SEO. No, not “see-o.” It stands for Search Engine Optimization, or “how to make it easier for Google to find your stuff.” This tutorial is called SEO for Bloggers because I’m not going to give you an entire SEO class right now – I’m going to tell you how to use Yoast to get a “green light” for your posts and help them get seen by more people. Simple.
As bloggers, we want people to see our posts – we want Google to see our keywords and add our posts to Google search results pages, right?
Here we go.
WordPress SEO Plugin By Yoast: SEO For Bloggers
The big picture (I need this to understand anything, so bear with me):
Google has spiders (also called crawlers or bots) that scour the internet all the time. Every time you post something new, the bots are signaled to go through your site to see what you posted. They look for keywords – words that are found multiple times in that one post. They look in different parts of your post to see if the article you posted is quality content. They think they’ve figured out how to tell that through these key things: using keywords within your text and using enough text (your article can’t be too informative if it’s made up of mostly pictures), the presentation/layout of your post (is it one big paragraph, or do you break it up for ease of reading?), and links you have within the post (photos or web links). WordPress SEO by Yoast helps give you a visual reminder (red, yellow, and green lights) to add these things to your blog post.
Now, I don’t always try to get a “green light” for my posts. My Wordless Wednesday posts, for example, aren’t going to be very searchable. They’re for me and my readers, and I’m ok with that. Your goals for green lights depend on your blog content and your goals.
Ok, that’s out of the way. Here’s what you’ll find in the plugin:
You installed the WordPress SEO plugin, and now you should see this box under your post box (where you write your blog post):
This is where we start. Let’s take this post for example.
1. My keywords are “SEO for bloggers.” I decided on these words because I want people to find this post when they type “SEO for bloggers” into the Google search bar.
You can tell Google that those are your keywords by adding them in the “Focus Keyword” box. Adding keywords to this box will do a couple of things.
First, you’ll see a few lines pop up about where your keyword was found in your post:
My keyword -or phrase- was found in my article heading (the first paragraph of my post), page title, page URL (permalink), and content, but not my meta description. That’s ok – we’ll get there in a minute.
Another thing you’ll see is your light turn red, yellow, or green:
2. Next, let’s add an easy to read (for bots) title in the space set aside for “SEO Title:”
You’re good to just copy and paste here from the “focus keyword” area, but if you want to have the best shot at being SEO friendly, go ahead and take your capital letters out and add dashes for the bots – it’s easiest for them to read your title that way.
This is the description of your post. It might be easier to remember if you think about when you add a post to facebook – you know the description that pulls in, right? Down here it’s “Getting that perfect holiday photo doesn’t get easier…”
That is your meta-description. It tells people what your post is about. I love that you can decide what gets previewed. If you don’t enter anything in this box, Google will choose some of your first paragraph for you – it may or may not help you get clicks.
4. Now that we have filled out the SEO box, this is what my “checklist” looks like:
Though my title contains the words “SEO for bloggers,” I’m still getting an error in that area. You can check to see what the plugin is thinking by clicking on the “Page Analysis” at the top of the box:
So frustrating. “SEO For Bloggers” is in my title.
I’m going to try and remove everything in my title but my keywords and see what happens:
I’m letting it go and writing my post.
Green light check = Save your draft and your light status will update:
5. Yay! We have a green light, but looking at the Page Analysis, it could still get a little better. We can make it better by adding “alt” tags and titles to our photos.
This is what the backend of one of my photos look like:
Let’s add our keywords into the title and alternate text:
Do not add the exact same title and alternate text to every photo – it’ll look like you’re “stuffing” keywords into your post. I find it best to vary the titles and keywords slightly. From the beginning to the end of the post, my keywords and alternate text will look something like this:
Interesting note: I had to make the above graphic because when I added those keywords to my post content, my light went from green to yellow. Google doesn’t like “keyword stuffing” or “keyword linking” and you’ll hurt your SEO by doing it.
In summary, these are the things you should concentrate on for good SEO in your blog posts:
- Title, URL, and first paragraph contain the keywords.
- Fill in your Yoast plugin box with your keywords and meta description.
- Check for (and attempt to fix) red warnings in the Yoast box.
- Write your post.
- Check the “Page Analysis” in the Yoast box and follow through on some of the suggestions.
- Add “alt tags” and titles (including the keyword) to your photos.
Struggling with that green light? Try these tips:
1. Add a few (relevant) outbound links to your post. A list of websites to reference is a great way to do this.
2. Use the keywords in H2 format to break up your post.
3. Make sure your post has at least 300 words.
Mahalo.com has a great post about SEO that includes videos - definitely click over there if you still have questions aout SEO.