How to craft the perfect blog post: a step by step guide

A few of the most asked questions I get as a blogger is how I manage to get traffic to my website, how I get people to stay and how I do all this without losing track. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work, but once your hard work pays off, it is definitely fun too. In this post, I will show you my step by step guide to creating the perfect blog post!

There are three moments you can distinguish when crafting the perfect blog post: before publishing, immediately after publishing and some time after publishing. We’ll go through each of these three steps!

Before publishing

The first step is the most obvious one for every content writer. Before publishing, you obviously need to write your text and optimize it for SEO.

Topic

When you are a blogger, you often do not write what others want to know, but rather what you want to share from your experience. It’s the very reason why I started the Caroline’s Corner series at Yoast. As a blogger, it can be difficult to focus on SEO, as you often write from your own experience and are more focused on entertaining people than informing. I keep a list of blog post ideas with me, so I always have something to blog about.

Read more on finding inspiration for your next blog post

Keyword Research

After you picked your topic, it’s important to see if you are solely writing for entertainment purposes, or can give information to your readers too. Even if you think you can only entertain, often there is a bit of information to give to your readers too. One of my favorite courses of Yoast is the Keyword Research training. If you as a blogger struggle with your keywords, then I highly recommend this training.

Text and tone of voice

Are you wondering when you finally can start writing your post? That time is now! I often skip the keyword research step but trust me, this will do you no good. If you want to rank in Google, your keyword research is absolutely important. Optimizing after you wrote your post can be done, but it is sometimes quite tedious. And wouldn’t you rather focus on a new post anyway than optimizing an old one?

Write your blog post and do not forget this should be in the same tone of voice the rest of your blog is. If you are known to write funny texts and people come to you because you are so honest, they don’t want you to sugarcoat things. In other words: create your personal brand and stick to it .

Images

Some bloggers prefer to create photos and images before they start writing their texts. Others, like me, prefer to first write and then find the correct images. Whether you use stock photos or create your own graphics, make sure you at least have a header image that also can be used to be shared on social media. In Yoast SEO Premium, there is a social preview where you can see what it looks like when your post is shared on Facebook or Twitter. You can set a different social image if desired.

Social media texts

Not only you can set your own social image, you can also write a different description for Facebook and Twitter than for Google. People who find you through Facebook, often have a different connection with you than those who find you through Google. Make sure the description resembles that! I have made the decision that through social media I want to entertain people, so I focus more on the fun parts of the blog posts on social media. An example: if I write about idiot things my cat does, I would for example tell my followers on Facebook how I found another dead mouse in my kitchen this morning and how I gave the little fella a funeral. For Google I would focus on the behavior of cats and this would show in the meta description as well.

Pinterest

I have a genuine love-hate relationship with Pinterest. Although I love the way it brings me visitors, I’m not someone who enjoys creating graphics for the platform. I love writing, I don’t love designing as much. As a blogger, you have to design things as well. Or become rich and hire someone to do it for you, that’s an option too! A part of your blog post’s preparation is designing a Pinterest image. These should have a ratio of 2:3, which means that it’s vertical. Pinterest comes with a scheduled feature now, so you can schedule your pin before publishing the post, just make sure you put the correct publishing URL in!

SEO

And now, the most dreaded thing for every blogger world wide… I’m just kidding, there are people who absolutely love SEO, my colleagues included. Me, not so much. I do love it when people come to my blog through Google, but more often than not I am known for muttering: ‘I don’t want to do SEO, I want to write’. Optimizing for search engines is of course a big part of your blog strategy. It’s important to check your meta description, your social descriptions and of course the distribution of your keywords and the readability analysis. As you most likely are aware, you know our plugin helps you with this step! Don’t forget to add proper internal and external links and you’re good to schedule or publish your post.

Summary

To sum up of all the steps before you publish a blog post:

  • Pick a topic;
  • Do keyword research;
  • Write your text in your brand’s voice;
  • Create your images;
  • Create your Pinterest image and schedule it;
  • Do a last SEO check;
  • Publish or schedule your post.

Immediately after publishing

After publishing your blogpost, you can either sit back and hope people will pick up your newest masterpiece, or you shoutout your new blogpost digitally. If you want visitors, I hope you are ready to make some noise and get the story out there!

Share your posts on social media

Although social media are designed to keep their users on their platforms, instead of clicking a website, your followers love to hear from you. Especially if you write for your audience on your social medium accounts, it’s important to post your blog posts there. There are plugins that push your blog posts to social media as soon as you hit publish, but at Yoast we schedule this after publishing ourselves.

And although Pinterest isn’t a social medium, but a visual search engine, I want to discuss this here as well. Where Google knows about your new blogpost through crawling and sitemaps, Pinterest doesn’t know. You need to actually tell Pinterest you have a new post. If you have not used the scheduler or want to place your pins on more boards, now is the time to do so!

At Yoast, we publish our blog posts on Facebook and Twitter. As I’m personally not active at Twitter, my own blog posts only are shared on Facebook and Pinterest by me. It’s whatever fits you. Pick something and stick with it! I have a friend who doesn’t even put her blog posts on social media and has seen a steady increase of visitors to her blog through Google. There’s no wrong or right. It’s better to focus on one thing and commit to it a 100% than focus on ten things and only invest 10% of what you could’ve put into it.

Internal linking to this post from other posts

By now you probably know how important your site structure is. Internal links are links that are in your text and they tell Google all about context. It’s important to link to and from your blog post. While writing your post, you most likely linked to other posts you’ve written already. But you could not link yet to your newly created blog post. Your visitors would end on a 404 and Google doesn’t like 404s either! So after publishing, make sure you check which blog posts could do well with a link to your new post and add them immediately. Trust me, you will thank me later when you don’t have to go through all your orphaned content and spend hours upon hours finding context and relevant posts!

Summary

To sum up of all the steps right after you publish a blog post:

  • Share your posts on social media;
  • Internal link to your new post from other posts.

A while after publishing

After you published your blog post and have done the things you have to do immediately after, you can sit back and wait for the traffic to come in. I’m kidding. Blogging is hard work. There’s plenty to do, apart from working on your website’s foundation, you probably have new blog posts to write and older ones to revisit! ‘A while’ is a pretty abstract time frame and I cannot tell you when you exactly should look at your blog post again. If you are going to share the post in a newsletter, I would say to do this after a few days or two weeks at most. But when you need to optimize your blog post, you’d do that a few months later, after you have data to analyze!

Newsletter

A lot of people will tell you to maintain a newsletter. At Yoast, we have a newsletter as well and I am currently experimenting with my own newsletter for my personal blog. However, it can be quite hard to keep up with all of this if you also have various active social media accounts. If you decide to go for a newsletter, you have to decide if you are going to share all your blog posts, or will only share your most funny ones or the most informative ones. You can share your newest blog post in today’s newsletter, but if it’s still relevant six months from now, you can decide to put it in your newsletter six months from now. I would advise against putting your blog post in every newsletter, even if you want everyone to read it. People might feel like you’re forcing it down their throats and that you have nothing to say than that your cat brought you yet another gift in the form of a dead mouse. You become repetitive. Like that cat with the dead mouse. See what I did there?

Social media

You shared your blog post on social media right after you published, but that doesn’t mean you cannot republish it again after a few months! The same goes as with the newsletter. Don’t overdo it, but it’s safe to reshare something 6 months after you already shared it. You can decide to even use another social image or another introduction text.

Pinterest

There’s no such thing as oversharing on Pinterest. If there’s one place where you can shamelessly self promote, it’s Pinterest! Apart from of course repinning relevant blog posts from your colleague bloggers, you can repin your blog post you just pinned two weeks ago. Pinterest is about the snowball effect and the more it’s on there, the more Pinterest will learn about it and will give you visitors. I usually share my post every week on a different board. If I have about 16 relevant boards, that means for the next 16 weeks, my post will be repinned on there. The more active you are on Pinterest, the more visible you are!

Analyzing the post performance

After a month you can start to analyze your post’s performance. This is something you need to do every three months. More often or less often if desired. You should check in Google Search Console how the people find your blog post, if you rank for the keywords you wish to rank for and if you possibly should create more posts surrounding the subject or make the blog post even more in-depth. This is one of the most tedious jobs in my opinion, as this maybe only slows down when you rank in the top three of your preferred search engine.

Optimizing where necessary

SEO is an ongoing process. Where you might’ve ranked first on a keyword last month, your competitor could’ve created a better piece and ranks first now. This is why you should revisit your blog post with the data you have collected and optimize where necessary. Check what your competition does better than you and decide whether you want to optimize. I don’t optimize a post if I’m already ranking the top three, not even if I dropped from the first to the second place. But this could be different for you. Optimizing could mean you are going to focus on link building, but could also mean you want to elaborate more or focus on Schema. Check what your competitors do what you don’t. Don’t copy, but learn from them.

Internal linking

So you already worked on your internal linking when you just published your post, that’s awesome. If you’ve done that, then you can skip this step. If not, you probably need to work on your internal linking again! Use the orphaned content filter in Yoast SEO Premium to see which articles need some much-needed love.

Revisit your cornerstone content

Every 6 months, you should revisit your cornerstone content and check if it’s still up to date. Your cornerstone content contains lengthier articles that give a lot of information: they are also known as evergreen content and are most likely the posts you are most proud of. In Yoast SEO Premium we have the stale content filter that will let you know when a blog post has not been updated the past 6 months and might need to be checked for new additions or updates.

Summary

To sum up of all the steps right after you publish a blog post:

Ongoing on a weekly basis

  • Pin your post to Pinterest

Recurring after a month on a three monthly basis

  • Analyze the post performance
  • Optimize the post
  • Check the internal links

Once every 6 months

  • Share on social media
  • Share in your newsletter

After 6 months twice a year

  • Revisit your post and check if you need to update

Checklist

To keep control over your blog and to create your perfect blog post, we’ve created a checklist you can print and keep with you when you are writing. We even added empty checkboxes so you can add extra steps if we didn’t cover something you deem to be absolutely necessary!

Download the free checklist here!

The post How to craft the perfect blog post: a step by step guide appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.5: An updated mobile preview + favicon!

Yoast SEO 11.5 is out today. This release features a big change that gives you a better idea of how searchers see your snippets on mobile. Yep, we’ve overhauled the mobile snippet preview and brought it up-to-date with Google’s latest changes. And that, of course, includes that shiny favicon. Here’s Yoast SEO 11.5. 

Revamped mobile snippet preview

In Yoast SEO 11.5, the main star is the overhauled mobile snippet preview. This preview shows you how your search result will appear in the mobile search results. It looks exactly like a mobile search result in Google, including bolded keywords and a favicon.

In this release, we’re using the default favicon Google uses when they can’t find a favicon on your site. In a future release, we’re going to extract the favicon from your site and show it here, right in the snippet preview. How cool is that.

Of course, you can switch between the mobile and desktop views to see the differences between the search results.

The improved mobile snippet preview and the new location of the focus keyphrase in the Yoast SEO meta box

The focus keyphrase field in the block editor

We’re cleaning up the interface of the meta box and snippet preview to improve user experience and discoverability. In the previous release, we moved the focus keyphrase input field to a new location, right at the top of the meta box. Now, this all-important feature has the prominent place it deserves. You can see the new location of the focus keyphrase in the meta box in the screenshot above.

In the block editor, you’ll find the field at the top of the sidebar. See the screenshot on the right. It works the same as before, but it is now in a much more prominent place.

Only a little bit of Schema this time

After all the Schema structured data additions and finetuning, we’re taking it a bit easier in Yoast SEO 11.5. Regarding structured data, the only thing we’ve changed in this release is take out the primary image for a page of the WebPage piece and move it into its own graph piece. This way, it easier for search engines to discover the relation between the image, the page and the entities.

Update to Yoast SEO 11.5

Yoast SEO 11.5 isn’t a huge release, but the updated mobile snippet preview alone is worth the price of admission. The snippet preview is an essential tool to help you stand out in the search results, so use it to your advantage! 

The post Yoast SEO 11.5: An updated mobile preview + favicon! appeared first on Yoast.

What is link building?

Link building is an essential aspect of SEO. You can write the perfect post, but if search engines can’t follow at least one link to it, it will most likely spend its days forever waiting in vain for visitors to admire its outstanding content. For Google to find your post, it needs links from other websites. The more links, the better. But, beware, the quality of links does matter! Not every link is worth the same. Even worse: some links could negatively affect your site. Here, we’ll explain how link building works. We’ll also guide you to more in-depth articles if you want to learn how to do it well.

Before we dive in, if you want to learn more about link building strategies and other essential SEO skills, you should check out our All-around SEO training! It doesn’t just tell you about SEO: it makes sure you know how to put these skills into actual practice!!

What is a link?

Simply put, a link, or a hyperlink, is a connection between two pages on the internet. With a link you can refer people to a page, post, image or other object on the internet. Links exist for people in the first place: with a link you can easily “travel” from one web location to another.

But links serve search engines well too; search engine robots follow links to discover pages on the internet. This is called crawling. For a robot to find your website, you’ll need at least one hyperlink to it from a website that gets crawled already. Making sure you get that first link is one of the things you really need to do when you launch a brand new website.

A link in HTML

In the coding language HTML, a hyperlink looks like this:

<a href=”https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/”>Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress</a>.

The first part contains the URL you’re linking to. In this case, it’s the URL of the Yoast SEO plugin page (https://yoast.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/). The second part (Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress) shows the clickable text that you’d see on the page. We call this piece of text the ‘anchor text’.

Anchor text

The anchor text serves two purposes: it should describe what the linked page is about and it should entice people to click. If a link has a well-crafted anchor text, this has two advantages: 1) More people click on it, leading to more direct traffic and 2) It will help search engines understand what your page is about, possibly leading to more traffic from search engines. Of course, you can’t control how others link to your site, but you can use it to improve your internal links.

What is link building?

Link building refers to the marketing efforts to get links from other websites to your website. It’s seen as one of the most powerful tools to achieve higher rankings for your site in search engines. If a lot of high-quality links lead to a certain page, search engines will consider it a popular or meaningful article, and, therefore, they’ll rank it higher.

Link quality

Links aren’t all equal. Some links are worth more than others. For instance, a link from an authoritative website, preferably topically related to yours, is worth more than a random link from a small website nobody knows. So, if you have a restaurant, you’d rather get a link from a restaurant review (on topic) on The Guardian website (high authority), than, let’s say, a link from your aunt’s horseback-riding school website. This makes choosing sites you’d love to get links from easier, but at the same time, it makes it a lot harder to get those coveted high-quality links.

Shady techniques

Because link building isn’t easy, lots of shady link building methods emerged in the past. People tried to game the system, for instance, by buying links from link farms. That’s why link building has got a somewhat nasty reputation.

Consequently, Google intervened with serious penalties as a result. If your site gets linked to from websites with a questionable reputation, it can completely disappear from the search results. So you better refrain from any of these risky link building tricks. If you play it fair and smart though, you can gain a lot from link building.

What should you do to get links?

Now we get to the million dollar question: what should you do to get those valuable links? We believe in a holistic link building approach. You’ll have to create a website that people want to link to. It sounds so simple: Create high-quality, funny, original or exceptional content people want to share. But how do you do this?

First and foremost, find out who your audience is. Who are you trying to reach with your content? What kind of content do they need? What information are they looking for and what kind of questions do they ask? Which words do they use? And, what kind of websites do they visit?

If you can answer these questions, it will be easier to create content that fits your audience’s needs (for instance, by using the principles of content design). Also, when you’ve created that page with valuable content for your audience, and you know where your audience is (which websites they visit), you’ll have a starting point for your link building activities: you can start reaching out to those website owners. That’s what link building is, in a nutshell: Sharing your article with parties that might be interested in sharing it too. That’s why it’s key to target the right niche for your shop or blog. This focus decreases the number of people you’ll have to contact and increases the chances of actually getting a link.

People will only link from their website to yours if it’s in their audience’s (or their own) interest. Convincing them to link will only happen if your product or content really is exceptional. Offering them to try or use your product (if you have one) for free might help convince them. And always make sure to contact them personally, as this will lead to better results. Read all about this process in our step by step guide to link building.

Link building for bloggers and pros

Link building requires time, effort and persistence. As a blogger, you might dread link building even more. If you can relate to this, Caroline’s post on her struggles with link building as a blogger is a great read.

Have your bases covered and want to take it a step further? Then we’d advise you to read this article with advanced link building tips by Kris Jones. You’ll learn which tools you can use to find out which sites already link to you and what you can do to get more of those. Find out everything about broken link building, reclamation link building, the so-called skyscraper technique and more.

Pssst… if reaching out really isn’t your thing, you can always start with some “internal link building”: fix your internal linking structure!

The post What is link building? appeared first on Yoast.

How to get a Google answer box

Did you notice Google is offering fewer options for your search results to shine? It seems like Google regularly adds a new box to the search result pages that answers searchers’ questions immediately, without them having to click on anything. For instance, type in [Blade Runner 2049] and you’ll be bombarded by four ads, a full knowledge graph panel, showtimes for the movie, top stories and Twitter feeds until you finally reach the first organic result. Google’s push to rich results not only brings challenges but also opportunities: answer boxes can make you an instant star in the search results. Find out how to get a Google answer box.

Update: Since the 11.0 release, Yoast SEO builds a full structured data graph for every post or page on your site! A graph is a complete piece of structured data with well-defined connections to all the different parts. Search engines now not only know what all the parts mean but also how they fit together. Want to know what it does for your website? Read all about Yoast SEO 11.0!

What are answer boxes?

A Google answer box (or featured snippet) is a highlighted search box that answers the question you type in the Google search bar. Since this answer box is situated above the regular organic search results, everybody is bound to notice this. So, you can imagine the effect that might have. Having your content as an answer box not only brings in a lot of traffic, but it also proves your authority on the subject – Google picked you, right?

Answer boxes often appear as a paragraph or a bulleted list, accompanied by an image. The image does not necessarily have to come from the article itself. Google seems to pick it, sometimes even from the site of a competitor, although that doesn’t happen that much anymore.

Take the search result [improve mobile site] or [how to improve mobile site]; both yield answer boxes with eight tips to improve your mobile site. I wrote and structured that article with Google’s answer box in mind and it paid off. By structuring the information in an easy to understand way and by giving great suggestions, Google put two and two together and found this post to provide the best answer to the question above. You can do this too.

Featured snippets let you jump to the top of the charts

Now to understand the value of answer boxes, it’s important to see how they live within the search results page. The search results page consists of several parts, among others, the organic search results, ads, and one or more dynamic search blocks. Google is increasingly trying to keep as many clicks as they can to themselves or send them to ad partners. Ads and inline search results like answer boxes, featured snippets, knowledge graph items, et cetera increasingly obfuscate organic search results. For certain searches and industries, that leaves a lot less room to shine with your organic results.

Take that Blade Runner 2049 example I mentioned in the intro. Check the screenshot below (click to enlarge), and you’ll see what I mean. Yes, this is an extreme example, but it does prove my point. Luckily, we can try to get answer boxes to bring us an additional stream of traffic. Not to mention that answering questions is an excellent way to get your content ready for voice search.

Snippet Blade Runner 2049

How to write content for Google answer boxes

There are several ways to try and aim for answer boxes. In the list below, I’ve listed some things you need to keep in mind when writing for Google answer boxes:

  • Do your keyword research
  • Find out what people ask about your keywords/brand/product/service
  • Look at the ‘People also ask’ boxes for ideas
  • Use Answer the Public to find questions to answer
  • Check several current answers to see how it works
  • Find out where you could improve
  • Determine how to structure your content
  • Make your content super helpful and easy to understand
  • Keep your answers short and snappy, at a maximum of 50 words
  • Make the article easy for Google to digest, so use lists, subheadings, etc.
  • Mark up your article with structured data (although you don’t always need it)
  • Watch out that your content doesn’t become/feel unnatural
  • Not every search will yield an answer box (there are even regional variations)

To top it off, find a way to get people to click on the answer box. You don’t want people to read the answer box and move on. In the end, you want them on your site. Don’t give away all the answers immediately, but try to trigger people to come to your site so they can get the full picture.

Answer boxes and structured data

There’s a common misconception that you must always markup your articles with structured data if you want to get answer boxes. That’s not true. The article I mentioned above doesn’t have structured data attached to it, and it still got an answer box. In some cases, however, it is very helpful to add structured data to your content. Case in point: recipes.

If you have content like recipes, or any type of the content types listed by Google, adding the correct structured data will improve your chances of getting an answer box. It’s like telling Google what your page is about by shouting it in a megaphone. Now, Google instantly understands content that has been enhanced with structured data and will use it to show it in all kinds of cool search features. If you want to learn how to apply structured data to your site so you can be rewarded the highly valued rich snippets, you should try our Structured data training.

The old ‘Google determines everything’ adagio

As always, Google and only Google will pick the answers it shows in its search results if it shows them at all. In the end, there’s no magic formula for answer boxes. Google says the science behind it is very much in flux. Even the way Google finds and presents answer boxes is continually changing. For instance, Google is almost certainly looking at engagement and CTR when determining which answer to award an answer box. But there are also instances where Google picks an answer from a site on the second page of the results, or even further down the list. In the end, it always boils down to the simple question: “Does my answer deliver?”

Yes, you can do it too!

Aiming for Google answer boxes can be good fun. It’s hard to predict whether it will work, but once you get one, it’s a blast. You can easily incorporate this when you are writing new content for answer boxes, but updating old posts is worth a shot too. If you have particular pieces of content, like recipes, for instance, structuring your content for answer boxes is almost a must. And while you’re at it, please add structured data for this type of content as it is very important as well. Now, get to it!

Read more: Rich results everywhere »

The post How to get a Google answer box appeared first on Yoast.

The ultimate guide to content SEO

Content SEO is a key part of any SEO strategy. Without content, it’s impossible for your site to rank in search engines. It’s, therefore, crucial to write and structure quality content! This ultimate guide covers the most important areas of content SEO. Read on if you want to learn how to create content that ranks.

What is content SEO?

Content SEO refers to creating content that helps your web pages to rank high in the search engines. It includes everything to do with the writing and structuring of content on your website. There are three major elements you need to consider to produce content that will make your website rank well: keyword strategy, site structure and copywriting.

Content SEO is important because search engines, such as Google, read your website, so the words you use on your site determine whether or not your site will rank in their results pages. Of course, your website should be well-designed, with a great user interface, and all the technical stuff that makes your site rank in Google should also be covered. But without good quality content, your site does not stand a chance in the search engines.

1. Keyword research

What is keyword research?

Keyword research is basically the steps you take to create an extensive list of keywords you would like to rank for. Every content SEO strategy should begin with keyword research, because you have to know what your audience is searching for if you want to generate traffic. Keyword research helps you to discover the terms you should be aiming to rank for.

Keyword research has four steps:

  • First, you write down the mission of your business;
  • Next, you make a list of all the keywords you want to be found for;
  • Look at search intent
  • Finally, you create landing pages for all these keywords.

If you do your keyword research right, you should have a clear overview of the terms people use and the terms for which you want the pages on your site to be found. This overview will serve as a guide for writing content on your website.

Read more: Keyword research: the ultimate guide »

Why is keyword research so important for SEO content?

Proper keyword research will make clear which search terms your audience uses. This is crucial. At Yoast, we regularly encounter clients who use particular words when talking about their products, while their customers use entirely different words. Optimizing SEO content for words that people do not use doesn’t make any sense. Doing proper keyword research makes sure that you are using the same words as your target audience and therefore makes the whole effort of optimizing your website worthwhile.

Some terms we use in keyword research

Keywords and keyphrases

We tend to use the word ‘keyword‘ all the time, but we don’t necessarily mean it has to be just one word. ‘WordPress SEO’ is a keyword, as is ‘Google Analytics plugin.’ So you can have keywords containing multiple words!

Long tail keywords

The longer (and more specific) a search term is, the easier it will be to rank for that term. Keywords that are more specific (and usually longer) are usually referred to as long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific and focus more on a niche.

How many keywords?

It is very hard to give an exact number of keywords you should focus on. And then again, it’s very simple: You just need to have a lot – as many as you can come up with. More than 1,000 keywords is probably too many though!

Even if you’re a reasonably small business, you’ll probably end up with a couple of hundred keywords. But you don’t have to create pages for all of these immediately. The great thing about having a Content Management System (CMS) like WordPress is that you can gradually add content. Think about what keywords you would like to rank for right away, and which ones aren’t immediately important. Determine what your priorities are and plan the creation of your content.

Head or tail?

Classifying your keywords is essential. Some keywords are very common and competitive (head), while others are long-tail. Decide which are your most critical, high-level keywords – the ones that generate sufficient traffic for your website and best fit your business. You will probably only have a few of these general keywords for your business, the rest of them will be more down the tail. In the next section, we will give more in-depth information on long tail keywords (and the importance of these keywords).

SEO content focusing on the most common keywords should be on the top level pages on your website (homepage and the pages one level beneath your homepage), whereas content focusing on long tail keywords should be more on the tail end of your site.

Keyword intent and search intent

As you’re doing keyword research, it really pays off to think about the search intent of users. Would they be looking for information when they enter your keyword as a search term? Or is their goal to buy something? Keyword intent is clear in keywords like [buy leather sofa], or [how to train your puppy]. But it’s not always that simple.

There are four types of intent:

  • Navigational intent: People want to visit a specific website, but rather than entering the URL, they’re entering a term into a search engine.
  • Informational intent: People are trying to find an answer to a particular question or information on a specific topic.
  • Commercial intent: People want to buy something in the near future and are doing research before making a purchase.
  • Transactional intent: People are looking to buy something after doing their commercial intent searches.

Search engines are always trying to answer to the exact needs people have, and they’re getting better and better at guessing people’s intent. So, put simply, if 95% of the people searching for ‘change car tire’ have informational intent, and you’re optimizing for transactional intent to sell tires, you’re probably not going to rank most of the time.

You can get a wealth of information from the results pages when you’re doing keyword research. If you want to find out what the intent is of people using your keywords, simply google those keywords and take a good look at the search results. Try to create your content so that it answers the specific need that you distill from the results for each keyword.

Keep reading: What is search intent? »

Tools you can use

There are multiple free tools available to help you with your keyword research. Check out our article about keyword research tools if you want to find out more about practical tools.

Adapting your keyword strategy

Your keyword strategy isn’t static. It should change and evolve alongside your company and your website. It should evolve and grow with you. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong.

You should be on top of the changes in your company and adapt your strategy simultaneously. If your online shop starts selling new products, extend your list with more keywords. If you’re aiming for new markets, it’s vital that your keywords are aimed at these new markets as well.

There are several keyword strategies to adopt. One of them is to start off trying to rank for long tail keywords and then aim at more general keywords afterwards, but you could also start by focusing on general ones then aim for more long tail keywords after. You can zoom in and pursue more niche activities, broaden your approach, adding more content on different things, or you can do both simultaneously.

2. Site structure

The second important aspect of content SEO is the structure of your site. First I will explain why site structure is critical, then I’ll show you what an ideal site structure looks like. I will also give tips on how to (quickly) improve your site structure without completely disrupting the core of your website.

Why is site structure important for content SEO?

There are two main reasons why site structure is an important ranking factor and therefore imparative for SEO content:

a. Good structure helps Google to ‘understand’ your site

The way your site is structured gives Google significant clues about where to find the most important content. Your site’s structure determines whether a search engine understands what your site is about, and how easily it will find and index content relevant to your site’s purpose and intent. A good site structure will, therefore, lead to a higher ranking in Google.

By creating such a structure, you can use existing content that has attracted links from others to help other pages rank as well. Your site’s structure will help spread some of that link juice to the other pages on your site. On a commercial site, that means that you can use quality content you’ve written to boost the search engine rankings of your sales pages too.

b. Good structure makes sure you are not competing with your own SEO content

On your website, you will probably have multiple articles about similar topics. At Yoast, for example, we write about SEO. If we wrote eight articles about SEO, Google wouldn’t know which of these is most important. If we didn’t clarify this with our site structure, we’d be competing with our own articles for Google’s top spot. So, solving problems like this using a sound internal linking structure will result in higher rankings overall.

The ideal structure of a site

Ideally, you should structure your site like a pyramid. On top of the pyramid is your homepage and on the homepage are links to some other pages (such as category pages). These pages, in turn, link to even more pages.

In an effective content SEO strategy, your keyword strategy and the way you structure your site work together. In a proper keyword strategy, you’ll have thought about common, competitive keywords as well as more long tail niche search terms. You should make a similar dichotomy in your site structure. Pages focusing on more common search terms should appear high in your pyramid, while pages optimized for more long tail keywords should appear in a lower part of your site structure. These long tail pages at the bottom of the pyramid must link correctly to the pages higher in the pyramid.

Read on: The ultimate guide to site structure »

Practical tips on improving your site structure

If you’re serious about content SEO, you’ll most likely already have a live website. So it may be a bit late to set up your site’s structure in an ideal pyramid-like way. Don’t despair – there are still plenty of things you can do to improve your site’s structure and your SEO content.

Decide upon cornerstone content

You should focus your efforts on cornerstone articles. These are the articles you’re most proud of, that fit the mission of your website best. This ultimate guide is, in fact, one of our cornerstones. You want to rank for these articles the most. If you haven’t decided which of your articles are the most important yet, start thinking about that now. Make these articles the best ones on your site. Give them extra TLC and update them regularly.

Keep on reading: What is cornerstone content »

Link from tail to head

Once you’ve decided upon your precious cornerstones, make sure you link from all your ‘tail’ articles to those cornerstones. That way, Google will know which articles to rank highest. Read all about this in our article about incorporating cornerstones into your site structure.

Use tags (but not too many)

Your site will also benefit from adding tags. Tags and taxonomies will give your site more structure – or at least, Google will understand it better. They group your articles about similar topics. Don’t overdo it, though. Some people have more tags than articles. Using too many tags will lead to a confusing, poorly-structured website.

Avoid duplicate content

The same SEO content can turn up at multiple places on your site. As a reader, you don’t mind: you still get the content you came for. But a search engine has to choose something to show in the search results, as it doesn’t want to show the same content twice.

Moreover, when other websites link to your product, chances are some of them link to the first URL, while others link to the second URL. But if these duplicates all link to the same URL, your chance of ranking top 10 for the relevant keyword would be much higher. Canonicalization is the solution to duplicate content. You can configure the canonical URL in the advanced tab of Yoast SEO.

Remove old SEO content

If the content on a page is outdated, remove it! However, you may have had some valuable links to that page. You want to make sure you still benefit from these links, even though the page doesn’t exist any longer, so you should redirect the URL.

Redirecting pages is not difficult if you have our Yoast SEO Premium plugin, which can help you to take care of redirects. Preferably, you redirect the old URL (301) to the page or product that replaced the old page or product, or a related page if there is no replacement. That could be the category page of the specific product, or, as a very last resort, your homepage. This way the (outdated) page won’t interfere with your site structure anymore.

Deal with orphaned content

The term ‘orphaned content’ refers to articles that don’t have any links from your other articles or posts. Because of that, these articles are hard to find, both by Google and by users of your site. Google will consider this type of content less important. So, if an article is important to you, make that clear to Google (and your visitors) by linking to that particular article from other (related) content. Read more about solving the problem of orphaned articles in our article about orphaned content.

Check out our article on how to improve your site structure in 4 simple steps for more tips and practical input.

3. Copywriting

The third and final aspect of a successful content SEO strategy is copywriting. You should write articles that are attractive to read, and that makes your audience want to stay on your website. At the same time, you want to make your SEO content attractive for Google. But some people go too far and optimize their content so overtly that they become terrible to read. At Yoast, we suggest optimizing your text for search without adversely affecting the originality of your idea or the readability of your text.

Read more: The ultimate guide to SEO copywriting »

Copywriting starts with an original idea

The first requirement for high-quality copywriting is to write original content. Your blog post or your article should be ‘fresh,’ new and original. It has to be different from all the other blog posts and articles that are already on the internet. It should be content that people will want to read.

If you did your keyword research well, you ended up with a long list of terms you want to be found for. This list can be a guide for you to choose from. A keyword is not yet a topic, though. You should make sure to come up with an original idea for your blog post – an idea in which the desired focus keyword has a prominent place.

Original SEO content doesn’t necessarily mean brand new content. Of course, if your story is completely new, that’ll automatically mean it’s original. However, giving your (professional) opinion on a particular topic also counts as original content. Your own personal angle to a story will make your content unique and original.

Think about your audience

If you want to write original content, you should think about your audience and who they are. Also, ask yourself:

  • What do you want to tell your audience?
  • What will be the main message of your article?
  • What is the purpose of your article?
  • What do you want your audience to do after they’ve read your article? (Do you want them to engage, to buy your stuff, to read more posts?)

Thinking about these questions will help you to come up with an original idea for your post or article.

Content design

Content design is a process that helps you produce content based on actual user needs. It doesn’t just help you figure out what your user wants, but it focuses more on what the user actually needs. Thinking about your content in this way will help your user to get that content when they need it, in the language and format they need it.

Content design isn’t just a technique to help you produce better content – it’s a new way of thinking about content. If you want to know more about content design, read our post on content design: a great way to make user-centered content.

Copywriting requires readable SEO content

A key requirement for writing high-quality content is to write content that’s easily readable. Readability is important both for your audience and for Google. After all, not only do people read your articles, but Google does too.

If your text is well structured and clearly written, readers will understand your message, but perhaps, more importantly, it will also help Google understand better too. If your main message is clearer to Google, your post is far more likely to rank well in the search engines.

Readability is about many factors, including text structure, sentence length and writing clear paragraphs. Read all about the importance of readability in this post. For more tips on readability, you can read our post on how to make an article more readable.

Content, context and search intent

As Google is getting smarter, it starts to understand content on sites better. It doesn’t just see if a keyword pops up a certain number of times on a page. It also takes into account the context of those keywords, like co-occurring terms and phrases, related words and synonyms. On top of that, as mentioned before, Google is able to understand queries of users better: it tries to determine what the search intent of the user is. Is he or she looking for a product or just information? Which pages fit that intent best?

All these developments mean that you should focus on more than just using your keyword often enough. It means you should also think about the words you use around it: do they make clear what topic you’re discussing? And, do you have the purpose in mind of the post or page you’re creating? Does it just provide information or are you trying to sell something, and does that align with what your users are actuall looking for? Yoast SEO Premium lets you optimize your SEO content with synonyms, making it even easier to add context to your articles.

Content should be optimized for search engines

The final requirement for writing high-quality content is to make sure the content is optimized for search engines. You want your SEO content to be easily found. Findability has to do with increasing the likelihood Google will pick up your content for the result pages. It’s important that you take this final step after you’ve written an original and readable post.

Yoast SEO helps you tweak your text just a little bit more. If you’ve written your article, focused on that original idea, and optimized the readability of your post, you should take a look at the SEO analysis in Yoast SEO. Red and orange bullets indicate which aspects of your findability need a little bit more attention. You don’t need a green bullet for every aspect though, as long as your overall score is good.

Yoast SEO will help you to optimize your snippet preview as well. These tweaks can vastly improve your chances to be picked up by the search engines. Read more about optimizing your post in our article on how to use the content and SEO analysis.

Conclusion on Content SEO

Content SEO is such a huge part of SEO. It encompasses all the aspects of writing and structuring content on your website. Content SEO is essential. Google reads and scans your website text. Google’s algorithm decides the ranking of your site largely based on the content you publish. And we all know content is king. So, you need to write awesome SEO content, focus on the right keywords and structure your website in such a way Google understands it. It’s a lot of work, but it will pay off in the long run.

Keep reading: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post The ultimate guide to content SEO appeared first on Yoast.

WordProof, CoBlocks update, Genesis framework 3.0 beta and more

Another week, another news roundup! In this edition, we’ll cover an interesting solution to really authenticate your content. I’d also like to highlight a tutorial on how to add AMP to your site and a cool gallery block enhancing plugin. And there’s more, so let’s get started…

Time-stamping your content with WordProof

In this day and age where #fakenews is rampant, proving the authenticity and integrity of your content has become paramount. In some cases, you may even need to comply with privacy policy laws. Up until now, setting this up for your WordPress blog was extremely laborious and difficult to do.

WordProof solves exactly this problem by time-stamping your WordPress content to the Blockchain. And yes, this is the first real-life application with the blockchain that actually makes sense to me. All you need to do is install their plugin and follow the instructions to connect your site with the blockchain.

CoBlocks update

If you hadn’t noticed before, I’m a big fan of what Rich Tabor, now at GoDaddy, has done with the Block Editor enhancing CoBlocks plugin. Especially their galleries solutions are aces.

Yes, you read that correctly, the CoBlocks plugin comes with several variations, with different types of enhancements to the gallery block. They released their 1.10 version, which polishes the blocks even more, has easier maps, Form Block Spam Protection, and more. So, check out the plugin if you haven’t yet.

AMP your site up the right way

Bill Erickson walks us through building a Native AMP site. His tutorial takes the perspective of doing this in the Genesis Framework. But, don’t let that stop you from learning from it.

Genesis Framework 3.0 beta released

Genesis 3.0 will be the first big release in years. Since Genesis is already 9 years old, there were definitely things that could be removed and improved. The entire theme has been overhauled and, for instance, the blog template will be removed entirely.

One of the things which will be added to Genesis 3.0 is the integration with AMP. Which means that Bill’s above-mentioned AMP tutorial is actually easier to do with Genesis 3.0. You can try out the 3.0 beta and see for yourself.

Bonus links

  • WP Engine released a beta package of curated development tools. It’s called the DevKit and includes a local development environment, Genesis-specific functionality, and a wealth of other inclusions. It’s all geared towards helping you create and debug WordPress projects.
  • Gutenberg 5.9 was released and it adds a new type of notices called ‘Snackbars’. A ‘Snackbar’ displays a succinct message that is cleared out after a small delay.
  • The XML Sitemaps Feature Project Proposal was published. It’s a joint effort between us (Yoast), Google and various other contributors to get the sitemaps into WordPress Core.

The post WordProof, CoBlocks update, Genesis framework 3.0 beta and more appeared first on Yoast.

How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO

Many, many sites have an FAQ page. This is a page where a lot of frequently asked questions get the appropriate answer. It is often a single page filled to the brim with questions and answers. While it’s easy to add one, it’s good to keep in mind that not all sites need an FAQ. Most of the times all you need is good content targeted at the users’ needs. Here, I’ll discuss the use of FAQ pages and show you how to make one yourself with Yoast SEOs new structured data content blocks for the WordPress block editor. You won’t believe how easy it is.

For more information on our Schema structured data implementation, please read our Schema documentation.

What is an FAQ?

FAQ stands for frequently asked questions. It is a single page collecting a series of question and its answers on a specific subject, product or company. An FAQ is often seen as a tool to reduce the workload of the customer support team. It is also used to show that you are aware of the issues a customer might have and to provide an answer to that.

But first: Do you really, really, really need an FAQ?

Usually, if you need to answer a lot of questions from users in an FAQ, that means that your content is not providing these answers and that you should work on that. Or maybe it is your product or service itself that’s not clear enough? One of the main criticisms of FAQs is that they hardly ever answer the questions consumers really have. They are also lazy: instead of figuring out how to truly answer a question with formidable content — using content design, for instance –, people rather throw some random stuff on a page and call it an FAQ.

That’s not to say you should never use an FAQ. Numerous sites successfully apply them — even we use them sparingly. In some cases, they do provide value. Users understand how an FAQ works and are quick to find what they are looking for — if the makers of the page know what they are doing. So don’t make endless lists of loosely related ‘How can I…’ or ‘How to…’ questions, because people will struggle to filter out what they need.

It has to be a page that’s easy to digest and has to have real answers to real questions by users. You can find scores of these if you search for them: ask your support team for instance! Collect and analyze the issues that come up frequently to see if you’re not missing some pain points in your products or if your content is targeting the wrong questions.

So don’t hide answers to pressings questions away on an FAQ page if you want to answer these in-depth: make an article out of it. This is what SEO deals with: provide an answer that matches your content to the search intent.

Questions and answers spoken out loud?

Google is trying to match a question from a searcher to an answer from a source. If you mark up your questions and answers with FAQ structured data, you tell search engines that this little sentence is a question and that this paragraph is its answer. And all these questions and answers are related to the main topic of the page.

Paragraph-based content is all the rage. One of the reasons? The advent of voice search. Google is looking for easy to understand, block-based content that it can use to answer searchers questions right in the search engine — or by speaking it out loud. Using the Schema property speakable might even speed up this content discovery by determining which part of the content is fit for text-to-speech conversion.

How to build an FAQ page in WordPress via Yoast SEO content blocks

The best way to set up a findable, readable and understandable FAQ page on a WordPress site is by using the structured data content blocks in Yoast SEO. These blocks for the new block editor — formally known as Gutenberg –, make building an FAQ page a piece of cake.

All the generated structured data for the FAQ will be added to the graph Yoast SEO generates for every page. This makes it even easier for search engines to understand your content. Yoast SEO automatically adds the necessary structured data so search engines like Google can do cool stuff with it. But, if nothing else, it might even give you an edge over your competitor. So, let’s get to it!

  1. Open WordPress’ new block editor

    Make a page in WordPress, add a title and an introductory paragraph. Now add the FAQ structured data content block. You can find the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks inside the Add Block modal. Scroll all the way down to find them or type ‘FAQ’ in the search bar, which I’ve highlighted in the screenshot below.yoast seo structured data content blocks FAQ

  2. Add questions and answers

    After you’ve added the FAQ block, you can start to add questions and answers to it. Keep in mind that these questions live inside the FAQ block. It’s advisable to keep the content related to each other so you can keep the page clean and focused. So no throwing in random questions.yoast seo structured data content blocks faq add question

  3. Keep filling, check and publish

    After adding the first question and answering it well, keep adding the rest of your questions and answers until you’ve filled your FAQ page. In the screenshot below you see two questions filled in. I’ve highlighted two buttons, the Add Image button and the Add Question. These speak for themselves.

    Once you are done, you’ll have a well-structured FAQ page with valid structured data. Go to the front-end of your site and check if everything is in order. If not, make the necessary changes.

What does an FAQ rich result look like?

We have an FAQ page for our Yoast Diversity Fund and that page was awarded an FAQ rich result by Google after we added an FAQ structured data content block. So, wondering what an FAQ looks like in Google? Wonder no more:

An example FAQ rich result for a Yoast page

Keep in mind that an FAQ rich result like this might influence the CTR to that page. It might even lead to a decrease in traffic to your site since you are giving away answers instantly. It is a good idea, therefore, to use it only for information that you don’t mind giving away like this. Or you have to find a way to make people click to your site. Do experiment with it, of course, to see the effects. Maybe it works brilliantly for you, who knows?

What does this look like under the hood?

Run your new FAQ page through Structured Data Testing Tool to see what it looks like for Google. Yoast SEO automatically generates valid structured data for your FAQ page. Here’s a piece of the Yoast Diversity Fund page, showing one particular question and its answer:

The first question and answer from the structured data graph

It’s basically built up like this. The context surrounding the questions is an FAQPage Schema graph. Every question gets a Question type and an acceptedAnswer with an answer type. That sounds hard, but it’s not. All you have to do is fill in the Question and the Answer and you’re good to go!

This translates to the code below as generated automatically by the Yoast SEO structured data content blocks. Now, Google will immediately see that this piece of content contains a question with an accepted answer. It will also see how this FAQ fits in with the rest of the page and the entities within your site. If you’re lucky, this might eventually lead to a featured snippet or another type of rich result.

<script type='application/ld+json' class='yoast-schema-graph yoast-schema-graph--main'> {
    "@context":"https://schema.org",
    "@graph":[ {
        "@type": "Organization", "@id": "https://yoast.com/#organization", "name": "Yoast", "url": "https://yoast.com/", "sameAs": ["https://www.facebook.com/yoast", "https://www.instagram.com/yoast/", "https://www.linkedin.com/company/1414157/", "https://www.youtube.com/yoast", "https://www.pinterest.com/yoast/", "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoast", "https://twitter.com/yoast"]
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"WebSite",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/#website",
        "url":"https://yoast.com/",
        "name":"Yoast",
        "publisher": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/#organization"
        }
        ,
        "potentialAction": {
            "@type":"SearchAction",
            "target":"https://yoast.com/?s={search_term_string}",
            "query-input": "required name=search_term_string"
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type": ["WebPage", "FAQPage"], "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#webpage", "url": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/", "inLanguage": "en-US", "name": "How to Apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund • Yoast", "isPartOf": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/#website"
        }
        ,
        "image": {
            "@type": "ImageObject", "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#primaryimage", "url": "https://yoast.com/app/uploads/2018/03/Yoast_diversity_fund_FI__1_-1.jpg", "width": 1200, "height": 628
        }
        ,
        "primaryImageOfPage": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#primaryimage"
        }
        ,
        "datePublished":"2019-05-03T11:12:29+00:00",
        "dateModified":"2019-06-07T09:51:36+00:00",
        "breadcrumb": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#breadcrumb"
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"BreadcrumbList",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#breadcrumb",
        "itemListElement":[ {
            "@type":"ListItem",
            "position":1,
            "item": {
                "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "https://yoast.com/", "url": "https://yoast.com/", "name": "Home"
            }
        }
        ,
        {
            "@type":"ListItem",
            "position":2,
            "item": {
                "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/", "url": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/", "name": "Yoast Diversity Fund"
            }
        }
        ,
        {
            "@type":"ListItem",
            "position":3,
            "item": {
                "@type": "WebPage", "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/", "url": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/", "name": "How to Apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund"
            }
        }
        ]
    }
    ,
    [ {
        "@type":"ItemList",
        "mainEntityOfPage": {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#webpage"
        }
        ,
        "numberOfItems":5,
        "itemListElement":[ {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800785311"
        }
        ,
        {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800831879"
        }
        ,
        {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800847830"
        }
        ,
        {
            "@id": "https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800862202"
        }
        ]
    }
    ],
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800785311",
        "position":0,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800785311",
        "name":"What type of costs are reimbursed?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our goal is to reimburse those costs that would keep you from speaking at tech conferences. If you, for whatever reason, have costs, such as child-care or specialized transport, for example, we invite you to share those with us and we'll look at those on a per-case scenario. Examples of costs we're happy to reimburse are:\u2013 Travel and transportation, e.g. gas, car rental, taxis or flights.\u2013 Accommodation, hotel, AirBNB or similar. \u2013 Child-care costs.\u2013 Sign language interpreter.\u2013 Visa costs."
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800831879",
        "position":1,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800831879",
        "name":"How many times can I apply for the Yoast Diversity Fund?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Our goal is to assist in increasing speaker diversity as much as possible. This means we'll focus on first-time applications mostly. However, there is no limit to the number of times you can apply."
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800847830",
        "position":2,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800847830",
        "name":"Is the fund available to all?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Yes. With the exception of Yoast employees, former Yoast employees, and contractors."
        }
    }
    ,
    {
        "@type":"Question",
        "@id":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800862202",
        "position":3,
        "url":"https://yoast.com/yoast-diversity-fund/apply/#faq-question-1556800862202",
        "name":"When should I apply?",
        "answerCount":1,
        "acceptedAnswer": {
            "@type": "Answer", "text": "Applicants should apply at least one month before the event."
        }
    }
    ]
}

</script>

Structured data is so cool

Structured data is hot. It is one of the foundations on which the web is built today and its importance will only increase with time. In this post, I’ve shown you one of the newest Schema additions, and you’ll increasingly see this pop up in the search results.

For more information on our Schema structured data implementation, please read our Schema documentation.

The post How to build a structured data-powered FAQ page using Yoast SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Content design: a great way to make user-centered content

You might know about content marketing and SEO copywriting, but do you know about content design? This new process is aimed at making content production much more structured and user-centered. Content design prevents you from simply typing out 500 words about a particular keyword without really thinking that through. For this, the inimitable Sarah Richards coined the term content design. It’s a way of improving content and aligning it with user needs, while also cutting cruft.

What is content design?

Sarah Richards of Content Design London says this: “Content design is answering a user need in the best possible way for the user to consume it.” It helps your user to get that content when they need it, in the language and format they need it. Content design isn’t just a technique the help you produce better content — it’s a new way of thinking about content.

Content design is part writing, part UX and part accessibility. It helps you produce content based on real users needs. In this regard, content doesn’t have to be a piece of text — it can be anything. If your research and process tell you a video would be the best possible solution for a user need, then so be it. Content design helps you get out of that text-oriented mindset.

A content design mindset helps you produce content that adds value to the user. You shouldn’t add another new page to the billions of pages out there already because someone told you so. Think it through. Ask questions. Is this even necessary? What is the underlying problem that needs solving? Content design should give you a good sense of the problem, instead of going straight for the solution.

Wants and needs

Content design is very much a process of figuring out not just what a user wants, but what he or she needs. They might want to learn how to solve a specific problem, but they need guidance to do that. You even have to juggle the needs of your business as well. In some cases, your content shouldn’t just provide an answer to a seemingly simple question, because the underlying need is totally different. Don’t assume stuff — research. Data is your friend — so are people, ask them.

Writing stories

After doing extensive research — we’ll get to that in a minute —, you know what you have to solve. You know what language people use and which sentiments surround a topic. Plus, you know which channel people are using. Now it’s time to turn those questions into answers. Here are the main tools to help you produce user-centered content: user stories and job stories.

A user story looks like this:

  • As a [person in a specific role]
  • I want to [perform an action or find something out]
  • So that I [can achieve my goal of…]

Here’s an example:

  • As a content writer new to SEO
  • I want to find out which WordPress tool can improve my writing
  • So that I can attract more traffic from search engines

A job story looks like this:

  • When [there’s a particular situation]
  • I want to [perform an action or find something out]
  • So I [can achieve my goal of…]

An example:

  • When I change the URL of a post in WordPress
  • I want to create a redirect
  • So I can prevent users from ending up on a dead link

Your stories should include acceptance criteria as well. There should be a way to check whether the piece of content meets these criteria.

So for the story above the acceptance criterion is:

This story is done when I know how to create a redirect in WordPress

This should form the basis of how you design your content.

User stories are helpful when you have different audiences looking to consume your content. Job stories are for specific audiences with targeted actions. For most sites, job stories would probably work best. These research-based stories help you determine what your content should answer. Don’t go out and make a million stories for every need, but focus on the most important ones. Your research should tell you what the most pressing matters are.

Now you can start designing your content.

How does content design differ from SEO copywriting?

We all know a little bit about SEO copywriting, right? You do your keyword research, you look at search intent and check out search volumes. You’ll find opportunities to get your content noticed in the search engines. This’ll help you attract clicks that, eventually, lead to something. If done well, you’re writing great, natural and user-centered copy about your keywords and the surrounding concepts. Done wrong, you’re missing the point or spamming with keywords. Or worse, you’re adding one more article to the gigantic pile of crappy articles.

The main difference between SEO copywriting and content design is that one is focused answering any question a user might have by using the correct keywords in a post, while the other is more open-minded about what the end result should be.

Also, the content design process has much more hands-on tools to make sure that you are fully on target with your content. In both cases, good preparation is half the battle. Find your user, discover where they are, what channel they are using, what language they use and what they deem important.

But like I said, content design isn’t another way to produce the same old content — it’s another way of thinking about it. By following the process, you get new insights and a great deal of input from the different user stories. What’s more, you get feedback from actual people, because you include them earlier in the process.

The content design process

Content design isn’t hard, but it is forcing you to rethink the way you work. Sarah wanted it to be easy to get going and her book on content design is just that. I’d definitely recommend reading that if you have an hour or two to spare. It’ll give you all the insights you need to get started, with many practical examples. Her training is ace as well, we’ve been lucky to attend her workshop with part of the Yoast blog team.

Now, let’s go over the content design process. Don’t forget your sticky notes, people!

Research: the discovery phase

Start off with the most important part of the process: Discovery. The discovery phase is all about doing thorough research into the assignment you’ve been given or the problem you’re trying to solve, the users it targets and the way these two connect. It’s a journey into the minds of users to figure out their wants and needs. It’s also very much a journey of trying to uncover the underlying need of the assignment.

The discovery phase helps you to understand:

  • Who your audience is
  • What they want and need
  • What language they use
  • Which channel they use
  • What your organization thinks it wants
  • What your organization really needs
  • How and what to prioritize
  • What you should communicate when (and where)

But how do you get all these insights? Well, good-old research. Look through the data; use Google Trends, Google Analytics, and other SEO tools like ubersuggest.io or Answer the Public. Go out on the street and talk to your audience. Ask your support team to chime in. Have a research team on hand? Use it! Read what users are saying on forums and platforms like Reddit and Quora. Doing this in tandem with everyone involved in this process makes the outcome even better. But watch out — try to stay away from what you already know. Don’t take the easy way out to be done with the research part.

Find user needs and map the user journey

Discovering user needs is an important step in the content design process. Besides finding out who your users are, you have to find out how they behave. If you are looking to promote a solution to a problem, find out how they currently got around that problem. Discover why they are experiencing this problem and what else they run into. What are they frustrated about? What do they need to solve this and turn frustration into happiness?

Remember, always keep it real. Everything should be based on research, not made up to fit your goal.

What journey does the user take to get to your solution? (c) Rosenfeld Media

The user journey is the relationship of a user with a product or brand over time and across communication channels. This is often a visual timeline with so-called touch points where the user comes in contact with the product. The user journey gives a bird’s eye view of where communication with a user should take place. Every touch point on the user journey may need a piece of content to help users meet their needs.

Since content design originated at GOV.uk, they have a wealth of information in their Content Design and User Research sections.

Find communication channels

Where are your users? Are they desktop computer users with broadband internet or are they mobile internet users with a capped data plan? Are they heavy search engine users or do they get their information from social media? What type of sites do they visit? Are they on forums? Or maybe even offline? Who do they trust?

Determine language and sentiment

As in SEO, the language users use is of the utmost importance. You’re bound to lose a large part of traffic or don’t get traffic at all when you’re using words that don’t align with your target audience. Always find out if people search for SEO or Search Engine Optimization, for example.

Use Google Trends to find what language people use. You can also use any of the well-known tools to do keyword research as we describe in our Ultimate Guide to Keyword Research. Make sure that you know your subject inside out and that you know all about related concepts as well. Only then can you form a complete picture of what you’re dealing with.

But while you are mapping your topic, you shouldn’t forget one thing: sentiment. One of the things content design reminds you of is that language changes with people’s mood. People use different words when angry. Find out if your subject is talked about positively or negatively. If people have a concern about your product you need to address that in your content. Sentiments must shape your strategy.

Create content

When you’re done with the discovery phase and you know everything about your audience and their needs, you’re ready to start designing content. You’ll use your job stories or user stories as input to come up with the best way possible to meet those needs. Remember, content design frees you of the classic text-oriented chains. It lets you decide — based on all your research — what the best way to help those particular users.

In a lot of cases, you’ll end up writing a post, UX copy or a piece of explanatory content. Writing and structuring content is an important piece of content design. Everything is aimed at making it as easy as possible for a user to understand. If your research shows that your user is often in need of answers quickly — because of where or in which situation they need that answer —, you most likely don’t have to write a 1,000-word post with the answer buried deep within those words. Give it immediately. If needed, keep it short and snappy. Writing strategies like the inverted pyramid help you do that.

Use plain language

If you want your content to answer user needs it must be easy to understand and plain. Don’t use exotic words or phrases and leave out the jargon. Everyone needs to be able to get it immediately. Well, maybe you think eloquently written content fits your brand better? Or, you don’t want to come across childish so you think you must use difficult words. Think again. Plain language helps everyone. Sarah has a great quote:

“Generally, people want to understand — not admire your language skills”

Sarah Richards

By using plain language you are not dumbing down your content, but rather opening it up for everyone to enjoy. In addition, it makes your content accessible. Accessibility is a big issue, often misunderstood. The first thing people will talk about when they talk about accessibility is making things available for the disabled among us. It is, however, so much more than that. By combining user needs with powerful, easy to grasp content you can open up that information to everyone, regardless of skill, the device they’re on, the knowledge they have et cetera.

At Yoast, we know the power of good, easy to understand content. Not only people enjoy readable texts, but search engines as well. That’s one of the reasons why we’ve built a readability tool in Yoast SEO to help you with that.

Ask for feedback — critique the work

One of the most important steps in content design is the crit. Crit is short for content critique and it’s all about sharing what you made and getting feedback on it, preferably in person. People are often hesitant of asking for feedback, but it is a necessary step to make sure that your content is awesome and exactly what’s needed.

Not everyone is good at giving and receiving feedback, so there are rules for a successful crit:

  • Be respectful for the person and the work
  • Discuss the work, not the person who created it
  • Give constructive feedback
  • Don’t give people the need to defend a decision

Doing a crit might give you new insights that make the piece of content even better. Or, you might find something else that improves your work or someone else in the future. Who knows! Crits are very valuable — it’s a good way to remind you why you did what and to see if the outcome fits with the research.

Iterate — keep improving

Content is never done. Remember the requirements you determined for a piece of content? Check if these are met so you can say with some kind of certainty that a piece of content is a success. After publishing you can keep track of how content is doing and make adjustments as you see fit. Try to stay on top of things and update the content within the time you set for it. Have feedback from users or other stakeholders? Use it to make a piece of content better, easier to read or more enjoyable.

Content design techniques are a great help

Content design is a great process that helps you create content that people actually need or use. You can use it for all kinds of things, from ux writing to content marketing blog posts. Everywhere you need turn user needs into content, you can use content design. Even if you just pick up some of the techniques — like working with job stories — you’re bound to find it useful. Try it!

The post Content design: a great way to make user-centered content appeared first on Yoast.

Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph

Yoast SEO 11.4 is out today. This release features loads of structured data improvements. We’ve improved the way Yoast SEO Schema works with AMP, plus we’ve enhanced our FAQ blocks and added them to the graph. Find out what Yoast SEO 11.4 is all about!

First: Our next live SEO webinar is coming up! Be sure to join us on June 26 for the Big “Is it a ranking factor??!!” Show! »

Once again: Schema

We’re still working hard on making our new structured data implementation even more awesome. In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’re not only improving the way we handle some things, but also reintroducing our FAQ structured data blocks.

As a reminder, please read our Schema documentation if you are interested in why we’re doing this and how it all came together. The release post of Yoast SEO 11.0 has a lot of background information as well.

FAQ structured data now in the graph

One of the latest rich results Google shows is the FAQ. To stand a chance of getting these highlighted in Google, you not only need an FAQ on your page but also FAQPage structured data. Luckily, Yoast SEO comes with structured data content blocks for adding FAQ pages to your site. These only work with the WordPress block editor.

The Yoast SEO structured data blocks let you add FAQ content quickly

The blocks are incredibly easy to work with:

  • Pick the FAQ block
  • Add a question
  • Give an answer to that question
  • Add an image, if necessary
  • Repeat for all your question for this particular FAQ

Our blocks automatically generate valid FAQPage structured data in the background. Google is now ready to pick it up, like it did with this page:

The Yoast Diversity Fund page has a nice FAQ listing

In Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve improved the code generated by our FAQ structured data block following Google’s latest changes. In addition, we made sure all data is nicely stitched into our graph. For FAQ pages, search engines now not only can identify these pages as an FAQ but they can also figure out how these pages fit in the grander scheme of things.

To get this done — and to make it as flexible as possible —, we’re introducing a new action and a new filter. The wpseo_pre-schema_block-type_<block-type> action allows you to change the graph output based on the blocks on the page. The wpseo_schema_block_<block-type> filter lets you filter graph output per block.

You can read more about this new API in our Gutenberg Blocks Schema documentation.

Now also on Reader mode AMP pages

The new Yoast SEO Schema implementation works perfectly well with modern AMP pages, but there where some issues with the Reader mode (formerly known as Classic mode). These issues have now been fixed.

The focus keyphrase field is now right at the top

UX improvements

We’re doing a number of design changes to clean up the sidebar and meta box in order to improve UX. In this release, we’ve moved the Focus keyphrase field to the top of the meta box and sidebar, making this essential item much easier to find. We’ve also linked the SEO and readability scores in the Classic Editor. A click on these items now leads to the corresponding fields in the Yoast SEO meta box below. Stay tuned for more UX improvements in coming versions of Yoast SEO.

Update now

In the release cycle ending with Yoast SEO 11.4, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced our Schema implementation. The FAQ is the next item to be added to the graph and there’s more coming up. We’ve also started work on improving the UX of the meta box, making it easier to use and enhance the discoverability of the features.

Find all changes in the changelog for Yoast SEO 11.4.

The post Yoast SEO 11.4: FAQ structured data in the graph appeared first on Yoast.

The big “Is it a Ranking Factor?!” webinar

It’s one of the most frequently asked questions in SEO: What factors into Google’s algorithm? What should I optimize to be able to rank? What should I do first, and what can wait? On Wednesday, June 26th, join Marieke van de Rakt, Joost de Valk, Jono Alderson and me, Jesse van de Hulsbeek, to settle the debate once and for all. We’ll discuss and show what matters most. And the answer might not be what you expect…

What am I going to watch?

The webinar will kick off with a quick-fire round of “Is it a Ranking Factor?!”, with Marieke and Joost telling you exactly what’s what. Then, you’ll get to enjoy a 10-minute rant by our very own Jono Alderson. Suffice it to say, he’s got an opinion on the matter. Then, we’ll cover some important factors in more detail in a round-table discussion. At the end of the show, we’ll do a live Q&A session which allows you to ask our panel of experts any questions you may have. Want to be sure your question is answered? Leave it in the comments and we’ll put it on the list!

How can I attend the webinar?

We’ll stream the webinar on YouTube, so it will be freely accessible to everyone. Visit https://yoa.st/rankingfactorshow to attend the stream. You can also subscribe to the Yoast channel on YouTube. Then, you’ll be notified when the stream starts. There will be no login or other requirements. Simply visit the page and enjoy! In the table below, you’ll see when the webinar starts for a number of common time zones.

Add the Ranking Factor webinar to your calendar!

(iCal event: click the link and download the ics file. Open the file, select your calendar and save the date. All the details (URL etc) are included in the event!).

PST (Pacific Time)11 AM
MT (Mountain Time)Noon
CT (Central Time)1 PM
ET (Eastern Time)2 PM
GMT (Greenwich Mean Time)7 PM
CET (Central European Time)8 PM
IST (India Standard Time)0:30 AM (June 27th)
AET (Australia Eastern Time)6 AM (June 27th)

If you can’t make it and want to watch the webinar at a later time, no problem. It’ll be freely available on YouTube afterwards.

The post The big “Is it a Ranking Factor?!” webinar appeared first on Yoast.