Building a VSCode SEO Plugin

Last year, I started my new writing habit and published blog posts frequently. This year, I took it to the next level by learning about SEO more in-depth and building my toolchain to support my workflow. Part of this new toolchain is a VSCode plugin to help writers in producing SEO-optimized content.

Learning about SEO

When I started writing more frequently last year, I knew SEO would become relevant eventually. I knew some basics but never cared enough to sit down and learn about all guidelines. With a frequent publishing cadence, I wanted my content to get found by search engines. I got myself a subscription for ahrefs, a keyword planning and SEO audit tool. It opened up a brand-new world I didn’t know existed. I was sitting in front of a giant mountain of data, slowly understanding how to use it.

For instance, I learned how good keyword research helps identify blog post topics related to my niche I haven’t thought about before. Keyword research made sense, but how would I write compelling blog posts based on specific keywords? I knew I had to structure my content differently, but I had no idea how.

My current Workflow

I’m using WordPress for this blog, and there is already a myriad of tools available to help create SEO-compatible content, like Yoast. Yoast is super helpful in validating my content structure, but it doesn’t fit my workflow very well.

My current workflow consists of drafting new content in VSCode, organizing it with foam, and then, once reviewed, pasting it into WordPress. Any changes I make in WordPress, I need to manually copy/paste back to VSCode. I was wondering if there was anything like Yoast for VSCode. My research didn’t bring up any meaningful options. Instead of coming up with a new workflow, I figured it’s a good chance to sit down, learn the SEO rules myself and write my plugin.

Better SEO

The result: Better SEO. It’s a VSCode extension that provides the same kind of feedback Yoast does without having to leave the editor. Currently, it is a work in progress, receiving frequent updates. I started super simple, validating basic things on my blog posts, such as frontmatter structure and keyword presence in all fields. As of the time I’m writing this post: I just published a new version with more in-depth keyword validation.

What I learned

What I learned in this process: Developing plugins for VSCode is not as hard as I thought. I created one a few years ago but haven’t done anything since then. Also, using TypeScript for this effort was the right choice. During my early Developer career, I wrote software for the Windows platform, using C#. Visual Studio was always excellent about providing real-time support on “What can I call on this object” or showing when it didn’t find a reference, etc. VSCode’s TypeScript support feels similar to my Visual Studio experience.
Also, all SEO rules I learned about so far aren’t challenging to understand. It’s more than the sheer number of things to consider that makes it challenging to keep everything in mind. I see SEO as one of the skills I want to build this year, and developing this plugin helps me achieve this goal more effectively. On top of that, this enables other writers to produce content that attracts more organic traffic, even better.

Check out Better SEO on the Visual Studio Marketplace

Check out the Source Code on GitHub: https://github.com/schultyy/better-seo

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