It’s the start of the day and you look at your calendar. Marketing meetings, onboarding that new social media manager, and preparing a product launch are just a few things on your schedule. Oh, and then there’s that blog post that’s been needing your approval.
It’s a 2,000-word article your writer created to go straight to the first page of Google but you can’t bring yourself to check whether they’ve done a great job optimizing it. It’ll take ages!
Or, will it?
What if we told you it’s possible to review an article for SEO in under 10 minutes, and that you don’t need to be your company’s bottleneck, keeping content from getting published anymore?
With this handy checklist, you’ll breeze through each post, knowing exactly which things to look for and how to find them.
Before you dive in, make sure a member of your team has prepared the post in your CMS. You’ll want to have everything ready to go so you only need to do this review once. Let’s go.
Is the Main (Focus) Keyword Where It Needs to Be?
The first thing you want to check is whether your writer has inserted the main keyword for the article in the right places.
Simply use the ctrl+f or cmd+f search function and see if the main keyword shows up here:
- in the H1.
- in the meta title.
- in the URL of the post.
- in the meta description.
- in one of the H2 headings.
- in the first 150 words of the body text.
- in the designated field of your SEO plugin, e.g. focus keyword in Yoast. This is not a ranking factor, just for us to track what we are doing.
H1, page title, and URL are the kings and queens of ranking factors. You really do not want to miss the opportunity.
Is Your URL Short Enough?
As you’ll already check the post’s URL when you look for the main keyword, you can be efficient and review its length at the same time.
Ideally, you’ll want to keep the URL as short as possible. Limiting it to your main keyword is good practice.
Save Time By Checking the Content in HTML Format
We know this is not everyone’s cup of tea. Don’t worry! You do not need to be able to program HTML to check your article for SEO. Reading in HTML helps you spot the ranking factors outlined below by searching for HTML elements in the text.
Things to look out for are:
- <a href=”url”>anchor text</a> This is a link.
- <h1> to </h1> This is a Headline 1.
Most CMS (like WordPress) allow you to switch to an HTML view easily.
Does the Article Have Just One H1?
Another thing to limit is your H1 heading. You only want one of these per post and the easiest way to check if your writer didn’t accidentally slip in more is, again, by doing a simple search for the <h1> tag.
Are There Supporting Keywords in the H2s and Body Text?
To give an article the best possible chance of ranking, your writer should include pre-determined secondary/supporting keywords alongside the main keyword, both in some of the H2 headings and in the body of the text.
You can have that list of keywords (or the detailed Flow SEO content briefing) open when you do your review, so you can quickly do a search for each of those secondary keywords.
By now, you’re probably starting to see a trend: the ctrl+f or cmd+f function is your best friend when you want to check an article for SEO fast.
Does the Post Have Links to Related Articles?
Just like nobody becomes successful on their own, your articles need a bit of support to perform well. That’s why you want your writer to take your site architecture and content silos into account by linking from this new post to related posts within the same category.
Switch to viewing the article in HTML and do a search for “yourdomain” to quickly see which posts and pages your writer has linked to and – if you’re being very precise – which anchor text they’ve used to do so.
Are You Linking to Authoritative Resources?
Use the same trick to find all the links to external sources. You can do this by searching for “a href=” within the HTML of the post, but this will also return links to your own site. If you have only external links set to be opened in a new tab, a better option is to search for “target=_blank.”
Knowing your industry, it should be quite easy to spot whether an external source is authoritative or not. Generally speaking, we are looking for bigger, older more authoritative sites and original content to quote from. This becomes super important if your website is in the YMYL space (your money, your life). You will want to discuss this with your SEO consultant in detail.
Readability: Are Paragraphs Short Enough?
Paragraph length isn’t a clearcut SEO factor, but it affects readability and readability affects your time-on-page, which is a ranking factor. The shorter your paragraphs, the easier and more pleasant it is for people to read them and the less likely they’ll click away before reaching the end of your post.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to do a word count for every paragraph in the article. Simply scroll through to see if there’s any block of text that takes up more than four full lines and if there is, split that into two paragraphs.
Does the Article Include a Clear CTA?
Whether you want readers to schedule a discovery call, sign up for your software, or buy your product, you need to explicitly ask them to do so – after the first paragraph for the super fans and the end of your post is a great place for it. By the time they get to the end of the post, people have (hopefully) been convinced that you know what you’re talking about and are more likely to take action.
This is an easy thing to review. All you need to do is scroll to the bottom of your post and see if your writer has included a CTA.
Is the Content Unique?
Unless you’re hiring very cheap writers from places like Upwork, this shouldn’t be an issue, but when you’re trialing someone new, you may want to make sure they didn’t just copy/paste their article together.
Copy random bits of the post and paste them into Google between ” ” to check.
Does the Post Have at Least One Optimized Image?
Even if your company doesn’t have an image-heavy blog, you’ll want each article to have a featured image that shows up when the post is shared on social media or in combination with the excerpt on your general blog or category pages.
For the sake of consistency and site speed, each of these images should have the same dimensions across all posts. They should also be optimized for size and have a filename that makes sense. Big files will kill your page speed and your beautiful SEO post will have a harder time to rank.
To quickly see if all of these things are the case, search for “img src” in the post. This will take you to every inserted image and the HTML will show you the filename, the alt text when added, as well as dimensions for those images. If you want to dig deeper, open the image library, and find the inserted image to also check its file size, title, and description.
Blog Post SEO Checklist
Ready to check your next blog post in less than 10 minutes? Here’s a handy recap of our checklist. Make sure to bookmark this post for future reference.
Blog post SEO checklist:
- Is the main keyword in the H1?
- Is this the only H1 in the post?
- Is the main keyword in the page title and meta description?
- Is the main keyword in the URL of the post?
- Is the URL short enough?
- Is the main keyword in one of the H2 headings?
- Is the main keyword in the first 150 words of the body text?
- Is the main keyword entered in the designated field of your SEO plugin for future reference?
- Does the post have links to related articles?
- Are you linking to authoritative resources?
- Readability: Are paragraphs short enough?
- Does the article include a clear CTA?
- Is the content unique?
- Does the post have at least one optimized image?
Now, of course, content optimization can be pushed much further. And there are plenty of SEO opportunities in your supporting keywords. We will talk about this another day. In the 80/20 of effective SEO and given your busy schedule, you just hit some really important checkmarks.
You’re good to hit publish!