The temptation of the green bullet in Yoast SEO!

The first time I used the Yoast SEO plugin I was amazed by the ease of use and by the many features it contains. And still, our analysis offers everything you need to fine-tune your text in such a way search engines will be more likely to rank your content. I genuinely believe that the SEO analysis features in Yoast SEO can help you make your text SEO proof in a very, very easy way. The checks the plugin does are amazing! But I also discovered a caveat: you should be aware of the temptation of the green bullet!

I want a green bullet in Yoast SEO

The gamification of the SEO analysis within our Yoast 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 SEO process to get that green bullet in Yoast SEO. And you should NOT do that!

green bullet in yoast SEO

Example of misuse of the  SEO analysis tool

In one of my first attempts to use the SEO analysis tool, I found myself cheating the tool to receive a green bullet: besides writing blogs for, 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 by entering my focus keyword – ‘baby clothes’, I discovered that my post did not contain the word ‘baby clothes’ once. Not in the body of the text, not in the title, not in any of the headings. I simply had written about ‘newborn clothes’, instead of ‘baby clothes’. So, my bullet did not turn 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’.

Keyword research

If you would like to read more about keyword research, you can read our ultimate guide to Keyword research. Our ultimate guide to content SEO further discusses the importance of keyword research in a proper content SEO strategy. Also, in our SEO copywriting course, we have dedicated an entire module to keyword research. A wonderful tool you should definitely use while doing your keyword research is Google Trends. This will give great insights into the words people use while searching for products or services. I wrote a post about some other tools you can use for keyword research, check it out here!

Never change your focus keyword to receive a green bullet!

Changing your focus keyword 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. But changing the 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 found out I was cheating the system. It did make me wonder: if I am this tempted to trick the SEO analysis tool to get a green bullet in Yoast SEO, won’t other people suffer from the same?

Read more: How to choose the perfect focus keyword »

How to use the SEO analysis tool correctly

Your keyword research is always essential and should be leading. You should analyze in depth on what terms you want people to find you. Your articles should be a reflection of these keywords. Changing your keywords based on 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 your blogpost’s content or making too many concessions to readability and structure of your text, you can fine-tune your post, using the SEO analysis tool of the Yoast SEO plugin. Your SEO strategy should never be more important than the actual content and structure of your blog, but minor changes in text and headings are perfectly acceptable! If you want to know more about the Yoast SEO plugin, or about SEO copywriting, you should definitely check out our SEO courses.

In the end, I made some alterations on my blog, so if was a better fit to my SEO strategy. I decided to change ‘newborn clothes’ to ‘baby clothes’ a few times and made some alterations in headings and titles. I did not alter the core of my blog.

My bullet turned green, and my husband was very proud…

Keep reading: SEO-friendly blog post »