49 Point Checklist For Writing SEO Blog Posts
You probably know that publishing high-quality content is an integral part of search engine optimization. It’s also an essential component of social media marketing and just about every other form of digital advertising. But what defines “quality content?” And how can you ensure that the money you spend on content creation will actually produce results?
Over the last 10 years, the editors at SearchCopy have helped dozens of Internet marketing agencies retool their content production systems to boost their conversion rate and maximize their ROI. The following is a brief checklist that we use to train new authors and editors.
Although the days when keyword stuffing was enough to capture competitive SERP ranks are long gone, it is still important that you format your content for SEO. This certainly won’t guarantee a top-10 placement on Google or Bing, but it will ensure that the high-quality content you publish has a fighting chance of climbing the ranks.
Here are nine tips to keep in mind when optimizing your blogs for search engines:
- Include a keyword in the URL.
- Include keywords in the Title, Headers, and Meta Description tags.
- Include keywords in the Alt Text of photos.
- Use variations of your target keywords in the text so it reads more naturally.
- Consider targeting long-tail keywords.
- Incorporate at least one photo that adds value to the content.
- Avoid using the same keywords in multiple Header tags. This typically looks unnatural.
- Do not include too many exact-match keywords in your anchor text. Add variation by using phrase-match keywords, naked URLs, domain-match keywords, branded keywords, and miscellaneous anchor text.
- Install an SEO plugin such as Yoast SEO to help you catch oversights in your optimization strategy.
Blog Structure Tips
The most effective blog posts are structured to help readers extract the information they seek as quickly as possible. If you are not careful about how you structure your content, you might turn away readers before they’ve given your blog a fair chance.
Consider these four tips to optimize the structure of your blog:
- Use bullet points and numbered lists to break up content and help readers find the information they seek faster.
- It is unlikely that a short blog will offer much value to readers and, therefore, the length of your content should be a consideration. We recommend that you write blogs that are at least 550 words in length, but multiple studies have shown that longer content tends to rank better.
- Use short paragraphs—preferably no longer than five sentences in length—to improve readability.
- After writing the blog, read through the title and subheadings. Make sure the reader can extract the gist of the article just by reading the title and subheadings.
What value does your blog offer to your audience? Does it solve a common problem related to your products or services? Does it profile a recent event? Does it answer a frequently asked question? Needless to say, the topic of your blog will define its success.
After you’ve chosen the perfect topic, these three tips will help you encourage your audience to read your content:
- Use a title structure that captures readers’ attention. Effective title structures include questions, list titles, and how-to titles.
- Use impactful diction in the title to pique readers’ interests. Examples include bizarre, suck, sure-fire, brilliant, sexy, and hate.
- Don’t be afraid to use alliteration.
The quality of the writing on your website or blog will have a direct impact on how readers perceive your company, products, and services. That said, grammar mistakes won’t convey the professional and attentive image that you’re after. Let’s take a look at a few grammar tips to polish up your content:
- Don’t use passive voice if active voice would be effective.
- If you write titles in Associated Press style, do not capitalize prepositions, articles, or conjunctions unless they are at the beginning or end of the title. If you’re like the editors at SearchCopy and you don’t like the look of long, lower-case prepositions in titles, such as “behind,” “throughout,” or “beneath,” you can maintain uniformity by capitalizing the first letter of every word in your titles and subheadings.
- Don’t begin sentences with conjunctions if you are writing for a client who demands formality.
- If you use Associated Press style, write out numbers one through nine, and use numerals for numbers 10 and greater. Always use numerals for money ($1 million). Write out all numbers at the beginning of sentences unless it is a year.
- Use “fewer” when describing countable entities; use “less” when describing non-countable entities.
- Do not put a comma before “so” if it can be replaced with “in order that.”
- Make sure your nouns and pronouns agree on plurality.
- Do not end sentences with prepositions if the client demands formality.
- Insert a comma after an introductory element.
- “It’s” means “it is;” “its” is possessive.
- Do not use spilt infinitives.
Using high-level punctuation is an excellent way to demonstrate that you’ve invested time and effort into your content. Also, when used effectively, colons, semicolons, en-dashes, and other “impressive” punctuation can enhance the rhetorical effectiveness of your blogs. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you use punctuation correctly:
- Make sure there is an independent clause before and after a semicolon unless the semicolon is used to break up a series.
- Use colons to introduce an independent clause or a series.
- An independent clause must come before a colon.
- If an independent clause comes after a colon, capitalize the first letter in the first word of the second clause.
- Use an em-dash for emphasis or to identify a parenthetical clause.
- Do not add a comma before a conjunction unless the conjunction separates two independent clauses or the comma is necessary to add clarity.
Blog Style Tips
There are two primary factors that should determine the style of your blog: the preferences of the client and the expectations of the reader. If you are creating content for attorneys, they might be put off by an informal voice and the overuse of contractions; however, if you are writing for a travel company, an informal voice may be necessary to pique your readers’ interests and keep them engaged. Remember these seven tips when determining the most appropriate style for a blog:
- Write for your audience—not for Google.
- Tailor the tone and style of your writing to the target audience.
- In the introduction, refer to the problems that the content solves. Also, hook the reader by making a personal connection.
- If the client demands a formal voice, avoid overusing adverbs; in fact, it may be best to eliminate them from the content altogether.
- Use statistics to support important points within the content.
- Use the point-proof-explain paragraph structure to maximize the rhetorical effectiveness of your content.
- Try to be uniform with your use of contractions—even though we broke that rule in this very piece. Don’t say “do not” and “don’t” in the same paragraph or, preferably, in the same blog post.
Other Blog Writing Tips
We’ve covered most of the bases, but there are a few important points that don’t quite fit into the previous categories. Here are nine more tips to keep in mind when writing blogs for SEO.
- Make sure the links to sources open new tabs. This will reduce your bounce rate.
- Only use credible sources such as the websites of government agencies or universities.
- Include a call to action at the end of your blog to boost your conversion rate.
- Use Copyscape to screen the blog for duplicate content.
- Reply to comments in a timely fashion.
- Publish content consistently. A once-off blog might attract a few readers, but multiple studies have shown that websites that regularly publish blog posts tend to outperform those that only publish content on occasion.
- Insert links to related blog posts on your website.
- After your final edit, wait at least 24 hours, and edit again before publishing.
- Make sure your blog has a mobile-responsive design and has a fast load time.
Were there any tips that we missed? Feel free to post them in a comment below. If you would like a quote on your next blog writing project, call 619-354-5125 to learn about our blog content writing services.