May 31, 2023

Optimizing Your Content for Search (Checklist)

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Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]

Once you’ve composed your blog post, your next step is to prepare it to get as much visibility as possible.

Your biggest source of traffic, in the long run, is likely to be Google.

In this article, we’re going to look at how you can optimize your articles for search engines for sustainable, long-term traffic and rankings.

Keyword Research

The first thing you need to do is decide on the best keyword phrase for your blog post. You may have already chosen this before you started writing, but if you didn’t, now is the time to do it.

Start by thinking of what you want people to search for to discover this blog post. Then put some of those ideas into Google AdWords Keyword Tool or any other keyword research tool you prefer.

You will likely discover different keywords that have a good amount of search volume to target.

Try and find a keyword phrase that has a solid monthly search volume. Although this is an estimate, you can use it to determine what keywords and phrases are more popular than others.

It is also a good idea to estimate your organic competition. Many keyword tools calculate that metric for you (it is called “keyword difficulty”). But also make sure you search for your target keyword and glance through the results. In many cases, it is obvious when the competition is unbeatable (when you see only huge brands on the first page of search results).

Keyword Placement

Keyword density is a thing of the past. You no longer need to ensure a certain percentage of your keyword is being used within your content. This tactic is damaging to usability and the quality of your content.

However strategic placement of your target keywords inside certain elements of your web page is still a good idea and a great way to achieve higher organic search visibility.

Here’s where you should place your primary or secondary keyword:

  • Your title tag
  • Your main heading (H1)
  • HTML subheadings (H2-H6)
  • Image information (alt tag, image title, and file name)
  • Meta description
  • Your page URL (permalink)

Keep in mind that these placements are general SEO recommendations. If a keyword doesn’t sound grammatically right or it is missing something (people seldom search for something in accordance with Grammar rules), it is your editorial responsibility to fix that issue.

Don’t use a keyword that sounds forced even if it has a higher search volume. Put your reader first!

Here’s a quick checklist on where to put your main keyword when writing and publishing your content:

Title Tag

The title of your article is the most important element of its search optimization. The keyword phrase you discovered during your keyword research process must be used in your title tag, preferably at the beginning of your title assuming it makes sense.

The goal for your title is to make it search engine optimized and something that people will want to click on to read more. If your title tag is longer than 65 characters, it will be cut off in search results.

There’s nothing essentially wrong with having longer (truncated) titles. Just keep this tip in mind: Put your keyword within the first 65 characters of your title. This way it will stand out in search.


If you have your blog set up to use keywords from the title of your post as part of the URL structure, be sure that your main keyword phrase is in the URL, preferably first.

If you can modify the permalink on your post, try making it include just the main keyword phrase. This doesn’t hurt user experience but helps keyword visibility!

Meta Description

Your article’s meta description is a ~160-character summary of the post. While it doesn’t help you rank well in search, it may show up beneath the blog post title in search results as well as in the description when people share your post on social media.

So think about your meta description as a sentence that will encourage more people to click through to your post and write it accordingly.

In order to create a custom meta description, you will need additional SEO fields in your blog’s admin dashboard. WordPress users can install plugins like All in One SEO or Yoast SEO in order to get these fields.

If you can’t install a plugin to enhance the SEO functionality of your blog, your only alternative is to make the first sentence of your blog post your meta description. Keep in mind that it will need to flow with the opening of your post too.

Image ALT Tags

Whenever you add images to your article, ensure the HTML code for those images includes alt=”keyword or phrase”. The keyword or phrase you use should be short, describe the image, and preferably include a keyword that you want the blog post to rank for.

This could help the image rank in Google Image search results and drive more traffic to your post.

It is a good idea to make sure that the main keyword phrase is in both the image file name and the ALT tag.

Header Tags

A well-formatted blog post will include several header tags like H2 or H3, like the one above this paragraph.

These header tags not only help break up content so your readers can quickly peruse the main points of your article, but they also help you optimize your blog post for keywords.

Try to use your main keyword phrase in at least one header tag along with other related phrases you want to rank for.


Last, but not least, is bolded text for blog post optimization. You don’t want to get too carried away with bolded text, so just look for opportunities to call out specific keywords and phrases for your readers while helping boost the keyword optimization of your post.

Those are the search optimization basics for articles! Follow this checklist every time you write an article!


Book a free 45 minute consultation today.

    Book a free 45 minute consultation today.

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      As Founder and Director of Shout Web Strategy, Michael Jenkins is at the forefront of digital marketing. Since it’s inception in 2009, Shout has built a strong reputation as one of Australia’s leading strategic SEO agencies, assisting online businesses to formulate, implement and track successful marketing strategies. Michael is a respected thought leader and digital strategist, specialising in online strategy, corporate SEO, Google retargeting, email and conversion rate optimisation, and online reputation management. Follow Michael on Google+, connect with him through LinkedIn or visit the Shout Web Strategy website.

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