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.
- Initial plugin installation and setup
- Optimizing Pages and Posts
Let’s get started with our Yoast SEO Setup guide!
Initial Installation and Setup
- Go to “Plugins” then “Add New”
- Search “Yoast SEO”
- Click on “Install Now”
- Then click “Activate” once the installation completes.
- Now that the plugin is installed and activated, go to left menu and hover over “SEO”, then click “Titles & Metas”.
- 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.
- 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”.
Enter your social media details here:
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.
- 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.
- Before you do anything, you will notice that your SEO score is N/A in the publish box at the top of the page.
- 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.
This made our SEO score yellow based on how our focus keyword is used throughout the post:
- 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:
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:
– Page URL: your URL has the exact phrase:
– 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.
- Now click on “Page Analysis” to see why our score is not green:
I will go ahead and try to satisfy the red and orange items in my page analysis and then check my score again.
- After making edits to my content and adding alt text to my images, my page analysis now shows:
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!