How to Optimize Blog Posts for SEO | On-Site SEO Checklist for WordPress
To put in simple words, optimizing your blog posts for SEO is all about making your content visible to both people and search engines. For that, you need to set up particular elements of your blog content to enable search engines to crawl and understand them.
In this article, I’ll go through an on-site SEO checklist and give you practical tips and steps on how to set up these elements for optimization correctly. As each step can practically be a separate article in terms of length, I will try to keep it as short but practical as possible.
So, 3…2…1… let’s dive in!
Firstly, here is a list what you need;
STEP 1: Start With Keyword Research and Analyses
The very first step before starting writing your article is keyword research and analyses. No matter how rapidly SEO changes, this remains the must-do thing for creating content.
So, what is keyword research, what does it mean?
It means you need to find phrases and words people search on the web, filter several keywords out of that huge list and use those in your content.
This Keyword Research Tools List You Can Use;
- Google Keyword Planner
- Google Trends
- Keyword tool
- Keyword Shitter
- Keywords Everywhere
- Wordtracker Scout
- Suggestion Keyword Finder
Some practical tips for doing keyword research and analyses;
- Include long tail keywords (more than two words) and avoid single-word keywords because those are very vague.
- Include LSI keywords (words related to your keyword) and note that keyword stuffing is long gone.
- Use keyword tools but do not 100% rely on that because sometimes the results are inaccurate.
- Pay attention to google keywords suggestions in the query box and “Related Searches” part.
- Pull data from your competitors’ keywords. There are tonnes of extensions and tools to that.
- Put keywords in titles, H1-H6 headlines, meta descriptions, URL, etc.
STEP 2: Optimize your Content for Search Engines
- The next step of our on-site SEO checklist is to use the keywords selected during the STEP 1 and create an easy-to-read content. As you create your content first of all for people, forget about keyword staffing and use more LSI keywords or synonyms.
- Keep it long. Thin content is not ranked high anymore (read the Panda algorithm rules)
- Write a unique content and avoid duplication issues.
- Avoid black-hat SEO techniques; search engines spiders are much powerful today and are getting better day by day. Sooner or later you’ll fail if you try to use those hacks.
- Use headlines; H1-H6. Try to put your main keyword in some of your headlines and keep it max 70 characters long including spaces.
- Keep it easy to scan; bullet points, bold or italic text can be helpful.
- Include internal and outbound links (will be discussed later, keep reading).
- Don’t forget about using media; photo, video, etc…
- Create a CTAs to convert the visitors.
Some useful content writing tools
STEP 3: Image SEO
- Fill in the “Alt text” section. This is for describing the image if the latter cannot be displayed. Put a relevant keyword there and keep it unique for all images.
- Fill in the “Title” field which is the basically the name of the photo. It will be shown when a user takes the mouse over the image.
- Use the most relevant, responsive and highest quality images.
- Reduce the size of the image before importing it into the WordPress.
- Create an XML image sitemap.
- Pay attention to the copyright of those images.
Great tools for optimizing images, infographics, video, etc.
STEP 4: Use both internal and outbound links
- Include internal links to your other WordPress blog posts with a relevant anchor text
- Make sure the URLs are not broken
- Include outbound links with nofollow tag (in case if you don’t want to pass page rank). Take a look at “Title and Nofollow For Links” plugin for “nofollow” tags.
NOW TIME TO OPTIMIZE YOUR META ELEMENTS which are an indispensable part of any on-site SEO checklist.
To create all these meta elements, go to your WordPress dashboard > post and scroll down that page until you reach the YOAST plugin part. Let’s take this blog post as an example. It will look like this;
So, let’s optimize each parameter.
STEP 5: Optimize your Title tag (SEO title)
- Keep it from 60 to 70 characters long including the spaces.
- Remember! This should be different from the blog post title (H1).
- Use keywords but do not overdo it.
- Avoid using stop words, such as “the”, “a”, “of”, “an”, etc.
- Use divider “|” for better readability.
STEP 6: Create an SEO friendly Slug (URL)
URL is what gets indexed on search engines first. If it is indexed and you change it later, the page will show “404- not found page”. Thus, optimize it wisely.
- put it short but descriptive
- use keywords but, again, do not overdo it
- use Latin letters even if the language of your website is not English
- Avoid stopping words
STEP 7: Create the Meta Description
- Keep it not more than 300 characters for Google.
- Include a CTA.
- Include a keyword.
- Remember! This is the sentence that should be descriptive enough for users to click on it.
Some tools beneficial for meta elements;
STEP 10 and 11: Add Comments section and Social sharing buttons to your blog post
There are tonnes of plugins but here are my favorite ones;
Also, make sure that you
- Included this page in the XML sitemap
- Didn’t ban using a robots.txt file.
- Created a schema markup
- Created an AMP version of your blog post
- Removed all the obstacles necessary for fast loading
But I will not discuss these in the “On-site SEO checklist” article but will write a new one about technical SEO in the near future. 😉
That’s it! Now time to share your content and track it with Google Analytics. If you want to get more practical information in SEO, check out my another article about how to use UTM Links.