A Christian blog ministry is a great way to reach more people for Christ – beyond the geographic constraints of the physical church. Blogging enables you to not only share your love of God with the world, but it also enables you to tap into your creative side and learn new things. When learning anything new, there is often a learning curve which includes sifting through the abundance of information to determine what is helpful and what isn't.
One of the most common things I hear from new Christian bloggers when I ask them if they understand SEO is that they do because they “got the green light” with the Yoast plugin. I'm hoping this post will clarify a few things by helping you to really understand the importance of SEO and the truth about the Yoast plugin.
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If you are just getting started and need some guidance on starting your blog, be sure to read 10 Steps to Starting a Christian Blog to help you get started.
The Importance of SEO
SEO is short for “search engine optimization” which is a really fancy way of saying “how to get your content found in search results.” Not learning and using SEO is the equivalent of writing a book and storing it away in a locked box under your bed. Without SEO, you won't be able to generate organic traffic from search engines. Yes, you can share your blog posts on social media and hope your friends read it, but that isn't as productive as having people find your posts because they were actually searching for that particular content in a search engine (like Google).
SEO involves doing keyword research to find the best keyword choice for your post to rank for in search engine results. It also involves using that keyword in certain places throughout your post so that search engine crawlers can read it and make a decision on how to rank your page for that keyword. SEO is not an exact science and each search engine has its own specific algorithm in which the crawlers make their ranking decisions. Read more about the benefits of SEO and how exactly to begin implementing your own SEO strategies for your Christian blog.Are you using SEO correctly for your blog? If not, you should read this! Click To Tweet
Truth About the Yoast Plugin
The truth about the Yoast plugin is that it takes much more than simply “getting the green light” for your post to be found in search results. Don't get me wrong – the Yoast plugin IS helpful, but it is only as productive as the information that is entered into it. So many bloggers think they are doing well with SEO for their posts because they got the green light. It would be nice if these plugins gave a bit more information on how exactly to get the best use out of the plugin, but unfortunately, they don't.
What the Yoast Plugin Does NOT Do
Contrary to popular belief, the Yoast plugin does not guarantee that your post will show up in search results. Getting the green light simply means that you placed your chosen keyword into the “basic” places that crawlers will crawl. It is important to keep in mind that the algorithm for each search engine is different. Although they all use the same basic information to give a page its ranking, the weight of each part varies between different search engines. As such, getting the green light only means you entered your keyword in the most basic places. Consider that you are likely trying to rank for a topic that possibly thousands of others have created content about, do you really think doing the bare minimum will get you the results you are hoping for?
The Yoast plugin does NOT help you choose your keyword (which is actually the most important step). You could write a post about dogs and use the keyword “tree” enough times to get the green light. The key to finding yourself in a Google search query is to choose the RIGHT keyword – something people are actually searching for. Below is a really good video that explains the basics of keyword research using the Keywords Everywhere browser extension.
What the Yoast Plugin DOES do
Now that we discussed what the Yoast plugin doesn't do, let's talk about what it DOES do. As long as you have chosen the best keyword for your post, the Yoast plugin is quite helpful. The search engine crawlers crawl pages in a certain pattern. They read tags first (stuff on the backend that you can't physically see on the actual post). These tags include your Title tags and Heading tags. Unless you understand and know how to edit CSS and other coding stuff, it would be near impossible for you to get those keywords entered into your important tags. The Yoast plugin inserts the SEO keyword for the post into those important tag attributes.
These tags are also important for getting your blog name to show up in search results with specific information in the preview snippet. When you do a search for your Blog Name, your site should be the first one that comes up in the search results, usually followed by your social media channels. It is important that you enter your Blog Name and a few keywords that you want your site associated with the meta description.
Is it Worth it to Upgrade to Yoast Premium?
Once you fully understand how to do SEO keyword research and how to format your posts for the best SEO optimization, there are some really great benefits to upgrading to the Premium Version. But again, you MUST already have chosen the right keyword to use and you must know HOW to format your posts.
- The Premium version gives you suggestions for other posts on your site that you should consider linking to in a particular post. This is a great tool because interlinking posts is important for SEO.
- The Premium version enables you to add additional SEO keywords to try to rank for. These should be keywords that you've researched and found search volume for. It does this by adding those keywords to the various tags throughout the post so that crawlers will pick them up when the post is crawled.
As a newer blogger still trying to figure all the SEO and other blogging stuff out, my advice is to hold off on purchasing the Premium version until you can actually benefit from it. There are plenty of other, more productive things you should spend your hard-earned money on!
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Do Your Research!
As you begin your blogging journey, it is easy to think “oh I need this or that” when you see another blogger talking about it. It is so important that you read reviews (not from the product's website) and ask other bloggers that you trust what their opinion is of the product. I say make sure it is someone you trust because, unfortunately, there are so many bloggers out there who won't be completely honest because they want to make a commission. And definitely, don't base your decision from reviews on the company's own website! They'll say anything to get you to buy their products!
The truth about the Yoast plugin is that it is a great tool and you should definitely be using it! Just be mindful of its true limitation and that “getting the green light” doesn't mean your post is optimized for SEO. Keyword research is so important and is truly the key to getting organic traffic to your blog.
Be sure to also read The Truth About Blogging Stats to ensure you understand how to analyze and use that information to grow your Christian blog ministry.