SEO Content Writing Checklist: 21 Things to Triple-Check

THE 21-POINT SEO CONTENT WRITING CHECKLIST

In a nutshell, writing effective SEO content involves checking:

  1. Content quality compared to competitors
  2. The presence and quality of calls-to-actions
  3. Shareability
  4. Internal links
  5. Appropriateness for readers
  6. Topical relevance
  7. Topic coverage
  8. Readability
  9. Mechanics (spelling, grammar, and punctuation)
  10. Logical flow
  11. Use of rich media
  12. Consistency throughout the content
  13. Accuracy of facts
  14. Credibility of sources
  15. Recency of information
  16. The chances or banking for your focus keyword
  17. On-page optimization
  18. How keywords have been used
  19. That content satisfies search intent
  20. Content length

WHAT SHOULD A CONTENT WRITER KNOW ABOUT SEO?

Before we dig deeper into the nuances of each point on the checklist above, let’s set one thing straight. So many people — professional content writers included — think SEO writing is simply repeating a keyword a certain number of times in content to get it to show up in relevant search engine results.

HOW DO YOU WRITE GOOD SEO CONTENT?

Let’s see how to measure content quality with 1) your goals, 2) your audience, 3) user experience, 4) your credibility, and 5) on-page optimization in mind.

CATEGORY 1: YOUR CLIENTS’ GOALS

In business, there are precisely ZERO people creating content just because. Whether they want intangible benefits such as increased credibility or tangible ones like more traffic, everyone has a goal.

1. WHAT IS THE SMART GOAL?

Both big-picture content marketing goals and goals for each piece of content need to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. They need to be SMART. If not, you’ll just be spinning your wheels AKA flushing time, money, and other resources down the toilet.

2. DOES THE CONTENT BLOW COMPETITORS’ OUT OF THE WATER?

Before pouring hours of time and energy into a blog post, for example, check out what pages are ranking for your focus keyword. Whether you do an incognito Google search or use tools like thruuu or Surfer, the goal is the same. Compared to what’s already out there, determine how you can make your content more:

  • Relevant
  • Trustworthy
  • Accessible
  • Enjoyable to consume

3. DOES IT PROMOTE CONVERSIONS?

Thinking back to the core goal for the content you’re writing, determine whether or not it encourages people to take the desired action. And not just subtly or by inference.

4. IS IT SHAREABLE?

This is a nice follow-up to our last point. When readers share your content with others like them via email, social media or other channels, it means more of the right eyes on your clients’ businesses. And more eyes equals more opportunities, especially as you continue to build trust with each audience. But what makes content shareable?

  • Try to approach content with fresh perspectives and angles
  • Use examples that are hyper-relevant for the target audiences you write for
  • Share personal experiences that demonstrate your expertise and make your content stand out

5. DOES IT CONTAIN APPROPRIATE INTERNAL LINKS?

Your content should include internal links to other relevant pages on your website, encouraging your audience to explore more of what you publish. The more they explore, the stronger their ties to your business. Your brand becomes more memorable, trust is established and, as a result, the audience is more likely to do business with you down the line.

CATEGORY 2: YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

Part of the reason you produce content is to benefit or give some sort of value to your target market, right? It only makes sense, then, that who you’re writing for is one of the most important considerations when running down your SEO content writing checklist. Here are some things to think about.

1. DOES THE CONTENT MATCH YOUR AUDIENCE’S KNOWLEDGE LEVEL?

You’re an expert in whatever you do or offer. You know your industry inside and out. But can the same be said of your readers? Probably not.

2. IS THE TOPIC RELEVANT?

This is where understanding the demographics and psychographics of your audience comes in handy. Your content should, of course, be well-written and informative. But that doesn’t count for much if it doesn’t also speak to what your audience really needs or cares about. So do both audience and keyword research to find relevant keywords and topics worth creating content on.

3. IS YOUR COVERAGE OF THE TOPIC COMPREHENSIVE ENOUGH?

You’ll want to make sure that your reader’s expectations are met fully. By the time they reach the end of your content, have they learned or gained whatever they expected to gain at the start? The answer should always be “yes.” But it doesn’t stop there.

CATEGORY 3: USE EXPERIENCE (UX)

As you may know, user experience encompasses the way a user feels as they interact with your business. One of the ways they interact is by consuming the content you produce. So the smart route is to prioritize creating a positive user experience that will delight the people you work hard to reach with your content. Here are five aspects of UX worth thinking about.

1. IS THE READABILITY GOOD?

Humongous chunks of text and run-on sentences have never been a good idea. But in 2022 and beyond, they’re an absolute no-no.

  • Varied sentence and paragraph lengths
  • White space
  • Transition words
  • Bullet points
  • Italics
  • Bolding

2. HOW ARE THE MECHANICS?

In other words, are spelling, punctuation, and grammar good? Be sure to double-check since glaring errors can seriously hurt your professional image and credibility.

3. DOES THE CONTENT FLOW LOGICALLY?

Don’t expect people to stick around for the ride if your content is all over the map. Spot a logical train of thought, get on it, and don’t stray.

4. IS IT MEDIA-RICH?

Humans are visual creatures. That being the case, visual stimuli can elicit strong emotional responses, which, in turn, influence decision-making.

5. ARE YOU CONSISTENT?

Consistency prevents confusion. Confusion prevents conversions. So consistency is good.

CATEGORY 4: YOUR CREDIBILITY

Next up on the list is credibility. Being seen as a trustworthy source of information is a must. If your credibility is in question, trying to reach your goals will be an uphill battle. So here are three things you need to check to make sure that’s not a problem.

1. HAS YOUR CONTENT BEEN FACT-CHECKED?

There’s a ton of misinformation out there in every industry, including yours. You don’t want to pass any of it along unknowingly. So although it may take a bit of extra time, it’s worth it to double or even triple-check your facts.

2. HAVE YOU USED CREDIBLE SOURCES?

To add to our last point about accuracy, let’s discuss the importance of sources with the help of an example.

3. IS YOUR INFORMATION UP-TO-DATE?

This is another facet of accuracy that you can’t afford to forget about, especially in industries that change often.

CATEGORY 5: ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

Last but not least, it’s important to evaluate the quality of your content from a search engine optimization (SEO) standpoint. The core question here is: Does it have the potential to rank well in relevant search results and bring online traffic to your business? Here’s how to tell if the answer is “yes” or “no.”

1. HAVE YOU CHOSEN A SMART FOCUS KEYWORD?

It might be tempting to choose popular keywords, thinking that they’ll bring you a ton of traffic. However, such popular, high-volume keywords are often incredibly competitive and not worth targeting. Especially if your website’s domain is far weaker than the sites already ranking for them.

2. HAVE YOU DONE ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION?

On-page optimization includes balancing quality content with strategic use of your primary keyword in headings, image filenames and alt text, and throughout your content. The more optimized your content is, the better the chances of it ranking well in search for a well-chosen, relevant keyword.

3. HAVE YOU INCORPORATED KEYWORDS NATURALLY?

Or have you stuffed them into every other sentence, making the content seem spammy?

4. IS SEARCH INTENT SATISFIED?

Even more important in than using your exact focus keyword exactly x number of times in x, y, and z spots within your content is matching search intent.

5. IS THE LENGTH APPROPRIATE?

Numerous studies have confirmed that longer content often performs better. More comprehensive content tends to rank better and see more engagement. However…

IMPROVE YOUR SEO WRITING SKILLS

Many checklists for SEO content writing focus solely on optimizing titles, meta descriptions, images, and things of that sort with keywords. And those things are beneficial and important.

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