Simple Blog SEO Checklist for Busy Entrepreneurs
Have you googled ‘Blog SEO checklist’ recently, hoping for something simple and quickly gotten a little bogged down? SEO, or search engine optimisation, can take a little while to wrap your head around, and it doesn’t help that it changes very regularly!
In simple terms, SEO means formatting things a certain way to help Google (and other search engines) understand what you are writing about. Do you remember in English classes in school, when maybe you were taught certain things about how to write?
Things such as: You should use ‘signposting’ words like then, first, afterwards, to make it easy to follow. Your argument should have a beginning, middle and end, and you could follow different ways of structuring your text within those loose categories.
SEO is basically sign-posting for Google. By following SEO tips, you can begin to make sure that your content is actually getting read correctly by Google. Google is the middle man (or woman), so when Google is happy with your SEO efforts, it will provide your blog as a relevant search term for all those prospective customers you’re writing for when you sit down to blog. No SEO = no organic reach by prospective clients.
It is all about finding that balance between good content, and good SEO practices!
In this post, I’ve picked out a few of the most important SEO-related actions that you need to consider as you write, and check before you hit publish. From picking a keyword (and WHY you need one in the first place) to making sure Google can ‘see’ your pictures, let’s get started with this basic blog SEO checklist.
Have a read, check them off as you go, and let’s get that awesome content out into the big Google world!
Simple Blog SEO: Before You Start Writing
Before we start, we need to know WHAT we are writing about, and also make sure that Google understands, too. So we’ll talk a little about keywords and why they are important for your website.
Pick Your Keyword
First thing to know about your website is you should not have two pages optimised for the same keywords. Let’s say that you are a soap-maker. It’s fine to optimise your homepage towards ‘handmade vegan soap’, or even just ‘vegan soap’.
Naturally, you probably then have a lot of content that should cover ‘vegan soap’ or related topics BUT you should go after medium to long-tail keywords for your blog content.
Hold up, blog posts have tails now?
Not really. Let me explain this a little more.
When we think about keywords, it is helpful to think of them as short, medium and long-tail keywords. Well, maybe it isn’t THAT helpful for human brains, but it is very helpful for search engines, who are trying to figure out the difference between soap for hands, soap for clothes, soap operas … you get the idea.
Humans are great at working things out from the context but Google needs a little help sometimes.
So, let’s say that your homepage is technically optimised towards ‘vegan soap’ (don’t get too hung up on this - we can go into that in more detail in another post!
If you then write a blog post which is also optimised towards ‘vegan soap’, then Google gets confused. Which page is better? Which is the official ‘vegan soap’ page? It won’t think about it for very long, it’ll just put your page down lower on the search engine results when someone looks for ‘vegan soap’ … so how do we avoid this?
We get detailed!
You’re running a vegan soap business (in this imaginary example), trust us, you know way more than you think you do. Let’s think up some quick keywords for your blog content that will:
1. Help Google understand what your page is about
2. Actually be of interest to someone who is a potential customer
Medium Tail Keyword Examples
‘Relaxing essential oils for vegan soap’
‘What is vegan soap made from’
‘Is pears/dove soap vegan’*
‘How to make a vegan soap base’
‘Why isn’t soap vegan’
*one day soon, we can cover keyword research in way more detail. I got most of these from simply googling ‘vegan soap’ and seeing what Google filled in for me or suggested as frequent search terms. This was one of the main queries, so depending on your strategy, you might want to blog about it!
Long Tail/Associated Keywords
‘Vegan soap recipe without palm oil’
‘How to make vegan soap with essential oils’
‘How to choose the best essential oil for you’
‘Vegan soap for sensitive skin’
‘How does aromatherapy work’
‘Best essential oils for mornings’
Long tail keywords are basically more detailed or specific versions of your original keyword. Associated keywords are developed from having a really great understanding of your ideal customer and what they are interested in.
We’ve had a super quick look at keywords, and the main thing to understand here is exactly what we mean by your keyword in your blog. As you can see, it can be short, medium, or long, but you must only have one keyword/phrase per page on your site.
Every time we talk about keywords in future in this post, you know what we mean!
Blog SEO Checklist for Writing Your Content
Okay, so you picked out your keyword, and you’re ready to get writing!
Depending on your writing style, you may do this as you write, or you may go back to it and do it a little later - but you get my meaning. These are all the things you need to bear in mind as you write.
First up - you need to include your target keyword a few times.
But - gone are the days of so-called ‘keyword-stuffing’. It shouldn’t disrupt the flow of the words, and you really don’t want it to be super obvious that your keyword is ‘blog seo checklist’ (lol - see what I did there).
Internal links are links which point to another page in your site. Ideally, they might point to another relevant blog post or to your contact page.
Having trouble with the tips I’m covering in this blog? Just shoot me an email! I’m happy to help out!
Easy peasy, isn’t it?
Outbound links used to be a bit ‘meh’ in SEO for inclusion in blogs, but search engines are getting really smart.
At the end of the day, the search engine is ranking you according to how helpful it thinks that real people will find your content, based on lots and lots of secretive criteria.
An outbound link means a link to any other website. Recently, it looks as though linking to high authority websites (think news, popular culture sites, things that are respected sources of info which lots of people are referring to) might actually help google check your post, as it gives it a little more of that all important context.
I’ll hide it in this next phrase.
However, if you hear a lot of talk about external links being super important in SEO, they are, just maybe not in the obvious way. Including external links in your blog posts is good if they are really relevant or showing where you got info from. However, the real power lies in when people externally link from THEIR site to YOURS.
Think about the kind of content that you link to, and see if you can use that as inspiration in your posts. But don’t get too hung up on it - believe me, there are entire agencies who only do ‘content marketing’ (largely securing external links) for clients and, beyond having an understanding of the fact that it’s ‘good’ to have someone else linking to your content, it really doesn’t need to worry you much right now.
When you put photographs in your content, you probably already pop some info in the caption.
However, it’s important to remember that Google cannot ‘see’ images. It can only read the information that we say about them, and it isn’t looking in the caption.
Whatever blog hosting site you are using, you need to find the ‘alt text’ box for each photograph, and write in it a description which includes your chosen keyword.
Not only does this help Google to check that your images are relevant to your content, it also means that your content is more likely to come up when people search your keywords in Google Images rather than the normal search engine.
Anything you write in the alt text is only visible to Google, it won’t clog up your blog post, so don’t worry about writing it in a way that makes sense to people. Just make sure it is descriptive and it includes your keyword.
Before you Publish: Blog SEO Checklist
Blog written? Check! SEO checklist done so far? Check!
Now, we’re just going to tidy it up a wee bit.
If you aren’t familiar with H1 and H2 headers, then quickly check out what the difference is. Not just important cos they look different, they are also telling Google more about that all important context!
Your H1 is your title header. In Wordpress, it’s usually automatically the title box - you can double check if you use a different platform.
Your H1 must contain your keyword, preferably as close to the beginning as possible.
It is also helpful, depending on the content, to have a number in it. Sometimes this is a list (Top Ten Essential Oils for Relaxing Bath), sometimes a date (Easy Vegan Shake Recipes for Summer 2018). This also means that you can go back and repurpose older content by just adding in more up to date info and changing the date accordingly.
Good content never dies!
H2 headers are also super important for SEO. They are smaller than H1 and larger than H3 (crude description, but it works!) and they are used by Google bots to figure out more about what your content actually answers.
Google doesn’t really notice if you spell things wrong outside of your keywords, but you can bet your readers will.
If your readers click on to a post and leave quickly due to spelling … that’s not good SEO form either!
This might have been quite a technical post, but don’t forget to run a spellcheck or proofread at least a few hours after writing.
Once it’s published?
Just because you’ve optimised it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t go on social platforms, too, so make sure you stick it out on every platform and BE PROUD.
Writing content can be tough if you’re not used to it, but follow these steps and you’ll be golden.
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