The Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin is an excellent tool to help bloggers write more SEO-friendly blog posts. While this plugin has lots of features, this post covers the most important areas to focus on when you want to improve your post’s search ranking.
Getting Started with Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin
Login to the admin panel on your WordPress and click Add New Post if you are starting a new post or Edit Post if you want to apply the Yoast SEO tools to an existing post.
Once you are in the Edit mode on the Post, scroll down below the post content and you will see the Yoast SEO meta box. Let’s start with the Readability Tab. Click on the Readability Tab. It will look like this:
Improving the Readability of your Blog Post
The Readability Tab provides an analysis of key things to keep in mind while you are writing your blog post. Red dots mean, “hold on, this needs attention,” orange means “let’s tweak this a bit”, and green means “awesome, great job.”
The readability tips in this section of the Yoast tool reflect basic good writing practice – making sure your sentences are not too long or that your paragraphs are broken up with subheadings. These are only guidelines, so don’t get too obsessed with them. I wouldn’t worry too much about having too many sentences with more than 20 words. While not as important as some of the things we will get to later in this post, readability measures can improve your search ranking if they help you write posts that readers actually enjoy reading. SEO scores are based in part by how long visitors stay on your website and how many pages they visit. The more readable the post the longer readers will stay on your post page ( and hopefully share with friends) the better your SEO score.
SEO-Friendly Title and Page Descriptions
Next, let’s click on the “Enter your focus keyword” tab.
In this section, you will see your post’s “Snippet preview.” This is the Title and Page Description that will be displayed on a Search Engine Results Page (SERP) if someone were to search for your post. By default, Google will use the Title you have given the post, which you can usually just leave as it, and a Description which is pulled from the first couple of sentences of the post. You will most likely want to edit this snippet for maximum SEO impact.
We will focus on the most important aspects of this tab:
Your page title is the most important on-page factor that search engines use to determine if your post is relevant to the searcher’s intent. So you may want to have an SEO title for your post that is different from the actual title of your post on your website. In the screenshot above, the blog post on this website is “Leading by “F@ing” Up.” Great title but not necessarily the best from an SEO perspective. You might want to change the SEO title to something like: “How to Good Leaders Use Mistakes as Learning Tools.” Filling out this field will replace your post title in SERPs but leave it as is on your website.
This field allows you to tell Google what to display under your page title in SERPs. You want the Description to give the reader a good – and enticing — idea of what the post is about. If there are keywords you want to your post to rank for in search, try to include these in your Description.
On-page and External Links
You will also want to think about internal and external links. Are there other posts that are related to this one that you would like readers to see? Create hyperlinks to those as well as any external links that may be relevant. Google loves links!
The last section in this tab is “Focus Keyword.” This is the keyword or phrase that you want your post to rank for. Forcing yourself do to identify a keyword can also help you really sharpen the post and stay on topic. Once you fill in this field, check the analysis section at the bottom of this Yoast SEO box. It will indicate whether or not you have used this keyword in different areas of your post.
It’s a good idea to try to use the keyword in titles and in the body of the post but don’t go crazy stuffing the keyword in your post. If Google suspects that you are trying to stuff your post with keywords if could harm your site’s ranking. You may experience a few kinks in the plugin with regard to the focus keyword. For example you may see in the analysis section that “your keyword does not appear in the first paragraph” even though it is in fact there.
That’s pretty much it. When you are finished, you should see more green than red on the Analysis section. Don’t get too hung up on having all green lights on all of these areas, especially the Title and Description. If you follow these steps your posts should be in good shape to rank higher on Google. Finally, remember that the most important audience you are writing for is your reader, not Google. Don’t try to jam in lots of keywords and too many links. And don’t forget to share your posts on social media. Happy blogging!
Still have questions about the Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress? Contact us for more info.