SEO and Readability Basics for Writers


Google is trying its very best to bring quality content to the searcher. It ranks URLs by the one it thinks will be the best for the searcher by using algorithms. This means that one of the best and most important ways to bring your site to the top is to create quality content that is targeted toward your audience, using words your audience is searching for, and answering the questions that your target audience is asking. However, there are lots of other things that could help a lot with SEO.

Additionally, your article needs to be readable. Thankfully, Yoast includes a “Readability analysis”. This helps you figure out what to edit to make your content more readable and easier to comprehend.

Simple Process for Creating SEO-friendly Content:

Simple Four-Step Process

Let’s start simple. What is a four-step process for creating a post that ranks highly in the search engine results pages(SERPs)?

  • First, search for your keywords using something like Moz’s Keyword Explorer
  • Then you can find out which pages are ranking the highest for your keywords.
  • Take a look and see what’s so great about their content.
  • And last of all, create content that’s better than theirs. This may take a little more time and effort than you intended, but it’s worth it.

Other Ways to Rank Higher

Now let’s look at a few other things that you, as a writer, can do in your post to help it rank higher.

  • Good formatting: makes your post more likely to be able to show up in featured snippets that are above all the other results as well as making your post more attractive to visitors. Good formatting can mean things like structuring your posts (using H1s, H2s, Title tags, etc.), bolding and italicizing as you see fit, breaking paragraphs, and basically formatting everything in a way that makes it easy for computers and humans to read.
  • Add pictures. Just one picture at the top of your post can make your post look way more professional, and less like a boring form or Terms of Service. Graphs and screenshots throughout posts can also help to make your point easier to understand. Remember, Google’s goal is to bring people the content they want to find. The better your content the more likely it is to be found. Google takes into account both the number of clicks on your page and the time spent on it when ranking.
  • Links, links, links! Internal links are important to encourage people to explore your site, stay on it longer, and find more great content. It is also incredibly important for crawlability (I’ll write a post on this later) and ranking. Google decides how important a page is by measuring the number and quality of links pointing to it. That means that you need to have others linking to your site as well as linking to your own site internally.
  • Keywords. Use keywords throughout the post, but don’t overdo it. Don’t forget to do keyword research (And I’ll also make a post for this eventually) before you write your post.
  • rel=canonical. When using duplicate content, Google encourages the use of a rel=canonical tag
  • Discovering what questions people are asking in your space — and adding those questions and their answers to a FAQ page — can yield incredible organic traffic for your website.

Titles

  • Write headlines that are clear, interesting, and make use of keywords.
  • The closer to the front of the title tag your keywords are, the more likely a user will be to read them, and the more helpful they can be for ranking.
  • On average, search engines display the first 50–60 characters (~512 pixels) of a title tag in search results.
  • It can be a good idea to end your title tags with a brand name mention because it promotes brand awareness and creates a higher click-through rate among people who are familiar with your brand.

Yoast SEO Analysis

Yoast SEO Icon

If you click on the Yoast Icon as shown above, then a menu will pop up on the right-hand side. Click on the dropdown titled “SEO analysis” with a colored dot next to it. Your goal is to make the dot turn green. You can do so by improving your SEO rating. Scroll down to where it says “Problems”, and it will show a list of things that you could do to improve your SEO rating.

These are the possible problems that you could have in the SEO analysis:

  • Internal Links: Every post should have at least one internal link. Internal links are links that are to another page within the same website. For example, if you are writing on HomeChurchLife.com, you need to link to another site on HomeChurchLife.
  • Keyphrase length: Click on the arrow at the bottom-right of the page to open up the SEO area, then scroll down and enter a “Focus keyphrase”. This keyphrase should be somewhat short. In fact, it could even be just one word.
  • Meta description length: Meta descriptions should be 106-141 characters long. You can write a meta description by scrolling down to the SEO area and entering a meta description in the field below the title “Meta description”. Underneath the text box, there will be a bar that starts filling up, and once you put enough words, it will turn green. However, if you put too many, it will turn red again. Try to get green if at all possible.
  • Image Keyphrase: Click on an image, then the gear in the top-right corner, then in the box titled “Alt text”, then type in a description of the image. This is so that screen readers can “read” the images. Also, if an image doesn’t load, it will show the alt text instead.
  • Outbound links: Outbound links are links that link to a page outside of the website that you are using. That means that you can use any link off the internet. It also means that citations will count as well. You could also link to other sites within Kontent Network (e.g. HomeJobLife.com, FailOops.com, Buhkhub.com, etc.), and it will count as an outbound link as well!
  • Images: Every post should have an image. This could be an image in the post or simply a featured image. You can add a featured image by clicking on the gear in the top-right corner, then scrolling down to “Featured Image” and following the steps there.
  • Text length: Every article should be a minimum of 300 words long.
  • SEO title width: As mentioned above, the title width is usually about 512 pixels, which should add up to about 50-60 characters. It is fine, however, to have it shorter than that. It only has to be a few words long.

Readability Analysis

There are many ways that you can make your content more readable. However, if you are good enough, you may not have to change anything. To get to the analysis, click on the Yoast icon then scroll down to “Readability analysis”.

In this article, the only problem is the “Subheading distribution”. It has three sections that are more than 300 words. However, it is fine because that is the only error on the site, so the readability analysis is still good overall.

The possible problems are:

  • Subheading distribution: All sections should be less than 300 words if at all possible. In other words, you should have an H2 or H3 every 300 words or less.
  • Flesch Reading Ease: If you have this problem, it basically means that your content is using too many big and difficult words that may be hard for some people to understand. If you run into this problem, try using a narrower vocabulary.
  • Passive voice: Passive voice is talking about the form of your sentences. It is when “something happens to something”, rather than “someone doing something to it”. For example, a passive voice would be, “the door was opened by someone”, whereas an active voice would be, “someone opened the door”.
    A more tricky example would be “The better your content the more likely it is to be found.” Yoast would mark that as passive because of the “it is to be found”. It is “being found”, not “someone finding it”.
    Yoast wants at least 90% of your sentences to be active, so it is fine if you leave some passive if it makes it more clear. If you want to read more about passive and active voice, check out this site.
  • Consecutive sentences: If you have more than two sentences that start with the same word, it gets kinda redundant. For that reason, Yoast penalizes you for having too many “consecutive sentences”.
  • Paragraph length: In order to have good readability, each paragraph needs to be less than 150 words.
  • Sentence Length: You shouldn’t have too many sentences that are longer than 20 words. If you do have too many, Yoast will give you an orange or red dot in the readability analysis to let you know.
  • Transition words: Transition words are words like firstly, however, therefore, for instance, but, etc. In order to get a good readability score on transition words, at least 30% of your sentences should have transition words. For an okay score, you need only 20%. However, you should always aim for a good score rather than just okay.

If you have any more questions about how to use WordPress, check out our article on How to Use WordPress as a Writer for Kontent.


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