Yoast SEO is a powerful plugin for WordPress.org users, which anyone running a website on WordPress should know about. Whether you’re an expert or a complete beginner in SEO, Yoast helps you make this part of the process more structured and easier to manage.
We have been using Yoast SEO at 90 Digital for many years and it makes managing things like meta descriptions, sitemaps, social media data and keywords a breeze. This is especially important when you have multiple people publishing blog posts and other content at different times – it ensures consistency and makes sure those who don’t necessarily specialise in onsite SEO don’t miss things. There is both a free and premium version of the plugin available, with all of the core features available in the free version.
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INSTALLING THE PLUGIN
If you don’t already have the Yoast SEO plugin on your website, you will need to install it. You can either go into ‘Add New’ on the ‘Plugins’ section of the WP dashboard and search for it or download the plugin and upload it yourself: Yoast SEO Plugin.
If you’re already using a different plugin for your SEO, there is an import feature available and the Yoast Team have recently added more options to this feature in the latest update.
SETTING UP YOAST SEO
Setting up is easy with the configuration wizard. There are a lot of features in this plugin and it can be a bit overwhelming if you’re unfamiliar with it or if you’re an SEO beginner. The wizard will help you configure your settings and get you up and running in no time. You can always revisit the wizard at any point in the future to check your settings and make sure everything is how you want it. Of course, all of the settings can also be set manually within the plugin at any point too.
There are 12 steps to the SEO Configuration option, in which you will be asked questions about your website. The correct settings are then implemented based on the answers given. This guide will provide more info on using the Yoast SEO Configuration Wizard.
- Welcome to the Yoast SEO configuration Wizard
- Is your site ready to be indexed?
- What kind of site do you have?
- Is it you or your company?
- Tell us your social profiles
- To show or not show posts and pages
- How many people are publishing content on your site?
- Google Search Console integration
- Optimising your page title
- Awesome tips and new products in your inbox
- Upsell: buy our Premium plugin
- Even more free information about the plugin: then you’re ready to get started!
USING YOAST SEO TOOLBOX
The SEO Toolbox will be available when you create a new post or page and you can use this to ensure you’ve optimised the content and metadata before publishing. The first tab in the toolbox has two sections: Readability Analysis and SEO Analysis.
The SEO Analysis requires you to enter a focus key phrase in order for it to analyse the content and generate the results – it’s important to understand which keywords you should be targeting. The results are split across: problems, improvements, and considerations, with the use of a traffic light system. Anything red and in the problems section should be addressed first to ensure you’re not missing something crucial. In the amber improvements section, you will get suggestions for things you can do to optimise the content further. Finally, in the green considerations section, it highlights what has been done well and makes a note of everything it has analysed.
What is analysed?
- Length of content: You need to write at least 300 words if you want to rank for a certain keyword, otherwise you could be at risk of having ‘thin content‘ by Google.
- Meta Description: The meta description should include the focus keyword, but it is also a front-facing description of the page and so should be user-friendly. This affects click-through rates, which affects relevancy rates, which affects rankings.
- Focus Keyword: The focus keyword should be added in the content from the beginning to ensure it is clear what the page is about.
- Images: Adding images enhances the user experience – make sure to add alt text.
- Internal Links: There should be at least one relevant internal page linked within the content. This helps keep users on the website, offer more information around the content, and improve engagements overall.
- External Links: Adding links to relevant external content will show search engines how sites link together on topic and allow a user to gain more information around the content.
- Page Title: The page title shouldn’t be too long and should include the focus keyword near the start.
- URL: The focus keyword should also be in the URL.
- Keyword Focus: You shouldn’t have more than one page on your website focusing on the same keyword.
The premium version also allows you to optimise for keyword synonyms, which can be accessed in this section. There is also a section to highlight cornerstone content here.
If the content you are optimising is cornerstone content, you can turn that on in this section.
The snippet preview lets you see how the page will look in SERPs. From here, you can edit the slug, the meta description and the SEO title.
This analysis looks at how easy it is to actually read the content, from a user perspective. It looks at headings and subheadings for ease of page scanning and grouping topics together. It also provides you with a readability score from the Flesch Reading Ease Test to ensure all users can read and understand your content – this is important if you’re writing about something very advanced or technical to ensure that it is still easy enough for people to understand. Transition words, paragraph and sentence length, and use of passive voice are all also included in the analysis. Each of these improves the flow and engagement of the content.
The Social Tab allows you to override the page title, meta description and image for sharing on Facebook and Twitter. If you don’t use this tab, the title, meta description and featured image set for the page will be used by default. If you have a premium account, you can also preview how your posts will look when sharing in this tab.
Finally, the advanced setting tab allows you to change your robots settings and add a canonical URL if required.
EXTEND YOAST SEO
There is a premium version of the plugin available, which offers features such as:
- Update Reminders: it will let you know when you haven’t updated content in six months.
- Keyword optimisation: removing the limit of the 1 keyword available in the free version and allowing you to optimise for keywords, keyphrases, synonyms, related keywords and all word forms of those.
- Social Media Preview Pages: Twitter and Facebook are available in premium.
- Internal Linking Suggestions: as you write, the tool will suggest internal content to link to saving you time and making sure your internal linking structure is relevant.
- Content Insights: helps you to ensure your content is focused enough on your main keyword.
- Redirect Manager: ensures you don’t have users getting stuck on 404s.
- Focus Keyword Export: you can export all data on your focus keywords and SEO scores.
- 24/7 Support Available for 1 year
- Ad Free
Premium is available for £79 (ex VAT) for 1 site – including 1 year free updates and support. Yoast SEO free offers so many features and tools that this may not be necessary, but if you are running many websites or you like to automate a lot of your processes, then this may be the option for you.
You can also include additional plugins available from Yoast to create your own SEO powerhouse.
The Local SEO plugin helps you rank better in local search results and be found in Google Maps.
The Video SEO Plugin makes sure your videos can be found in Google Video search and enhances your video sharing on social media.
The WooCommerce SEO Plugin allows you to optimise your shop’s SEO and sell more products!
The News SEO plugin helps you do all the things that allow you to optimise your site for Google News.
If you need any help optimising your website, that’s what we do here at 90 Digital. So whether you just require support in setting up Yoast SEO, you need our full onsite optimisation services or you want all the features Yoast SEO has to offer but you’re not using WordPress, get in touch and we can have a chat about your website and what it needs.