Sometimes you don’t need a detailed post about optimizing your title tags. All you need is a checklist of SEO factors for your posts, so you don’t forget anything in your rush to publish. Good news! This checklist should cover everything you can control on a post level to optimize each post for maximum SEO value and social engagement. Note that the following list is only for posts and the web settings you can adjust on a post level; it assumes that the site-wide optimizations – navigation, domain optimization, server load times and the like – are already established.
Make sure your title includes a keyword. Make sure it’s short and sweet. Make sure it’s interesting to the reader. The title is the initial hook that gets people to skim the rest of the article. Make sure it’s displayed in H1 tags, generally.
Your meta title should be similar to your post title, if not identical. Remember that your meta title is the title that shows up in a Google search, not your post title. You can create a longer, more interesting post title and use a shorter, more attractive meta title to hook search users.
Your meta snippet or description is the text that appears beneath your title in Google results. Optimize it for human consumption but make sure you include your keyword. This is one of the few places where a keyword is still specifically useful.
This is particularly important when using WordPress. Set a permalink structure for your posts that creates descriptive URLs. This helps ensure your URLs are all distinct and memorable.
If you don’t already have an automatically generating XML sitemap, make one. If you do, make sure your new post shows up in the sitemap. Google uses sitemaps to help discover new content, so it can help your new posts get into the index faster.
This one is option and for your own records. Create a quick summary and description of your content for use in later promotions. Think of it as something you might use to promote your content on Facebook or other social media.
This is, essentially, your keyword. Keyword density is a thing of the past, but you still need to make sure you use a keyword at least once and that your content is focused on providing value for that keyword’s topic.
This is distinct from your focus. Each piece must have a purpose. Some purpose ideas include driving conversions, encouraging comments, promoting Facebook shares and gaining email signups.
Make sure your content is a length suitable for its purpose and its topic. In general, you don’t want to publish anything under 300 words as a blog post. You can also break up anything over 1,500 words into multiple articles to maximize link and SEO benefits. Of course, this depends on the subject and continuity of the article.
It’s simple, but make sure you proofread your content before publishing. Catch typos, eliminate grammatical errors and make sure everything sounds good. Coming across as machine-translated or low-effort content will hurt your SEO and your social potential.
Make sure your post has plenty of subheadings. Subheadings allow you to better organize your piece, and it makes it easier to skim. Web readers skim rather than read, so facilitating their desire to pull information out of content quickly is a valuable effort.
Avoid overly long paragraphs. Break up content with lists and, if possible, diagrams and informational graphics. Use bold text to emphasize points, but don’t go overboard with colors and size changes.
Graphics draw the eye and add to your story. Try to include images that enhance what you’re saying. Avoid graphics that have little or nothing to do with your topic. When finding images, make sure you can legally use them. This means making them yourself, finding them licensed under creative commons or purchasing a commercial license.
Include and optimize image alt text. Only include keywords if they’re relevant to the image. Image alt text should be a description of the image first and foremost, and an SEO trick second.
Try to include at least one internal link to another piece of content on your site, when that content is relevant. Include more if possible, but avoid squeezing too many links into too little space.
Include at least one link to an external page, typically a page you use either as an example or as a reference. Nofollow this link unless you believe it’s valuable and want to pass your domain authority on to the page in question.
Pay attention to the anchor text of links, both internal and external. Avoid common phrases that mean nothing, such as “click here!” Use brand names or keywords, or titles of the posts you link to.
Set up Google Authorship on your blog, if you haven’t already. Remember to include your author byline on the content and link it to your Google+ profile to implement the beneficial effects of Authorship.
Make sure, somewhere on your site visible from the post, is a social sharing toolbar. Include links to your Facebook Page, Google+ profile and Twitter handle at minimum. Make sure it looks good and isn’t riding over top the edge of your text.
Encourage future comments by replying when a user comments on your content. Thank them for compliments. Respond to questions with answers when possible, or incorporate the question into your post or a future post. Reach out to complaints as a customer service issue.
Post your new blog article on your Facebook Page and encourage users to like and share it. Use a short snippet to give readers an idea of what they’re in for. Avoid simply repeating the title as your post content; users already see the title in the link preview.
Create a short tweet, under 120 characters, along with a shortened link for your Twitter feed. Use this to promote your post. Consider finding ongoing discussions on the topic in a hashtag and using that hashtag to contribute to the conversation with your post.
Create a Google+ post similar to your Facebook post and share your blog post on the platform. Submission through Google+ also helps get your content indexed. Include a keyword for social searches.
Post your content on any other relevant social media sites. If you have a potent image or infographic, Pinterest and Instagram are good options. If it’s a post that you can promote in a LinkedIn Group discussion, do so.
Occasionally post again about your content on social media. When users comment, respond to their comments. Continue to engage users when they mention your content. Foster your audience.