Are you obsessed by getting the green light from Yoast before you click publish? Did you know that it’s actually doing you more harm than good?
Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking about writing this post. About how some bloggers seem to be obsessed by getting the green light from Yoast to boost their SEO (If that sentence means nothing to you, I’d give this one a miss and perhaps check out my dinosaur cake!).
I live and breathe SEO as my day job is a Content Manager. I love it. I could throw TLAs (three letter acronyms) at you all day about digital marketing, but I rarely write about it on my blog. But today I’ll make an exception.
Don’t get me wrong, Yoast is a great plugin. It gives a helping hand when you’re starting out to know what information you need to add to your post to make it be found in the confusing world of SEO. It also gives you a handy green light system with a few tips to improve your post with an online audience in mind.
I use Yoast on this site to sort out my meta information. The meta title, the description. It’s genuinely useful for that and for its integration with Google Search Console to create sitemaps etc. But do I use it to neurotically check how many times I use a keyword? Or whether I’ve used a sentence of (God forbid) more than 20 words?
No. I don’t.
You know why? Because that isn’t what content is about. It doesn’t make your content better.
As soon as you tip content on its head and start thinking about writing something that can generate more traffic or that can appease a robot, the more you’ll find that you’ll lose your blogging mojo.
Simply put, you should be writing about things that make you happy and put less focus on shoehorning in SEO because you feel you have to.
There you go – I free you of the shackles of SEO. Hooray!
If you focus too much on SEO, your writing will become disjointed. You’ll not love what you’re writing anymore. It won’t be you, it’ll be written by Yoast and people will tell.
It’s a useful tool and don’t get me wrong, I use Yoast and really value it. I just use it like spell checker. We all know that sometimes checkers can get it wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.
Forget about keywords
Okay, so we’ve covered writing YOUR way. Using Yoast to just ‘check’ and not caring about whether it’s all green lights. Use your own initiative. Now I want to focus on keywords.
If you take away just one message, it’s this:
In a new world of organic search, just forget about ‘keywords’ as words.
What? I hear you say. No, I’ve not gone crazy. To find your blog, people will generally be searching for rich content. For questions, reviews etc – never for terms such as ‘blue dress’ for example. It’s too vague. Instead they’ll be looking for ‘review of blue dresses from Next’.
If you do want to think about SEO, take what you’ve already written and consider how people could find it. What questions are you answering on your blog? How is it useful to people?
Use tools like:
- Answer the public
- Google Adwords
- Or even just a google search with a ? to find related searches.
As a very quick guide, if you are thinking about keywords, make them into key phrases instead of single words.
Use slightly different variations of the keywords for the URL, meta title and main heading title. H2s? Don’t really matter too much anymore. They aren’t worth stressing over other than making it easy to read. Don’t believe me? Read this from the legends of Moz about which page markups still matter.
You don’t always need SEO
This may sound controversial, but you don’t always need SEO even if you are serious about generating more traffic to your blog.
You can have one without the other as SEO is just one channel. You know BuzzSumo? They don’t give a flying hoot about it. They get most of their traffic from social media.
If you’re writing helpful guides such as ‘how to potty train your independent daughter’ (totally hit me up with links to those!), then yes – SEO has its place. People are looking for that.
If you’re writing about a very personal story, then it’s a different matter. Are people searching for “Why Kelly was feeling particularly happy this week?” No. Although they totally should be.
It’s less important to think about SEO for those articles. But do they have a place in your blog? Of course.
Just because it may not be what people are searching for on Google, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be writing them. Just understand that people won’t be searching for those sorts of stories. That doesn’t devalue your blog in any way.
Those stories in the world of content are called ‘hub’ content. The stuff that people come back to read. People that already love you and want to read more from you.
I’ve given a very brief overview here of why you shouldn’t be taking Yoast completely to heart, which I hope has helped anybody who has felt shackled by feeling that you ‘need’ SEO.
If you have any questions about SEO, Yoast or content marketing in general, feel free to ask me anything on Twitter @bringupgeorgia, or leave a comment below, making sure you click the ‘email me responses’ (else you may never know the answer!)