The temptation of the green bullet in WP SEO!
This post starts with a confession: up until recently, I always asked my husband to do the page analyses of my blog posts. I have known about SEO for many years now, as Joost never stops talking about it. I just never used the plugin to check my own writings myself, I simply asked him to do that. Being married to Joost de Valk just has it benefits and this was one of them. But, as I started to read more and more about SEO and my interest in blogging increased, I decided to do some search engine optimization on my own.
The first time I used the plugin I was amazed by the ease of use and by the many features it contains. It made me fall in love with Joost all over again. I genuinely believe that the page analysis features in WP SEO can help you make your text SEO proof in a very, very easy way. The checks the plugin does are really amazing! But I also discovered a caveat: you should be aware of the temptation of the green bullet!
I want a green bullet in WP SEO by Yoast
The gamification of the page analysis within our WordPress SEO plugin helps you to upgrade the SEO-friendliness of your post. And it’s great fun! It can be a game to get as many green bullets as possible! However, the gamification also increases the likelihood that you cheat your own search engine optimization process in order to get that green bullet in WP SEO. And you should NOT do that!
Example of misuse of the Page Analysis Tool
In one of my first attempts to use the page analysis tool, I found myself cheating the tool in order to receive a green bullet: next to writing blogs for Yoast.com, I also blog for a new mom blog. One of my posts is about my favorite brands of newborn clothes. Of course, being the wife of Joost de Valk, I had done some extensive keyword research in advance. And I wanted this post to rank for baby clothes.
While starting my optimization with entering my focus keyword – baby clothes, I discovered that my blog did not contain the word baby clothes once. Not in the body of the text, not in the title, not in one of the headings. I simply had written about newborn clothes, instead of baby clothes. So, my bullet did not get green. And I felt agitated: I am Mrs Yoast and my bullet was orange. So, this is what I did: I changed my focus keyword from baby clothes to newborn clothes. And.. my bullet turned green instantly. It didn’t feel good, however… My keyword research had been an in depth and solid one. I had chosen, rather consciously, to attempt to rank for baby clothes.
If you would like to read more about keyword research. You can read the posts of Joost about the basis of keyword research and about the focus keyword in WordPress SEO. Also, in our ebook, we have dedicated an entire chapter on how to do keyword research. A wonderful tool you should definitely use while doing your keyword research is Google Trends. This will give great insights in the words people use while searching for products or services. As I was writing this post, I discovered that we didn’t write that many posts about keyword research, so I am planning to write another one pretty soon!
Never change your focus keyword to receive a green bullet!
Changing your focus keyword in order to receive a green bullet is just plain nonsense. According to my keyword research, baby clothes is what people search for in Google. My post, however, was not optimized for baby clothes at all. Changing my focus keyword will not change the search behavior of people. A green bullet does not lead to findability if the terms you optimize for are not the terms people use to search in the search engines.
Fortunately, I came to my senses before my husband detected my cheating. It did make me wonder: if I am that susceptible to cheating the page analysis tool in order to get a green bullet in WP SEO, wouldn’t other people suffer from the same?
How to use the page analysis tool correctly
Your keyword research is always essential and should be leading. You should really analyze in depth on what terms you want people to find you. Your articles should be a reflection of these keywords. Changing your keywords according to the content of your articles, will lead to an ad hoc SEO strategy. You don’t want that! A strategy should never be ad hoc.
Without altering the core of the content of your blog or making too many concessions to readability and structure of your text, you can finetune your blog using the page analysis tool of the WP SEO plugin. Your SEO strategy should never be more important than the actual content and structure of your blog (read my post from last week), but minor changes in text and headings are perfectly acceptable!
I eventually made some alterations in my blog in order to fit it more nicely in my search engine strategy. I decided to change newborn clothes into baby clothes a few times and made some alterations in headings and titles. I did not change the core of my blog.
My bullet turned green and my husband was very proud…
This post first appeared on Yoast. Whoopity Doo!