[OnPage SEO] Step by Step Guide to Edit & Optimize Your Content Before Publishing

[OnPage SEO] Step by Step Guide to Edit & Optimize Your Content Before Publishing

‘Do I need to optimize my content for OnPage SEO before publishing?’ If you have this question, you must be getting contradictory answers. Some hardcore writers/ authors/ bloggers must be telling you that only content quality matters, may be the consistency of publishing, anything beyond that like SEO, optimization – all bullshit. And then there are techy bloggers, SEO professionals & marketers who’d tell you that without SEO your content will die alone. Who is right? Read on to find out.

Why Do You Need the OnPage SEO & Editing Guidelines

Index

Do You Need OnPage SEO Optimized Pages?

Before getting into how to edit and optimize your content for OnPage SEO, let me first help you to figure out whether you need to implement it or not.

Let’s analyze a few examples:

Marketing Guru Seth Godin’s blog – http://sethgodin.typepad.com/

If you check Seth’s blog, you’ll see that it defies most of the popular SEO advice out there like:

  • Site should be on HTTPS
  • Blogposts should be long and detailed
  • Self-hosted WordPress or custom sites are preferable than hosted solution like Typepad.
  • … and lots more!

Does his blog get traffic? You bet!

Before you get too excited and decide that you don’t need SEO bullshit, check this out

 

Can you see that 44.67% of traffic comes Directly? What does that mean?

That means people literally type Seth’s blog URL on their browser and check his blogposts. I do the same!

Even the top keywords driving traffic from Search Engines are: ‘seth godin blog’ ‘seth godin’ etc. That means most people find out his blog from search engine searching for him not searching for the topics he writes.

Seth has built his personal brand through his bestselling books and previous ventures. His advice is so popular and effective that people don’t care where his blog is hosted or whether it’s HTTPS or not. He is an established authority in the field of marketing and community building. Not only visitors but also search engines understand that.

Now you tell me, do you think your blog can bring traffic modeling Seth’s blog right now? Maybe in very near future when you’ll also be an established brand, an authority in your niche. But what about now?

Very similar example is http://paulocoelhoblog.com/

 

Paulo Coelho Blog Organic Keywords

Most of the visitors land up on Paulo’s blog searching his name and his famous book ‘The Alchemist’. That’s something a new blogger might not expect.

Now let me give you some examples where the traffic is built mostly by proper SEO content strategy.

Take https://blog.bufferapp.com for example

Buffer Blog Visitors Overview

You can see that major traffic comes from Organic search.

Buffer Blog Top 5 Organic Keywords

Unlike previous examples, no particular keywords are driving the major traffic. Buffer blog’s 3 Million+ traffic is coming from Organic search for quite a few targeted keywords.

That’s something doable for everyone without any background or past popularity or ad budget.

Buffer Blog Organic Search Overview (1)

So do you think you need to optimize your content for SEO? If yes, read on!

OnPage SEO – Characteristics of an Optimized Page

Let me give you an idea about what an optimized page looks like.

OnPage SEO: Elements of an Optimized Page

Source: Moz

But many of these requirements might be too technical for the scope of you / your writers/editors. Your developer, designer, webmaster should be able to help you with those.

But as a writer/editor, you should focus on optimizing your content for the elements within your scope.

The 'Perfectly Optimized' Page

Though there is nothing such as ‘perfectly optimized page’, but still the above example is a great illustration to guide you in optimizing your content.

OnPage SEO: Most Important Factor

There are many speculations, theories regarding which one is the most important Google ranking factor. To be very honest, no one knows. But you can guess pretty accurately, thinking from Google’s perspective.

Google would want searchers to love its search engine. For that to happen, searchers need to find what they are looking for within the top search results.

Searcher Task Accomplishment

If you take only one insight from this article, let that be this one – ‘Searcher Task Accomplishment’.

If you can create/optimize content, that would help your visitors accomplish what they are looking for, you are more likely to win in the Organic Search game.

Searcher task accomplishment

Click on the above image to read the Moz article with more details.

Step by Step Guidelines for Editors to Optimize Content

Now let me show you step by step how to optimize your content before publishing.

You might find some of the suggestions pretty basic. Feel free to skip those and jump ahead.

I’ve seen many bloggers & website owners making these basic mistakes. Inspite of having a quality content, it loses the appeal due to messed up grammar, punctuation, spellings, and formatting.

Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling Checklist

Being weak in English myself, Grammarly browser extension helped me a lot to correct common mistakes in my writing. Try it.

Not 100% accurate, but helps you avoid many common mistakes. And with time, you start writing more accurately by yourself.

Here is another cool infographic to help you get better with spelling, grammar, punctuation fast.

The Most Common Spelling Grammar Punctuation Mistakes and How You Can Avoid Them

Formatting Checklist

A well-formatted post is easy to read and improves user experience. Many times great contents lose the love of readers due to poor formatting.

Here are some points to keep in mind while formatting your posts before publishing:

  • Are big chunks of text broken up with headers and paragraph breaks so it’s easier on the eyes and readers can scan and skim?

Headings, Paragraphs, Bullet Points, Highlights: 

Are they interesting/informative? Ensure that all articles have appropriate headings and sub-headings. Use the Headings feature in the WordPress.Heading Tags in WordPress EditorStart with Heading 2 within the body of the blog post.
Never use Heading 1 within the body. The title of the blogpost is automatically assigned Heading 1 or <h1> tag.

Please note that you can use Heading n in a document, only when Heading (n-1) is used. E.g. You can use Heading 6 only when Heading 5 has already been used.

  • How is the formatting? Can you incorporate numbered lists and/or bullets to make it easier for readers to skim, scan, and identify important takeaways?
  • Are important points/stats/ideas called out in bold to catch readers’ attention?

Headline/Title Selection:

The title/headline of your piece of content is often the first impression it gives off (think social media shares, search results, etc.), so it’s important to put some time and careful thought into its selection.

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – David Ogilvy, Master Copywriter and the father of Advertising. 



Here is a useful infographic from Quicksprout explaining the characteristics of a good headline
What makes a good headline Infographic

Try this Headline Analyzer Tool

Read 55 Easy Ways To Write A Headline That Will Reach Your Readers

Here’s what to consider.

  • Is the title compelling and interesting enough to get people to click through and read on?
  • Does the title accurately reflect the content within? Avoid being overly sensational or bombastic.
  • Is the title brief and concise? (Tip: Keep in mind longer titles will get cut off in search engine results.)
  • Is the title keyword-conscious without being keyword-heavy and sacrificing user experience and clickthroughs (see also the section about search engine optimization)?

Remember 4 ‘U’s of Headline Writing

  1. Unique
  2. Ultra-specific
  3. Urgency
  4. Useful

Learn this principle in more details from Headline Writing 101: How to Writing Attention Grabbing Headlines. Also, read The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines.

Below is another very useful eBook on Headline writing from Copyblogger

Images Checklist

Visual rocks! Admit it. As a reader, don’t you prefer reading articles with relevant images? Then why should you forget that while writing or editing articles?

Importance of Images in Articles

Source: MDG Advertising

Check out the video below to find out how to find, edit and upload the perfect images for your articles

  • Remember that you just can’t Google and use any image you find. You might land up in copyright violation. Use the Search Tools to find out the images permissible for reuse.
    Google Image Search to Find Free Images for Your Blog
  • You can use Flickr to find Creative Commons images to use in your blogposts.
    Get Creative Commons Images from Flickr
  • Better way to find images is searching through Free Stock Images sites like Pixabay. Click here to check out a curated list of Stock Image Sources.
  • But you need to understand that anyone can use these images. That’s why it’s better if you can create your own images or at least add a personal touch to the stock images. Canva is one of the best tools for that.
    Create Images Using Canva
    or can use Pablo to create quick image quotes
    Use Pablo to Create Image Quotes
  • Never upload images without compressing. Large sized images affect the load time of your site negatively. If your website is slow, your visitors won’t wait for images to load. There are many WordPress plugins and tools for this purpose. My favorite: TinyPNG.
    Use TinyPNG to Compress Images Before Uploading to Your Site

More Tag

Add More Tag After Introduction

Remember to add more tag after the introduction paragraph. That’ll help you control the amount of text in blogpost snippets.

OnPage SEO & Readability

Here is a very simple and easy to follow Infographic from Backlinko to optimize your content for OnPage SEO.

OnPage SEO Infographic from backlinko

If you are using Self-hosted WordPress, following these tips become very easy.

Just install & setup Yoast SEO plugin.

Yoast SEO Box

You should be able to see this box below your WordPress post editor. Once you are done writing the post, use this box to optimize the post before publishing.

Yoast SEO Box

  • Every blog post (or page) should be optimized for 1 unique focus keyword.
  • For an ideal SEO optimized website, there shouldn’t be 2 pages optimized for the same keyword.
  • Think of a word or phrase people would search in Google to find this article.
  • Use Adwords Keyword Planner to find the Focus Keywords and Related Keywords to target.
    Google Adwords Keyword Planner
    Keyword Research using Keyword PlannerKeyword Research Sort by Avg Monthly SearchesKeyword Research Choose Relevant Keywords
  • If you find the above tool too complicated, try UberSuggest.io + Keywords Everywhere browser extension. Once you’ve installed and setup the browser extension (Tutorial), just visit UberSuggest.io. Input the primary keyword and click ‘suggest’. You’ll be shown all related keywords and their search volumes. Choose relevant keyword as ‘Focus Keyword’ and related keywords as LSI keywords.
    Ubersuggest’s Free Keyword Tool Generate More Suggestions
  • Getting back to the Yoast SEO box … It’s time to optimize SEO Title, Slug & Meta Description.
    You can do that by clicking ‘Edit Snippet’.
    Yoast SEO Box - Edit Snippet
  • Every single post MUST have effective SEO title, slug ( or URL Permalink) & Meta description. This not only helps in boosting ranking in search results but also in ‘click-through rate’ (CTR).
  • The ‘Focus keyword’ MUST be present in SEO title, Slug & Meta description.
  • Using the ‘Focus Keyword’ as early as possible in SEO title, Slug & Meta description helps to give SEO boost, but you need to consider if that is making sense to the human visitors.
  • Perfect recipe = Mentioning ‘Focus Keyword’ as early as possible + appealing to make people click.
  • Make sure the SEO title, permalink & meta descriptions are not too long.
  • Please note that Blogpost title (title shown on your blog) and the SEO title (this is the title shown in Google search results & Social Media previews) can be slightly different, but not of different meaning.
    Blogpost Title Can Be Different than SEO Title
  • Next, it’s time to check the ‘analysis’ part to review OnPage SEO Analysis. This feature itself makes WordPress + Yoast Plugin a perfect companion for OnPage SEO Optimization for anyone, even the newbies.
  • Isn’t this super easy to follow?
    • Red dots are the points you need to optimize.
    • Green dots are the points already optimized.
    • Please note that it might not always be possible to get all green dots before publishing. Try to get as many green dots and as less red dots as possible.
    • Check whether your overall SEO status is showing green or not.
      Is the Overall SEO Status Green

OnPage SEO Checklist

  • This ‘focus keyword’ (aka FKW) is being used on your site for the 1st time.
  • FKW is present in:
    • SEO title
    • Slug
    • Meta description
    • First paragraph
    • As many times as possible in the body text ( without damaging the readability of the content)
    • In headings as many times as logically appropriate
    • In ALT text for relevant images in the post
      Image ALT Tag
  • Sprinkle LSI Keywords. LSI keywords are synonyms that Google uses to determine a page’s relevancy (and possibly quality). Sprinkle them into every post.
    Easiest way to find LSI keywords is to check the bottom of the search result page while searching for your FKW in Google. Or use LSI Graph
    LSI Keywords - Related Keywords
  • Relevant outbound links ( links to external sources). [ Caution: If you link to any external source, that is also ranking for the same FKW, you need to apply NOFOLLOW directive to that link.]
    Use NOFOLLOW directive while linking to any external source with same FKW
  • Keep in mind that the sites you link out to, matter to your users and Google too. So make sure to link out to authority sites whenever possible.
  • Internal Linking: Link to 2-5 relevant older posts on the same/similar topic within the body whenever you publish a new one.
    Internal Linking
  • It’s better if focus keyword is near the beginning of the titles.
  • Keyword density should be moderate. Too low would be bad for SEO. Too high would be irritating for the readers.
  • Google has stated that the first 3-5 words in a URL are given more weight. So make your URLs short and sweet.
  • Post longer content. It must be useful, relevant and easy to read though.
    Content Word Count vs Google Position

Simplest Way to Beat Competitors

  • Find Top 10 Search Results for your chosen FKW. Try this Keyword Rank Checker tool.
    Keyword Rank Checker Tool
    Top 10 Google Results from the Keyword Rank Checker Tool
  • Make sure your post is better in every manner ( content, information, readability, visual media etc) than all these contents.

Readability Analysis

Readability Analysis in Yoast SEO Box

You should be able to see the suggestions in this tab that you need to work on.

Cornerstone Content

Make sure you remember to select this option for your most important contents.

Yoast SEO Box Cornerstone Content

This is a new update in the Yoast SEO plugin.

According to them

Cornerstone content pieces are those articles on your website you’re most proud of. They reflect your business, communicate your mission and are extremely well written. These are the articles you would like to rank high in the search engines. Cornerstone articles are usually explainers; these articles combine insights from different blog posts.

For more details, read what is a Cornerstone content.

Ending the Content

End the article in a conversational tone, to encourage interactions in the comments.
How an article should end (1)


So what do you think? These Editing & Optimization steps – are these easy to follow? Or too complicated? Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to help you write and edit better contents.


Want to get a one-page editing & optimization checklist? Please share and get access to the checklist in PNG and PDF format.

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