You can’t outsmart Google.
That said, there are simple things that you can do to improve Google’s ability to find your site. That’s called search engine optimization (SEO).
Yoast SEO is an excellent WordPress plugin for search engine optimization. Coming in free and paid versions, the free version will keep you busy for weeks while you tweak your site and learn SEO along the way. It’s better than any course, for you will learn by doing rather than dozing off in a classroom.
Yoast SEO concentrates on three main factors in search:
What is this page about?
A keyword doesn’t have to be just a single word – it can be a phrase, the more specific the better. It’s the word or phrase that you want in your page title, description and throughout the content of your page.
For example, when I worked at the National Weather Service, one of our best-performing web pages was on Wireless Emergency Alerts. Why did this page get so much traffic? Because it was focused on a single topic – Wireless Emergency Alerts – and repeated that keyword over and over again in an organic manner, for it was an FAQ about Wireless Emergency Alerts. Google loves FAQs.
The most important decision you will make will be your page title. Imagine readers scanning down a list of search results, trying to determine if your page is relevant to their needs, with only the titles and little bit of description to help them out. You have just a few words to grab their attention – what will they be?
Your title should include your keyword, to make it as easy as possible for your customer.
Here’s a good example of a title from Capital Bikeshare. With “bikeshare” mentioned three times in the title, it’s obvious that they’ve optimized their page on the “bikeshare” search term.
Think of the snippet of text nestled under the page titles in a search result. That’s the page description.
If you don’t write a description, Google will take the first text it sees on your page and put it in this field. Frequently, this is text that does not help the reader.
Here’s a company that didn’t put anything in their description field. Without a description, Google pulls text from the site’s navigation.
A good page description is a sentence or two that contains your keyword and provides additional context for readers.
SEO Belongs to You
I’ve worked on web sites my entire career. SEO is typically an afterthought, something that the coders do, metadata that is added during the publishing process.
But SEO is key to your site being found. It belongs to the writers. It belongs to you.
Keyword, title, description – if you write relevant content for these fields you’ll have done more than many sites and improve your chance of being found by customers.
Learn SEO the Yoast Way
Yoast SEO will teach you how. With the plugin installed in WordPress, you’ll see a set of SEO bullets like the ones above for each post or page. Look at the analysis to see how you’re doing. You’ll get an overall ranking for your post, using a simple stoplight formula – Red, Orange, Green – with the same scale applied to the specific factors that impact search engine optimization.
Fix the errors and the red bullets turn green. It’s weirdly satisfying, like a game – the sign of a good user interface.
SEO for Everyone
What makes Yoast SEO different are its guides that are actually fun to read. Confused by one of your SEO bullets? Click on the Content Analysis Guide to learn what you’re doing wrong and how you can fix it.
With a mission of SEO for Everyone, it’s no surprise that they’ve managed to write content on search engine optimization that’s engaging and free of jargon. Even if you don’t use Yoast, their site contains information helpful to anyone, like their sections on SEO basics and small business SEO.
Search engine optimization is not a dark art. Help readers find your content by producing quality content with good keywords, titles and descriptions.