The Beginners Guide To Using Yoast for WordPress SEO

Michael Jenkins
Michael Jenkins

CEO - Shout Agency
[email protected]

WordPress powers 750 million websites on the Internet. There are many reasons why people flock to this powerful CMS, one being that it’s SEO friendly by default. WordPress generates clean coding that adheres to good SEO practices. Its themes and features are also built in a way that inspires search engine bots to seamlessly navigate through the network of web pages and posts for indexation. But even then, to maximize your organic traffic, especially from the Google search engine, every WordPress site should be using a third-party SEO plug-in. 

The world of WordPress SEO can be complex and intimidating, especially if you are a beginner. Also, this field is ever-evolving because the algorithms that underlies the major search engines like Google are constantly updating their policies. But don’t worry because when it comes to WordPress, there is a plug-in for everything. One of the most popular SEO plug-in in the market today is Yoast. Close to 8 million websites use this plugin  to keep their overall site SEO ready. 

What exactly is Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO is a comprehensive search engine optimization plug-in that optimizes your post and page for keywords. While there is a premium version available for this plug-in that is loaded with elite features, the basic free version does come with all the core SEO requirements that will fulfill most website owner’s needs.

How to install Yoast SEO

  • Go to your WordPress dashboard,
  •  Click on the “Plug-ins” tab from the panel on the left side of the dashboard
  • Search for ‘Yoast SEO’. 
  • Click ‘Install Now’ 
  • Once the installation is complete, click ‘Activate’

How to use Yoast SEO

Yoast makes it extremely easy for you to optimize the titles, meta-descriptions and other key areas on your web pages with focus keywords. And, it tracks keyword density, manages sitemap and more. Yoast SEO performs content analysis across two different areas– readability and SEO analysis.

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Readability analysis

Content should always be written in a way that’s easy for your target audience to understand. Yoast SEO’s Readability analyzes your post for its comprehensibility. When your articles are clear and concise, your readers will be able to excavate the message of your content faster instead of feeling intimidated by it. This plug-in conducts readability checks based on the following factors:

  • Transition words – These are words, like because and therefore, that improves the flow of your text between sentences and even paragraphs. They relay to the readers the connectivity between ideas.
  • Sentence beginnings– Scans through the text to identify repeated words at the beginning of the sentences. If most of your sentences begin with the same words, the flow of the text will feel awkward and robotic to the readers.
  • Assess difficulty level- Yoast uses Flesch Reading Ease test– one of the commonly used and accurate reading tests– to determine how hard it is for an average reader to understand your content.
  • Paragraph length- Scans content for extremely lengthy paragraphs. Online readers prefer content that contains short paragraphs. 
  • Subheading distribution– Subheadings are essential anchor points that guides the readers to important sections of the content. A piece of content with no subheadlines looks daunting to read. Yoast ensures that you are using enough subheadings to help ease along the readers through the article. 
  • Sentence length– Alerts you of any extremely long sentences (over 20 words), as these can see convoluted to the readers. 
  • Passive voice – Passive voice can make content seem impersonal while making the sentences unnecessarily long. Yoast will highlight the sentences on your content that seem to be using passive language. 

SEO analysis

Just like it’s imperative that you dress up your web pages with valuable content, it’s also important that you optimize them for your focus keywords. Yoast’s SEO analysis feature helps you ensure that your website copy is using your target keywords at all the important areas. Here are some of the factors it takes into account: 

  • Single H1 assessment– Checks if the post contains only one H1 tag and that too located at the beginning of the post.
  • Keyphrase density– Examines the length of your main keyphrase. As a general rule of thumb for good SEO practice, longer keyphrases should be used less often than a shorter  focus keyphrase.
  • Outbound links– Ensures that the text contains external links.
  • Image alt attributes– Checks the number of images that are using your main keyphrase in alt text, and ensures it isn’t being used too much. 
  • Keyphrase in title– Checks to see whether or not you are using the keyphrase in the beginning of your title.
  • Keyphrase in subheading Looks for the inclusion of your main keyphrase within subheading. 
  • Text length– Checks if the body of content on all webpages have at least 300 words, so you don’t get penalized by Google for ‘thin content’. 
  • Meta description length- A good meta descriptions falls between 120 and 156 characters.
  • Keyphrase in Meta description– Ensures that your focus keyword is included in your meta description.
  • Previously used keyphrase- Ensures that the keyphrase you are using as your focus keyword hasn’t been used in your other webpages. Otherwise, this can cause the pages to compete with each other for the same keyword.
  • Keyphrase in slug- Focus keyword must be included in your URL.  This way your readers will know what the content of the page is about just looking at the URL. 
  • Internal links- Makes sure that you are linking to at least one other related content on another page within your own website.

Yoast SEO is an extremely useful plugin for WordPress users. This plugin adds an element of seamlessness in an otherwise complex world of SEO. With Yoast SEO, you can easily perform onsite optimization for every piece of new content you add to the website.

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