SEO and Readability Checklist: Review Before You Publish

8 tips for crafting a page that’s better for your readers and for search

After crafting your sales article, your history, your product description, it’s a good practice to take a step back and review a few basics like your headings, alt tags, navigation labels, etc. You want content that is quick to find, highly readable, easy to understand, obviously actionable, and eminently shareable.

Your first concern should be for your reader. Titles and headings should provide enough information for them to decide to read what follows. Navigation labels, including the text you turn into a link, helps them orient to your site. Well-considered labeling practices will can also help your site’s SEO (search engine optimization.)

What should we all be checking before we hit “publish”?

1. Titles match content

  • Does your title match your content?
  • Is it descriptive?
  • Does it describe the benefits of reading it?
  • Is it informative enough to share as a tweet?

    Many of automatically tweet using page titles for content. Which title would you be most likely to click on?
    sample titles used in tweets

  • Are you making productive use of all your space? Try for up to 70 characters.

    Sample page titles
    It’s usually best to place your most important keywords first. In the L.L. Bean example below, you have an additional reason to click. It also reaches those people who are searching for both free shipping and tote bags. And, more importantly, it ranked many places ahead of the second example. sample search titles

2. Titles, headings, or content matches ads and anchors

  • Are you matching keywords used in your marketing campaign? (This could be a PPC ad such as an AdWords banner, an email promotion, or a link you use in print.)
  • Does your message match your offer or marketing pitch?

3. Subheads, captions, links, list headings are informative

  • Are you paying attention to the content people see when they scan?
  • Are you using descriptive and meaningful word choices? In other words, are you avoiding using headings or link titles like “sustaining services” that provide no real information or context?
  • If you use a word like ”gas” that can have several meanings, are you placing it in context? This will help both your reader and the search engine properly determine the subject of your page. (Remember that someone might be dropping into the middle of your site and never see your home page where you describe who you are and what the site is about.)
  • Are you using the words your readers would use? Think about filling out a form to get a newsletter. Would you say “I’d like to submit my request” or “Sign me up”?

4. Reading level and word count match reader need

  • Does your reading level match your audience’s?
  • Are you offering a short synopsis or a treatise? What’s the best for your subject and audience? Avoid very shallow content. (Google will often evaluate a page short on content as unworthy of being high in their search results.)
  • Does your title provide any clues to the depth and breadth of your page? Examples:

5. Calls to action are present

  • Have you included a call to action?
  • Will readers know what step you want them to take next?
    Calls to action are often called out with an image, but can also be text.examples of calls to action

6. Images have alt tags

  • Do your images include alternative text?People respond to images. Social media posts tend to get more shares if they include an image. Search engines will index the alternative text you provide for your images. (Plus alternative text is required for ADA compliance.)

7. Text styling doesn’t detract from scanning

  • Are you making your important content easy to scan for keywords? Placing the important keywords first in lists will help.
  • Avoiding all caps will also help. Some of us read quickly by seeing the shape of word rather than the individual letters. Show the shape of a word by avoiding all caps. Scan for the word yellow in the lists below. As you scan, you probably look for that descending line of the y in yellow or the ascending double ls.
    all caps readability example


8. Tone and content match your brand

  • Does your content reveal your brand personality?
  • Does it meet your audiences’ need? Does it fit where they are in the sales or development funnel? Does it fit with their level of expertise? Meeting your audience at their interest level provides a positive brand experience with your site.
  • Is your content interesting?


What tips do you have?

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