Do you want to increase chances people click on your page in the search results? Want to learn how to get those awesome rich snippets? Next week, we’ll launch our Structured data training. In this new training, you’ll learn how structured data can influence the appearance of your pages in the search results. After completing this course, you’ll be able to add structured data yourself, so Google can show a rich snippet.

Why take our structured data training?

A normal snippet of a recipe looks like this:

You see a title, a URL and a description of a page. If you add structured data to your page, Google (or another search engine) can transform your snippet into this:

So the structured data you add can show up in the snippet. For recipes you can add ratings and reviews, cooking time, calories and an awesome picture. Not only for recipes, but also for books, movies, articles, products etc. structured data exists.

Rich snippets let your page stand out from the other search results in Google. And if your page stands out in the search results, chances are much higher people will click on it.

Is adding structured data hard?

Adding structured data is not very hard, but you do need to know what you’re doing. After some training, everyone should be able to add structured data and get rewarded with those desired rich snippets!

We’ve created a very practical online training in which we take you through all the steps of adding structured data to a site. We’ll first explain the theory and then we’ll show you screencasts that will guide you through the steps you need to take. We’ll discuss multiple strategies you can use to add structured data to a website. Some strategies are more advanced (and more daunting) than others. At the end of the course, you’ll be able to add structured data in multiple ways. Just choose which strategy fits you best and start working on those awesome rich snippets yourself!

Want to buy our course?

The structured data training will be available as of June 29. You can purchase the course for the introductory price of $119 until July 2. You’ll get access to over 75 minutes of training videos, lots and lots of reading material and challenging quiz questions. If you finish our course, you’ll receive a certificate and a badge to put on your site. If you buy one of our courses, you’ll also get access to the Yoast Updates. These updates keep you in the loop about new trends in SEO and WordPress every 3 months.

Want to know more?

Check out the Structured data training and make sure you won’t miss the launch by subscribing to our newsletter!

Not the right training for you? We offer lots of other SEO courses. See which one fits your needs best!

You might have heard about structured data, schema.org and JSON-LD. But what do these terms mean exactly? What is structured data? What does structured data do? And what does it have to do with SEO?  For all of you who don’t know what structured data is: this post will make it clear to you! 

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What is structured data?

Structured data is code. It’s a piece of code that you can put on your website. It’s code in a specific format, written in such a way that search engines understand it. Search engines read the code and use it to display search results in a specific way.

Imagine you have a website with a lot of recipes. If you add structured data to a page with a recipe, your result in the search engines will change. It will be much “richer” in terms of content that’s shown. That’s the reason we call these results rich snippets. This is what a rich snippet looks like:

Besides the title, the URL and the description of the search result, you can see how long it will take to make the absolute best ever lasagna. And, you’ll see how many calories the lasagne contains. You need to add structured data to your web page to get such a rich snippet.

There are all kinds of structured data. Structured data is always a code format. There’s structured data for books, for reviews, for movies, and for products in your online store, for instance. In all cases, structured data adds more details to your snippet in the search results.

We have to make one side note here. Unfortunately Google does not always create a rich snippet of your page, even if you’ve added the structured data. There are no guarantees. So all you can do, is add it to your page, and hope Google will pick it up!

What do you do with structured data?

With structured data, you can “talk” to the search engines. You can tell the search engines which ingredients there are in your recipe, you can tell them how long the preparation time is and you can tell them how many calories the dish will contain. Google will be able to instantly grasp all that information and can decide to show it in the search results.

So structured data is a tool you can use to tell Google (in a way it totally understands what you’re saying) detailed information about a page on your website. Google then will be able to use this information to create informative (rich) search results. And audiences love these rich snippets!

What is schema.org?

The big search engines have developed the project schema.org. On schema.org you can find all the structured data markup supported by the search engines. This makes Schema.org is a really large taxonomy of pieces of code.

You can use schema.org to find the markup you need for your specific page. For instance, if you sell t-shirt on your site, you could show what color t-shirts you sell and what sizes you offer in your snippet. You should investigate schema.org/Product and find out the possibilities.

On schema.org, you can copy exact code examples. After copying it, you’ll have to adapt the code to your own specific preferences.

Schema.org is a taxonomy of code formats that the large search engines understand. You’ll find examples of how the code looks like. There are other forms of structured data as well. For instance Open Graph (used by Facebook) and Twitter cards (used by Twitter).

What is JSON-LD?

JSON-LD is one of the markups of Schema.org. It’s just a way to write code. On schema.org, you’ll also find other mark-ups like Microdata or RDFa. At Yoast, we’ll advise you to always use JSON-LD, because it does not break your site as easily as other markups do. You can – relatively easily – add JSON-LD to your website using Google Tag Manager. That’s not possible with the other markups.

Why is structured data important for SEO?

Structured data is important for SEO because it’ll make it easier for Google to grasp what your pages and your website are about. Google needs to find out what a page is about to show it in the search results. Using structured data is like talking to Google, telling Google what your site is about. That’ll help with your rankings.

On top of that, structured data will change the way your snippet (your search results) will look like. It’ll show more information to your customer. More specific information. And this will increase the likelihood a customer will click on your results. More clicks will eventually lead to even higher rankings!

How to use structured data?

Using structured data sounds hard, but everyone can do it (with the proper training). You have to get the right code, you’ll have to adapt that code and you’ll need to use Google Tag Manager to put it on your site.

Currently we’re working on a practical training to help you get structured data on your site! You’ll learn how structured data works and how to implement it with Google Tag Manager yourself. So keep an eye on our newsletter if you don’t want to miss it. 

We already have written a lot of post about schema.org and JSON-LD, which will help you to understand more about this subject.

No code hero? Use a plugin!

A lot of structured data markup can also be added to your website using plugins. Our local SEO plugin, for instance, uses structured data to show the location or multiple locations of your store. You don’t have to write code to get that rich snippet, you’ll just use our plugin, fill out some details and we’ll do it for you. And there are many more plugins that’ll help you to use structured data without need to struggle with any code!

Read more: ‘Structured data: the ultimate guide’ »

Writing blog posts can be big fun. For some of you, blogging can be quite a challenge as well. What should you write about? What to do if you’re out of inspiration? How do you get engagement on your blog posts? And how do you market and monetize your blog? This ultimate guide covers all important aspects of blogging. 

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Why blog?

If you have a website, you should blog. At least every now and then. Blogging is great for SEO and it’s a valuable marketing tool. On top of that, it can be great fun!

Blogging for SEO

Adding content on a regular basis should be part of every sustainable SEO strategy. It allows you to rank for new keywords and to keep ranking for those you’re already found for. If you blog regularly, Google will regard your site as active, alive and relevant. This will definitely help your rankings.

Blogging as a marketing tool

A blog is a great marketing tool for every website. In your blog, you can tell readers about your brand, your products and perhaps even about yourself. Maintaining a blog also allows your readers to get more acquainted with your brand and your products.

Read more: ‘To blog or not to blog’ »

Setting up a new blog

If you’re just starting a new blog, it pays off to think a little bit before you start. Just take some time to contemplate about your niche and to do some proper keyword research. And don’t forget to structure your blog in a smart way. It will save you a lot of work later on, if you first think through how you want to set up your blog.

Keep reading: ‘How to start a blog’ »

What to blog about?

You can’t blog without ideas. And you’ll need a lot of ideas to maintain a successful blog. But how do you come up with all these ideas?

Keyword research

You’ll have to decide what terms you want to be found for before you start writing content. To decide that, you’ll have to get inside people’s heads and find out what words they use while searching. Eventually, you can use exactly these terms in your content and make sure you start ranking for them. Keyword research is the first step in SEO copywriting and an essential part of any SEO strategy.

Read on: ‘Keyword research: the Ultimate Guide’ »

If you’ve done your keyword research properly, you’ll end up with a long list of keywords you’ll be writing content about. A word is not yet a topic though. Besides a keyword you’ll need an angle or a specific story around a keyword to write a blog post.

Inspiration for your post?

Current events, your own work, and comments of your readers can give you inspiration for new blog posts. Reading a lot is also a good idea to find inspiration. Read magazines, newspapers, and other blogs. Tip: keep a list of ideas for new blog posts on your mobile phone. Inspiration comes when you least expect it.

Read more: ‘5 tips to get inspiration for your blog’ »

How to write a high-quality blog post?

Writing requires some skills. For some people, writing is really hard, while for others it just comes naturally. Below we’ll provide some tips to make the writing process easier. But first, we’ll describe two important aspects of high-quality blog post, originality and readability:

Original content

Your blog post should always contain original content. It should be fresh, new and original. Your post should be different from all the other blog posts and articles about the same topic that are already on the internet. It should be something that people will want to read.

Keep reading: ‘The importance of original content for SEO’ »

 

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Readable content

After you’ve written a post with original content, you should make sure it’s readable too: your article should be easy to read. Readability is important for your audience. If your text is well structured and clearly written, people will understand the message of your text. On top of that, readability is also important for SEO. People read your text, but Google reads texts too. If your text has the characteristics of a text that is easy to read, like a clear structure with subheadings and logical paragraphs, it’ll have a higher chance to rank in the search engines.

Read on: ‘Does readability rank?’ »

Practical tips on how to write awesome blog posts

Think before you write

Before you start writing, take a little time to think about what you want to write. Who is your audience? What do you want to tell your audience? What do you want them to know, to understand or to do after they read your blog post? Which topics do you want to cover in your blog post? And in what order? Answering these questions will help you to write better articles.

Read more: ‘How to start writing a blog post’ »

Write clear paragraphs

We would advise you always to start your paragraph with the most important sentence. Then explain or elaborate on that sentence. This way a reader will be able to grasp the most relevant content from your article, just by reading the first sentences of your paragraphs. Don’t make your paragraphs too long; 7 or 8 sentences is quite long already. Think about the order of your paragraphs, they should follow each other logically.

Keep reading: ‘Practical tips to set up a clear text structure’ »

Get help and ask feedback

Our Yoast SEO plugin helps you to write readable posts. Our readability analysis checks, for instance, whether you’re using too many long sentences and whether you’re using transition words. This can be a great help in writing readable blog posts.

In addition to using a writing tool like our readability analysis, you should always make sure that someone proofreads your blog post. A fresh pair of eyes will at least help getting typos corrected and you’ll know if someone else understood everything you wanted to say in your article.

Read on: ‘5 tips to write readable blogposts’ »

Optimize blog posts for the search engines

After you’ve written a blog post that’s both original as well as readable, you should make sure your content is optimized for the search engines. You should maximize the likelihood Google picks up your content. It’s important that you take this final step after you’ve written an original and readable post. SEO should never compromise the originality of your idea nor the readability of your text though.

content analysis yoast seo

Yoast SEO can help you tweak your text. The red and orange bullets will indicate which aspects of your findability need some more attention. Our plugin perhaps suggests using your focus keyword a little bit more often. Maybe, you should put it in the first paragraph or in one of the headings. Yoast SEO will help you to optimize your snippet preview as well.

Read more: ‘Use Yoast SEO to make your content findable’ »

Blog engagement

Blog engagement is an important factor for SEO. If your audience leaves comments on your blog (and you respond to these comments), Google will notice that your blog is very much alive and active. And of course, mentions on social media will also help with your blog’s ranking. If people share your post on social media, or talk about it online, this will definitely lead to more traffic.

An essential aspect of blog engagement is handling the comments on your blog. You should reserve some time to handle those comments. Answering questions and providing correct responses in a discussion can take a lot of time. Handling positive feedback and answering questions is relatively easy, while negative feedback can be a bit harder. Read our post about how to handle comments for more information and practical tips.

Marketing your blog

If you’re writing posts for your blog, you want an audience. Nobody wants to perform in an empty room! Ranking high in search engines by doing your SEO flawlessly will, of course, help. But you can do more.

Social media and newsletters

Social media are important marketing instruments for your blog. Definitely set up a Facebook page and create a Twitter account. If you’re focussing on a young audience, you’ll need Instagram and Snapchat as well.

Also, think about newsletters. Try to collect an audience that wants to stay informed and email them regularly.

Keep reading: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Monetizing your blog

If your audience is growing due to great SEO and marketing strategies, this doesn’t necessarily mean that profit (if you’re making money with your blog) from your blog is also growing. For many bloggers, making money is not the primary goal. Still, you can make money with a blog. Advertising, affiliate marketing, and writing promoted posts are the most well-known strategies to make money with a blog. But you could also think about selling your own stuff.

Read on: ‘Monetizing your blog’ »

Maintaining a blog

Starting a blog is easier than maintaining a blog. It can be a lot of work to write blog posts on a regular basis. You don’t have to blog every day, but you should decide on a frequency and stick to it. That way, your audience will know what to expect from you. Blogging requires some discipline.

As your blog starts to grow, you’ll probably face new SEO problems. How do you keep coming up with new content?  How do you manage different authors? And how will you keep the structure of your blog in shape? 

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Site structure of a growing blog

When your blog is growing, you have to analyze the structure of your blog on a very regular basis. Organize your categories, subcategories and tags well. As your blog is growing, the structure will change and evolve. As long as you stay on top of that, your structure will remain SEO-friendly!

Content planning of a growing blog

As your blog gets bigger and attracts a larger audience, content writing becomes content planning and content managing. On larger blogs, a team of authors usually works together. Blogs are written by individual authors, but these authors still have to work together. Otherwise, a post with the exact same topic could appear twice. Or, authors could use a totally different style and tone of voice.

Read more: ‘Managing a growing blog: content planning’ »

Conclusion

Blogging is great. It can boost your rankings in Google, especially when you combine it with an in-depth keyword research strategy. Blogging is also an important and effective marketing tool. Use our tips to get started and to maintain your blog effectively. Happy blogging!

It can be really hard to come up with a topic for a blog post. When you finally found the perfect subject, you probably want to start writing immediately. But to write that perfect blog post, you should take some time to prepare it properly. Today, I’ll give some tips on how to begin your writing process. If you take some time and prepare your blog post adequately, your writing will be so much better! 

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Preparing takes time

The writing process can be divided into three phases. The actual writing is the second phase of your writing process and only takes up about 20% of the time. That is, if you’ve done the preparing phase properly.

Process of good writing explained in a picture: 40% prepaparation, 20% writing, 40% correcting

In my opinion, the preparing phase is the most fun! You can brainstorm, try out things and be creative in this phase. So, although it may seem like this preparing-stuff is just holding you back from the actual writing, you should think of it as the most creative and fun phase. And the most important phase!

Brainstorm

Always start a blog post with a brainstorm. Once you’ve decided on the topic of your post, you should make a list of all the things you would like to address in your post. Don’t be critical in this phase. Just write down anything you come up with. You always can cross off the ‘not so good ideas’ later on.

What is your message?

What is the one thing you want your readers to remember after they’ve read your post? What’s the most important thing you want to say? The answer to these questions is the message of your post. You should write that message down. This is the key information of your blog post. That message should eventually come in the first paragraph of your blog post.

Write a little bit

Although the actual writing comes in the second phase of the writing process, you should definitely write some sentences. Try to find the right words for your topic and for your audience. Try to write some beautiful sentences. I wouldn’t advise you to try to write the first sentence of a blog post in this phase, but you could write a few sentences of an important paragraph. Playing around with words will help you to find the tone of your blog post.

Structure, structure, structure

The most important thing you should do in the preparing phase of writing a blog post is to come up with the structure of your text. At the end of the preparing phase, you should end up with the skeleton of your blog post. What subjects will you address in what order?

After you’ve brainstormed about the topic, you’ll probably end up with a long list of things you would like to address in your blog post. Read through your list, cross of the things you’re not totally sure about and try to see whether or not topics resemble each other. Bundle similar topics. After that, you should think about the order you want to discuss your topics. Make sure you discuss things in a way people understand. Subjects and paragraphs should follow each other in a logical order.

Before I start the actual writing process, I usually have a list with paragraphs. For every paragraph I also have a short description of the things I would like to discuss and the examples I would like to use. In some cases, I already formulated some nice sentences for every paragraph as well.

Hit that keyboard!

Preparing your blog post can be real fun. I really enjoy this phase the most. If you’ve thought your post through it’s time to turn to the next phase and hit that keyboard. Go write your post!

After writing your post, you’re inevitable going to end up in the correcting phase. Very important. Totally hate that phase.

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

Cornerstone articles should be the best and most complete articles on your website. That means that you should make an effort to make this article as awesome as possible. Raise your normal standards and write extraordinary cornerstones. To help you create excellent cornerstone articles, we developed a special cornerstone analysis. 

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Why do you need a separate analysis?

Of course, our default SEO and readability analysis already helps you to write awesome articles. So why do you need a separate analysis for cornerstones? The answer to this question is that for cornerstone articles you should raise the bar. Your cornerstones should be the best. They should be better than your other articles and the demands on your writing should be higher. Our cornerstone analysis will help you to raise your standards (and stick to it). It will be harder to score that green bullet. You have to do all important things right!

What does the cornerstone analysis do?

You know our green bullets, right? In our default analysis, we check whether or not your post is readable and SEO-friendly. The cornerstone analysis is an adaptation of the default SEO analysis. In the cornerstone analysis we’ve set higher standards. A number of checks in both the readability analysis as well as the SEO analysis has been adapted in Yoast SEO 4.8.

How does it work?

If you’re working on a cornerstone, you should indicate so by checking the cornerstone box. If you checked the box, the default analysis will automatically change into the cornerstone analysis.

cornerstone analysis yoast seo

Which checks are adapted?

We adapted 2 readability checks and 8 SEO checks to come to the cornerstone analysis. You’ll need to use enough subheadings and make sure to write in rather short sentences to receive a green bullet in the readability analysis. Cornerstone articles are usually long and therefore a bit harder to read. Subheadings and short sentences will help people to read all the way through the end.

Most important adaptation in the SEO checks is the demand for a lengthy article. Cornerstones should be informative and complete. They just need to be long. In order to score a green bullet on text length, you’ll need to write an article of at least 900 words.

The other checks we adapted for cornerstone articles are:

  • keyword in subheading;
  • meta description length;
  • title width;
  • images;
  • links;
  • URL keyword;
  • URL links.

We’re just a bit stricter concerning these checks. To score a green bullet, you need get all of these right: use keywords in the subheadings, write an awesome meta description, use your keyword in the URL and make sure your images are optimized properly. For cornerstones you just need to go all the way. These are the articles you would like to rank with, so make sure you give them the very best chances.

Check out the internal linking tool

Cornerstone articles are an essential aspect of your SEO strategy. You should make sure to embed these articles correctly into your site structure to get the most out of a cornerstone approach. The Yoast SEO premium plugin can help you do this. Our internal linking tool suggests which articles you should be linking to when you’re writing a new post. Cornerstone articles actually get a priority in the internal linking tool as these are the articles you want to be linking to:

Priority cornerstone articles yoast seo premium

Optimize your cornerstones!

So go ahead and start optimizing your cornerstone articles to make them rank higher. Use the new free cornerstone analysis in Yoast SEO as a guide to find out which aspects of the article you could improve. And if you want to take it a step further, get Premium to help you do some sophisticated internal linking. Good luck!

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

If you’re thinking about starting a blog, the most important thing I have to say to you is: go for it! Start your blog! Just do it! Blogging is a great SEO strategy, it’s a wonderful marketing tool and blogging is lots of fun! A new blog will allow you to make smart and strategic choices. Just take a little time to think about how to set up your blog before you begin, so you’ll have less work later on. Let me share some tips with you on how to start a blog.

Choose your niche

You should always write about what you know. But you should not write about everything you know. Pick a niche. Decide upon a main topic and write posts related to that topic. It’s more likely that your audience will come back and read your other posts if you’re writing about similar topics. People will know what to expect. Starting a mom blog implies that you write about all things concerning your children and family life. Starting a travel blog implies you write about traveling. You can write about something slightly off topic once in a while of course, but try to stick to your niche. An audience of a travel blog doesn’t expect a blog post about gardening. 

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Do your keyword research

Once you’ve chosen your niche, you should do some solid keyword research. Try to find out what people are searching for. What words are they using when they want to read about your niche and your topic? You should really get inside the heads of your potential audience. If you do your keyword research properly, you should end up with a long lists of keywords you would like to be found for. Try to come up with competitive, head keywords as well as with less competitive long-tail keywords.

Read more: ‘How to start your keyword research’ »

Think about site structure

This is the best time to think about site structure. What categories are popular in your niche? What are the most important head keywords you’d like to rank for? You should write a long, kick-ass article about each of these keywords. Those will be your most essential articles, or in other words, your cornerstone content. You should give those articles a prominent place on your site.

After you’ve written those beautiful cornerstone articles, write lots of blog posts on sub topics of that main topic and always link to your cornerstones. That way, you’ll be telling Google exactly what the most important articles on your website are.

Keep reading: ‘What is cornerstone content?’ »

Write that first post

Take some time to do keyword research and to think about site structure. But don’t take too much time. Just write that first post! Put pen to paper and just do it. Your blog starts with the very first post. That post doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be published. Need some help to get started? Check out our 10 tips on how to make your post awesome.

Pictures and videos

Writing blog post is more than writing a nice story; a successful blog has pictures and videos as well. Every post should show at least one image. Taking nice photos yourself is a great way of creating images and making short videos is a really good blogging strategy as well. Especially if you’re blogging about (aspects) of your own life, photos of it are a necessity.

Read on: ‘Images for blogs’ »

Optimize for the search engines

Before publishing your post, optimize it using Yoast SEO (on WordPress of course, but on Magento and TYPO3 now too!). Don’t forget to create an awesome SEO title and a decent snippet. Finetune your text. Make sure your text is both readable as well as SEO-friendly.

Read more: ‘How to use the content & SEO analysis of Yoast SEO’ »

Promote your blog

Using social media is the best way to reach and grow the audience of your blog. That’s why your blog should have a Facebook page. Sharing your posts on Facebook is a good marketing strategy. Don’t forget Instagram and Twitter either!

In addition to the use of social media to promote your blog, we advise you send out a digital newsletter. Let people sign up for it and send out emails with your latest blog posts and some other fun facts.

Keep reading: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Stick with it!

The most important thing to start a blog – besides setting up your new blog – is to write that very first blog post. Once you’ve written that first post, your blog has started. You should keep on writing blog posts to make it successful, so try to determine a frequency to publish new posts. You don’t have to blog every day, once a week or maybe even once in every two weeks would be a nice frequency to start with. Find a frequency you can stick with! Your audience will know what to expect, if your blogging frequency is stable.

Read on: ‘Blog SEO: make people stay and read your post’ »

Cornerstone articles are those articles that are most important to your website. These are the articles you would like to rank high in the search engines. Cornerstone articles are usually explainers; relatively long articles combining insights from different blog posts.

Perhaps you never thought about cornerstone articles before, even if you have your website for quite some time already. Still, you have a few articles that do really well in the search engines. How should you decide which articles are your cornerstones? And once you’ve identified your cornerstone content, what should you do to optimize these articles? Here, I’ll help you to determine which articles are your cornerstones and I’ll give some tips to optimize them to increase their chance of ranking. 

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5 steps towards a pragmatic cornerstone approach

Ideally, you should do extensive keyword research, after which you can produce really awesome, long, informative and beautifully written cornerstone articles. But you’ve probably written tons of articles already. Follow these five steps to turn some into killer cornerstone content:

Step 1: Think about your keywords

You have to determine the essential keywords you want to rank for. Make sure you use the words your audience search for. Trying to rank for words nobody uses, is utterly useless. Your cornerstone articles should be optimized for the most ‘head’ or most competitive keywords you’re aiming for.

Read more: ‘Keyword research: the complete guide’ »

Step 2: Choose the best post

Go through the posts that are optimized for keywords closest to the most important, most competitive keywords. Which post do you think is the best? That’ll be your cornerstone from now on!

Step 3: Rewrite it

Rewrite your cornerstone article. Make it awesome and SEO-friendly. Expand it and make sure it’s totally up to date. You should check it and expand that article regularly. Make sure that this article covers all the information that is relevant to that topic.

Also, make sure the article is incredibly nice and easy to read. Reading from a screen is challenging. Cornerstone articles tend to be longer than regular articles. You should, therefore, focus even more on readability. Think about the structure of your text, present topics in a logical order, write clear and short paragraphs.

Keep reading: ‘5 tips for a readable blogpost’ »

Step 4: Optimize your other posts on long tail variants

Once you’ve chosen and improved your cornerstone content article, you should pay some attention to the blog posts that are about similar topics as your cornerstone article. These other blog posts should be optimized for long tail variants of the ‘head’ keyword you’re focusing on in your cornerstone article. So, if the keyword of your cornerstone article is ‘ballet shoes’, the keywords of the other blog post could be: ‘ballet shoes for kids’, ‘cheap ballet shoes’, ‘classical ballet shoes’ and ‘ballet shoes for men’.

Read on: ‘Why you should focus on long tail keywords’ »

Step 5: Linking from those tails to your head

An important reason why you should use a cornerstone content approach is because you do not want to compete with your own content for ranking in Google. That’s why you have to tell Google that your new cornerstone article is the most important one on your site. You can do that by linking from all the long tail articles to your cornerstone article!

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

Every SEO strategy is focused on ranking as high as possible in the search engines. To do this, we all try to design and develop a website that Google’s secret algorithm will love. That’s basically what SEO is about. The factors in Google’s algorithm can be divided into two categories which will determine the ranking of your website: on-page factors and off-page factors. Here, I’ll discuss the differences between the two, explain the importance of on-page SEO and go over the most essential on-page SEO factors.

On-page and off-page SEO

On-page factors all have to do with elements of your own website. On-page factors include technical set-up – the quality of your code – textual and visual content and user-friendliness of your site. On the other side there are off-page factors, like links from other websites, social media attention and other marketing activities outside your own website. If you focus on off-page SEO you mostly aim to get more links to your site. The more relevant links you get, the higher your ranking in Google will be. Want to get more links to your site? Read our series about link building.

Importance of on-page SEO

On-page SEO consists of all the elements of SEO you can control best. If you own a website, you can control the technical issues and the quality of your content. We believe on-page issues should all be tackled as they’re in your own hands. If you create an awesome website, it will definitely start ranking. Focusing on on-page SEO will also increase the probability that your off-page SEO strategy will be successful. Link building with a crappy site is a very tough job. Nobody wants to link to articles that are badly written or boring.

New to SEO? Learn the Basics of SEO in our Basic SEO course »

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Essential on-page SEO factors

In our view, there are three major on-page SEO factors. These three pillars are the ones you should focus on:

Technical excellence

The quality of your code should be high. Check if you’re not unintentionally blocking crawlers from indexing your website (we still see this happening!). WordPress is an SEO-friendly platform and our free Yoast SEO plugin takes care of most remaining technical SEO challenges, without you even noticing it. So if you’re using WordPress and configured Yoast SEO well, you’ll have most technical aspects of your on-page SEO covered.

Want to dive deeper into the technical side of SEO? Read our articles on technical SEO or take the Technical SEO 1 training.

Awesome content

Why do people visit your site? Most likely because it contains information they’re looking for. Therefore you should write excellent content. Search engines like Google read your text. Which site ranks highest is for a large part based on the content of a website. That content should be about the right keywords, informative, and easy to read.

Learn all about writing high-quality content in our Ultimate Guide to SEO copywriting or get our Content SEO eBook.

Flawless UX

The third and final pillar is User eXperience. Users need to easily understand your website. They should be able to find what they want in a heartbeat. They should know where to click and how to navigate through your site. And it should be fast! A beautifully designed website is nice, but you should definitely make it your top priority to create a user-friendly website first!

Read more about usability here. If you want to learn more about combining SEO, UX and conversion we’d advise you to read our eBook ‘UX and Conversion from an holistic point of view

Read more: ‘SEO basics: what does Google do’ »

SEO can be really complicated! How do you start with improving the structure of a site? How do you write amazing and SEO-friendly articles? To help all of you with your SEO strategy, I’m writing a series of Ask Yoast case studies. In these case studies, I’ll take a look at a specific site (the owner knows about it of course :-)), and I’ll give some SEO advice. In this second case study: SEO of an online shop!

Ask Yoast Case studies

Want Marieke to look at the content of your site? Send an email to ask@yoast.com!

Improve the SEO of an online shop!

In this case study, the SEO of an online shop is the central topic. We were given the chance to take a look at the SEO of Knock Knock, independent makers of clever gifts, books, and whatever else they can think up.

The Knock Knock team didn’t have a specific question for us, so we just took a look at their website and give advice on how to improve the SEO

First impression of KnockKnock

I want to buy those notebooks! I want to have those pens! Great fill-out books! I love the products Knock Knock offers. It’s original, it’s fun and I really get some sort of brand-feeling if I browse through their website. Fantastic!

Technically, Knock Knock seems to be a solid site, which is great. Some general SEO quick wins would be: creating alt tags for images and adding meta descriptions to tag pages and on some category pages.

KnockKnock has a lot of potential to become really successful. Maybe they already are! I believe that with certain SEO improvements they could be generating even more traffic than they’re getting right now! 

Want to outrank your competitor and get more sales? Read our Shop SEO eBook! »

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Content content content

My initial thoughts for improvements when I saw this site were: 

“This site screams for a blog! Knock Knock’s products are very original and one-of-a-kind. Writing blog posts about, for instance, how to use these products and why you would need them, won’t be hard at all! Blogging is a great way to promote your stuff and to show to your audience how to use your products. In case of this specific online shop, I’d post lots of photos too.

For SEO reasons, starting a blog is very important too. Knock Knock doesn’t show a lot of content on their site. It’s an online shop with quite some products and, therefore, product pages, but the copy on these pages is quite short. That’ll make it hard to rank high in Google. Blogging, or in other words, publishing fresh content on a regular basis, will definitely improve the SEO of this online shop.

I would advise Knock Knock to start with some solid keyword research. Maybe they’ve already done some research. Which words do they want to be found for? After that, they should start creating some real quality content. I’d love to read blog posts about the origin, benefits or appliance of their products. They do have nice product reviews written by their audience, perhaps these reviews could serve as a starting point for a blog post.

KnockKnock sells products that are quite witty. I’m sure their blog could be entertaining too. Apart from a great SEO strategy, an entertaining blog would also be a kickass marketing strategy!”

After showing the draft of this post to KnockKnock they got back to me telling that they already have a blog! So I had rework my advice a bit… I started with checking out their blog first, where they write about the origin and creators of the products, the use of the products and more fun stuff. Their blog post are very original and entertaining! They also post quite regularly, a couple of times a month.

So now, my main advice is: make your blog more visible on your site! I noticed that we can easily get from your blog to your shop, but the other way around is a lot harder (or perhaps impossible?). I’d suggest to just add the blog in the top navigation of your site. That way, visitors can easily read more about your products, creators and all the nice things you do, apart from creating awesome products!

Read more: ‘5 tips to find inspiration for your blog’ »

Site structure

In case you would be starting a blog from scratch that would be quite hard. On the other hand, if you’re starting a blog, you do have the chance to create an ideal structure for it. Think about the topics you’d like to blog about. These could be the same as the product categories of your online shop, but it also could be different categories. Write a few long, really awesome, articles on each of these categories. These articles will be your cornerstone pages. Make sure to write lots of blog posts about similar topics (but all slightly different and more niche/long tail). And link from all of these articles to your most important cornerstone article. If you start your blog from scratch, make sure to structure it in an excellent way! Read more about this in our ultimate guide to site structure.

Conclusion

If you have an online shop that’s focused on an awesome niche like Knock Knock, your SEO will benefit most from a solid content strategy. Writing lots of texts, articles, posts will have an effect on your rankings. Besides that, it’ll be a great way of marketing your stuff. Combine your blog with an awesome social media strategy and you’ll increase both your rankings and sales!

Keep reading: ‘10 tips for an awesome and SEO friendly blog post’ »

If you’ve been using the readability analysis of Yoast SEO, you’ve probably noticed our check on the use of transition words. You might have been wondering: What are transition words exactly? Why did we include that check in our analysis? Or, to what extent are those words important for SEO? Here, I’ll explain everything about the relationship between transition words and SEO.

What are transition words?

Transition words are words like ‘most importantly’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’, or ‘besides that’. Using transition words well makes your text much more readable, as these words give direction to your readers. Using them is like pouring cement between your sentences: the relation between two sentences becomes apparent by the use of transition words. They send a signal to your readers that something is coming up, and prepare them for the next sentence.

If you’re summarizing a discourse, you probably use words like first, second, third, etc. Your readers will understand you’re summing up things if you use these words. If you want to compare certain matters, you could use words like same, less, rather, while or either. And if you want to conclude your story, you might use words as hence, consequently or therefore.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

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Tabel 1: Examples of transition words

Relation Example of transition words
Enumeration first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally
Cause because, so, due to, for the reason that
Comparison/contrast similarly, likewise, rather, while, in contrast
Conclusion as a result, hence, consequently, therefore
Fuzzy signals seems like, maybe, probably, almost
Emphasis above all, most noteworthy, certainly, even more

Using transition words probably is something you’ll do automatically. Everybody uses them. You just need these words to tell your story. However, we noticed that lots of people use too little transition words in their copy. That’ll make a text hard to read, especially if your audience is reading from a screen, which is hard anyway. That’s why we inserted the transition words check into our readability analysis.

Importance of transition words for SEO

So what’s the connection between transition words and SEO? Using more transition words in your copy won’t make your article reach a higher position in the search engines directly. It isn’t that simple. So, sorry about that. That being said, transition words do contribute to SEO in the long run, because they improve the readability and the structure of a text.

Transition words are of great significance for the readability of your text. If you use sufficient transition words, your text will become easier to read. And readability affects your SEO! Read all about that in our post about ranking and readability.

Transition words play a crucial role in structuring your text. This leads to better understanding of your text by your readers. Well-structured text helps to attract readers to your blog and contributes to SEO! Read more about that in our post about ranking and text structure.

Conclusion

You should write original articles: content that people actually like to read! And, on top of that, write readable articles! Always make sure that your articles are nice and easy to read. That’s why transition words are important: to make sure that your articles are a great read. When you’ve managed to do that, start optimizing your post to make it findable as well, without making any concessions to either the originality of your content, or the readability of your post. Good luck!

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »