Why your blog is going to fail if you’re obsessed by Yoast

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.

Yoast Obsessive? Your Blog May Be Toast

Helpful Yoast

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.

Questions?

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!)

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24 Comments

  1. May 24, 2017 / 7:41 am

    Thank you for this. I don’t know much about SEO but I always found people probably obsessed a bit too much over the green lights. Very helpful. Thank you for hosting #fortheloveofblog

    Nadia x

  2. May 24, 2017 / 8:06 am

    This is brilliant. Anything SEO related really confuses me so this has been a great help. I’ve wasted so much time trying to get them green lights – but no more! Haha. #fortheloveofblog

    • Kelly Edwards
      May 24, 2017 / 11:53 am

      Thank you, it’s sometimes not worth worrying over. It’s still very useful, but just not worth obsessing over x

  3. May 24, 2017 / 8:07 am

    love this Georgia and so true. I use yoast and don’t overly worry too much when it’s on red and orange. sometimes the suggestions detract from the tone of my post! Congrats on taking over the linky too! you inspired me to join again! #fortheloveofblog

    • Kelly Edwards
      May 24, 2017 / 11:51 am

      You’re very right – it really does detract away from tone when you over edit it for Yoast. 🙂 Kelly x

  4. A great post! I tried to bow to yoast when I first installed it. But you know what, I don’t want sub headings in all my posts. I also tried to upskill in SEO etc but I just couldn’t find the motivation because it’s not an interest of mine. I work in retail commerce IT and even at work marketing is one area I just mind find a passion for. I’ll stick to my mediocre writing knowing that a professional has told me it’s she to not dwell on my keywords 😉 #fortheloveofBLOG

  5. May 24, 2017 / 6:32 pm

    This is a great post, thanks for the reassurance! I think i’ll be able to look at the way I set my keywords from a different viewpoint now. 🙂 #fortheloveofblog

  6. May 24, 2017 / 7:08 pm

    Thank you for this, I don’t actually use Yoast. I just write the post I want and try to make title fit the post as specifically as possible but sometimes if you try to get all the keywords in then it just sounds boring! Maybe thats why I don’t get tons of traffic but definitely agree with you that your writing can become disjointed if you focus too much on keywords x
    #FotTheLoveofBLOG

  7. May 24, 2017 / 8:08 pm

    I had no clue about SEO when I started out, but I learned pretty quickly that the green light system was great but wasn’t the be all and end all… I think I kind of write how I speak, and sometimes that’s fats and *shock* more than 20 words at a time!! Great post! #fortheloveofBLOG

  8. May 24, 2017 / 8:36 pm

    So glad you wrote this! I started worrying that I wasn’t taking enough notice of my Yoast plugin. I do always make sure I get a green light overall but I don’t make sure that everything follows the rules! #fortheloveofblog

  9. May 24, 2017 / 9:07 pm

    I don’t use Yoast – I had wondered if I should after seeing that other bloggers use it but I find it hard enough to keep up with everything blogging related without adding the extra stress of trying to get all my posts Yoast-approved! #fortheloveofblog

  10. May 24, 2017 / 9:26 pm

    A very useful post and I totally agree SEO is great and has it’s place but traffic can be driven from elsewhere. #fortheloveofblog

  11. May 25, 2017 / 6:29 am

    I love your post here because I didn’t used to worry about the green lights, then became obsessed and now I’m on my way back to a better place. Your advice has helped with how I was feeling about it. Thanks!:)
    Mainy
    #fortheloveofblog

  12. May 25, 2017 / 10:11 am

    Phew, I’ve always taken Yoast with a pinch of salt. I just tend to write what I want to write, then if Yoast tells me it’s OK, woo hoo. If it’s an easy change then fab. But I get bored chasing the green light. Nice to know I’m not doing any major damage. #fortheloveofBLOG

  13. May 25, 2017 / 7:55 pm

    I’m not self hosted yet and it scares me to be honest! #fortheloveof BLOG

  14. May 26, 2017 / 11:18 am

    I am one of those who is always trying to get green lights on Yoast lol. Maybe I’ll not be quite so dependant on those green lights now!
    #fortheloveofBLOG

  15. May 26, 2017 / 4:43 pm

    Thanks Kelly! This is a genuinely useful post. I used to always try to achieve the double green, and always failing on readability. However I only use Yoast now to make sure that I’ve filled out all the necessary boxes to make my site searchable. Great advice here for all bloggers. Thanks for being a fab co host at #fortheloveofBLOG. Claire x

  16. May 26, 2017 / 5:52 pm

    Brilliant post – as a novice blogger this whole world is making my head spin so it’s great to get some advice from someone who knows what they’re talking about! Thanks for hosting a great linky #fortheloveofBLOG

  17. May 26, 2017 / 5:59 pm

    Brilliant post – as a complete blogging newbie it’s all a mindfield to me at the moment so it’s great to get some advice from someone who knows what they’re doing!

    Thanks for sharing 🙂 #fortheloveofBLOG

  18. May 26, 2017 / 9:36 pm

    Great advice, I was always striving for the double green, but nowadays I’m not so bothered. It often meant that the post was too structured! #fortheloveofBLOG

  19. May 27, 2017 / 12:09 am

    Thank you for this post! I do nothing with SEO, YOAST or stuff like that. I just write what comes up, like it’s therapy and you are my therapists. Oy vey! #fortheloveofblog xo

  20. May 27, 2017 / 11:48 am

    I’m really bad, I just block my mind to it all and just write. I know I should pay more attention, but I don’t.
    #fortheloveofblog

  21. May 30, 2017 / 8:41 pm

    Yoast is brilliantly awful! I became a bit obsessed with trying to get two green lights but i’ve realised that its not always possible and I’m ok with that! I just use it as a guideline rather than a rulebook! #fortheloveofblog

  22. May 31, 2017 / 10:41 am

    I don’t use yoast since I’m on Blogger and not self-hosted yet. Nevertheless, this is useful to bear in mind. Good writing isn’t always about following the rules! #fortheloveofblog

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