When you start mentioning SEO some people run a mile. They think it is a complicated thing when in truth it’s quite simple.
In this article, I am going to show you the SEO best practices checklist for your blog posts. By the time you have read through to the finish, you will feel much more confident about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how you can use it to gain higher rankings and more traffic.
Not got a blog yet? No problem.
Check out this article on how to build a blog from scratch with no experience needed.
You can start to build your blog for free and be up and running within just a few minutes. Then you can use these tasks on every blog post as you build your blog and your business.
I am going to break it down into six sections, so let’s get cracking with section one, Keywords.
1. Search for Relevant Keywords
Finding good keywords will be your most important task. You are looking for what I call long-tail keywords that have low competition and that people are actually searching for.
More on how to find keywords that will rank high in the search engines in this article…
Using tools like Ubersuggest, AHreffs, and Jaaxy for keyword research can make life easier. You can even use the power of Google itself, by typing in a general keyword Google will then give you more suggestions of long-tailed keywords that people have searched for.
2. Include Keywords in an H1 Tag
Adding your chosen keywords to your blog title will in turn add an H1 tag (heading one) which is a must. If you can get your main keywords at the beginning of the title that would be more beneficial in Google’s eye. You can have it anywhere within the title but make sure that it reads and flows correctly.
3. Add to Your First Paragraph
It was once thought that you needed your keywords throughout your article, but recent reports have stated that having it once within the first paragraph or two is all you need. If you are trying to rank for a long-tail keyword make sure the whole keyword is in there in the correct order.
4. Use LSI Keywords
Latent semantic indexing (LSI) is a system search engines use to analyze the other words people use surrounding a given topic. LSI keywords are words and phrases with a high degree of correlation to your target topic. Google’s algorithm uses them to help determine the content quality and relevance to the search term.
Watch this video about Keyword research…
5. One Keyword Per Post
Do not try to add more than one main keyword to each post. Although in time your post will rank for many words and phrases, concentrate on just one. This will help the search engines decipher what your article is about and rank it accordingly.
6. Meta Title
Add your keyword to the meta title. Meta titles are what the search engine shows in the search engine. An optimal length for this is under 60 characters. Anything over this length will probably get cut off and not be read.
7. Meta Description
The same goes for the meta description as with the title it is shown by the search engines in their results.
To enable you to add both the meta title and description you will need to add a plugin to your WordPress site. Two great ones are All in One SEO and Yoast SEO. Both are free to add and will appear at the bottom underneath your post editor.
You can also copy the information to the social settings, that way when people share your content on social networks this information will show up.
Add at least one internal link to another page within your blog. Be sure that the anchor text (the text you are linking from) is relevant to the page you are linking to. Avoid using click here, or something similar as your anchor text.
The more content you produce the more links you can add. Don’t forget to go back and update old posts too with new relevant links. This will add quality to your articles and enable you to get more pages views and longer retention time for each visitor.
9. External Link
Add at least one external link to your post. This will be a link to another website ideally a high authority site. Wikipedia is always a good one if you are not sure where to link to. Again make sure it’s relevant to your article, and when linking choose to open the link in a new window, that way your visitor will not leave your site and can carry on reading the article.
This makes it a better user experience for the reader too.
10. Link To Older Posts
Direct people to your older posts again use good anchor text for this, which will help when the search engines crawl your site. This will make for a better user experience which is a plus in the eyes of the search engines.
Your Website URL
11. Your URL
Have the main keyword phrase in your URL, ideally at the beginning. This is not always possible but as long as it features somewhere it will help.
12. Short Is Good
Keep your URL as short as you can, cut out any unnecessary words that bring nothing to the table in regards to SEO. Studies have shown using really long URL’s are less likely to rank high in the search engines, but not impossible though.
13. Image File Name
When you add an image to your post then change the image file name before you upload it. This also can be done with images that you download from royalty-free sites such as Unsplash or Pixabay.
14. Add ALT Text
Google is great but there is something that it can’t do and that’s read pictures, well unless we tell them what the image is about.
You can do this by adding a title in what is known as the alternative text (ALT Text for short). If you have more than one image on a post then don’t just stuff the same keywords in these areas. Use a good title of what the picture is about. Let’s face it if the picture has nothing to do with the post then why is it there in the first place.
Remember, you can also rank the image in the search engines too, I get quite a bit of traffic every month from images that are ranking on the first page of Google. These of course will be under the images tab on Google, not the main search. That would be too easy 🙂
15. Size Does Matter
Try and upload your images to the correct size that you want in your post. This will not only keep your media library tidy but when you load your post it will load quickly. There is nothing more annoying than a site that doesn’t load quickly most readers will just click away. And we don’t want that.
With more and more people viewing on mobile devices this has become even more vital. Having a slow page load speed will impact your results.
You can use an image optimization plugin such as Kraken which will compress the image as it is loaded into your article.
16. Keep It Unique
You will get penalized by the search engines for having duplicate content, so never just copy and paste the text into your post. Make it as unique as you can and you will be rewarded for it.
By all means research from other blogs and articles but then make notes and always write from scratch so your content remains unique.
17. Focus On Quality
You want to make your post quality for your reader if they like what they see and read they will be back for more and most probably be telling others about it too. When you write pretend you are speaking to a friend. The reader will then feel that you are talking directly at them. This can take time to perfect but keep trying, the more you write the better you will become… 🙂
18. Does Word Count Matter?
I see this question all the time on forums and sites like Wealthy Affiliate. Does it matter how many words I write in my blog? The truth is if you are looking to rank on the first page of Google then you will need to write a similar length article, more if possible.
There was a study done recently by Backlinkio and MOZ about the optimum length of a blog post. I won’t bore you with all the details but in brief 500 words is a minimum when it comes to ranking the optimum ranking length is between 1,500 – 2,500 words to rank on page one (Phew currently at 1600 lol) anything over 2,500 then the rankings could start to drop slightly.
Don’t fill your article with nonrelevant information just to give it more words, Google’s algorithms are too clever. Quality over quantity will always win.
Of course, there are loads of other factors too so could you write 300 words and still rank possibly, but all I will say is hit the optimum level and you have a better chance.
19. Add a Video
As most people know nowadays video is BIG, people love it. There are videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest and that’s just a few sites, but YouTube is the oldest and largest video platform in the world… SHhhhh’s and if you didn’t know it is owned by Google.
With that in mind on some posts maybe embed a relevant YouTube video. Studies have shown this can help influence your rankings. I have used this tactic and I must admit it has worked for me.
After you have completed these tasks you can then let the search engines know that you have new content. Check out the video below on how to do this.
I trust you have found these tasks helpful, and when you add these to your blog posts they will make a difference to your rankings and your traffic. As we know Google and the other search engines are always updating and changing things but if you follow these hard core principles then you should not go far wrong.
If you have found anything that works for you, or doesn’t work then feel free to share by leaving a comment below. I would love to hear from you.