If you’re trying to do SEO on your WordPress website, you’ve probably come across the Yoast SEO plugin.
We’ll bet it’s actually the most downloaded plugin available on WordPress.
At the last count it has more than 27,000 reviews.
Yoast SEO is a pretty simple tool to use for improving search engine optimisation on your website.
You don’t need to know any code to install or use it, and it uses a basic traffic light system to show you how “search engine optimised” the content on a particular page is – or isn’t.
If you’re completely new to SEO, Yoast walks you through step by step what you need to do with your content to improve its chances of ranking in search.
From whether the page has enough content, to keyword density, to meta descriptions.
It can give you all the information you need to improve your website optimisation.
Plus, a lot of the main features you’ll need from a small website perspective come with the free version.
- Change your page’s SEO title
- Change the url slug and meta description
- Preview how the post shows up in search
- See how many times your primary keyword appears on the page
- Counts the number of internal links you’ve used
- Counts the number of external links you’ve used
- Let’s you know if you’ve used the keyword on previous pages
- Reviews your copy for readability
And all of this is free.
Getting Yoast SEO on your WordPress website
All you need to do to install Yoast on your website is go to the “plugins” tab on your WordPress dashboard.
Click add new.
You can segment the library by popular or featured plugins – which will usually put Yoast towards the top of the list.
Or, you can just type “Yoast” into the plugin search bar, as shown below:
Once you’ve found it, just click “install now” and when the button changes to “Activate” click that and Yoast will automatically be installed on your site.
You can now access it via the dashboard, under your installed plugins.
You’ll also see a new tab labelled “SEO” appear on the left side of the dashboard, and you can access Yoast through that:
How to use Yoast SEO
Now that you’ve got it installed, you can easily check the SEO of the content on a page before you’ve published it.
Or you can go back and revisit the SEO information on an existing page.
Yoast SEO details will automatically appear at the bottom of the page you are currently working on.
You can also skip down to it by clicking on “SEO” in the publish box on the right of the page:
At the bottom of the page, you’ll see that Yoast gives you a couple of options that it is reviewing on your page.
And the readability of the content on the page.
If you have the paid version, you can also link your social media profiles and get a preview of what the post would look like if someone shares it.
On the SEO tab, you’ll see the information you need to make sure you are optimising the page properly:
- You can enter your focus key phrase
- You’ll see a preview of how your post will appear in search results for both mobile and desktop
- There’s an “edit snippet” button which lets you change the order of the SEO title, the SEO slug and meta description.
The meta description editor also tracks the number of characters you use to ensure you stay the limit before Google would truncate the description:
Under this information you’ll get your SEO analysis of the page.
This is where the Yoast plugin provides information on the SEO attributes you’ve put on the page, and those which are either missing, or could be improved.
You’ll get an overall score from Red, Orange to Green depending on the score of the SEO page content.
Green is best, working down to Red which means there are more bad than good practises on the page.
Under the advanced options you can also add related keywords and phrases, mark the content as “cornerstone content” (meaning a high value page) and tell search engines whether to count links on the page of follow or no-follow.
You can also add breadcrumb titles (which are good for help users navigate between pages) and set a canonical URL (which would help search engines prioritise which page to rank if it was duplicated content).
Checking readability score
As well as the SEO score you get from Yoast SEO, you also get a readability score.
This is found next to the SEO tab at the bottom of the page you’re editing.
- Analyse your content to check how much Passive or Active voice you’re using
- Give you an average of how many sentences are over 20 words (along with the recommended maximum percentage)
- You’ll get a readability score base on the Flesch Reading Ease analysis
- Check paragraph length
- Analyse sub-heading distribution
- Check the number of sentences starting with the same words
Upgrading to Premium Yoast SEO
If you do decide to pay for the premium version of Yoast, you will get access to extra SEO tools that will help you manage and improve your site’s chances of ranking in search.
Some of these add ons include:
- Internal link suggestions
- Content insights to check the most used words or phrases on a page match your target keywords
- Focus keyword export tool to keep track of your keywords
- Automatic review of your most important pages with alerts when you haven’t updated them at all after six months
Making the most of your WordPress SEO
If you have set up a WordPress website, or already have one, then you’ll need to set up an SEO tool that can help ensure you stand a chance of being found in search.
Yoast SEO is a great tool because you get a lot of things you need for free, while you can always upgrade later as your business grows and you find yourself needing more resource.
It’s also simple to use and you don’t need any particular SEO skills or experience to use it.
If you’re not sure whether your WordPress SEO is at the level it should be, get a free technical SEO audit from one of our expert SEO consultants.
You’ll get a full SEO report, which will highlight the areas your website is performing well, with a guide of the steps you should take to improve your results.