Whenever we are done writing a killer article, we want to hit the publish button as soon as possible. It is a feeling not many can resist. You’ve been there too, I’m sure.
But before publishing your next blog post, there are a few thing you should consider before hitting the publish button. This habit can make or break your website’s SEO strategy.
A small word of caution here. You may feel that the famous WordPress SEO plugins can achieve the same easily. While you may be technically correct, what we are aiming here is to reduce the use of plugins wherever we can to achieve optimal site loading speeds, which should be a priority for all website owners. Not to mention, a plugin is no part of keyword brainstorming and will help in no way.
The ‘Before Publishing’ Guide
Honestly, the list of things to do is endless. It may start with Keyword research and then go on to writing a perfect quality post, etc. But, as a blogger, we overlook certain things. This publishing guide has therefore been drafted to ensure that you don’t miss out on critical aspects.
1) Add the required attributes to links and images
Added the required links to the article? Don’t forget to cross check if any plugin is making it nofollow by default, especially if it’s your own internal links. Because nofollowing your own links sends a bad signal to the search engines.
Adding the “alt” attribute to images is like adding meta tags to the site. It is the only way you can tell your search engine what the image is about. Proper linking is the best SEO boost you can give to your site. Proper internal linking is more valued than offsite seo and social bookmarking if you take my word for it. For a WordPress blog, you can use SEO Friendly image plugin.
Downside: Images and alt tags are supposed to be good for SEO but don’t forget that an alt tag is only a substitute for a hyperlink for the bots to understand what the image is about, so don’t use images for your navigation and breadcrumb. Read: Image optimization for SEO.
2) Toggle the no snippet/no archive attributes in addition to dofollow
These attributes tell the search engine whether to index your article along with the snippet – which is a short text description of your post that displays below the indexed page in the search results.
Why would I not want a page to be indexed?
There are a few pages like the contact form or the ‘About Me’ page that you don’t want the crawler to index simply because it adds no value to the theme of your site and dilutes the content cached by the search engine.
You might also consider telling the search engines to not index your archives and tags as that may lead to a duplicate content alert and get the site banned for plagiarizing your own content. Some might argue here that they vouch by the ‘SEO expert’ they met on some forum who told them that the more pages that a search engine indexes the better. WRONG!
This haphazard uploading of content only dilutes your own listing in the search engines index. Especially with new Panda algo, it’s important that you should only important pages to Google and try to ignore submitting content which may make your blog look like a content farm.
Think logically. What are the odds that a search result you have ever seen was a tag page? That never happens because a tag page leads to an array of related posts and that is not likely to get ranked and gain traffic any time. So there is no use for it to be in the index as it will kill your search listings.
Downside: Indexing, snippeting the wrong pages will get you ranked for the wrong keyword and you don’t want that if your domain does not have your primary keyword that is a big risk for your SERPs since that confuses the index what the site is about.
3) Decide if you want search engines to cache it or not
Caching has its own benefits and downsides. Caching a page will mean Google will serve the page out of its own CDN this will make serving faster and improve site load time.
Downside: It has a serious disadvantage too, if not used properly. Suppose you are on a CMS that generates dynamic content, and you want the page to serve fresh content every time it reloads. If such a page is cached, you will have to wait for the next time the search engine visits your site for the changes to take note of .
4) Use the header tags for titles.
The header tags come in 6 varieties starting from < H1 > to < H6 > , in the order of decreasing priority. It not only looks good but search engines give next priority to the title and permalink. It is our way of telling the search engine and readers what deserves priority .
It is wise to give the H1 tag to the post title and then subsequent tags in order of decreasing priority , like you can see we have implemented on Techlunatic.
Use the “strong” tag to specify importance of a particular phrase if you want to highlight it. Just make sure you do it in a classy way and that your article does not end up looking like a Christmas tree with tons of customizations.
Downside: In a bid to highlight the keywords for the search engines, don’t embark on a mission to bold, underline and anchor all the keywords that ever appear in your post. This will send out a red signal to the search engines and your readers have already closed the window by now, so I need not say more about it.
5) Optimum keyword usage in post tags
Just because your content management system allows you to use keywords does not mean you should stuff keywords and wait for the traffic to build!
As a recommended moderation, never make use of a single word more than twice, and target natural long trail keywords like a normal human would search for. Unlike single word keywords like “SEO” go for user-friendly tags like “SEO tips for advanced users”. It feels natural and trusts me, it draws massive traffic in later stages of blog development.
Downside: People think they have overcome this glitch and can ‘fool’ the search engines by following the 4% density rule but the search engines are smarter than that! There are a lot of metrics that determine a page relavancy and keyword density will certainly not yield staggering results if that is your only onpage SEO plan. Infact there are a host of misconceptions people bear about SEO which I have compiled in the post SEO Myths and Mistakes.
6) Strong Call To Action
Always make sure you end the article in a way that the user leaves curious and content. This will make the user a regular visitors to your site. Just a viral blog marketing technique is not enough if you don’t use the traffic and link influx properly.
Downside: Don’t appear desperate for comments and shares in your ‘call to action’. It will kill your brand credibility. Ask for feedback subtly. If the post deserves it, people will comment voluntarily.
Do let us know what other things you consider before hitting the publish button and also if you using any plugin to use it as a checklist before publishing.