Rank with that cornerstone content!

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

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

What not to do when trying to rank

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

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

How to rank with your cornerstone content?

Create awesome content

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

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

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

Which keywords to target with cornerstone articles?

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

Positioning that new cornerstone content on your site

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

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

Build a great internal linking structure

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

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

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

Finding internal links in Google

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

site:yoast.com local seo plugin

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

Boosting your internal linking structure with Yoast SEO

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

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

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

Promote your cornerstone content

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

Conclusion: how to rank with cornerstones?

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

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

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How to use storytelling in a blog post

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

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

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

Tip 1: Use stories as examples

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

Tip 2: Get inspiration from your own world

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

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

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

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

Tip 4: Use the 4 elements of storytelling

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

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

Tip 5: Make it personal and relatable

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

Tip 6: Add images

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

Conclusion on how to use storytelling

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

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

Read more: Blogging: the Ultimate guide »


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How to kick-start 2019 as a blogger with big goals

2018 is the year I took my blog to the next level: I started a blog series here on yoast.com about SEO for bloggers, I made goals, achieved a lot and failed a few as well. I tried to plan, failed miserably and tried again, with success. In short: in 2018 I found my love for blogging (again) and experimented a lot. 2019 is approaching fast though and I want to prepare properly. I don’t want to make the same mistakes I made this year and I’d like to reach the goals and resolutions I’ve set. So, here’s a plan (for you and me) to kickstart 2019 as a blogger with big goals.

Write down your blogging goals

Whether you want to grow to 50,000 visitors a month, want to launch an eBook, get more collaborations, or all three: write down each and every single one of your goals of 2019. By writing down your goals, you’re already way more committed to them than by just saying them out loud. Take that advantage! Write them down somewhere where you’ll see them regularly, for example on your blog notebook or on a memo board in your office. Seeing goals regularly and thinking about them often, will help you stay on top of them.

Please note that your goal should be realistic. If you want to grow your audience and your blog has 500 visitors now, it might not be entirely achievable to aim for 100,000 visitors by December 2019. Especially, if you’re unsure about how to reach such a growth.

Plan time to work on your goals

The biggest thing we all face, is time. Particularly, if your blog is a hobby – or just not your main source of income – it’s often the first thing you put aside when life throws you a curveball. I didn’t publish blogs for almost two months on my personal blog as I was very busy with other projects, hobbies and making up excuses why I just couldn’t spend time on my blog.

Because I don’t want this to happen again in 2019, I need blog posts written in advance. That’s why I planned a blog weekend in the beginning of January. I’ve done this back in September as well and managed to write over 30 blog posts in just three days. So in January I booked a cottage together with a fellow blogger and we’ll spend our days writing. The goal? To create flow, creativity and content.

Focus on one task at a time

If you’re in a writing flow, you should continue to write, even if your blog post is finished. Do not fall into the trap of finishing your writing to start photographing and scheduling or promoting the blog post. Continue working on other blog posts! If you combine your tasks, you’ll be much more efficient. That could mean that you first write a few blog posts, then start photographing for all blog posts and then schedule or fine-tune them. You’ll switch less between tasks, which makes your focus and the results that much better.

I’ve spoken to bloggers who link certain days to certain tasks. On Mondays they’ll create their images; on Tuesdays they’ll focus on their Pinterest scheduling; on Wednesdays they’ll write new content and so forth. Because you’re focused, you’ll get things done much quicker. You have to find out if this works for you or not, it will help you get the tasks you otherwise wouldn’t do, on your to do list.

Finish your tasks

If you focus on one task at a time, the biggest trap you could fall in is never publishing some of your post. While I was writing in a cottage back in September, the internet was horrible. This meant I couldn’t schedule my posts properly, nor find stock photos if necessary. Now, I’ve only published 12 of the 32 blog posts I’ve written back then. Are the other 20 not worth publishing? No, they definitely are! I just never finished them. I’ve never proofread them, took photos, nor scheduled them. And now, I have an issue with even looking at those blog posts, as it all feels like a waste.

Lock up that critic (or befriend it)

Two of my most popular posts in 2018, were about the inner critic we all have inside of us. The first one was about why you should befriend your inner critic, the second one was why you should quit your blog now. Both got a lot of comments. Some of you were annoyed that I even dared say you should quit your blog and with every right so.

Often our biggest critic, is within us. If we want to grow, we should befriend it and be willing to silence it every once in a while. You can’t write blog posts in advance, if you let your inner critic out too often. You’ll never be able to finish everything, if you let the perfectionist in you speak all the time. Often ‘good enough’ really is good enough.

Find bloggers like yourself

To stay on top of your goals, it’s very helpful to have bloggers to chat to. The last year I met various bloggers like me on blogging conferences. I’ve even become close friends with a few of them. We often message each other for help, tips and the likes. Are you unsure why and if networking is something for you? I’ve written a post on the importance of networking as a blogger!

Reflect each month

Whenever you set your year goals, don’t forget you should set monthly goals and maybe even weekly and daily goals that link to the bigger goals. This way, your goal stays within reach and doesn’t feel like something in the far distance. You’ll make small progress with every step you take. By the end of each month, you need to check if you made progress and if it’s the progress you aimed for. If not, find out why you didn’t reach it. Did you aim too high? Or did you neglect to do what you should’ve done? Whatever the reason is, accept that sometimes you fail. You always have a new month and a new day to try again!

I would love to hear from you what your goals for 2019 are, how you want to reach them and what you would like to learn from me in 2019!

Read on: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post How to kick-start 2019 as a blogger with big goals appeared first on Yoast.

What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?

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’ »

Blogging: 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!

How to start a blog

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’ »

Ask Yoast: do off-topic comments hurt SEO?

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’ »

Should you blog about Justin Bieber?

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’ »

7 tips to increase blog engagement

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’ »

Blog or vlog?

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.

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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’ »