Yoast SEO Setup and User Guide

Yoast SEO is one of the most downloaded plugins on WordPress, but do you know how to properly use it? Most people just install and activate the plugin without ever changing settings or using the most powerful feature: “Page Analysis”. This post will be broken down into two sections.

  1. Initial plugin installation and setup
  2. Optimizing Pages and Posts

Let’s get started with our Yoast SEO Setup guide!

Initial Installation and Setup
  1. Go to “Plugins” then “Add New”
  2. Search “Yoast SEO”
  3. Click on “Install Now”
    yoast seo setup install
  4. Then click “Activate” once the installation completes.
    yoast seo setup activate
  5. Now that the plugin is installed and activated, go to left menu and hover over “SEO”, then click “Titles & Metas”.
    yoast seo setup click titles
  6. I have had the most luck when I click “Enable force rewrite titles”, which will allow the plugin to make your titles SEO friendly. I also select the bar separator, although you could use the dash instead.
    yoast seo setup force rewrite
  7. The last step is to enter your social media accounts into Yoast so they can be used for Open Graph tags in your page. Hover over SEO, then click “Social”.
    yoast seo setup social
    Enter your social media details here:
    yoast seo setup social profiles

That is all the initial setup need with Yoast SEO. Pretty easy, right? Your site’s code is now optimized to look good to Google, but this only gets you part way there. To have any chance of getting ranked in Google, you need to be creating optimized content on a regular basis. That is where Yoast really shines with its Page Analysis tool. Let’s take a look at how that works.

Optimizing Pages and Posts

When you are creating a new page or post, you should be optimizing it for one keyword. Using Yoast’s Page Analysis tool, you can do just that. The goal is to give your page or post a “green light” for your SEO grade. Let’s go through the steps of optimizing your post.

  1. Everything starts with keyword research. If you don’t know what keywords you should try to rank for, there is no point in optimizing your post. For keyword research, I recommend purchasing a keyword research report from a vendor on Fiverr or use Google Adwords’ keyword tool, called Keyword Planner. You can also do a Google search on a term you think might be a good keyword and look at the amount of ads for that keyword. This will tell you how competitive the keyword is. In this example, we will optimize this post you are reading for the keyword: yoast seo setup.
  2. Before you do anything, you will notice that your SEO score is N/A in the publish box at the top of the page.
    yoast seo setup na
  3. Now let’s go down to the “Yoast SEO” settings box on your edit screen. Your score is N/A because you have not entered a “Focus Keyword”. Go ahead and add your focus keyword phrase (ours is yoast seo setup) to that field and click “Save Draft” at the top. You should now see a color next to the SEO label in your publish box.
    yoast seo setup focus keywordThis made our SEO score yellow based on how our focus keyword is used throughout the post:
    yoast seo setup yellow
  4. We can go back down to the Yoast SEO meta box on the edit screen and see that we have passed some tests, but not all:
    yoast seo setup focus keyword tips
    A further explanation of these items:
    – Article Heading: this is also your page title.
    – Page Title: our page title has the exact phrase we are trying to rank for:
    yoast seo setup title – Page URL: your URL has the exact phrase:
    yoast seo setup permalink– Content: we will use the page analysis tool to see why or content is getting a “No”
    – Meta description: this is the content that shows in search results pages (SERPS) on Google. It should also contain your keyword phrase.
  5. Now click on “Page Analysis” to see why our score is not green:
    yoast seo setup page analysis
    I will go ahead and try to satisfy the red and orange items in my page analysis and then check my score again.
  6. After making edits to my content and adding alt text to my images, my page analysis now shows:
    yoast seo all green

That is it! We now have a perfectly optimized page (according to Yoast). Remember that this is only your “on-page” SEO score. There are many other factors in ranking your page including how many links are pointed to your content as well as the amount of social shares. Having done this optimization, you know you are setting yourself up for the best chance of being ranked for your keyword.

Let us know if you have any questions!

WordPress Formatting Shortcuts: Cheat Sheet

With WordPress version 4.3, a new feature called “Formatting Shortcuts” was introduced. WordPress formatting shortcuts works a lot like a markdown editor where you can add formatting as you type without having to add from the toolbar later. We have created a cheat sheet infographic to make it easier for you to take advantage of this feature. A few notes to help you out:

  • Remember to put a space after each shortcode to make it activate. For example: *(space)content
  • Heading 1 is not available as a shortcut. Only H2-H6
  • The formatting happens as you type. Once you hit the space bar, the visual editor will show the correct formatting.
  • There are other WordPress formatting shortcuts you can use, but the ones used below seem to work the best are the easiest to use.

WordPress Formatting Shortcuts Cheat Sheet

Please share this guide if you think it might help someone you know!

Make It Easy to Find Contact Information

What good is your website if a visitor can’t get in touch? How often have you gone to a site to only find a phone number and it is not made obvious? Don’t lose potential customers because you are frustrating them right off the bat.

How to Fix It (in order of importance):

 

  1. Make your contact page easy to find. There should be a link to your contact page in your main navigation (furthest to the right if possible), or in a secondary navigation bar above your main navigation (example here). Another spot that is acceptable is in your footer navigation. Visitors expect to find your contact page quickly and in a place where they expect it. Make it easy for them!
  2. Make sure you have the crucial 3 components of a contact page. These are:
    • A phone number
    • An email address
    • Your physical address
  3. Some visitors want to call, while other just need your address to mail you a check. Again, reduce all friction between you and a visitor contact.
  4. Put your contact information on the homepage. This can be a phone number in the header or footer of your site, or somewhere on the page before the user has to scroll down the page.

3 Simple Steps to Improve the Design of Your Site

The overall appearance of your site can make the difference between someone wanting to do business or leaving your site. If your site is too cluttered and uses colors that cause a migraine, you need to fix your design.

How to Fix It (in order of importance):

 

  1. Give Enough Whitespace.






    The biggest mistake businesses make with their design is filling their page with too much information, too close together. Give your content room to breath – it will make your site feel more user friendly and more modern. Want to read more about how whitespace affects your site? Read this.

  2. Use the Right Colors

    colors
    Use colors that don’t take away from your content. Website backgrounds and content areas should only use subtle, light colors. Don’t choose a bright pink as your background, instead make it a softer, pastel color that is less “in your face”. It is ok to use bold, bright colors for call-to-actions (buttons) and other small elements on your page. Have a subtle background color will make those buttons stand out even more. To find the right colors for your site, we always use this tool.

  3. Use the Right Fonts

    fonts
    The fonts on your site (and their font size) can make a break a good design. We recommend keeping fonts at 15px or higher, any smaller makes things hard to read. Use clean fonts: Our favorite is Open Sans by Google Fonts. The “Golden Ratio” can also make your site easier to read and therefore increase visitor time on your site. The Golden Ratio is the ratio between font size, the width of the page and the line height. Use this tool to determine the right ratio for your site.

Fix your sites colors and fonts, then add whitespace: the perfect recipe for a beautiful, user-friendly site.