I see a lot of people use interviews as traction channels for their businesses, so I decided to make a checklist to optimize them for Google Search. I’ll write some notes down on things that are less obvious.
1. Your interview follows H2 → H3 → H4 hierarchy
Heading tags help Google analyze your content in an easier and more structured way. It also helps your readers go through your content.
2. Your URL slug is lean and ideally contains a targeted keyword
Look at our recent interview with Anne-Laure Le Cunff, founder of Ness Labs:
The slug is pretty clear and simple —Ness Labs. Feel free to include interview-with-…or something. But don’t go overboard and write a slug that’s over 10 words. That’s not SEO-friendly.
3. All images are under 200kb
Use an image optimization tool that directly downsizes your images to under 200kb. This ensures that they actually load.
4. Image alt attributes contain targeted keywords and clearly explain the image
This accomplishes 2 things: SEO and accessibility (which makes for better SEO).
By including the targeted keywords, the images will have an opportunity to rank for them. This is self-explanatory, but something that many forget. Moreover, clearly describing what the image is about helps visually-impaired readers navigate through your content.
Content and keywords SEO
5. The interviewee’s answers are not in quotation marks
While there’s inconclusive evidence that quotation marks or brackets affect SEO (most of the time they do not), as a best practice, it’s generally better to initially include the name of the interviewee next to the first question, if there’s one person being interviewed, or include the names, when it’s a transcript of a discussion more than 2 people.
I would err on the side of caution and make sure that Google doesn’t read my interviews as quotes from somewhere else.
And within an editorial standpoint, quotes don’t really make sense, if the article retains the same format throughout (e.g. Q&A).
6. The density for each targeted keyword lies between 1% to 3%
Keyword density is the percentage of how many times your keywords appear throughout the article. There’s a straightforward formula that many SEO plugins use to calculate this figure:
Keyword Density= (Nkr / Tkn) x 100,
where Nkr = how many times you repeated a specific keyword
Tkn = total words in the analyzed text
As a best practice, anything between 1% to 3% is the optimal keyword density percentage. Google indicates that it should be lower than 5%, or your content will seem spammy.
7. The interviewee’s name or company are targeted keywords
This is especially important to those interviewing emerging entrepreneurs that are gaining word-of-mouth buzz through their products. When people search for their names, if your interview is search engine-optimized, then it will appear on Google’s first page.
Of course, this is less likely to work if you weren’t one of the first to interview them, or if their branded keywords are already hard to rank in. But when it comes to interviews, tackling branded keywords is always the best way forward.
And it also benefits the person who was interviewed, because it shows more of who they are as a person. Win-win.
8. You have a clear angle on your interviews
When it comes to branding, it’s always good to focus on one key idea in your interviews. This demonstrates the value of your interviews in a clearer way to site visitors, and this helps them convert more easily.
Within an SEO perspective, as you constantly produce content on the same set of topics, Google will come to see you as an authority on them.
Of course, authority also depends on other ranking factors, such as how users interact with your content and whatnot, but this is already a good, first step towards the right direction
9. You are targeting a long-tail query (optional)
Having an angle also helps you target a long-tail phrase people might be searching for that’s related to that keyword. Of course, this is a lot easier said than done, because doing this may make your interviews read awkwardly, so I’m just including this as a suggestion.
10. You have 2-4 outbound links per 1000 word
Imagine you’re writing an essay and you fail to include the references behind your claims. This will lead to bad grades, despite how eloquent your arguments may be!
The same goes for SEO. If you don’t include links to contextualize your statements and back them up, your interview will less likely appear on the first page of Search.
As a rule of thumb, Brian Dean from Backlinko, a highly succesful blog on backlinking strategies, says that you should include 2-4 outbound links per 1000 words. This ensures the quality of your content.
11. You have 2-6 internal links per 1000 words
Internal links give the SEO juice that it needs to rank on Google. As I’ve already mentioned in my article on topic clusters, internal linking is a powerful strategy that’s often neglected by my companies to do more aggressive SEO outreach campaigns.
This is a mistake. As you can see in this case study, NinjaOutreach, an outbound marketing software, increased their traffic by 40% in 2 months just by simply creating an internal linking strategy for their content.
Include 2-6 internal links per 1000 words as a best practice. it’s a rough estimate but it already gives you a clear indication of how many internal links you should include in the first place.
12. All your links work
13. All your links have descriptive anchor texts
The anchor text needs to explain the context of the outbound link. It’ll seem spammy otherwise.
14. Make sure that you can rank on the targeted keywords (optional)
This depends on the competition on targeted keywords, the depth of your content and the domain authority of the websites on the top 10. This involves a whole guide on its own, so I won’t go into detail. If you have an SEO tool like Ahrefs and Moz, then you can figure out if your interview can potentially rank.
15. Make sure that you measure the SEO traffic of your interviews
Once you’ve made the right steps to optimizing your interview articles for search, it’s now time to create a process to clearly measure the results. Here’s a template to measure your SEO progress.
I can’t stress this enough. You need to have a structured plan to measure or analyze your SEO traffic for content in general, because, if you don’t, trust me, you won’t be measuring your results.
- Your interview follows H2 → H3 → H4 hierarchy
- Your URL slug is lean and ideally contains a targeted keyword
- All images are under 200kb
- Image alt attributes contain targeted keywords and clearly explain the image
- The interviewee’s answers are not in quotation marks
- The density for each targeted keyword lies between 1% to 3%
- The interviewee’s name or company are targeted keywords
- You have a clear angle on your interviews
- You are targeting a long-tail query (optional)
- You have 2-4 outbound links per 1000 words
- You have 2-6 internal links per 1000 words
- All your links work
- All your links have descriptive anchor texts
- Make sure that you can rank on the targeted keywords (optional)
- Make sure that you measure the SEO traffic of your interviews