When it comes to blogging, there are plenty of ways to drive traffic to your blog (see our post about the types of post that have the most potential for driving traffic), but one of the most cost effective channels is undoubtedly through Search Engine Optimisation. For that reason, we’ve spoken to a number of experts and come up with an SEO Checklist to run through before you hit publish on any post.
Without further adieu, here’s a run through of the SEO checklist with things to check before you hit publish!
The SEO Checklist
Choosing a topic to write about is often something that people don’t really think about; they just write about their current thoughts. This is all well and good and you should definitely have creative freedom when it comes to your blog, but it pays to look into what your readers find interesting. A great tool to check this is called Buzzsumo. It lets you search for a topic and then shows you the most popular posts across the web in terms of social shares generated by the piece. You can use this information to gauge what will be popular.
Another great tool is Google’s very own keyword planner. You can type in the topic you’ve found on Buzzsumo and it will make keyword suggestions based on that and let you know how many people are searching for that phrase each month. This means that you can optimise your post around this keyword.
We’ve covered this slightly in the paragraph above, but choosing a keyword as the main phrase that your post will be optimised for is vitally important for SEO purposes.
Your post title should include your keyword choice and also be appealing to readers who have searched for that phrase. For example ‘blog traffic’ may be your target phrase, but a title that just says ‘Blog Traffic’ is unlikely to generate much interest. A much better option would be to come up with an enticing title such as ‘Find Out The Secrets To Getting Blog Traffic Immediately’.
Step one is to install a good SEO plugin for wordpress if you’re using that as your blogging platform. We’ve always relied on Yoast SEO because it’s very easy to use. This will provide a box on each post that allows you to edit what are called ‘meta tags’ (see screenshot below). Meta tags tell the search engines what your post is about — they include things such as a page title, description and you can even add things such as a preview image for your social media channels.
You’ll want to ensure that your main keyword appears in the title and description areas — or a close variant of the keyword. This gives the search engines a signal that your post is relevant for that search.
A huge part of our SEO checklist is obviously the actual content of the blog post, this is what will signal to Google and the other search engines whether your post is relevant or not. Obviously making sure that your content for the post is relevant to the topic is vital. It’s also worth making sure the keyword appears in the opening paragraph and the closing paragraph.
As well as that, it’s always a good idea to check the post meets the following guidelines:
- At least 500 words — the more the better, studies have shown a direct correlation between longer posts and higher search engine rankings
- No spelling/grammatical errors
- Seb Dean from Nottingham SEO Agency, Imaginaire Digital, recommends searching for the keyword you’re targeting and scrolling to the bottom of the search engine results page to find the suggested alternative keywords. Once you’ve found them, make a note and try to include the alternative versions throughout your post where relevant too.
- If using images within your post, ensure that you fill in the alt tags — preferably with something about the target keyword if possible! Also make sure they’re optimised for loading speed.
- Use headings as appropriate, ensuring that your post has (at the very least) a H1 tag and, preferably, H2 and H3 tags
Make sure that you’re sharing your posts regularly across your social media accounts and try to speak to other bloggers to see whether you can get guest post spots. Guest posting allows you to earn referral traffic from other blogs and potentially exposes your content to a new audience. We’ll cover guest posting in more detail in a post in the future.
So, to recap (TLDR;):
- Topic Choice — choose something that’s popular and in-demand
- Keyword Choice — use keyword planner to find what people are searching for
- Post Title — include the keyword and make the title enticing
- Meta Tags — include the keyword and, as with the post title, make the post enticing for potential readers
- At least 500 words in length — the more the better
- No spelling mistakes or grammatical errors
- Include similar keywords from Google auto-suggest
- Ensure images are optimised for loading speed and with relevant alt tags
- Use headings as appropriate — from H1 through to H4 if possible!
- Share the post on social media and try and win guest posting spots on other blogs
We hope the SEO checklist has helped you and we’d like to particularly thank Seb of Imaginaire Digital for his input and guidance with the checklist. If you can get into the habit of optimising all of your posts in this way then the traffic will soon flow!