Is your blog working as hard as it can for you? It should go without saying that the first component of a successful company blog is quality content. If your words aren’t interesting, insightful or helpful to your readers, it’s unlikely you’ll ever build a following.

But let’s say you have that covered. There are still several components your blog needs for search engine optimization, visibility and readability. Following a few guidelines will ensure you are reaping all the benefits from your blog content.

The Benefits of Blog Post Optimization

Optimizing old or draft blog posts increases the chances of getting your well-written and engaging content in front of the right audience. Optimizing old blog content allows you to see how it’s performed and evaluate what keywords you should optimize for to climb higher in search results. While optimizing old blog content will always be a valued method to position your blog post, you should still optimize content for SEO before publishing. This puts your blog post in the best position possible in search engines.

The Top 8 SEO Checklist Items

Here are the top items to evaluate before publishing your next post:

1. Target keyword

Each blog post should be optimized around one target keyword, which should appear in your headline, a subhead or two if you use them, the first paragraph, the post’s URL, and alt tags for any images in the post. Note that you won’t hit this for every single blog post - it’s more important to write for the reader than awkwardly optimize posts - but to the extent that it’s possible, it will help improve search rankings and findability.

2. Headline options

It’s unlikely your first headline attempt will be a winner. Brainstorm a whole list (all should include your keyword), narrow down to your favorites, then do a bit of research with BuzzSumo or a headline grader to set some insight on which might trend. These tools will guide you; there’s no exact science to “going viral” and clickbait headlines won’t give you long-term success. You can choose your winning headline or a couple to A/B test.

3. Meta description

You’ll want to attract new readers to your blog, and many will likely come from Google. A meta description that hits your keywords helps your blog rank higher in related searches, and also serves as a summary for searchers as they decide which link to click. The meta description should complement your headline and use your target keyword.

4. Image(s)

Visuals and multimedia catch readers’ eyes before they even have a chance to take in your words. Inserting a few visuals within your post helps draw readers in and keep them focused as they read (translation: skim) through longer posts.

5. Author

Be sure the bulk of your posts are published by someone at your company, not a generic byline. Readers want to know who’s behind the thoughts they’re reading, plus, showing the experts behind the brand helps you establish authority and credibility.

6. Links

There’s only so much you can say in a post, so give your readers links to additional resources on the topic. You’ll want a few to places within your own site (resources, other blog posts, videos, etc.), and you can also add links to strong sources around the web. Aim to select anchor text (the text that is hyperlinked) that uses a keyword related to the content to which you’re linking for stronger SEO value.

7. Reader-friendly formatting

 Readers are absolutely willing to spend time reading an in-depth piece, but you still need to capture their attention. Many readers who see large blocks of text will bounce off the page before ever seeing if the content is valuable to them. Using short paragraphs, bulleted lists, section headers and pull quotes in long-form content helps readers skim the content to make a decision on whether they’ll invest time in your blog post.

8. Call to action (CTA)

 Take advantage of capturing a visitor’s attention and direct them toward the next best action. This will vary per the post’s content, and you can personalize CTAs to a reader’s stage in the funnel. You might ask readers to subscribe to the blog, download a case study or join a conversation on Twitter.

Once you’ve conquered this checklist for your blog posts, be sure you’re not making any of these blogging mistakes.

Questions on how to publish a top-notch blog post? Ask our content team.