What does it mean to “optimize your blog posts”? Like many bloggers, I didn’t appreciate completely what it meant to have an “optimized” blog post. Most new bloggers focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO). I did it too. But here’s the way I approach it now.
In the beginning, my goal was to create SEO-friendly content in the hopes of improving my blog’s ranking in Google search results — with extra emphasis on SEO.
Now I approach each piece of content from four distinct, creative perspectives for total optimization: Writer, Editor, SEO Specialist, and Marketer. It's important to prepare and review each piece of content from these four mindsets.
Many checklists you find online often dispense a list of 10, 12, 15 elements to review before publishing a new blog post.
I created and organized this checklist to make sure I approach my blog post optimization keeping the four distinct perspectives in mind. I hope you find it useful.
Keep in mind these recommendations serve only as a general guide. You may not always be able to hit every mark. First and foremost, always hold the reader front of mind. Search engines only index. They don’t “like”, comment or buy.
Optimize Your Blog Posts – From The Writer’s Perspective
The First Rule: Always write for your ideal reader, client or customer. Focus on readability.
The Headline: Do you have catchy, SEO-friendly headline? Yes, you can cater to the reader and the search engine.
- Does it appeal to the reader’s curiosity, emotion or need?
- Does it contain the keywords that queue up the reader? That your post is something they need to read?
The Introduction: Your intro paragraph should expand on the title and let the reader know what they can expect to gain from your post.
The Body: Are you using short, scannable paragraphs that allow the reader to move quickly and easily through your article? Can your reader easily identify and digest your key points?
- Are you leveraging special formatting, such as bulleted or numbered lists to enhance readability?
- Are you writing in a conversational style? The more formal you are in your language, the more difficult it is for the reader to understand and appreciate your content.
- Are you using sub-headlines (H2/H3 tags) to highlight your key topics or sections of your content. Sub-headlines improve readability. Bonus – they help SEO, too!
Be sure to end with a call-to-action. Encourage engagement or share more content:
- Ask them to post on a comment.
- Solicit questions.
- Ask them to share your post on social media.
- Give them the opportunity to subscribe to your list.
- Tell them where they can find more information.
Bonus: Link to at least two other reputable sources that have written on the same subject. If they have read your post, they are probably interested in reading more on the same topic.
Bonus: Link to another one of your posts in a related subject.
Optimize Your Blog Posts – From The Editor’s Perspective
Add eye-catching, optimized images — stock images are OK, but customize them. Consider applying special filters or overlay images with text.
Pro-Tip: There are many options for optimizing the size of your images. You can use WordPress plugins such as EWWW or WP Smush. My preferred method is to optimize images before uploading them to my site. My app of choice in ImageOptim (Mac). If you're on a PC consider Caesium.
Rename your images before uploading them. If possible use a keyword in the file name.
Once uploaded, give your images a title and add “alternate text” to your image. Use the WordPress Media editor as displayed below.
Proofread your content thoroughly for spelling and grammar errors. Grammarly is a great tool for this. I use it on every post. But, don’t rely solely on any spelling/grammar checker. Do your own review.
Pro-Tip: Try reading your content backward to find missing words and punctuation errors. Reading backward forces you to slow down and focus on what you’re reading.
Eliminate words that don’t add value. Remove unnecessary modifiers, i.e. very.
Add Categories and Tags.
Pro-Tip: One category per post. Multiple tags are OK, but must relate directly to points in your post.
Links should open in new Tabs.
Optimize your permalink. For this post, my permalink is: “optimize-your-blog-posts”.
Test all links. Nobody likes broken links. Make sure they work and go to your intended target.
Optimize Your Blog Posts – From The SEO Perspective
Use a comprehensive SEO plugin, such as Yoast SEO or All-In-One SEO to hit all of the recommended SEO targets. Think of them as your “master checklist” for SEO. I use and recommend Yoast SEO. It’s on-page visual cues let you know when you’ve hit the mark and have the “green light” to publish.
Pro-Tip: Make sure your Title is not cut-off in Google search results. Both Yoast and All-In-One show a preview of your full Google entry.
- Your Title should be 40–69 characters
- Your Description should be 135–160 characters
- Use a Keyword in post title
- Use primary and secondary keywords in the body of the post. But, keep it readable!
Hit as many of the recommended actions as you can, but don't obsess over them. Trying to check all of the blocks can degrade your content and making it difficult for the reader. Remember, to optimize is to provide a reasonable balance among the often competing perspectives. Your goal isn't to achieve a perfect score.
Optimize Your Blog Posts – From The Marketer’s Perspective
Make sure social media images are size-optimized for each platform.
Pro-Tip: If you can spare a few bucks, use Canva for Business. It offers “one-click” image auto-resizing for the most popular social media platforms.
Pro-Tip: I use and recommend Social Warfare. The cost is low. $24/year. You can upload the specific image and description to shared on both Pinterest and Twitter. Make it easy for your reader and still maintain editorial control over social media shares.
Bonus: Add a content upgrade. A content upgrade is downloadable bonus content offered in exchange for an email address. In this case, I offer a streamlined version of this post in the form of a checklist.
That’s it! For a completely optimized blog post, attack your content on four fronts — Writer, Editor, SEO Specialist and Marketer.
Did I miss something? Do you have a favorite form of content upgrade? I’d love to hear about it. Post a comment.
If you found this article useful, I hope you’ll share it. It just takes one Click!