How to optimize a blog post for search engines: a checklist!

So you’ve decided to write a blog post. That’s great! Now let’s make sure your efforts pay off and it turns into an awesome post that also ranks. What do you need to write and optimize that blog post? What steps do you need to take? You can use this blog post checklist to make sure you’ve got all the bases covered. And with the improved publishing flow in our Yoast SEO 14.4 release, this becomes even easier. Let’s have a look!

1. Conduct proper keyword research

You (probably) want to write a blog post about a topic related to you or your business. And that’s definitely something you should do. But, to make sure you reach your audience, you also want your blog post to rank in the search engines. This is where keyword research comes in.

Keyword research helps you determine which words your audience uses when they’re looking for a product, service, or information you offer. Because the words you use might not be the same as the ones your audience uses. By conducting keyword research you can draw up a list of keywords or keyphrases that are relevant to you, but also help you create content that ranks.

This is why keyword research is the first step in your blog post checklist, and one you should not skip. You can find more information in our ultimate guide on keyword research.

2. Preparation is key

Now that you know what keyword or phrase you want to write about, you might want to get started right away. But there’s one more step in this checklist we need to take before you put your (digital) pen to paper. And that’s preparation. This might feel like an extra step, but it’s important to realize that the right preparation helps your readability and SEO, plus it saves you time in a later stage of your writing!

So take some time to think about what you want to say and to whom you want to say it. What is your goal with this text? Do you want to inform people about a certain topic or persuade them to buy one of your products? By formulating the purpose of your blog post and defining your audience for this post, it’ll become much easier to decide on your angle and writing style. Having a look at the search results can help you create great content that fits the needs of your audience.

It also pays off to think about the structure of your piece before you start writing. The structure is the skeleton of your text: it will help the reader and search engines grasp the main idea of your text. Also, it’s easier to start writing when you’ve already decided on your structure beforehand.

Start by writing down a list of topics you want to discuss in your post. After that, you can bundle similar topics together and your structure will begin to take shape. Now you can decide on the order of your topics and it’s up to you if this will be done chronologically, didactically, or any other way that suits your blog post.

Read more: Blog post structure: How to set up an easy-to-read text »

3. Start writing

When you’ve completed the first two steps of your blog post checklist, it’s time to start writing. And I know that this part can be hard, especially writing those first few sentences. My advice is to just start writing while keeping the structure you’ve created in mind. Don’t mind awkward sentences or typos too much in this phase, as this can take you out of the writing flow. We’ll fix them later on.

Also, don’t get hung up on your first paragraph or introduction too much. It’s always easier to write a beginning (and ending for that matter) once you’ve written the main body of your text. Just write down a few words or phrases you want to discuss in your first paragraph and start with your second paragraph if this comes easier.

In our ultimate guide to SEO Copywriting you can find more tips on how to start writing and boost your writing style.

4. Check your readability bullets

Once you have written your first draft, it is time to correct all of those typos and awkward sentences. You should take the time to carefully read and re-read your blog post and make adjustments where needed.

Your blog post should be well readable. A great tool to help you with this is the readability score provided by Yoast SEO. Our content analysis will give you feedback on how easy to read your content is. For example, it allows you to detect whether you use too many long sentences or whether you use too much passive voice in your text. Let’s get rid of those and optimize the readability of your blog post.

With the release of Yoast SEO 14.4, we’ve added the possibility to check on how your content scores straight from the Document sidebar in the block editor. This makes it easy to keep an eye on the readability of your text while you’re editing it.

the yoast seo sidebar
Check the readability and SEO of your text directly from the Yoast SEO sidebar.

And if you’re wondering why your readability or SEO bullet is red or orange, just click on the arrow next to these bullets to get feedback on what you can still improve. This allows you to make changes right away, without taking you out of your writing flow.

5. Check your SEO bullets

When you’ve written a great and readable blog post, you want it to rank in the search engines. So now you want to optimize your blog post! This is where the Yoast SEO analysis comes in. Assuming you haven’t skipped the first step in this blog post checklist, your blog post will be focused on a keyword that is beneficial to your SEO strategy. Fill in your keyword in the focus keyphrase field and our SEO analysis will give you feedback on how SEO-friendly your article is.

As with the readability analysis, you are now able to check your SEO score in the Yoast sidebar in the block editor. This makes it possible to work on the SEO of your content while editing. And if your bullet is red or orange, simply click the arrow next to this bullet to get feedback on what you can improve.

Keep reading: Our must-read articles about Content SEO »

6. Preview your post for Google and social media

As you may have already noticed in the screenshot above, the sidebar offers you a preview of what your post will look like in Google, Facebook and Twitter. When you click one of these tabs in the sidebar, you can also edit these previews. To show you what this looks like, this is the screen you get when you click the ‘Google preview’ in the Yoast SEO sidebar:

google preview pop up screen in the yoast seo sidebar

This screen shows you what your post will look like in the search results, and gives you the possibility to edit your preview. However, it is important to note, that this preview is a suggestion we’re giving Google. In some cases, Google chooses a meta description or title for you.

Similar to your Google preview, the sidebar also allows you what your page will look like when you share it on Facebook or Twitter. Simply click the Facebook preview tab (or Twitter preview tab) and check what your post will look like. This also gives you the opportunity to change the post image, title and description. Take some time to do this, as the right post will increase the number of people clicking on your post!

Read on: Social media optimization with Yoast SEO »

7. Hit publish!

You’ve made it to the final step in this blog post checklist! And that’s to finally hit that publish button. If you’re feeling a bit hesitant about making your post public, don’t worry. Since Yoast SEO 14.4, we’ve built in a feature to give you the reassurance you need to send your new content into the world. After clicking the Publish button, we’ll give you a final overview of your scores on readability and SEO. This gives you the possibility to make some final adjustments if needed and happily press that button.

final check before publishing
After clicking the Publish button, the Document sidebar will give you this overview.

After publishing your post, you’ll be greeted with a screen that gives you the link to your freshly published blog post. And to make this a part of your publishing work flow, we’ve added the possibility to share your post on social media right away.

social sharing in yoast seo 14.4
Share your post on Twitter and Facebook with our sharing buttons after publishing.

Why? Social media are a necessity for the growth and marketing of your website. By sharing your new blog post right away, you’re drawing attention to it and increasing the traffic to your site. This gives your new blog post a kickstart in getting exposure and will help your rankings.

The blog post checklist in short

In this article, I’ve talked you through the blog post checklist to optimize your post for the search engines. First of all, every blog post should start by executing keyword research. Secondly, make sure you take the time to prepare your blog post carefully. And after you have written the post, use Yoast SEO to check the readability and SEO of your content.

This brings you to the final step in this checklist: publishing your awesome blog post and sharing it with your audience right away. Which brings me to my final step in this article: wishing you lots of luck with your writing!

Keep on reading: SEO copywriting checklist »

22 Responses to How to optimize a blog post for search engines: a checklist!

  1. Zola
    Zola  • 4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing this guide. I’ve been using the Yoast Plugin for a while and I’ve been seeing results in my blog posts on google search engines.

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 months ago

      Hi Zola! Thanks for your comment :) Great to hear that you’re using our plugin and seeing results, keep up the good work!!

  2. Wally
    Wally  • 4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing these tips. I really love your SEO plugin being it has helped me alot with my rankings. But as for keyword research, is there a specific keyword tool that you recommend to use over others?

  3. shiza khan
    shiza khan  • 4 months ago


    yeah you are right most of people didnt care about readability by using yoast seo before i was also didnt care about the readability but when i set all score to green my ranking is upcoming good and along with SEO score i have set all score to green some time it will be hard to set all score in green. well thanks for sharing this information with us people must correct there writing readability.

  4. MD HARUNUR Roshid
    MD HARUNUR Roshid  • 4 months ago

    I am trying to rank my YouTube channel by backlink. As i know backlink is important for any websites ranking. But i am still not sure what effect for YouTube channel?

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 4 months ago

      Hi! Ranking with your channel on YouTube is a whole different ball game. But if you have a site with a page for your channel, then yes, you could get that to rank by getting backlinks.

      • Robert Tolo
        Robert Tolo  • 4 months ago

        Hi post is great and i am using a yoast SEO on my websites and clients websiste with properly reasrch and using a Yoast SEO we achive high google rankings.

  5. Kevin
    Kevin  • 4 months ago

    Very informative. I have always been a big fan of Yoast.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 months ago

      Thanks! We love our fans, Kevin :-)

  6. Alberto Diaz
    Alberto Diaz  • 4 months ago

    Excellent article, although I already knew some methods, I have been able to learn new concepts.
    Thank you.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 4 months ago

      Great to hear, Alberto!

  7. Sukriti Maurya
    Sukriti Maurya  • 4 months ago

    Before you begin with writing blog post do proper keyword research. Try to find long tail keyword having high volume, high CPC, Low competition. There are many tools from where you can find long tail keyword.

  8. Chris Hiew
    Chris Hiew  • 4 months ago

    My weakness point is copywriting and this article helps me a lot on how to structure a well written SEO content. Further, the Premium Yoast does a wonderful job in highlighting which areas need improvement.

    I definitely recommend Yoast my associates and clients.

    Thank you for sharing this educated post.

    Chris Hiew

    • Edwin Toonen
      Edwin Toonen  • 4 months ago

      Hi Chris. Glad you liked the article and thanks for being a Premium customer!

  9. Stanley
    Stanley  • 4 months ago

    Thanks for sharing. I think the prompt to share your post directly to social media is a great feature!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 months ago

      Thanks, Stanley! That’s great to hear :)

  10. gurmy
    gurmy  • 4 months ago

    Great Article! Thnks for actual information!

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 months ago

      You are very welcome!

  11. John
    John  • 4 months ago

    Hmmm a blog post about writing a blog post that doesn’t follow the blog post checklist…. hahahaha

    • Camille Cunningham
      Camille Cunningham  • 4 months ago

      Hi John! Just to be sure, do you mean the final step of posting our blog to social media? In that case, don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten! It will be shared later on :D

      This feature is meant to give people the possibility to share their blog right away because it’s easy to forget this if you don’t take action right after publishing. But of course, it’s always up to you whether you want to share it right away. In our case, we schedule our social sharing right after publishing!

      • Chris
        Chris  • 4 months ago

        I am so messed up with my SEO especially the Keyword research aspect. Sometimes I even feel confused about what to write on that my young blog (6 months) can reasonably rank for.

        I think that’s the major aspect I must work on.

        Thanks for this reminder and heads-up, Marieke.