The festival of WordPress
January 22, 2021

This is an archive of the January 2021 event

Content SEO

WordPress out of the box is really SEO-friendly. Add an awesome SEO plugin (like Yoast SEO) and most of the technical stuff you need to do in order to rank in the search engines is done. If you really want to stand out in the search results, you need to make sure that you have a kick-ass content SEO strategy. In this talk, I will give actionable tips on how to improve your content SEO strategy. I’ll go into both SEO copywriting as well as internal linking.

Time: 1:00pm UTC
Region: EMEA
Stage: Global Stage

Hello, everyone. It’s such an honor to be here and to be presenting at WordFest today. And I never would have thought to do so many talks and to attend so many conferences from my own. Living room. So welcome everybody in my beautiful home, really proud of my home. So I’m going to talk to you today about content SEO and for the people who don’t know who I am.

I will introduce myself. I am Marieke ve de Rakt and I am the CEO of Yoast. And I think most people know Yoast because of our plugin for WordPress, which helps, um, websites to rank high in Google. Yoast SEO, of course. So content SEO. I’m going to share my presentation with you and talk you through the most important aspects of content SEO and give you lots and lots of practical tips, which you can use today or tomorrow in order to improve your website and why content SEO.

Well, you know, If you use WordPress, that’s actually a pretty SEO friendly thing just out of the box. And then if you add an SEO plugin, preferably Yoast SEO. Oh, you’re pretty much good to go. That’s that’s like technical SEO is covered for like the most part. But if you really want to outrank your competition, then content is the way to go.

And in our plugin will help you to improve your content. And in this talk, I’ll give you even more tips on how to improve that content aspect of your SEO and make sure to keep out ranking all of your competition. So join me and we’ll look at my presentation. So here we are in my presentation. And whenever I talk about content SEO, I usually talk about two aspects.

You have SEO copywriting on the one hand, and you have internal linking on the other hand. And in this talk, I will go to both aspects of content SEO, both of the topics, but let’s start with SEO copywriting. So. Why is SEO copywriting important. And in order to really understand why it’s so important, we need to dive into Google and into Google’s mission because Google’s mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.

That’s what Google aims. That’s what Google wants to do. So Google wants to give his users a really good experience. It wants to give the user the thing that it’s been searching for in the search engine and something that a user can understand, it needs to be accessible and it needs to be useful. And you know, any old days, like 10 years ago, maybe you.

You know, SEO was all about tricks. It was all about tricks. You could write a blog post and mention the words she wants to be found for like over and over again. And that would work. And if you would write white text on a white background so that you just couldn’t see it, but Google would, that would work as well.

But you know what? Google is getting smarter and smarter and those things just don’t work anymore. So in order to really outrank your competition, it’s really rank in search engines. You need to be doing what we call sustainable SEO, and that means that you, you should. Try to comply with Google’s mission.

If Google wants to give people a useful and accessible result, then you need to make sure that you have that result. You need to have a long time sustainable. SEO strategy. You should focus on all the aspects of website optimization in order to be the best result. You just need to be the best result because then  will, Google will, will, will get you all the way on the top of their lists.

Aiming to be the best result is what we call a Yoast holistic SEO. And that, that means it assumes that you focus on a whole lot of aspects of website optimization. And I’m seeing that my face is in front of one of the aspects. I will tell you which one it is. And just the minute you should focus on technical excellence.

You should focus on flawless security, awesome PR and social, and, and I’m in front of that. I’m aware of that. And also UX and then the most important thing is that you have high quality content. So I think high quality content is really the thing that will make a difference in your chances in the search engines.

But how do you do that? How do you write high quality concepts? Well, the first step and that’s the first step in any content SEO strategy is keyword research. You should be doing keyword research, always. Because you knew you should know what your audience is searching for. You should get inside the heads of your audience and use their words.

There are a lot of tools that will help you get inside the heads of your audience, like SEMrush with which our plugin has a beautiful integration. That’s awesome. Those tools help you to do your keyword research and to make it a little bit easier, but don’t underestimate this stuff you really need to think about.

You need to make sure that you’re focusing on the right keywords, because if you’re focusing on the wrong ones, all the steps that I’m going to talk about. They’re just pretty much useless because those words you want to be found for should be the words that your audience searching for. So talk to that.

Um, you could, you could talk to people, see what words they are using when they use your internal search function on your website. You could do a survey and ask them why they come to your website. These are all strategies to come up with the, with new ideas about which words you should be ranking for.

Providing you’re focusing on the right keywords content SEO. Copywriting has three major demands, your content should be original. It should be readable and it should be findable. So what is original content? So you should make sure that you are writing or creating something that your audience will want to read.

It should add something. So all the junk that’s already out there on the internet, you should make something that people will want to read. That’s what’s original content is about. So you can focus on the keyword you want to be found for, but you should have like an angle or a story in your blog posts, or even if you’re making video, but it should be something that people will want to engage with, which they’re happy to read, which adds something to all the junk that’s already out there on the internet.

And then. Good high quality content should be readable. And this means that it should be nice and easy to read. It should be nice and easy to digest people. Shouldn’t have a hard time reading your text. It should be an enjoyable experience. So why is readability important? Well, first of all, reading from a screen is really, really hard.

People have a hard time focusing and concentrating, especially if they are reading from a mobile screen. And there is so much distraction surrounding them. It’s just different than if you’re at home reading a book than if you’re. On the, go on your mobile, trying to read something. And that’s what most of our, our audiences are doing right now.

Um, second people are quickly bored and they can just easily click away. So you need to make sure that your message comes across. Quite easily that people shouldn’t have, like make an effort to understand what you are saying. It should be enjoyable enough for people to stay on your side because otherwise they’ll just click away and you won’t reach them.

And apart from readability being important for your reader, it’s also really important for Google. Because Google reads texts too. And if Google is more able to understand the meaning of a text to grasp the meaning of a text, it’s more likely that it will also rank it high. So readability is important. I can do an entire talk about the importance of readability.

In fact, I do that on a regular basis, but how do you improve the readability of your text? Let’s go into that for a bit. So first of all, the structure of your text is really important. If the structure of your text is clear, this will help people to understand your text so much better. So make sure to think about the, order in which you want to address things in your text.

Makes it makes sure to have those topics follow each other in a logical order use subheadings because they will help your reader to grasp the meaning of your text. Make sure to write clear paragraph, lots of people use white spaces whenever it feels right. They don’t really think about a paragraph, but you know that first sentence of every paragraph, that’s the one where people’s eyes will glue to.

That’s the one that people will read. If they scan through a text. So start a paragraph with the most important sentence, because that will help people to grasp what your text is about. So the first sentence of your paragraph, like in this paragraph is like the core sentence and says pretty much everything you need to know from that paragraph, Guinea pigs are social companion animals that require daily interaction and all the sentences that come after this sentence are just elaborating.

Oh, that first core sentence. So that’s how I usually draft my paragraphs. Make sure your paragraphs aren’t too long, like seven or eight sentence is maximum. It’s right. To write short sentences, shorter sentences are much easier to read and to understand than long ones. You really research has shown that you need more brain power to process longer sentences, especially if a long sentence follows a long sentence and another long sentence.

We consider sentences in English containing more than 20 words to be too long. And if you write a lot of those sentences, your brains will just have to work really hard to make sense of it all. And that doesn’t mean that you can write like a few long sentences every now and then, but you should mix it up and make sure that your brain gets a little time to breathe every now and then.

So keep a short sentence in between. Let’s take a look at those sentences a little bit more. How can you improve your sentences even? Well, you can read, make a text so much readable by adding transition words, using transition words. It’s like putting cement between your sentences. So transition words are words, words.

Like first of all, as ta result, seems like, almost, and these words indicate the relation between sentences or within sentences, because if you write as a results, your reader will know a conclusion is coming up. If you use most noteworthy. Your reader will know I have to pay attention something important is coming up.

These words, we, we, we teach these words to our children to make sense of texts because they’ll help our children and all of our readers to make sense of a text. But as a writer, you should make sure to use enough of these to help your reader to understand your texts. The second thing you should do in order to make your sentences more readable is to avoid the passive voice.

And the passive voice is a grammatical construction and using the passive voice almost always makes your writing really distant. It makes your message less clear. So why is that? Well, the easiest way to explain this is by contrasting the active voice with the passive voice, the active voice is standard English sentence construction.

So mum hugged me. That’s active. Well, the passive voice would be, I was hugged by mom. You’ll see the passive voice is almost always longer. That will, that means that your reader will spend valuable working memory on making sense of the sentence. And that’s that decreases the likelihood of getting your message across, but the sentence structure is also more complex.

It will require more cognitive efforts. So why does it demand more cognitive effort apart from being longer? It’s also not what we’re used to. The passive four is during the basic act of sentence structure that we’re all used to Oh, wrong way around. So we’re used to knowing what or who is doing something at the beginning of a sentence, but in the passive voice you discover that.

Oh, way at the end of the sentence. And this is just the sequence differs from the way we’re used to things. And that makes it harder for us to understand. And in the example I give here, there is no added benefit of using the passive voice and sometimes there is, and then. Then you should, then you can’t use an active counterpart, but if you can use a good active alternative, which conveys the same information, you should always do that.

So we’ve talked about how quality content should be original and it should be readable, but it’s also should be find-able because. After all, you want to turn up in the search engines. We all want to turn up in the search results. So you can do a it’s a lots of optimization that will help you with that ranking.

And our plugging will help you to get that keyword optimized. You should use it in the subheadings rides and also meta-description all these things really. Help you should definitely add keywords in a text, but that should never compromise your readability, or it will be bad for your rankings. So ultimately using for the search engine should never compromise your readability and don’t get me wrong.

I really believe in keywords and keyword research, finding out what your audience is searching for. That’s just basic marketing except matching of keywords becomes less and less important because overall Google is trying to mimic a human it tries to read a text like a human being and as Google becomes more and more capable of understanding and scanning text in a human-like way do the mounds of readability on your text also rise.

And trying to optimize your texts for a very specific length of keywords just really feels outdated. And that’s why our plugin now recognizes different word forms and synonyms. It’s able to recognize plurals and past tense and a different word order. And you can also add related keywords. So in a premium analysis, we’re able to, um, analyze short sex and take into account pearls.

Like in this case, you’re optimizing for Guinea pig, but we’ll also recognize Guinea pigs. And we’ll also recognize that if you would, um, flip the order a bit around. So it’s much easier to, um, get your texts optimized for your, for the search engines without compromising your readability. You’ll be optimizing in a natural way.

So we’ve talked about the first aspect of content SEO. Let’s talk a little bit about the second aspect that would be internal linking. Okay. So why is internal linking important for SEO or site structure? Well, it’s important for the user. If a site is well structured, your user will more easily find what it’s looking for, but what does such structure have to do with SEO?

Well, the way your site is structured will give Google important clues about where to find the most important content your site structure determines whether or not a search engine understands what your site is about and what your selling. And in order to understand that you should think back on how Google actually works.

And remember that search engines like Google follow links, that’s just what they do, the crawler or the spider, whatever it’s called it follows links. And for it to know about the existence of a website, it needs to have at least one external link pointing towards it. And if Google finds that link, it will follow that link to the new page.

And then it will gather all the information on that page, the content headings, and links, and put it in a really big database, which is called the index that happens in the second step. And then Google will continue to Crawl and follow all these links. And whenever something changes, it will alter those changes in the index.

So it will save these changes in the index and on some pages, Google comes around really, really often because that those pages have a lot of visitors or a lot of changes on other pages. Google spiders will not come around very often. The most important thing you need to be remembering from this is that Google follows links.

And this means Google follows your internal links to crawl through all of the pages on your websites. And if a certain page on your website get lots and lots of links, Google will come there pretty often. And if, if a page gets no links or very little things, Google will not come there very often. And the pages where Google comes really often.

Those are the pages for which Google thinks. I think those are important because I’m, I’m here so very often. So think of the way you structured the website, the way you internally link your pages to each other. As a way of telling Google, which ones are the most important pages that have a lot of links pointing towards them, those will appear important in the eyes of Google.

Well pages that don’t have many links will not appear that important. So maybe I’ve convinced you about the importance of internal linking, but how do you improve the internal linking structure of your website? Well, my first tip sounds really, really easy, but it really isn’t before you do anything. I would advise you to think that’s usually my advice in any situation you should think, think about what pages are important in this case, you should think about what pages are the most important to you.

If you want to show your audience like four or five pages, which ones would that be? Which with which pages do you want to rank high in the search engines? Which pages should my audience read? And what do I want to do, want them to do with that page? Those most important pages they did. These could be informative articles, but they also could be landing pages.

So it could be that you want people to find information on your website, but you could also want them to find your products. So let’s go to the second tip because you’ve done your thinking. And the second tip reads link from the tail to the head. And it doesn’t make sense now, but it will in like a few minutes.

So you have thought about, and you have tackled the most important pages and usually those. Actually are the pages that are the hardest to rank with because they have, um, uh, keywords that are really competitive. So, let me explain this a little bit. Um, for every niche you’ll have like the hard words to rank for, and you’ll have more specific keywords that will be less hard to rank for.

So if you have, if you want to rank for a vacation home, that’s like really hard term to rank for. Because there’s a lot of competition. A lot of people want to rank for that too. But if you’ll make your search term a little bit more specific vacation on France vacation of South of France, vacation home, um, Mo Monaco or Nice, or, uh, something like, like a city, all these things will make it more specific and there will be less people trying to rank for these terms.

So it could be a great strategy. So focus on a lot of, of those long tail keywords, because it’s not that hard to rank for. And all of them together will get you like quite a lot of traffic, but if you have. A good internal linking strategy, those long tail keywords, long tail focused keywords content pieces will help you to rank for the competitive keywords as well.

So let me explain this to you. Imagine you want to rank for the term site structure. I actually want to rank for that and that’s my most important page. My most important article, my article that sparks joy to speak in terms of Mary combo. Right? What should you do in order to make that article rank? Well, usually if you want to rank for site structure, you’ll probably have a part from the big one, some other articles that focused on such structure as well, but they will all focus on something that’s more specific, more long tail, what you should do.

And if you don’t have those articles, you should write them. So you should write articles that each focus on a specific niche that. Well relates to the article that you want to rank with the most, all of these little articles will also attract a little bit of traffic. All of them to get what you should do is that from all of these niche articles, such structure FAQ, the importance of site structure, internal linking strategies, you’ll put a link from these articles to your main article, the one you really want to rank for, and, and for all of them to the top. And that’s when Google is following links, we’ll see, I’m referring to this really important article all of the time. I think this article about site structure is the most important.

And Google will rank that article the highest, so rank or sorry, the link from the tail, the long tail to the head,

maybe you’re all thinking that sounds easy. I’m just going to put a lot of links to watch the most important article on my site. And then it will magically turn up high in Google. This only works if you’re linked contextual, this means that your links should make sense. It shouldn’t be a trick. Your links should be actually useful to the reader because Google is able to read and understand texts as well.

And if you’re just adding random internal links to your site, this will not work because Google will recognize that trick and it wants to give a user, an audience, something that’s actually useful. So that means if you’re writing a post about ballet shoes, a link from that post should always be in context, it could be about ballet lessons or ballet schools.

It could even be about hip hop shoes, but it shouldn’t be about link building. So it should be contextual. Can we do this forever? Or is there such a thing as too much high quality content? And I think there is keyword. Cannibalization is really becoming a thing. You cannot blog endlessly about the same content and just leave it be.

You need to do. Some content management, and especially for sites that have been around for like quite a long time, the Chance is you’re suffering from some sort of keyword cannibalization is rather big. If you’re optimising your articles for similar terms, you just might be devouring your own chances to rank in Google.

You can solve this with your internal linking structure. Make sure to tell Google which articles are the most important ones, because if you do, then Google will not get confused and Google will know which one is the most important, and that one will rank the highest. It’s only a problem. If you confuse, Google, if you did not tell Google, which ones are the most important?

So, what should you take away from this talk? Well, first of all, content is King. That’s something that, as you always say, content is really, really important. You should make sure that your content is original. It should be readable and it should be find-able. But if content is King. Then internal linking definitely is it’s queen.

That’s really important as well. So tell Google, which pages are the most important link from the tail to the hat and link in context. So this was my talk for WordFest. I hope you’re all enjoying this 24 hour long event. It’s been great talking here and I’m looking forward to seeing you all soon in real life because this whole COVID thing has got to end sometime right. So stay healthy and stay safe and see you soon. Bye-bye.

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