And while Facebook announces its algorithm revisions without assigning names to the changed algorithms, Google does assign monikers to its changes.
In August 2012, Google introduced its mighty Pirate update, followed by one of the most famous updates in September 2014, Panda. You could practically hear SEO experts wail across the internet as they anguished over what the changes would mean for them and their clients’ websites.
To be honest, Panda was a good thing. Some SEO consultants were playing tricks and using chicanery, and Panda leveled the playing field for people like you and me.
Then in October 2014, Google introduced the Penguin update. (Don’t you love all these cuddly names?) In September of this year, Penguin 4.0 came out.Writers: SEO has never been easier for you Click To Tweet
What does all this mean for writers? A lot, actually. If you use Yoast – and every writer should use this plugin on their website – you will notice a new feature, readability. Yep, if you want to rank on Google, you not only have to build SEO into your blog posts, they also need to be rank for readability.
Let’s delve into this, shall we? This topic isn’t nearly as scary as it may sound.
Yoast SEO Primer
Step One: Get and Install Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin that lets anyone enhance the search engine optimization on their blog and website. The benefit of using this plugin is that you don’t need to know anything about SEO to gain Google’s recognition. You just need to move through the plugin, filling out your keyword and adding data for social shares.
Yoast SEO features include:
Here’s how to get and install this plugin:
- Go to WordPress.org and search for Yoast SEO or use this link: https://wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
- Download the plugin, in this case, Version 3.9
- Go to your website’s dashboard, click Plugins and then Add New
- Upload the plugin and make it viable on your site.
Step Two: Use Yoast SEO
The new Yoast SEO includes a test for readability. It will analyze the length of your sentences and paragraphs, whether you use transition words and subheadings, and determine how often you use the passive voice. As part of the readability score, Yoast SEO assesses your Flesch Reading Ease, which determines a readability score based on your sentence lengths, numbers of words in your sentences, and the number of syllables per word.
Basically, as a writer you have a leg up, so to speak. If you ban the passive voice from your posts and keep to short sentences and paragraphs, your readability score will rise, improving the SEO of your blog post and web pages.5 Readability tips to improve your website's SEO Click To Tweet
My November 28th blog post received passing scores in both SEO and readability. To attain a passing readability score, I minimized the passive voice from my post and kept my sentences and paragraphs fairly simple and short. When you pass Yoast for SEO’s test, you’ll know by seeing this score, captured in the screenshot.
Step 3: Complete All Aspects of Yoast SEO
The first step is to select your focus keyword. In my case, it was email marketing. I included the keyword in the post title, in a subhead, and throughout the post.
Next, work on the snippet that will appear on Google. The snippet needs to include your focus keyword. This was mine:
There’s a piece of advice that authors everywhere are receiving that you can’t ignore: start your email marketing list and grow it.
Go to Readability to determine what improvements you need to make.
The final step is to prepare your social share image and wording. Your options are for Facebook and Twitter only.
5 Readability Tips
Here’s a summary of points to help you make your website and blog copy SEO friendly:
- Keep your content concise and interesting.
- Shorter paragraphs are easier to read. Copyblogger has been writing posts with short paragraphs since they emerged on the blogosphere eons ago and look where they are today.
- Use headings and subheadings to direct your readers.
- Refrain from using small or hard-to-read fonts.
- Add color images. Your readers will thank you by reading your entire blog posts.
I don’t think there’s been a better time for authors to improve their SEO ranking. You, perhaps more than any other blogger on the internet, already know what constitutes good writing and what’s readable and what’s not. You’re in a prime position to do what you know best: write for your readers.
The author of this blog: Frances Caballo is an author and social media strategist and manager for writers. She’s a regular speaker at the San Francisco Writers Conference. In addition, she’s a contributing writer at TheBookDesigner.com, blogger and Social Media Expert for BookWorks, and blogger at Bowker’s Self-Published Author. She’s written several social media books including The Author’s Guide to Goodreads and Social Media in 30 Minutes a Day. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online, building their platform, finding new readers, and selling more books. Her clients include authors of every genre and writers’ conferences. Not sure how you’re doing online? Sign up for my free email course.
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