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SEO Checklist: What to Do Before You Publish Content

You’ve got a new piece of content ready to go—great! Before you hit publish, here are a few tips to ensure your page is fully optimized for search engines.

an infographic of a list of steps to do before publishing seo content

Optimized Metadata

First, it’s crucial your Meta Title includes your page’s target keyword and is under 60 characters. Many website platforms automatically use the title of your content as the default meta title, but do allow you to customize it.

Keeping your meta within the maximum length ensures readability and relevance on search engines. And integrating your target keyword into the meta title can significantly boost your content’s visibility and even its click-through rate. 

a picture of a website's meta title and meta description in google's search results

Next, the Meta Description plays an important role in attracting readers. A well-crafted meta description should be under 160 characters and should seamlessly incorporate the target keyword, giving potential readers a snapshot of what to expect.

Headings Tags

Use heading tags to structure your content hierarchically—for example, <h1>, <h2>, and <h3> in HTML. Formatting heading fonts to style them visually is not equivalent to using proper heading tags and will affect how search engines read and index the content.   

All pages should include one—and only one—h1 heading that directly describes the subject of the page. For 99% of pages, this will be the page title. Most website platforms and themes will automatically apply an h1 tag to the page title, but publishers should check carefully to ensure that it’s tagged correctly, as this is critical for SEO. It’s also essential to ensure that your target keyword finds a place in this title. Ideally, the page title and meta title should be identical or very closely aligned. Keep titles direct and focus on matching the intent of the page. For example: 

  • Service pages should name the service: “Email Marketing Campaigns”
  • Product pages should name the specific product, including the product types alongside any unique brand names: ”Elaine Leather Backpack”
  • Article titles should clearly describe the subject and angle: “5 Strategies for B2B Businesses to Increase Email Open-Rates”  

All subheads should be tagged with h-tags like h2, h3, and h4. Prioritize secondary SEO keywords in h2s. Lower tiers of subheads (h3, h4, h5) can be used to divide your article with subtopic modifiers, create a flow throughout the page, and inject brand voice.

Image Optimization

For optimal SEO, images should be sized to a minimum of 1200 pixels wide. Google has stated that important images, like feature images, should be at least 1200 px wide to gain the maximum organic visibility in Google Discover

Search engines rely on Image Alt Text to understand them. Every image on your page should be accompanied by alt text that offers a detailed and accurate description, but remember to avoid overstuffing it with keywords.

URL Optimization 

Optimize your page’s URL by using the target keyword and keeping the URL slug short and sweet. The goal is to be as descriptive as needed to avoid duplicate URLs within your site while keeping it as short and direct as possible. 

eCommerce sites with large-scale product variants or sites that run a/b tests may require additional URL optimization. See Google’s best practice recommendations for more detail, or reach out to Sitemap.io with questions on your specific needs. 

Request Indexing

Once your page is published, check the Indexation Status. Most content should be set to “index/follow” at all times. However, exceptions can be made for campaign, test, or duplicate pages or if you specifically intend for it to be hidden from search engines with a “no-index” tag. 

If your content is fresh off the press or has seen significant changes, it’s a good practice to submit it for Indexing in the Google Search Console. This ensures that search engines are aware of your content and can crawl it effectively.

a picture of google search console showing how to request indexing content

To request indexing, paste your URL into the search bar at the top of the Google Search Console page, then click “Request Indexing.”

Test Links

Don’t forget to Test Links on your page. Manually check all internal and external links to ensure your readers have a smooth experience, free from the frustration of broken links. For best SEO, you’ll also want to make sure all links are pointing directly to the intended page and not routing through a redirected URL.

Add Tracking Codes

Lastly, if you’re tracking specific conversion goals from a page, make sure the appropriate Google Analytics (GA) Tracking Codes have been hooked up to relevant buttons or links. By ensuring all tracking is correctly appended to each URL using the GTM (Google Tag Manager) container, you can gather valuable insights about your content’s performance.

Picture of Austin Cline

Austin Cline

Austin Cline is the founder and principal at Sitemap.io. He is actively involved in the SEO community and frequently writes about the intersection of great content marketing and search engine optimization. You can connect with him on his LinkedIn and sign up to get his posts to your email by joining our email newsletter.

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