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.

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.