Strategies like social media and paid advertising can be essential for an online publicity campaign. But recent statistics reveal more than 90 percent of online transactions are generated from search engine results. Since organic traffic plays a key role in building your brand, optimizing your WordPress site for search-ability is essential for growing your business.
Ranking on the front page of search engine result pages can be a difficult task. It takes time and resources. Still, only 0.63% of Google users click on a result from the second page. That means you must do everything you can to reach the first page of search results.
So, you need to optimize your website for search engines. Hence, it is crucial to understand how to use Yoast SEO and equally important to learn how to use Yoast SEO on WordPress.
What is the Yoast SEO plugin?
Yoast SEO is a comprehensive WordPress SEO tool. It helps you to optimize your WordPress website and webpages to rank higher in search engine result pages (SERPs).
Yoast was first developed in 2008 by the original designers of WordPress. Since then, it’s been downloaded millions of times for use on WordPress sites of many kinds. Yoast is easy to configure even for beginning users, and it has a robust set of features to satisfy more advanced site runners, as well.
The plugin offers a range of features you can use to leverage meta descriptions, title tags, and keywords and push your content to the front page. It can also help you to get rich results on Google – results featuring images, star ratings, products, and more.
Yoast SEO can be installed on any compatible self-hosted WordPress site for free from the WordPress Plugin Directory or downloaded directly from Yoast itself, where users can also sign up for a premium version that includes more features.
Installing Yoast SEO adds a new listing for SEO in your site’s admin dashboard. Opening this tab allows you to configure settings and determine what functions the Yoast plugin should perform.
Yoast automates SEO on multiple levels
Once installed and activated, Yoast provides tools for customizing SEO functions on every level, from content to custom URLs to even your title tags and meta descriptions.
Users can create templates for optimizing features, such as titles, URL and link structures, and meta descriptions for all the site’s main page types.
The plugin also generates and automatically updates an XML sitemap for better indexing. It’s possible to turn off indexing for certain pages or types of content and to put a temporary hold on indexing when a site is under construction.
Through Yoast, users can also submit site information, logos, and more to Google to create a knowledge graph: the detailed profile of a company or professional website that might appear in the sidebar of a Google search results page.
If you’re replacing other SEO plugins with Yoast, it allows you to import those existing default settings into Yoast before deleting those other plugins. Yoast comes with a detailed setup wizard that takes users through each step of configuring the plugin for WordPress.
How does Yoast improve your SEO?
Yoast SEO simplifies content optimization for search engines by:
- Providing SEO analysis so you know where to improve your website’s SEO.
- Helping you set a keyword and optimize your content for it.
- Monitoring the content’s age — so you can update it when required.
- Showing previews of how your content will look in the search results.
- Preparing your content for sharing on social media.
- Performing a readability assessment so you can optimize your writing for the target audience.
- Handling technical SEO — robots.txt, XML sitemaps, .htaccess files, and schema-structured data.
Besides these SEO and site management tools, you also get access to several free courses at Yoast SEO academy. By following these courses, you’ll learn about the best ways to optimize your site for search engines.
Downloading and installing Yoast SEO
Here is a quick guide to installing Yoast SEO on your website if you’re just getting started. If you prefer, you can follow the steps in the video instead.
- Log in to your WordPress site and open your WordPress dashboard.
- Click Plugins on the menu on the left.
- Near the top of your screen, click Add New.
- Type and search Yoast SEO in the search box.
- Click Install Now to install the plugin.
- Click Activate to activate the plugin on your website.
You have successfully installed and activated Yoast SEO on your website. It’s time to use Yoast SEO and optimize your website.
Note: For kickstarting your technical SEO, it is recommended that you follow the first-time configuration after installation.
How to set up Yoast SEO configuration wizard?
Setting up the Yoast SEO configuration wizard is a crucial step in optimizing your WordPress website for search engines. Below, we’ll walk you through the process with easy-to-follow steps:
Step 1: Access the Yoast SEO configuration wizard
- Log in to your WordPress admin dashboard.
- Navigate to the “SEO” tab, usually located on the left-hand side of your dashboard.
- Within the “SEO” tab, look for the “First-time SEO Configuration” section.
- Click on the “configuration wizard” link within this section. This action will take you to a new page where you can configure the fundamental settings for your website’s SEO.
Step 2: Configure Yoast SEO
Now that you’ve accessed the Yoast SEO Configuration Wizard, let’s go through each section:
- Determine whether your WordPress site needs to be indexed on search engine results pages (SERPs).
- If your site is live and not a development or staging site, choose Option A. This option allows Google and other search engines to discover and index your website.
2. Site type:
- Identify the type of website you are running, whether it’s a personal blog, online store, business website, or portfolio site.
3. Organization or person:
- Choose whether your website represents a person or an organization.
- If it represents an organization, provide your brand logo and picture.
- For personal websites, enter your name in the provided field.
- This information will be stored in your website’s metadata, enhancing its appearance in Google’s Knowledge Graph and providing accurate information to users.
4. Search engine visibility:
- Decide which content types (posts, pages, etc.) should be displayed in the search engine results.
- Make your selections and proceed to the next section.
5. Multiple authors:
- Specify the number of individuals who can publish content on your WordPress site.
- Providing this information helps Yoast SEO prevent duplicate content issues and ensures clarity for Google when indexing your web pages.
6. Title settings:
- Choose how you want your content headlines to appear in search results.
- Define the title separator, which is the symbol that separates your post title from your website name in the snippet preview.
- At this point, you’ve successfully configured all the essential settings.
Step 3: Additional options (Optional)
- The remaining sections of the Yoast SEO Configuration Wizard offer additional options such as subscribing to the Yoast SEO newsletter, accessing training courses, and selecting the Yoast SEO premium plan.
- If you’re interested in further enhancing your SEO efforts and want these additional features, you can select them as needed.
- If not, you can skip these sections and proceed to finish the configuration process.
By following these steps, you’ll have effectively set up the Yoast SEO configuration wizard to optimize your WordPress website for search engines.
Using Yoast SEO on your WordPress website
The Yoast SEO plugin is an excellent resource if you wish to optimize your content. Still, the results depend on how you use it. Let’s learn how to use the basics of Yoast SEO effectively.
1. Enter a focus key phrase
To reach the front page for relevant searches, you need to optimize for relevant keywords.
Suppose you manage a blog related to Italian cuisine. You would want it to show up in search results when someone searches for something related to lasagna, Italian Pizza, Risotto, and other Italian foods.
You can use Yoast SEO to make it easy for you.
In the Yoast SEO meta box, enter the desired focus phrase under the Focus key phrase.
As a result, you will see Yoast’s SEO analysis for the focus key phrase beneath it. It will let you know what you are doing right and what you are doing wrong.
For example, if your focus keyword is Risotto ingredients, it will tell you whether you need internal links and key phrases in headings and introduction. Also, it will tell you that you need to ensure key phrase density throughout the text.
2. Discover related key phrases
You shouldn’t optimize for one key phrase only. You will want to appear in search results of related key phrases too.
For example, in addition to Risotto ingredients, you should also try to have your webpage appear in search results for ingredients to make Risotto. For that, you need to find the related keywords that provide you with additional searches.
You can do so using Yoast by clicking on Get related key phrases below the focus key phrase text box.
A pop-up will show you the related key phrases and their volume and trend (average monthly searches over the last 12 months). You can choose the keywords relevant to your topic and with the desired volume and trend to optimize your content.
3. Add synonyms and related key phrases
Search engines like Google and Bing have grown intelligent. Instead of searching the web for exact words the user enters, search engines also look for synonyms and related phrases. This means that you can optimize your content without catering to awkward keywords.
You can add synonyms and related phrases for Yoast to analyze by clicking + Add synonyms and + Add related keyphrases. While it is a premium-only feature, you can benefit from it to create content without risking keyword stuffing.
4. Improve readability
Hard-to-read content can push away even the most interested website visitors. You need the readers to keep reading and stay on the page to achieve your goals.
How can you improve readability? You can make your content easier to read by using shorter sentences, writing in an active voice, and adding transition words. It also helps to keep your paragraphs short and organize them using subheadings.
Yoast SEO simplifies it for you by identifying all the readability issues through its algorithm. You can see the problems by opening the Readability tab in Yoast SEO.
5. Add SEO title and meta description
There’s no easy way to add an SEO title and meta description to a post without a WordPress plugin. With Yoast SEO, you can add it in seconds using the Google preview section.
Type in the SEO title and Meta description text boxes, and you will have your search snippet preview — the result you see in the search engine results — ready.
6. Add internal links
Internal links inform search engines about the structure of your website — which posts are related and which pages are important. You should, therefore, link to related posts while writing a post.
Still, adding links manually does take time and effort. In contrast, you can use Yoast’s premium plugin that offers internal linking suggestions as you write your article.
7. Add a slug
The slug identifies the location of a page on your website in an easy-to-read form.
For example, in this URL: www.yourwebsite.com/how-to-make-Risotto, the bolded portion is a slug.
While slugs have little impact on rankings, they help search engines and human users understand your content — leading to more clicks.
You can add a custom slug to the post using the Permalink setting in WordPress or, alternatively, in Yoast’s SEO tab. Wherever you add your slug, Yoast SEO will check whether it includes your keyword. If it doesn’t, the plugin will remind you to add it.
8. Add Schema structured data
Using Yoast SEO, you can add Schema structured data to your posts.
Suppose you are writing an FAQ post. By implementing proper Schema markup, you get the chance of rich results — questions and answers from your FAQ post — on search engine result pages.
You can add structured data by using the in-built option provided by Yoast SEO. Select a Page type and Article type according to your post from the Schema tab. If not required, you can leave the default template selected. You can change the defaults using the Search Appearance Settings if necessary.
Yoast SEO premium: Extra benefits!
Yoast provides both free and paid plans to its subscribers. You can get the basics of SEO done using the free version. For advanced SEO implementation, plus a few time-saving shortcuts, you can use the paid version.
The free version of Yoast offers a broad range of general SEO features, but the premium version includes several extensions that can be useful for certain kinds of sites.
Yoast News SEO optimizes sites specifically for appearing in Google Newsfeeds. Yoast Video SEO has additional tools for optimizing video, and Yoast Local SEO helps to make a site relevant for local area searches.
The premium version also has technical support, advanced webmaster tools, and a number of tutorials on using the various free and premium features of the plugin and its extensions.
Yoast Premium costs you $99 for use on a single website while providing you with a year of free updates and 24/7 support.
Here are some of the extra features that Yoast SEO Premium provides:
Search Engine Optimization
- Optimize for multiple related keywords and synonyms
- Export keyphrase data in CSV format — for easier management
- Save time with internal linking suggestions
- Find and solve SEO issues with SEO workouts
- Receive notifications about outdated content — usually content older than six months
- See an overview of pages with orphaned content
- Resolve duplicate content issues with the canonical URL tool
- Add and manage redirects for moved or deleted pages
Access to all Yoast SEO academy courses
- Learn about advanced SEO topics, including Technical SEO
- Follow additional WordPress courses
Better product experience
- Get 24/7 email support
- Enjoy an ad-free experience
Final thoughts: Use Yoast SEO to stay ahead of your competition
Organic search results still top the list of ways new customers can find the products and services they need. Whether you’re posting a freelance portfolio, launching an eCommerce store, or running a large corporate site, your WordPress site needs to be as search friendly as possible.
Related Content: The 13 Best WordPress Plugins (not named Yoast)
Whether you’re a new user or an experienced developer, the Yoast SEO plugin just may be the best all-around SEO solution for your self-hosted WordPress site.
Using Yoast SEO for WordPress, you can rank high on SERPs and drive traffic to your website. Even if you lack SEO know-how, you can benefit from the plugin and optimize your website content using its beginner-friendly interface.
Besides optimized webpages, you also need an optimized website that loads quickly and handles higher traffic that you will get after ranking higher. Try Bluehost’s WordPress hosting plans today and experience the difference!