You want to treat your target keyphrases with TLC, don’t you? You want to have the highest possible chance of ranking for the keyphrases that matter. Our SEO marketing checklist can help.
This checklist walks you through essential tasks from keyphrase research through to content promotion.
While you might not follow this checklist for every blog you publish, you absolutely should follow it for the top priority keyphrases that your company most wants to rank for. You can also download this checklist by filling out this form:
Here are the categories covered in our SEO marketing checklist:
- Keyphrase research checklist
- SEO content optimization checklist
- Content readability checklist
- Off-site promotion checklist
🔧Keyphrase research checklist
Before you write a piece of SEO content, you first need to do keyphrase research.
✔️Choose one main keyphrase per post
Use a tool like Mangools or SEMrush to conduct keyphrase research. With filters for search volume, difficulty, and number of words, you can find longtail keyphrases that are relevant to your business.
✔️Consider the difficult of ranking for it
Your domain rank will determine what level of difficulty you should aim for. For example, if your DR is below 40, you might want to focus on difficulty scores of 30 and below. But if your DR is 60 or higher, you could shoot for keyphrases with difficulty scores of 50 and below.
Of course, your domain rank isn’t the only factor. You should also check the types of sites and content that rank for the keyphrase to see if you can improve on them.
✔️Check that it fits your target audience
Just because a keyphrase is relevant to your product or service, doesn’t mean it’s a fit for your target audience.
For example, if you have a SaaS product for customer success mangers, you’ll be doing keyphrase research around the topic of customer success. The keyphrase “customer success jobs” isn’t a fit, because people searching this are likely not in a decision-making position to purchase your product. This is one of the most important ones on our SEO marketing checklist.
They’re either looking to break into the career, or are searching for a CS job at another company.
✔️Match your article concept to the keyphrase’s intent
Another thing to watch out for is intent. It’s very hard to rank a blog post that doesn’t match the keyphrase intent.
For example, let’s say you want to write a post for the keyphrase “small business ideas.” An article with a list of ideas has a better chance of ranking than something like “How to Make Your Small Business Idea a Success.”
✔️Decide on your secondary keyphrases
While your main keyphrase should be used in strategic places like the title and URL, you need secondary keyphrases too. These help you rank for keyphrase variations and questions that searchers type into Google.
Frase is a great tool for finding the perfect secondary keyphrases and subtopics to include.
🔧SEO content optimization
The second category on our SEO marketing checklist has to do with writing your content. Now that you’ve chosen the right target keyphrase for your blog post, it’s time to ensure that the content is fully optimized and has the best possible chance of ranking for it.
✔️Add the keyphrase towards the beginning of the title
You’ll have the highest chance of ranking for your target keyphrase if the keyphrase is towards the beginning of the title. This tells Google that the keyphrase is the most important part of the title, and it also increases your click through rate from search results pages.
✔️Include the keyphrase in the slug
You should also make sure that the target keyphrase is in the URL. For example, if your keyphrase is “seo software comparison” than your URL could be yourblog.com/seo-software-comparison.
You can put other words in the slug too, but it’s usually best to keep things simple by making turning the keyphrase into the URL.
✔️Put the keyphrase in the first paragraph
Whenever possible, seek to put the keyphrase in the first paragraph, if not the first sentence. Check out this example blog post, which includes the keyphrase in the second sentence.
✔️Check keyphrase distribution
It’s also smart to make sure that your keyphrase is distributed throughout the content. You don’t want it showing up in the first 10% of the blog post 5 times and then have it be nowhere to be found in the remaining sections.
StoryChief’s SEO score and optimizer (built in as you write) can help with this and most other on-site things on our SEO marketing checklist.
StoryChief’s SEO checker works as you write, so you can look at it at any time, or close it and review when you’re done drafting. As you can see, I need to improve the keyphrase distribution of this post! 👇
✔️Check keyphrase density
Keyphrase density is another important SEO factor. Contrary to popular belief, keyphrase density still matters. What’s changed is that it’s not a unicorn metric that will skyrocket you to the top of Google, like it might have 15 years ago. Aim to use your keyphrase about 3 or 4 times per every 1000 words. If your content is truly optimized for the keyphrase, this should feel natural and easy.
After this post was written and the keyphrase distribution and density were fixed, the score goes from 70% to 86%. We’re in the green now.
✔️Include internal links
Shoot for 2 to 5 internal links per every 1000 words. Doing so drives traffic to your important assets and helps Google understand what your other posts and pages are all about.
✔️Include external links
You also need external links in all of your blog posts. This shows Google that your content is well researched and that it attributes the right sources. Anywhere from 3 to 8 external links per every 1000 words is a safe bet.
✔️Add the keyphrase in one or two subhdeadings
It’s smart to put your main keyphrase in one or more subheadings. An easy way to do this is to put it in the first H2. Here’s an example from Shane Barker’s blog. The first heading is an H2 with the main keyphrase, “content marketing process.”
✔️Put the keyphrase in the meta description
Always make sure that your main keyphrase is in the meta description, ideally within the first 60 characters so that it shows up well and increases your click through rates from search engine results pages.
✔️Add alt attributes to images and include the keyphrase in some
You should also add alt attributes to your images, and include the main keyphrase in a few images where it fits naturally.
✔️Make sure the content is the right length
For a blog post to rank, you should aim for at least 800 words, but in many industries, 1500 words or more is a safer bet. Of course, longer isn’t always better, but Google does tend to favor longform content for keyphrases with an informational intent.
✔️Use your secondary keyphrases once or twice each
Double check that you’ve used your secondary keyphrases. You’ll likely find that you used many of them naturally without thinking of it. If not, it should be easy to fit them in, since they are closely related to your target keyphrase.
🔧Content readability checklist
Next up, we need to make sure that your content is smooth and readable. No SEO marketing checklist would be complete without taking readability into account.
Let’s do a quick check with StoryChief’s readability score to see where this post is at. 100%! 😉
Here are the things you need to watch out for to make sure your content is readable. You can also download the checklist we made for you after filling out this form:
✔️Check your Flesch Reading Ease Score
To be considered readable, your Flesch Reading Ease Score should be between 60 and 75. The lower the score, the harder something is to read. As a business, you likely don’t have an academic audience, so you don’t want your score dipping below 60.
✔️Shorten any long paragraphs
To make your content more readable, you should shorten any long paragraphs. There’s no hard an fast rule, but for the most part, blog posts should have paragraphs that are one to three lines each.
✔️Reduce the use of passive voice
A little bit of passive voice is okay, but too much becomes hard to read. Reserve passive voice for when it’s necessary or the norm for a certain phrase. It’s okay to use the passive voice when the actor is unknown or irrelevant.
✔️Check for sentences that start with the same word in a row
When too many sentences start with the same word in a row, reader get bored. Just imagine if every sentence in this blog post started with “you” or “the.” Things would get boring really quickly.
✔️Check sentence length
The best writers know how to vary sentence length. Some sentences will be fifteen words longer or more, and then others will be only four or five words.
If this doesn’t come naturally to you, that’s okay. StoryChief’s readability checker points out the places where you need to switch up your sentence length.
Our checker recommends that no more than 25% of the sentences contain 20+ words.
✔️Distribute subheadings evenly
When I copy and paste a large chunk of text underneath one subheading, my readability score drops to 79%.
We recommend that you have a subheading at least every 300 words. This helps contextualize your content and make it more enjoyable to read.
✔️Use transition words occasionally
Another element of readability is using transition words like “also,” “then,” and “similarly.” You don’t want to overdo it, but a blog post without transition words can feel stiff and confusing to read.
✔️Balance the usage of complex words
Complex words are those that are considered to have 3 syllables or more. You want to make sure that you have just a small percentage of words that are this long, otherwise your post will be hard to read.
🔧Off-site promotion checklist
So, what happens after you publish your content? There are tons of ways to promote your blog post, but for these purposes, we’ll focus on strategies that can help with SEO. The goal is to drive backlinks to your post.
✔️Link to the blog post from guest posts on other sites
While you might not use guest blogging to promote every blog post, it’s a smart thing to do for target keyphrases that your company really wants to rank for.
Search for websites in your niche that allow guest contributors and check to see if they allow a link to your site in the text of the post.
✔️Link to the post from other domains you’re in control of
If you own any other domains, you can also link to your post from them. Let’s say your company runs an agency and a software business. You don’t want to like back and forth from the domains too much, so save this strategy for your high priority keyphrases.
✔️Consider backlink outreach for high-value target keyphrases
Is there a keyphrase that could potentially bring in a lot of revenue if you were to rank for it? For high-value keyphrases, backlink outreach can be worthwhile.
You can offer a free lifetime plan of your software, or something creative, like planting trees, in exchange for the link.
✔️Share the post on Reddit
Don’t forget about Reddit! With Reddit, you can get both backlinks and traffic. By putting your content in a quality, helpful post, you’ll build a backlink to your website. Plus, a fellow forum member might link to your content from something they’re working on too.
Come to think of it...this SEO marketing checklist would make a great Reddit post.
✔️Share the post on social media
While posting on social media doesn’t drive backlinks, it’s still a smart move. A journalist or content marketer can see your content and choose to link to it from something they’re working on. This is especially true if you’re posting never-before-seen content like proprietary research or quotes.
We won’t lie. Posting high quality SEO content is complicated. Hopefully this SEO marketing checklist makes the process a little faster for you.
To save even more time publishing quality SEO blog posts, sign up for StoryChief.