Ep. 66

How to Get Your Business Seen Online with SEO with Nynke de Blaauw from Yoast

Welcome back to Season 4 of our Creator Stories podcast!

Today we get to speak with Nynke de Blaauw, who has a background in B2B marketing and is currently leading partnerships at the software company Yoast. Yoast is most famous for Yoast SEO (the number one SEO plugin on WordPress that’s installed on 13 million websites) but they also recently launched an SEO app on Shopify which helps merchants to outrank their competitors! Yoast believes in SEO for everyone, and today we get to dive deep into how to get your business seen online with SEO.

Check out Yoast’s complete beginner’s guide to SEO.

Get 15% off a Yoast Premium plugin with code: Yoast-Interact

Jessmyn: Hi guys, and welcome back to Interact’s Creator Stories podcast. So excited to be here with you all. As always, I’m your host, Jessmyn Solana, and with me I have Nynke de Blaauw from Yoast. If you guys have not heard of that company, it’s an SEO based software. But Nynke, why don’t you go ahead and give them the low down? They already sort of heard your more formal bio, but in your own words, we’d love to get a little bit more about what Yoast does and your role at the company.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Sure, yeah. So, Yoast is indeed SEO software company. We’re super famous for our WordPress SEO plugin. It’s the number one SEO plugin on the platform. And beginning of this year, we also launched on Shopify, so now we’re helping all Shopify merchants as well with the best SEO solution we think they can get. Our free plugin is most famous, but we do have some specialized paid plugins, for example, our premium plugin, but also on WooCommerce, on News SEO, on Video SEO. And that all comes with academy access as well because we’re here to educate everybody on SEO besides helping them actually do some SEO on their website.

Jessmyn: I love that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah. And…

Jessmyn: Oh, go ahead. I was going to say, we also use Yoast, so this was a pretty cool interview for me because I’ve seen it in action.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Cool. Oh, that’s so awesome. Yeah, it’s amazing. We have 13 million free users, so it’s so cool to see our impact on the web in general. And it’s lovely always when I hear somebody using Yoast on their side, I’m super happy to see we’re there. And I’m a worker for Yoast for two years now. And before I was in B2B marketing, I used to work at a HubSpot agency and then I rolled into being a community project manager for Yoast and I’ve switched all kinds of roles in the meantime and now I’m leading partnerships. So, keeping busy with building relationships, maintaining relationships with other companies and the WordPress and Shopify ecosystem, but also outside of it.

Jessmyn: I love that. I feel like it’s always interesting to hear people switch roles because when you are in one role, I mean, I’m sort of not really early in my career, but I’ve only ever had two roles, sales and marketing. I always felt like it was really hard to switch, make a switch into another career. And I think a lot of people who are listening can relate to this, especially if they’re thinking about pivoting their businesses. If you don’t mind talking about it, what was that transition like into, you’re in a role and you see a new one totally different from what you’re used to doing? How do you make that transition and how do you learn from the skills that you already have but in this new role?

Nynke de Blaauw…: So, the biggest transitions I have made at Yoast especially are from a role in execution to a more team lead role and more management role. And the thing with Yoast is, we’re a super fast-paced company. We release new software updates every two weeks. We expand into new markets regularly. We have a lot of products to update, we have a lot of ideas. We’re super innovative. And when you’re working at Yoast, I like it. It’s really nice to go on with that pace. Like, okay, there’s a new opportunity for me, I like to try it, just give me it. So, I’ve been switching between marketing teams and now I’m a little bit more outside of the marketing department and that’s a whole new department for Yoast as a company, a more commercial department.
And I love pioneering and I love taking chances and being a little bit risky maybe, and just see, Okay, let me get this started and let me get some people together that are a little bit like-minded, have some experience in the field, don’t mind trying as well. And when we set that base, then we can add on new people that like to be in a more set environment with more procedures and more goals. So, for me personally, I like the challenge. I like taking a dive in a deep end without knowing where it starts and where it stops. That’s not for everybody and I recognize that as well. So my tip, if you like that, just try, be loud about what you want and what your ambitions are. If you see an opportunity, try to take it, try to convince others you should take it as well. That’s the important part of transitioning roles as well, to convince others you are the best fit for the job.

Jessmyn: I love that. It’s easier too if you already work in a company that’s open to hiring, I guess, within, or even if that role doesn’t exist already, open to, “Oh, I would like to try something new. I think this would be really good for the company. Here’s why.” Right?

Nynke de Blaauw…: We do that all the time and I really like that, but it has to be your thing as well. Yeah.

Jessmyn: Right. So, let’s talk a little bit about SEO. I feel like it’s sort of a scary thing to think about in your business. It’s a little hard to understand. Can you start off with what is SEO and why do you need it for your online business?

Nynke de Blaauw…: Sure. So, beginner level, SEO stands for search engine optimization. And SEO is actually the practice of making sure your webpages are shown in Google and other search engines. And there’s a lot of things you can do in SEO. There’s a lot of things you can focus on and that’s super overwhelming, especially for companies or businesses that just start out because they might don’t know their target audience yet. They might don’t know what keywords they’re using to search for stuff. And the nice part about SEO is that it’s both a technical and a content. It has both a technical and a content side. And although, you might not be the most technical person, the content side has a lot of influence on your rankings as well. Your technical foundation should be all set and you shouldn’t worry about it too much, but the content side is where you can really make the changes and lift off.
So, actually what you’re doing with all SEO, I will get into some details later, but with all SEO stuff is helping search engines understand what you’re writing about, what your website is about, because they are not humans. They know a lot, but you have to tell them a lot as well. So, they want to show people, that search for something, the best result and you have to be the best result. And you are not the best result for everyone and that’s something to keep in mind. Not everyone is your ideal customer or your ideal audience or maybe your ideal sponsor or whatever. You have a particular person or a particular type of company in mind, and try to optimize for them and try to be visible for them. And especially, during the pandemic and also post-pandemic, a lot of businesses went online or focused more on online.
And that notion of being visible to your ideal customers only expanded. And that also means the competition has grown. Everybody wants to be the best result. Everybody wants to outrank their competitors because they’re all online now. So, that’s super scary. But also you are in control. You can control a bit, a part of this. Of course, still Google decides what to show, but you can.
And one other important thing to keep in mind as well is that it expends to the offline world. And not everybody has this top of mind that you shouldn’t if that’s not important for your business. But let’s say you are visiting a new city and you want a place to eat or you want to see a movie or maybe your car broke down while driving there and you need someone to fix your tire, first thing you will do is Google and go to Google Maps and try to find an online or a local store that can help you out. And that’s also SEO, making sure people that in the real world can find your local business. So, you offer Google that information and you need to be the best results for the thing your audience is then looking for.

Jessmyn: Love that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: That’s super important.

Jessmyn: Right. It is really important, which actually it’s a good segue into my next question. And we get this all the time where a quiz is a great tool for converting people onto your email list once they find your website. But how do you get people to find your website in the first place organically with SEO?

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah, and that’s a super big challenge, especially when you’re just starting out because you don’t have content yet to show, or what should you tell Google that you are all about. So, the best thing to start with is thinking about just that. What is my website about? What is the story I would like to tell? And also, what am I adding into everything that already exists? If you have a certain offering that’s super unique and the first one in the world, then you have a challenge of getting people to know that this exists. But chances are you are offering something that’s pretty similar to what other companies are already doing. So in that case, it’s really, really important to look for that thing that makes you unique. What are you adding into the conversation? Because maybe you’re super experienced, what is your vision on a certain topic?
So first, make sure you have this strategy, this vision all laid out because that’s super helpful in creating content about the problems you solve for your customers or the ideas that you have for the world. So, apart from that thinking, which is really important, that’s your fundamental, you also need to focus on or afterwards, the next step is to focus on both on-page SEO and off-page SEO. And this is where it gets a little bit tricky because on-page SEO is literally the stuff you can do on your website. So you need to make sure Google has your web address and it gets that from other websites referring to you. Then, you need to make sure that some technical aspects of your websites are set. So your URLs are easy to read, for example, you have headings on your pages, your content is being indexed, and that’s all technical stuff.
And luckily at Yoast we are doing that for you. So you does not have to bother about this. But also site speed, don’t put too much big images or videos on it. Make sure your code is great and then start thinking about the structure of your website. So, what content goes where? What’s the most important part? And then, what’s more in the deep end? What do people need to read next to a certain article or a certain vision you shared there?
Off-page SEO, on the other hand, is what is not so much in your control, but it’s also really important to Google and other search engines because that’s influencing your visibility or your ranking in a search engine results page from the outside. And that’s for example, other websites ranking or linking to you because they think you’re an authority or they think you’re an expert or just maybe super fun content that you have created like a cool quiz or a nice interaction on the site that just is an example or inspiring to other websites and also social media attention.
And that’s not something people don’t think about right away when they think about SEO. But also if you tell Google like “Hey, this is my Facebook page and this is my Twitter page.” And they see that people are referring to that, they might think, “Hey, this is an interesting result for people looking for that type of information.”

Jessmyn: I had no idea about that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: No, there’s a lot of stuff to work on and it can be super overwhelming, but making sure you have that vision of what makes you stand out of the crowd is the most important thing because then you can start writing your content and really going into detail of what makes your business unique or your brand or your idea.

Jessmyn: In general, I feel like that’s a very good practice anyway because if you have that foundation, it helps with not only just your SEO but everything else in your business. It helps with what your offers are going to be, it helps with your quiz, any other marketing campaign, ads, everything like that. If you know exactly what your vision is, what your business does and who you are, it’ll go a long way. I love that.
So, that sort of leads me into, okay, we have maybe two types of listeners. On one hand, we have people who are just getting started, so maybe they’re in that space of not having much content or they have a little bit. Then, we have people who are probably more established but feel like they could take their business to the next level. So let’s start with people who are just getting started. What are the top three SEO best practices for those who are just getting started in their business?

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah. So if you have this vision on paper or somewhere because that’s your main point as a business anyway, I guess, then the first thing I would recommend to do is keyword research. And although that might sound super boring, like “Why should I research? I know what my vision is.” You know, but you don’t know how your ideal customers or your ideal audience is looking for that. How do you know what kind of words they use to find a solution for their problem or find inspiration on a certain topic? So, keyword research can really help you find the exact phrases that people use. And although you don’t have to use that exact phrase, but it gives you a notion of, Okay, this is something that a lot of people are looking for or maybe not a lot, but there is a niche for this and I see other companies or competitors of you or similar brands are not doing anything with this.
So, there is a big opportunity there to make sure you stand out from the results. And of course there’s a way of just going, “I will just create the content what I feel is right to do and what feels like that aligns with me.” And that’s nice, but if you can have this confirmation of, yeah, well that feeling of you, that’s pretty accurate because we see a lot of people are searching this and even see that the amount of searches for that key phrase has risen over time, has increased or maybe decreased. So, as an example, which I hope some of the listeners can relate to, you could think of a business selling, maybe educational courses on doing sales, just in general, doesn’t matter to which industry, whatever. You could go like, “Okay, the thing I want to sell here are online courses on sales. So online course on sales would be my key phrase.”
But if you go research that, it might be the case that people are searching for beginner level online course about sales, for example, a little bit more specific other than your general key phrase that you had in mind because you think that’s what I sell. Another point in it could also be how to do sales in a fashion boutique shop, like actual real life sales in a boutique. And that’s a whole new level that you can then explore, like a whole new world that you can shed your light on. So that’s why keyword research would be my first practical step to start with when you’re new so you can start creating the content that people are actually looking for. And Semrush, for example, is a great tool to use that to do that with. I think they have a free plan of 10 keywords and researchers every month. So, it doesn’t have to cost you much if you’re on that budget, you can just start…

Jessmyn: We also use that tool as well.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Oh really?

Jessmyn: Yeah. I was going to say, it’s actually, since I work on our content, that is something that I do have to do is keyword research and it’s very tough, I would say, to learn at first because it’s not something you’re used to thinking about. You know what you would search for, but you have to also think about, “Okay, well what would somebody who’s looking for what I offer, what would they search for?”
I wanted to add in here something that we do actually is we have a lot of conversations with customers and it’s really about active listening of okay, what are the keywords that pop out that they’re all using? What’s the common word that they’re using or what are the common questions that they’re asking? Whether it be about business in general or quizzes specifically, and just writing all of those down and then going into a tool like Semrush and actually searching for those keywords, and, okay, what are different ways we can say this? What might be other ways people will search for this? And so on.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah. Ideally, your own customer input is the best input you can get. If you don’t have customers yet, go on Twitter, for example, search for people talking about that. Go to maybe free events in your area that are about this topic and hear how people handle these words, what questions they ask. And it costs maybe some time investment to research this and to be aware of the active listening, I’m not just listening to the question they ask, but what deeper layers can I discover? And wow, that’s a great tip. Yeah. Cool.
So, a second thing is if you’re starting out, Google loves to know what you think is important on your website. So if you’re starting a new website, you can actually give Google these hints on what content is most important to you by making sure a lot of pages on your site link towards that page that are super important. And we call this site structure, so it’s actually like the way your site has been built up. And in this case, we all know websites have a navigational menu with some top keywords, like maybe the contact page, an about page and some product features or offering or maybe a blog or resources.
And linking to those pages makes Google see, “Whoa, there are a lot of links pointing towards that page. That must be important content.” And the best thing about starting a new website is that you can keep this structure nice and fresh and well thought about. And while when you’re in it, it’s super hard to maintain or change. So, make sure that you have a good… And even make a drawing of this or maybe an Excel sheet or some whiteboard online. Really think about what are the pages that will convince people that I’m an authority or I’m an expert or I’m the one they should trust for, I don’t know, fixing their blog problem or inspiring them. So that’s the second thing that’s super easy to start with when you’re new because your website is still new.
And the third thing that really intertwined with that, I think, is visitor experience, user experience on our site because if a user can easily find some information and easily knows what to do, Google will see, “Hey, people are actually using this website.” I refer them from my search results to the site and people stay on that website, maybe they fill out some forms or they do something and they explore more content on that page or on that website. So, making sure, for example, buttons are super clear so it’s easy to click and you know what you can expect when you click a button. Forms are easy to fill in. Links are easy to spot like, “Okay, this is a different color maybe with an underlying or whatever.”
Make it visible, make it super easy and also when you’re doing that, you’re automatically making it accessible for people with maybe, how do you say that, that our visually impaired or that use screen readers, they will know that there’s a text link there, they can push that button and images have all texts so they understand what that page is about. So it’s both from the ideal user that can see and hear and touch everything to groups that you might not think about. Even people with colorblindness, for example, that maybe don’t see the difference between two colors while they’re both on a button so they don’t see the words on a button, for example. Stuff like that. And that’s really nice to do in the first place as well because changing all that styling and all that things that you already have in place is much more work than making sure you do it right from the beginning.

Jessmyn: Right. Yeah, I never thought that that is something you’d have to think about where not only are you making your website, in general, easy to find, but you also have to make your website itself just everything super easy, visible, very clear. And it’s really interesting how your website design leads not only for the aesthetics of it but it’s functionality with SEO. And that’s something that we tell people who are creating quizzes all the time is make sure you choose clarity over cleverness. It’s always awesome to think like, “I think this looks beautiful. It looks so cool. I do all these interesting things.” But if your general user who maybe isn’t as tech savvy or like you said, people that you wouldn’t really think about, then you could be losing out on certain business where you would really thrive.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Definitely. And also age differences. People that are not used to using the computer much or are not on a mobile or are using a tablet all the time, they have a whole different experience on your site than you with your three screens and setting up everything nicely and testing everything. And that’s something to really take into account because there is a multitude of types of users visiting your website and that’s not something maybe you know, but that’s really happening and you’re losing business if you don’t. So, that’s a big argument as well.

Jessmyn: Right. You just never know. And if you find later that, Oh, actually I’ve never talked to somebody where they can’t see the button, then sure, maybe it’ll work out, but it’s good, especially if you’re just starting out to think outside the box of what you think is happening and just imagine, oh, what are the possibilities here and how can I make sure that I’m catering to everyone? Love that.
So let’s jump into people who have an established website. They have content already ready on there and they want to take their business to the next level. What are some of the best practices, top three, that they could implement into their website?

Nynke de Blaauw…: So, in case you have created some content and you’ve maybe gone through some different topics and you have a little bit on that and you have a little bit on this, so you have a little bit on a third topic and everything is nicely divided and nicely written, and if you have Yoast installed, your SEO check is green and your readability is green and you have checked the other boxes basically, then coming back to the way Google sees your website, in that moment in time, it’s really important to start categorizing your content as super, we call that, long deal, super niche, super specific basically. That’s how you would describe to normal people, words.
Super specific content on really one particular challenge or one particular idea or one particular example that you came across while you also have content that maybe links or lists all these examples as more like exploring page, like “Hey, we have knowledge on this particular topic and these are all examples that you can explore and this is our general opinion on this, there’s maybe a video about it.” We call these pages that, how would you say that, that would gather all this information on a particular topic. We call them cornerstone pages. And what you basically want is create, okay, this is a pyramid, is create a pyramid of pages linking towards that cornerstone page. So, you tell Google that the thing is that likely people will come through these super specific pages because they are for example, searching for skill training in boutique fashion shops, but you offer skill training in other kinds of shops as well, or you maybe offer some other tips on running a fashion boutique. That could be one of your niches as well.
In that case, you want all these people to come in through all these small specific articles to actually find that other content that is super helpful, super easy to read because you list all kinds of things and you explain in the video as well if they like it more. And that marking that it’s cornerstone content and that’s something you can actually do within yours, but it’s also just a mind game like “Okay, what’s my most important content?” That’s super important when you’re wanting to, in your case, you want to grow your content strategy because what you can do is fill that whole pyramid on one topic and then maybe explore other topics as well instead of just creating all these super specific blogs or pages or articles.
No, make sure you fill one pyramid first and then start building up these others as well. And then you will get all these nice links, work towards these nice links in Google. Other pages will refer to you hopefully. And that way you can really show your expertise on a particular topic. And although I would always recommend doing that from the start, I know a lot of websites don’t because you’re just too busy running your business. So, make sure if you have all that content set to really make that structure and to really build it out and to tell Google what’s important and therefore also help users to find what’s important.

Jessmyn: Would you say a strategy you can use is just when you’re going to create a blog post that you know you’re going to link, you’re going to have hyperlinks in your blog post, thinking about, okay, what’s the cornerstone article that I’m thinking of here? And then maybe keeping a spreadsheet of, okay, here are my cornerstone articles and here is what’s linked down from there. So, when you go to create new content, you know where you’re going to place it.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Exactly. That’s a great tip because it can be super easy just to create a separate single page on something or both because you think, “Hey, I have this idea, I really have to work it out.” But interlinking it with your cornerstone and maybe other pages as well. Maybe you have a nice contact page, for example, that you want to link people to leave their details or to find out more or maybe sign up for your newsletter or for your podcast. That could be super helpful to make sure that, “Okay, what’s my goal with this page? Do I actually want to convert people here? Do I want to refer them to the quiz or to some other resources? Or do I want them to keep reading on this particular topic and to refer them to these other types of content that I have on the same topic?” Yeah.

Jessmyn: Love that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Definitely.

Jessmyn: If you haven’t done any of this, let’s say you just have all this content, does it make sense to go back and try to link to different articles? Basically creating a pyramid with the articles that already exist on your website?

Nynke de Blaauw…: Definitely. Definitely does. If you’re, for example, using tags in WordPress, that’s a really nice way to find out, “Hey, what am I writing about this topic anyway? And shouldn’t I have one bigger page like this cornerstone page that gathers all this information and then refers back to all these pages?” And then you want to make sure that all these pages refer back to the cornerstone articles. Well, so yeah, that’s definitely nice. If you use another CMS and don’t have a deck system, you can also just do a search on your own website, like type in a topic that you think is important that you know have some articles on, just search for it and see what your users get to see and see how that interlinks. In case, you’re using WordPress annual on Yoast SEO premium. So our premium based plugin, we have this cornerstone feature for you.
So, we will actually say like, “Hey, this cornerstone article needs more links or this content should be linked to this cornerstone article because it’s missing some links.” So we actually will help you build that pyramid in that way. But it’s super easy, possible, or not easy, but it takes some time, but it’s definitely possible to do this without the premium plugin or with a spreadsheet or whatever you prefer. Yeah.

Jessmyn: Love that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: And the other part of that, it’s super nice if you can explore cornerstone content, but my second tip would be pay attention to, we call this, orphan content. So content that you have created a page or maybe something else, a post that is not linked anywhere. Maybe a post that you just created to advertise with on social media just for one campaign, there’s no plan attached.
Chances are that content is actually pretty useful for future visitors of your website. So, make sure we call it orphan because it doesn’t have any links pointing too, make sure you also try to link these types of articles back to anything related to them. And also other linking issues like pages that you deleted that now give this 404 error like page not founds, people will end up on these pages because they are linked from your site or maybe other website linked to it or maybe LinkedIn posts that you written like three months ago shows up in a timeline somewhere, which happens.
Of course, we all know how LinkedIn works and then shows this visitor blank page with a 404 error. You really, really want to make sure that doesn’t happen. So, keeping your links well maintained is a super hard job, but it’s super important not only for Google but also for your users so they don’t end up in that links or old links or not updated content or don’t know where to go because there’s no link on that page anyway to refer them further into your website.
So, that would be a second tip that actually relates to a little bit to the first step for well established websites. And I don’t know a third one, I can just continue on this. I can give like 10 tips, you really have to stop me.

Jessmyn: We might need to do another episode.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah, we might. I can go on and on. Luckily, there’s SEO websites with a lot of info as well so I don’t have to talk you through it. Another thing that, I think, only possible when you’re pretty established and you know what you’re talking about and you have show your authority and expertise on a certain topic, it’s actually earning links from other sites. The stuff that I was talking about is mostly you making sure you link to your right pages and the pages you want people and Google to end up on. There’s a whole world to win if you can make sure other websites are pointing towards your pages. And although this is known as link building, you might have heard of this sometime earlier, we like to call it link earning more because we think if you are showing this expertise and you are showing, bringing unique voice to what’s on the web already, you should earn links from other websites referring to your content.
And that’s really important because Google really sees how much links are pointing to your domain up coming from other domains. So, if that’s something you can achieve, you have played the SEO game and you should be ranking on all the topics that you want to rank for. But this is super hard. And what you don’t want, because we see this all the time, of course, what you don’t want is random websites linking to your content like, “Hey, I can provide you link, just give me $1,000 and I will link to your site.”
Well, they will link to all kinds of sites, it will not make any sense. Maybe they link to a pet shop, but also to your e-learning company and also to the local garbage handler. I don’t know, they can basically link to everything and get paid for it, but that won’t help you rank for the topic you want to be found for because they don’t have any authority on that topic. They just link to anything and anyone. And that’s not something Google likes, especially, I don’t want to get into details here, but Google recently published the helpful content update and the name already says it, they want helpful content on the web. And a website randomly linking to other websites is not helpful at all. So try to earn those links from websites that are actually related to your company, not competitors. They probably won’t do it, but at least related to what you have to offer.

Jessmyn: Making sure that if you are a marketing coach for e-commerce businesses, that a website that you’re link earning with is also talking about something within the wheelhouse of e-commerce or even better, some of the products that your clients actually sell. That’s really a specific niche or what have you.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah, definitely. And if they have a lot of content on a particular topic that ties into your content, you could maybe interlink them and you link back to them and they link to you and you help each other make the web better in the end as well because information is just easier to find. And it really contributes to your position within the whole secret algorithm of Google.

Jessmyn: I find it really interesting that Google specifically calls out helpful content because I think when they launched the search engine, they didn’t know how far it would go and I’m sure they never could have imagined how it’s working even today. And with that, I remember when I was mostly in college but also in high school where professors would always say, “Make sure you’re looking at credible sources.” So, if you are going through this idea of, if you’re linking with a website that just links to whoever pays them money, then it’s going to feed very unhelpful information and it makes the internet a little less cool in my opinion.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah, little bit less trustworthy as well, like who can you trust if people are just randomly linking to other people without any credition or saying why they did that or what’s good about that content, it doesn’t really make any sense.

Jessmyn: I will say I’ve gotten a ton of those emails.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Oh yeah, we get them all the time. I think, everybody gets them.

Jessmyn: Yeah. We get a ton of those emails where they ask, “Hey, let’s link together.” And some of them, we’ve been like, “Okay, let’s look into this.” But I feel like a big red flag is as soon as they’re like, “Pay us this much money.”

Nynke de Blaauw…: Definitely big red flag. I’m so glad you say this and I know everybody…

Jessmyn: Don’t pay anyone.

Nynke de Blaauw…: No, don’t pay them. If they want to link to you, they will. They think you’re a credible source and you’re trustworthy. And you can go search for that, for other websites linking to your website and maybe you can just send them a ‘thank you’ letter and maybe you can search for sites that you want to link to and then make the web better without any claimants.

Jessmyn: Right. I want to say, a tool like Semrush will also tell you a website’s authority score. And that’s a good way to see, this might be another episode we have to do, but that it might be a good way to see, or that is a good way to see, “Okay, is this a credible source that I can link with and make that relationship?”

Nynke de Blaauw…: And research, if they show you one page that would be interesting to add that link to, check their other pages as well because they just might have copied a blog from some on the random site just to show you like, “Hey, we got info that’s super helpful to you.” Please check what their domain is about and what all other content they show because that might be little fake.

Jessmyn: Yeah, I hear that. So, let’s jump into, I know you spread little tidbits here and there, but how does Yoast itself help with SEO?

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah, that’s a good question. So, I already said we have multiple plugins and we have some specialized plugins. So, the first thing we do if you install our WordPress plugin or our Shopify app is some technical stuff in the background. For the ones listening that want to know, for example, we make sure your pages get indexed. We make sure you set up your structured data well, so Google can actually provide users with rich results. So, for example, if you get reviews on your product pages, for example, and you use our WooCommerce SEO, we can make sure that those reviews are referred to a search results. So, people already see, “Hey, this company got good results.” So, that’s some technical stuff we do.
But the most helpful thing we do, I guess, for a user creating content is our SEO and readability checks in the editor, so when you’re actually writing that content, our SEO check will live check if that content is adapting to some of the SEO best practices that we know Google is paying attention to. That’s what our SEO check does.
Our readability check, on the other hand, as the word already says, makes sure that you pay attention to making readable content and not only readable in the words that you use. So, for example, we give you hints on transition words. So, help the user understand how you got to a certain point, use words as ‘therefore’, or ‘that’s why’, or stuff like that. So, the transition words thing is one thing, but also make sure your paragraphs are not too long, especially on mobile. People don’t keep on reading, they need a break sometimes. So we will help you with stuff like that. So, that’s during the content creation phase. If your post or page gets published, we don’t stop at the content creation phase, then we will move on to, for example, check if you have internal links on those pages.
So, if you are working towards that site structure and that cornerstone content, but also we will help you to find out any errors. We will do all kinds of checks and people mostly know us from the red, orange and green bullets in the check section in our meta books or our sidebar, but we do overall checks as well. So, on a post overview for example, you can easily select all the posts that have a red bullet, a red bullet for SEO in general and you know there are some work to do. And that’s a really easy way of making sure you optimize your pages or posts for Google or readers because you don’t have to get in to detail in all these posts, like what should I change? You just select the posts you want to work on that have a red, I would suggest starting with the red bullets, to make sure that you optimize those and then you get bigger wins then making sure every single bullet is green. So, start with that.
Then, and I mentioned this a little bit, I think I don’t quite remember, SEO is a lot of work and we know it’s, especially when your site is growing and maybe multiple people are working on your content or you have an agency helping you out, it’s hard to make sure that when you want to optimize stuff to determine what your first thing is that you need to do. And therefore, we have introduced workouts in our premium plugin that actually give you a workflow like, “Hey, you want to improve your cornerstone content structure? Here are the articles that are lacking links, or here are the articles you marked as cornerstone content, but actually don’t get that much links. And here are some suggestions for links that you can put in.” So, you can say like, “Okay, I just want to get this fixed and I have a list of things to do and Yoast that will help you to get this done.”
And I think the last thing is, and I’m really proud of this and I think it’s a lesser known part of Yoast SEO, but as you notice, because I’m here, we love to get all people better at SEO. SEO for everyone is our mission. And one way of doing that is educating people. We have a whole academy full of courses on basic SEO stuff, deep dive stuff like international SEO. Like you have a website in multiple languages, how to handle that, that’s super hard. So, I think our academy is a little, I hope it’s not a hidden gem for listeners, but I am afraid it’s a hidden gem for some people. But the academy is really helping people to get better at SEO, not only by doing it, but also by learning it and expanding their knowledge. So, on every level, from preparing to actually writing the content, to making that overview of your pages, of your internal linking structure, of educating yourself, that’s what Yoast does.
And apart from that, we are sharing a lot of our knowledge in free blogs, in free webinars. We do a monthly news webinar, for example, where all the latest Google updates will be discussed, but also updates from the WordPress world, from Shopify, from even social media because I already mentioned how important social media is for SEO as well. So, we go into that as well. And we have one of a few of the world’s best SEOs working at our company. So we have a lot of innovative stuff that people don’t really think about when they’re just starting with SEO. And that’s totally fine, but I guess that’s a big benefit of Yoast as well.

Jessmyn: Love that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: New things.

Jessmyn: Yeah. And if you know Interact, you know that we’re big fans of giving all the knowledge, all the information. And just making sure that people know. I mean, at least for me, I know even today there’s all these things out there online where it’s pay so much money to just learn the basics that you could easily learn on your own. But I love that. I think that’s great.
So, I have two last questions for you before we close out. Second to last is, what are three things most people would not know about you?

Nynke de Blaauw…: About me as a person? That’s a great one. I think one thing that people don’t know about me is that I prefer cold and winter over sun and summer. Well, I like sun but not too warm. So, that’s one thing that I’ll always get me into arguments when the summer is getting started. So, now I’m super happy because we’re getting awesome and winter again. So, I’m happy about that.
What people don’t know about me either, I think that I’m a bass player, so I used to be in bands playing the bass and that’s always a few statements, people. “Yeah. I’m used to being bands and play music and all that.” “Oh, you’re probably the singer or you’re probably the pianist or something.” “No, I’m the bass player. Come on.”

Jessmyn: I love that.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Yeah, I really like that. And another thing people don’t know about me, probably that, well, people that know me know that my cats are my kids, my partner and I have two black cats and they’re our kids. And I think everybody with pets think their pets are their kids. But of course that’s not something on the business side that is super visible. So, I guess that’s one thing to share as well. Yeah.

Jessmyn: I love that. That’s awesome. Okay, so my last question for you, if you could give yourself a single piece of advice at the start of your career, what would it be?

Nynke de Blaauw…: Okay. Oh, that’s so hard. I guess I’m pretty proud of what I have achieved in these eight years of my career. And I would say, follow your heart and follow your ambition and speak up about what you want. Because, I see so many people with great ideas and great ambitions and big dreams, but not doing what they actually want to do. And I can be a pain in the ass, I guess because I’m pointing out stuff like, “This is wrong. We should do this better.” And then they say, “Okay, Nynke, go do it.” And I’m like, “Yeah, thanks. I really want to fix this.”
But be loud about it. Speak up about your desires, the things you see, the questions. Ask a lot of questions. I ask questions all the time. And yeah, make sure you are heard and people know your view on stuff. And I think speak up, be loud, let people know what you think. And I think I did that, but I think the confidence in that, that’s the right thing to do, that’s something I would give my eight years younger self. It’s okay. Don’t be ashamed of saying what you want and how you would see the ideal world. That’s okay. You should do it.

Jessmyn: Yeah. I love that. That’s awesome. Last thing for you, where can people find you guys online? And I guess how can they get started with Yoast?

Nynke de Blaauw…: They can get started with Yoast super easily. If you are on WordPress, just go look for plugins because we’re the first one in on the page there. If you are not on WordPress, but want to get all the knowledge that we share because that’s applicable to every CMS, or if people that don’t decide on a CMS yet, go to yoast.com and that’s yoast.com and just browse, go in there. We have guides for beginners, like compete guides on SEO, on WordPress, all that of that stuff.
And if you’re not so much into reading, sign up for our academy. We have a lot of free courses and you can just watch. And we are on social as well of course. And if you really like live interaction with our experts and all of that, go follow us on Crowdcast because that’s where we do all our webinars and they’re all free. You can just sign up for them. And you might see me every now and then and my colleagues doing all of that. Yeah, we are all about knowledge sharing, so find the medium that fits your needs because some people like reading, some people like listening, some people like watching or interacting as you know for making quizzes and doing all that stuff. Yeah. But yoast.com would be the first source to go to, I guess.

Jessmyn: Love it. And we will link that for you guys in the show notes. So, be on the look out for that. And Nynke, thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and being on the show with us here today.

Nynke de Blaauw…: More than welcome. I’m super happy I could be here.

Jessmyn: Awesome. Well, thanks guys, and we’ll see you next time. Bye.

Nynke de Blaauw…: Thank you. Bye.

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Jessmyn Solana

Jessmyn Solana is the Partner Program Manager of Interact, a place for creating beautiful and engaging quizzes that generate email leads. Outside of Interact Jessmyn loves binge watching thriller and sci-fi shows, cuddling with her fluffy dog, and traveling to places she's never been before.