Once you start blogging and learning how to create posts that make search engine bots happy, you can’t ignore all the suggestions to try Yoast. Almost every blog I read about SEO mentions Yoast as THE go-to for upping your SEO game. So I finally decided to invest in the program and see what it could do for me.
The first thing I did after downloading Yoast
I’ll be honest and admit that I signed up for the Premium features, poked around a bit, got overwhelmed and promptly ignored it for the next six months. It is really easy to get a little freaked out by all the info suddenly thrown at you. The main thing I found it most useful for right away was creating easy redirects when you change your blog post titles.
Yoast does have plenty of videos and tutorials to help guide you through the tons of new terms and concepts you’ll be learning. The problem I would run into is I’d look up one thing, that would lead to needing to learn about another thing and then another thing until I forgot about the first thing. There’s SO much that goes into SEO and creating SEO friendly posts that you can quickly get sucked into a never ending well of too much information. So where do you start?
Learn to Yoast your post
Once you add your website and go through all the basic set-up steps, it’s time to learn to “Yoast Your Post.” This is what’s going to take things to the next level. Yoast grades your SEO and readability with little smiley faces. My main goal is to get a green smiley for the SEO. They can take their readability assessment and shove it, because they almost always give me a big red frowning guy.
According to Yoast, my sentences are too long and I use too much passive voice. Yet somehow, I get my point across and often get compliments on my writing style. So I refuse to fit into whatever little writing style box they want people to fit in. But I will succumb to the demands of SEO tweaking.
The three biggest things I learned about SEO from Yoast:
Don’t link to pages with competing keywords
My SEO game was OK, but I did learn several things while trying to earn that happy green smiley. The first was not to link to another page with a competing keyword. This went against every instinct I had about linking. I thought the exact opposite was true and that you should link to similar pages to support your post, much like references on a term paper. Big surprise!
Linking to a competing page actually hurts you. You don’t want those search engine bots to land on your page only to be sent off to another article that’s WAY more informative than yours. They might as well just direct people to that other page! So I didn’t even link to Yoast in this post, because then I’d get a warning about the competition. It still just doesn’t seem right… But it’s not like I make any money if you sign up for it, so you can just Google it and see what it’s all about.
And while we are on the topic of linking, always remember to include a couple of links to your own posts within your post! Just not posts about the actual topic you are writing about because then it becomes the dreaded competition.
Choose a keyword and use it wisely
You want to focus on a keyword or phrase that sums up your post, and then make sure that keyword is worked into the post from top to bottom. Try to mention it in at least every other paragraph. I’ve gone at least a paragraph without mentioning mine, so here you go: Yoast! Seo! There, we should be good.
They also like to find this keyword in the title (the closer to the beginning the better), the meta description, the alt tags of your images (but not more than five), and your sub-headings.
Use subheadings even if you don’t need them
I’m not a huge fan of a bunch of subheadings, but apparently Google likes them and they help drive home your keyword. You want to break up your text with subheadings that include your keyword throughout your post. And make sure you use the tool at the top to designate them as a subheading, rather than just make the text bold and/or underlined. This is also supposed to help with that readability issue I mentioned earlier. It helps keep everything short and sweet and organized.
So take some time, go back through old posts that you think really represent the best of your blog, and then tweak them to make them SEO friendly. You don’t have to do it for every post! But make sure you do it for the ones that you really want to use to draw in traffic.
And, just to test how well I’ve learned the Yoast thing since writing this, I will now test my post against their magic algorithm and let you know my score:
I got green smiley faces for both SEO and readability with no suggested changes on the first try! Woohoo! I guess I managed to learn something in the past few days. And I think it’s kind of hilarious (and ridiculous) that I got a perfect score writing a post about a plug-in without ever linking to the actual plug-in. Seems like that would be the #1 thing I should do here, but unfortunately that would lower my SEO score so you guys will just have to type it in yourselves…