Why storytelling is good for SEO

Once upon a time, there was this woman – let’s call her Mia – and she wanted to write beautiful stories for her blog. Mia noticed she was not getting much traffic from Google, while other bloggers seemed to attract a lot of visitors. She wondered what she was doing wrong. One day, at a blogging conference Mia heard about a wonderful thing called SEO. She learned that she should use the words her audience was using, she learned she needed to think about the words she wanted to be found for. And she needed to use those exact words. It was a game changer for Mia. After applying these tips, Mia attracted much more traffic to her blog. Eventually, she even started making money with her blog. Mia blogged happily ever after.  

Stories are nice to read. Storytelling is a great tactic. But what does it have to do with SEO? Is it a good idea to use storytelling if your main goal is to rank for a specific term? In this blog post, the fourth in a series about storytelling, I am going to explain how storytelling can be an effective SEO tactic.

Storytelling and SEO may seem counterintuitive

An important part of SEO is focused on using the right words – the words you want to be found for- in your text. But if you use storytelling, if you use metaphors.  If you tell a story by making an example, chances are that you are not using your focus keyphrase then.

At the beginning of the post you are reading right now, I shared a little story about Mia. In that story, I am not using my focus keyphrase – the words I want to rank with, with this particular post. I want to rank with ‘storytelling SEO’. But in the entire first paragraph, the word ‘storytelling’ does not pop up. That, in itself, is not beneficial for your SEO. The Yoast SEO plugin will definitely suggest using the focus keyword in your first paragraph. So, you’ll have one bullet that’ll not turn green. That’s okay. It is totally okay to have a paragraph – or two – that does not contain the focus keyphrase.

So why is storytelling a good SEO tactic?

Storytelling is good for SEO because it will make your post nice to read. And, creating content that people like is exactly what Google wants. If you’re writing blog posts people enjoy reading, you’ll increase your chances to rank high in Google. In my previous post about storytelling, I’ve explained how you can use storytelling in a blog post.

If people like your content, you’ll also have a higher chance that people will remain on your website. Your time on page increases and your bounce rate will decrease. These factors will help tremendously with the ranking of your post.

Next to making your blog post more fun to read, storytelling is beneficial for SEO for another reason. If people like your post, they’ll be more likely to engage with it. They’ll leave a comment; they’ll share it on their social platforms. That’ll already increase traffic to your post. But these things will also increase the likelihood Google will rank a post. Google loves content that is written with people in mind. Google will notice that people like to read your text and that will result in higher rankings in the long run.

Conclusion

Use little stories as metaphors and examples. It’ll make your content so much nicer to read. Don’t worry about having an orange or red bullet. As long as your overall bullet in Yoast SEO is green, it’ll work out fine. Stories are beneficial for your SEO, more beneficial than a perfect keyword density or keyword distribution. Storytelling will allow you to write content that is so good that people will want to stay on your page. That’s very, very good for SEO!

Read more: Using storytelling op product pages »

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Rank with that cornerstone content!

Cornerstone articles are those posts that are most important to you. The ones you really want to rank with. The posts that make people come back to your site or buy your stuff. But how do you get those cornerstone articles to end up high in the search engines? How do you get the most out of your cornerstone articles?

To rank with these articles, you need to make sure they’re the best articles you can write. You also need a kickass internal linking structure. Luckily, Yoast is there to help! In this post, I’ll explain just what cornerstone content is and how to rank with these articles! Are you struggling with implementing cornerstone content? Check out how Yoast SEO can help you with your cornerstone strategy!

What not to do when trying to rank

Before we cover what to do, let’s first briefly discuss what not to do, and how ranking works. Without a doubt the most common question we are asked is: “how do I make my site rank for keyword X?”. What most people don’t realize, is that they’re asking the wrong question. You see, sites don’t rank: individual pages rank. If you want to rank for a particular keyword or keyphrase, you’ll need to determine which post or page you want to rank for that particular keyword.

Adding that keyword to the title of every page is not helpful; you should use a focus keyphrase only once. What also won’t work is writing 200 articles around variations of a keyphrase, without one central article linking them all together. You need one single page that is the center of the content about that topic – a “hub” page, if you will. That’s where cornerstone content comes in. But how do you make sure your cornerstone content articles start ranking in the search engines?

How to rank with your cornerstone content?

Create awesome content

Your cornerstone content will need to be 100% awesome in every way. You need to think about keyword research, headlines, awesome content and more. Not sure where to begin? Check out our detailed post on what type of article cornerstone content should be.

Read more: How the Yoast SEO cornerstone analysis helps you create your best articles »

Now go ahead and create that post or page on your site. Take your time, as this is going to be the content that’ll make you rank, but not just that, it’s going to be the content that ranks. Which means real people are going to read it as well, and you need to convert those people. So, think about search engines by all means, but think even more about the visitors who will end up reading that page – and give them something valuable.

Which keywords to target with cornerstone articles?

Your cornerstone articles should be optimized for your most ‘head’ or most competitive keywords. Of course, you should still be realistic when determining these head keywords. But, your internal linking structure will help your cornerstone pages rank (more on that below), which is why these articles should aim to rank for your most competitive keywords.

Positioning that new cornerstone content on your site

Now let’s talk about where to place that content on your site. Important content deserves a place within your core site structure, not a news item or blog post drifting around somewhere. It should be easily found in a few clicks.

This also means you should not create other pages within your site that target the exact same keyword! And you really don’t have to, as there are many ways to use keyword variations for these other pages and use these in your site structure.

Build a great internal linking structure

Like external links, internal links are very important for SEO. If you want your cornerstone content to rank well, your site structure needs to be impeccable. Google considers the articles that have most internal links pointing towards them the most important content on your website. That’s why you need to make sure your cornerstones get most internal links. These are the ones you want to rank with!

When you’re adding links to your cornerstones, use the keyword you’re targeting as the anchor text for that link, if possible. But most importantly, link from within the content. Don’t just add some site-wide sidebar/footer links. The reason for this is simple: links from within content are way more valuable than links from sidebars.

In addition to that, you need to make sure that you’re linking to your cornerstones from pages that actually are related. Contextual links are the ones that’ll help you rank. Adding hand-picked, relevant links that are useful for someone visiting your website, is the best way of achieving this. Automation will not give you quality results. That means that building a decent linking strategy is a lot of work, especially if your site is large.

Finding internal links in Google

You can use Google to find relevant internal links. The easiest way to figure out which pages Google thinks are relevant for your keyphrase is a ‘site:’ search in Google. So if I were to try and find the most important page for our local SEO plugin within yoast.com, I’d search for:

site:yoast.com local seo plugin

If you do this for a keyphrase on your site, you’ll probably find quite a few pages. Edit each of those pages and add a link to your new cornerstone content. As you can imagine, this can be a lot of work!

Boosting your internal linking structure with Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO has two features to help you work on a great internal linking structure for your cornerstones. The text link counter and the internal linking tool (Premium). Both will make it a lot easier to work on that perfect site structure for your cornerstones.

The text link counter shows you how many incoming and outgoing internal links a post or page has, so you can keep an eye on the amount of internal links your cornerstone article gets.

The internal linking tool helps you to quickly pick related links to add to your posts and pages. It analyses all of your posts to figure out which articles are related. In the sidebar, you can easily pick articles that are relevant to link to. You can simply drag and drop the links in your article. The articles will be related and contextual because the plugin analyzed the content of all of your posts on prominent words. If you have indicated that your article is a cornerstone article, it will pop up highest, because they are the most important. Make sure to link to these, whenever they pop up.

Promote your cornerstone content

If well-written, your cornerstone content should be something to be proud of! Something that others willingly share and thereby also something that will attract links. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other people who have written about related topics: show them what you have created and that it might be worthwhile for their visitors to see. You might even want to offer to write a guest post for them on the topic, linking back to your article.

Conclusion: how to rank with cornerstones?

Your cornerstone articles deserve special attention. They need to be written carefully, to be the most complete and authoritative. They should also be easy to find on your site! Cornerstones need many contextual links pointing towards them to make Google see that they are the most important articles. That’ll make them rank in the search engines. That’ll get them the traffic they’re worthy of!

If you want to learn more about cornerstone content and setting up your site structure, we recommend…

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Yoast subscriptions: keep your SEO on track

Yoast has been offering subscriptions to our plugins and courses since November of 2018. Lots of happy customers have already purchased a subscription plan! But why would you need a subscription? Isn’t it enough to thoroughly invest in SEO once? What’s the use of an ongoing subscription? I am so glad you asked ;-).

SEO needs commitment

To keep ranking in the search engines, you’ll have to make an ongoing effort. That’s the only way to stay ahead in the search game. So, you’ll have to make sure that your website is awesome. You need to create new, amazing, engaging content. You must structure your website in a way that Google understands it. On top of that, you’ll have to make sure that your site’s technical SEO is flawless and your site’s speed is top notch.

To really get your SEO on track, you need to make it part of your process. It just needs to be something you think about and focus your efforts on very regularly.

SEO courses that’ll keep you up to date

Yoast Academy offers you a wide range of SEO courses for both beginners and people with more experience. We have online training courses that teach you how to write SEO-friendly content and courses that help you set up a decent site structure, as well as courses that teach you everything about technical SEO. Of course, we also have a great course on our own Yoast SEO plugin. These courses are updated regularly.

To stay ahead in SEO, we do a lot of research at Yoast. We talk to people from Google and Bing directly and discuss matters with other SEO experts and companies. All the knowledge we gather is translated into the features of our plugin and into the lessons in our courses.

Subscribe to SEO commitment!

A Yoast subscription will keep you focused on your SEO. But different people have different needs. That’s why we’re offering three subscription plans:

1. Yoast plugin subscription

This plan gives you access to all our premium plugins. The Yoast plugin subscription is the complete toolbox for your site. It saves you a lot of time and effort, and helps you to boost your rankings!

2. Yoast training subscription

Get the Yoast training subscription and you’ll get access to every Yoast Academy training course, including every new course we’ll release. This is a great way to learn all about SEO, to keep ahead of your competition.

3. Yoast plugin + training subscription

The best of both worlds. This plan gives you access to all our premium plugins and every Yoast Academy training course. With this subscription plan, you’ll learn how to optimize every SEO aspect of your site, and you’ll be fully equipped to improve your site’s SEO.

And pay for the time you need!

You can choose to get an annual (best value!) or a monthly subscription. We want to offer people products that are tailored to their needs. That’s why you can choose to pay a small fee per month, rather than paying up front for the whole year.

However, if you already know that you want to:

  • stay on top of your SEO game all day every day,
  • have access to all new courses, and want to
  • save a lot of money in the process,

simply pick our annual subscription. Getting one of our annual subscription plans, will save you over 60%!

Bonus: exclusive premium insights!

On top of all this, there’s something extra in it for you: premium content, exclusively available for subscription members. If you decide to get the Yoast training subscription or the Yoast plugin + training subscription, there’ll be extra premium content available for you in Yoast Academy.

This premium content consists of Q&A sessions, in which our experts answer your SEO questions. Moreover, you’ll get access to exclusive live talks and discussions on the latest SEO developments, with SEO experts like Joost de Valk and Jono Alderson. You don’t want to miss out on this!

Get a Yoast subscription!

Do you want to step up your SEO game? Whether you want to improve your SEO knowledge or to optimize your site with useful SEO tools, a Yoast subscription is what you need. And remember, it’s the only way to get access to exclusive premium content, such as Q&A sessions and live talks! So, don’t wait any longer, go get your Yoast subscription!

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What is keyword stemming?

Google can read and analyze texts very well. Google understands that ‘walk’, walking’, ‘walked’, ‘walks’ all boils down to the same thing. Also, Google knows that ‘baby’ is basically the same thing as babies. Optimizing your text for an exact match keyword isn’t a very smart thing to do. That’s why we introduced word form recognition in Yoast SEO Premium. You can now optimize your post and we’ll analyze the different word forms like walk, walks and walking. For longer tail keywords, we also recognize the words if you decide to use them in a different word order.

So, at Yoast, we talk about word forms, sometimes also about morphology recognition. At the same time, I hear the linguists at Yoast talking about keyword stemming too. And I noticed some SEOs talked about it as well. But what is keyword stemming? How does stemming relate to morphology recognition? And what does it have to do with SEO? I’ll explain all about it in this post.

What is stemming?

Stemming or keyword stemming refers to Google’s ability to understand different word forms of a specific search query. It is called stemming because it comes from the word stem, base or root form. If you use the word ‘buy’ in a sentence, a stemming algorithm would recognize the words ‘buys’, ‘buying’ and ‘bought’ as variations of the word ‘buy’ as well. Some SEOs also differ between stemming and lemmatization.

Google has used stemming in its algorithms for a long time now. The first blog posts about it from SEO experts like Rand Fishkin and Bill Slawski go as far back as 10 years ago. For languages other than English, Google began recognizing word forms much later. In recent years, Google’s algorithm became even more advanced, making exact match keyword optimization more and more outdated.

If you want to optimize your text for the term ballet shoes, for example, you should be able to use the term ballet shoe as well. Google understands that ballet shoes and ballet shoe are basically the same thing. Our Yoast SEO Premium plugin recognizes both word forms as well (at least in English and, since Yoast SEO 10.1, in German).

Stemming and word forms

If people are talking about keyword stemming or a stemming algorithm, they mean that the algorithm is able to recognize different word forms of a certain keyword. That’s exactly what the word forms functionality in Yoast SEO does. We do not automatically detect synonyms, but we do allow you to enter synonyms and we’ll take them into account in our SEO analysis.

Maybe we should have called our word forms functionality stemming. But it’s a difficult word to explain to people. So, that’s why we’ll stick with word forms.

Stemming and SEO

Google has become very smart. It understands texts. It understands context. In order to stand a chance in the search engines, you need to write awesome texts that show your authority on a certain subject. Content stuffed with keywords does not rank anymore. Google hates that, users hate that.

You need to use synonyms and related keywords in your content to make it pleasant to read and to make it rank! You need to use different word forms in order to write a post that is nice to read. Thanks to stemming, we can tell that they belong together. Read more about it in our post about our word form analysis.

Conclusion

The SEO industry has been talking about stemming and lemmatization for over a decade. Our linguists talk about it too. For good reason, because stemming allows them to recognize different word forms. This isn’t “easy”. At Yoast, we have an entire team of linguists working on our SEO and readability analyses. We’re now able to recognize different word forms properly for both English and German. We’re already working on new languages, I know Dutch is high on our list — probably because it’s our native language. Do let me know: which language should we tackle next?

Read more: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »

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How to set up a cornerstone content strategy with Yoast SEO

On your site, you’ll probably have a few articles that are most dear to your heart. Articles you desperately want people to read. Articles you want people to find with Google. At Yoast, we call these articles your cornerstone articles. How does the Yoast SEO plugin help you set up a cornerstone content strategy? I’ll tell you all about that in this blog post.

What is cornerstone content?

Cornerstone content consists of those articles that you’re most proud of. The articles that reflect the mission of your company perfectly, and the ones you definitely want to rank well. In general, cornerstone articles are lengthy, and they tend to be informative.

Perhaps you’ve never given much thought to using a cornerstone content strategy. It is worth your time, though! Think about the posts or pages on your site. Which are most precious to you? Which articles are the most complete and authoritative? Choose these to be your cornerstone content.

Read more: What type of content should cornerstone content be? »

What does Yoast SEO do with cornerstone content?

There are three aspects to a successful cornerstone content approach:

  • Cornerstone content should be lengthy, well-written and well-optimized.
  • Cornerstone articles should have a prominent place in your site’s structure.
  • You should keep your cornerstones fresh and up to date.

Yoast SEO will help you take care of all of these things!

1. Write awesome articles

The SEO and readability analysis in Yoast SEO will give you feedback on your writing. If you consider a post to be one of your cornerstone content articles, you should toggle the switch to ‘on’ in the ‘cornerstone content’ tab, underneath the ‘focus keyphrase’ tab.

Enabling the cornerstone analysis in Yoast SEO

Indicating that an article is cornerstone content, will make the SEO analysis and the readability analysis a bit more strict. For example, we propose to write at least 300 words for a normal post. If a post is cornerstone content, we urge you to write at least 900 words.

Our SEO analysis will help you optimize your blog post for the search engines. For cornerstone content, you have to go the extra mile. Make sure you use your focus keyphrase enough, mention it in a few headings, and optimize your images. Readability is equally important, though. Our readability analysis helps you to, for instance, use enough headings and to write in short, easy-to-read sentences and paragraphs.

Keep reading: How our cornerstone analysis helps you create your best articles »

2. Incorporate cornerstone content in your site structure

You have to link to your cornerstone articles to make them rank high in the search engines. By linking to your favorite articles often, you’ll tell Google that these are the ones that are most important. Think of it as a map: big cities have considerably more roads leading towards them than small towns. Those cities are your cornerstones. They should receive most links. The small towns are your posts on more specific topics. If you build your site structure like this, you won’t be competing with your own content for a place in the search engines.

Yoast SEO has two useful features to help you link to your cornerstone content articles.

Internal linking tool

If you use our premium plugin, you can use our internal linking tool. This tool will make linking suggestions for other posts based on the words you’re using in your post. The posts you’ve marked as cornerstone content articles – as described previously – will always appear on top of our list of suggestions. That way, whenever you’re writing about a specific topic, you’ll find the right cornerstone article to link to. Read more about how to use the Yoast SEO internal linking tool.

Using our internal linking tool will remind you to link to your cornerstones whenever you’re writing a new post. As a result, your cornerstones will stay on top in your linking structure. And that’s what they need to start ranking.

Text link counter

The text link counter allows you to see all the internal links you’ve put in a post and all internal links to a post from your other pages. This tool provides you with a clear overview of the distribution of your internal links. Make sure to check (and keep checking) if your cornerstone articles receive enough internal links!

text links counter

3. Keep your cornerstones up to date

Regularly updating your cornerstone content is important for your cornerstone strategy. After all, your cornerstones should be timeless, and therefore, always contain the latest insights. If you have Yoast SEO Premium installed, you’ll have an additional feature to help you keep your cornerstones up to date. The stale cornerstone content filter allows you to see at a glance which of your cornerstones need updating. It works in both your post overview, and your pages overview. Neat, right?

Of course, at Yoast, we practice what we preach, so you’ll find no stale content here ;-)

Cornerstone content strategy made simple with Yoast SEO

Your cornerstone content strategy consists of several elements. Your cornerstone content articles should be informative, nice to read and well-optimized. In addition to that, they should have a prominent place in your site’s structure. Yoast SEO helps you achieve both these things. And last but not least, the Premium plugin helps you keep your cornerstones fresh and up to date. Don’t skimp on optimizing your cornerstones: they deserve that little bit of extra attention!

Read on: Why you should buy Yoast SEO Premium »

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Using storytelling on product pages

Sue and John have a little baby. His name is Jack. Jack is 10 weeks old and cries a lot. Sue and John don’t know how to stop Jack’s crying. They get very nervous of his crying, the sleep poorly, they are agitated, tired and scared. One day, a good friend gives them a present. It is a baby carrier and it’s supposed to help calm their baby. John decides to give the baby carrier a try. Jack loves the carrier. He instantly relaxes, stops crying and falls asleep. From that moment on, Sue and John carried Jack in their baby carrier all day long.

Storytelling is a great strategy to use on your product pages. But why is storytelling such an effective tool to use on your product pages? And how could you use storytelling on your own e-commerce site yourself? In this blog post, I’ll explain why storytelling is effective on product and sales pages. I will also share some tips on how you could use storytelling on your product pages.

You’ll probably use storytelling without knowing it

Most of you will already be using storytelling on their product pages. You just don’t realize it yet. It’s actually rather hard to write product pages without telling a story. In your copy, you’ll probably already are describing why your product is so very awesome. Most of you will use examples to do that. Examples are stories.

You’ll probably have some reviews or testimonials on your site as well. These are stories too. Maybe you did not think about these things as stories, but that’s what they are. Treating examples, cases, reviews, and testimonials as little stories will help you improve your product pages for sure. Let’s look at some tips on how to effectively use storytelling on your product pages.

Why is storytelling such an effective strategy to use on product pages?

Show, don’t tell…

Storytelling is effective in product pages because it allows you to show people why your product is so very awesome, instead of just telling them that. I could tell you all about our fantastic SEO courses (they truly are amazing), but it would be much more convincing if I showed you why they are amazing.

A story about a client that did not understand SEO at first and made some major improvements (and a lot of money) would be much more convincing, than me telling you about it. A baby carrier company could tell you about their product and how it soothes and relaxes babies, but the story of baby Jack from the intro of this post is probably more convincing.

Focus on the problem instead of the product

Stories need a problem and focussing on the problem usually results in great sales copy. Remember the four elements of a good story I wrote about in my previous post? For a good story, you’ll need a character, a problem, action, and a solution. If you use stories on your product pages, you’ll automatically shift away from your product to the problem and the solution your product offers. Your sales copy will benefit from that!

How to use storytelling on product pages?

Stories are a great way to convince people to buy your product. Let’s look at three simple ways to use storytelling on your product pages.

Reviews and testimonials are little stories

Every review, every testimonial is a little story. You probably know that testimonials increase trust. Real customers, share real experiences. Those experiences increase trust.  

Treating testimonials and reviews as stories will allow you to make them more powerful! A good story requires a character, a problem, action, and a solution. If you ask people to write testimonials, ask them to use the four elements as well. That way, testimonials will read as little stories.

Ask people to tell a little bit about themselves. Make them human; make sure that people can relate to this person. A good story also needs a problem. Ask people to talk about their situation before using your product. Ask them why they purchased your product (that’s the action in the story) and how their situation changed after they started using your product (the solution).

Collect user stories

Collect success stories! You can ask people to write testimonials, but you can also ask for input and write the stories yourself.

Ask your customers to share their experiences with your products. Ask them how the product improved their lives. Use that feedback of your customers to write little stories. Add photos and details of these persons to show your audience that these are real people. Pictures or even video of people actually using your product would be even more impressive. Your customers’ success stories are a great way to show new users why your product is so very awesome.

The introduction of this blog post is an example of a short user story. Sue and John had a problem: Jack, their baby, wouldn’t stop crying. They tried a product: the baby carrier, and it solved their problem.

Write example stories

Explaining what your product does can be rather challenging. Often, this type of content can be a bit dry. Explaining all the features of the Yoast SEO plugin does not necessarily make for compelling copy. Using an example story could clarify a lot.

In an example story you could, for instance, introduce a persona that is facing a problem. Perhaps the persona wants to get more traffic to her site but does not know where to start. In the story, you’ll explain how your product solved the problem of the persona in your story. We could highlight our most important features of Yoast SEO in the story and show a remarkable increase in traffic after the persona started using these features.

Conclusion on storytelling and product pages

Stories are a great way to convince people to buy a product. Using stories will automatically shift the focus of your copy away from your product to the problem and your audience. That’s a good thing; it’ll make your sales copy much more engaging!

Stories are particularly powerful if people can relate to the characters in your stories. Always make sure your stories on your product pages are about real people. Add details to make the stories more real and lively. That’ll make it easier for people to relate to the characters in your stories. Add photos and videos to make the stories even more real.

Read more: SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide »

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How to use storytelling in a blog post

People like reading stories. Stories are a great way to captivate your audience. But how do you use stories in a blog post? And, how do you come up with ideas? In a previous post, I wrote about why you should use storytelling. In this post, I’ll give you 6 tips on how to start using storytelling in your blog posts.

But first, let’s start with a little story: 

Once upon a time, there was this young woman. Her name was Mary. Mary was a copywriter. She wrote wonderful content for travel agencies and several magazines. Mary used a lot of storytelling in her work. She was very good at it. But last week, her inspiration was terribly low. She was a bit ill. Nevertheless, her deadlines were approaching. Mary felt stressed. To meet her deadlines, she added some stories from her own experience to one of her articles. She was afraid her editor would frown upon that, but he actually loved it. And, so did her readers.

Tip 1: Use stories as examples

If you do not know how to start with storytelling, then start using stories as examples. Of course, you don’t have to start every story with ‘once upon a time’. You can use short anecdotes or stories from your readers to make a blog post more entertaining. Examples make your blog post lively and nice to read.

Tip 2: Get inspiration from your own world

Coming up with ideas for stories can be difficult. So, use the world around you for inspiration. A little talk with a neighbor, a funny thing your daughter did, something that happened during your lunch break: these are all little stories. Lots of the stories I use in my posts come from my own experiences. Mary, in the story I wrote at the beginning of this post, is actually me. The story about Wende, from my previous post about storytelling, really happened. Wende is my daughter. You don’t need to do extensive research for every story. Stories are everywhere.

Tip 3: Make sure your story aligns with the message of your post

If you use a story in your blog post, you need to make sure that the story aligns with the message of your post. Stories are fun and nice to read, but they only become powerful if they actually mean something. Every story has a meaning, something you want people to learn from that specific story. The meaning of the story should align with the message of your post.

The story about Mary I used in this post is about someone who is using storytelling. This post is about storytelling. Mary has a hard time coming up with ideas for a story. She decides to get inspiration from her own world and writes a personal story, which turns out nicely. In this post, I’m advising you to get inspiration from your own world and make sure to add a personal touch to a story. The story about Mary aligns with the message of this post.

Tip 4: Use the 4 elements of storytelling

A good story needs 4 elements: a character, a problem, an action, and a solution. If you write a story, try to put these four elements in it. You’ll probably do that without giving it much thought. Let’s look at the four elements of storytelling in a bit more detail:

You need to introduce a character. In my story that’s Mary. A main character that is perfectly happy does not make for a good story. The character should aspire to something or solve something. The character needs a problem. Mary’s problem was her lack of inspiration. The third thing you need is action. A story requires the main character to do something to solve the problem. Mary took a chance and added some personal stories to her copywriting. The last thing in a story is a solution. The solution is the end of the story. The problem or conflict should be solved. The readers liked her personal stories; Mary was successful.

Tip 5: Make it personal and relatable

Try to make your stories personal. Write a story about someone people can relate to. People like people. Stories are more powerful if people are able to emotionally relate to the main character. Add details, make your character into someone readers understand and relate to.

Tip 6: Add images

My last tip for powerful storytelling is to add images to your stories. If you tell a story about a person who is using your product, add a picture of this person. That’ll make the person easier to relate to. Add an illustration to your story. Illustrations will make the story easier to grasp. It will make your message more clear. And, it will make it more fun.

Conclusion on how to use storytelling

Storytelling doesn’t have to be a ‘grand thing’. There are many ways to implement it. Draw inspiration from your own experiences and write stories that fit the message of your post well. Using interviews is also a good way of telling a story. You’ll get a personal story through an interview. And if you would like to make your blog a little more personal or more fun, try to use anecdotes. Little stories. Things that happened to you. These little anecdotes, examples, personal experiences will just add that personal touch to your blog that makes it so much more enjoyable to read.

In the next post in this series about storytelling, I’ll give tips on how to use storytelling on an eCommerce website.

Read more: Blogging: the Ultimate guide »


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What is storytelling and why should you use it?

Once upon a time, there was a young girl. She was 9 years old and her name was Wende. Wende was incredibly intelligent, yet she had a hard time learning things by heart. No matter how hard she tried, she just could not memorize the planets of the solar system. It just did not stick in her head. One day her teacher told her a story about all the planets. A story about how the sun was lonely and Mercury was his first friend. How Mercury fell madly in love with Venus and how Planet Earth got jealous. After telling her the story, Wende was able to remember all of the planets in the right order. Why? Because of the magic of storytelling. Wende could remember the story and with that, she could remember the planets.

In this blogpost, I will tell you what storytelling is and why it is an important tool to use in the texts on your website. This post will be the first of a series of blog posts about storytelling.

What is storytelling?

The word storytelling pretty much speaks for itself. Storytelling is about telling stories. It is about using stories to engage your audience, or to make something more clear. Photos, pictures and film of course really help to tell a good story too.

Stories have always been a way to communicate. Before people learnt how to write, they would tell each other stories. Stories are much easier to remember than simple facts. That’s why Wende from the story remembered the planets. Also, stories are enjoyable, they stimulate your imagination. That’s why parents tell their children stories. That’s why we like to see movies and read books. People love stories, people are addicted to stories.

Some examples of (great) storytelling

In 2017 I visited a conference and I saw David JP Phillips on stage. He talked about the magical science of storytelling. I was blown away. His tolk was such an inspiration for me. Two weeks later, I had to speak at a WordCamp and I was so very inspired by David’s talk, that I did some storytelling of my own.

Next to using storytelling in presentations, you can use it in writing. Lots of travelblogs, personal blogs or momblogs use storytelling throughout all of their posts. Geraldine de Ruyter has a really funny blog about travel and many other things. Every post is a little story on her blog. But even informational blogs could use storytelling by adding an anekdote or an example. In my post about site structure and why it is important I used the exact same story as in my presentation at the WordCamp.

Storytelling

Why use storytelling?

Using storytelling in your blog post will – if you do it the right way – make your post a more engaging one. Your blog post will become something people want to read. Stories increase the attention of your audience.

If you use stories the right way, stories will help you to make your message more clear. Stories can help you to provide proof for your argumentation. They can add clarity. My story about Alice (screenshot above) is written in order to help people understand the importance of a clean site structure. This is a rather difficult subject to grasp. A story adds clarity.

Most importantly, people will remember your story, and with that, they’ll remember the message of your post or even your brand. If you use stories in a good way, you could even inspire people to take action. Maybe you’ll inspire people to clean up their website or to get started with storytelling in their blog posts and presentations.

Up next in this series

If you Google ‘storytelling’ you’ll see amazing things. Lots of online storytelling is about brand storytelling. Perhaps I’ll write a blogpost about that in the future. For this series, I’ll be focussing on using storytelling in your writing. And, I will also focus on the topic of storytelling and SEO.

In the next post in this series about storytelling, I want to focus on how to use storytelling in a blogpost. I want to start off by discussing the elements that are necessary for a good story. Also, I will share some practical tips and examples of how to start using storytelling in your blogposts.

If you have nice examples of your own use of storytelling, I would love to see those! Maybe I can even share a few of your examples in one of my next posts!

Read more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

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7 reasons to come to YoastCon

Tickets to YoastCon are selling very quickly! And people from all over the world will be joining us. We’ve sold tickets to a lot of people from the Netherlands and from the US. But we will also be welcoming people from Belgium, Germany, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Israel, South-Africa and even people from Brazil and Senegal. And for at least 7 good reasons.

1. Google and Bing will be there!

Google’s WordPress team will be at YoasCon. They’ll fly in both from Silicon Valley and from Switzerland. Bing is also sending search experts. Both companies will present on stage. At Yoast, we communicate and often work together with the largest search engines, making sure our plugin does exactly what it should do to get your site ranking. Want to hear what Google and Bing have to say about SEO?  YoastCon is the place to be!

2. Intimate event

Lots of SEO conference are really large (with over 1000 attendees). We’re planning for an intimate event (with about 400 attendees). Most of our speakers will be at the conference for both days. You’ll have every chance to ask questions or to even talk to them in person.

3. Hang out with the Yoasters

We would really like to meet our audience. We love to meet people who read our blog and use our plugin. Do you have any questions about our plugin? We have a support booth open the entire conference. You can ask us anything! Please come by and tell us what you like and dislike about our plugin. Or just hang out with us, play some foosball or have a few drinks.

4. Food and drinks will be great

Lunch and drinks are included. As well as coffee and some treats. On both days, we’ll end our conference with drinks. Great food, great drinks, and great opportunities to meet new and inspiring people.

5. That awesome line up of speakers

I’ve written about it before; you do not want to miss our amazing speakers. The line up of YoastCon 2019 is so very awesome. Alberto Medina from Google, Rand Fishkin, Aleyda Solis and Jono Alderson at one conference. And that’s only four of them. Unbelievable.

6. Practical workshops

Inspiring keynote talks are great, but if you want some practical help with your SEO, YoastCon is also the place to go. We have some amazing workshops prepared. I just finished preparing 3 workshops on SEO copywriting, site structure and keyword research. In these workshops, we’ll really help you get started with a practical aspect of SEO. We’ll make sure it is completely applied to your very own unique situation, so you’ll go home with actual results!

7. The venue and Nijmegen

Not convinced yet? YoastCon will be in Nijmegen in de Vereeniging, which is one of the most beautiful concert halls of the Netherlands. And Nijmegen, that’s where I was born. Very laid back, very welcoming, very awesome. The venue is located in the city center, and there are countless bars and restaurants to get some dinner or to hang out after our conference.

Get your YoastCon ticket nowOnly €499 (ex VAT) - limited availability!

Still not convinced? Check out the after movie of the previous edition of YoastCon! Hope to see you on February 7th!

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Don’t miss these SEO workshops at YoastCon (Feb 7 & 8)

YoastCon is just around the corner. We’re already starting to get nervous, excited and anxious. It’s going to be so very amazing. Our speaker line-up is crazy. We’ve managed to get together the very best of the SEO community in one place for two whole days. But besides these amazing speakers, we’ve also scheduled some kickass workshops you don’t want to miss. Read all about these workshops here!

Why workshops?

In the many, many talks you’ll be able to attend at YoastCon on February 7 and 8, you’ll probably get lots of SEO tips. Let’s put into practice these tips immediately! That’s what we’ll help you with in our workshops.

In all of these workshops, you’ll have to work yourself. Our team will be there to assist you and help you with your own site, right there at YoastCon. You’ll have every opportunity to ask questions to our SEO experts, because the groups will be small.

Get your YoastCon ticket nowOnly €499 (ex VAT) - limited availability!

Which SEO workshops?

You’ll be able to follow workshops on SEO copywriting, Site structure and Keyword research. In all of these workshops, our very own Yoast Academy team will help you out with your questions. We’ll give you a step-by-step tutorial on just how to write an amazing SEO-friendly text. Or, we’ll help you to rethink your site’s structure or to begin your keyword research. You can attend these workshops both in English and Dutch.

We’ll also host a workshop in which we’ll teach you the ins and outs of the Yoast SEO plugin. Are you getting everything out of it? There might be features you haven’t discovered yet, that can save you costly time. We’ll teach you how to use Yoast SEO to its full extent in this workshop. You can attend it both in Dutch and English.

On top of that, we offer workshops in which you can learn how to Review your own website. During this workshop, you’ll dive into your own website. How optimized is it? Are there any gaps or flaws? Learn what to do to make search engines love it! Our SEO team will teach you how to thoroughly review your own website. You can immediately bring all this new knowledge into practice. You can attend it both in English and Dutch.

Finally, we offer a workshop for developers: Thinking about code: creating a CMS using DDD. Are you experienced with programming and basic design patterns? Then this workshop is for you. You’ll take an architectural look at content management and explore creating your own CMS. It will be in English and will be conducted entirely on paper!

All workshops will take one hour and a half, except for the technical workshop which will take three hours.

Get your YoastCon ticket nowOnly €499 (ex VAT) - limited availability!

See you at YoastCon?

Want to know more about our workshops? Read all about it on our YoastCon Workshops page. Do not forget to claim your ticket! We’ll hope to see you at YoastCon!

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