Your SEO Checklist for Articles That Rank Well in Search

A search engine optimization (SEO) checklist is an important part of outlining and writing a new article. If you don’t follow any SEO guidelines, your piece may not rank well in search engine results and the likelihood of reaching a wider audience decreases. While consistent and relevant content is the primary way to increase your readership, making sure that your content is search engine friendly increases your chances of attracting new fans.

Select your keywords

The first thing you should do is pick the keywords that you want to target in your article. There are various online tools that let you browse the best keywords to use, including Moz Keyword Explorer (which provides various details about your selected keywords), so that you can fine-tune your SEO strategy.

Another technique is to search for your keywords in Google, and look at the list of related search terms at the bottom of the results page. You can also include these in your article so that people who search for those terms end up finding your content.

Make sure to use keywords throughout your article without overdoing it. Ideally, using a keyword once or twice within the first 100 words and between two to six times throughout the entire article body works best.

Draft a strong headline

Once you decide on your keywords, craft a strong headline that includes them. Your headline is the first thing that readers see, so it’s important to make sure it piques their interests. Try to include your keywords within the first 40 characters of your headline, and keep it between two and sixteen words.

Optimize your HTML title and meta description

While the purpose of your headline is to grab a visitor’s attention, your HTML title and meta description are meant to attract search engine attention and are integral to SEO. They tell search engines what a particular page or post is about. It’s also important to craft an accurate HTML title and meta description as they (along with your headline) serve as both the first thing that visitors see when your content appears on a results page, and may appear again when your article is shared on social media platforms.

An ideal HTML title is no more than 70 characters and should include the keywords of your article. Similarly, your meta description should be no more than 155 characters, including the keywords.

Filling out image metadata

Adding relevant images to your written content helps to tell a story. Images are a great way to breathe some life into an article, but it’s important to ensure that the images themselves are search engine optimized. Giving each image a valid title and alt text attributes lets search engines understand how these images relate to your content. If the images contain keywords relevant to your article, they will help increase your site’s SEO.

Organize your content

Search engines are not human: they don’t read articles like people do. They consume article data and rank it based on its content and structure. An important but often overlooked aspect of search engine friendly content is organization. Be sure to use subheadings to separate your article into distinct sections, and bullets when listing information.

Your SEO checklist

To wrap things up, your SEO checklist should contain at least a few (if not all) of these items:

  • A strong headline
  • An accurate HTML title and meta description
  • Image metadata (title and alt text)
  • Organized content (subheadings and lists)

Checking off each item on this list will help increase your odds of being recognized by new audience members.

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Jonathan Bossenger

Open source software and things.

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