Yoast SEO plugin is the #1 WordPress SEO plugin in the SEO world at the moment. If you are a beginner who is just getting started with the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress, this guide will help you learn all the basic things on Yoast SEO such as settings, configuration, SEO title, meta description, focus keyword etc.
How to Use Yoast SEO
In order to use Yoast SEO, you need to first install and activate the plugin (if you haven’t done so already). The process is really simple. Just head over to the Plugins menu from your WordPress admin dashboard and click Add New. Now type in Yoast SEO and the plugin should show up right at the top of the search results.
Yoast SEO Configuration
Once you have successfully installed the plugin, it’s time to get started with the configuration. The easiest way to do this is to find the “y” icon in the WordPress admin toolbar (the toolbar that lines the top of your site when logged in) and click Configuration Wizard.
You are now on the welcome screen of the Yoast SEO configuration wizard. Click CONFIGURE YOAST SEO to continue.
The “Environment” section asks you whether you are still building your website or it’s ready to go live.
If your website is fully functional, choose Option A: My site is live and ready to be indexed.
If your website is under construction choose Option B: My site is under construction and should not be indexed.
In the “Site type” settings, you need to choose the type of website you are running.
a) A blog
b) An online shop
c) A news channel
d) A small offline business
e) A corporation
f) A portfolio
g) Something else
For this Yoast SEO tutorial, we are going to choose A blog.
In the “Company or person” settings you choose whether your site represents a person or company. If you select Company you can provide The name of the company and a logo for it.
If you select Person, you can provide The name of the person.
Why should you provide this information?
Have you heard of Knowledge Graph Card? Even if you don’t know the actual term, you have probably seen it already. When you search for a term in Google, sometimes you will see a big block of information that appears on the right-hand side of the page. This block is known as the Knowledge Graph Card and then engine behind it is called Knowledge Graph. For example, if you search for “target” this will appear in the search results:
Search engines like Google continually gather information on a topic and connect data that it collects. If the SEO is done right and there is enough data about a subject, It’s possible for Google to show a Knowledge Graph Card to the user that contains relevant, context-specific information regarding the search term. This is why you should configure this option so Yoast SEO can take care of the SEO part of showing a Knowledge Graph Card about you or the company.
In the “Social profiles” settings, you can provide as much information as you can about all of your social profiles. This will help search engines collect information on your social profiles. This will also help Google use them for Knowledge Graph purpose. Current these options are available in the settings:
a) Facebook Page URL
b) Twitter username
c) Instagram URL
d) LinkedIn URL
e) MySpace URL
f) Pinterest URL
g) YouTube URL
h) Google+ URL
In the Search engine visibility settings you can choose if you wish to allow search engines to show posts/pages in search results. The default should be:
a) Search engines should show “posts” in search results – Yes
b) Search engines should show “pages” in search results – Yes
In the Multiple authors settings, you can choose whether your website has multiple authors (articles will be published by more than one author). If you select No the author archives of your website will be deactivated to prevent duplicate content issues.
In the Google Search Console settings, you can allow Yoast SEO to fetch your Google Search Console information such as clicks, impressions, CTR, position etc. This step is optional since you can just manually log into Google Search Console (previously known as Google Webmaster Tools) and analyze all this information. I personally like to avoid this step since I don’t want Yoast SEO to have access to my Google Search Console data. However, if you are still willing to see this information in your admin dashboard, Click GET GOOGLE AUTHORIZATION CODE, enter the code and click AUTHENTICATE.
In the Title settings, you can select what separator to use for display in search results. This symbol will appear between the actual post/page title and your site name. When selecting a symbol, you would want to go with the one that suits your brand or takes up less space.
Here is a preview of the snippet in search results when you use “-” as the Title Separator.
That’s it! You have completed the basic configuration for the Yoast SEO plugins. Now we are going to take a look at some other features that will maximize the SEO of your WordPress site.
Yoast SEO Media & Attachment URLs
When you upload an image in WordPress, It also creates an attachment page for it. An attachment page URL looks like a regular post/page URL with almost no content in it (except the image itself). Since it falls under the “thin content” category, it has little or no value in terms of SEO. And having all these pages with thin content may not look very good to Google. That’s why it’s ideal to just have a redirection set for each of these attachment URLs so they are redirected to the actual image. In Yoast SEO you can easily do it by setting the Media & attachment URLs option to Yes.
Yoast SEO Readability Analysis
One major feature in Yoast SEO is readability analysis of your posts/pages. This tool analyzes the texts in your posts/pages and gives rankings based on how readable they are.
When you create a new post/page or edit one, the readability analysis tool in Yoast SEO scans your content based on these criteria:
1. How many words are there in a subheading.
2. How many sentences contain a transition word (words like “therefore”, “because”, “another”, “also” that help you draw a clear relation between two sentences).
3. The copy scores in the Flesch Reading Ease test on a scale of 0-100.
a) A score of 0-30 means your content is best understood by university graduates.
b) A score of 60-70 means it is easily understood by 13-15-year-old students.
c) A score of 60-70 means it is easily understood by an average 11-year old student.
Google doesn’t clearly state whether it considers readability a ranking factor. However, if your content is difficult to read, users are likely to leave your site and look for the same information elsewhere (This can affect your audience retention rate and ultimately rankings as well). So when you are writing, you should think about producing content that is great as well as easy to read. Your goal is to rank higher in the Flesh Reading Ease test (somewhere between 60 and 70 is considered normal). Usually, content that has short sentences with no words of more than two syllables ranks higher in the readability test.
4. Length of the paragraphs.
5. Length of the sentences.
6. How many sentences contain passive voice.
Yoast SEO Content Analysis
One of the most important features in Yoast SEO is content analysis of your posts/pages. This tool shows how optimized your content is for search engines. The first part comes with a snippet preview that shows how this particular page/post will appear in search results (A snippet is a single result of your website in a set of other search results).
The title that appears in search results. Your post/page title is selected by default.
Slug is the user-friendly name of a web page or permalink that is shown in search results. Your post/page slug is selected by default. if you wish to show a different slug in search results you can customize this field.
Meta description is short description of your web page that appears in search results (around 155 characters in length). It is very important for on-page SEO because it tells users what they are likely to find on a particular page. Being able to write a unique and actionable meta description that will draw a user’s attention is the key to standing out in search results.
Suppose, you rank #8 for a particular search term but you have a much more compelling SEO title and meta description than your other competitors. The user notices it and thinks they will find the information they are looking for on your web page. So they click on your web page in the search results. This immediately sends a strong signal to Google because the user just engaged with a web page that ranks #8. This boosts your CTR (Click through rate) and eventually, you start to rank higher for that particular keyword.
The main keyword that you want a web page to rank for. Search engines don’t read your focus keyword. It is only for use in Yoast SEO so it can analyze the content of a web page and determine how optimized it is for a particular keyword.
Now comes the second part where Yoast SEO shows how optimized your editing page is.
The content analysis tool in Yoast SEO analyzes the content of a page on a wide range of factors:
1. Does the focus keyword appear in the first paragraph of the content?
2. What is the keyword density (how many times is it mentioned in the content)?
3. Does the meta description contain the focus keyword?
4. Does the meta description have an optimal length?
5. Do the images on the page contain alt attributes with the focus keyword in it?
6. Does the page contain the recommended minimum of 300 words?
7. Does the SEO title contain the focus keyword?
8. Does the SEO title contain the focus keyword at the beginning?
9. Does the SEO title have an optimal length?
10. Does the focus keyword appear in the URL of the page (slug)?
11. Was this focus keyword used on any other pages on the site?
12. Does this page have any outbound link (links to external web pages)?
When you are writing content you should try to include a couple of links to other websites with high authority (nofollow links). Research has shown that keeping all the links to yourself doesn’t always yield the best SEO benefit. Adding links to other sites (relevant to the content) with high authority helps Google understand your content better and improve rankings.
13. Does this page have an internal link to another page on the site?
It is important to add appropriate internal links to other pages on your site. This helps Google discover new content, understand the relationship between these pages, their content and its value. Besides all pages on your site don’t have the same level of authority or page rank. When you link from a page with a higher authority to a lower one this improves the overall exposure of the lower ranking page and rankings.
Yoast SEO Analysis
The goal of the whole SEO analysis is to get a green check mark next to Readability and SEO.
Now that may not be always possible if your article is too technical or if your focus keyword is a long tail keyword. But you should try to optimize as much as possible. Please keep in mind that having a good SEO score doesn’t mean that your web page will rank high for that keyword. It just means you have optimized the content the best way possible. And if you can continue to produce great content with Yoast SEO there is no reason why you shouldn’t be successful in your niche.