Search engine optimization is often misunderstood so in my industry, my business, I spend a lot of time writing blogs and explaining what SEO is. I figure that if you understand it, you will understand its value and use my services, have a consult to learn more and do it yourself, or figure it out by reading my blogs and still do it yourself. Either way, I am hoping that you take the time to improve your website and when you need help (or have a friend who does) that you will remember how you learned all this awesome SEO magic.An SEO website=happy search engines= + visibility=+ consumers see you. SCORE! Click To Tweet
So, with that being said, I often write blogs on how to optimize a WordPress website and the tools that can help with that process. I recently mentioned ‘Yoast SEO’ as one of those tools that can help. Yoast recently underwent some major changes and had some hiccups but the bottom line is, change happens so we must go with it. That being said, this post is geared towards the recent modifications. Please note that I have Version 3.0.7 and yes, it’s the free version, because we love FREE. If you opted not to update or haven’t, then yours might be a little different, but the principle is the same.
Be careful with trusting Yoast responses with your info
Now, I’m not saying Yoast is bad and not to use it, because as I said, I use it. But consider – ANY tool is only as good as the info/data that is fed into it. Now I’m going to explain how this also applies to Yoast SEO and how to use it. Yoast provides little red, yellow/orange and green lights – to mimic the traffic light and whether your content meets the checks.
Let me share with you a not great example so you can see quicker where I am going. My most recent blog was about ‘Making your Content Skimmable’. I personally don’t use the focus keyword because I know what I am doing and my focus, however, let’s just say that I used the focus keyword as ‘skimmable’. I get 3 red lights, 1 yellow and 8 green lights. While that may seem better than it is worse, what am I
focusing on – skimmable and what is my focus of this blog? My blog is trying to tell people to make their blogs look good with header tags, different styles, use white space and pictures… that people don’t read it all the time, so make it look good and make it easy to skim. Is skim a keyword that I want to be ranked for? Not really. So are you seeing how getting 8 green lights, 3 red and 1 yellow, in this case isn’t as good as we might have thought?
Another case in point, I changed the focus to basketweaving.. which, if you read the blog, has NOTHING to do with my blog. I know for a fact, that word is NOT in my blog, at all and I got 5 red, 2 yellow and 5 green. I then tried to use a few other keywords, like heading, readability and even optimization and I
don’t get an overall green.
Sometimes you just aren’t going to get all green, it’s okay
You have to be okay with not getting an overall green or all green if you are using the focus and here’s why?
- It is better to have a catchy title than to have one that is keyword stuffed or at the frontFront loaded focus keywords are better, and while I agree, sometimes it just isn’t natural
- Subheadings are intended to help the consumer know what the next paragraph is and break up the text, your focus keyword might not be in any of them.
- This goes for the description too
- You might have content on another page that has the same keyword in it, and linked to it and that is so you can share other blogs and info with the consumer on your website. So what if we have the same focus as on another blog? The point is to keep the reader on your website with more information, if they’ll read it.
- Because it is the focus, the keyword density may be low, which is okay because you are writing to the consumer and sometimes other words might need to be used
- Never used focus keyword before? I got a green for this one, well duh, because it wasn’t relevant (basketweaving) so I got a green, but had no value, zip, zero!
That was just a few of the things that are okay if you get them and my reasoning why… however, I want you to consider the things that you should be looking for.A tool can only be as good as what you put in it. #justsayin Click To Tweet
What you DO need to focus on
Now that we focused on some of the things you might get red, yellow or green for, that in my opinion might not be as noteworthy, depending upon the score you get, let’s look at the things you really need to be sure to get. (with or without red, green, yellow)
- Be sure you have a quality title and meta description
- catchy to draw the attention of the reader
- keyword rich but natural over spammy
- title within the limitation of at least 40 but no more than 70 characters (with spaces)
- description within the limitations, less than 160 characters (with spaces)
- You need to have enough keyword rich content
- Yoast says at least 300 though I would say 500+, at least get the point across
- You should naturally be using keywords that are important to you which helps with your keyword density, using a variety of forms of your words, but again, natural over spammy
- Make it pretty
- People are visual – have at least one complimentary image
- Be sure all of your images have alt tags
- Keep your content skimmable so folks can read what they want and browse your content easily
- This means to use white space and heading tags (h1, h2, each)
- Typically the important stuff is at the top. Of course you want to draw the reader and they read the who thing, but in case they don’t, they can find what they want
- Allow consumers the opportunity to read more about it or use other blogs to explain points you don’t have the time to in this blog (ie – there are several in this blog)
- This is to keep the reader on your website and help to further educate them about your topic, and industry.
- Plus, people learn differently, visuals, videos, how to screen captures or just saying it another way, so a similar blog might be what the reader needs.
In a perfect world, your keywords are in your url, your title, your description and several places, in several tenses and various references in your content, with a few links to other blogs, with 500-1500 words, using title and meta descriptions within their character limitations, using pictures that have alt tags, headings to make the content more skimmable and the reader.. well, they read the whole blog AND buy your product and service. Well, we can’t have it all… but best to do what we can, that is natural, right?
YOAST IS A GREAT TOOL, this post wasn’t to bash Yoast, but consider what it is measuring and YOU focus on your keywords and catching the attention of the reading in using your title, meta title, descriptions and etc. Just don’t be so hard on yourself if you aren’t getting an overall green score or getting mostly green.. it is ok! It was meant to be a guideline for those who are less familiar. If you have been following me for awhile, you read to the end AND you already got the gist! 😉