Why I Love Yoast SEO

Yoast SEO boasts that they can make sure our site meets the highest technical SEO standards. I believe it. So, let’s have a look at it.

Yoast SEO for WordPress is a plug-in that’s available in your plugin library. Once you’ve uploaded and activated it, it will be available in your dashboard. On the left-hand side, you will find the SEO plug-in, underneath there are a few different tabs. At the top of these different tabs, just underneath YSEO, there is a general tab.

Yoast SEO Configurations

Press the General tab and you will see the General SEO page with this at the top-

Click on the blue underlined writing and you will be taken to the SEO workout. Click on the Start Workout button to begin the configuration process.

On the next screen, you should get a confirmation that the SEO data optimization complete message. Scroll down a little to number 2 which has the heading ‘Site representation’. In the section that asks whether you are an organization or a person, you would put in either that you are a person or a company. Next, in the name section, you would type in the name of your company or you as a person. So, for example, we would type in hngmedia Ltd. Next, you can decide whether you want to upload your logo into Yoast SEO or not. Add your site tagline, then save and continue.

A bit further down you have the choice to put your social links in, then press the continue button. Number 4 gives you the option of whether or not you want to allow them to track your site data to help improve their services:

You can decide which option to click, then press the save and continue button. 

Newsletter

The following allows you to sign up for their newsletter, this newsletter is something I find very useful. Then you can click on ‘Finish workout’.  If you go back into the ‘General’ tab you will now be back on this page as below: 

You will see four tabs at the top which are Dashboard, Features, Integration, and Webmaster Tools. Click onto the features tab and make sure that the SEO Analysis, Readability Analysis, Cornerstone Content, and Text Link Counter are on. 

Sitemap

The next button to turn on is the XML sitemaps. Then click on the blue underlined link to ‘See the XML sitemap’. Once you click this, you will be taken to your website’s sitemap page. Go up to the URL in the address bar, highlight it, and copy. Next, head back to the dashboard and choose Tools underneath SEO. This will take you to the SEO Tools page where you will have four options to choose from. You need to click on the ‘File Editor’ option where you will either get straight onto the robots.txt or they will ask you to optimize your database. Click to optimize and wait for it to complete.

As soon as it’s completed, click into the robots.txt box and type Sitemap: then paste the URL. So, ours would look like this – Sitemap: https://hngmedia.co.uk/sitemap_index.xml. Click to save the changes (always remember to save any changes you make to your site).

Another Way

Not sure you want to go into the robots.txt? That’s fine, there is an alternative way to get your sitemap up on your website. Ok, so you’ve copied the URL from your sitemap page.

Next, go back to the dashboard and scroll down the left-hand side until you get to ‘Appearance’. Under ‘Appearance’, a bit further down, there is a menu item called Menus. Click into this and you will be taken to the Menus page. I normally like to keep my legal menus and sitemap together in the footer menu. So, with this in mind, in the ‘Select Menu to edit’ drop-down, choose the Footer Menu (if you’ve already set it up).

On the left-hand side of the page, there are more menu items, choose ‘Custom Links’ and open it up. There is now a place for you to insert the URL you copied from the sitemap page. Once you’ve pasted this URL in, click on the ‘Add To Menu’ button. The menu item will now appear at the bottom of the footer menu. Click the dropdown on the menu item and, under the URL, there is a ‘Navigation Label’, type Sitemap, then save. Go to the front of the website and scroll down to the footer area. Here you will see that the Sitemap menu item has been added.

Drag And Drop

If you want to change the order of the menu items, then head back into ‘Appearance’ then ‘Menus’. Find the ‘Footer Menu’ and drag and drop the menu items into the correct order.

Toggling

When you create a page you can toggle between the WordPress dashboard and the Yoast SEO dashboard like this –

Where I have circled in red, you can see all your WordPress settings for this page in the right-hand panel. You’ll be able to signify who the Author is (although this should be displayed through the user account anyway, you can change it here too). You can set your page Featured Image and any excerpts etc in this side panel setting. The Visibility section will reveal whether the post/page is currently Public or Private or whether it’s in Draft. Above the status visibility, you have a Block option to click onto. This allows you to choose a Paragraph building block, choose the text and background colour, and the typography size.

Yoast Toggle

Whereas, in the toggle that I have circled Blue, you can view how your page is doing in the SEO. You can see Focus Keyphrase with a textbox underneath. Here, you need to type what you want your keyphrase to be for your web page. The Readability Analysis will focus on what needs to be achieved to make your text as readable as possible. It will examine your text and inform you if you are using a passive or active voice, it prefers active. The readability analysis also notifies you when there is more than one consecutive sentence that starts with the same word! The SEO Analysis helps to identify any improvements that need to be made to make sure you get the ranking that your site deserves. This includes adding keyphrases to your images, internal links, keyphrase in subheadings, outbound links, featured images, meta descriptions, etc.

The Traffic Lights

Yoast SEO offers a traffic light system to alert you to any changes that may need to be made.  So, you will start off with red lights as shown below:

You may get comments such as ‘Not enough content‘. However, as you start putting your content in, you’ll notice those lights will begin to change, very slowly (unless of course, you’re an expert). I begin by writing everything in, then have a look at what can be improved. Try to focus on making your sentences 20 words or less and paragraphs of 150 words or less. This really does help to kick it off in the right direction. Your keyword should be in the first paragraph as well as every so often on your page.

Meta Description

Your meta description is really important as this is the bit that will be displayed on Google. If you don’t specify a meta description, then Google may pick bits out of your page. If you prefer to be in control of what they display, make sure you choose an interesting part of your page for the meta description. You need the description to be short and to the point. Make your customers want to read more so they make their way to your website.

Our overall aim when using Yoast SEO, is to make all of the traffic lights green as below: 

Once you’ve tried everything mentioned above, you can use the Yoast SEO guidance to continue to make the necessary tweaks.

The Eye

As part of their package (free or premium) many of their improvement advice has an eye on the right-hand side. If you press this, it will highlight the area of text that needs to be changed. It will also give you valuable documentation on how to make changes.

Cornerstone Content

Have you written something that you’re absolutely desperate for people to read? Then why not make it a cornerstone content. The guidance for this is a little stricter. For example: instead of the 300 words or more needed for your content, you must produce 900 words or more. Everything must be continuously up to date and optimised for your audience. For the premium users, remember that workout you completed at the beginning? Well, the cornerstone content guidance has one too. This is a really helpful tool to help optimize your cornerstone content. It helps to recognise where to put your links too.

There are so many tools that can be used to help improve a websites SEO, some are better that others. I personally prefer Yoast SEO so I’m sharing this with you. This article has only touched the surface of what Yoast SEO has to offer. I discover new features and ways of doing things with Yoast SEO every time I use it. If I was to include everything that the Plug in has to offer, this would no longer be a blog article, but a book!