The most common plug-in that bloggers use for their SEO is Yoast SEO. It’s great because it’s super user friendly, effective, and free. Once you’ve got the plug-in installed and activated on your self-hosted WordPress blog, you’ll see it directly under your editor when adding new posts.
When you start working on a post, Yoast will automatically start analyzing your content. The above screenshot was taken when I only had the first three paragraphs written and well before I went through and optimized this post for search engines.
WRITE TO INFORM, EDIT TO OPTIMIZE.
That is the best advice that I can possibly give you. When you are writing content focus on making it ridiculously helpful and thorough and don’t even begin to worry about it’s SEO. That comes in editing.
When you’re writing just keep these three things in mind:
- Keep it spicy. You don’t want your post to read like a textbook, people will get bored.
- Long-form content rules. Part of being ridiculously helpful is being ridiculously thorough. I could advise you on SEO in a 400 word post, but I’d only be hitting the tip of the ice berg. Long posts help readers and help your SEO.
- The enter key is your friend. Big walls of texts are scary. Terrifying, even. By breaking up your paragraphs you will be:
- keeping it spicy
- making your post easier to read
YOU WROTE YOUR POST, HOORAY! TIME FOR SEO.
Ok, so now that you’ve written your post it’s time to go back and pick out a keyword for it. Choosing a keyword can be tricky. If it’s too broad of a keyword, it’s unlikely you’ll ever rank; if it’s too narrow you aren’t going to get many searches.
Lets say that you wrote a post about crocheting an infinity scarf. Personally I’d use ‘crochet an infinity scarf’ as my keyword (keywords can be phrases, y’all!) because if somebody wants to crochet an infinity scarf, they’ll probably be googling, ‘how to crochet an infinity scarf.’ Technically ‘an’ is considered a ‘stop word’ for SEO and isn’t going to be used by Google crawlers, but I always add it regardless.
Now finding a keyword for more complicated posts is a bit more tricky. Back in the day I used to write the most incredibly detailed, broad posts in the world. I’m talking 6000 words covering 4 vaguely related topics (This is a no-no, break them up into four narrow posts!) Finding keywords was a pain for these, and I’d usually end up using something vague like ‘blogging.’
It’s no surprise that before those posts met their untimely demise, they never ranked on Google. With a lack of focus, a jumbled mess of organization, and an ineffective keyword they were doomed from the start.
Keywords matter, friends!
A good keyword is going to be something that people will search for that doesn’t have a ton of competition. Google Adwords is another great resource for figuring out keywords. I am going to have a big post out on Adwords next week, but in the meantime here is what you need to know:
- Yes, they ask for your payment information. No, you won’t be charged. Just don’t activate any campaigns!
- Go to tools and then to keyword planner, this tool gives me life!
- Type in what your post is about and wabam! You have a list of keywords, how often they’re searched for, and what the competition level is.
From that you can see that ‘infinity scarf tutorial’ is probably the best option for you. But I’d also note that I should do another post on how to knit an infinity scarf because there’s a high demand there with low competition.
COOL! NOW WHAT?
Alright, you’ve chosen your keyword and added it to your plug-in. Fab! Now we are going to let Yoast analyze our post and make changes where needed.
Ideally, the picture above is what you want to see before hitting publish. Of course I’d be lying if I said that I was always 100% green, but it’s what I aim for! Really once you’ve chosen your keyword, it’s pretty simple to optimize your post. You’re just going to want to focus on the red and orange points and fix them.
A big one is keyword density. If your not green there it’s an easy fix. Just go into your post and see where you can naturally interject your keyword. To stick with the crocheting example: Let’s say you choose ‘crochet an infinity scarf’ as your keyword and you need to stick it in your post a few more times.
Do a ‘control F’ and type in ‘scarf’ and see how many times it pops up. If you see somewhere that you said ‘make a scarf’ change ‘make’ to ‘crochet.’ The most important thing is that you focus on making it flow. Don’t compromise the integrity of the post that you worked so hard on just for SEO!
RANK ON GOOGLE.
So you’ve done the hard part! Your post is optimized and your stoplight is green. You can hit publish and call it a day, or you can give your post an extra oomph and promote it on social media. I recommend doing that as soon as you hit publish (there’s no time like the present!) and getting it out of the way. Getting more traffic and more shares to your post is going to give you a lot more Google juice!