With the hype of social media, we often forget that it is still crucial to appear on the front lines of search engines. If you are using WordPress, it is possible to add different plugins that, with a little input from your side, will help you to be among the first to appear in search engine results. The leader and probably the best plugin is Yoast SEO. In this article, we will take a look how to get the most out of it.
Yoast SEO is a mediator between the website and search engines. It is easy to use even for people without deep technical knowledge and with no in-depth understanding of SEO. You can rely on it because it will provide you with the options you can consider. In addition, it is friendly to search engine robots that are crawling all around the web and looking for appropriate content. Let’s dig deeper to see what the plugin can do for you.
There are two plugin versions available – free and premium. The key difference is the number of keywords you can optimize. What you can do with the free version is to optimize just one keyword, whereas you can optimize up to five keywords in the premium version. Keyword optimization means picking up focus word/-s for the page and your page will be shown as high as possible when somebody looks for these words on the search engine. Although we know that excessive use of keywords in the content of a page is bad, you still have to use at least some of them to associate content with the particular topic. The Yoast SEO plugin will help you to check whether they appear on the site.
This is how you set it up. Bear in mind that you have to do manual work with the free version, whereas the premium version will do everything for you – just sit back and relax.
Manual configuration of the plugin
The first thing to do is to use the configuration wizard. The plugin will ask you to indicate whether your site is under construction or it is already up and running. You should remember that even if it is currently under construction and you mark this option, you should change it later in the plugin when your page is live. It is important, because only then your site will be indexed and appear among search results. Go through all the questions – indicate what type of page it is and whether it represents a person or a company, add name, logo, and links to social media profiles, etc.
Yoast SEO can be integrated with the Google Search Console – a free tool provided by Google to help you monitor your website’s appearance on Google. It is recommended to use this tool together with the plugin. You will have to get Google code to do it. This is easy – you will only need a Gmail address. Later, this can be managed in the separate section ‘Search Console’ under the SEO in your administration column on the left-hand side.
When you have managed to finish the configuration, there are still some parameters that you can change the SEO dashboard. Otherwise, your main playground is going to be the field under the text in each post and page. Follow the suggestions and instructions there:
Better navigation for readers and search engines
Now let’s dig into the plugin’s features. It is possible to check readability. When a reader or potential customer finds your site, he scans the content there. This is how users become familiar with your site. This feature is available in both the free and premium version. It will help you to find out whether the sentences on your page are the right length, as well as whether there are enough connecting words and subheadings. Yoast SEO says that it is using scientific research to ascertain the quality of these parameters.
It is important for you to see how the page appears in different places when shared. The free version of Yoast SEO shows only a Google snippet preview, whereas the premium version of the plugin also allows you to see Facebook and Twitter previews. The best thing about this feature is that you can modify the appearance of the snippet, compare it to your competitor sites and make it look interesting, inducing potential customers to click on it. If you have many pages, the plugin allows you to create a template and use it for all pages.
An invisible option that Yoast SEO takes care of is breadcrumbs. This is the term that describes the navigation path on the site, but in practice, it is a small text path usually located at the top of the page. Every part of the path is clickable. Google uses it to understand the structure of the site, find the precise place users might look for and highlight this spot. If you have a lot of information on the website, at one point breadcrumbs can become messy. Yoast SEO plugin can help you out because it can help you to define the primary categories that posts should fit into, as well as to determine the taxonomy of every page.
Don’t mess with Google!
Copied content is a huge problem in an era when so much content is created all over the web. Search engines are struggling to show appropriate content so they state that they are checking it very carefully. This might be tricky for you because sometimes different URLs from your site appear for the search engine with the same content. There are several reasons for this and we won’t go into details here. Just an example: you can get the same content for a couple of pages due to the fact that the page can be printed and it gets a different URL for this function. Search engines might miss this and can become cautious regarding your site. Yoast SEO solves this issue – you can specify one URL (canonical link) that appears as the original content. This won’t confuse search engines and will always allow users to find the page you want them to find.
From time to time, Google changes its algorithms. If you are managing the SEO yourself, you should always go into details when the search engine announces some changes again. But if you rely on Yoast SEO, it will take care of all changes and make sure that your site appears appropriately. According to the plugin’s creators, Google makes some minor changes nearly twice a day or up to 600 times per year. It seems like a mission impossible without a plugin, doesn’t it? The Yoast SEO people say that the plugin is updated once every two weeks.
What will you get with premium?
This is all that Yoast SEO can do for free, but what makes premium options worth considering? Firstly, the premium versions resolve all issues related to internal linking. This is another feature that is a vital aid for search engines. They understand the structure of a web page with correct internal links. You can do this manually, but it is very time-consuming. The plugin analyses the text and suggests links to internal pages so you can easily connect them.
With the ability to analyze content comes the next best feature – the premium version of the plugin is able to offer five words or a combination of words that appear on the website most frequently. You can’t do this manually. Well, that not strictly true. You can do it, but only through long and painful content analysis, i.e. by simply counting words. This is crucial to understanding whether your content is compatible with the keywords you want to be associated with. Moreover, in the premium version of Yoast SEO, you can export all focus keywords and get a complete picture of how your SEO is doing. You can even create a downloadable CSV file with previously defined parameters. This enables you to draw some conclusions regarding pages that need more attention in terms of SEO.
But what if the promised content is not there anymore? A 404 Not Found Error page appears in its place. This is not an option with the Yoast SEO premium version. Whenever you delete some piece of the content – page or post – the plugin offers you the option to create a redirect to an appropriate page that is still available on your site. It means that search engines or customers, who have saved the old version of the content URL, will still be able to find the content they are interested in. All redirected pages can be easily managed in a separate section of the plugin, namely Redirect Manager. And your potential customers or customers will never get lost.
Compatibility with other content plugins
If you want to use Yoast SEO, as well as other content plugins, please check beforehand whether they are compatible. This mostly applies to different page builders. For example, you can always rely on Visual Composer, because the team of developers pays a lot of attention to compatibility issues. If you don’t check it, this can lead to a situation in which all the structure built around the content can’t be used effectively for SEO.
Want to learn more about SEO? Start with a simple 10 tips on how to improve your website SEO.