Rank Better on Google With This Simple SEO Checklist – Part 2

By Matthew Givner

SEO Typewriter

This is Part 2 in our 3-part series aiming to provide you with a simple, straightforward SEO checklist to consult when creating content that you’d like to rank highly on Google. From the importance of your title to making sure you’re using images correctly, here are the steps you need to consider while you’re writing.

Search Engine Optimization – Providing Value with Your Content

Earlier I put together the first part of our simple SEO Checklist which focused on the steps to take and things to consider before you write. For Part 2, it’s time to put pen to paper (or in our case fingertips to keys) and actually start producing the content we worked so hard planning in Part 1.

Of course, it may be tempting to say, “I’ve done all my keyword research, identified my target audience, and know my call to action. Can’t I just start writing my amazing blog post already?!”

Easy there, fella. Yes, this is the time to start writing. But as you write it’s important to keep things like your title, the structure of your piece, your keywords, and images in mind in order to ensure that you give your post the greatest possible chance of ranking highly on Google.


When it comes to writing, most people generally focus on the meat of their content – the body text – first and foremost. Then, only once they’ve finished their article and are pleased with the result, do they go and think of a creative title. It may be a surprise to most people then that, at least when it comes to writing with the intent of ranking well on Google, your title needs to be the first thing you do. Not only that, lots of marketers and professional copywriters will tell you that you should actually spend more time writing the title than the actual piece! Indeed, they’ve even come up with a rule called 80/20: spend 80% of your time writing the title, and the remainder writing the rest. (Another version of this, equally significant, states that out of 10 people, 8 will read the headline but only 2 will read the actual content.)

Whether or not you want to spend 4 times longer writing the title than the meat of your text, the point is that you probably need to spend more time writing your title than you currently do. As usual, it helps to put yourself in the shoes of your prospective audience and ask what you want to see in a title that will compel you to click. In general, your title should accomplish two goals:

1. The title should capture your audience’s attention.

2. The title should communicate what the audience can expect should they click on the link.

Let’s start with capturing attention. No matter how great your content might be, it’s next to useless if no one decides to click on the link and go read it. Therefore, you title needs to grab your user by the eyeballs and start a fire in their bellies that can only be quenched by consuming your content. How can you accomplish this? Well, grab one of your favorite glossy magazines or check out a website with articles you tend to read and look at the titles. After a while, you’ll notice that most of these titles share several elements in common that help make them so successful. In brief, the best titles include some or all of the following elements that communicate:

1. A benefit to the reader should they read your content.

e.g. How Good SEO Practices Can Make You Rich!

2. A sense of urgency.

e.g. UPDATE: The Newest SEO Practices You Need to Know

3. An emotional tug on the reader’s heart strings.

e.g. How SEO Saved My Son’s Life

4. A provocative question left unanswered.

e.g. Are You Guilty of Making These SEO Mistakes?

Your title doesn’t have to include all of the elements identified above, but it must have at least one for you to have any chance of getting your busy readers to take a few minutes out of their lives and consume your content.

Also, for SEO purposes, it’s best to put your primary keyword as close to the beginning of the title as possible. This is especially true when creating the slug for the webpage hosting your content (e.g. www.yourwebsite.com/this-is-the-slug). If your title reads better with your keyword in the middle or at the end (like in the title of this post), don’t worry. Keep your title the way it works best, but feel free to modify the slug so that your keyword is front and center. For example, while the title of this piece is “Rank Better on Google With This Simple SEO Checklist – Part 2,” if you look in your browser bar you’ll see the slug is simply “/seo-checklist-part-2.”

Along with capturing attention, of course, your title must also communicate what your audience can expect if they read your content. This is very important: if your title somehow misrepresents or otherwise fails to accurately convey what your piece is about, expect that piece to fail. The last thing you want is to get your readers excited about something and then utterly disappoint them after they read your content. Therefore, once you’ve written your title, be sure to ask yourself “Does this title match my content?” If not, it’s back to the drawing board for you.

If you’re looking for more in-depth help crafting titles, I’d recommend this great piece from the Moz Blog, “Are Your Titles Irresistibly Click-Worthy and Viral?!” as well as this awesome Copyblogger eBook, “How to Write Magnetic Headlines.”


A good title is necessary in order to get someone to get to your content. Structure (along with good page design) is one of the keys to keeping them there long enough to actually read it. Let’s try a quick experiment: with absolutely zero information about what the pages are about, which of the following would you be more interested in reading?

SEO Page Structure

I’m willing to bet that 99.99% of you went with the page on the right. Right? The reason why is because of structure: the page on the right just looks like it will be easier to follow along. The content is broken up in to clear, distinct sections and it looks like there’s even a nice list of some kind smack dab in the middle. Conversely, the left page is a horrible, intimidating, solid block of text with no space available for a reader to get their bearings or take a respite.

Imagine your content is a cliff, and your readers are rock climbers. Sure, some crazy rock climbers like the idea of a merciless, inhospitable mountain. But most would like to see at least a few hand- and foot-holds within easy reach as well as a couple obvious breaks in the cliff where they might take a second or two to gather themselves before moving on.

When writing to rank well on Google it’s important to make sure you place everything in a structure that is friendly not only to readers but also to search engines. Think of ways you can break up your content into thematic sections and subsections, each with its own unique header (using your h2-h5 tags). One great way to go about this is to refer back to the keyword research you worked so hard on in Part 1. Each primary keyword/phrase should become its own subsection, with your secondary keywords/phrases used in support of the primary ones. This format will help Google identify the main themes of your content while also providing ample supporting keywords and keyword variations to help Google connect your content to different permutations of how a reader might type a relevant query into the search bar.

In general, Google will view phrases located in the same paragraph as more closely related than those separated by big chunks of texts. Similarly, items grouped in a list will be seen as equally lose together, while the title of your piece will be seen as close to everything else contained in the content.

Bottom line: structure your content in order to make it as easy as possible for your readers (and, in turn, the search engines) to follow along as they read by breaking your content into thematic blocks with relevant titles acting as signposts for what comes next.


It used to be that SEO was all about the keywords. SEOers were taught to pick just one keyword and optimize the page for it by including it in the title, meta tags, URL, and anywhere else you could manage to fit it.

Nowadays, keywords are still important, but only insomuch as they support and relate to the overall topics and concepts addressed on the page (for more, check out my previous post “SEO is Dead: Long Live SEO”). This is why we had you come up with all those secondary keywords, common variations, and modifiers in Part 1.

As you write your piece, don’t just repeat your main keyword/phrase over and over again. Instead, use related words and phrases in support of your primary and secondary keywords/phrases in order to clue Google in as to what you’re talking about. The fancy term for this is “co-occurance,” which refers to words and phrases that are often found close to one another. For example, the words “Google”, “optimize”, “search engine”, “keywords”, “rank”, etc. are all often found in content talking about “SEO.” Thus, if you’re writing a piece on SEO, including those other words will help reinforce the point to Google, which will help with your rankings.

SEO Keyword Planner

If this sounds tricky, don’t worry. There are plenty of tools online to help you come up with these related words and phrases, including this nice list from Panorama. But as you’ll see if you click on that link, the primary keyword research tool can be found in Google’s Keyword Planner. Simply plug in the primary keywords for your piece and Google will spit out a slew of words it thinks are strongly related to those keywords. Some might be better than others, but at the very least this will serve as a helpful starting point.


Along with structure, another powerful way to make your piece more visually appealing to your readers is through the cunning use of images. We all remember those wonderful picture books of youth and surely long for their image-heavy slant when we find ourselves stuck in a mountain of boring text.


Whether it’s a shameless (yet still somehow relevant) cat photo, an interactive chart, or an insightful infographic, images are incredibly helpful when it comes to both keeping your readers interested and improving your rankings on Google.

So how can you optimize your images to help with your search engine rankings? First, make sure the file name is descriptive and not simply a jumble of letters and numbers. For example, “CuteSEOCat.jpg” is better than “DSC801_12.jpg”. Second, make sure your image isn’t too big, both in terms of how big it is on the screen and how large the file is. A large image file can play havoc with your page loading time, which will severely damage your SEO prospects. Finally, use your caption, alt text, title text, and social sharing API’s like Facebook’s Open Graph to add information about the picture that Google can use to help identify both the picture and determine how it relates to the rest of the content on the page.

Congratulations! With Part 2 of our Simple SEO Checklist, you are now ready to write your piece in a way that will dramatically increase the chances that your content will rank highly on Google for relevant search queries. In Part 3, we will conclude our Checklist with all of the steps you need to take once you’ve finished writing, including internal and external citations, calls to action, promoting the page, and more. Stay tuned!

Further Reading

Rank Better on Google With This Simple SEO Checklist – Part 1

Create Content for Each Step of Your Sales Funnel

How to Rank: 25 Step SEO Master Blueprint