There are many articles about search engine optimization for entire web sites, but this SEO checklist is for single blog posts published using WordPress. If you want to search engine optimize your blog posts, here’s how.
1. Write Valuable Information
The best thing for SEO is to write valuable content that people want to read. Give something away. Help someone. People will link to high-quality content, and if readers find value in your blog they will come back.
2. Choose Your Landing Page
Relate your blog post to a page on your website that you want to promote. That page is sometimes called a “landing page” or “cornerstone content”. Your blog post is an opportunity to bring attention to one of your products or services.
Include the keyword phrase for that landing page in your blog post, then in the blog post link that keyword phrase to your landing page.
3. Research Keywords
Use one keyword phrase for one web page or post. Don’t try to optimize more than one page for the same keyword phrase.
Use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool to get keyword ideas and see actual keyword usage. The AdWords tool is intended for people with a Google AdWords account, but you don’t need to be an advertiser to use it. The keyword tool shows a list of keyword ideas similar to the one you entered. The competition column shows which keywords advertisers think have most value. Other columns show how often people searched for a keyword.
Use Google Trends to compare search volume for a group of keywords. When writing this post, I found that people are searching “seo checklist”, so I used that. (Note that the longer and more specific your targeted keyword phrase, the easier it is to rank high.)
Check your Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools to see the keywords visitors are using to find your website. Build on your successes and improve your shortcomings.
4. Title the Blog Post
What do you want people to type into their search engine to find your blog post? Use that search phrase as part of your blog post title — preferably near the beginning. The title is what people will see in search results, so it should entice people to click. Use a unique title for each page or post on your website.
If you have edited your blog post title a few times, make sure your “pretty” permalink matches the title, includes the keyword, has words separated with hyphens, and has no junk words like “a”, “and”, “the”.
5. Keyword in Content
Write with your keyword in mind, but don’t contort your content to adhere to this SEO checklist. Quality content is most important.
Include the keyword phrase, and variants of it, in your content in these places:
- First paragraph
- Links to landing pages on your site, and in the link title tag
- Links to high-quality pages off your site
- Image file names and alternate text
- Meta description
6. Categories and Tags
Assign the post to one or two categories and tags. Don’t over do it, and it’s helpful if the tags are words actually found within the post.
7. SEO Plugin
Install the excellent WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. It will analyze your post and let you know if your content is targeting your keyword phrase. Here are just a few things it checks:
- Snippet Preview: Shows how your post will look as a search result, showing the title, address, and meta description.
- Focus Keyword: This is the phrase the plugin assesses your post against.
- SEO Title: Typically you should leave this alone because your WordPress theme or SEO plugin will take care of the title tag automatically.
- Meta Description: This is the snippet of page content that you want displayed in search results. It should include the keyword, be unique, and be enticing to click.
Hit that big blue “Publish” button.
9. Share It
Use social media like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to let the world know about your new blog post.
10. Google Analytics
Create a new annotation in Google Analytics, or your website analytic tool of choice, so you can easily see the publishing date of the blog post. This will help you track any changes in website traffic generated by the new post.
This SEO checklist for WordPress blog posts will help search engines accurately understand your content, and attract targeted readers to your blog.