Hello everyone! I'm a journalism student and an editor for my university magazine. Our online magazine is hosted on WordPress, and so far I've been doing my part by optimizing my own article's SEO (love that Yoast green light). I know Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an important hiring criteria in my field, so I want to learn it and I'd like to improve my student magazine overall SEO in a way that is demonstrable to future employers. I basically have 10 months ahead of me to work on that.
. What are the first actions you'd recommend?
. Is the goal to just get every article to a green light? (so far I've been the only one doing it, and it seems like my article do get more views for it)
. How important is "readability" you'd say?
Sorry if my questions seem a bit dumb, as many of you are experts here. I'd be really grateful if anyone could guide me through it in beginners terms 🙂
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First action – start your own project from scratch and track everything you do, every change you make along with keyword positions.
It should be about something you're really excited about. Travel blog maybe. Any kind of blog is good.
University magazine is not the place to try some SEO tactics.
Green lights do not equal to good rankings. Yoast's and Google's algorithms are not the same. Green light just means that content is somewhat optimized for that keyword. You lack info, whether or how much people search for the chosen keyword…
Readability is not that important.
These are not dumb questions at all. Learning is about questions. Good luck!
As for the magazine:
First find out which pages are ranking for which keywords – note that down as 0 point.
After 10 months you can check rankings and traffic again and there it is, a good case study. "I grew traffic x % in 10 months"
Then try to do a keyword analysis to see, which keywords people actually search for
Create a content plan according to keywords / edit keywords to existing content plan
Optimize pages already ranking and create new content based on new keywords
Try also to do a technical audit about loading speed etc.
Always take first steps with your own site and see what happens. Then apply what you learned to the magazine's website.
Hi! So you think I should start my own independent project? Because I was really excited to get to experiment with something that already excited, without having to worry about creating content constantly (apart from my own articles, which is every once in a while, I mostly edit other people's work). Even if in the future I plan to have my own project, this is gonna be too much to manage alongside my studies for now I think. Thank you for your help though!
Yep. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is much more than keywords and content. Going through "it all" with a small project will help a lot. It doesn't even have to be a large site – a blog with 10-12 articles is good start. There's no pressure to create content constantly beyond small number of initial articles.
You can learn a lot working with the student magazine's content and keywords too. At some point it'll limit you with what or how much you can experiment. It's a good start though.
Laura » Ader
I see, that could be a good training, and to be fair, I could reuse articles I wrote already. What platform do you suggest I host the blog on? I've only been working with WordPress so far and I love it. Any "guide" you'd suggest me to get into as well? Sorry to bombard you with questions aha, I'm just really interested
WordPress is fine and learning a new Content Management System (cms) might be too much anyway. Go with self hosted WordPress, not with WordPress.com.
For my English sites I have used namecheap as hosting company. So you need an user account with a hosting company, a domain and WordPress is free.
Setting up WordPress and Google Analytics, Search Console will be good and a bit more technical practice already. From there on you can start with content and keywords.
Laura » Ader
Cms is part of my program this year so I will get to learn it at some point anyway, but WordPress seems like the right option in the meantime. Thank you so much for your advice and consideration! Will definitely look into it!
Hey Laura, your questions are not dumb at all, we all start somewhere😉
My first suggestion would be to stop using Yoast recommendations or at least don't look at what goes green and what not. I'm using Yoast only to set up my SEO Titles, meta description and things like that.
Readability I'm sure it's important but not for Search Engine Optimization (SEO), it's important for User Experience (UX).
– I'd say make sure you have your keyword in the right places (url, h tags, in the body)
– If you use images, stick your keyword in the alt tag attribute as well
– use related keyword in h2s ,h3s
– interlink your pages
Watch these guys on Youtube to learn more … they are very helpful:
SEO Fight Club
Chris Palmer SEO
And there are others …
Hi Adrian! So far, I've been using Yoast the same way, but also ultimately spend time on making the light green, can't help it aha. In my naivety, I thought that maybe getting the green light on every article being put out would optimize the overall SEO of the site. I've been trying to do most of those things already, so it's good to know I'm on the right way. Definitely will check out those Youtube channels, thank you so much for your help and consideration!
Diaz » Laura
Hahaha I use to do that as well (spending days to get one single article's lights green haha, that was silly as I've learned later on)
Yep, you're definitely on the right track, Those are just basics on-page SEO optimization points … if you start following those guys, you'll learn MUCH more for free 🙂
Keep us updated 🙂 I'm rooting for your project!🍺😀
Laura » Diaz
I actually like the exercise, it's really therapeutic in a way aha, but yes, seems to be more of a general guide in general. Still it was a good introduction to Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
Thank you so much!! 😊
Great work with getting involved in the student magazine and picking up SEO skills, that's some great initiative right there 😀
Optimizing for the Yoast green light is a good way to get started in SEO but you'll soon notice it's limitations. You often end up having to change text to "fit" what Yoast thinks without regard for users or even search engines.
What area of journalism are you hoping to get involved in? It might be worthwhile getting some knowledge of Google Discover and Google Publisher Center as these tend to focus on more news / journalism stories. If you end up working as a freelancer you can make some good coin from selling links too 🤫😀
I'm currently looking for someone who can write good headings and meta-descriptions, if you're interested drop me a PM (this is a paid gig).
Good luck with it all! 👍
Hi Geoff! Thank you for you answer! I'm definitely starting to notice the limitations with Yoast, although I will say there's something really therapeutic in getting an article to the green light – but that's another topic.
I'm specialising in feature and magazine writing, I also have some competences in video editing and am hoping to learn even more. Will definitely check out Google Discover and Google Publisher Center, thank you! I am completely foreign to the concept of selling links, I will need to check that as well!
I'm gonna send you a message!
Thank you so much for you answer! 😊
Joost de Valk
Hi, Joost from Yoast here.
It's funny how people call our stuff outdated without ever looking at what we actually do.
That green light is a helper, it's certainly nothing more than that nor do we claim it is. It is however constantly improved and adjusted, by a team of language scientists we employ. Keyword density is no holy grail, it is however a relatively easy concept to explain to beginners, and does help them understand the basic requirements of writing for SEO.
Our internal linking algorithm uses TF IDF to determine content within your site that could be relevant for this post.
All of these are suggestions we give to users, in the end, the user/writer has to think for themselves.
As for people saying it's over optimizing; well, no, because we prevent for that too. You really should try our software before you shout stuff like that. And yes you can probably show me examples of where we're wrong, but I can also show you millions of sites that benefit from our software every day.
The plugin also does tons more; it adds schema, it outputs all the needed meta data, it has good XML sitemaps, etc etc.
Oh and btw the difference between our free and premium product is important here; the premium product recognizes word forms, plurals / singulars, tenses for verbs, etc. This might actually prevent you from over-optimization a lot more.
Note that it does all of this without sending your content to outside servers.
Yoast SEO Premium analysis: Synonyms, related keyphrases and word forms
Erin Morris 🎓
As a journalism student I'm guessing you are a writer? Being a natural writer gives you a natural advantage because you're already writing for the people, which is part of what those algorithms are being trained to detect. Once they perfect it I imagine the robots will be taking over. But back on topic…
The readability score (with the advice to shorten sentences and in general make the writing dumber) is geared more towards sales copy. With articles, stick to your English training 🙂
The one common mistake I see in journalism or literary pubs is being too clever with titles and content. Like at some point you need to say exactly what you're talking about if you want to attract traffic, preferably in the title and once again in the body…and synonyms are your friends.
And don't write too often about topics for which you don't want traffic.
I don't know if I'm much of a "natural" writer, but I've been working hard to be a decent one at least 🙂 but I definitely get your point! Yes someone sent me some articles about the automation of writing, and it was very insightful – and scary.
I've indeed noticed that with the readability score, oftentimes it requires you to butcher your own work to get to the green light, which is obviously not great.
I think you've made a really good point here, I will definitely keep that in mind when writing articles. Thank you very much for your insights and your consideration!
Erin Morris 🎓 » Laura
You're welcome. 🙂 I've worked at a few papers and ran a few blogs over the past decade so have come to really hate that green light trying to dumb down the writing when it isn't necessary. 😝
Laura » Erin Morris
Ahaha yes definitely!
In my opinion, the best thing you can do is start a blog (not a free hosting one).
Learn the art of writing content in such a way that it answers almost everything about the topic.
Divide a main topic into sub topics and write thorough articles about each one of them in a way that all get interlinked to each other in some way (not forced, but naturally).
Think from the perspective of a user: if you landed on the blog you just wrote, did you get all the information? Do you need to make another Google search for something? Did you like the story telling? And many such factors.
A well crafted content and content strategy goes a long way. Technical SEO comes second which will eventually come with practise, experimentation and implementation.
Feel free to PM me for any doubts you have along your journey. I would be happy to help.
Thank you very much for your insights. I've had the idea of starting a blog in the back of my mind for a while, but don't know if now is the most appropriate time as I'll already be really busy with my Master's. But I'll know to go in it keeping in mind your suggestions, so thank you very much! I will PM you to talk more about content strategy if you don't mind, it's something I'm foreign to, and feel like you might be able to help me!
You got to squeeze at least 2 hours daily if you are on a tight schedule. That must be enough for now. Sleep one hour less. Lots of black coffee. (I know that is not healthy advice, but to get started you need that momentum)
Sleep now weep then, weep now sleep then.
Take care and best of luck with your studies.