If you’re looking for advanced training on SEO, this isn’t the place. However, if you’re like me and publish new content consistently, but only know enough about keywords to be dangerous, then this post is for you. Here are my 7 keys to keyword success.

The seven-point checklist below is part of what I do before I hit publish. However, I must confess that I don’t try to keep this checklist in my head. I’ve learned that’s a good way to forget steps. I also know it’s easy to miss or overlook a key to keyword success, So I cheat. I use the checklist below.

Pro Tip: If you’re not familiar with Yoast SEO, I recommend you check it out.

7 Keys to Keyword Success

  • Title – Not only should the keyword or phrase be in the title, but the sooner it appears in the title, the better.
  • URL/Slug – The slug identifies the post and distinguishes it from other posts on the same platform. The keyword should be part of the slug.
  • Meta Description – This is the 160 characters that show up in a search. You should include the keyword and searchable phrases.
  • Density – A keyword density of 4.5 % keywords to the total number of words was acceptable only a couple of years ago. Today most would consider that keyword stuffing. Any time the keywords get in the way of the readability, that’s a problem. Minimum .05 maximum 3.0 %.
  • First paragraph – The keyword should always appear in the first paragraph.
  • Subheads – At least one subhead should contain the keyword.
  • Image – When possible, add the keyword to the Alt text (alternative description). However, please don’t lose the Alt text’s purpose, which is to describe the image to visitors who cannot see them.

Maintain Keyword Success with a Checklist

If you’re publishing content and know anything about SEO, then the seven keys I’ve shared are nothing new to you. However, I know I have forgotten all these steps at one time or another. As I said, what saves me from repeating my mistakes is the checklist. I use the checklist above during my first edit and then Yoast SEO at my final edit.

But wait, there’s more!

Here are a few more keys to maximizing your SEO.

1. Write like (notice I didn’t use as) you talk

Google searches seem to reward clear spoken plain language. Using insider jargon and stilted language makes your content more difficult to digest and less useful. WordPress uses Flesch-Kincaid reading level score to analyze the readability of content. A Flesh-Kincaid score of 60-70 is considered acceptable.

2. Format your post to be easily digested

Rambling sentences, lengthy paragraphs, and content without breaks are difficult to read. Make it easy on your readers and Google bots by writing concise sentences, keeping paragraphs short, and framing your work with subheads and breaks. Use lists and bullet points to make your content more accessible. An occasional bold or italicized word also stands out.

3. A picture’s worth a thousand words 

Every post should have at least one image. As mentioned above, it’s best to add Alt (alternate) text to the featured image. Web browsers display Alt-text; it helps web users with limited accessibility such as sight impairment understand the image. It can also help browsers recognize content. For example, you could assign a blog post with the title and keyword “Easy Garden Tips” with a picture of a tomato plant with the alt text, “Easy Garden Tips Tomato Plant.”

4. Link it. Link it good

Use bright colors and bold type, so links stand out from the text. There are three types of links.

  • Outbound links – Links to other sites. It’s essential to vet outbound links. I find it best to stick with known resources.
  • Inbound links – Links to previous content on your website, such as older blog posts, images, or website copy
  • Backlinks – Links from other content providers to your content. The best way to get others to backlink to your blog is to offer quality content that answers questions, solves problems, and shows your expertise. Commenting on other blogs, guest blogging, asking for quotations, and conducting surveys are ways to get noticed, which can lead to backlinks.

You don’t have to be an expert at SEO 

Some may argue with me on this point. If you feel you need an expert—hire one. There are many SEO providers.  However, I suggest before adding the expense of an SEO team, you incorporate the steps above into your blog.

How Can I Help You? 

If this post struck a nerve check out, How to Stay Ahead of Your Business Blog Forever. The book is full of action plans to create a blogging/writing system that works for you.

And please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like, How to Create Content When You Don’t Have Time.

Here are three sources on SEO and Keyword best practices, which  I recommend.

Social Media Today: 8 Basic SEO Tactics

HubSpot: 32 Ways to Build White Hat Inbound Links 

Moz: Step by Step Process to Discovering and Prioritizing the Best Keywords