Nat & Lo’s 20% Project

Nat and Lo in front of a Google sign

When you work at Google, you get to spend 20% of your time doing something you think of yourself. Googlers Natalie Hammel and Lorraine Yurshansky decided to spend their time creating a web series about projects at Google. They call it “Nat & Lo’s 20% Project.”

Their videos are on YouTube. Watch the first one and you can subscribe to their YouTube channel and/or select the next video you want to watch. I suggest watching them all. You’ll get an inside view of some of the things that make Google so ubiquitous in your life.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of the most useful WordPress plugins available. It’s been downloaded by millions of WordPress users. At the WordPress plugin review page, there are almost 1000 reviews, with a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. If you are like me and always check reviews before you download a plugin, you will agree that those are some impressive stats.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

WordPress SEO by Yoast does several things that make it so helpful.

  • It analyzes your post based on a focus keyword of your choice. It checks on your use of the focus keyword in the title, headings, and text.
  • It looks at your title and lets you write a meta description of the post that appears on sites where you might promote your post such as Google+.
  • It comes with Twitter card implementation, which means when you post to Twitter a description of the post appears in the tweet.
  • It gives your post a rating of good, okay, or bad and teaches you how to improve your score if it isn’t as good as you want.

Let’s look at how it does the things I mentioned in more detail.

WordPress SEO by Yoast Analyzes Your Post with a Focus on Your Keywords

When the plugin is installed, a panel appears directly under your post. This is where you enter focus keywords and meta descriptions as well as learn how to improve your post and create meta descriptions targeted for particular social media if desired.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

The snippet preview shows you how the post will look to the search engines. You enter the focus keyword and the meta description. As you enter the meta description, it tracks your characters and tells you how many are left. Save the draft of your post to see how SEO Yoast graded what you’ve done.

Your rating appears in the Publish panel.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

The green disc next to SEO in the publish panel indicates that I’m doing pretty well with things. Yellow indicates okay and red is bad. If you click the “Check” link next to the colored disc, you are returned to the WordPress SEO by Yoast control panel, where the second tab gives you Page Analysis. You see the same info by selecting the Page Analysis tab.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

By looking at the page analysis, I can see what I need to change. I changed one of my H2 headings after checking this. I appreciate getting the reading level analyzed, because I tend to write long convoluted sentences, rather like this one, that decrease readability.

Customize the Meta Description for Different Sites

If you select the Social tab in the control panel, you can customize the meta description for specific sites.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

Twitter Card Implementation with WordPress SEO by Yoast

Using Twitter cards makes a big difference in how your tweets display. The heading, the description, and a photo all show up on Twitter if you use a Twitter card. Here’s an example of how a tweet with a Twitter card looks:

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

With the plugin installed, an SEO category appears in your WordPress Dashboard menu sidebar. Clicking anything in this menu takes you to the Yoast WordPress SEO dashboard, so I always make sure I’ve saved my draft before I use this menu.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

Select Social and then select the tab for Twitter.

Improve Your SEO with the WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin

Select the Twitter card meta data checkbox and supply your Twitter Username. Save. Follow the link to the Twitter Card Validator, where you’ll pick a card type, grab some embed code to add to the document HEAD of your page, and apply for Twitter card approval.

A Few Final Options

The screen shots above show a number of options and settings I didn’t have the space to get into in this post. On the Advanced tab, there are options for redirects, Canonical URLs and more. Options in the sidebar SEO category will take you to the Yoast WordPress SEO dashboard where you can set up your site with Google and Bing webmaster tools, make choices about titles and meta settings, enable an XML sitemap, make choices about permalinks, internal links, breadcrumb settings, RSS feeds, import settings from other plugins, and edit your robots.txt and .htaccess files.

I’m not a heavy user of plugins, but this one provides a lot of benefits. I think you’ll find it helpful. You can download the plugin from the developer’s site at or from the WordPress plugin directory.

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4 Little Known Google Search Tips

Search Technology Redux

No more leafing through a card catalog card by card. Search travels at the speed of electrons now. There are some characters and tricks that you can use to refine a search on Google that will get you the information you want more efficiently. Here are a four.

Exclude with a Dash

Putting a dash in front of a word excludes it from your search. A Star is Born -Striesand.

Include Synonyms with a Tilde

Putting a tilde before a word means that synonyms will be included for the word. Halloween ~masks.

Use Two Periods to Search a Range

Putting two periods between terms will give you a range of things like dates, measurements or prices. Gas prices 2001 .. 2005.

Use Related to find Related Items

Use related: to search for things that are related to a specific site. related:

Useful Links: Webfont icons, Hummingbird, Gender gap map

Responsive Webfont Icons at Web Standards Sherpa gives you all the details on making your icons responsive.

How Will Google Hummingbird Impact Links? Here Are 6 Ways is at Search Engine Land.

A Map of the Gender Gap in Science Around the Globe. There’s no data from the U.S. on this map, which is a problem, but it’s interesting.

Useful links: Bing search, Creative JS, iPad Classroom

bing cherry

Bing is touting some new search results tech that happens on it’s page zero search. Search Engline Land explains all about it.

Here’s a blog with JavaScripts, tutorials and articles that might help you. Creative JS.

The iPad Classroom is a daily that might give you some good teaching ideas. Any daily can be subscribed to, including the one I curate, Women in Web Education.

Useful Links: User testing, the marketing chick, SEO success

User Testing for Web Accessbility from six revisions is an excellent summary of user testing and web accessibility.

Must reading: Misogyny and the Marketing Chick.

The Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors is from Search Engine Land. Well organized and effective tool for checking your site’s SEO practices.