Making the SEO Habit Stick

You know you need to perform some on-page SEO for your blog posts — because you know that each blog post constitutes its own separate page on your blog, and we optimize pages as much as we need to optimize sites.

So, again, given that we have a series of tasks that we repeat on an ongoing basis, blog post SEO work is a great opportunity to create a workable system to make those repetitive tasks easier.

I have to be honest: the easiest system for SEO on WordPress blogs that I’ve found is the one that’s built in to Thesis (that’s an affiliate link). Almost every aspect of a page’s code that you’d need or want to optimize is right there, imported into the familiar WordPress “Add New Post” interface: title tags, meta description, keywords — it’s all right there.

If you don’t use Thesis, there are a few popular plugins that can add this functionality. The one I’d recommend is the All-In-One SEO Pack.

To get these elements optimized, use a three-step process:

  1. First, think about the question your blog post answers, or the process it teaches, or the problem it solves, for your targeted reader (i.e., your ideal client). What would that person likely search for in Google or Bing or Yahoo! or whatever other random search engine? Jot down the substantive keywords you come up with.
  2. Do a quick Google check of your keywords. What’s showing up on the first few pages, title-wise? Tweak your tags & other elements accordingly.
  3. Think long-tail, if it’s a common set of keywords. Example: I’m never going to rank number one for “social media.” It would be stupid to even try, with sites like Social Media Examiner and Mashable out there taking up the first 20 pages on Google. (A bit of an exaggeration, but not much of one.) But “social media for visual artists”? ¬†Well, it’s a better shot, to be sure.

Now that you have your keywords, work them into your headline and your headings, as well as your post.

NB: Be judicious with this. Keyword-stuffing — the act of cramming keywords into a blog post — will work against you. Make sure it reads well organically and flows naturally. Tip: Read it aloud to verify it doesn’t feel overly stuffed with keywords.

Beyond those elements you’ll also want to double-check your headline and your headings. Remember that keywords in these elements are weighted more heavily than in the body, and that keywords appearing in the body or content area closer to the beginning are weighted more heavily than those near the end.

Take one final look at the post in “Preview.”

  • Have you crafted a kick-ass headline?
  • Does the content deliver on the headline’s promise?
  • Is it readable? Properly formatted? Clean and pretty? Dolled up with a good image or two?
  • Most importantly: does it answer your TR’s (or IC’s) question?

And then? Let it go. You’ve done your due diligence and that’s all anyone can ask.

Yes, this whole system sounds like a bunch of work. But, again, I believe if you chunk all these tasks — one day for idea generation, one for outlining, one for writing, one for formatting & editing, one for SEO work — it’s so much easier.

And you know me. I’m ALL about the easy.

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