In the beginning, I didn’t mind much about SEO, what even was it? All I cared about was pumping out more material, to keep on schedule. As I matured, however, I realized it was time to elevate my writing. And what better way to do it than by learning some SEO tricks? In this article, I will give you a glimpse into why installed AIOSEO on my WordPress, and what it has taught me about my writing.
What is SEO?
SEO is the shorthand of Search Engine Optimization. It’s basically the term for the algorithmic Olympics here on the internet. We compete in various digital sports related to web content, and the infamous algorithm judges us worthy or not.
We take part in this existential run of ever-changing crisis by littering our content with keywords, backlinks, and more. Sometimes we even hire someone else to do the splits for us, and so there is a whole industry of optimization out there. The world is ruthless, and we must pay our due to the Giants who control the things we see online. That is if we want to be seen at all.
And then, after all the editing, proofing, and searching for relevant images and putting the proper alt texts on them, we go into our cave of OCD. The analytics await with eagerness, if only to show us a flatline on the “real-time” measures, and a heart-attack-inducing rollercoaster of a graph on the visitors. Sometimes we manage to make some changes based on the information the analytics gives us.
My change in attitudes
I used to think it was enough to just blurt my stuff out there, for whoever to read. Who cares about the nitty-gritty of it, I’m getting my thoughts out in an authentic way! I will write as I write, and if you don’t like it, you can go take your skis up a pine tree. It took me some time to get a grip on reality – my writing is still in its baby boots.
One thing I had completely ignored, despite some writing teachers hinting at it in the past, was that perhaps I would like my messages to be readable. Never occurred to me that practicing with an SEO plugin mentor might actually help me improve. If not in content, then at least in the format of writing. Turns out that’s exactly what SEO ended up doing for me.
Taking in AISEO
So, I downloaded and installed AISEO. I chose it because it was one of the first that popped up. And it had nice reviews and experience from the public. Now, it’s not perfect, nothing is, but it started to open up the writing scene to me from different perspectives.
AISEO has this gamified thing going on, where it will give you a percentage on your articles. It checks the material and scores it based on how readable it is, and what it contains. Missing a link? Minus points. Too long sentences? More minus. As a gamer, a trophy hunter at that, I can’t bear seeing my score at a measly 80%, I have to get 100%
As I noted, the plugin has helped me see things in a different light. It pulled my attention to images, links, structure, and more. I had never even noticed I used so much passive voice before feeding my first article to the thing! It also boasts a lot of utility in case you want to go deeper into the whole keywords thing or optimize headlines and such.
My biggest problem areas
Some things I learned were the weak points of my writing. I was quite offended when I first saw all the flags it had put up in the margins. It was abysmal.
The biggest problem for me was the use of passive voice. I tended to use language along the lines of ‘this was done’, and I used it a lot. Never occurred to me that I could actually make it ‘x did this’, and call it a day. I look back now and I’m baffled how I could’ve missed it! Passive voice makes things so much harder to read if it is constant.
Another issue of mine is the whole rambling thing. I go off on a tangent, and before I know it, my sentences span over 5 rows. And my paragraphs become whole meals instead of a nice snacky bite. I’ve really upped my game and made my material more concise and better to read thanks to paying attention to these flags. Of course, I still have to do a ton of editing before I hit that schedule button.
A third thing, something that was rather a shocking revelation, was that my titles were horrid. And here I had thought that I was being quite clever about it, too! My headers tend to be too long, too wordy, too dull… You name it. With them, I settled for getting the score to green. Ain’t nobody got time to spend a whole day figuring out how to get it to rise to 100!
My key strengths
Of course, AIOSEO didn’t just show me my shortcomings. It put on display the things I’m good at, and that I can be proud of.
For example, my content length has never been an issue for me. I try to keep it somewhere between 1 500 and 2 000 words these days (I started with 1 000 but it wasn’t quite enough). This seems to be the sweet spot for whatever I wish to say and also has a nice and snacky reading time. Of course, I needed to up my sub-heading game to compliment the length. Nobody wants to read a wall of text!
Another amazing strength I seem to have is varied language. I will not often repeat myself, and I am pretty good at transition words (of course, likewise, in addition, etc.). I think I owe some of my vocabulary abilities to people like Sir Terry Prattchet, whose novels are so colorful that you forget all about the silly rules about ‘said’ and ‘no adverbs’.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend you check out some SEO plugins or watch videos on the topic. Not for the sake of keyword mania, but for the sake of structure and other elements of media, like videos. It has really helped me write better, more on-the-point, readable material! Of course, I wouldn’t truly know that before some readers of mine critique the blog and cover me in tar and down.
As I fill in the rest of the page with some rambling, much like the Youtubers of today, I want to let you in on something. It’s rather exciting, I think!
I am still working on the rewrite of The Narcissus Blood Bank, and am shaping Rialar, another novel about my world is taking shape. For now, though, a short story called ‘Our Story’ is living its final months in the bowels of a competition board. If it doesn’t go through – that is, if the rights to publish stay with me – I am planning to let it out later this year. It would be a fitting debut, I think!
Here, have a sneak peek:
Ding!Our Story by Maria Vana
“I’m really gonna have to admit you to the psych ward now, sis. This has gone too far. You’ve even made Mum cry with your stupidity! You fucking wait, you ungrateful bitch, the police are already on their way! The fucking rapist’s time is up!”
Someone shook me by the shoulder.
“Babe! It’s me. Come here.”
I had never needed an embrace from anyone more than at that moment.
He snatched the phone from my hand before I dropped it, read the message, and sighed. A snowflake on a delicate silver chain sparkled in a see-through case nestled next to the phone.