious
Read your post backwards, you’ll find more mistakes that way.
11. Write the Post Title
Keep your keywords as close to the beginning as possible.
Keep it short and make it irresistible.
Consider your site/business’ voice.
- Clickbait = hype. This type of title hypes up your content, but often is a let down for readers
- You’re Writing Blog Posts Wrong, Find Out How To Fix It
- 42 Reasons Why Your Blog Posts Suck. Number 4 is the BEST
- This Blog Post Checklist Will LAUNCH Your Blog To The Top
- A Blog Post Checklist That WORKS
- Credibility = less hype. Stay level headed and deliver valuable information
- How to Write Better Blog Posts for Your Business
- A Blog Post Checklist for Businesses
- Why You Should Follow A Blog Post Checklist
- Blog Posts That Keep Readers Interested
- A Blog Post Checklist for WordPress Users
In most cases you don’t have to do anything. Your WordPress installation will take care of this for you. You can view or change your permalink settings in your Dashboard > Settings > Permalinks. Warning: changing your permalinks can result in 404 errors if permalinks are not redirected properly.
Yoast SEO will remove Stop Words (a, the, in, at, etc.) from your permalinks. Sometimes this is fine, other times it might not be depending on your niche. You can disable this by going to Yoast SEO > Advanced > Permalinks > Remove Stop Words from Slugs. Personally, I like keeping stop works in permalinks.
- Bad Permalink: https://www.tampa-seo.com/?p=762
- This link does not say anything about what the blog post is about
- Good Permalink: https://www.tampa-seo.com/blog-post-checklist-for-wordpress
- We know exactly what this page is going to be about. Google can read this better too!
13. Yoast SEO Meta Description
- Recommends 156 characters and I agree
- Does not directly affect rankings
- Does entire clicks, which does affect your rankings
- Not a place to stuff keywords
- Should be human readable
- If you don’t write one, Google will find an excerpt from your content and display that instead. You may not like it.
- Use Benefit-Trigger statements
“Read this blog post checklist to make sure you never miss out on WordPress features or opportunities for SEO. Download the slides for easy reference!”
- 149 characters
- Urgency – “fear of missing out”
- Call to Action – “read” and “download”
- Simplicity – “easy reference”
14. Yoast SEO Page Title
First, Yoast likes to call the Title Tag the SEO Title.
- Yes, your Title tag or SEO title can be different from your blog post title.
- There is no specific character length or minimum or maximum to follow. Instead it’s about pixel length. But we recommend between 50-70 characters.
- Include your primary or focus keyword as close to the beginning as possible.
Example: “Blog Post Checklist for WordPress Authors”
- 42 characters
- Primary keyword is at the front
- Short an concise
15. Yoast SEO Focus Keyword
Yoast offers a focus keyword field where you can add your primary keyword. This helps find how often and where your target keyword is found in your content and how many times in the:
- Article heading
- Page title
- Page URL (permalink)
- Meta description
Do not stuff keywords in your content to simple increase the amount of times your keyword appears.
16. Revise Again!!
- Seriously, there’s something missing or wrong
- I promise you there is
- Fine, don’t take me seriously
- But you can always…
17. Hire an Editor
- Editors keep you honest
- They are a fresh pair of eyes
- They help you say what you want BETTER
- They help maintain our blog’s standards, style, and voice – sometimes better than you can
- Even Stephen Kin has editors
- They really do get the best out of you
18. Optimize Social Sharing
Write special headings and descriptions for Google+, Twitter, Facebook in Yoast SEO. You should consider uploading featured images that are designed for those networks too.
These networks all have different demographics, and you should cater to them.
Yoast SEO’s social sharing feature really helps you control the message and help users share it.
19. Schedule Social Sharing
Use a plugin to automatically share your posts.
- Jetpack Publicize (free)
- SNAP (Social Network Auto Poster) (free/paid)
- Hootsuite (free/paid)
- Buffer (free/paid)
If you’re more tech savvy and want more control over certain triggers, try an automated task service
- If This Then That (IFTTT.com)
- Zapier (zapier.com)
20. Automate/Schedule Email Marketing with RSS
Automatically tell your loyal readers and email subscribers about new content.
Have an RSS to Email service
Use WordPress’s built-in preview function.
How does your blog post look on the front-end?
Catch anything wrong? Fix it!
Don’t tell yourself “Good Enough”, instead ask “Is this my best?”
Hit publish or schedule your blog post.
Promote your post!
- Contact other bloggers and let them know about your new content.
- Get back to business
- Write another one
Steve Scott is the CEO & Director of Training at the Tampa SEO Training Academy. He has taught SEO skills to people from around the world and currently offers his hands-on search engine optimization training workshops in Tampa to individuals and businesses of all sizes. Corporate SEO training classes and consulting are also available.