Whenever you start a new blog, you will have to work on the SEO for the first few weeks to give it a good boost in the eyes of search engines. Without the initial efforts, you will not be able to see any proper changes in your blog statistics for a long time. Search Engine Optimization is not only required for newly created blogs, but also for older blogs to stay on top of their game. So SEO is something you shouldn’t completely ignore. Today we will see about a simple SEO checklist that you should follow to make sure that your blog is SEO ready and visible to the search engine bots for better crawling, indexing and ranking.
Whenever you install a new blog, you should follow these 6 points so that your blog will be SEO optimized from the very beginning. On-page SEO and Off-page SEO are the things that you can worry about later. I won’t say that these are the things that will increase your rankings overnight but these are the more basic things that are required for gaining high rankings and without this you would never achieve stable rankings.
6 Point SEO Checklist:
#1. Post Titles and Meta Description
Search Engines doesn’t show your complete content in their search results pages but what they show is just your post title, the URL of the post and the meta description along with other information like date and ratings and others.
The post titles, URLs and meta descriptions are the most important factors in ranking your post. You should choose proper keyword rich titles and meta tags to increase your rankings. However you should make sure that all your posts have unique titles when they appear in search engines. The titles and description are unique all the times but there might be some issue with your blog or plugin that might cause some problems as it has happened to me. All my posts and pages were showing the same title in the search engine results.
To make sure you don’t get in to such problems, you should make sure the title and description are unique for every posts. For this, you can use an SEO plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast to set up the title tags.
This is how my SEO settings look like:
#2. Image SEO
Images are not just for making your post attractive so that your readers are not bored. They have a lot more to do with your blog’s traffic than just be an eye-candy for the text in your article.
Images can send you a ton of traffic because everyday a lot of people are looking for new images via search engines (Like Google Images). If you are not using images on your site then start using them now; and if you are already using images in your articles, then are you optimizing them properly.
To optimize your images for the best SEO rankings, you should take care of 3 points – image size, alt text and captions.
The size of the image should be as small as possible and the quality of the image should also be maintained. You can tools like Image Optimizer to optimize your images without compromising on its quality.
Next point to consider is to add proper, keyword-rich ALT tag to your images. Search engines bots can’t see your image. But they can see and crawl the ALT tag of the image. So when you have added a proper Alt tag to your image, chances are that the image will be ranked a lot higher than others.
To include, you simply have to add alt=”Your alt tag here” to your image tag. Here’s an example on how to do it:
<img src="wordpress-seo.jpg" alt="WordPress SEO" />
And the last thing is the captions. I will be honest to you about this point. I don’t know completely how caption affects the search engine rankings but they do decrease the bounce rate. You can go through this post on Social Triggers to know more about the benefits of captions in an image.
#3. XML Sitemaps
Your website goes live, Google comes to know about it after some time, Google bot crawls your website, your post and pages gets indexed and are shown in the search results. This takes some time, normally a week, if you just create a website and leave it to get crawled. And even if its crawled, there might be some pages that were not discovered by the crawler bots.
You can avoid these by creating and submitting Sitemaps of your site to various search engines. You can use a plugin like Google XML Sitemaps to create XML sitemaps of your blog and easily submit that to search engines so that each and every pages of your site is indexed. You can find out more about Sitemaps by clicking here.
By default, WordPress selects your permalink structure to be like this which is not at all search engine friendly:
Whenever I create a new WordPress blog, the first thing I do is change my permalinks structure before anything else. WordPress offers you various permalinks structure to choose from. I prefer to go with the “/%postname%/” structure so that it is easy to remember but there are other options too that you can choose from.
Some people prefer to use URLs ending with “.html”. I don’t know if it helps or not but you could check out this video in which Matt Cutts explains that it might affect some things.
#5. Great Content
I know that most of you have already heard (and probably might have got bored) about the phrase “CONTENT IS KING”! But great content doesn’t help you all the time.
You have to make sure that you are publishing articles that suit your blog’s topic and addresses people’s problems at the same time. That’s what you can refer to as Great Content. If you have created a post about removing antivirus from your computer and publish it on an SEO blog, then even though the topic can bring a lot of traffic and considering that you have written the most in-depth guide, you won’t be able to get any benefit or traffic from that post.
You should publish articles that suit your blog’s niche so when you start your blog, make sure to define a niche and don’t try to go out of that niche. A great example about this would be Neil Patel from QuickSprout. He always publishes articles that helps bloggers, SEO experts and marketers alike. He is doing this from the very beginning and he and his blog both are now a name that almost every one in the online industry is familiar with.
#6. Authority Backlinks
Now that you have gone through the first five points, you should focus on building high quality backlinks from authority sites. My approach for building backlinks for a newly created blog would be by doing guest blogging and blog commenting.
Now you might already know that Matt Cutts has already said that guest blogging is dead and many people have stopped doing guest blogging altogether without understanding the statement correctly. What Matt Cutts wanted to say with the post was that if you are doing guest blogging just to gain backlinks to your blog then your blog might get penalized. If you are publishing articles on spammy websites just for the sake of a dofollow backlink, then you might get penalized!
But what people don’t understand is that if you are publishing articles on blogs that fall within your niche, are highly popular and no matter offer you dofollow or nofollow backlink, then you might not get in to any troubles.
Simply put, you should focus on guest blogging on sites which have high engagement, people gets engaged via comments on every post and is not at all spammy, such blogs should be chosen for publishing guest posts. Neil Patel has published an awesome post about Guest Blogging on his blog and how it still is the best way to build backlinks.
So stick to guest blogging and also leave some relevant comments on relevant blogs so that you can get more backlinks from high authority pages. Don’t leave a lot of comments, maintain a proper dofollow-nofollow ratio for your backlinks.
Recommended: Benefits of Internal Linking for your Blog
Wrapping it UP:
That was the 6 points SEO checklist that I follow for all my blogs. If you think that I am still missing out on something really important then please share it by dropping a comment below. I would really appreciate your views on this. Also let me know what you think about the post and whether it covered the SEO aspects or not. Looking forward to hearing from you and having a solid discussion!