The Ultimate SEO Checklist: 25 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Your Next Post

quick sprout seo

Do you know what the largest traffic source for your blog is? It’s not social media or direct visitors…

It’s actually Google. And if it isn’t, that means you haven’t thought about your SEO the right way.

Just look at the image above. It shows that Google drives 40.51% of the traffic to Quick Sprout.

Download this printable version of 25 questions to ask yourself before your next post.

So, how do you ensure that your blog is optimized for search engines… other than just installing the Yoast SEO plugin? All you have to do is ask yourself the following questions before you publish your next blog post:

Keywords

You should never stuff your blog posts with keywords, but you should include them when it makes sense and feels natural. Here are some keyword-related questions you should be asking yourself:

  1. Research – have you performed keyword research to see which phrases are popular and related to the post you are writing? If not, this video will teach you how to do keyword research.
  2. Headline – have you included keywords within your headline? Your headline should be attractive and contain phrases that people may use when searching on Google.
  3. Headings – are you using headings within the body of your blog post? And within those headings, have you included any keywords? Google places more emphasis on keywords that are larger in font size.
  4. Stuffing – are you keyword stuffing? If you are, you may find that your blog posts don’t rank as well as they would if you wrote posts mainly focused around your readers.
  5. Context – are the other words within your blog post related to your main keywords? Google is like a dictionary — it looks at keywords as well as synonyms to get a better understanding of what your blog post is about. Just make sure you are not trying to manipulate Google. Naturally use phrases related to your main keywords when you are writing for humans.
  6. First 100 words – do you use keywords within your first 100 words? Google places more emphasis on words and phrases that are placed towards the top of the page.

Internal links

Links are a simple way to control how you pass PageRank from one blog post to another. A simple internal link can drastically affect your rankings. Here are some link-related questions you should ask yourself:

  1. Cross linking – have you linked to other related blog posts that you have written in the past? By doing this, you’ll help boost the rankings of your older posts.
  2. Old blog posts – have you gone into your older blog posts and added links to your newly written posts? You should be doing this on a monthly basis as your older posts tend to carry more authority than the newer ones. Make sure you don’t abuse this tactic — only use it when it makes sense.
  3. Anchor text – are your internal links too rich in anchor text? Don’t stuff your internal links with too many keywords as it will reduce your rankings. Make sure the anchor text contains text that is part of a natural flow instead of just keywords.

External links

Did you know that linking to external sites can affect your rankings in a positive way? Here are some questions to ask yourself when it comes to external links:

  1. Related blogs – are you linking to other relevant resources within your post? This helps Google identify which blogs are relevant to yours, and it helps determine what keywords you should be ranking for.
  2. Emails – are you emailing each webmaster to notify them that you linked to them? This is a simple way to get other bloggers to share your posts on the social web and maybe even get a few new backlinks.

Content

As the saying goes… content is king. And the text you write within your posts affects what you rank and don’t rank for. Here are some content-related questions to ask yourself:

  1. Duplicate content – did you take any content from another source? If you did, make sure you link to it. Also try to avoid having a high percentage of duplicate content in your blog post as this may cause a Panda penalty.
  2. Thin content – is your blog post thin and mediocre? Writing blog posts purely for SEO reasons is a great way to get hit by a Panda penalty. Focus on the quality of your content instead of quantity.
  3. Length – is your blog post long enough? There is a direct correlation between the length of your post and its ranking. The majority of the web pages that rank on the first page of Google contain at least 2,000 words.

URLs

By creating custom URLs, you can increase the chances of ranking for specific phrases. Here are some URL questions to ask yourself:

  1. Short – is your URL short and to the point? Shorter URLs that are keyword-rich tend to do better than longer ones.
  2. Keywords – does your URL contain any keywords? By including a few keywords within your URL, you’ll get a slight increase in rankings.
  3. Numbers – does your URL include at least 3 unique numbers? To be included in Google news, your URLs have to have 3 consecutive numbers that are unique.

Images

A picture says a thousand words, and for that reason, you’ll probably have a few within your post. When you include images, make sure you ask yourself the following questions:

  1. File name – is the file name of your image rich in keywords? The more descriptive your image file names are, the better they’ll rank in Google image search.
  2. Alt tags – did you include a descriptive alt tag for each image? By adding alt tags to each of your images, you’ll help them rank higher within image search.
  3. Dimensions – is the width and height of your image large in size? The bigger the dimensions, the better your rankings will be.
  4. File size – are your images as small as possible in file size? Compressed images that are still high in quality tend to rank better.
  5. Embed code – are you providing an embed code for your images? When you provide unique images, like infographics, you’ll notice that people will want to embed them on their sites. By having an embed code, you’ll increase the number of backlinks to your blog, which will increase your rankings over time.
  6. Uniqueness – are your images original and unique? If you have the time to take your own images (or pay someone to take them) and use them within your posts, you’ll notice that those images have better rankings in image search than stock photography images.

Load time

Speed affects rankings. The quicker your blog loads, the higher your rankings. Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to improve your load time:

  1. Media – have you optimized the media you are using within your post? Using media such as images, videos, or audio files is a great idea, but they need to be optimized for load time. You can use Google PageSpeed to help you optimize your media.
  2. Javascripts – are you adding any extra javascripts to your blog post? Try to minimize the number of external scripts you are using as they tend to slow down load time.

Conclusion

By asking yourself the 25 questions above before you publish a new blog post, you’ll ensure that you are setting yourself up for SEO success.

It won’t take you more than 5 to 10 minutes to ask yourself these questions, and the results can be great. I’ve been asking myself the questions above for years now, and it has helped me get over 100,000 search engine visitors to each of my blogs every month.

So, what other questions should you be asking yourself before publishing a blog post?

PS: If you are still struggling to get traffic to your blog or website, make sure you check this out.

Comments

  1. Never did the external backlinking, will try next time on my niche related blogs.

  2. Shilpa Shetty :

    That’s a great list Neil.. Thanks a lot.

  3. Omg! A quick and awesome list 🙂 thank you big bro

  4. I just started doing some and i saw some nice results. Thanks for an awesome post again Neil.

  5. Collection of Top SEO Stuffs in a single post. Internal/External Links should be done properly because I read at some sites like Linking to Low authority websites may decrease our website SERPS.

    Though we wouldn’t connect to such low authority sites,we should be careful in it

  6. Goof SEO Checklist. Thanks!

  7. Thanks for the great checklist Neil.

    Certainly worthwhile running through this before pressing publish!

    Had to call you out on this though:

    “Google places more emphasis on keywords that are larger in font size.”

    Certainly don’t think that’s true anymore….

  8. Sasi priyatham :

    Wonderful article bro,
    Now i learn some more things ,thanks a lot for share

  9. Serre de Jardin :

    Thank you for this checklist. It is very helpful for me who begin.

  10. Nice job covering the fundamentals. Most SEOs over-complicate things. Getting good at SEO is like getting a black belt in martial arts. You only have to master a handful of moves, but you have to MASTER them.

  11. Thank’s for a refresh SEO checklist.

  12. This is in perfect timing for my next blog post! I will use this to get a post in organic rankings because right now I am only getting referral traffic from my latest blog post. Which is ranked 30 for the targeted keyword.

  13. Great Post Neil and i was Making a Mistake in my blog i was creating Short Length Post now i will try to Write Lengthy Quality Posts.

  14. Hey Neil,
    Really a very good list.
    Thanks a lot.

  15. Wonderfull post.. I’ll take care while writing my next post.

  16. Lovepreet Aulakh :

    Thanks Neil for another great post as usual.

    my question is what will be the result
    if I write 5-10 blog posts a day without thinking about SEO or anything.

    Is my traffic gets the peek with this strategy?

  17. John @ pnr status :

    Hi Neil

    Great checklist ! explained very nicely.

    Thanks ????

  18. Anne Schofield :

    Thank you Neil for this priceless information. Until now blogging has been a grey area for me. Now I can hardly wait to start.

  19. Harshit Sharma :

    Hi Neil,
    The checklist seems very useful and I am also going to follow it with my next blog post. The point that I like the most is no.11 and I haven’t tried it even one time.

    ThankYou
    Harshit Sharma

  20. Hi Neil,

    We just started to work on our inbound marketing strategy and I was looking for an ultimate SEO checklist, now I found it. Thank you!

    Keep up the great work!

    Tamas

    • Tamas, awesome to hear. I think if you go through this checklist you’ll find some helpful tips that will really drive more traffic.

  21. Thanks Neil.

    To share my experience with general SEO to add to your list:
    I’ve noticed that writing quality posts + headlines which contain low search volume phrase makes me easily rank top in Google without a single backlink for a number of similar search queries.

    • Casey Dennison :

      Michael, you’re right – low competition keyword (make sure you understand the search intent behind them) with low search volume are working well for me too.

      I recently read an article on the Niche Pursuits blog about ranking for low comp. terms with no backlinks whatsoever, very good read!

      -Casey

      • Casey & Michael the importance of low comp keywords should not be understated. If you find a good strategy I would suggest sticking to it and scaling from there.

  22. Great list, I was just building my own checklist but don’t need it anymore, I will take Your! Big thanks!

  23. Nice info.Thanks for sharing.

  24. Nice artilce. I’ll take care while writing my next blog post. Thanx for sharing Mr.Neil Patel 🙂

  25. City Home Tuition :

    thanks for the nice article, very very usefull . pls keep posting the same

  26. Hi Neil, thanks for the share.

    I never knew you can get higher rankings in Google when you share links in your blog posts. I have always been skeptical about linking other peoples websites on my blog posts. I guess I was afraid of losing link juice to others. I’ll test this and see how it goes.

    Regards

    • Gordon, not a problem. Glad you found it helpful — go ahead and link and you’ll see great results. . Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  27. Hey Neil,
    I just wanna say thanks. 😀
    You have helped me a lot.
    Cheers!

  28. Ilaria Mangiardi :

    How I love the insights this man provides! Thank you, Neil. Your articles are always the most helpful in the blogosphere 🙂

  29. Henrico Ellis :

    As always very rich and informative content. Great tips and a great read.

  30. Shannon Kearns :

    This is a solid, to-the-point post. Huge help, thanks a million.

  31. Great checklist with some excellent advice, thank you for sharing.

  32. Randy Kauffman :

    Pretty good stuff. Google is the best. Thanks Neil!!

  33. Great short and applicable tips! Thanks a bunch. I can start implementing these right now.

  34. Yeah, I used several time high quality external links in my post and got well rank in Google. 🙂

  35. Superb checklist. I am already following them and seen wonderful effect. Everyone should follow them. Thanks Neil for your informative write-up.

  36. Anastacia Hauldridge :

    Your the best Neil thanks for the checklist, I will be sure to double check all my work.!

  37. Good checklist Brother … Learning a lot from your site . Thank you

  38. Sathish, glad I could help. Thanks for reading.

  39. It’s a good read. Thanks for this very informative piece.

  40. Another quality post from Neil. I am a fan of quicksprout and it really helped me on my online business.

  41. Thanks Neil, this was exactly what I was looking for, and there a couple of points I have immediately changed on my blog, you’ve probably saved me a lot of work down the road. Many Thanks. Laura

  42. Thanks for sharing very useful and informative post with us..

  43. Great post, Neil.

    The importance of contacting people after you’ve linked their content or quoted them is huge. It has helped us generate some really high authority backlinks, I would go so far as to say that making an effort here has resulted in the majority of quality backlinks that we’ve got and a good amount of traffic to boot!

    • Damon, glad to hear that strategy has worked for you. Ultimately it’s all about creating a great infrastructure that flows well.

  44. Nice post! Neil…
    Thanks to recall me all the prime stuff for blog posting.

  45. Its very rich and informative content. Great tips Sir Thanks for sharing it with Us.

  46. Rinjani Samalas :

    Great post, i love all your tips, thank you

  47. Sourajit Saha :

    Hi Neil,
    This is my first comment to your blog though I follow your blog regularly and you are not just a blogger but an inspiration to me.

  48. thanks for the helpful post

  49. Awesome Post, Very beneficial…

  50. Hi Neil,
    Thanks for compiling it all in one place. Certainly, it is useful for example as a guide for customers.

  51. Hey Neil,

    Exceptional post as always. I have infact printed it & kept on my desk for regular use.

    I had one quick suggestion to improve the post, you might want to add a better link on how to do keyword research. The video that it is currently pointing at is of a very basic level.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers! 🙂

  52. Hey Neil! I turn to your blog for lots of wonderful advice and I am intrigued by this post, in a good way. I’ve heard of some of the SEO tasks but it’s great to have it neatly into a printout – that’s going the extra mile! Thanks

  53. Hey Neil, visited QuickSprout second time through Google search and frankly speaking now it has become my daily meal.
    This SEO Checklist will surely help me a lot.

    Thanks. Kudos 🙂

  54. Shahid Khan :

    Hey Neil,

    Firstly, Thanks For This Brief Post About SEO Checklist…I am Sure If Anybody Follows These Checklist Then His/Her Site Will Be On #1 On Google 😀

    One Of The Common Thing I Usually Gets In Your Blog Post Is , You Always Advice To “Write Content For Users NOT Search Engines”. That’s Really Great !

    After All Readers Engagement Is Our Utmost Priority For Survival Of Our Blog ! 😀

    Thanks Once Again For This Sensational Post ! 🙂

    • Shahid, great point. I think following a blueprint is essential if you want to see overall campaign success. Looking forward to hearing much more from you.

  55. Rahul Bhatia :

    Hey Neil,

    I have a question of LSI keywords that we use while writing content. Do we also need to write about those keywords? As sometimes those LSI keywords are not as same as our main keyword.

    Or we just use LSI keywords in content at 2-3 places instead for writing for them.

  56. As a non-technical person, what are my chances of learning SEO?

  57. Never done 12 tasks out of 25 above mentioned might be reason for not getting success.
    Thanks for making me concerned about these SEO tactics ..
    Keep writing such helpful posts.

    I just bookmarked this post in hope that this will improve my SEO practices

    Thanks Neil

  58. Attractive part of content. I just stumbled upon your website and in accession capital to claim that I acquire in fact
    enjoyed account your weblog posts. Anyway I will be subscribing on your feeds or even I success you get admission to constantly rapidly.

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  60. Thanks for providing best information its very helpful for me. I am regular regular visitor on your site.

  61. Once again Neil delivers!!! great post

  62. Maria Wynham :

    I am going to take a note for The Ultimate SEO Check list. I am sure I can improve my website’s organic rank with this check list..

  63. Great tips! I will definitely use them going forward. Thank you Neil!

  64. Deep Saini :

    really its great post.. i have a question ..
    let me explain. i have 100 post on my blog. and 90 post are interlinking to a post (ranked in google) with same anchor keyword on 90 post ( in 90 post i did not changed the keyword ) .. ? what would be happen drop of ranking or increase..
    I did a experiment and my ranking droped from 5th position to 40..
    Wating for your reply..
    Thank You

    • I would vary the anchor text up a lot more. Instead of using the same keyword, use variations, phrases, synonyms

  65. Hello, Neil Sir, You are a real brand of successful business, Feel happy with your all post.

  66. Sanjay Mohanty :

    Following your posts and implementing your tips have been of ultimate use. Keeping updating us always.

  67. Neil,

    I always follow your tips and techniques you recommend for betterment of site. One of my site fluctuating and going dramatically down for some key terms. I implemented umpteen methods to get it on the track but unsuccessful. Kindly suggest some ideas.

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