January 25, 2018 (Updated: October 17, 2023)
The world of search engine optimization can seem complicated to marketers without technical backgrounds. What do you mean your posts need schema markups? How is anyone supposed to keep up with the dozens or redirect codes out there? It can quickly become overwhelming.
Fortunately, in the short run, it’s possible to sort the technical SEO from the content-based SEO. This helps marketers who are trying to create good content that ranks well. You have time to learn about all of the back-end stuff, but right now, let’s focus on the writing. Follow this lucky 13-step checklist next time you write a piece to improve your SEO.
Does Your Content Have a Target Keyword?
Every piece of content you create should have a target keyword linked to it. This keyword is a word (or phrase up to three words) that you would ideally rank for. Moz has a useful keyword tool for conducting research in your field and figuring out what you should write about.
Keyword research can actually help content marketers plan their blog topics! Consider pulling a handful or target keywords and brainstorming article ideas around them to create content for SEO.
Is the Keyword Used Naturally Throughout Your Piece?
Once you have your target keyword, make sure you sprinkle it naturally in your content. Place it in your title, introduction, conclusion, and in at least one subheading. This will allow it to be featured in your content without stuffing it awkwardly throughout.
It’s okay if your keyword is found throughout your article, but you want to make sure it naturally connects to the content and doesn’t seem forced or excessive.
Is Your Content Interesting to Humans?
One of the biggest mistakes marketers make is writing content for search engines. Don’t try to write for robots, instead create engaging content that your target audiences will love. Trust us, the robots will respond when they see the analytics coming from user engagement on your pieces, you don’t need to speak their language.
Did You Proofread Your Content for Spelling and Grammar?
It only takes a few minutes to reread your content and correct spelling errors or run it through Grammarly. Plus, you can also use editing tools like the Hemingway App to make sure your content is clear, free of passive voice, and written to your ideal grade level. This shows your audience (and search engine bots) that the content is professional and high-quality.
Did You Include External Resources Linking to Other Pages?
Consider adding a handful (typically no more than five) external links to other sites around the web. The Hemingway App link above is a perfect example. This link provides a tool or resource for readers, enhancing the content. You can also use links to cite your sources and add credibility.
These links also tell search engines what the content is related to, helping them better understand your site content.
Did You Add Internal Links Connecting This Piece With Others?
Internal links go to other pages within your website. Try to add at least two per article. They should be used to enhance the content and provide more information to readers. For example, a piece on editing and revising could be helpful to readers using this piece to launch their blogging careers.
Is Your URL Easy to Read?
Short and clean URLs appeal to readers by telling them what they’re about to click on. Consider following a few of these formulas when creating your URLs to help readers and search engines understand what you’re sharing:
Audiences can clearly understand what they’re going to read and you don’t have to worry about adding endless code to your URLs.
Do You Have a Meta Description?
A meta description is a one or two sentence snippet that describes the content. Some people use their thesis as the meta description while others create their own summaries. Meta descriptions should be between 150 – 300 characters, with some blogs creating their own guidelines. When possible, try to add a call to action to these descriptions.
Does Your Content Have Categories and Tags?
The content on your blog will typically fall into a handful of categories. By selecting these categories and assigning tags to the content, you can help search engines understand where the content belongs. This is an easy way to keep your blog organized for readers, help you find internal links in the future, and boost your SEO with a clean organization.
Do You Have Images?
Audiences respond to visual content, and so do search engines. Make sure your images are clean and professional, with titles, descriptions, and tags added. Ideally, your keyword will also be included in the image information. Shopify created a guide to optimizing images for SEO that you can apply to your written content as well.
Do You Have an SEO-Checker Tool on Your Blog?
SEO Plugins like Yoast review your page and look for ways to improve your SEO. If you have followed these steps, it should give you a green light to publish. These tools help you understand how you can improve the content on your blog for lasting search engine success.
Have You Reviewed Past-Posts for SEO?
Once you start publishing successful blog posts, it’s important to return to past content. Consider creating a calendar and reviewing your previous articles to update their SEO content. You might be able to increase your rankings with the help of creative keyword planning and linking.
Do You Regularly Audit Broken Links and Content Problems?
SEO is a long-term game. While you can practice good SEO as you publish new content, you also want to fix problems when they arise.
You don’t have to be a programming genius to improve your website’s SEO. You just have to be cognizant of the keywords you want to target and know how to develop content around them. By focusing on your readers instead of Google crawlers, you can increase your engagement and improve SEO strategies all at the same time.
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