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

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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’ »

June 13th 2017 blogging

Blogging: the ultimate guide

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Writing blog posts can be big fun. For some of you, blogging can be quite a challenge as well. What should you write about? What to do if you’re out of inspiration? How do you get engagement on your blog posts? And how do you market and monetize your blog? This ultimate guide covers all important aspects of blogging. 

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Why blog?

If you have a website, you should blog. At least every now and then. Blogging is great for SEO and it’s a valuable marketing tool. On top of that, it can be great fun!

Blogging for SEO

Adding content on a regular basis should be part of every sustainable SEO strategy. It allows you to rank for new keywords and to keep ranking for those you’re already found for. If you blog regularly, Google will regard your site as active, alive and relevant. This will definitely help your rankings.

Blogging as a marketing tool

A blog is a great marketing tool for every website. In your blog, you can tell readers about your brand, your products and perhaps even about yourself. Maintaining a blog also allows your readers to get more acquainted with your brand and your products.

Read on: ‘To blog or not to blog’ »

Setting up a new blog

If you’re just starting a new blog, it pays off to think a little bit before you start. Just take some time to contemplate about your niche and to do some proper keyword research. And don’t forget to structure your blog in a smart way. It will save you a lot of work later on, if you first think through how you want to set up your blog.

Read more: ‘How to start a blog’ »

What to blog about?

You can’t blog without ideas. And you’ll need a lot of ideas to maintain a successful blog. But how do you come up with all these ideas?

Keyword research

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

Keep reading: ‘Keyword research: the Ultimate Guide’ »

If you’ve done your keyword research properly, you’ll end up with a long list of keywords you’ll be writing content about. A word is not yet a topic though. Besides a keyword you’ll need an angle or a specific story around a keyword to write a blog post.

Inspiration for your post?

Current events, your own work, and comments of your readers can give you inspiration for new blog posts. Reading a lot is also a good idea to find inspiration. Read magazines, newspapers, and other blogs. Tip: keep a list of ideas for new blog posts on your mobile phone. Inspiration comes when you least expect it.

Read on: ‘5 tips to get inspiration for your blog’ »

How to write a high-quality blog post?

Writing requires some skills. For some people, writing is really hard, while for others it just comes naturally. Below we’ll provide some tips to make the writing process easier. But first, we’ll describe two important aspects of high-quality blog post, originality and readability:

Original content

Your blog post should always contain original content. It should be fresh, new and original. Your post should be different from all the other blog posts and articles about the same topic that are already on the internet. It should be something that people will want to read.

Read more: ‘The importance of original content for SEO’ »

 

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Readable content

After you’ve written a post with original content, you should make sure it’s readable too: your article should be easy to read. Readability is important for your audience. If your text is well structured and clearly written, people will understand the message of your text. On top of that, readability is also important for SEO. People read your text, but Google reads texts too. If your text has the characteristics of a text that is easy to read, like a clear structure with subheadings and logical paragraphs, it’ll have a higher chance to rank in the search engines.

Keep reading: ‘Does readability rank?’ »

Practical tips on how to write awesome blog posts

Think before you write

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

Read on: ‘How to start writing a blog post’ »

Write clear paragraphs

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

Read more: ‘Practical tips to set up a clear text structure’ »

Get help and ask feedback

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

In addition to using a writing tool like our readability analysis, you should always make sure that someone proofreads your blog post. A fresh pair of eyes will at least help getting typos corrected and you’ll know if someone else understood everything you wanted to say in your article.

Keep reading: ‘5 tips to write readable blogposts’ »

Optimize blog posts for the search engines

After you’ve written a blog post that’s both original as well as readable, you should make sure your content is optimized for the search engines. You should maximize the likelihood Google picks up your content. It’s important that you take this final step after you’ve written an original and readable post. SEO should never compromise the originality of your idea nor the readability of your text though.

content analysis yoast seo

Yoast SEO can help you tweak your text. The red and orange bullets will indicate which aspects of your findability need some more attention. Our plugin perhaps suggests using your focus keyword a little bit more often. Maybe, you should put it in the first paragraph or in one of the headings. Yoast SEO will help you to optimize your snippet preview as well.

Read on: ‘Use Yoast SEO to make your content findable’ »

Blog engagement

Blog engagement is an important factor for SEO. If your audience leaves comments on your blog (and you respond to these comments), Google will notice that your blog is very much alive and active. And of course, mentions on social media will also help with your blog’s ranking. If people share your post on social media, or talk about it online, this will definitely lead to more traffic.

An essential aspect of blog engagement is handling the comments on your blog. You should reserve some time to handle those comments. Answering questions and providing correct responses in a discussion can take a lot of time. Handling positive feedback and answering questions is relatively easy, while negative feedback can be a bit harder. Read our post about how to handle comments for more information and practical tips.

Marketing your blog

If you’re writing posts for your blog, you want an audience. Nobody wants to perform in an empty room! Ranking high in search engines by doing your SEO flawlessly will, of course, help. But you can do more.

Social media and newsletters

Social media are important marketing instruments for your blog. Definitely set up a Facebook page and create a Twitter account. If you’re focussing on a young audience, you’ll need Instagram and Snapchat as well.

Also, think about newsletters. Try to collect an audience that wants to stay informed and email them regularly.

Read more: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Monetizing your blog

If your audience is growing due to great SEO and marketing strategies, this doesn’t necessarily mean that profit (if you’re making money with your blog) from your blog is also growing. For many bloggers, making money is not the primary goal. Still, you can make money with a blog. Advertising, affiliate marketing, and writing promoted posts are the most well-known strategies to make money with a blog. But you could also think about selling your own stuff.

Keep reading: ‘Monetizing your blog’ »

Maintaining a blog

Starting a blog is easier than maintaining a blog. It can be a lot of work to write blog posts on a regular basis. You don’t have to blog every day, but you should decide on a frequency and stick to it. That way, your audience will know what to expect from you. Blogging requires some discipline.

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

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Site structure of a growing blog

When your blog is growing, you have to analyze the structure of your blog on a very regular basis. Organize your categories, subcategories and tags well. As your blog is growing, the structure will change and evolve. As long as you stay on top of that, your structure will remain SEO-friendly!

Content planning of a growing blog

As your blog gets bigger and attracts a larger audience, content writing becomes content planning and content managing. On larger blogs, a team of authors usually works together. Blogs are written by individual authors, but these authors still have to work together. Otherwise, a post with the exact same topic could appear twice. Or, authors could use a totally different style and tone of voice.

Read on: ‘Managing a growing blog: content planning’ »

Conclusion

Blogging is great. It can boost your rankings in Google, especially when you combine it with an in-depth keyword research strategy. Blogging is also an important and effective marketing tool. Use our tips to get started and to maintain your blog effectively. Happy blogging!

June 6th 2017 blogging

How to start writing a blog post?

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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.

Keep reading: ‘SEO copywriting: the ultimate guide’ »

May 31st 2017 blogging

7 Methods to Boost Your Writing Skills: Tested

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When I first started blogging, I hoped that I would get everything at once. Bigger traffic numbers, wider audience, more engagement. However, many of my posts seemed to be unnoticed by both, people and search engines. What was I doing wrong? Well, many things, actually. The reality is you cannot become a good blogger (journalist, writer, or whoever you want to be) without improving your writing skills. Only after making hundreds of mistakes, you will figure out how to write the content that will get you noticed.

The good news is that with a few proven tips and tricks from my own experience, chances are you will get through this faster than I had to. Today I’m going to share with you several methods I used to boost my writing skills. They helped me, and they are sure to help you too!

  1. Typing Speed

    Let’s face it, fast and accurate typing is important, as this skill can save you a tremendous amount of time. Moreover, it can boost your productivity. Luckily, there are lots of typing classes and training software to developing this skill today, but my favorite one is Typisto. This unusual game app is just great for increasing your typing speed and improving your grammar, which is also crucial for any writer.

  2. Distinct Writing Style

    The signature writing style is one of those things every writer wants to achieve one day. However, it does not come easy and requires much of your time. Where to start? One of the methods I used at the beginning of my writing journey was imitating some of my favorite writers. No, it’s not about plagiarism; it’s about finding something you really like in other authors’ works and using it to improve your writing skills. Over time, you will start to develop your own distinct ‘voice’ and signature style.

  3. Writers’ Workshop

    These days, creative writing courses, meet-ups, workshops, and special groups for writers can be found in almost every city or small town. You can use Meetup to choose something interesting you want to join to in your area. Write something on the chosen topic, receive feedback from like-minded writers, and make your work better. It is not only a good way to boost your writing skills, but also a lot of fun and knowledge.

  4. Writing and Rewriting

    Before you start, keep in mind that writing requires time and dedication, so if you want to succeed in this endeavor, you should work hard. After all, the more you write, the better your writing skills are. First of all, create a writing schedule and stick to it. Remove any distractions and focus solely on your task. Carefully plan, draft, edit, and format each piece of writing to receive the better result. If you have any earlier works, review them to see how far you have progressed since that time.

  5. Reading Habit

    Reading more is also a great method to boost your writing skills. However, you should not read only what you really like to read. You should get out of your comfort zone and try more challenging material. It will expand your horizons and stretch your writing skills. Besides, this method will help you learn different genres of writing and challenge your way of thinking. That is why it is crucial to make reading your daily habit. After all, the more you read, the better writer you become.

  6. Specific Writing Techniques

    To become a good writer is impossible without practicing, but don’t focus on a single writing style at the beginning of your writing adventure. Instead, you should try different writing techniques. For example, include questions in your writing to engage the reader, add a more dynamic rhythm, experiment with metaphors, or do something else you have never done before. In addition to improving your writing skills, it will help you find your favorite style and develop your own writing voice.

  7. Grammar and Spelling

    Needless to say that the correct use of grammar and spelling is of utmost importance for every writer. Whether you write a blog, an article, or a novel, you need to be absolutely confident that your work is free of any mistakes and typos. Fortunately, there are many useful online tools that can help you boost your grammar skills and improve the quality of your work. As for me, I use Grammarly and Hemingway. These two make a great combination for every novice writer.

In conclusion, let me emphasize the most important point of this article: becoming a good writer takes practice and time. However, everyone can boost their writing skills if they want to. Moreover, with these simple yet effective methods I tried on myself, you can achieve your goal faster than you ever thought possible. Believe in yourself and your skills, and you are guaranteed to succeed!

The post 7 Methods to Boost Your Writing Skills: Tested appeared first on RosalindGardner.com.

May 23rd 2017 blogging

How to start a blog

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If you’re thinking about starting a blog, the most important thing I have to say to you is: go for it! Start your blog! Just do it! Blogging is a great SEO strategy, it’s a wonderful marketing tool and blogging is lots of fun! A new blog will allow you to make smart and strategic choices. Just take a little time to think about how to set up your blog before you begin, so you’ll have less work later on. Let me share some tips with you on how to start a blog.

Choose your niche

You should always write about what you know. But you should not write about everything you know. Pick a niche. Decide upon a main topic and write posts related to that topic. It’s more likely that your audience will come back and read your other posts if you’re writing about similar topics. People will know what to expect. Starting a mom blog implies that you write about all things concerning your children and family life. Starting a travel blog implies you write about traveling. You can write about something slightly off topic once in a while of course, but try to stick to your niche. An audience of a travel blog doesn’t expect a blog post about gardening. 

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Do your keyword research

Once you’ve chosen your niche, you should do some solid keyword research. Try to find out what people are searching for. What words are they using when they want to read about your niche and your topic? You should really get inside the heads of your potential audience. If you do your keyword research properly, you should end up with a long lists of keywords you would like to be found for. Try to come up with competitive, head keywords as well as with less competitive long-tail keywords.

Read on: ‘How to start your keyword research’ »

Think about site structure

This is the best time to think about site structure. What categories are popular in your niche? What are the most important head keywords you’d like to rank for? You should write a long, kick-ass article about each of these keywords. Those will be your most essential articles, or in other words, your cornerstone content. You should give those articles a prominent place on your site.

After you’ve written those beautiful cornerstone articles, write lots of blog posts on sub topics of that main topic and always link to your cornerstones. That way, you’ll be telling Google exactly what the most important articles on your website are.

Read more: ‘What is cornerstone content?’ »

Write that first post

Take some time to do keyword research and to think about site structure. But don’t take too much time. Just write that first post! Put pen to paper and just do it. Your blog starts with the very first post. That post doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be published. Need some help to get started? Check out our 10 tips on how to make your post awesome.

Pictures and videos

Writing blog post is more than writing a nice story; a successful blog has pictures and videos as well. Every post should show at least one image. Taking nice photos yourself is a great way of creating images and making short videos is a really good blogging strategy as well. Especially if you’re blogging about (aspects) of your own life, photos of it are a necessity.

Keep reading: ‘Images for blogs’ »

Optimize for the search engines

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

Read on: ‘How to use the content & SEO analysis of Yoast SEO’ »

Promote your blog

Using social media is the best way to reach and grow the audience of your blog. That’s why your blog should have a Facebook page. Sharing your posts on Facebook is a good marketing strategy. Don’t forget Instagram and Twitter either!

In addition to the use of social media to promote your blog, we advise you send out a digital newsletter. Let people sign up for it and send out emails with your latest blog posts and some other fun facts.

Read more: ‘Marketing your blog’ »

Stick with it!

The most important thing to start a blog – besides setting up your new blog – is to write that very first blog post. Once you’ve written that first post, your blog has started. You should keep on writing blog posts to make it successful, so try to determine a frequency to publish new posts. You don’t have to blog every day, once a week or maybe even once in every two weeks would be a nice frequency to start with. Find a frequency you can stick with! Your audience will know what to expect, if your blogging frequency is stable.

Keep reading: ‘Blog SEO: make people stay and read your post’ »

May 19th 2017 blogging, wordpress

Ideas for What to Cover on Your Company Blog

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The essential benefit of content marketing is simply… survival”(Katherine Kotaw, CEO).

True indeed, but there’s better reasoning behind a company’s blog: communicating with customers and readership, voicing the opinions of employees, collaborators and management, showing latest releases, services, and products. And more.

Research shows that blogging replaced SEO as top traffic building strategy and 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company’s voice through blog posts rather than targeted ads (source: Digital Marketing Resource Center).  With these facts in mind, here are a few ideas and examples for what to cover on your company blog.

Structure Your Company Blog Like a Course

One of the main counterarguments of blog posts is if you publish very often, the old posts tend to slip the readers’ eyes, unless they rank top in social or search-engine search. But if a visitor clicks your homepage, chances are he/she will most likely access the latest blog posts.

To offer the best information to your readership and customers alike, structuring your blog as an online course can be just the thing to make it work. One example is AcuityTraining.

On their blog, they cover how-to articles related to Excel for business intelligence, MS Office and Adobe. As well as how to prepare for interviews or tips and guides for first-time managers, which breaks away from the traditional “company blogging”.

Add Icons and Gifs to Outline the Subject

Why stick to boring preview images, when there’s so much more out there? Besides adding gifs in the posts and setting up a casual voice for their articles, RavenTools has recently started to add icons just side to the article title.

An article that talks about mobile UX will display a smartphone icon, for example. As opposed to images and videos or gifs that require additional CDN subscriptions to compress files and ease the page load, icons occupy as little as a few kb per image and do not impact site speed. This works not just for a marketing tool business, but for any type of digital services or online products or apps.

Beyond Professional: Personal Advice for Your Customers

A company blog doesn’t always have to stick to company products or services. You can do so much more, such as promote the stories of your customers as blog posts, share life at headquarters beyond Insta stories.

Or why not simply discuss overcoming difficult moments in life, like WP Diamonds does on their blog? The company blog covers important aspects such as recovering after a divorce, what to do with jewelry as inheritance, lifehacks for readers, and more. All using a positive voice as empowerment to men and women worldwide.

More than a Health Directory

Directories have existed since forever, but what if yours could go beyond? GreenGoodnessCo is a fine example of a health directory exceeding limits.

Their blog section is filled with recipes, how-to articles, wellness and health resources, experts highlights, user stories, local best healthy meals, restaurants, juice bars, and more. This approach does not only help businesses with local listings, but also aid visitors looking for more than just a place to eat, drink, hang out at.

Takeaways

Remember that 70% of consumers prefer getting to know a company’s voice through blog posts, which means business blogging is still highly relevant. How you do it, it’s only up to you. You can go beyond the typical approach by

  • a) structuring your blog as an online course, like AcuityTraining;
  • b) using icons side to article titles so people understand the overall topic before they click, following RavenTools’s example;
  • c) going beyond professional, and addressing pressing issues of today’s society such as divorce, marriage, lifehacks, like in the case of WP Diamonds; and,
  • d) reinventing a concept such as GreenGoodnessCo’s health directory into a new place for users to find inspiration, information, and motivation for a better, healthier lifestyle.

The post Ideas for What to Cover on Your Company Blog appeared first on SEO Chat.

April 26th 2017 blogging

Contributor, beware of PageRank-hoarding publishers

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So you’ve found a great site to contribute content to — or have you? Columnist Stephan Spencer provides advice for how to evaluate potential publishers for SEO benefits.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

April 7th 2017 blogging

Ask Yoast case study: SEO of a mom blog

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SEO can be a rather complicated and abstract thing. What exactly do we mean by increasing keyword density? How do you start with improving the structure of a site? That’s why I’m going to write 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 first case study: SEO of a mom blog!

Ask Yoast Case studies

Want Marieke to look at the content of your site? Send an email to ask@yoast.com!

Improve the SEO of a mom blog!

In this case study, a mom blog’s SEO is the central topic. Lindsay Butler of One Beautiful Home asked us to look at the SEO of her many blog posts.

“I’m a mom blogger,” Lindsay says,  “who has gone from a hobby blog to a business. I’ve started making real money with my site, and would love to continue its growth. I have hundreds of posts, but never paid much attention to SEO, other than selecting a keyword. So I have to go back to the beginning, and optimize all of my older posts, so they can rank properly. I have hundreds of posts. What is the best way to organize this process, so I can make sure I don’t screw it up?” 

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About the mom blog

One Beautiful Home is an awesome mom blog. Being a mom of 4 myself, I really enjoyed browsing through this blog. I especially enjoyed all the printables and worksheets Lindsay offers. She really made her blog into a shop. Her writing style is entertaining and the subjects she chooses are great. I think this website has great potential, and, I have to say, I’ll become a regular visitor for sure! That being said, I’d also like to give Lindsay some advice for improvement.

At the end of this blog post, I’m going to answer her question. But before I come to that, I want to give some general SEO advice to improve the SEO of Lindsay’s website. Advice more blog and website owners could benefit from!

General SEO advice

Don’t use too many adds

When looking at One beautiful Home, you cannot escape the ads. Especially the ad below the banner is huge. The banners also load very slow, which is pretty annoying. Too many ads and banners can be detrimental for both the UX and SEO of your site. You shouldn’t put too many ads on your website.

Of course, I understand that these ads generate income as well. So, removing the ads could reduce the income of your website. That’s scary. Still, removing them will probably improve your rankings and the User Experience. That’ll definitely have a positive effect on the sales of your own products.

Site speed is low

The page speed score of the homepage of One Beautiful Home is very low (17/100 on desktop in Google Page Speed Insights). A low page speed is bad news for your SEO! The images on the homepage are quite heavy and should be optimized. Overall, you could reduce their size by 3.5 MB (76% reduction), which would, most likely, substantially boost your site speed.

Read more: ‘Site speed: tools and suggestions’ »

After reading a first draft of this post, Lindsay already took some steps in improving both the speed of her site as well as the number of banners. That’s really awesome!

Optimizing for SEO after publishing

Let’s go back to Lindsay’s question. What SEO improvements should Lindsay start with, if she has hundreds of published posts she wrote without actively optimizing them? I thought of a step-by-step plan to help her get through this:

1. Do your keyword research

The first step of every SEO copywriting strategy is executing proper keyword research. To do so, you really have to get inside the heads of your audience. What words are they searching for? What terms do they use? You should use tools like Google Trends to check out which words are used most often.

After you’ve finished your keyword research, you should have a long list with competitive (head) search terms and less competitive and more specific (long tail) search terms.

Keep reading: ‘Keyword research: the ultimate guide’ »

For this mom blog, examples of search terms could be [debt free living], [pre-school education], [pre-school education printables]. Search terms as [parenting] are probably too competitive to rank for.

2. What are your cornerstones?

What are the articles you’re most proud of? From every category on your website you should choose one blog post (it could be a page as well) that really reflects your core business. Cornerstone content should be rather long and informative articles, in which you can describe all important aspects of the main topic. In these cornerstone articles, you’ll use the most competitive keywords. Our Yoast SEO plugin will help you optimize your text. Check out the bullets and start optimize your cornerstones for the most competitive keywords.

Make sure to give your cornerstone articles a prominent place on your website. You should be able to navigate to these specific articles within two clicks from the home page.

Category pages could be great long tails too. I think that would be a doable strategy for One Beautiful Home. Lindsay should write an awesome informative category page about parenting, about debt free live and about pre-school education.

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3. Optimize those long tails

After you’ve optimized your most precious articles, you should dive into your long tail posts. These are the posts that dive into a more specific feature of a subject. Again, use our plugin to optimize for those long tail keywords. Optimizing lots of posts for slightly different long tail keywords is a great SEO tactic.

4. Link from the tail to the head

Last step of your SEO updating strategy: make sure to link from all of these long tail articles to your cornerstone article. That way, you’re telling Google: this is the most important content. In the end, that’ll be the article that will pop up in the search results.

A final question from Lindsay

After reading a draft version of this blog post, Lindsay had a final question:

“I have read so much about keywords, but there is still one question I cannot figure out. I write a lot about getting out of debt. A “main” keyword for that topic let’s say is [Debt Free Living]. I have 75 posts that relate to that keyword. How would I use that that keyword for all of those posts? I know I cannot duplicate the keyword, so how does someone do that? 

I know that I need a page that keeps all of my content about this topic in one area, but how do I keyword each of the posts, so that I can rank higher for the debt free living “ultimate” keyword? Should I put [Debt Free Living: paying off student loans], [Debt Free Living: buying a used car],  [Debt Free Living: paying off your credit cards] etc. for the individual posts, as they relate to the specific blog post?”

The answer to this question is: Yes, you should write lots of post about niche subjects [paying off student loans], [buying a used car]. I won’t use the [Debt-free Living: buying a used car] keyword, as I suspect nobody will search for that exact term. You should make a list of keywords surrounding your head keyword [debt free living]. Make sure these keywords are search terms people actually use in Google (you could use Google Trends to figure that out).

Second step is to write that cornerstone article and optimize it for your head term [debt free living]. We have written Ultimate Guide articles about key aspect of SEO. These are our cornerstone articles. Make sure that every long tail article about debt free living links to your most important article (and keep on doing that if you write new articles). That way you’ll tell Google which article about debt free living is the most important one.

Conclusion

To improve the SEO of this specific site, I would recommend removing a lot of the ads and improving the site speed. And, follow my four steps to optimize all of the text. I’m sure this website has great potential. It has found a niche within the mom blog niche. That’s great.

We understood from Lindsay that she already went ahead and started improving things like site speed and the ad display. So you might see some changes on her site already, if you go there. We’re excited to hear she took action immediately. Good luck with your website, Lindsay!

Read on: ‘How to incorporate cornerstone content on your site’ »

April 6th 2017 blogging

How to Monetize Your Blog Like a Pro

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Last year, celebrity gossip blogger Perez Hilton (Mario Lavandeira) earned an astonishing $15,000 in daily income, as his website gained a value of $2.66 million. Tech Crunch, starting out as a blog, has become a viable brand, worth $10.82 million.

Blogging has become an industry in itself. Once upon a time it was a platform for personal journalling, but over the years blogs have gained legitimacy, visibility and power on the web and beyond it. As you can see, one of the changes has been the fact that you can make real money blogging, even without becoming a major information powerhouse.

If you have thought about monetizing your website, here are some tips to help you get started.

Get Your Toolbox in Order

Whichever method (or methods) below you pick, the key is to use the right tools to organize the process well. Here are just a few good ones to consider:

  • Google Analytics is a necessary evil for properly monitoring your traffic sources
  • Register an account at ShareASale. That’s an affiliate marketing network that will connect you to quite a few cool programs
  • If you are going to be creating and selling a product or a service, make sure to use a sales management platform to organize leads properly. Salemate is a good affordable option

salesmate

Don’t Begin Right Away

This is an unpopular opinion with some, but the truth. It might seem like a good idea to immediately start trying to monetize a blog you’ve just started. But in the beginning you won’t have any traffic to drive profit.

The exception to this rule is if you already have a viable brand and are expanding it to include a blog for engagement and social marketing. In which case the traffic will come from your initial site, and monetizing right away makes sense. If not, focus on building that blog before you think about making money from it.

Join AdSense

Google AdSense is an important tool for anyone seeking to monetize their website. They provide both text and image ads, and usually the image ads attract the most attention and lead to the most clicks.

Of course, this is dependent on your traffic, as most people will not click through to ads. But the payout is decent, it adds up over time, and they are a trusted source for such a program. Other ad programs exist, but none come as highly recommended.

Use Affiliate Programs

Affiliates are going to be one of your greatest sources of income. Whether someone is promoting your product, or you are promoting someone elses, even small payouts will lead to a decent payout over time.

The more momentum a program gains, the more passive income you will start to make. You would be surprised by the numbers and the way they build after the first six months, and especially after the first year.

You can also offer your blog to companies of products you commonly buy and enjoy. Many will pay several hundred dollars for a solid review on a well established site.

Don’t forget that for both affiliate links and sponsored reviews you should use a proper disclaimer not to lose your readers’ trust and to be in-line with the US laws (and Google).

Optimize Your Search Ranking

You have to come up high in a search if you want to bring in the traffic that will inevitably up your income.

Since no one goes to the second page of Google, you have to have a good market share on certain keywords, and optimize your blog using that data. Invest in market research to find the best keywords that you can use, both long and short tailed, to improve your SEO.

Open a Shop

Having a shop only works for some people, as often a niche won’t really apply to a product series very well. But even selling mugs to those who might want to help support your site can be beneficial.

Try and create products that relate well to your niche, however, and don’t be afraid to take advantage of inside jokes and references that you have built with your followers over time.

Release an Ebook

Ebooks are big, and they have plenty of uses. They don’t bring in a lot of money, however, which can be a problem unless you have the status in your industry to be able to charge a higher price for a download.

Most people will offer them cheap or free, and use it to improve their visibility and draw people to their blog, thereby improving their other income possibilities. It will ultimately depend on you.

Example: The Lost Girls knew that and wrote an excellent book about their travels that has gotten great reviews. Both ebooks and self publication are potential routes for this goal.

Become a Speaker or Consultant

Are you now fairly well known? Have some street cred in your niche? Then start using your blog as a platform for finding guest speaker or consulting opportunities. You can earn thousands doing this.

Offer Freelancing Services

Your blog can act as a kind of portfolio, showing off your writings skills, nature and passion. That makes it a great opportunity to attract other people who want you to write for them.

Occasionally you will want to write a free guest blog post to promote your site. But otherwise you can offer your writing for pay, advertising yourself both through your blog and on sites like oDesk.

Start a Class or Series

Want something a little more hands on or creative? Then why not run a class or webinar series from your blog? People will pay good money for a well organized class, and you can offer the world your knowledge while improving your own financial stability. Everyone wins.

Udemy is the perfect place to start an online course and you can sell it through the platform too! Another great tool is Google Helpouts.

It might seem like a heavy task, and too good to be true. But you can genuinely turn your website into a profitable one, even if it takes time. You just need to know how to do it. Here are some tips and tricks for people who have managed to boost their regular traffic and are now looking to capitalize on that growing popularity

To get inspired, see this list of indie blogs that pay for a living.

Have some tips for monetizing your blog? Questions? Let us know in the comments

The post How to Monetize Your Blog Like a Pro appeared first on SEO Chat.

October 1st 2016 blogging, Keywords

Avoid Content Ennui: 10 Creative Blog Types to Serve Your Audience

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creative-blog-types

When it comes to blog content, a lot of us are serving breakfast when we should be serving dinner.

Let me explain. Odds are you have a go-to breakfast that you eat nearly every day. A bowl of cereal with a banana, some oatmeal with maple syrup, a haunch of beef seasoned with the tears of your enemies—generally there’s not much variety from day to day. On the other hand…

batsaneye

For dinner, we generally require some variety. Maybe it’s that no one is fully awake for breakfast, so it doesn’t matter what you eat. Maybe it’s the realization that eggs and bacon are perfect foods.

Either way, people come to your website expecting dinner. If you keep hitting them with oatmeal and toast, they’re not likely to keep coming back. Serve up a delicious variety of entrees, though, and you can start to build a relationship.

Here are a few different types of blog posts to help keep your content fresh.

#1: List Posts

Studies have found that list posts (or “listicles” if you absolutely must), especially those with numbers in the title, tend to be shared more often than any other type of content.

That makes sense. List posts are already optimized for web reading. They’re skimmable; they have small sections broken up by headers; it’s easy to tell where you are in the piece and how much you have left to go.

In fact, it’s easy to share a list post without even reading it all. If the headline and the first entry are compelling, people will click the share button.

#2: How-To Posts

Posts that explain a process hit several boxes on the “great content” checklist. As long as they’re relevant to your audience, they’re designed to have immediate practical value. They also establish your brand as an authority. And they can be an evergreen resource customers can keep coming back to.

When writing a how-to post, think about your audience beyond just their interaction with your brand. What do they really need to know, versus what you want to tell them?

My favorite example of how-to posts done right comes from hardware store Lowe’s. They have hundreds of guides, like this one about installing a fence.

If your topic is inherently visual, how-to videos can be cheap and easy to produce. This video about making stress balls is compelling with almost zero production value.

#3: Tips Posts

Think of a tips post as something in-between a list and a how-to. Instead of explaining a single process start-to-finish, you’re providing little nuggets of tactical goodness with each entry. They’re highly skimmable like list posts and evergreen like how-tos.

As with a list post, you could go for 50 quick one-sentence entries or go in-depth on just a few. This article on increasing Facebook organic reach is a good example of the latter.

A list of quick, useful tips can take on a life of its own through re-sharing and repurposing. For example, you can pull a few tips from the list and turn them into social media images with Canva or Pixlr. Or turn the whole post into a SlideShare and reach a new audience.

The word “tips” tends to have long-tail keyword value, too. For example, “content marketing” is a more highly-competitive keyword than “content marketing tips,” and “content marketing tips” is a more specific topic that is easier to write best answer content for.

#4: Tools Posts

If your company deals with software or online activity of any kind, odds are you can whip up a relevant tools post that will delight your readers. Wrap up all the free or low-cost useful sites, plugins, and downloads that make your life easier and share them with your readers.

There’s an immense amount of sharing potential in tool posts. My recent content marketing tools post is one of my highest-shared posts already, and it’s only been out a month. Heck, RazorSocial’s Ian Cleary built a career on evaluating and recommending tools for social media.

Just make sure to keep it useful, keep it relevant, and disclose any relationship your company has with the tools you’re promoting. For example, if you get a free LinkedIn Premium account through work, and you recommend customers sign up for the service, you must disclose.

#5: Thought Leadership Posts

These posts help position your company as a knowledgeable authority in your industry—and most importantly, as having a point of view on the issues that affect your potential customers. Thought leadership posts come in three types:

  1. Industry: Demonstrating a point of view on the news and trends affecting your industry now nad in the future
  2. Product: Practical advice for getting the most utility out of your product offering
  3. Organizational: A look into your company culture, your company philosophy, what it’s like to work there

Thought leadership helps make your brand transparent, showcasing the people and ideas that make your company great.

#6: Round-ups

One easy way to fill your editorial calendar is with a weekly roundup (like our Online Marketing News series). You can build a list of go-to resources that regularly publish articles about your industry, and feature a few articles with brief summaries.

Or use a tool like Buzzsumo to round up the most shared or trending articles about your industry. Either way, you can provide the reader with a useful resource and boost your brand’s credibility.

Don’t forget to message the authors when you include them in a roundup for amplification potential, too.

#7: Curated Influencer Posts

Influencer involvement is great for enhancing a post’s credibility and building relationships. For your audience, influencer involvement adds variety in the point of view on your blog, multiplying the utility of your content.

A curated influencer post is one that collects influencer quotes from publicly available sources, rather than through direct outreach. For example, this “What Is Content Marketing?” post from (our client) LinkedIn Marketing Solutions collects 25 already-existent quotes from some of the biggest names in content marketing. It remains one of the blog’s most popular posts, and it only took a little research to put it together.

Curated posts are a good way to start a relationship with an influencer as well. Let them know you’re sharing their wisdom with the world, give them proper credit, and you’re set up to ask for a direct participation post.

#8: Influencer Participation Posts

Influencer marketing can create content that benefits everyone involved: Your brand and the influencer get access to new audiences and boosted credibility, and readers get cool co-created content to read.

A post with genuine influencer participation could be a simple Q&A with one influencer, or short responses to a prompt from several influencers.

#9: “Chocolate Cake” Post

As adults, we know that desserts are not a main course, and (as cookie monster tells us), are a “sometimes food.” You wouldn’t want to give your audience cavities with chocolate cake every day, but every once in a while a light, sweet diversion is just what they need.

Think April Fool’s Day posts, collections of funny memes, even a Buzzfeed-style GIF-driven post. It should always have a little bit of value beyond the humor, but the focus is on having fun. Jason Miller’s annual interviews with Dracula are a great example of the form.

#10: Interactive Content

It’s all well and good to have your audience passively reading your content, but even better when they can interact with it in a meaningful way.

If you have the resources, developing a calculator or other useful widget (like CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer) is sure to get your audience’s attention.

Even without an army of developers, though, you can create an engaging bit of interactive content. Make a quiz with a tool like QZZR, a survey with Survey Monkey, or an interactive, clickable word cloud with Wordle.

Serve up a Never-Ending Content Buffet

These ten examples are just a few of the hundreds of content types available. And you can make your own by mixing-and-matching—how about a list post featuring a round-up of how-to posts? Or a tools post created by asking influencers to name their favorite tools? With a little creativity, the possibilities are endless.

What’s your favorite creative type of blog post? Let me know in the comments.


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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
Avoid Content Ennui: 10 Creative Blog Types to Serve Your Audience | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post Avoid Content Ennui: 10 Creative Blog Types to Serve Your Audience appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

September 22nd 2016 blogging, Online Marketing