Here’s your handy SEO checklist for making your new blog posts and pages beautiful in the eyes of Google. If you build it (properly), they will come.
Download the checklist here, and use it before and as you write a new post, but read the below first as we go into more depth on each element.
A note to start: if any of these items conflict with making your article the most succinct, well-written, and helpful article it can be, ignore them. The number one rule for on-page SEO is always to create content that solves a problem or answers a question.
Write with a keyword in mind
This is the fundamental step for writing new content from an SEO perspective. In an ideal world, all of your blog posts will be written to rank on Google’s SERP — Search Engine Results Page — for one specific keyword, or a handful of close variants.
Here’s an example. If you have a website about food, one of your broad top-level keywords, or categories, might be ‘baking’, and an article that falls under that might target a keyword like ‘chocolate cookie recipe’ — that’s your target keyword for this blog, and the search term you want to rank for on Google.
Understand what people are actually looking for when they search for that keyword. Type your target keyword into Google and see if your hypothetical problem is solved by any of the current results. How can you do it better?
As you write, you’ll want to use this term frequently, but don’t force it. If you’re writing good content, the keyword will come out naturally enough to rank on Google. The one place you might need to wrangle the keyword in is within the first paragraph, as that does have a larger impact on your ranking.
Your target keyword: chocolate cookie recipe
The H1 — or ‘heading 1’ — is essentially where your title goes, and you only want one title. You can use your own best judgment here, but a clean and self-explanatory title that also features your main keyword is perfect. Note that in WordPress, the title of the post is automatically a H1.
This is a simple step, but an optimized H1 has a big impact on on-page SEO and on the readability of your post.
Your heading: The World’s Best Chocolate Cookie Recipe
Include multiple H2s with variations on the target keyword, or answering potential queries. For example, if the target keyword for the article was ‘chocolate cookie recipe,’ some good H2s might be ‘chocolate cookie ingredients’ or ‘chocolate cookie baking time.’ This is a good place to implement related keywords with less traffic than your primary keyword, or ‘longtail keywords’.
Eagle-eyed readers will have noticed this checklist doesn’t follow this advice. That’s because of our number one rule: be helpful. This checklist wouldn’t be useful if all of the headings were variations on ‘on-page SEO’.
Your H2s: Chocolate Cookies Ingredients, Chocolate Cookies Baking Time, Chocolate Cookies Substitutes
Include a meta title that explains the topic in under 60 characters. Your content management system should have an option for you to easily edit the meta title of any individual page but in general, these are set using a <title> tag in the <head> of the HTML of your page. If you can, try to use your primary keyword in your meta title, but again, don’t force it. The best meta title is one that accurately describes the content of the post. Your meta title should look similar to your H1, if you’ve written that well.
Your Meta title: The World’s Best Chocolate Cookies Recipe — Cookie Blog
Include a brief description of the article that Google will use to describe the page on the SERP. This description should ideally include your target keyword for the blog: this doesn’t affect rankings directly, but may improve your clickthrough rate and get more people to your site, as keywords in descriptions are highlighted in bold. Add in what you want users to do, too — a CTA in your meta description is a good move.
Again, the content management system you use should have an easy way to implement meta descriptions, but if you’re not using one, you’ll have to enter these in <meta> tags manually. Space is limited, though: make sure you can write something explanatory and snappy within 160 characters.
Your meta description: Here’s the world’s best chocolate cookie recipe and exactly how to make it. Try it out and give it a taste – you won’t be disappointed.
Make sure the URL of your blog is short and doesn’t include long sentences or stop words like ‘the,’ ‘it,’ and ‘but’. It’s a bonus if the keyword you’re trying to rank for is featured in the URL also. 50-80 characters is the max you want your URL to be.
Here’s an example:
- Bad: yourblog.com/blog/how-to-make-the-chocolate-cookie-recipe-my-grandmother-taught-me/
- Good: yourblog.com/blog/chocolate-cookie-recipe/
Your post should have links within the text to other important places on your website, and to related content. Any article that is about baking cupcakes, for example, should ideally link to a larger piece about baking cakes, and so on. A good internal linking structure should look a bit like a pyramid, where all the smaller or more specific pages flow into larger, more general topics. You want to make sure your content can all be accessed from logical places, which is helpful for people coming to your website and for Google’s crawlers.
Generally speaking, if other articles on your site are helpful for tangential questions, insert links where appropriate. Linking to other websites is also encouraged, but only link to good, trustworthy sources.
Ensure that you have a good call-to-action at the end of your post to reduce the chance people will leave the website. Including links to related posts at the end of an article can be highly effective when it comes to your internal linking structure, too. The exact CTA you should use depends on what your objectives are. You might want to grow your email list or social following, ask readers to download a PDF, click on a related post, or buy something.
Your CTA: Follow me on social media for new cookie recipes every month!
Ensure acronyms are explained up front and they’re not overused, reduce complicated words and long sentences, and generally just write for a simpler audience than you might expect.
Readability is widely thought to be a significant ranking factor for on-page SEO. It’s about to become even more important too, as voice search becomes more and more important. Simple is best.
- Bad: This delectable assortment of cocoa-based biscuits shall be primed for consumption within sixty minutes from the time of insertion into thine torrid kiln.
- Good: Bake the cookies in an oven for one hour.
One last check
Make sure the article is written well, and most importantly solves a problem. Make sure you’ve got targeted keywords in the H1, H2s, URL, meta title and meta description, and early on in the first paragraph. Sentences and paragraphs should be short and to the point. The body should contain links to other pages or other websites where it makes sense, and at the end of the article there should be a CTA that gets people to take an additional action, like reading more articles, visiting a contact form, or signing up for your newsletter.
On-page SEO complete!
There’s a little more to on-page SEO than the above, but this handy checklist is more than enough to get your rankings up.
Just remember; make sure your content solves a problem — even if that problem is just that someone is bored and you can entertain them — and delivers its message as cleanly as possible. Optimizing your content for search engines is a losing battle if you’re working with content that doesn’t do those things. No matter how many people you get to click on a blog from the SERP, they won’t stay to convert into a paying customer if they find that your content doesn’t help them.
If this seems like a lot, we’ve got good news and bad news for you. The bad news is that, well… it is a lot. There’s no way around it: if you want people to read what you write, you have to think about a lot more.
The good news is BSTRO knows how to do all of that stuff, and would be thrilled to do it for you. Curious? Get in touch and let us know what part of your marketing needs our expert help.