Editor’s Note: Sreeram Sreenivasan is the founder of Ubig Bi, and works with Fortune 500 companies. He also runs the Fedingo blog where his content expertise comes in handy. Today he joins us to discuss 10 steps to use in optimizing your blog posts for SEO.

Google is often the largest source of traffic for blog and website content. If your blog posts are not optimized for search, then you’re missing out on high quality visitors that might convert to paying customers. However, if you wrongly optimize or over-optimize your posts, then your site can get penalized and even lose existing traffic.

Optimizing posts according to the best practices for content SEO is essential to maintaining search engine rankings and bringing in more visitors. To that end, here is a list of 10 things to keep in mind before you write your blog post. This can be used as a checklist to ensure that your articles are comprehensive, useful and effective at building traffic.

1. Killer Topic

A great blog post begins with picking a topic that is relevant and useful to your readers. Every aspect of the post’s format (title, subheadings, takeaways) is governed by the topic you choose to write about.

If people care about the subject of your post, they’ll share it on social media platforms and spend more time on your site. This will send positive social signals telling search engines that your content is valuable, and rank your posts higher.

Once you’ve chosen a topic, it’s essential to come up with a great headline. In fact, 60% of readers don’t read further than that. A great headline not only captures the reader’s attention but also compels them to click and read more.

Here’s how you can write a killer headline:

  • Start with a working title and brainstorm how to make the angle interesting. For example, if you want to write about ‘shoes’, you need to come up with a more specific working title to begin with. This choice comes down to the kind of article you want to write – a listicle, an explainer post, or a how-to guide, etc. Think of a few titles to aid your research. Here are examples:
      1. 10 Designer Shoes to Try in 2018
      2. A Newbie’s Guide to Shoe Styles
      3. What Shoes to Wear for Prom
  • Do Keyword Research – Keyword research allows you to create a title that will rank well on search engines. Your headline is one of the many ranking factors used by Google, and using appropriate keywords will rank your post for the right search terms so users can find the information they need.The objective is to come up with a list of keywords that are highly relevant to your target audience and drive traffic. You can use free tools like Google Keyword Planner to get keyword ideas for your topic. Just type in your topic in Keyword Planner and Google will give you a list of keyword ideas, along with their monthly search volume and competition (low, medium, high).

    Pick one high-traffic keyword that’s relevant to your topic as the main target keyword that you’ll include in your headline, and 4-5 related long-tail keywords that you can include throughout the rest of your blog post. In our example, we can pick ‘spring shoes’ as the main keyword: it has a good traffic and low competition. You’ll notice that none of our working titles (designer shoes, shoe styles, prom shoes) appear in the keyword ideas suggested by Google, although they seem popular. That’s where keyword research helps to keep us from targeting the wrong search terms.Based on this knowledge, we can tweak our first working title to “10 Designer Spring Shoes to Try in 2018”

  • Optimize your title – The last step is to craft your title to drive maximum clicks & shares. According to a study by HubSpot, these practices are key:
    1. Keep your titles up to 60 characters in length
    2. Titles with 8-12 words get most shares on Twitter
    3. Titles with 12-14 words get most likes on Facebook

2. Persuasive Meta Description

A meta description is a short summary of web content that helps readers to preview what your post is about. It plays a pivotal role in driving traffic to your post in the following ways:

  • It helps search engines understand what your post is about so it can be indexed and ranked for the right keywords and search terms
  • It appears in search results as a short description, below the title. By writing a persuasive meta description, you…