How to use Yoast SEO Plugin: A Beginners Guide
Getting found by your readers and by Google and other search engines should be a priority in your blogging career. Otherwise you will be sitting in a desolate field of nothingness with no one reading your fantastic content. In order to make that happen, your first step needs to be to add the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress. While it does not do the work for you it will help you to improve your search engine optimization. Ranking high with search engines requires good SEO. The first step in good SEO is the Yoast SEO plugin. This post, How to use Yoast SEO Plugin: A Beginners Guide is the first step in conquering SEO.
The foundation of SEO or search engine optimization is the use of key words. A key word is quite simply a search term or terms. Whenever someone goes to a search engine they input a question, word or phrase that they want information about. In order to be ranked on the first page of search results you need to have good SEO. This SEO tutorial is the first step in mastering SEO for your website.
Part of a good SEO strategy is to use the same keywords that your audience is searching for. The focus key word that you use should be sprinkled strategically throughout your post so that you can rank higher for a particular topic. Yoast can help you with that by providing a list of items that your post should contain in order to rank higher in search results. Those items include the use of links, Meta tags, and headers among many others.
Keep in mind there are three different types of keywords, head, body, and long tail. Head keywords are words like blogging, and gardening and searching for them brings enormous search results. You want to be more specific with your keywords and use body and long tail keywords.Body key words are 2-3 word phrases while long tail key words are 4 or more. The more words you use the more specific your key word becomes and the higher it will rank in search results. Use key words like “how to use Yoast SEO for blogging in wordpress” rather than just Yoast or SEO.
Besides analyzing your focus keywords, Yoast also helps you to create an XML sitemap, verify your site with Google and Bing, and verify your social media profiles like Pinterest, Google Plus and Twitter. Yoast also allows you to set your Meta keywords and Meta descriptions. You can also authenticate your website with Google Search Console, enable breadcrumbs, and much more. Yoast also analyzes both content and readability. In order to maximize the features of Yoast you should customize each post using the Meta section at the bottom of each post and page.
The Meta Section
In the Meta section Yoast analyzes both content and readability. Both are important to a good SEO ranking. You will see that there are 2 tabs, one for readability and the other for Keywords.
You will see the list of green orange and red dots. In this instance I am in the middle of writing this post but I still have a green overall readability score. What does that mean? The readability analysis uses an a carefully crafted algorithm to determine how readable your post is. The analysis features several checks that will give you advice when you write your post so that your post easily readable.
Yoast encourages you to simplify content in order to grow your audience. You have to keep in mind that you are not only writing for people but also for services like Alexa and Siri. These virtual assistants crawl your web content in order to answer questions. That is not to say that your content should be simplistic. Rather, it should be simplified for ease of review by people, search engines and virtual assistants. Yoast recommends the following:
- Transition words: Do you use transition words like ‘most importantly’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’, or ‘besides that’ to tie your text together? Using these words improves the flow of your article as they provide hints to the reader about what is coming next.
- Sentence beginnings: Do any of your consecutive sentences start with the same word? This would cause repetition for your reader, and that might be annoying. Always mix up your sentences to keep your article readable and free of obstacles, unless you want to prove something or use it as a writing style, of course.
- Flesch reading ease: This world-famous test analyzes texts and grades them on a scale from 1-100. The lower the score, the more difficult to read the text is. Texts with a very high Flesch reading ease score (about 100) are very easy to read. They have short sentences and no words of more than two syllables. Usually, a reading ease score of 60-70 is believed to be acceptable/normal for web copy.
- Paragraph length: Some people tend to use extremely long paragraphs. Doing so makes your text look daunting as it becomes just one big blob of text. Break it up, use shorter paragraphs and insert subheadings.
- Sentence length: Sentence length is one of the core issues that makes a text hard to read. If your sentences are too long – over 20 words – people might lose track of your point. Often, readers have to jump back a few words to find out what you mean. This very tiring and inefficient. Try to keep the number of words in a sentence in check. Shorten your sentences. Aim for easy understanding, not a complex literary masterpiece.
- Passive voice: Using a lot of passive voice in your text makes it appear distant, and your message will be less clear. Your sentences become wordy and hard to grasp because you have to work harder understand the sentence structure. Whenever you use the passive voice, always consider whether a better, active alternative is available.
Keep in mind that not all of the bullets need to be green. It is alright to have some red or orange points so long as your overall score is green. A green overall score is a good guide to the readability of your post and the potential for ranking higher in search results.
Content and Keywords:
The next aspect of Yoast SEO is the content or keyword analysis.
Yoast will automatically test your content for usage of the focus keyword so you can optimize your page for the search term you want to be found for. It will check, among other things, whether:
- You are using the keyword often enough, but not too often;
- You use the keyword in the title, meta description and the url;
- The keyword is used in the alt text of an image;
- You use the keyword in a subheading;
- The text is long enough;
- There are internal or external links in your text;
- You have already used this keyword before and more!
Just like in the readability analysis you will get either a green, orange or red bullet for each check. Using the suggestions you can edit your content in a positive SEO direction. You don’t need a green bullet for everything to get an overall green bullet and an overall green bullet is what you are seeking.
The most important pages or posts on your site are the cornerstone articles. To optimize those, Yoast has a specific cornerstone analysis which is stricter than the analysis for your other posts and pages. You can easily mark an article as a cornerstone article by checking the cornerstone content box in the lower left of the Meta section.
Within the keywords portion of the Meta section you can edit the snippet that appears when your post appears in search results which includes the slug, Meta description, and SEO title. By clicking on Edit Snippet you will be able to check the slug and write the Meta Description and SEO title on your own. This allows you to maximize SEO for each post and page.
Notice that there is a green bar underneath the SEO Title and the Meta Description. This line can be red, orange, or green depending on the strength of your title and description. You want to reach green for good SEO.
It is the set of words which appears in the URL of your post. The post slug is the user-friendly and URL valid name of a post. The most common usage of this feature is to create a permalink for each post. WordPress automatically generates post slugs from a post’s title after you enter the title in the title box above the post.
A slug may contain stop words. Stop Words are words which we frequently use while writing a post. Stop words include words like: what, how, is, was and so forth. Search engines ignore stop words completely so when the slug is created it is created without these stop word even though they are in your title. For example: How to make a purse becomes make purse in the slug. Search engines will only recognize these words. It would be impossible for search engines to search for words like the, what , and how so these words are excluded.
Your Meta description is a very important. The Meta description is a snippet of up to 320 characters that summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show the Meta description in search results mostly when the searched for phrase is contained in the description. Optimizing your Meta description is very important to good SEO practice. A best practice is to edit your own Meta description so that it contains all of your keywords. The Meta description is what is readable to search engines so its import cannot be overstated.
You can set the SEO title using the default setting. I suggest that you keep the SEO title at the default until you are fully educated on how to change it and why.