When is your blog post ready for publication?

There is a subtle line between a crappy post and a perfect one. If you want to, you can endlessly tweak and improve upon your writing. So, how do you decide if your blog post is ready? When is a post good to go? In this blog post, I’ll share a checklist you can use to help you decide when to hit the ‘publish’ button!

1. Is your blog post long enough?

A post should contain at least 300 words. If you write posts that are shorter, you’ll have a hard time ranking with it in the search engines. In general, long posts will rank a bit more easily than short posts. However, long posts also require strong writing skills. Your article will need to have a kick-ass structure if you write something really lengthy. If you’re wondering how long a blog post should be, please read our article on text length.

☑ Is your post longer than 300 words? You are good to go!

2. Is your post free of grammar and spelling mistakes?

Before hitting publish, always check for grammar and spelling mistakes. Use a tool like Grammarly to make sure you’re writing in proper English (or in proper Dutch, German or Portuguese). Let someone else check your writing if grammar isn’t your strongest suit. Of course, you can alter mistakes after publishing an article and you will be forgiven for a small error. But, an article filled with typos and errors just isn’t a good read.

☑ Is your spell checker satisfied? Go ahead!

3. Is your blog post readable?

Reading from a screen can be difficult, so if you want people to read and understand your blog post it must be easy to read. This will get you more returning visitors and a higher conversion rate. Easy to read means that you use rather short sentences, clear paragraphs, and transition words. In Yoast SEO we offer a readability analysis. If the overall check in the readability analysis is green, your blog post is readable enough to hit publish!

☑ Is the bullet in the Yoast SEO readability analysis green? You have the green light!

4. Is your blog post SEO-friendly?

Before you publish your blog post, you should always make sure it is SEO-friendly. A green bullet in our SEO analysis is good enough. Before optimizing your post, make sure to put some effort into choosing the right focus keyword. Optimizing your blog post for a keyword nobody is searching for will not result in much traffic.

☑ Is the bullet in the Yoast SEO analysis green! Publish that post!

5. Is your message clear?

Why did you write this blog post? What do you want your readers to know or do after they’ve read your text? The purpose of your blog post needs to be clear. The message of your blog post, the thing you want to tell your readers needs to be clear. Think about the purpose, think about your message and read your blog post once again. Is your message clear? Will readers understand that message? If your not sure, let someone else read your blog post. Ask them!

☑ Is your message clear? You’re good to go!

6. Did you add internal links?

If people like your post, they should have enough opportunity to navigate to similar awesome posts. Make sure to link to posts that are of interest. Perhaps you’re selling some fantastic products on your website. Make sure to add links to those product pages!

☑ Did you add some amazing internal links? You’re all set!

So, when is your blog post ready?

If you’re a perfectionist, your blog post will never be ready. You can always improve and tweak to make it a little bit better. And, even after publication, you can make corrections and small (or bigger) tweaks. The question ‘ when is it good enough’ can be a hard one to answer. Check the 6 things I talked about in this blog post. Did you do all these things? Can you answer all these questions? If so, go ahead and hit publish! Good luck!

The post When is your blog post ready for publication? appeared first on Yoast.

How to write a blog post: A step-by-step guide from preparation to publication

Writing a successful blog post all comes down to the proper preparations. It starts before you even begin writing: what do you want to say and to whom do you want to say it? You might want to get going right away but remember: writing takes some time. And once you’ve written an awesome blog post, you’ll need to invest time in promoting it and keeping the content up to date. Today, we’ll cover all you need to do to write a successful blog post, from the first inception, to long after publication. So let’s dive right in!

Before we get going with our step by step guide, have a quick look at this image that depicts the three phases of a proper writing process: 

In total, there are 6 steps you should take when writing and publishing a blog post. Does this sound a bit overwhelming? Don’t worry, at the end of this post, you’ll find a practical (and downloadable) checklist with an overview of these steps!

Step 1: Preparation

Let’s say you’ve taken a good look at your keyword research and decided upon a topic to write your next blog post about. Don’t start typing just yet, because first, it’s time to prepare that post! That means you have to answer a few questions. But trust me, answering these questions will definitely help you write a great blog. So, let’s have a look at the questions you should ask yourself:

What is the purpose of your post?

Before you start writing, you should first take some time to think about why you’re writing and what you want to achieve with this specific article. Articles can have different purposes:

  • You can write because you want to persuade people. You want to convince them to buy your product or adopt your ideas. 
  • The aim of your article could also be to entertain and amuse people. A column is a good example of an entertaining text. 
  • Your blog or article could also be informative. In this case, you write to share knowledge about a certain topic. 

Different articles on your website can have different purposes. Also, many articles have multiple purposes. A blog can be informative as well as entertaining. In any case, it’s important to think about the purpose of your article because it will give you a direction to follow. An article that intends to persuade people should be written differently than an article with a solely informative or amusing function. 

Read more: Why the purpose of your text is important for SEO »

What is the main message of your post?

You should also think about what you want your readers to know or take away after they’ve read your text. We refer to this as the message of your text.

For example

If you want to write a post about the importance of well-structured texts, the central question of this post could be: ‘Why is it important to write well-structured blog posts?’

The message of a post about the importance of well-structured texts could be: ‘It is important to write a well-structured text because it will allow people to understand your text better, it will lead to higher conversions and higher rankings.’

In order to formulate your message, you could try to phrase a question which your text should answer. We refer to such a question as the central question of a text. And the text you write should give an answer to your central question. So make sure that your central question is clear. Try to come up with a summarized answer to your central question in one or two sentences. This summarized answer is the message of your article. 

We usually put the message in the introduction of the post (telling readers what the post will be about) as well as in the conclusion of the piece. Making your message explicit is, in our opinion, especially important in web texts. It helps your readers to instantly grasp the message of your article and increases the likelihood people will keep on reading.

Who are your readers?

Ideally, you already thought about the kind of audience you want to reach when you started your website. But it never hurts to remind yourself before writing your text. So, take some time to think about the people you are writing for. Make sure you adapt your text to them and adjust the difficulty level of the information in your article as well as the difficulty of your style (use of jargon, long sentences etc). A good rule of thumb is to keep things readable and accessible to reach a wider audience.

What information do you need?

In some cases, all the information you need to write your text is already in your head. For example, if the chef of a local Italian restaurant wants to write a blog post about the types and uses of pasta, he probably doesn’t need to open any books. But if he wants to write an elaborate culinary history about 500 years of Italian cuisine, he might need some other sources. So, determine whether you need sources (the internet, books, newspapers) to get the information you need for your text. 

You should take the central question of your piece and come up with a number of sub-questions you want to answer. Find and formulate answers to all your sub-questions using your sources (books, internet, scientific articles, etc.). This will provide you with the basis of your post or article.

After this phase, you might want to make some adjustments to the (central) message of your article. Take some time to phrase or rephrase your message (the summarized answer to your central question) to make it entirely clear.

What ‘s the best way to structure your text?

The final step in the preparation process is the most important one. You have to decide how you’ll structure the information you want to communicate to your readers. If you don’t think about this beforehand, odds are your text will lack a logical order and will be hard to follow for your audience. A proper text structure is also important for SEO. Not sure how to begin? This post offers practical tips to create a decent structure.

Step 2: Write your blog post!

At this point, you’ll have all the information you need and an outline of the subjects you want to discuss in your blog post. And yes, this means that it’s finally time to start writing. So get going! And don’t worry. Your text doesn’t have to be perfect yet, as you can edit things later on.

Get it all out there, while trying to stick to the structure you decided on and making sure your tone and style are in line with the audience you want to reach. Also, you don’t have to write your blog post from start to end. Feel free to switch between paragraphs and skip hard bits to get back to later on. Whatever feels most natural to you!

Keep reading: SEO Copywriting: The ultimate guide »

Step 3: Correcting, editing and optimizing

Once you’ve put everything on (digital) paper, it’s time for the editing phase. Now, you should look more closely at your text and smooth out weird sentences and errors. That means checking for mistakes on a sentence and paragraph level, and also evaluating whether the structure of your blog post actually makes sense. If you’re not an experienced writer, it can be very helpful to use online spell checks or to ask someone you know to read your text. Another pair of eyes has a fresh perspective on your text and can, therefore, spot mistakes much more easily.

Optimize your post for the search engines

Optimizing for search engines should, of course, be a big part of preparing your blog post for publication. For example, it’s important to check the distribution of your keywords, meta description and the readability of your text. As you know, the Yoast plugin offers a lot of help with this step! Check out the SEO analysis tool, and our post on how to optimize your blog post.

Step 4: Practicalities before publishing

Before you can send your new masterpiece into the world, there are a few more things to do, to improve its chances to do well: 

Don’t forget to add images

Images are an invaluable addition to (almost) every blog post. So before publishing the post you wrote, you need to add at least one quality image and make sure your images are optimized. Some bloggers prefer to create photos and images before they start writing their texts. Others prefer to first write and then find the correct images. Whether you use stock photos or create your own graphics, make sure you at least have a header image that can also be used to share on social media. In Yoast SEO Premium, there is a social preview where you can see what it looks like when your post is shared on Facebook or Twitter. And you can also set a different social image if desired.

Add categories and tags

Categories and tags provide an extra layer of structure for your site, and you really need to give some thought to how you use those. As you’re preparing your blog post, it’s easy to forget to add the right taxonomies. So check whether you’ve done that before you hit the publish button!

Optimize for social media

Not only can you set your own social image in Yoast SEO Premium, you can also write a different description for Facebook and Twitter than for Google. People who find you through Facebook, often have a different connection with you than those who find you through Google. Make sure the description resembles that! 

If Pinterest is a platform that’s relevant for your blog, another part of your blog post’s preparation is designing a Pinterest image. These should have a ratio of 2:3, which means that it’s vertical. Also, fun to mention: Pinterest comes with a scheduled feature now. So you can schedule your pin before publishing the post. Just make sure you put the correct publishing URL in!

Step 5: After publishing your post

After publishing your blog post, you can either sit back and hope people will just pick up your newest masterpiece or you can take some steps to draw attention to your new post. It’s time to make some noise and get the story out there!

Share your post on social media

Although social media are designed to keep their users on their platforms, instead of clicking a website, your followers love hearing from you. And especially if you write for your social audience, it’s important to post your blog posts on these social media accounts. There are plugins that push your blog posts to social media as soon as you hit publish, but you could also do this yourself.

And although Pinterest isn’t a social medium, but a visual search engine, we’ll discuss it here as well. While Google finds out about your new blogpost through crawling and sitemaps, Pinterest doesn’t. So, if you want your content on Pinterest, you need to actually tell Pinterest you have a new post by posting to it. So if you have not used the scheduler or want to place your pins on more boards, now is the time to do so!

Internal linking to new post from other posts

Are you aware of the importance of site structure? To improve your post’s chances to rank, you should add internal links. Internal links are links that are in your text and they tell Google all about context. It’s important to link to your blog post. While writing your post, you most likely already linked to other posts you’d already written. After publishing, make sure you check which blog posts could have a link to your new post and add those links immediately. 

Step 6: A while after publishing your blog post

To make sure your blog posts don’t disappear in the large sea of content out there, it’s important to keep working on promoting and improving them even after they’ve been published for a while. 

Including posts in the newsletter

A lot of businesses maintain a newsletter. If you send out a newsletter, you have to decide if you are going to share all your recent blog posts, or will only share your funniest or most informative ones. You can share your newest blog post in today’s newsletter, and if it’s still relevant six months from now, or you’re doing a themed newsletter, you can include it again. If the content is still relevant, it won’t matter if the article is one week or month old.

Reposting on social media

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

Analyzing the post performance

After a month or so, you can start to analyze your post’s performance. This is something you need to do regularly, for instance, every three months. You should look at Google Analytics and check Google Search Console to see how people find your blog post, but also whether you’re ranking for the keywords you want to rank for and if you should create more posts surrounding the subject or make the blog post even more in-depth. 

Optimizing where necessary

SEO is an ongoing process. One month, you may rank #1 for a keyword, but what if the next month your competitor has created a better piece and starts ranking first? And, did you know search intent for a keyword can change over time? In short, you should periodically revisit your blog post with the data you have collected and optimize where necessary. 

Check what your competition does better than you and decide whether you want to optimize. Do you feel it’s worth your time to improve a post if you dropped from the first to the second place? Optimizing could mean you need to focus more on things like link building, or Schema. Check what your competitors do that you don’t. Don’t copy, but learn from them.

More internal linking

So ideally, you already worked on your internal linking when you just published your post. If you did that and kept an eye on it over time, then you can skip this step. If not, you probably need to work on your internal linking again! Use the orphaned content filter in Yoast SEO Premium to see which articles need some attention regarding internal linking.

Practical checklist

To keep track of what you need to do to write and publish a perfect blog post, we created a checklist. You can print it out and keep with you as a cheat sheet when you’re preparing, writing, and fine-tuning your text. We even added some empty checkboxes so you can add extra steps if we didn’t cover something you consider absolutely necessary! Download the free checklist here!

Conclusion

Writing a blog post can be a lot of fun, but it’s also a lot of work. You need to invest time in preparing your blog post, writing it, and even once it’s written, it’s important to make sure it gets the attention it deserves by sharing and improving your text. It might seem like a lot, but in the end, you’ll see your content perform well consistently. And trust me, it will be worth it!

Read on: SEO copywriting: The ultimate Guide »

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Link building for bloggers

As your blog grows, the situations you’re dealing with seem to become harder. Whoever says blogging is for the lazy, has not dealt with optimization for search engines, the ever-changing algorithms of Facebook and Instagram, the best practices of Pinterest or the ever dreaded link building.

What is link building?

Link building means, in short, that you’re getting links from other websites to your own blog. It helps your posts to rank. Link building is not an easy task, as you are depending on third parties to link to your website. And not only that, you don’t want a link from every website. Spammy websites or websites that have little to do with your niche, are not valuable at all. I’ve tried link building, the holistic SEO way, and will share my experiences here. If you want to learn more about this, read this article Marieke wrote about link building from a holistic SEO perspective.

Asking for relevant links

To get relevant backlinks, you should know the websites you would like to get a backlink from. Send them a polite email requesting to place a link to your content, if it’s relevant to their audience as well. Please note that often, you will not get a reply at all. To improve your chances of getting a link to your website, your content should really be unique. Trying to get a link for a blogpost that is extremely basic and could’ve been written by anyone, is less likely to succeed than when you provide some very good content: content people can only find on your website. If you, for example, are a planner guru or the nation’s funniest mom blogger, it’s way easier to get a link to your website than if you just started out.

Facebook Groups

Do your hands get sweaty by the idea of having to email your fellow bloggers to ask for links? Fear not! Luckily, there are a lot of Facebook Groups, where bloggers post they might be working on a blog post that, for example, collects the best recipes for Easter, the best bullet journal tips or something different. You can often drop your link in the comments if you’ve written about the topic requested and with a little bit of luck, you’ll be featured in a blog post. It depends on your country which Facebook groups could be suitable, so ask your fellow bloggers or look around on Facebook.

Guest blogging

Another option to get links to your website, is through guest blogging for other blogs. Often, blogs are looking for input from fellow bloggers and in return will let you link to your own content. You’ll not only get a link to your website from a relevant website, you’ll get attention from the readers of that particular blog as well. Visit your favorite blogs and check to see if they accept guest submissions. They’ll usually mention this on their contact page or their collaboration page. Please note that a website could have certain guidelines before they accept your guest blog. It has to be unique content, but it also has to be in line with that website.

Do your thing

Link building for bloggers can be hard. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. When you’re already working on optimizing your posts, finding your voice and creating original blog posts, you might not want to add another massive project to your list. Because that is what link building is: it is not something you do just once. That’s why I’ve decided to quit my attempts at link building. I find it removes the focus from my blog entirely and turns into a popularity contest, at least in my mind. Not only that, I am not someone who finds it easy to reach out to other bloggers to request links in their content.

Instead, I’ve decided to focus on my own website and on helping others. I’ve found that I’ve received backlinks whenever I give a talk at a conference or after I helped someone with their website. This is not something that I take for granted, but when it happens, I realize why I’ve spent a few hours helping a blogger out with a bug on her website. For me, this means that I stay true to my own beliefs without having to focus on an entire strategy that is not my thing. And I found out that this is a link building strategy in itself: it helps my reputation as a blogger in the Dutch community. Find whatever works for you. And if you are actively building links, could you tell me your strategy?

The post Link building for bloggers appeared first on Yoast.

Networking for bloggers: why, how and where

As a blogger, you are probably doing your best to grow your audience on a daily basis. You’re optimizing for Google, Pinterest, social media and you do your best to set up and maintain a social media strategy. But, if you want to take your blog to the next level, there’ll come a point you will need the help of your fellow bloggers. In this post, I will explain why you need a network, as well as how and where to build it.

Want to expand your network? YoastCon 2019 is the perfect occasion to grow your network. Meet like-minded people and work on your blog’s SEO at the same time! Don’t worry about going alone, we even have single tables where you can get in touch with fellow bloggers, site owners and Yoast folks easily. See you on February 7 & 8 in Nijmegen! 

Why you need to network as a blogger

We all know that writing is one of the most lonely professions in the world. Although blogging may not seem as lonely at first glance – you engage with your readers on a daily basis – there’s a high chance you work alone.

As a writer, you often live inside your head. Your audience will only ever see your end result: a blog post or social media post. They won’t see the process of you thinking up your idea, killing your darlings or debating whether to write a certain article. You often take those decisions by yourself, or run them by your spouse or best friend.

While this is a valid approach, someone who is not ‘in the business’, can only help to a certain extent. While it’s often worth it to discuss certain ideas with your personal network, you’ll probably only ever touch the surface.

You might, for example, contemplate archiving your entire Instagram profile to start with a clean slate. Your best friend thinks you’re stupid, while you see bloggers around you do this and grow their following rapidly over the course of several months. And you might be left wondering if you’re cut out for this thing called ‘becoming an influencer’. If you’re at this point, you need a network of people who are like-minded.

At Yoast, I have a lot of colleagues to talk to whenever I need help. I know which person I should ask about SEO, which person knows a lot about Google Analytics and who can help me out when I broke my laptop – again. You need that kind of network for your blog as well. It’s very helpful to create a network so you can discuss certain topics: from SEO to developing websites, and from press releases to personal invitations. If you want to grow, you need a network.

How to network as a blogger

Truth be told, we’re in it for us. This means that everyone you’ll meet, is in it to gain something for themselves. This could be knowledge, reputation, information, cash, products or something else.

Knowing this, you’ll understand you can’t just go to someone you don’t know and ask them for that piece of information you want. You might not get an answer or, in the unlikely chance you do get one, it probably is an evasive one. You need to adopt an open source kind of mentality while networking. This means that you’ll share your knowledge with the world and eventually will receive information in return.

I’ll take myself as an example. Although I knew quite a few bloggers online, my network didn’t really grow until I went to a Dutch blog conference last June, to speak about SEO. I told the crowd that I was going to share my secrets with them, and told them, honestly, how weird it felt to do that, because I might very well kill my own blog this way.

Strangely, or perhaps not so strange at all, the opposite happened. My blog took off and with it, my network expanded tremendously. People knew where to find me, how to find me, and, also, that I was willing to help look into issues or questions.

I answered each question I got, because I love helping out. Did I request favors for each question I answered? No. Was I offered help in return for answering questions or solving issues? You bet! Often, I told people not to worry about it, that I loved to help and that I’d be sure to let them know if they could help me out. And I took people up on their offer, twice now. One of them even got me an invite for a press event of the Walt Disney Company – I mean, it’s Disney!

Where to network as a blogger

You might feel very willing to network with your fellow blog colleagues out there, but where to find them? If you’ve been on your own for a very long time, it can be tricky to get started. Don’t worry; there are various places where you can network as a blogger, both offline and online.

Online networking as a blogger

As your blog lives online, the easiest way to create a network is online as well. There are a lot of Facebook groups for bloggers in all sorts of niches and all kinds of languages. They’re created by bloggers like you and me. Try to find the groups where you can help other bloggers. I, myself, am in various groups, where I answer questions about the Yoast SEO plugins, SEO in general, WordPress or technical questions, as these are things I can help others with. In return, people help me when I have questions about Pinterest, Instagram or about certain press events that I’d like to attend.

Offline networking as a blogger

Offline networking is even more important than building a network online. While online it’s perhaps easier to mingle in discussions on forums, Facebook, or in Twitter conversations, the deeper and longer lasting connections will often start offline. Have you considered going to a local WordPress meetup, a WordCamp or a blog event in your city or country? These can be quite valuable – trust me, this is where the good stuff happens! If you’re unsure where to start, let me suggest YoastCon.

YoastCon for offline networking

YoastCon is a conference organized by Yoast. It focuses on SEO for all types of websites. I can guarantee you it will certainly focus on blogs as well! The conference will take place 7 and 8 February 2019 in the Netherlands. You’ll not only learn all there is to know about SEO from the very best in the field, there’s also plenty of networking opportunities.

Value your network!

Networking is not about transactions. It’s about building relationships, about finding the people you wish to work with and affiliate yourself with. It’s extremely valuable to invest in networking and maintaining relationships with your fellow bloggers. You never know when they’ll cross your path again or what you could mean for each other in the future. I would love to hear how you go about this, especially if it’s your fulltime job. And of course, let me know if I’ll see you at YoastCon! I would love to meet and talk in real life.

Read more: Caroline’s Corner: Work on your blog’s foundation »

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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 »

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Ask Yoast case study: SEO of a photographer’s site

Writing about SEO is easier than implementing best practices on a website yourself. Every site is different and every type of site presents its own challenge. We know that, and that’s why we started our Yoast Case studies, in which we scrutinize an existing site and give the owner practical advice on how to optimize it. In this third case study: SEO of a photographer’s site.

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Photography and SEO

In this case study, we dive into the site of a photographer: geoffwilkings.com. Geoff is curious what he could do to improve his website’s SEO. He’s told us he’s 100% about photography and photos but knows he needs textual content to rank. He does have a blog and he wonders if he is writing clear enough for prospects and search engines. Let’s have a look at different aspects of his photography website to see what’s good and what needs improvement.

Of course, a website is a work in progress, so while we reviewed his site, Geoff already made some changes to it. This means that what you see on his site might differ a bit from the screenshots below. But we’ll keep them here because we think they serve as nice examples!

Every website needs content to rank

Photos vs. textual content

It makes sense that photographers want to present their work on their website. The photos show their style and by adding lots of photos, they try to convince visitors of the quality of their work. Displaying great photos will, of course, increase the chances of people wanting to hire you, as a photographer. But what does it mean for SEO?

Adding content is one of the main things you need to do to make your website rank, as you might know. The content shows the search engines what the website is about and for what queries it should rank.

Content can consist of textual content but also photos, images and videos. For search engines, textual content is the most valuable content; it helps them determine what the website is about. So, for a photographer’s website, it’s essential to make sure there is enough textual content for the search engines to understand what every page is about.

Geoff’s site

If we look at Geoff’s website, we are in awe of his skills as a photographer: such beautiful pictures! You might just want to get married to get some fairytale-like photographs like that ;-)

There are things he could do though, to make his photos better findable. If we look at this gallery page, for example, we only see one photo on the URL:example of a gallery page with just one photo

Although Geoff added a great filename to the photo, a clear alt text and all the other meta data, it’s still hard for search engines to determine why this page should rank above other pages. Besides that, this gallery page contains only one photo, and therefore Google probably considers it a thin content page, leading to lower rankings. Lastly, since every photo is on a new URL, it’s harder to make all these different URLs rank.

To make these URLs rank there is a need for textual content, so we recommend adding relevant information about things like location, the couple, the theme and other nice things about the specific wedding. By adding textual content, it’s also possible to add an H1 heading to every page which is beneficial for SEO. Lots of pages don’t have an H1 heading at the moment.

After providing this feedback to Geoff we understood that there was some content, but it’s hidden. You can find it if you click on the comment icon on the right side of the photo. Unfortunately, we can’t view this content in the source code, which means Google can’t see it either. So we’d recommend to add it below the photo. Using keywords like wedding photography and the location might help him rank locally.

Improving User Experience for more conversions

Usability and SEO

Improving user experience is increasingly important and should go hand in hand with working on SEO because Google uses ‘user signals’ to determine the relevancy of a website:

If visitors leave your website very fast, search engines consider this a negative signal, because the website probably doesn’t show the information the visitor is looking for. On the other hand, spending lots of time on a page is a positive signal and search engines might rank you higher. This kind of data helps Google to determine the relevancy of a website for a specific search term. Google wants to show the best result on top of the search result pages and if your website is user-friendly, Google will notice this in the user data.

Geoff’s homepage

Looking at the homepage of Geoff’s site – again, such a beautiful picture! – we think a clear call-to-action is missing. It could be that the ‘Enter here’ is meant as a call-to-action, but the ghost button makes it very hard to read:

no clear call to action on the homepage

On top of that, ‘Enter here’ is not the best text for a call-to-action and if you click on it, you’ll end up on a gallery page. We recommend adding a call-to-action button with a text such as ‘Hire us’ or ‘Check if we’re a good match’ or ‘Contact us’, which leads the visitor to the respective page with more information.

Another improvement for the homepage is the formatting of the text. At the bottom of the homepage, we noticed a lot of text and the font of this text seems to be quite small. We recommend using a minimum of 16px to make sure it’s easy to read for visitors. Also, Geoff might want to use copy like this on other pages than his homepage, because ranking with other – more specific – pages than a homepage might be a more feasible strategy.

Geoff’s menu

Looking at the menu of the website, we believe there are too many options. To provide a good user experience, visitors need to find in a few seconds what they’re looking for. Offering too many choices makes this harder. Geoff could, for instance, consider cutting down the number of sub items in the drop down menu of ‘Info’.

to many sub items in the menu
Value of a blog

Blogging and SEO

Having a blog can be beneficial for your site’s SEO because it’s a possibility to add new content regularly, which Google likes. On top of that, it enables you to add more relevant content with internal links to your other pages which makes it easier to rank. Lastly, when other websites think that your blog posts are valuable and relevant to their websites, they’ll probably add a link to your blog. Increasing the amount of backlinks to your site helps a lot when you want your site to rank.

Geoff’s blog

Since we’re blogging a lot at Yoast, we’re always curious to see blogs of other websites. We were so excited to find out that Geoff’s website has one! Clicking through to the blog, however, tempered our excitement: the blog opened on another domain. This, unfortunately, means that the value of the blog doesn’t add much value to Geoff’s main website. We advise Geoff to move his blog to his main domain, a better URL to use would be, for instance, geoffwilkings.com/blog.

Read more: ‘Separate domains or not?’ »

In addition to moving the blog to the same domain, we’d advise choosing a different layout for the blog’s main page. Now it just shows just a large video above the fold. But when visitors navigate to your blog, they want to see what kind of posts you write and probably get inspiration. We recommend showing some excerpts of Geoff’s blog posts above the fold to make sure visitors know immediately that they landed on his blog.

When clicking through the blog posts, we did like what we see! For instance, some nice atmospheric posts about shootings for an engagement and a wedding, and a good explanation about retouching photos (we love the slider effect).

Technical SEO improvements

Let’s dive into the technical SEO aspects. We’ve crawled the website to check whether there are huge problems. We need to say that the website is doing a pretty good job! The only thing we’d like to mention is the use of canonicals. We noticed that most pages don’t have a canonical. At Yoast, we prefer to have a canonical on every page, so we’d advise having self-referencing canonical URLs. Joost explained this very well here: rel=canonical: the ultimate guide.

Is it possible to have a fast loading website if you have lots of high-quality photos?

Speed is often an issue on photographer’s websites. Because of the file size of the images, those websites tend to load quite slow. Since page speed is an actual ranking factor, it’s important to make the website as fast as possible. Analyze your website with the Google PageSpeed Tool and if the tool tells you that you need to optimize images, do so. This can be beneficial for your site’s SEO.

We did this check for Geoff’s site and we were pleasantly surprised! The website has a score of 73/100. Of course, Geoff can improve this score, but we can tell you, we’ve often seen photographer’s websites with scores below 50. The tool recommends to ‘Optimize images’, but it only mentions one image mentioned, so good job!

Are you a photographer as well and are there more images mentioned in the tool? In this post about image optimization, we’ll explain how to reduce the file size of your images, but maintain the same quality.

Lastly, there are some improvements to make regarding the use of JavaScript and CSS, in optimizing browser caching and enabling compression. We recommend Geoff to work on these issues (perhaps together with a developer) to make his website lightning fast!

Finding a photographer on a mobile phone

Imagine you’re getting married. Right after you decided to get married, you probably grab your phone for some inspiration and ideas! This means that as a photographer, you need to make sure your website works just as well on a mobile phone as it does on a desktop.

Checking the website of Geoff on a mobile phone, we noticed that no content is visible above the fold – the part of the website that is visible without scrolling. This means that the website looks like this:

on mobile

You probably understand that this view isn’t very attractive to visitors who visit the website for the first time. Grab the attention of the visitor immediately by adding some introductory content and a call-to-action. Or a stunning photo with a call-to-action. We recommend checking your website on mobile regularly to see whether you can use the same content as on the desktop.

We provided this feedback to Geoff and we’re really happy to hear that he already changed this! You’ll now see a much better version of his homepage on mobile!

Our summary for Geoff

We enjoyed checking your website, Geoff. You have some stunning photos on your site, and that’s, of course, the best basis for a photographer. On top of this, you run a blog! Our most important recommendation is to move your blog to your main domain, so the value of it contributes more to your site.

Furthermore, you could improve the call-to-action on your homepage, simplify your menu a bit and add more (textual) content to your gallery. And last but not least, try to give your mobile users an awesome experience too. For the rest, keep up the great work!

Keep reading: ‘Blogging: the ultimate guide’ »

Blogging: The ultimate guide

Writing blog posts can be great fun. But, sometimes blogging can be quite a challenge as well. You may even wonder whether your website should have a blog at all. And, what should you write about? What do you 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 everything you need to know about blogging.

Why blog?

If you have a website of any kind, you need to blog, at least occasionally. It doesn’t matter whether you have an online shop, a personal website or portfolio. Besides it being great fun, blogging is the best thing you can do for SEO – plus your blog can be a valuable marketing tool. Let’s discuss why that is in some more detail.

Blogging for SEO

Adding content on a regular basis should be a part of every sustainable SEO strategy. If you blog regularly, Google will see your site as active, alive and relevant – and that will definitely help your overall rankings. In addition, blogging allows you to rank for new keywords and to keep ranking for those you’re already being found for. Your blog also provides you with an extra opportunity to target search intent – we’ll discuss that in more detail later on.

Why should a blogger focus on SEO?[/readmore]

Blogging as a marketing tool

A blog is a great marketing tool for every website. It allows your readers to get to know your brand and your products better. What’s more, you can use your blog to actively present yourself as a reliable source of information for prospective customers. Not everyone visiting your website is already committed to you or your products. A quality blog will work in your favor in those cases: if you can offer people useful information in a blog post, they’re more likely to remember and convert in the future.

Read more: To blog or not to blog »

Setting up a new blog

If you’re just starting a new blog, it’s important to prepare before you get started. Take some time to think about your niche and to do some proper keyword research. And, don’t forget to devise a clear and manageable structure for your blog. If you give some thought to how you want to set up your blog before you start writing, it will save you a lot of work later on.

Keep reading: How to start a blog »

What should you blog about?

You can’t blog without ideas, and you’ll need lots of them to maintain a successful blog. Whether blogging is your site’s main purpose, or you use your blog as a marketing tool: you need to think about which topics you want to cover. But where do you look for inspiration?

Keyword research

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

Targetting the right search intent with your blog

As you’re doing keyword research, it’s not just important to know which keywords your audience uses, but also, what they want to find. People use search engines with a specific goal in mind, so they have a particular intent for each query. The results pages give you some insight into the intent of a query. In many cases, people are purely looking for information, so the search engines will want to show them informational pages. That’s where your blog could come in handy as a marketing tool, for instance, as an online shop. Your product page will target commercial and/or transactional intent, but you also want to rank for informational intent, as that’s more common. You can use your blog to write relevant, informative articles that’ll get more people to your site.

Which intent to target will differ, depending on your niche, and your site’s and blog’s goals. In any case, it’s a good idea to look into this when you’re deciding what to write blog posts about.

Read on: Keyword research: the Ultimate Guide »

Where do you get inspiration for your posts?

If you’ve done your keyword research properly, you’ll end up with a long list of keywords and keyphrases to write content about and you know which intent you want to target. A keyphrase is not yet a topic though. As well as a keyword, you’ll need an angle or a specific story around a keyword in order to write a decent blog post.

Current events, your own work, and comments from your readers are just some things that could inspire new blog posts. Reading a lot is also a good idea for finding inspiration. Read magazines, newspapers, and other blogs. Looking at your site’s stats or surfing on the internet could also lead to inspiration. Hot tip: keep a list of ideas for new blog posts on your mobile phone. Inspiration strikes when you least expect it.

Keep on reading: 5 tips to get inspiration for your blog »

How to write a high-quality blog post

Writing requires some skills – it’s more difficult for some people than for others. We’ll give you some tips to make writing easier for you later on, but first, let’s discuss two important aspects of high-quality blog posts: originality and readability.

Original content

Your blog posts should always be fresh, new and original. Each one should be sufficiently different from other blog posts and articles about the same topic already on the web. So, try to focus on what makes you unique, even if you’re in a competitive niche. Your blog posts should also be content that people will want to read. The increasingly fierce competition on the internet often means simply writing good content isn’t enough: you need to go the extra mile.

Read more: The importance of original content for SEO »

Readable content

After you’ve written a post with original content, you should make sure your article is easy to read. Readability is vital for your audience. If your text is well structured and clearly written, people will understand your message, but readability is also crucial for SEO. Not only do people read your text, but Google does too. If your post is easy to read, with a clear structure with subheadings and logical paragraphs, chances are it’ll rank higher in the search engines too.

Keep reading: Does readability rank? »

Practical tips on how to write awesome blog posts

Plan before you write

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

Read on: How to start writing a blog post »

Write clear paragraphs

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

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

Get help and ask for feedback

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

As well as 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 help correct typos and you’ll know whether someone else can understand everything you want to say in your article.

Need more guidance? Here’s a step-by-step guide to crafting the perfect blog post!

Read more: 5 tips to write readable blogposts »

Optimize blog posts for search engines

After you’ve written a blog post that’s both original and readable, you should make sure your content is optimized for search engines. You should maximize the likelihood that Google will pick up your content. It’s important that you take this final step after you’ve written your post, though. SEO should never compromise either the originality of your idea or the readability of your text.

Yoast SEO helps you improve the optimization of your blog post.

Yoast SEO can help you tweak your text, we like to call that process ‘Yoast your post‘ ;-). The red and orange bullets will indicate which aspects of your findability need attention. For example, the plugin might suggest using your focus keyword a little more often, perhaps by putting it in the first paragraph or in one of the headings. Yoast SEO will help you to optimize your snippet preview as well. In short: don’t just set the plugin and then forget about it, but use it to your advantage!

Keep reading: 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 see 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, that will definitely lead to more traffic.

Replying to comments is an essential aspect of blog engagement and answering questions and providing appropriate responses in a discussion can take a lot of time. Handling positive feedback and answering questions is relatively easy, while negative feedback can be more challenging. 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 need an audience. Nobody wants to perform to an empty room! Ranking well in search engines through flawless SEO will, of course, help. But there is always more you can do.

Read on: Marketing your blog »

Social media and newsletters

Social media is an important marketing instrument for your blog. You definitely need to set up a Facebook page and create a Twitter account. If you’re focusing on a young audience, you’ll need Instagram and Snapchat as well.

Also, consider starting a newsletter. Collect subscribers who want to stay informed and email them regularly.

Keep on reading: Does social media influence SEO? »

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 will also grow. For many bloggers, making money is not the primary goal. Still, you can make money from a blog. Advertising, affiliate marketing, and writing promoted posts are the most common strategies for making money with a blog. As mentioned before, you could also use the blog to improve the rankings of your online shop and as a result, to sell your own stuff.

Read more: 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 so your audience will know what to expect from you. Blogging does require some discipline.

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

Site structure of a growing blog

While your blog is growing, it’s important to regularly analyze the structure of your blog. 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 for 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 coordinate. Otherwise, a post with the exact same topic could appear twice. Or, authors could use a totally different style and tone of voice.

Keep reading: Content planning for a (growing) blog: 6 easy-to-use tips »

Avoiding content cannibalization as a growing blog

If you’ve been blogging in a certain niche for a long time, you’re bound to address the same topic more than once in your blog posts. That’s not necessarily a problem, but do make sure you’re not eating away at your own chances to rank. Keyword cannibalization occurs when you have several different articles that could rank for the same and similar keyphrases. When a search engine can’t tell which article should rank highest for a certain query, it’s likely both will rank lower. The solution: stay on top of this and audit your blog posts once in a while to find and fix keyword cannibalization.

Conclusion

Blogging is great! Whether your website is an online shop, blog or portfolio, it can boost your rankings in Google and is also an important and effective marketing tool. To get optimum results, devise an in-depth keyword research strategy for your blog. It’s also important to stay on top of things as your blog is growing. Use our tips to get started and write those blog posts. Happy blogging!

Read on: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites »

The post Blogging: The ultimate guide appeared first on Yoast.

How to start writing a blog post?

It can be really hard to come up with a topic for a blog post. When you finally found the perfect subject, you probably want to start writing immediately. But to write that perfect blog post, you should take some time to prepare it properly. Today, I’ll give some tips on how to begin your writing process. If you take some time and prepare your blog post adequately, your writing will be so much better! 

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Preparing takes time

The writing process can be divided into three phases. The actual writing is the second phase of your writing process and only takes up about 20% of the time. That is, if you’ve done the preparing phase properly.

Process of good writing explained in a picture: 40% prepaparation, 20% writing, 40% correcting

In my opinion, the preparing phase is the most fun! You can brainstorm, try out things and be creative in this phase. So, although it may seem like this preparing-stuff is just holding you back from the actual writing, you should think of it as the most creative and fun phase. And the most important phase!

Brainstorm

Always start a blog post with a brainstorm. Once you’ve decided on the topic of your post, you should make a list of all the things you would like to address in your post. Don’t be critical in this phase. Just write down anything you come up with. You always can cross off the ‘not so good ideas’ later on.

What is your message?

What is the one thing you want your readers to remember after they’ve read your post? What’s the most important thing you want to say? The answer to these questions is the message of your post. You should write that message down. This is the key information of your blog post. That message should eventually come in the first paragraph of your blog post.

Write a little bit

Although the actual writing comes in the second phase of the writing process, you should definitely write some sentences. Try to find the right words for your topic and for your audience. Try to write some beautiful sentences. I wouldn’t advise you to try to write the first sentence of a blog post in this phase, but you could write a few sentences of an important paragraph. Playing around with words will help you to find the tone of your blog post.

Structure, structure, structure

The most important thing you should do in the preparing phase of writing a blog post is to come up with the structure of your text. At the end of the preparing phase, you should end up with the skeleton of your blog post. What subjects will you address in what order?

After you’ve brainstormed about the topic, you’ll probably end up with a long list of things you would like to address in your blog post. Read through your list, cross of the things you’re not totally sure about and try to see whether or not topics resemble each other. Bundle similar topics. After that, you should think about the order you want to discuss your topics. Make sure you discuss things in a way people understand. Subjects and paragraphs should follow each other in a logical order.

Before I start the actual writing process, I usually have a list with paragraphs. For every paragraph I also have a short description of the things I would like to discuss and the examples I would like to use. In some cases, I already formulated some nice sentences for every paragraph as well.

Hit that keyboard!

Preparing your blog post can be real fun. I really enjoy this phase the most. If you’ve thought your post through it’s time to turn to the next phase and hit that keyboard. Go write your post!

After writing your post, you’re inevitable going to end up in the correcting phase. Very important. Totally hate that phase.

Read more: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

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 lots of fun, and a blog is a wonderful marketing tool! 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’s go through the steps you should take when you start a new blog. Ideally, you take them in this order, but if you can’t, do make sure you give these aspects some thought before you get started.

New to WordPress? Don’t worry! Our FREE WordPress for beginners training is here to help. Find out how to set up your own site, learn the ins and outs of creating and maintaining it, and more. Soon you’ll be able to do it all by yourself!

1. 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 the 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.

2. Do your keyword research

Once you’ve chosen your niche, read up on the basics of 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 list 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. And, don’t forget to give search intent some thought as well!

3. Think about site structure

You’ll start with a clean slate, so 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 subtopics 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.

Read more: How to set up a cornerstone content strategy with Yoast SEO »

4. Write your 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 to write awesome, SEO friendly blog posts.

5. Add pictures or videos

Writing blog post is more than writing a nice story; a successful blog has pictures and videos as well. Every post should feature at least one image. Taking nice photos yourself is a great way of creating images. 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.

Keep reading: Image SEO »

6. Optimize for the search engines

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

Read on: How to use Yoast SEO’s content analysis tool »

7. 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 other content they might enjoy.

Keep on reading: Marketing your blog »

8. Stick with it!

The most important thing when starting a blog – besides setting up your new blog – is writing that very first blog post. Once you’ve written that first post, your blog has started. From that moment on, you should continue 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 every two weeks could 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 more: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post How to start a blog appeared first on Yoast.

Ask Yoast case study: SEO of an online shop

SEO can be really complicated! How do you start with improving the structure of a site? How do you write amazing and SEO-friendly articles? To help all of you with your SEO strategy, I’m writing a series of Ask Yoast case studies. In these case studies, I’ll take a look at a specific site (the owner knows about it of course :-)), and I’ll give some SEO advice. In this second case study: SEO of an online shop!

Ask Yoast Case studies

Want Marieke to look at the content of your site? Send an email to [email protected]!

Improve the SEO of an online shop!

In this case study, the SEO of an online shop is the central topic. We were given the chance to take a look at the SEO of Knock Knock, independent makers of clever gifts, books, and whatever else they can think up.

The Knock Knock team didn’t have a specific question for us, so we just took a look at their website and give advice on how to improve the SEO

First impression of KnockKnock

I want to buy those notebooks! I want to have those pens! Great fill-out books! I love the products Knock Knock offers. It’s original, it’s fun and I really get some sort of brand-feeling if I browse through their website. Fantastic!

Technically, Knock Knock seems to be a solid site, which is great. Some general SEO quick wins would be: creating alt tags for images and adding meta descriptions to tag pages and on some category pages.

KnockKnock has a lot of potential to become really successful. Maybe they already are! I believe that with certain SEO improvements they could be generating even more traffic than they’re getting right now! 

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Content content content

My initial thoughts for improvements when I saw this site were: 

“This site screams for a blog! Knock Knock’s products are very original and one-of-a-kind. Writing blog posts about, for instance, how to use these products and why you would need them, won’t be hard at all! Blogging is a great way to promote your stuff and to show to your audience how to use your products. In case of this specific online shop, I’d post lots of photos too.

For SEO reasons, starting a blog is very important too. Knock Knock doesn’t show a lot of content on their site. It’s an online shop with quite some products and, therefore, product pages, but the copy on these pages is quite short. That’ll make it hard to rank high in Google. Blogging, or in other words, publishing fresh content on a regular basis, will definitely improve the SEO of this online shop.

I would advise Knock Knock to start with some solid keyword research. Maybe they’ve already done some research. Which words do they want to be found for? After that, they should start creating some real quality content. I’d love to read blog posts about the origin, benefits or appliance of their products. They do have nice product reviews written by their audience, perhaps these reviews could serve as a starting point for a blog post.

KnockKnock sells products that are quite witty. I’m sure their blog could be entertaining too. Apart from a great SEO strategy, an entertaining blog would also be a kickass marketing strategy!”

After showing the draft of this post to KnockKnock they got back to me telling that they already have a blog! So I had rework my advice a bit… I started with checking out their blog first, where they write about the origin and creators of the products, the use of the products and more fun stuff. Their blog post are very original and entertaining! They also post quite regularly, a couple of times a month.

So now, my main advice is: make your blog more visible on your site! I noticed that we can easily get from your blog to your shop, but the other way around is a lot harder (or perhaps impossible?). I’d suggest to just add the blog in the top navigation of your site. That way, visitors can easily read more about your products, creators and all the nice things you do, apart from creating awesome products!

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

Site structure

In case you would be starting a blog from scratch that would be quite hard. On the other hand, if you’re starting a blog, you do have the chance to create an ideal structure for it. Think about the topics you’d like to blog about. These could be the same as the product categories of your online shop, but it also could be different categories. Write a few long, really awesome, articles on each of these categories. These articles will be your cornerstone pages. Make sure to write lots of blog posts about similar topics (but all slightly different and more niche/long tail). And link from all of these articles to your most important cornerstone article. If you start your blog from scratch, make sure to structure it in an excellent way! Read more about this in our ultimate guide to site structure.

Conclusion

If you have an online shop that’s focused on an awesome niche like Knock Knock, your SEO will benefit most from a solid content strategy. Writing lots of texts, articles, posts will have an effect on your rankings. Besides that, it’ll be a great way of marketing your stuff. Combine your blog with an awesome social media strategy and you’ll increase both your rankings and sales!

Keep reading: ‘10 tips for an awesome and SEO friendly blog post’ »