Why do so many eCommerce sites have a blog? Is that because online shop owners love to write posts? Or perhaps they have a lot of spare time on their hands? Probably not. Although blogging is lots of fun, it also is a great marketing and SEO strategy. And because of that, eCommerce site owners start a blog. Here, I’ll explain why blogging is such a great marketing and SEO strategy. On top of that, I’ll give some practical tips on how to set up blog on a eCommerce site. 

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Why blog on an eCommerce site?

Inform your audience about you and your products

Blogging is a great way to inform your audience about your product. In a blog post, you can show how to use a product and why people should buy it. You can also tell your audience about yourself and your company. And you’ll be able to tell the story of your products from your perspective. If you’re, for instance, selling baby clothes on your site, a blog about children and children’s fashion is a great idea.

Stay top of mind

If you blog on a regular basis and post your blog posts on social media, you’ll stay top of mind of your audience. You want your audience to remember you, even when they’re not going to buy anything just now. If a visitor encounters one of your posts on how to dress children on a hot day, for instance, this visitor may not immediately want to buy new clothes for his or her children. But, they got to know you and your eCommerce site through your post. That way, you increase the chance people think about you when they DO need new clothes for their children.

Blogging is a great SEO strategy

Maintaining a blog contributes to SEO as well. Every time you write a new blogpost, you’re adding fresh content, which Google likes. In addition to that, maintaining a blog will allow you to start writing content related to those keywords you would like to rank for.

Practical tips for your blog on an eCommerce site

What to blog about?

You can write about all kinds of things on your blog, but make sure to do proper keyword research first. You need to know what search terms you want to be found for. These keywords should be leading when you choose what to blog about. A keyword, however, is not a topic yet. You need an angle, a story around such a keyword.

A great way to come up with ideas for blog posts is by referring and writing about current events. Keep an eye on different news sites, and write posts in which you incorporate your views on the news in your niche. Another way to get ideas is to invite your audience to leave comments on your blog. It may take a while to get them, but you could receive some questions or feedback that are excellent starters for your next post.

Read more: ‘6 tips for coming up with blog ideas’ »

Blog in the menu

The menu or top navigation of your site helps visitors understand what your website is about and what you’re offering. It should reflect the structure of your website. If you add a blog to your eCommerce site, you should make sure it also appears in your menu. A blog should be in your main menu.

I would advise you to set it apart from the categories of your eCommerce site. Put it all the way left (next to home), or all the way right in your menu, for instance. You should be able to click through to your blog from your homepage. After all, you want visitors to find your blog easily. And linking to your blog from your homepage will indicate to Google that your blog is important, which can increase the ranking of your blog. Also, make sure your blog is on the same domain as your eCommerce site, this way both your eCommerce site and your blog will profit from each other’s rankings.

Use of tags

If you have a blog on your eCommerce site, you’d probably write a lot on topics related to your products. Maybe about events where you use them, or what to use them for, how to use them best, comparisons between different products etc. Therefore, it makes sense that your tags will partly overlap with the product categories and subcategories of your shop. This is OK. Because in the end, you’d like to rank with those posts to draw people to the products you sell. And, if you group products, whether that’s in categories or tags, it’s easier to make them rank.

Social media and newsletters

If you start a blog on your eCommerce site, make sure to share these posts on social media as well. In addition to that, you should definitely send out a newsletter promoting your latest blog posts to your audience. People need a reminder of the existence of you and your blog once in a while.

Conclusion

A blog is a great marketing and SEO tool for eCommerce sites. In your posts, you can tell readers about your brand and products, and perhaps also about yourself. No excuses here, just start blogging!

Keep reading: ‘How to start a blog’ »

Breadcrumbs are an important part of almost any good website. These little navigational aides not just help people visualize where they are on your site, but also help Google determine how your site is structured. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to add these helpful little pointers. Let’s see how breadcrumbs work.

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What are breadcrumbs?

When Hansel and Gretel went into the woods, Hansel dropped pieces of bread on the ground so they could find their way home if the two of them ever got lost. These breadcrumbs eventually became the model for the breadcrumbs we see on websites nowadays. A breadcrumb is a small text path, often located at the top of a page. On yoast.com, for instance, the path to our Yoast SEO plugin page is Home > Software > WordPress Plugins > Yoast SEO for WordPress. This breadcrumb immediately shows you where you are. Every part of that path is clickable, all the way to the homepage.

Breadcrumbs also appear in Google. If you use Yoast SEO or add the correct form of structured data to your site, search engines can pick up this data and could show your breadcrumbs in the search results. These provide users an easy to understand overview of where the page sits on your site.

Different kinds

Looking closely, we can distinguish different types of breadcrumbs. These are the three most common types of breadcrumbs you will find on sites:

Hierarchy based breadcrumbs

These will pop up most often. We use them on our site as well. Breadcrumbs like this will tell you where you are in a site structure and how many steps you can take to get back to the homepage. Something like Home > Blog > Category > Post name.

breadcrumbs hierarchy

Attribute based breadcrumbs

Attribute based breadcrumbs appear after a certain selection has been made, for instance, while searching for a product on an e-commerce site. Maybe, Home > Product category > Gender > Size > Color.

breadcrumbs attribute

History based breadcrumbs

History based breadcrumbs do what it says on the tin; they are ordered according to what you have been doing on the site. Think of these as a replacement for your internet history bar. These would appear like this: Home >  Previous page > Previous page > Previous page > Current page. It’s also possible to combine these like Macy’s does in the screenshot below.

breadcrumbs history

Advantages to using breadcrumbs

There are a couple of advantages to using breadcrumbs on your site. Let’s go over them quickly:

1. Google loves them

Your visitors like breadcrumbs, but Google likes them as well. Breadcrumbs give Google another way of figuring out how your website is structured. In addition to that, Google might use your breadcrumbs to show these in the search results. This way, your search result will at one become much more enticing to users. To increase the chance to get these breadcrumbs in Google, you need to add structured data or use Yoast SEO.

2. They enhance the user experience

People hate to get lost. When confronted with a new location, people often look around in search of recognizable objects or landmarks. The same goes for websites. You need to keep visitors happy and reduce as much friction as possible. Breadcrumbs can help your user experience since it is a well-known interface element that instantly shows people a way out. No need to click the back button!

3. They lower bounce rates

Hardly anyone comes in via the homepage anymore. It’s all organic search nowadays. That means every part of your site could be an entry point. You must come up with a way to guide these visitors to other parts of your site if the selected page does not meet their expectations. Breadcrumbs can lower bounce rates because you’re offering visitors an alternative means of browsing your site. Don’t you think it’s better to send a visitor to your homepage than back to Google?

How to add breadcrumbs

There are several ways of adding breadcrumbs to your site. Firstly, if you use a WordPress site, you can use one of the many breadcrumb plugins or just use Yoast SEO. If you use a different CMS the process might be different. It is also possible to add them by hand. If you want them to appear in Google as well, you need to use structured data in a way that Google understands. You can find more information on this in Google’s developer documentation on breadcrumbs.

Yoast SEO offers an easy way to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site. It will add everything necessary to add them not just visible on your site, but get them ready for Google as well. To add breadcrumbs to your site, you need to add the following piece of code to your theme where you want them to appear:

<?php
if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) {
yoast_breadcrumb('


','

');
}
?>

This code can often be placed inside the single.php or page.php files, just above the title of the page. Some themes want it at the end of the header.php file. Try not to add it to functions.php since this could create problems.

After adding the code, you can go to the advanced settings of Yoast SEO and switch on breadcrumb support. Here, you can also determine how the breadcrumb structure will look and what prefixes will be used. Find out more on our Knowledge Base page on implementing breadcrumbs with Yoast SEO.

Conclusion

While using breadcrumbs, Hansel and Gretel still got lost in the woods. Don’t let that happen to your visitor. Breadcrumbs provide an easy to grasp way of navigating for users. Visitors instantly understand how the site structure works. For the same reason, Google loves them as well. Use Yoast SEO to add breadcrumbs to your site easily.

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

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

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Why blog?

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

Blogging for SEO

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

Blogging as a marketing tool

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

Read more: ‘To blog or not to blog’ »

Setting up a new blog

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

Keep reading: ‘How to start a blog’ »

What to blog about?

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

Keyword research

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

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

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

Inspiration for your post?

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

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

How to write a high-quality blog post?

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

Original content

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

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

 

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Readable content

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

Read on: ‘Does readability rank?’ »

Practical tips on how to write awesome blog posts

Think before you write

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

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

Write clear paragraphs

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

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

Get help and ask feedback

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

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

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

Optimize blog posts for the search engines

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

content analysis yoast seo

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

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

Blog engagement

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

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

Marketing your blog

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

Social media and newsletters

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

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

Keep reading: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Monetizing your blog

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

Read on: ‘Monetizing your blog’ »

Maintaining a blog

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

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

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Site structure of a growing blog

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

Content planning of a growing blog

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Choose your niche

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

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Do your keyword research

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

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

Think about site structure

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

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

Keep reading: ‘What is cornerstone content?’ »

Write that first post

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

Pictures and videos

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

Read on: ‘Images for blogs’ »

Optimize for the search engines

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

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

Promote your blog

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

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

Keep reading: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Stick with it!

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

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

If you own a blog, you have to deal with the opinions, questions, and feedback from your blog’s visitors. Mostly you receive comments related to your post, but sometimes you might receive off-topic comments. How do you respond properly? And, more importantly, do off-topic comments on your blog post hurt your SEO? In this Ask Yoast we’ll explain if off-topic comments hurt your SEO and how you can respond to them.

Gerencer Thomas emailed us asking:

“Do off-topic comments on my blog post hurt my SEO?”

Check out the video or read the answer below!

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Do off-topic comments hurt SEO?

Check out the video or read the answer below!

Well yes, they can. If someone has a very long comment on your post that does not relate to the topic of your blog post, then you should probably delete that comment. Not only for SEO reasons, but also for your own sanity.

It’s very easy to just reach out to someone if he or she is saying something completely unrelated. Just email that person and say, “Hey, you said this and this. I can respond to that, but it’s not really related to the blog post, so I have deleted your comment, but here’s my reaction.” That’s a friendly reaction to the person leaving the comment on your blog, but it’s also keeping your blog post intact and on topic.

So, yes it can hurt your SEO; delete them if you can. Good luck!

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast we answer SEO questions from followers. Need some advice about SEO? Let us help you out! Send your question to ask@yoast.com.

Read more: ‘How to handle comments on your blog’ »

You want to rank on the words that are used a lot in the search engines, right? Justin Bieber is a term that is used very, very often. So, should we all start writing about Justin Bieber then? The answer of course is: (please) no. In this post, I explain why blogging about Justin Bieber – or other highly competitive terms – probably isn’t the best SEO strategy for you.

Attracting traffic is only step one

Let’s just imagine for a second you would be able to rank for a highly competitive search term as ‘Justin Bieber’. You’d appear in the top of the search results with your post about Justin. Unless you actually are a Belieber and have a site about Justin, attracting traffic on the search term ‘Justin Bieber’ is pretty much useless, though. People searching for ‘Justin Bieber’ want to read content about Justin Bieber. If your website is about flyfishing, barn animals or SEO plugins for that matter, the beliebers won’t stay on your website. They do not want to read your content or buy your products. These people are not your audience. Ranking on search terms simply because they’re popular doesn’t work, unless these terms are popular among your audience and in your niche.

Competitiveness of terms

Let’s be honest. Not every site will be able to instantly rank for Justin Bieber. Highly competitive terms are hard to rank for. That’s why our advice is to start out with focusing on those long tail keywords. Long tail keywords are more specific and less competitive. If you have a site selling pencils and pens, trying to go after ‘pencils’ as a search term may be a competitive market. You could start out by trying to rank for ‘pencils for drawing’ or ‘pencils for writing’, depending on what you’re selling specifically. If you’re able to rank for those longer and more specific search terms first, you could then aim to rank for the more competitive ones (in your niche).

Another benefit from focusing on long tail keywords is that these terms usually convert better. People using specific terms in their search behavior already have a pretty good idea about what they want. If they find the thing they’re looking for on your website, the chance they buy your stuff is rather high.

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Conclusion: don’t blog about Justin unless you are a Belieber

Blogging about highly competitive terms only to rank in the search engines is a completely useless SEO tactic. It will be really, really, really hard to compete with all the others focusing on these terms. Ranking on these highly competitive terms is therefore very hard. More importantly, ranking on these terms will probably not attract the audience you want to attract to your website.

You should do your very own keyword research. Find out which terms are beneficial for your site to rank on. Find out which words your audience is using while searching for your products and similar products. That’ll attract the traffic that will actually stay on your site!

Read more: ‘Why every content SEO strategy should start with keyword research’ »

Do you want your readers to engage with your blog? Want them to comment and share your post on social media? Want them to come back to your blog and read your next post? So, how do you achieve that? In this post, I’ll first explain the importance of blog engagement for SEO. After that, I’ll give 7 tips on how to increase the engagement of the audience to your blog.

So, what is blog engagement exactly?

We define blog engagement by all the ways people can interact with your post. This could be leaving a comment, sharing your post on their Facebook timeline or mentioning your blog post in a newsletter, Facebook post or blog post. Besides those, it’s a form of engagement to return to your website to read your next post or subscribe to your newsletter. Engaged readers are those readers that are active on your blog. You want your visitors to be active. These active users are the people that buy your stuff, read your newsletter and become regular visitors of your website. These people are your most loyal customers.

Why is blog engagement important for SEO?

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

But how do you increase the engagement of your audience? How do you make sure that people comment on your blog post and share it on social media? I’ll give you 7 tips to increase the engagement on your blog!

Tips to increase blog engagement

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1. Make sure your blog posts are awesome

Your content should be awesome. Your content should be so informative, funny or relevant, that people want to share it with the world. If you want to read more about the creation of awesome and SEO friendly content, go ahead and read this blog post.

2. Be consistent

In order to get people to engage with your blog, you should blog on a regular basis. Let people know what to expect. You don’t have to blog every day to create engagement, but make sure the intervals are predictable. If people know that you always publish posts on Thursdays, people might just swing by your website on these Thursdays.

3. Be original

Make sure your content is worth sharing. The most effective way to make sure that people want to share your content is to write original stuff. If your story is one of a kind, people will be more prone to sharing. Don’t be afraid to share your knowledge.

4. Be (a bit) controversial

People will respond if they disagree. So, if you want to provoke people to share their point of view on a certain issue, or you want to start an interesting discussion: make sure to be controversial. Make your statements a little bit bolder and a little less nuanced. Don’t go overboard, though, or you’ll have to deal with a lot of negative comments.

5. Ask for engagement

If you want people to respond to your post, ask them to do so! If visitors are actually invited to comment, chances are much higher they decide to do so. Ask people to share their thoughts on the matter at the end of a blog post, or encourage people to like or share your post on Facebook.

6. Respond to the engagement

If you do invite people to comment on your blog, be polite and respond to their comments. If your audience notices you pay attention to their reactions, they’ll be more inclined to come back and visit your website yet another time.

Read more: ‘How to handle comments on your blog’ »

7. Engage on other blogs

Make sure to be visible on other blogs as well. Comment on posts that have similar subjects as your own posts. If people see you engage on other blogs, they’ll be curious to see what you’ve written about the matter.

Conclusion on blog engagement

In order to collect an engaging audience for your blog you should be a little bold. Make sure to post awesome and original content and add just a little bit of controversy. And, do not forget to invite people to respond! And on that matter… how do you create engagement with your readers? Do you have a hot tip? I’d love to hear your view on this!

Keep reading: ‘Blog SEO: make people stay and read your post’ »

Making short video blogs (vlogs) can be a great way to attract new audiences and to entertain or surprise your current audience. It could make the blog on your website livelier. But is it always a good idea? And what does vlogging mean for the SEO of your website? How do you decide whether to write a blog or to record a vlog?

In this post, I’ll first explain the things you need to do in order to make sure your vlogs are properly indexed by the search engines. After that, I’ll state five things to consider when deciding between a blog or a vlog. 

Make sure you always write things down too!

Vlogs are great, but Google can’t watch vlogs. This means Google is unable to index vlogs. It’s as simple as that. So, in order to make your content rank in the search engines, you should make sure to write a summary of your vlog too. At Yoast, we’ll actually embed the video in a blog post, write a little content and make sure to offer a transcript of the video as well. That way, Google will be able to index our new content and show it in the search engines.

For many people, it’s more difficult to understand a spoken text in a foreign language, than a written text. And, for people with a hearing disability, vlogs are hard to understand. For that reason, you should make sure your vlog has subtitles. While I am writing this, I know that we aren’t doing this properly yet ourselves.

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

SEO copywriting training

Blog or vlog?

Whether you should make a vlog or write a blog depends on a number of things. Before making up your mind, consider the four following elements and then decide whether you should blog or vlog:

Topic

Some topics are easier to write about, while other topics are more suitable for a video. Most likely, difficult topics are easier to explain in a blog. A vlog should be rather short (only a few minutes tops) and therefore isn’t fit for topics that need a lot of explanation. However, if you do want to make a video about a difficult topic, consider making a series of vlogs. Each vlog could, for example, address a specific subtopic.

Some topics ask for lots of visual support. These kinds of topics are great for vlogging. At Yoast, we made screencasts for all of the settings of our Yoast SEO plugin. Such videos make the somewhat dry material of going through all the settings of a plugin much more digestible and insightful.

Audience

Whether to write a blog or record a vlog also depends on the audience you’re aiming at. It seems that younger people prefer to watch videos, while ‘older’ people choose to read posts.

If you’re aiming at a young audience (under 25 years old), I think vlogging is something you’ll just have to do (besides writing perhaps). If you’re aiming at a somewhat older audience, vlogging could be a good idea as well. It isn’t as indispensable as it is for a young audience though. Still, vlogs are a very nice variation for every audience.

Personal qualities

Some people are natural writers, while others have some sort of X-factor on screen. Whether you should blog or vlog depends on your personal qualities. If you’re an awesome writer, you should definitely continue writing (and vlog occasionally to mix things up). If you’re able to draw attention while explaining things on video, you should definitely start vlogging.

Perhaps your personality isn’t as bubbly as you would want it to be on screen. Or you hate watching yourself on video. There are lots of ways to create videos, apart from presenting. At Yoast, we create lots of screencasts, explaining the many settings of our plugin. A recipe blog, for example, could have videos in which one shows how to bake a cake or cook that difficult stew. A blog about fixing motorcycles could have video manuals in which someone shows how to fix a broken starter motor.

Resources

It may seem easy, but creating a high quality vlog is just as hard as writing an awesome blogpost. You should really take some time to think about the video you would like to make. You’ll need a decent camera and some skills to edit the video material you shoot.

Once you’ll have shot a nice vlog, take some time to write a decent transcript in order to make it rank in the search engines. To create awesome vlogs, don’t forget to add subtitles to your vlog. Even if this will lengthen your release process a bit. All things considered, I think vlogging will take a little bit more time and resources than writing a blog post will.

Conclusion: Just do it and use Video SEO

If you’re blogging on a regular basis, vlogging is definitely something you should try out. And if you start vlogging on a regular basis, you should make sure to look into the Video SEO extension of Yoast SEO. This will allow people to watch your videos directly on Facebook and Twitter. Our Video SEO extension also makes it easier to publish vlogs, so check it out.

Read more: ‘How to handle comments on your blog’ »

 

The structure of the texts on your site is important for SEO. If your content is clearly structured, your chance to rank well in Google will be higher. In this blog post, I’ll tell you why text structure is so important.

Why text structure is important for SEO

How do people scan a text?

Before deciding whether or not to read something, people tend to scan a text. They want to know what your text is about, before starting to read it all the way through.

There are some parts that people look at or read specifically when scanning a text. Headings and subheadings are really important, as is the first paragraph of a text. But also the first sentences of every new paragraph catch the eye of scanners.

How does Google “scan” a text?

Just like people scan texts in a certain way, so does Google. Let me give you three examples of how Google uses text structure for it’s ranking:

  1. Google defined, in some of its patents, ranking signals such as semantic closeness. Semantic closeness refers to the proximity of related words in a text, while taking into account the formatting of that text. To be able to understand semantic closeness of words, your text’s structure must be clear.
  2. In another Google patent,  “the reasonable surfer”  Google explicitly talks about headings. Headings containing certain keywords are important for the topic of a given page.
  3. With the Hummingbird update, Google became a lot better at recognizing synonyms.

There are more patents that hint at using a text’s structure to understand the text. Google, over time, has become much better at analyzing content. The better you write, the easier it becomes for Google to understand your content and therefore to rank it.

Setting up articles with clear structure has a positive effect on the ranking for another reason as well. Well-structured texts have lower bounce rates and higher chances to receive social media attention. This, in itself, leads to higher rankings.

Tips on improving the structure of your text

If you want to improve the structure of your text, you need to pay attention to: 1. the first paragraph of your text; 2. your headings and 3. the first sentences of every new paragraph. Some time ago, I wrote an article on how to set up the structure of a blog post. Make sure to read that article if you have trouble setting up the structure for a text.

First paragraph

You should clearly formulate what your post is about in the first paragraph. In printed texts, a writer usually starts off with some kind of teaser, but there is no time for that if you are writing for the web. You only have seconds to draw you reader’s attention. Make sure the first paragraph tells the main message of your post. That way, you make it easy for your reader to figure out what your post is about and: you tell Google what your post is about. Don’t forget to put your focus keyword in that first paragraph!

focus keyword in first paragraph

Another reason to have the focus keyword in your first paragraph is simple psychology. People recognize the word they sought for and think they’re in the right spot!

Headings

Headings should be attractive and should clearly state the content of the paragraph below it. Headings allow your readers to quickly scan through your text and to decide whether or not they would like to read your article (or which parts). We would advise you to put a header above every long paragraph (or above a group of paragraphs which are thematically similar).

In our Yoast SEO plugin we check whether you use your focus keyword in your headings. It’s helpful to search engines if a heading defines what a piece of text is going to be about. Whether they’re a ranking factor or not (and SEOs do quarrel about that), headings are of great importance to the structure of your text. Google will therefore probably use them to determine what the text is about.

Core sentences

Make sure the first sentence of a paragraph is the most important, the core sentence, of that paragraph. After all, people tend to read the first sentence of every new paragraph as they’re scanning through content. The other sentences in a paragraph elaborate upon that first core sentence. Chances are Google will pay extra attention to these sentences, in order to determine the topic of a text. They are great places to use your keyword, if possible. If you’re writing a well-structured article and staying on-topic, your keyword will come up naturally in many core sentences. 

Conclusion

Text structure is important to attract readers to your blog, as well as for SEO reasons. Writing well-structured and well-written texts isn’t easy, though. At Yoast, we are strong believers in the importance of quality content. Currently, we’re thinking about ways to help our clients write quality content. That’s why we’ve hired our very own linguist, Irene. Irene is investigating on how to improve the content analysis of Yoast SEO. She is developing checks which will help our customers to make their blog posts more readable. We’re also setting up an SEO copywriting course together, in which we learn people to write quality content.

Read more: ‘Writing a blog: creating a clear blog post structure’ »

A very popular type of website is the ‘food blog’. Cooking and baking are hot, and the number of food blogs seems to rise. In this post, we’ll go over the things that will give your food blog just that little extra. Both for your users and in terms of SEO.

how to optimize your food blog

Focus on long tail

This might be the most important piece of advice I can give you: focus on long tail. The number of food blogs grows every day. I recently talked to an old friend of mine that just started a blog about nutrition and healthy food. 5 years ago I reviewed a blog that had a weekly bread recipe and 200,000 visitors every month. The main problem with the number of food blogs, is that you really need focus to rank. You need to find your special niche and write great content about that niche to surface on page one in Google. This is really hard. The better and more unique the niche, the easier it will be to rank. I think focusing on long tail will give you a head start.

Do you know the Yoast Google Suggest Expander? You can use that tool to find all the things Google suggests when a user types a query in Google. With that tool, you might find the niche or long tail keyword you’d like to optimize for. I searched for paleo and it gave me keywords like ‘paleo almond butter cookies’. It’s quite an extreme example, but if you check that keyphrase for suggestions, you’ll find over 30 more topics/recipes to write about. These can all be considered long tail keywords.

Read more: ‘Why focus on long tail keywords?’ »

FOOD!

Think about this: thousands of people per day visit food websites. Thousands of people have no clue about what to eat tonight. About what to make as a healthy children’s snack. About what kind of cake would suit their occasion.

Food is the very bottom, most essential layer of Maslow’s pyramid. Food is emotion. That emotion needs to be reflected by your choice of theme. If you’re baking cupcakes, please use a more playful design than when you’re posting BBQ recipes.
Food is personal. Make sure your website has a clear picture of yourself and a description of what your personal passion for food is. What kind of food makes you happy? Make sure this is very clear from the start to bind a certain audience to your website. Add a nice tag line to your header stating just that: what kind of food is your website about.

Food blog: photography example

That very passion for that specific food can be emphasized by great photography. What I really like about food bloggers, is that they tend to photograph every step in the baking/cooking process. Usually, these are quick photos taken with a smartphone. Which is fine. Just make sure your final shot of the amazing cupcake, delicious taco or whatever is your money shot. Without reading your post, that image should make the visitor hungry. That will make him or her want to read your post. Even if your post is about nutrition and not even a recipe :)

Recipes

I’m not saying that a food blog is about recipes per se, but most of the food blogs I have read at least contain recipes. We have talked about schema.org before. It’s a way to markup your content so search engines recognize very quickly what your page is about. Google, Bing and Yandex have created a Recipe schema especially for websites like yours.

The elements of a Recipe

The Recipe schema contains all kind of specific information about your recipe, varying from cooking time to ingredients. See the full list here. I’d like to point you to a few of these elements that stand out:

  • NutritionInformation: really in-depth information on how healthy your recipe is. I understand that you sometimes just don’t know when it’s a recipe of your own. Some information might help your health-driven audience though.
  • Image: as mentioned earlier, a great image really helps your post. Not just in that it triggers your visitor, but it also works in Google Images and for instance Pinterest. More on social later.

One more thing about nutrition. If you’re serious about adding this to your recipes or other ramblings about food, Google Knowledge Graph helps. It provides some extra information:

Food blogs: Google Knowledge Graph

That entire right side will give you more information about fat and vitamins. Just a tip!

Seasonal posts

“Holidays are coming.” If you have specific food blog posts about Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, please start planning early. If your website needs to start ranking for all your Easter recipes in the week before Easter, you’re too late. Now I know this might be hard, when you’re in your first year of blogging. But especially if you’ve been blogging for a couple of years, it will pay off to promote these recipes from time to time during the year. Easter and Christmas could possibly both include bunnies, right…

You’d be surprised how many people start planning Christmas early. I, for one, would appreciate all of these dishes in September as well. See if you can find seasonal dishes without linking it directly to holidays as well. Categories like ‘for a winter’s evening’ or ‘a rainy day’ might be more suitable for your audience. Last year Jamie Oliver released a book about comfort food. I like that on a stormy day in May as well. I can imagine the number of searches for that go up in September/October though. Google Trends agrees. In Google Trends, you can clearly see that during the summer months, that keyword will give you less traffic. People like BBQs and ice cream during these times.

Bottom line: let Google know you have these post in time. And feel free to repost a Christmas post/recipe around Christmas, by the way. Just make sure you check the content of the post, update if necessary and keep the same link. If you don’t have the link in your URL, simply change the publish date and you’re good to go. It might give that ‘old’ post new visitors.

Your food blog and social media

One out of ten posts on my Facebook timeline is about food or beverages. About cooking or restaurants. On Instagram, people use tags like #yummy, #foodporn, #instafood, #foodpic and multiple variations of #(om)nomnom a lot (don’t you just hate that omnomnom trend? I do). Searching Pinterest for ‘salad‘ will keep you scrolling recipes for hours. If you know me, you’ll understand I obviously searched for ‘burger‘ and just changed the link. Same story.

If you have a food blog, you need to leverage social media. Find out what social media platform your preferred audience is using and start engaging. Pinterest and Instagram seem to work really, really well. But why not leverage sites like allrecipes.com as well? We’ve written about branding before, and sites like that might help you get your name out.

Let’s not forget Youtube. Almost 600,000 subscribers for BarbecueWeb and a whopping 2,500,000+ subscribers for MyCupcakeaddiction! This can only motivate you to start recording videos. Set up your channel, promote it via your website and other social media and see if it works for you. Please note that numbers like that require hard work and a lot of effort. Give it your best shot.

I hope this article will give you some pointers for your own food blog. Feel free to share your own food blog success stories via social media or the comment section below. I’m looking forward to these!

Keep reading: ‘Social Media strategy’ »