SEO Checklist for Publishing: 11 Steps To Get Your Content Live

8 min read
SEO/Content Marketing
By: Brenda Barron

Let’s say you’ve written an amazing blog post and are ready to publish it on your blog. Is it enough to copy and paste the content to your content management system (CMS) and call it a day?

No. Before publishing a post, there are a few key steps you must go through to ensure it’s optimized for search engines spiders.

The Blogsmith has refined the CMS upload process over years of working with hundreds of clients. Our process combines the best practices for a streamlined content publishing workflow while keeping on-page SEO (search engine optimization) in mind.

Today, we’ll share these best practices to help you optimize your blog publishing workflow and improve your overall content creation process for your digital marketing efforts.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

Preparing Content for Your CMS

For many content writers, the content creation process doesn’t begin straight away on the CMS. Instead, it usually starts in a word processing program like Google Docs.

Why the extra step?

Google Docs is an excellent collaboration tool for blog posts. It makes it easy to share drafts with editors and clients to keep track of the revisions in one document rather than having different draft versions floating all over the place.

Even if it’s just you working on a blog post, writing them in Google Docs is advantageous because it always lets you back up content as you write it, automatically in the cloud.

But as useful as Google Docs is, pasting your article draft straight into your CMS from Google Docs can lead to formatting issues and unnecessary HTML code markup that increases load times for your website.

As such, the first step is to prepare your content so it’s ready to upload to your CMS. At The Blogsmith, that process includes the following steps:

To do that, go to File > Download > Microsoft Word. Be sure to save the file where you can easily access it.

Screenshot showing how to download a blog draft from Google Docs.

Once you’ve gone through the preparatory steps above, you can move on to the next step — uploading the blog post to your CMS.

Uploading Content To Your CMS

Since WordPress powers more than 43% of the internet, this tutorial will focus on how to upload and optimize content for WordPress’s CMS.

To add your blog draft to WordPress, start by opening the draft in Microsoft Word. Then, select all text by pressing CTRL+A and copy it by pressing CTRL+C (copy).

Next, log in to your WordPress dashboard and click on Posts > Add New. When the post editor opens, enter a post title or page title. That is typically the SEO title or H1 tag, which contains the main keyword for your article.

Then, paste the post into the editor by pressing CTRL+V (paste). Double-check that all headers (H2 tags) and subheadings (H3-H6 tags) look as they should.

After adding the post’s content, set a featured image for the post. You can do that by clicking on Featured Image, located under the Post tab.

Screenshot showing the Featured Image selector in WordPress.

Remember to add alt text that includes one of the primary keywords to the image. After that, save your post as a draft and move on to the next step — on-page SEO optimization.

If that sounds complicated, don’t fret. Below, find a thorough checklist for quick reference.

On-Page SEO Checklist

  1. Set the primary keyword as the focus keyphrase
  2. Choose and add three to five secondary keywords
  3. Add the primary keyword to the URL slug
  4. Enter the meta title tags and description
  5. Add at least one image (but more are better)
  6. Add alt text to the images
  7. Add relevant external links
  8. Interlink old blog posts
  9. Set the proper category for the blog post
  10. Aim for eighth-grade readability
  11. Create scannable content

The post is at the draft stage in your CMS. What now?

It’s time to do a final check to ensure your post follows SEO best practices. By going through our step-by-step on-page SEO checklist, you’ll be on the right way to a better page ranking.

Let’s dive in.

1. Set the Primary Keyword As the Focus Keyphrase

Screenshot showing how to set the focus keyphrase for your WordPress blog post.

To start, set the target keyword as the focus phrase for your blog post. You can easily do that with SEO plugins like All In One SEO.  

2. Choose and Add Three to Five Secondary Keywords

Secondary and related keywords can be synonyms of your primary keyword. They could also be long-tail versions of the primary keyword you’re trying to rank for.

You can add the target keywords through your SEO plugin of choice. Just remember to use keywords sparingly and in places where they make sense to avoid keyword stuffing.

However, keep in mind that adding these keywords doesn’t mean you will automatically rank for them. You may need to do much more to prove to Google that your website should rank for these keywords.

SEO plugins offer a convenient way to check if your primary keyword has been added to key signal areas, but you will still need to apply finesse to get the results you want.

3. Add the Primary Keyword to the URL Slug

Screenshot showing where to customize the URL Slug of a WordPress blog post.

You should include the primary keyword in the URL Slug. You can edit the URL by changing the permalink in the Permalink settings for the blog post. Alternatively, you can customize the slug and create an SEO-friendly URL with the SEO plugin of your choice.

4. Enter the Meta Title Tags and Description

The meta title and meta description will show up on SERPs. It’s the first thing searchers will see when performing a search query using keywords related to your blog post.

These tags also help search engines better understand the webpage’s content and create link previews that look more appealing on search results and social media.

Meta titles should include the primary keyword and have fewer than 60 characters while adequately describing the content of the webpage.

Similarly, meta descriptions should also describe webpage content and contain the primary keyword, preferably placed close to the beginning. If possible, it should also read like a call-to-action to entice readers to click your link in the SERPs. Just keep in mind that Google usually cuts off meta descriptions longer than 155 characters.

Unlike page speed, meta tags aren’t direct ranking factors for SERPs. But ensuring these snippets are compelling and high-quality can boost your click-through rate (CTR), which factors into your ranking.

5. Add at Least One Image (but More Are Better)

Visual content makes blog posts more appealing, improves user experience, and can even increase the number of social shares it receives. Visuals break up text and help people with different learning styles better understand the nature of your content.

Our style guide suggests one image per 300 words.

For this part, it’s a good idea to have the blog post open in Google Docs as a reference point to see where each image needs to be placed.

When adding images to your blog post, make sure the image file name contains keywords. It should be keyword-rich and descriptive to help search engine crawlers understand image context.

6. Add Alt Text to the Images

Screenshot showing how to add alt text to images on WordPress.

Once you’ve added images to the blog post, support each image with alt text. Search engines use alt text to understand what the image shows. After all, search engines can’t “see” images.

Assistive technologies like screen readers also use alt tags to read images to the visually impaired.

Alt text should thoroughly describe the image posted and contain keywords relevant to the webpage’s content. Try to be as concise as possible and preferably keep alt text under 125 characters.

We include alt text in all our drafts at The Blogsmith to ensure that whoever is uploading the post knows exactly what alt text to add (and where).

7. Add Relevant External Links

Links help search engine robots or crawlers understand and connect quality content published online.

By adding external links to relevant, authority websites, you can back up claims, demonstrate authority on a topic, and complete an essential link-building step.

Always set outbound links to open in a new tab to prevent users from leaving your website. In addition, perform regular maintenance on your website to identify and remove broken links.

8. Interlink Old Blog Posts

Screenshot showing how to add internal links on WordPress.

In addition to external links, add a few internal links too. Internal links can help keep visitors on your website longer. Make it a practice to interlink old blog posts and use descriptive keywords in your anchor text.

Considering users will stay on the same webpage, internal links don’t need to be set to open in a new tab or window.

9. Set the Proper Category for the Blog Post

Don’t forget to categorize your blog post correctly. That helps you organize content and allows search engines to better understand the nature of your content.

In WordPress, you can do that by clicking on the Category tab and choosing the best-fit category for the post.

10. Aim for Eighth-Grade Readability

Your content needs to be high quality, but that doesn’t mean you need to use complex language and terms.

Writing for an average eighth grade or lower reading level makes your blog posts easier to understand for most readers and serves as an effective approach for multi-tiered target audiences.

If you use an SEO plugin like Yoast SEO, it will grade the readability of the content so you can make the necessary adjustments.

Screenshot showcasing the Yoast SEO Readability Score for a blog post.

11. Create Scannable Content

The last tip is to make sure your content is scannable. That includes going through the piece of content and breaking up long sentences and paragraphs.

It also means using bulleted or numbered lists and bold text to highlight important details. Ideally, you’ll have already written content this way, but now is a good opportunity to make any additional edits as necessary.

Scheduling and Publishing the Post

Now that you’ve gone through the on-page SEO checklist, it’s time to publish the content. Simply click the Publish button, and your post will immediately go live.

Alternatively, you can schedule the blog post to go live at a later date. To do that, click Publish. Under Publish time, you can select the exact time and date when the post should go live on your website.

Final Thoughts: On-Page SEO Checklist: A Quick Guide to Content Publishing

As you can see, a lot goes into publishing a blog post that delights your readers and ticks all the right boxes when it comes to SEO.

From making sure that the content assets are prepared for your CMS and finalizing on-page SEO factors to checking that it’s free of obvious errors, there are a lot of steps to keep track of. We suggest establishing processes like the one described here to reduce error margins.

But if you don’t want to go through the process yourself, The Blogsmith team can help. To hand off your blog upload process and focus on other areas of your business, take a look at our CMS upload services.

Once you’re happy with your article, we can upload it to your CMS and take care of all the necessary steps to get it ready for publishing. That includes everything we’ve discussed in our on-page SEO checklist — preparing visual content, filling out meta information, and other on-site SEO strategy considerations.

Contact us today, and let’s chat about your content plan.

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