Blog > Search Engine Optimization > A Complete Checklist to an SEO Friendly Blog
A Complete Checklist to an SEO Friendly Blog James Parsons • Search Engine Optimization • Published June 08, 2014

The Internet is full of in-depth resources on SEO, and that’s all good. You’ve probably ready plenty of them. When it comes time to putting them into action, though, it’s all too easy to let some parts slip your mind. Rather than let that happen, consider this checklist.

Before Launch

  • Pick an easy to remember domain that fits with your keyword.
  • Decide if your blog will be in a subdomain or a subdirectory; this is hard to change later.
  • Purchase hosting with an uptime guarantee. Avoid free hosting.
  • Decide on your blogging platform. WordPress is a great choice, particularly when you customize it with plugins.
  • Customize the appearance of your blog. PSD to WordPress sites – which convert a Photoshop concept into a working WP theme – are a good investment if you don’t have a developer on staff.
  • Gather and install plugins for your platform. A few SEO plugins and a couple of security plugins are a minimum.

Code Optimizations

  • Make sure you have a robots.txt file to direct and guide the search spiders. This file is essential for keeping spiders away from certain site files you don’t want indexed.
  • Set up rel=”canonical” tags and references in any instance you think duplicate content may come into play. It’s easier to be proactive about Panda protection than it is to recover from a penalty.
  • Set up NoIndex, NoFollow and other such meta directives to keep search engines away from content you don’t want indexed.
  • Set up an XML sitemap to submit to Google. You can set this to generate automatically and update each time you upload a new piece of content.
  • Create a responsive design layout. This allows your blog to be read easily on a mobile device, opening you up to a wider audience.
  • Install a social sharing widget customized with your Facebook page, your Google+ profile, your Twitter account and any other social sites you use.
  • If using WordPress, change the default permalink structure away from the default number string. A customized permalink using a variation of the title and keyword is highly beneficial, both for users and for search engines.
  • Implement the Google Analytics tracking code. The Google Analyticator WP plugin is great for this, or you can simply implement it manually.

Content Optimizations

Content-Optimizations

  • Use keywords, but use them as a guideline for your content subject. You don’t need to worry about keyword density, just make sure your keyword is present somewhere in the post.
  • Focus more on long-tail keywords than others. Long-tail has less competition and fits semantic search queries more readily.
  • Create a compelling title that involves your keyword. Titles are the hook that keep readers around.
  • Make sure you optimize your title for search. A title that’s too long will be cut off by the space restrictions on Google results pages.
  • Create and optimize a meta description for your post. This is the text snippet Google displays. Include your keyword, but make it read naturally.
  • Optimize images you post by including alt text that describes the image and, if possible, includes the keyword.
  • Create several in-content internal links to other posts you’ve published. This will be easier once you have a larger base of posts to work with.
  • Format content properly for the web. Use frequent subtitles, bulleted lists and bolded formatting to enhance points.
  • Don’t force a call to action at the end of your content – comparatively few readers actually read the last paragraph because this is so common. Include it in the middle of the body content or as part of the structure of the site.
  • Always consider that you’re writing for human readers. The search engine comes second, and it does so intentionally. If you’re putting the search engine before readers, it will know and will penalize you for it.
  • Create category tags to help users search for your post. Avoid going overboard with tags; you rarely need more than three or four.
  • Consider creating an HTML sitemap or using XML stylesheets to format your XML sitemap for human consumption. Treat this like a table of contents for your readers.
  • Proofread your post before you submit it.
  • Try to write content between 500 and 1,500 words. Any less and you run the risk of a thin content penalty. Any more and you had better have a good reason to keep users that long. Alternatively, split longer posts into several pages or posts.
  • Post content frequently. Try to begin with a three post per week schedule. This gives you plenty of time to write content while keeping plenty of new content in the queue for your readers. You can expand to five days per week once your audience can support it. Further expansion into seven days per week or multiple posts per day is possible as your site grows.

Sharing and Promotion

Sharing-and-Promotion

  • Make use of the Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics suites to keep track of your content and how it performs. If you haven’t already, read up on the many ways these tools can assist your SEO performance.
  • Submit an RSS feed, sitemap or ping to Google to tell them when new content is published. This helps your content be indexed sooner.
  • Set up Google Authorship if you have a primary author for your blog. Readers love content with a headshot attached.
  • Share your post at least once on each major social media site you use. Attach a relevant and optimized snippet or description to the posts.
  • Make sure your social media pages are themselves optimized. Fill them out completely, include links to your website and other social profiles, use compelling cover images and profile pictures, etc.
  • Try to gather as many inbound links as possible, but emphasize high quality sites related to your niche. Avoid spammy sites and purchased backlinks.
  • Offer guest posts on your page and ask about guest posting on other blogs. It shares audiences and gathers links.
  • Make sure to moderate your comments sections to create a conflict-free environment with no spam. Engage users by responding to their comments, thanking them and so on. If a comment is particularly insightful, consider adding it to your main post. If it’s a question you can’t answer easily, save it for a future post.
  • Encourage users to share your content on social media sites.
  • Build users on social media by running contests and sharing content frequently.

There are plenty of other steps you can take, but at this point you’re getting into minor details and diminishing returns. With this checklist, you should have the majority of your SEO work done.

Written by James Parsons

James Parsons

James is a content marketing and SEO professional who enjoys the challenge of driving sales through blogging while creating awesome and useful content.