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SEO checklist before you publish a blog post

Search Engine Optimization is one of those things that you know is important for your blog, but appears too scary and complicated at first sight. Actually, SEO isn't as difficult as it sounds, and as a blogger, if you take a few extra steps before you publish every post, it can make a big difference to your overall traffic and search visibility. In fact, you should follow these steps until it becomes second nature for you to do them every time you write a new post.

SEO checklist before publishing a blog post

1. Title

The post title is important from a search engine's point of view because this is how the content of your post is established. Keep your title straightforward instead of creative. This does not mean that it has to be boring, but if I wrote something as vague as 'Checklist for publishing a post' in this post's title, would you be inclined to read it? As a writer, you should see it as a challenge to write a post title which is relevant, interesting and catchy at the same time.

2. Keywords

There's a thin line between maintaining your style and writing for a search engine bot!The post content itself should include keywords that your audience is looking for. It goes without saying that your content should be original, and you must identify who you are writing for. Don't worry about keywords when you are writing your post, or it will just break the flow. Once you are done, look for relevant keywords for the subject you are writing on. Here's an article about three free SEO tools you can use to find your keywords. Of course, there is a thin line between maintaining your style of writing and writing solely for a search engine bot! So, I'll offer you my tip: keyword tools are useful, but try to visualize what someone would type into the search bar when they are looking for the subject of your post. Don't forget to add relevant keywords in the Labels field in Blogger and the Post Tags field in Wordpress.

3. Images

Images are an essential for every blogger in the age of Pinterest, but they are also important for people to quickly decide whether they want to stay on your blog. Your image should be as relevant to your post as possible, and if you have about 7-8 minutes, you can create one in a photo editor. Remember, whatever text you write on the image is irrelevant to the search engine. That's why filling in the 'alt text' field is important. Be descriptive about the image, but also keep it short. Title text is secondary to alt text, and is visible to anyone who hovers over your image. If you are filling either alt or title text for your image, make it the former. Another important thing is to make sure that the name of the image file describes the image and isn't named something like 'D00992-674.jpg'! This is not possible for Blogger users, as they can't choose the name of their image file, so they must positively enter alt text information. Here's a good article about optimizing your images for SEO.

4. URL

Make sure your search description is different for every post.Do you change the URL of your post before you publish? This is one of the things which you can either forget to do or may not even be aware of. By enabling the Permalinks option (available both in Blogger and Wordpress), you can choose a custom URL for each post. And why is it important? Because a URL is one of the first things that search engines look at. Your automatic URL will be the post title and may even be shortened in some cases. The best thing to do is to choose your own URL that is short and descriptive of your post. You can afford to be completely boring here. Check out the URL of this post in the address bar.

5. Search description

Both Blogger and Wordpress have a box for filling in a description which will appear below your title in the search results. Make it a one-liner that describes what the post contains. You must fill this in every time, and make sure each description is different even you are publishing multiple posts in a series or a particular category. You do not want to create duplicate search descriptions.

6. Internal and external links

Links within your own blog are important because they help your readers stay around longer. One important thing to remember is to use the right 'link words'. Use words that describe what you are pointing your readers to, instead of linking to 'read this' or 'this post'. Also, don't link to too many old posts. For external links, don't forget to use the 'nofollow' tag where relevant. This Google article tells you the right way to use 'nofollow'.

SEO for each post is important, but you must also pay attention to the status of your blog in search engine rankings. I'll write about that in another post, but you can refer to this very useful and easy to read Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF file) published by Google.

See? Just a little effort, and you can nail SEO! Good luck.

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24 comments

Dana - http://chocolateandsunshine.com said...

Thank you for the excellent suggestions. Pinning now and printed for personal use.
Happy New Year!

Krista R said...

I've been blogging for almost a year and SEO is something that intimidates me, I and so I've avoided it. Thank you for breaking it down in an understandable way, and pointing out simple things I can do to get started. I'm putting this on my to-do list for the new year!!

Tarana Khan said...

Happy New Year to you too, and glad you found my tips useful!

Cathy said...

Thanks for this very informative post,I just pinned it :-)

Tarana Khan said...

Glad you found it useful, thanks for stopping by!

Cropped Stories said...

Hey Tarana!

I just wanted to let you know that you were chosen a winner of The PINcentive Blog Hop, so CONGRATULATIONS! This post was very informative and helpful :o) These tips should definitely be taken into consideration by any blogger publishing content! As a winner, I'd love to feature this post at our next hop and it will be pinned a minimum of 31 times by my team of pinners! Additionally, we'd love to have you co-host our next hop and choose our winner. It's a great opportunity to make new friends and increase your following. You are also entitle to priority seating at our next hop which means I will add the URL of the post you'd like to link up manually :o)

I hope you are as excited as we are! Please feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience. Since I'm working under a rather tight deadline, your timely response would be greatly appreciated! If you decide to co-host, I'd need your 3 preferred methods you'd like blog hop participants to follow you and the URL of the post you'd like to link up this week.

Thanks so much and I look forward to hearing from you! Happy Friday!

Elena
[email protected]

Tarana Khan said...

This is so awesome! I just replied to you on email.

Lizzy Allan said...

This really is a brilliant post, Tarana. I learnt so much about SEO that I had absolutely no idea about. I especially like the idea of changing the post URL.

Tarana Khan said...

Glad you found it useful, Lizzy!

Michelle Nahom said...

This post is very informative and helpful! I am doing most of it, but I am not always consistent and it needs to become second nature. Thank you for the reminder. Pinning it for future reference!

Beth said...

Thanks for this post - it's so helpful and I plan on pinning it. Two things I don't get: Where do I find the search description box in WordPress and I don't understand "nofollow" at all. Does it matter?

Thanks!

Tarana Khan said...

Thanks Michelle!

Tarana Khan said...

Hi Beth,

This article should help you with your search description query - http://www.siteground.com/tutorials/wordpress/wordpress_seo.htm

"nofollow" is important is you are writing sponsored content and linking back to the brand's website. That is the important thing to remember. Otherwise, it's nothing to worry about!

Good luck!

Lisa Witherspoon said...

Great information and tips! Thanks!

Orli D said...

What a great and informative post. I am forever struggling with my SEO, and though I know most of these things for some reason I always feel my SEO is in the toilets and would benefit from a good cohesive list of what to do and how to help it. Thanks again!

Tarana Khan said...

So glad to be of any help in your SEO efforts!

Janine Huldie said...

Thank you so much Tarana for linking this up with us today. Seriously, great tips for those just starting out blogging and am so happy to pin this one for future reference, too!! :)

Tarana Khan said...

Thanks Janine, glad you liked it!

FarZain said...

Hi Tarana, thank you so much for the amount of information you have provided. Especially first time bloggers like me who are still learning the ropes of blogging.

We stay in UAE too.. Enjoyed your blog!! Great work!!

Look into my page here
http://colorsofourrainbow.blogspot.ae/

Your opinion will be valued. Thanks again.

Tarana Khan said...

So glad to be of help, hope you'll stop by again!

Mhairi Little Hands said...

I'm quite new to blogging and must admit SEO is way over my head. Very handy and helpful tips.

Sara Murray said...

This is so useful, I really must get my act together on this one! Have pinned :)

Jenny Marie said...

Thank so much. You just took a very over-whelming topic and made it very understandable

Tarana said...

Happy to know that you found it easy to follow!

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