Are you search optimizing, or SEO’ing, your blog posts correctly in WordPress before you hit that Publish or Schedule button?
Pre-publish optimization in WordPress is SO important, I can’t even stress how much.
It’s almost a crime to spend all your time producing a wonderful piece of content around a focus keyword, just to let it get published without optimization in WordPress first.
In today’s video, sit down with me at my computer and watch as I show you EVERY step I take before I publish a blog in WordPress, in my WordPress blog post optimization checklist for SEO.
From how to switch to “text editor,” format your subheaders properly, to knowing if you should use H4s or not, to “should I worry about the Yoast smiley face color?”… I answer it all! ✅
Watch this detailed, practical video to learn how to optimize your blogs before you hit Publish or Schedule on WordPress.
Time and time again, I see a clear pattern — #1 SEO rankings for blog posts that have a focus keyword comes from how much effort you put into your pre-publish optimization. The devil is in those details, and that couldn’t be truer for WordPress blog optimization.
My 8-Step WordPress Blog Post Optimization Checklist for SEO (Video)
If you follow each of the steps I share in this video, you’re much more likely to see results from your SEO content, especially if you publish regular blogs on WordPress, which is my personal favorite platform. I’ll even share with you an example of one of our content pieces, optimized following these exact steps, ranking at the top of Google for a major keyword in just 30 days. Let’s get going!
Make Sure Your Site Foundations Are Right (Pre-Optimization Step)
Before we get into the checklist, a quick word of advice:
It helps to have a fast, clean site. Just like you can’t build a strong house if your foundations are shaky, you simply cannot expect to publish an optimized post on an icky website and see great results.
So, disclaimer: as you head into these tips, if you don’t have a strong, fast, secure, beautiful website, with page load speeds under 3 seconds per page, a beautiful, seamless experience for your end-user, you won’t see results. I recommend working with a top-rated freelance website developer to help get all your tech issues fixed, if you think you might have foundational site issues to fix first. Check out my recent Write Blog guide on how to rank in the top of Google.
Let’s head over to my computer and I’ll show you, step-by-step, the 8 steps to use every single time you schedule a WordPress blog. First, here’s the checklist itself.
How to SEO Optimize Blog Posts in WordPress: 8 Steps
- Load the Blog: Edit, Proofread, Upload All Corresponding Images
- Add & Proof-check Subheader Optimization for Readability and SEO
- Check All Links to Open in New Windows
- Include CTAs
- Add Easy One-Click Social Shares
- Add Meta Title and Description with Yoast
- Upload SEO Alt-Text Feature Images in the Right Spots
- Optimize Your Blog for Social Sharing with Yoast
Additional Bonus Tips on SEO Optimization:
- The permalink (URL) for your blog should be your focus keyword. Keep it to five or less words!
- Categorize your blog in one clear category. Avoid too many tags. 1-5 tags describing the topic, as long as they don’t duplicate the category, are fine.
1. Load the Blog: Edit, Proofread, Upload All Corresponding Images
Load your blog in WordPress. Edit and proofread the content as you upload and insert any corresponding screenshots, images, etc.
Images for blogs should be at most 1 megabyte, unless you’re uploading an infographic or a key high-res image that absolutely has to be at the resolution it was created at.
When you upload the content, proofread it. You want a clean, error-free blog post for obvious reasons. (Google says the quality of your content directly impacts your rankings. (More on their EAT, or Expertise Authoritativeness, and Trust factors.)
2. Add & Proof-check Subheader Optimization for Readability and SEO
Now that the post is in, you need to properly add subheaders — H2s, H3s.
Adding subheaders and making sure the content is readable are the top two considerations so people (and search engines) can read and understand your post easily.
Go in the Text editor of WordPress to make sure all H2s, H3s, etc. are coded correctly (use WordPress’s formatting!).
Proof check them all on the Visual editor to make sure they transferred correctly.
3. Check All Links to Open in New Windows
This is proven to significantly lower bounce rate, so, it’s worth the trouble! Make sure all your links are set to open in a new browser window.
4. Include CTAs
Above all, avoid being annoying with your CTAs. Don’t put too many in, and don’t put them too high up. I’ve tested a variety of placements, and find that text CTAs are great for inner CTAs, and image CTAs best kept to 1, 2, or at most, 3 in one long-form blog. Always make sure your blog at least ends with a strong CTA that directs the reader to take action.
5. Add Easy One-Click Social Shares
Know your platform, first of all. For us at the Write Blog, Twitter is a huge platform for engagement. We’ve kept up a Twitter chat, #ContentWritingChat, for years now on Twitter that has helped us grow a solid Twitter presence. So, knowing that Twitter is a hot platform, we’ve chosen to use a plugin that enables us to add “Click to Tweets” to every post — which we do. These are punchy phrases or takeaways from the blog that readers can share to Twitter with one click.
We use the Better Click to Tweet plugin for WordPress. This adds a little Twitter bird icon to the top of your WordPress editor.
Just avoid putting too many in, or putting them above your first H2 (that placement can actually interfere with rankings). You want to avoid any “extra code” in a blog as much as possible, which helps your content stay more visible for rankings.
6. Add Meta Title and Description with Yoast
Don’t forget to plug in a good meta title and description! The “green” on the meta title and description is a good indicator for the right length for both.
Regarding the “overall” Yoast SEO, that comes with a color-coded smiley face (that may not be smiling if he’s orange or red), bear in mind that this may not correlate to actual content results. After publishing over 1,000 blogs, some of our top-ranked blogs are orange, if not red! Nothing beats a real human eye reviewing the content before it goes out, and the focus should be on the quality of content, not a fallible color-coded score by a software.
Other questions you should be asking instead of “is this color green?” 😉
- Does my blog read well? Is it typo-free? Is it formatted and readable?
- Will my blog actually engage my audience?
- Does my blog have a clear CTA that tells the reader how to take “next steps” with me?
7. Upload SEO Alt-Text Feature Images in the Right Spots
We always have our images for our blogs custom-designed, so, we upload correctly sized and branded images to our blogs.
SEO alt-text is important for image visibility in Google. Alternate text is a descriptive text that provides context for people who are visually impaired or need to use a screen reader to browse the web. Alternate text (or “alt text”) describes your images to search engines, as well, so they’ll potentially show up in image searches.
8. Optimize Your Blog for Social Sharing with Yoast
Make sure you’re sharing the right image with your blog link on social media by completing this step. This is especially important if you’ve created custom, share-worthy graphics to accompany the post.
- In the Yoast SEO options, click on the “Social sharing” icon.
- Skip over the title and description fields – Yoast will pull the information for these from the main snippet fields you already filled out.
- Scroll to “Facebook image” or “Twitter image.” Upload your custom image here.
Make sure the image you use has an alternate text and a title specified.
Why Is WordPress SEO Blog Optimization So Important?
Let me show you an example of a blog that earned a top spot in Google, optimized with the steps I’m about to show you. Now you might already know this, but we have over 1,100+ blogs published on Express Writers’ Write Blog across eight years, which have earned over 21,000 keyword positions in Google (case study here).
Here’s an example of just one of those, created this year. Within 30 days of publishing this blog, “How to Build a Strong Digital Content Strategy in 2019”, we earned a #1 organic ranking for the keyword “how to build a digital content strategy:”
One key player for this blog’s ranking power is the work we did on optimization before publishing. From the title to the copy to the subheaders to the images, CTAs, links, metas, and more — everything is optimized for search engines.
Time and time again, brands that edge into top positions on SERPs get the lion’s share of the spoils, including higher click-through rates and more traffic.
Why does being in #1 matter so much? According to Advanced Web Ranking, the CTR for organic position 1 on Google is 31.19%. Meanwhile, the CTR for position 10 is 1.12%. One or 31 percent? I’ll let you decide!
Bonus: search traffic is climbing past 70% of all the world’s online traffic right now. That means the majority of internet traffic comes from a Google search. Google alone processes over 40,000 search queries every second. In short, you need to be found where your people are searching.
- How to Optimize a Blog Post for SEO Ranking Ability (On-Page Optimization) Ryan Robinson’s 17-minute video on YouTube is a great additional resource on this topic.
Taking care of all these small pieces of your blog post may seem like busywork, but it’s not.
Instead, each step is essential for making your content the best version of itself. Attention to detail may be the differentiator between two posts vying for the #1 or #2 spots on a SERP. If your post has better signals, both readers and Google will take note.
The devil is in the details. A sharp eye and a few extra minutes of your time before hitting “publish” could make all the difference.
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