The SEO Content Posting Checklist

The SEO Content Posting Checklist
by Brian Harnish

While this guide is meant to be used as a general guideline, it is necessary to use your own expertise and judgment to make modifications to these steps as you work on optimizing your content. No guide on the web can be considered to be the complete, de facto standard when it comes to posting content and giving content writing advice. That’s impossible. Instead, use this guide to keep yourself on the right path towards creating and posting quality content that increases your own satisfaction with your work. If you’re not happy with it, will anyone else be?

Now that we have kind of gone over a semi-introduction, let’s go ahead and get to the meat of this guide:

Content Writing Advice: Errors

While as an SEO, you have a general expectation of most writers. These general expectations tend to expect most writers to be very familiar with the English language, in which case their writing should not have significant amounts of silly errors. These errors can range from the nonsensical to the whimsical to the downright facepalm-type errors. The ones you imagine people with no education in writing tend to make. But alas, there are some general steps you can take to make sure that your content that you post is of the highest quality:

Step 1: Check For Grammatical Errors

Visual checks are important. Don’t just rely on Word or WordPress to automatically spot every error. That’s physically impossible. Word is not going to always understand subtle meanings and differences between words and correct vs. incorrect grammar. This is why you sometimes see articles online that seemingly have correct spellings but the word itself is in the wrong place (syntax errors). This comes from the fact that the proofreader only used the Word program, and did not bother to perform a manual check.

Step 2: Manually Check For All Spelling Errors

Even Word in the flawless execution of its genius-level superiority cannot even fathom a 100% correctness rating when it comes to catching spelling errors. At its very worst, it will produce output that mirrors that of a drunkard mindlessly stepping through the puddles on a rainy afternoon. At its very best, it will correct all spelling errors but it will only correct the spelling. For human-level correctness it is necessary to manually check that Word properly corrected the spelling errors with the right syntax. For without the right syntax that comes from manually checking your work, all of your writing and proper spelling correction are for naught. For it is syntax that separates the mindless afternoon drunkards from the super intelligent beings that inhabit the interwebs.

Step 3: Check For Punctuation Errors

A semi-colon is used instead of a period, a period is used at the end of a header when it shouldn’t be, etc. If you use improper punctuation in your writing you can come across as an idiot, a jackass, or worse. The right punctuation can separate the assholes from the angels, so it is important to get your punctuation right if you ever hope to project the proper credibility.

Appearance Errors – Common Content Coding Issues

List items that are run together in paragraphs. You can tell this when there are bullet points being run together when you view the site in the browser, but not in WordPress. This can be fixed in the text tab by coding like this:

<ul> = Unordered lists (for bulleted lists)
<ol> = Ordered Lists (for numbered lists)
<li> = List item
</ul> = Close unordered list
</li> = Close list item

<ul>
<li>This is list item number 1.</li>
<li>This is list item number 2.</li>
<li>This is list item number 3.</li>
</ul>

Paragraphs That Are Run Together

If you are working on an older site made from an older version of WordPress that is not coded correctly, you may not be able to copy and paste content directly into WordPress. You will need to ensure that this content is coded by going to the text tab, and coding in the content manually so that it presents a proper appearance. There is really only one tag you need to know for this: <p> and </p>. Surround the blocks of text with these tags as you go through the document. For example:

<p>Aliquam id lacus ut neque convallis faucibus et vitae tellus. Proin interdum magna turpis, eget facilisis dolor rhoncus et. Nam at dui diam. Sed auctor fermentum leo. Integer molestie sem id turpis sodales porttitor. Nunc euismod mi ullamcorper arcu sagittis ultricies. Donec felis enim, rhoncus a iaculis accumsan, interdum a tortor </p>

A Word About Headings

Some website designers code websites in such a way that is not in line with W3C valid coding practices and you have to use header tags out of order for proper appearance. For example, sometimes you may need to use an <h3></h3> or <h4></h4> tag because that’s how the designer coded the site. Experiment with the different tags for that site to make sure that you are using the proper coding meant for it.

Don’t just use inline CSS (<h3 style=”font-family: arial, verdana, sans-serif; font-size: 16px; color: #000000;”>) to replace what is not rendering properly in WordPress. This just adds to code bloat and isn’t something we want to do to the site. Plus, it may cause rendering issues in older browsers.

Remember as well, that you don’t use <font size=””> as coding anymore. It is considered deprecated use of such code in current W3C documentation. It’s all coded in the CSS so you only have to worry about physically styling these tags: <h#></h#>, and <p></p>. And maybe <strong></strong> (for bold) and <em></em> (italics). I know, you’re going to say that <b></b> is deprecated. Actually, that’s not true. Using either <strong></strong> or <b></b> is actually fine, but <strong></strong> is what is used for emphasis, not <b></b>. <b></b> actually has another emphasis meaning in HTML that is actually not relevant to SEO emphasis.

Add Images To Increase the Impact Of Your Content

Use an iStockPhoto account if you do not currently have access to your own stock photo library. Alternatively, you can search for a variety of free stock photo websites to find royalty free images to use. I like using sites like Morguefile.com, sxc.hu, for example.

Image Optimization Best Practices

Always crunch the image down in Photoshop. You HAVE to physically resize the image as well as physically crunch the pixel dimensions. If you only resize the image in the browser without doing so in Photoshop, you retain all the pixel density information and you can cause bad load times as a result. So, you do this by going to image > image size. Then, you may see a major issue: the image resolution is 300 ppi, or Pixels/Inch. This needs to be changed down to 72. You will notice the dimensions change as well. This is what we want. AFTER having crunched the image down to 72 ppi, THEN resize the image down to around 200 – 275, making sure that the constrain proportions box is checked. This will give you a 20-30k nice, small image file that you can now add to your website.

Using Alt Text And Title Text Correctly

Once you have added the image, it is time to optimize it with alt and title text. Why is alt and title text important for basic SEO? All things being equal in terms of optimization between two sites, if one has alt & title text in their images and the other does not, the one with alt text & title text can beat the other site in the search results. It is basically a trumping factor. In addition, it also gives your client the ability to appear in different search results like image search results, which can be another source of traffic.

You can either add alt text through the text tab as code, or edit it by right-clicking on it in WordPress. To add it through the code, a properly optimized image tag has alt text and title text. Don’t make the mistake of saying “alt tag”. There is no such thing. It is the alternate text attribute of the image TAG. Anyway, to return to the topic at hand, a properly optimized image tag looks like this:

<img src=”/source-image.jpg” width=”pixels” height=”pixels” alt=”insert alt text” title=”insert title text”>

Depending on the site’s document type, you may see image tags looking like this with a closing slash: <img src=”/source-image.jpg” width=”pixels” height=”pixels” alt=”insert alt text” title=”insert title text” />. Be careful not to just use any image tag within a document. The /> can be valid or invalid depending on the HTML document type. For example, in HTML 4.01 you do not use a closing slash. In XHTML 1.0 you have to use a closing slash. In HTML 5, you can use the usual image tag ending bracket without the slash again. Be mindful of the site’s document type!

For alt text, it is considered an SEO best practice to use the keyword phrase with related words to describe the image. So, if you have a car accident image on a car accident page, for example, you may use alt=”Orange County car accident lawyers – car accident on 12/31”.

For title text, it is more of a description that is considered “enhanced alt text”. So, use something like title=”Orange County car accident attorneys discuss car accident laws”.

It is also a good idea to physically include the width & height in the image tag, if it has not already been added by WordPress. This reduces the time the browser takes to render the image and thus can help improve the load time of the website. Albeit by a miniscule amount, but it will still be an improvement.

The Method – 6 Steps to Posting Accurate, Great-Looking Content

Step a: Choose the right topic and send to your writer for writing. Unless you are the type who writes their own content (I am), you will be using external writers (maybe even if you work at an agency), and you mostly will have more errors from someone else’s work than in your own. Ask experts in your industry, or other industry, about unclear points of discussion within topics you are not familiar with. If you are not familiar with the differences between minute technical information, it is important to gain a foothold of at least basic knowledge in this content before choosing the topic. Once you have fired off the article to your writer, and you receive it back, here are the 6 steps you should follow to post accurately-coded content on just about any WordPress site.

Step 1: You receive the article back from your writer. It brings with it grammatical errors and other such weird writing issues that make you shout at the top of your lungs in frustration. Don’t get frustrated! Take a deep breath, relax, and proceed with step 2. It is important that we all consider ourselves the front line infantry between other writers and the final step when the client views the content. Errors should not be anywhere in the final, final post.

Step 2: Edit the post. Carefully check for grammatical errors, punctuation errors, spelling errors, appearance errors, and everything else listed above. Fix all errors in the post.

Step 3: Optimize the post. Carefully go through the post, read it, and optimize for the targeted keyword phrase accordingly if it has not already been done. Don’t overdo the optimization and add the keyword phrase in the text in every other word. Use it sparingly – once per paragraph or 4-6 times on the page max. Anymore than that starts getting into keyword stuffing territory.

Step 4: Write your SEO title and meta description.

Your Meta Title And Meta Description Should Use The Following Best Practices

Meta Title: It should be around 60-65 characters in length, or a 512px pixel width.

Meta Description: The meta description actually should be around 160-165 characters in length, or 920-923px pixel width.

Step 5: Look at your content in the three different big 3 browsers after you have published it: Google Chrome, Firefox, and Internet Explorer. If there are no serious display headaches, you are good to go. It may be a good idea to use BrowserStack.com and test the content on different operating systems too.

Step 6: It pays to be thorough! Look over your content and double check it before leaving it and moving on to the next task. If you aren’t sure it’s ready to be fully posted, triple check and go through it again. By performing these checks, you should not have the misfortune of the client stumbling upon bad content that was posted erroneously.

By following these general steps, it is possible to create great looking, great-sounding content just about every time you post. Of course, if you’re out of practice when it comes to writing, you may want to get into the habit of writing consistently so you can get your writing mojo back. Or, use other writers until such time that you can bring quality back into your own writing. There are plenty of authors out there who use ghost writers, so don’t be ashamed of going that route if you have to!

Then, you can start writing your own articles once you get better!