How Writers Can Improve their SEO without Pricey Experts

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How Writers Can Improve Their SEO without Pricey ExpertsGoogle and Facebook are similar in one way; they frequently tweak their algorithms. It’s only Google that changes its algorithm for SEO.

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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Writers: SEO has never been easier for you via @CaballoFrances” quote=”Writers: SEO has never been easier for you “]

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

Yoast SEO

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:

  1. Go to and search for Yoast SEO or use this link:
  2. Download the plugin, in this case, Version 3.9
  3. Go to your website’s dashboard, click Plugins and then Add New
  4. 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.

[clickToTweet tweet=”5 Readability tips to improve your website’s SEO via @CaballoFrances” quote=”5 Readability tips to improve your website’s SEO “]

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.

Yoast SEO

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.

Yoast SEO - Readability

The final step is to prepare your social share image and wording. Your options are for Facebook and Twitter only.

Yoast SEO

5 Readability Tips

Here’s a summary of points to help you make your website and blog copy SEO friendly:

  1. Keep your content concise and interesting.
  2. 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.
  3. Use headings and subheadings to direct your readers.
  4. Refrain from using small or hard-to-read fonts.
  5. 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.


Authors: Not Sure What to Tweet? Try These 44 Tweets Today by Frances Caballo, AuthorThe 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, 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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  1. Hi Frances,

    I’ve been trying to improve my blog’s SEO and hadn’t heard of this plug-in before. It sounds as though it’s quite easy to use so I think I’ll try it out and see if it helps.

  2. This is timely. I’ve worked on the readability for several posts and bagged it on others. I have to admit, it took lots of time, particularly since many of the posts were interviews which tended to quote passive voice and long sentences. Reading your post made me realize I should just ask my interviewees to keep it short and active! And you’ve helped me realize why readability is important so now I am more motivated to fix those problems Yoast brings up. Thanks, Frances. I realize how much benefit I will get from better SEO on my posts.

    • Lisa, I’m so glad you enjoyed this post. I have the same challenges but I’ve witnessed the benefits of getting it right. My name pops up on Google Alerts whenever I work diligently on Readability. It’s worth he work, Lisa!

      • Okay, so I got a green light on readability on the post I am currently working on. My only red is for metadescription and I have just always let Google get the metadescription from the text. Can you share here or in a new post how to write a metadescription that is good for SEO and conversion (and maybe a bit about what a metadescription is actually used for)? Thanks.

        • Lisa: I always write my own metadescription because keyword placement is important. Open the snippet; that will allow you to writ your own metadescrption. Make sure that your designated keyword appears early in your first sentence. That’s it!

  3. I love yoast, I have been using it since I started my blog. The one thing I need work on is keywords. They throw me for a loop, lots of learning to do. I never realized how important readability is until I read this. I will definitely do some tweaking on some posts.

    • I’m so glad you found this post helpful, Amanda. Once I started reading about Readability, I began to take it seriously and thought I should share the information with all of you. To help with readability, I use Grammarly, which pinpoints the passive voice in my writing. I’m also going to start using the Hemingway App. With those two apps, I should be good.

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