Blog post SEO checklist: 15 Steps to Optimize Blog Post Content

Published: November 19, 2021
Blog post SEO checklist 2021

Table of Contents – Blog Post SEO Checklist – 15 Steps to Optimize your Blog Post Content – Free download, read on for details.

  1. Target keyword(s) and research topical content.
  2. Research keyword density and variations.
  3. Study off-page SEO criteria in topic or niche.
  4. Take time in image & featured image selection and optimization.
  5. Work in infographics if applicable.
  6. Do the on-page SEO and technical SEO.
  7. Add external outbound link(s) for reader benefit.
  8. Ensure internal linking is present and search engine optimized.
  9. Provide sharing options and optimize meta content for social platforms.
  10. Standardize post content, sentence, and text structure.
  11. Maintain consistent blog organizational structure.
  12. Target featured snippet for your topic or keyword.
  13. Produce a value add download, eBook, product, or tool(recommended).
  14. Analyze the blog post with A/B or other conversion testing.
  15. Review your work using your own custom template or checklist.

How to be as efficient and thorough as possible with blog post SEO.

Imagine a Tool To Keep SEO Efforts Consistent and Standardized

Consider using a blog post SEO checklist to accompany your blog post and pull media content creation process.

A checklist allows you to efficiently and accurately optimize and strategize for each and every one of your blog posts. There are simply allot of factors that go into ranking blog posts and creating viral shareable content.

Having a tool that keeps you consistent in your practice is important.

So how do we know what should be in a blog post SEO checklist?

Detailed below is a summation of a variety blog post search engine optimization techniques.

Available for download free SEO blog post checklist.

Consider using a blog post SEO checklist for your blog post creation process.

This helps with consistency in blog post production.

Ultimately to increase traffic and better serve your target demographic.

While creating your blog post, your mind often drifts from the original goal you set out with.

For allot of people, that goal is to increase web traffic and add value to as many readers as possible.

Consulting a checklist manifesto for the SEO of your blog post is going to keep SEO at the forefront of your blogging process.

It’s also going to allow you to identify SEO scammers as you’ll be aware of all the possible strategies an SEO will use to rank your website.

Blog Post SEO Checklist | Clear Actionable Steps

From blog posts idea conception and SEO blog post preparation work to the actual writing.

Infographic of blog post search engine optimization and creation stages. Source: MorePullMedia

1. Keyword Research and Topical Research

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could identify what keywords you need to be writing to rank for?

Your blog post SEO analysis should consider a number of keyword factors such as measuring density, identifying long-tail keyword variations, and predicting Google search queries most related to your content.

Think of phrases and questions as Long-Tail Keywords.

Phrase or question research, similar to keyword research, is to identify what your customers are searching.

Roughly seventy percent of page views from search on the web today are from long-tail keywords.

It pays to do your research.

Do keyword research for your project so you can know exactly:

  1. What people are searching for?
  2. How many people are searching for it?
  3. In what format do they want the information?

2. Keyword Density Research

A Basis for Search Engine Optimized Content Creation and Keyword Selection

Does keyword density still matter for SEO?

Yes and no.

In 2021, we need to adopt a more holistic approach to keyword density, over keyword stuffing.

Keyword density is still crucial to properly indexing your content with Google.

Google’s updates have lessened keyword density importance somewhat. However, keyword density is still an important SEO metric to incorporate into your competitor analysis.

Stuffing the same keywords and phrases into the title tag, meta description, headings and body text is not best practice.

Consider keyword stuffing as a black hat SEO technique.

That means, if you keyword stuff, Google will penalize, and in some cases block your content entirely in search results.

Well we don’t want that.

How to Apply Keyword Density Research

Understanding and matching or beating your competitors’ blog post(related to your keyword) SEO metrics will help your blog post SEO.

  1. Find the first page Google results ranking on your intended keyword or phrase.
  2. Analyze results for length and type of content, number of inbound/outbound links, and yes keyword density for those competitor pages.
  3. Tabulate results for these metrics for 3-5 of the top Google results for your targeted keyword.
  4. You can now apply these metrics as minimum requirements for your blog post.

Set out to make your content measurably more comprehensive in covering your keyword content.

Your metrics from keyword density research, and competitor analysis, will give you a guideline of how to structure and optimize your content for maximum search engine visibility.

Tabulated data pulled from SEO software(s) keyword density research results and apply them broadly over categories of: related keywords, frequency, density. Fields are left for various competitors, keyword variations, density, keyword volume etc.

Organize data as you see fit.

This sort of analysis will give you direction on the extent of keyword optimization techniques that need be employed within the content(without keyword stuffing).

3. Off-Page SEO Research & Action Items

Do You Fully Understand Your Competitors, Niche and Demographic?

Optimizing blog post SEO for off-site ranking factors is crucial to improving Google’s perception of your blog post(& website) popularity, relevance and authority in your industry web space.

These are off-page ranking factors that you should aim for to research in depth for your subject matter.

Quantity and Quality of Competitor Links & Back-links

Links and backlinks are related to domain authority. In this circumstance, it would beneficial to tabulate the quantity and quality of competitor blog posts.

This will help you determine if publishing a blog post about a particular subject matter or target keyword is a good use of your time.

If competitor blog posts have much higher numbers of backlinks it will probably be difficult to competitively rank for said keywords or subject matter.

Domain Authority of Competitor Bloggers

Domain authority(DA) is correlated generally with SERP ranking.

Generally DA is based on the number of backlinks a site has and the relevancy of those backlinks.

DA ranks from 0 to 100 and is a metric provided by allot of the most popular SEO software available.

When researching blog post topics, it may be beneficial to identify those topics/keywords of which only blogs with extremely high(greater than 70) domain authority can rank for.

That is, if you are just starting out in your niche, your domain authority is not going to be very high. You can target the low hanging fruit.

Ary to identify keywords, long tail keywords or phrases, that you feel you have a competitive advantage in knowledge base. Those keywords are to be ideally not dominated by high domain authority sites.

Branding, Design, and Niche

How do you think your website is perceived?

Branding, design, and niche are non technical terms applying to the overall aesthetic and target market of your blog as a whole.

It’s important to ensure your blog post aligns with your entire blog’s target audience.

In addition, having a look at other competitor websites, garner an understanding of how your blog’s design compares.

Allot of the initial judgement towards your content from readers is solely on the aesthetic. Often within the first 10 seconds of page load.

A niche target market can sometimes be more fruitful, than a market saturated with competitors.

Aligning a blog posts in a niche or up and coming subject matter, as long you are early on to the niche, can really give you a jump start competitive advantage to search engine rankings.

Correlated word and topical content research to increase search engine optimization.

Are you ever wondering if there are content gaps in your article? (Your readers probably are too.)

Research correlated topics and words for your keyword, long-tail keyword or phrase.

You can place correlated terms and explain this subject matter within your article strategically(do not keyword spam).

Correlated content help search engines to reliably determine the true search intent match for any users’ specific search phrase or keyword.

Essentially you’ll want identify cross-topics or sub-topics of your main blog post topic.

Search engines have gotten to the point that scanning wise, are able to determine the true completeness of an article.

This scanning relies on the appearance of correlated words and phrases.

An article that does contain mention of related sub-topics could be ranked with a penalty due to the content being determined incomplete of the subject matter.

Ensuring your website or blog post covers all relations of a topic will increase the likelihood of high domain topical authority.

4. Image Usage & Image Optimization

Always add images to every article you produce.

The SEO of images and media is ideal for inclusion in an SEO blog post checklist.

Visual search is ever more important in 2021. Typically, it’s better to use original images rather than stock images.

What matters is that the images you use should reflect the details of your article.

Alternatives to images could be graphs, illustrations, or even animated GIFs, which are very popular these days.

Whatever works with your CMS (content management system) is fair game.

How to Prepare Images for Use in Your Article

Properly formatted images and media will contribute to SEO and user experience.

  1. Ensure your images are relevant to your text.
  2. Allow Google to understand what your image is with proper file naming. Make sure the main subject of the photo and your article is in at the beginning your image file name.
  3. Loading times are important for user experience and SEO. Increase the speed of your site, by properly scaling & sizing your images. Alternatively, depending on your website building platform, consider using an image optimization plugin or software to handle this. Typically 300kb is the maximum file size, and that would be for a hero image. Also 2000 pixels is around the largest image size you’ll need.
  4. Your images should have the srcset attribute, which makes it possible to serve different images per screen width. This is standard for WordPress as of version 4.4.
  5. Compress your images for web usage to further reduce file size.
  6. Add captions to your images to help people or Google scan your article. Captions under images are very important and more likely to be read by your blog post visitors. Not every image needs an caption, add at your discretion.
  7. Add alt text and title text on to your images in your blog post. Alternative text ensures that no information or functionality is lost when the image is not available to the reader for whatever reason. Including your SEO key phrase for your blog post(if appropriate) in your alt text is best practice.

Consider copying your alt text to same as title text for you images. Title text is similar to alt text, shown as a tooltip in some browsers.

If you have multiple images that are the same, for same images use the same file names.

5. Infographics

Infographics can create the perfect message for your readers.

It is often beneficial from an SEO standpoint to (preferably) create an infographic for your article, or link one in from another source.

Content creation including infographics are an effective marketing tool.

The combination of pictures and words helps your reader easily digest your blog post article.

A well-made infographic can leave a significant impact on the minds of your readers.

How SEO and Infographics are Related

How can we make our blog post content unique and worthy of a backlink or share on social media?

From an SEO perspective, an infographic is a very effective link building tool.

Infographics are not necessary or always applicable to your blog post.

  1. Infographics retain relevancy for months after creation and can be shared easily.
  2. Infographics are a perfect utensil for backlink building. An excellent quality infographic can serve to add tremendous value to others’ blogs and articles. If shared, your infographic can receive accreditation and backlinks to your brand or website, potentially boosting your domain authority.

Infographics used in the right context and blog post can increase the overall value and usefulness of your content for your readers.

6. On-page SEO and Technical SEO

Underlying Every Well Optimized Blog Post Is Sound On-Page SEO Practices

Your blog post on-page SEO is the process of optimizing your on page post content to earn higher search engine page rankings.

As an SEO copywriter be prepared to write in style different than the typical essay style or pure content copy writing. More about SEO copywriting later.

The goal of SEO copy writing is to match your user’s search intent to your content as best as possible, and provide the clearest concise answer to your reader’s question.

The following are a list of basic on-page SEO techniques you need monitor and refine during the blog post creation process.

Aligning Your H1(header 1) with your subject matter.

As a general rule of thumb only include one H1 in your blog post.

The content of your H1 should be attention grabbing, clearly stated, and indicative of content matter.

Implementing Keyword Density into your text

Using your keyword density research results, ensure you are using your targeted keywords in your text.

Providing a table of contents for easy user navigation.

Link up your headers to a table of contents for easy navigation by your readers. To do so, first identify all of your headers.

Apply an id=”” to all your header tags you want in your table of contents.

Apply the link of #id to your various table of contents items that you just applied to your headers.

By doing so, when users click on various items of your table of contents, they will be taken to the relevant section header with the corresponding id.

Provide a concise and clear meta description.

You will want to write a compelling meta description for your blog post.

Include some targeted keyword(s), and stay within prescribed character limits.

Clearly iterate what your content is about.

Do this by articulating how your content meets search intent for the whole topic and provides a valuable user experience.

Set a featured image for your article.

Choose an eye catching and relevant photo for your blog post.

Also, make sure your featured image is actually relevant to your content.

Consider adding your own stylized modifications to an existing image.

Of course, still apply ALT text optimized and proper nomenclature for your image.

Check your blog post and your own blog for duplicate content and avoid keyword cannibalization.

Keyword cannibalization is considered as competing pages for the same keywords on your website.

This confuses search engines and can be avoided by doing thorough research into your pages and the keywords they are ranking for.

It would be a shame to put in allot of effort for a blog post that results in no measurable outcome.

Content length is an important factor.

It all depends on your goal for the blog post

If your goal is to target an answer to a question then consider shortening your content.

HubSpot averaged 50 of their most-read blog posts in 2019, and yielded an average word count 2,330.

Still, the length of your blog post content really depends on the goal of the blog post.

Other site factors such as mobile responsiveness and page speed.

If your site does not optimize for mobile viewings it will probably be penalized in search engine rankings.

Using Google Search Console, you can detect if Google has noted any mobile view issues with your site.

No one likes slow websites.

Check the speed of your website using tools such as GTMetrix or PageSpeed Insights.

If you are concerned about the overall SEO health of your entire domain consider outsourcing a SEO audit.

Optimizing title tags.

Title tag optimization is just one of the many on-page SEO items to check off your list. Crucial for SEO success.

Generally, align the title tag with your subject matter and content.

Try not to duplicate phrases or keywords, it is redundant to readers and search engines.

Search engines such as Bing and Google may even ignore your title tag.

Especially if it is duplicate content, search engines will replace title tags with what is deemed more matching to search intent(hopefully).

Are you creating content or are you SEO copywriting?

Is there a fundamental difference between content creation and SEO copywriting?

SEO copywriting is not done in the same style as your college essays.

Your content needs to employ psychological factors readers are not aware of.

Strategizing content to loop, and reel in readers, is the goal.

All whilst, creating content that clearly matches search intent of the keyword or phrase entered into the search engine.

Employ changes to your sentence, paragraph, and heading structure.

Write in short manageable sentences and ideas. All whilst ensuring keyword density and covering all correlated terms.

SEO for blog post URL structure.

How can permalink, slug, or URL for the blog post be optimized from an SEO perspective?

Start with using your keyword or long-tail keyword within the URL.

Delete extraneous categorical or parent anchoring, ideally, only your blog post article name and your blog domain name is present.

Do Google and Your Readers Actually Understand The Content?

Linking out to external website helps Google understand your content better.

When adding in outbound links ensure they are related to your blog post and add value to your content.

Place external outbound links in the body of your content, naturally flowing with link anchor text that doesn’t interrupt your reader’s train of thought.

You will want to be citing sources if you are attaching relevant content or material within your blog post.

When setting links to external sources you should use target=”_blank” attribute which ensures your readers still maintain your blog post open in one tab whilst opening the page of the link in the separate tab.

Quantity of External Links

A good rule of thumb is to include about 1-2 external links for every 500 words in your blog post.

External links help your readers understand your content, but at the same time interrupt your readers experience by navigating them away from your website.

Try to limit the quantity, and use 1-2 links/500 words as a maximum.

Ideally, your content specifics can be explained by some blog post you already have.

That’s where the usage of an internal link is more beneficial and can serve to create link networks of topical authority for your domain.

8. Linking Internal Domains

How can we increase the visibility of all the articles on our blog?

An internal link is a link from one page on your website to another page on your website.

Make your internal linking structure and links to other pages visible on your website.

Google finds your posts and pages best when they’re linked from somewhere on the web.

Internal links give Google an idea of the structure of your content, because the content within your website is linked.

Practical Application
  1. Add contextual links within your related articles. This will show Google, and your users, that these articles are topically related.
  2. Add links to your hierarchical pages on your website. Parent pages can be linked to child pages and vice versa. Siblings pages can be linked to each other also.
  3. Add links (w/ feature images) to your related articles/posts in a subsection under your blog post. You can do so automatically, but preferred would be to select blog posts specifically related to your content.

For important articles, consider adding internal links for them to a menu structure. Such as in your website’s footer or on the navigation bar.

Typically homepage links are going to be deemed more important by Google and your users, because your home page is typically going to be receiving the most back links and there have the highest authority of all your web pages.

Internal Link Anchor Text

So you’ve decided which links should be on your blog post and which pages should link to your blog post.

Make your links are SEO optimized by choosing the right anchor text.

Don’t stuff your keywords as the anchor text linkage. Once is fine.

Google search has progressed to understand that the content around your link is generally going to be more relevant than just your link anchor text itself.

Basically, anchor text should flow with your content naturally, easily read and understood for the link’s value and relevance to your reader.

Overall Website Link Structure

Your overall internal link structure applies to your entire website.

You’ll want to ensure your navigation bar, footer links, suggested articles, so on and so forth, are present and adequately organized.

This helps not only readers navigate your site, but helps search engines place your blog posts clearly within your website structure, making them easier to scan.

9. Blog Post Sharing Options for Readers to Increase Article Exposure

Sharing Buttons and Optimization For Social Platforms

Provide shareable links included in your standard template for your blog posts.

Typically your CMS will give this ability built in or there will be a free plugin available to help you.

This obviously gives readers the option to share your blog post during or after they are done reading.

Place sharing buttons and calls to action.

At the end of blog posts, put a call to action further encouraging users to share your blog post.

For example, on the Morepull blog post template currently is both sharing buttons on the right hand sidebar of every blog post and at the bottom.

A snippet from morepull.com showing the sidebar sharing buttons for Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and via email.
Call to action place at the bottom of Morepull blog posts to promote sharing once the reader has finished the blog post.
Setting the featured image at the proper sizes for social media sharing.

Different social media platforms have different sized images for feature or preview images when shared.

You will want to optimize the article featured image for this.

Resize as necessary, to ensure your image shows normally, and in full when readers share your content on Facebook( now meta? ), Twitter, LinkedIn, what have you.

If you are using WordPress to blog, then there are a variety of plugins you can use to simplify this process.

Yoast SEO software for WordPress for example.

Optimizing your snippets, featured text, and descriptions for social media.

This step is completely optional, but typically social media platforms have their own guidelines for preview or feature text snippets.

It may be beneficial to optimize each snippet description for your blog post to suit any particular social media platform.

You ensure no matter what the social media platform, the user gets an optimized snippet of text.

Rather half cut off snippets automatically pulled from your content(which may not showcase your work as you want).

10. Breaking out your Content, Sentence and Text Structure

Strategies To Optimize Readers to Actually Read Through

Sentence structure is actually important for both your reader and search engine optimization.

Pay extra attention to your sentence structure for the headings, first sentence of each paragraph, and especially the first paragraph of your blog post.

In general, the goal here is to chunk your content into manageable bites for your reader. No one likes reading large clunky groupings of text.

Image above is bad content structuring: Above chunk of text is taken from an early blog post of ours.
As you can see, text is not broken into small pieces. This makes it hard for the reader to scan the content, and less likely to read it.
First Paragraph Tips

Use your first paragraph to really grab your users attention.

Google sometimes displays featured snippets in search engine users’ results.

Google’s automated system generally will pick snippets. However to increase likelihood that you could get a featured snippet, try and answer your reader’s search query for your page/post in the first paragraph to a certain extent.

In addition, your first paragraph needs very clearly explain the purpose and content of your blog post.

Write Optimized Headings

Headings are ideal for allowing readers to quickly scan over your blog post.

Try keeping your headings clear, concise, and attractive to the reader in such a way as to entice them to read on.

Core Sentence Usage

The first sentence of a paragraph entails the most important core subject matter of the subsequent paragraph.

Whilst breaking up your text and content into easy to read chunks is ideal, often longer format 3-5 sentence paragraphs are needed.

In this case, iterate clearly what the paragraph is about, with following sentences supporting this initial core sentence.

Is the SEO or conversion copywriting ‘style’ being applied?

The best SEO copywriting employs sound psychological techniques, proper keyword density, and an easy to read format.

Goal of conversion copy-writing being the content objective is to convert the reader to take action.

Whether it be to fill out a contact form, subscribe to an email list, or purchase a product.

Conversion and SEO copy-writing play crucial roles in acquiring desired web traffic and increasing click through rate.

Blogs compete for a readers attention amongst hundreds of distractions and other media sources.

That’s why your copy-writing needs to be on point.

11. Blog Organizational Structure

Table of contents

Consider installing a table of contents to stick in the top of the page.

Having the table of contents remain sticky in a fixed ‘top of screen’ position is up to you.

In any case, improving user experience of your article is always a good idea.

Especially if it’s a lengthy article.

Make the consumption of your content as enjoyable as possible.

You can also use a well structured table of contents to get featured snippet first page rankings. More on that later.

Give me the free blog post checklist download already.

Proper paragraphs and content usage.

The organization of text for the site will increase in better understanding for the reader.

This is basic grammar.

Ensuring grammar usage is proficient throughout the process blog post creation is essential.

When thinking of content usage, also analyze your article for subject matter that would better served with an image, infographic, statistic, chart or other.

Some concepts are best understood without too much written word.

12. Targeting Featured Snippets

Looking for your blog post content to show up on the first page of Google?

But without increasing domain authority or updating your content?

Then perhaps targeting featured snippets can help you.

Google’s featured snippets are pieces of information that typically show up at the top of Google search results(first page).

When writing a blog post, consider optimizing portions of your content for featured snippets.

The above is a featured snippet result for the search result to “best way to reheat a pizza.” This is a numbered list.
Strategies to secure first page rankings below.
Various types of featured snippets you could target for:
  • A paragraph – an excerpt of your content that shows up as a paragraph.
  • A numbered list – an excerpt of your content that shows up as a hierarchical or step by step list.
  • An unordered list – an excerpt of your content that shows up as a simple bullet point list.
  • A table – a snippet style that displays content tabulated into rows and columns.
  • A video – typically video snippets will be from YouTube.
A strategy to target featured snippets:

You’ll want to make your content as clearly navigable as possible for Google.

Try to find featured snippets in your space existing, but maybe not fully optimized or missing information.

In very simple terms, check on the domain authority of these posts publishing domains.

For the query, “blog post SEO checklist”, the above snippet is displayed.

Open competitive featured snippets for your keyword and related key phrases.

Analyzing the featured snippet, and with a deep understanding of the topic, one can devise gaps within this snippet for which to fill.

Take for instance, the lack of mention of outbound and internal links. It’s subjective, but you could argue these are essential topics in themselves.

On that thought pattern, improve as best you can on the existing featured snippet.

Table of contents for this blog post SEO checklist is as shown in the blue list above. Look better? Let us know


13. Downloads

Downloads offer an enticement for your user to be related in for free tools, eBooks, or info-graphics.

Then they also are great use for within your meta description to get a click.

When providing download options it is critical to request email/name upon download access.

This is a non-intrusive strategy you can use to build your email list and start capitalizing on email marketing uses for your business.

Ideally free downloadable material reaches much of fair sized demographic. Provide enough valuable information, clearly organized, and actionable steps. With this route bringing more value to your brand in the future paid information products can be brought into your business’ income streams.

14. A/B Testing Content

Conversion or A/B testing sets the tone for how you take your website real return on investment.

There are a variety of testing and conversion metrics for which you should test on said website or eCommerce store.

Some of which detailed below:

  • Assessing the sizes and placements for key published content on your website.
  • Run A/B testing on sites with free or minimal cost to collect significant(1000+ tabulate results.
  • Placement on page, color(high contrast), sizing of font, for the buttons and calls to action.
  • Check for the image use and especially at that the feature image.

If there is not reasonable context to the page your efforts in writing the post may be in vain.

It would be recommended to provide a table of all results.

This would be for both your own purposes but to share in a report format with your clients.

15. Conclusion

A blog post checklist keeps your work on task, engaged with the goal.

Print, or keep in the next window, this or a modified blog post checklist, while creating content.

Constant reference points during the creation process lets you strategize towards goals for that blog post.

Continuous improvement is easier to manage and track if you are using a checklist baseline for which you can alter and improve upon later.

Always consider changing one item at a time, rather than multiple factors.

This is importunate when looking to make measurable increases in the SEO of your blog posts.

If there is anything you’d like to see on this checklist send us a message to info@morepull.com or comment below.

For SEO services, semantic SEO, content creation, and strategic digital marketing solutions, turn to MorePullMedia.

Contact us for details.

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