Full disclosure: I am a very disorganized person.

I don’t always get my posts written when I want to, or as often as I should, and they certainly don’t follow any schedule.

But I have a checklist posted above my desk and I try hard to make sure that every item on it is crossed off before I publish a post.

Yes, I’m human, and sometimes in too much of a hurry to do the whole list. But you know what? The posts that I let slide past the list are the least successful, both in SEO and reader engagement.So here’s the list, and I hope it’s as useful to you as it is to me:

1. Write a keyword-friendly title.

Think about what words people who are looking for information on your topic might search for on Google, and try to use them. If you prefer to be creative or funny in your titles, there are some SEO plugins, such as Yoast or All in One SEO pack, that let you write a separate title that will show up in search results.

2, Use subheadings.

The easier it is for people to skim your post, the more of your post they will read and the more they will take away from it. And using subheadings that are properly tagged (as h2 or h3) will help Google to figure out what’s important in the post, so keep your keywords in mind.

3. Use a good “alt” image tag.

Using images in your post increases the reader’s interest. But many images will have filenames like img_1234 – and you can bet nobody is searching for that! Google also wants clearly descriptive “alt” tags for accessibility. Screen readers can’t read images, so they read the tag. So if the image has a descriptive title, like “tomatoes planted in a paper bag”, then it’s more likely that Google will pull it up when people are searching.

4. Use a featured image.

Depending on the theme you are using, the featured image may or may not appear in the post, but it will usually appear when your posts are listed on your blog page, and also when you link the post on social media. That said, there are some themes that don’t work well with featured images, but they are getting fewer and fewer.

5. Categorize your post.

Categories group posts on one topic, and help Google determine the contents of the post. This is a good place to use a keyword if you can. If you have several articles about a topic, your category for that topic will figure in the search results.

6. Link any related posts.

This lets Google know you have more information on the topic and also helps it to crawl your pages more quickly. Even if the posts are quite a bit older, link them up (and consider updating them!).

7. Write an excerpt.

If you don’t see a space for the excerpt in the editor, check the upper right corner for “Screen Options” and make sure “Excerpt” is turned on. WordPress will usually automatically create an excerpt for you by choosing the first 55 letters of the post, but it is far better for SEO to write your own, so you can include your keywords.

8. Add links to sources.

Don’t be shy about external links. When you use screenshots or you know an awesome source for additional information, be sure to link to it. And attribute your images to their source, especially if you are using images from one of the free repositories. Again, this will have a positive impact on your SEO.

9. Add links to Social Media.

Social proof is becoming ever more important, so make sure that people can share, like, and pin your post on their social media. Icons work well for this, and there are a plethora of plugins that offer attractive ways to display the links. Look for one that is updated frequently, and has the social platforms that you use.

10. Preview the post

Make sure the formatting is correct. Is it easy to read? How’s the grammar? Are the images integrated with the text in a logical way? Have you got your subheadings properly tagged? Maybe your headline could use a tweak? Always hit preview to make sure the layout is what you want, and test your links before you publish. There’s little worse than having the comment section on your post be all about dead links!

I’m sure there are lots more things that could be on this list – do you have any that you’d like to add? Let me know in the comments!

Would you like a copy of my checklist? If so,

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