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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Copywriting for mobile

Mobile traffic is important. People are searching and reading on their mobile devices more than ever. What does that mean for your copy? Do you need to write differently if you’re aiming at a ‘mobile’ audience? How do you tackle copywriting for mobile? Here, I’ll share some useful tips on how to write awesome texts that can be read on both desktops and mobile devices.

Why is copywriting for mobile different?

Reading on a mobile device is different from reading on a desktop, mainly because the screen is much smaller. Texts appear stretched on a mobile device, as people have to scroll much more. Besides that, people reading from a mobile device can be anywhere. Lots of people use their mobile device ‘on the go’, while also doing other things. Their attention span and their concentration are very limited. That’s what makes writing for mobile challenging. 

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Tip 1: Always focus on your audience

The mobile phone will not read your post, but your audience will. And perhaps your audience likes reading from their phones. In that case, you can improve their reading experience a lot with the tips in this blog post. But the first thing to keep in mind is that your content should always be focused on what your audience wants and expects from you. That does not change if you start writing for mobile (too). By focusing on the question ‘how can I write best for mobile,’ you should never lose track of the most important issue: ‘what does my audience like?’.

Tip 2: Make your fonts large enough

Font size is important for the mobile UX of blogs. You can’t just use all your desktop font sizes on your mobile website, without checking how they look on a mobile device.

It’s important that people can read your base font – your paragraph font – without having to pinch and zoom. Also, make sure there’s sufficient white space between sentences. Mobile websites are usually browsed with a thumb. Your visitors should be able to click on elements with that thumb.

Be aware that your mobile site will look messy when you use more than three font sizes. The size differences will be much more visible. That’s why we advise limiting the number of font sizes to two, maybe three.

Read more: ‘10 ways to improve mobile UX’ »

Tip 3: Write short sentences

A sentence of 25 words takes up two lines on an average desktop screen. For a mobile screen, this will be four lines. Longer sentences will be spread over even more lines, and that makes remembering words in the short term memory even harder. So don’t use too many long sentences. It’ll make reading your text much more difficult. This is true for desktop as well, but it’s even more important when you write for a mobile audience.

Tip 4: Check your subheadings and white space

Paragraphs will quickly appear very long because they get stretched out on a mobile screen. You should limit the number of sentences in a paragraph and use sufficient white space. That’ll make a text much easier to digest. Informative subheadings that reveal what a paragraph is about will help people understand your text. Good subheadings will also increase the chance your audience will stay engaged, even if a lot is going on around them.

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Tip 5: Keep an eye on text-structure

The structure of your text should be just flawless. In a well-structured text, paragraphs follow in a logical order. Within paragraphs, sentences also connect to each other. So make sure to use lots of transition words. These words will help people understand the meaning of your text.

If your text is well structured, people will more easily understand the main message of your post. If your audience is unable to grasp that main message, they will get lost and tune out.

Conclusion: readability is of the utmost importance on mobile

Copywriting for mobile is not that different from writing for a desktop. In both cases, you need to write for a real audience. ‘Mobile’ texts do demand an even better readability than ‘desktop’ texts. That’s because reading from a mobile screen is more challenging than reading from a desktop. But, if you make sure your readability is top-notch, your texts will have loads of readers, on both mobile devices and desktops.

Keep reading: ‘Mobile SEO: the ultimate guide’ »

Improve your site’s structure in 4 simple steps

Optimizing your site structure should be an important aspect of your SEO strategy. Structuring your site is of crucial importance for your SEO. But how does one improve a site’s structure? Where do you start and how do you keep an eye on the structure of your site if your site is growing? In this post, I’ll teach you to improve your site’s structure in 4 simple steps. 

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Yoast SEO site structure features

We spent the past year thinking about how to translate the advice we give on improving your site’s structure into useful features for our plugin. This resulted in three new features (and we’re already thinking about new ones). The first feature we released was the internal linking feature. The internal linking tool helps you to figure out which articles you should be linking to. Our second feature on site structure, the cornerstone content analysis, will help you write awesome cornerstone content articles and get those articles in a central position in your linking structure. And the third feature, the text link counter allows you to check which articles need more internal links. Combined, these three site structure features are a powerful toolset for improving your site structure.

Step 1: Update and improve your Cornerstones

Your cornerstone content consists of the most important articles on your site. The ones you want people to read. The ones you want to rank with in Google. For all cornerstones, you should check the box in the snippet preview meta box.

Once you’ve checked that box, your content will be assessed more strictly by our readability analysis. You may wonder why we’re being so fussy about cornerstone content. The answer to that question is this: for cornerstone articles you should raise the bar, because they’re very important! They should be better than your other articles and therefore, demand more of your writing skills. Our cornerstone analysis will help you to raise your standards (and stick to them). It will be harder to score that green bullet. You have to do all important things right!

Step 2: Link to those cornerstones!

The second step to improving your site’s structure is to ensure that blogposts surrounding a certain topic all link to your most important article about that topic. Use the text link counter to see whether your cornerstones have enough links. In your post-overview, you can select your cornerstone articles.

In our example, the Ultimate guide to small business SEO has fewer links than our other two ultimate guides. You should open the cornerstone post with few links and check the Yoast internal linking feature.

The articles our internal linking tool suggests are great suggestions to link from to your cornerstones. You should go to these articles one by one and add links to your cornerstones (that’s a bit of work!).

If you aren’t using Yoast SEO premium (and do not have access to our internal linking feature), use your internal search function and search for the keyword of your cornerstone article. The post that’ll come up in this search query should be linking to your cornerstones.

Step 3: Improve the structure of orphaned articles

Once you’ve improved your cornerstone articles and made sure you’ve added links from all of your posts to those cornerstones, it’s time to make sure that there are no orphaned articles on your site. Orphaned articles are posts or pages that hardly any other posts link to. They are hard to find on your site, both by your audience and by Google. In order to identify orphaned articles, you can use our text link counter. Sort the posts by the number of internal links linking to the post.

Posts with fewest links will appear at the top of the list. Open these posts and (again, if you use Yoast SEO Premium) check the suggestions of the internal linking tool. Using the tool, you can make a list of posts that should be linking to your orphaned posts. After that, you can open those similar posts and add links to your orphaned posts. You can also use the search function to find posts to link to your orphaned article.

Step 4: Improve those dead ends!

Every post should have suggestions for further reading. After all, you want people to stay on your website. Suggestions should always be on topic. People reading about ballet shoes are probably interested in ballet shoes. So, offer them more reading material on ballet or on ballet shoes, but don’t bore them with karate.

Open your post overview and sort your posts by the number of internal links in the post, using our text link counter.

Open the posts with fewest internal links. Add links to similar posts using our internal linking tool, in the same way as described above. It’s so easy and it will increase the time people spend on your site considerably.

Read more: ‘Internal linking for SEO: why and how’ »

Conclusion

Agreed, it is a bit of work. But if you set to mind to it, follow these 4 steps and use the Yoast SEO site structure features, you’ll be able to improve your site’s structure significantly. And that is most definitely going to result in longer visits by your readers and in higher rankings in Google.

Keep reading: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

SEO for a new website: the very first things to do

How does a new website start ranking? Does it just magically appear in Google after you’ve launched it? What things do you have to do to start ranking in Google and get traffic from the search engines? Here, I explain the first steps you’ll need to take right after the launch of your new website. Learn how to start working on the SEO for a new website!

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First: you’ll need to have an external link

One of my closest friends launched a birthday party packages online store last week. It’s all in Dutch and it’s not WordPress (wrong choice of course, but I love her all the same :-)). After my friend launched her website, she celebrated and asked her friends, including me, what they thought of her new site. I love her site, but couldn’t find her in Google, not even if I googled the exact domain name. My first question to my friend was: do you have another site linking to your site? And her answer was ‘no’. I linked to her site from my personal site and after half a day, her website popped up in the search results. The very first step when working on SEO for a new website: getting at least one external link.

Why do you need an external link?

Google is a search engine that follows links. For Google to know about your site, it has to find it by following a link from another site. Google found my friend’s site because I put a link to that site on my personal site. When Google came around to crawl my site after I put the link there, it discovered the existence of my friend’s site. And indexed it. After indexing the site, it started to show the site in the search results.

Read more: ‘What does Google do?’ »

Next step: tweak your settings…

After that first link, your site probably will turn up in the search results. If it doesn’t turn up, it could be that the settings of your site are on noindex or is still blocked by robots.txt. If that’s the case, you’re telling Google not to index your site. Sometimes developers forget to turn either of these off after they finished working on your site.

Some pages are just not the best landing pages. You don’t want people landing on your check out page, for instance. And you don’t want this page to compete with other – useful – content or product pages to show up in the search results. Pages you don’t want to pop up in the search results ever (but there aren’t many of these) should have a noindex.

Yoast SEO can help you to set these pages to noindex. That means Google will not save this page in the index and it’ll not turn op in the search results.

Keep reading: ‘The ultimate guide to the robots meta tag’ »

Important third step: keyword research

My friend’s site now ranks on her domain name. That’s about it. She’s got some work to do to start ranking on other terms as well. When you want to improve the SEO for a new website you have carry out some proper keyword research. So go find out what your audience is searching for! What words do they use?

If you execute your keyword research properly, you’ll end up with a long list of search terms you want to be found for. Make sure to search for those terms in Google yourself. What results are there already? Who will be your online competitors for these search terms? What can you do to stand out from these results?

Read on: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

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And then: write, write, write

Then you start writing. Write about all those topics that are important to your audience. Use the words you came up with in your keyword research. You need to have content about the topics you want to rank for to start ranking in the search results.

Read more: ‘How to write a high quality and seo-friendly blog post’ »

But also: improve those snippets

Take a look at your results in the search engines once you start ranking (the so called snippets). Are those meta descriptions and the titles of the search results inviting? Are they tempting enough for your audience to click on them? Or should you write better ones?

Yoast SEO helps you to write great titles and meta descriptions. Use our snippet preview to create awesome snippets. That’ll really help in attracting traffic to your site.

Keep reading: ‘The snippet preview: what it means and how to use it?’ »

Think about site structure

Which pages and posts are most important? These should have other pages and posts linking to them. Make sure to link to the most important content. Google will follow your links, the post and pages that have the most internal links will be most likely to rank high in the search engines. Setting up such a structure, is basically telling Google which articles are important and which aren’t. Our brand new text link counter can be a great help to see if you’re linking often enough to your most important content.

Read on: ‘Internal linking for SEO: why and how’ »

Finally: do some link building

Google follows links. Links are important. So get the word out. Reach out to other site owners – preferably of topically related websites – and ask them to write about your new site. If Google follows multiple links to your website, it’ll crawl it more often. This is crucial when you do the SEO for a new website, and will eventually help in your rankings. Don’t go overboard in link building for SEO though, buying links is still a no-go:

Read more: ‘Link building: what not to do?’ »

How to use the text link counter‎

In the latest release of Yoast SEO, we’ve added a text link counter. It consists of two counters, the first counts the number of internal text links you’ve put in your post. And the other counter counts the number of internal links to a post. These counters can be a huge help in improving the structure of your site. I’ve already explained why you should use the text link counter. Here, I’ll show you how to use our new text link counter.

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Where do I find the text link counter?

From now on, checking the number of internal links in a post and the number of links to a certain post is very easy. You can find the two counters in your post overview:yoast seo 5.0 text link counter
Look a bit closer:

text links counter

This functionality is very actionable. If you want to improve your site structure and your SEO, the text link counter will help you do that. You can go through your post with few links and improve your site’s structure step by step. We’re already thinking of ways to make this experience even smoother.

Find and resolve: ‘Orphaned articles’

Some articles don’t get many links from other posts; we often refer to them as ‘orphaned articles.’ These pages are hard to find, both by Google as well as the user. With the help of our text link counter, these articles are easy to detect. If you want to check which articles don’t receive many links, you can sort the articles by number in the second link counter column. Articles with 0 posts linking to them, will appear on top of the list.

The next step is to open those posts or pages with few links. Is it a page you don’t find useful anymore? Just delete and redirect it to another relevant page. If you do think it’s still a valid page on your site, figure out which other posts could link to it. Our internal linking tool (only for Yoast SEO premium) could help you to figure out which posts are linking candidates. Go to those similar post and insert links from these posts to your ‘orphaned’ post. That strategy could very well result in a small boost in your rankings.

Improve site structure by adding links

The other counter – the first column – counts the number of text links to other posts and pages on your website. You’ll want your post to link to other posts and pages with similar content, as it helps your readers to figure out other posts to read. If you link to similar content, the time people spend on your website will go up.

To find blog posts with few links to other posts, order the posts by the number of links. The posts with the fewest links will appear on top of your list. Adding links is incredibly easy with our internal linking tool. In our internal linking tool, we’ll suggest which post to link to based on similar content. You can add the suggestions, and you’re ready to go to the next blog post with few links.

Improve those cornerstone articles

An excellent way to use the text link counter is to use it for the cornerstone content articles. These are your most important articles. You’ll need to have your other posts linking to these particular relevant posts. To check whether you’re linking sufficiently to these cornerstones, you should select your cornerstone articles in your post overview. You can indicate which posts are your cornerstones in the Yoast SEO meta box (just beneath the snippet preview).  If one of your cornerstones has very few links, you’ll have work to do! Our internal linking tool will help you to figure out which articles to start linking to.

Conclusion on the text link counter

The new text link counter is a beneficial tool to improve your site’s structure actively. It’ll show you which posts need linking. If you combine this text link counter with our internal linking tool and the cornerstone content check, you’ll be able to bring your site’s structure to the next level. That will instantly increase the time people spend on your page and eventually will result in higher rankings in Google.

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

Why you should use the Yoast SEO text link counter

In the 5.0 release of Yoast SEO we’ve added the Yoast SEO text link counter. This new functionality counts the number of internal links in a post and the number of internal links to a post. It sounds really simple, but it’s extremely useful and actionable. It’ll really make it so much easier to improve the structure of your site. Why is that? Why is site structure even an issue? And why is our new text link counter useful? Here, I’ll explain all about that. 

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What does the text link counter do?

The text link counter counts the internal text links in your posts. It consists of two counters: The first counter counts the number of links in your post and the second counter counts number of links to your post.

You can find the Yoast SEO text link counter in your post overview. In this overview you’ll see two additional columns. The first column shows the first counter – internal links in your post – and the second one shows the second counter – internal links to your post:

yoast seo 5.0 text link counter

Site structure and SEO

The structure of a site is a very important aspect of SEO. After all, Google follows links. The result of Google following links is that the internal linking structure of your site determines how Google crawls your site. Posts and pages that are linked to more often, are crawled more frequently than post and pages with few (internal) links. Same goes for visitors: pages and posts that have many links referring to them, get more visitors. If you forget to link to a specific blog post, nobody (Google included) will find it.

An internal linking structure that makes sense is therefore crucial for SEO. That’s why, for the past year, we’ve added some really nice features to Yoast SEO Premium that’ll help you to keep your site’s structure up to date: the internal linking functionality and the cornerstone content checks. The text link counter, available for everyone in the free version of Yoast SEO, is another great feature that’ll help you to improve your site’s structure.

Why should I use Yoast’s text link counter?

Find articles with few links

The text link counter will allow you to assess the number of internal links each post receives and the number of links each post contains. This is important stuff. You’ll be able to instantly see which posts are hardly linked to at all. If these are important posts in your opinion, you can take action and link to these from other (similar posts). This will help your most valuable posts and pages to rank higher.

Actionable! Improve your SEO

You should use the text link counter because it is a very actionable feature. It allows you to really get started with working on your SEO. The text link counter indicates which articles have fewest links. These are the articles that need your attention! This feature really points to weak points in your site’s SEO. It tells you where to start optimizing.

Conclusion: Indispensable new feature

The new text link counter is an indispensable feature for everyone who takes SEO seriously. It’ll give you feedback on those articles that need attention in internal linking. Use our text link counter in combination with the internal linking tool. That’ll make it so easy to take your internal linking structure to the next level!

Read more: ‘Internal linking for SEO: why and how’ »

SEO basics: How to use headings on your site

Text without headings is terrible to read. Headings and subheadings are the most important anchor points a reader has in the text. People tend to read those more carefully and use headings to determine what a text is about. This means headings are essential to help people figure out whether they want to read a text. So, how do you use headings properly on your site? And are they of any importance for SEO? I’ll tell you all about that here. 

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Headings and text structure

Headings are anchors that guide readers through a text. People tend to read those headings carefully. Headings should therefore indicate what a paragraph is about, otherwise people won’t know what to expect. Moreover, if they get lost in (poor) writing, looking back to the heading may help them to get back on track.

Reading from a screen is hard. People easily get distracted and loose track of the story you’re trying to tell in your blog posts. Headings will help people to stay on track, to grasp the message of your post.

For web copy, I’d strongly recommend to write headings that are informative to the reader. Some people like to tease their audience in the headings, trying to seduce them to read further. That can work beautifully. However, the main focus of headings should be on the content. And the main purpose of headings should be to make the text more readable.

Keep reading: ‘Why text structure is important for SEO’ »

Headings and SEO?

People like putting their focus keywords in headings and some believe it’ll directly result in higher rankings. I’m not sure about that. Still, your focus keyword should definitely be in a subheading. If you’re trying to rank for it, you’ll have to write about it. It only makes sense that you mention the main topic of a blog post in one or more headings. It shouldn’t feel unnatural or weird using your focus keyword though, then you’re probably trying too hard – or over optimizing.

Although not a major ranking factor, headings do affect SEO. That’s because headings are important to users. They help readers to figure out what a text is about. And if readers use headings to figure out what a text is about, Google will too.

Use of headings

Sometimes developers also talk about headings. They usually talk about <H1> and <H2>, <H3>, <H4>. Just to translate a little: H1 is the title of the page or the blog post, and you should only use it once. The other headings can be used multiple times, as long as it makes sense. It’s a hierarchical structure, so before you use H3, you should have used H2. But you can go back and use H2 after you’ve used H3. Here’s an example of a heading structure:

H1: Ballet shoes are awesome

H2: Why ballet shoes are awesome

H3: Ballet shoes are pink

H3: Ballet shoes are flexible

H3: Ballet shoes are cheap

H2: Where to buy your ballet shoes?

H3: Online stores

H3: In your hometown?

H2: Wrapping it up.

You can use H4, H5 and H6, if you want to, as long as you make sure to use H4 before H5 and H5 before H6, and so on. I usually stick to using H2 and H3 though.

Headings and accessibility

The heading structure is important for accessibility as well, especially for people who can’t read well from a screen. Because headings are in HTML, a screenreader can make an outline and read all the headings out loud.

By reading or listening to the headings online, visually impaired people can make their decision whether to start reading an article. In addition to that, screen readers offer shortcuts to jump from one heading to another, and this way, headings are used for navigation as well.

Don’t forget your headings!

Using headings well is helpful for your users, increases chances of people actually reading your article, improves accessibility and might even contribute to SEO. So add them in your copy, the right way!

Read on: ‘Headings and why you should use them’ »