What is the Yoast SEO Plugin?

Optimizing your WordPress website for search engines is a key factor for growing your business and establishing your authority online. Currently, WordPress users can choose from more than a hundred SEO plugins designed to improve the searchability of any self-hosted WordPress site; but the free Yoast SEO plugin tops the list. It’s a full-featured SEO solution that automates, optimizing just about every aspect of a website, with additional extensions that add even more features.

Do You Need an SEO Plugin?

Successful WordPress search engine optimization calls for more than adding relevant keywords to your site’s content. Search engine crawlers survey every part of your site for keywords and other features that could push it to the top of a search result page. Meta description, the title tag, URLs, site structure and many other elements are also indexed against a search engine’s current algorithm to determine a site’s relevance and quality. Managing all these elements manually can be time-consuming and ineffective – and many plugins are limited in the features they optimize.

Some sites, such as personal blogs, don’t really need high search visibility; but if your business or professional site needs traffic, it’s important to make it as accessible as possible. It is possible to optimize a site without the help of plugins. WordPress users with considerable development experience can work with a site’s core code to build in SEO features, but plugins like Yoast can optimize your WordPress site on both global and content-specific levels to make it as search friendly as possible. For these reasons, Yoast is one of the best WordPress plugins for blogs and small business owners.

The Yoast Plugin is a Sitewide SEO Solution

Yoast has been around since 2008, and it has been downloaded millions of times for WordPress sites of all kinds. And while many other plugins have been developed by WordPress users around the globe, Yoast remains popular, thanks to its many automated features and the fact that virtually all essential on-page SEO functions of Yoast are available in the free version.

Most WordPress plugins are easy to install, including SEO by Yoast. The Yoast Plugin can be installed on any self-hosted WordPress website directly from the WordPress plugin directory, or from the Yoast site itself. Once activated, Yoast works on a sitewide level to customize all the site’s URL structures and meta tags for indexing. Yoast also allows users to set up templates for optimizing titles and their meta description on all the site’s main page types so that the information is automatically inserted whenever a new page or post is created.

From Yoast, users can have the site verified and submit site information, company logos, and more to Google for generating knowledge – the detailed profile of a business or professional website that appears in the sidebar of a Google search. If you’re using Yoast on a site that already has SEO plugins installed, Yoast allows you to import the settings from those plugins.

Yoast includes options for linking social media accounts, creating and editing snippets and meta tags, and controlling the indexing of archives and specific pages. If your site is already up and running, you can direct Yoast to allow indexing immediately. If it’s still under construction, this plugin for WordPress can suspend indexing until the site is ready to go live.

Sitemaps that include all of a site’s pages and other elements can be used to boost search standings. Yoast can automatically generate an XML sitemap that’s ready for indexing and update the sitemap as changes are made to the structure and content of the site.

Yoast Page and Post Analysis “Grades” Your Content

Although many SEO functions can be automated with Yoast, it also works on a regular basis to analyze and offer feedback on every piece of content posted to your site. When you open your site’s content editor, the Yoast metabox also appears and asks you to enter a focus keyword.

With that information, Yoast evaluates the page or post content for maximum optimization and offers suggestions for improvement. A post or a page that includes the focus keyword in all the right places might receive an “A.” Content that doesn’t quite pass muster will get a lower grade, such as “C,” along with suggested tweaks to raise the score. If you like, Yoast will also evaluate your content for readability, using one of the many readability algorithms currently available.

Yoast Premium: Extensions, More Tools, and Support

Although the free version of Yoast includes a long list of essential SEO functions for any WordPress site, other features can be added with the help of its premium extensions. Yoast News SEO can optimize a site to improve its chances for appearing in Google News feeds, and Yoast Video SEO provides tools for optimizing video content. There’s also Yoast Local SEO, which positions a site for geographically relevant searches. Yoast SEO Premium also includes additional tools for webmasters, technical support, and numerous tutorials for using Yoast.

How to Setup Yoast SEO

Install the Yoast SEO plugin easily with one click from your site’s Plugins page. Choose “Add New” and select Yoast from the WordPress Plugin Directory. Click “Install” and then “Activate” once the installation is complete. A new listing will appear for SEO in the left sidebar menu of your admin dashboard. From here, you can customize Yoast SEO settings and set the automated functions you want Yoast to perform.

Yoast provides a lengthy setup wizard that walks you through each step for creating and customizing Yoast SEO settings. If you’re replacing other SEO plugins with Yoast, select “Import” to import their settings into Yoast. Then you can deactivate or delete those other plugins. Yoast settings can be changed at any time as your site evolves.

When setting up the plugin you will be able to do the following:

  • Connect your Search Console through the Webmaster tools tab
  • Create SEO title & meta descriptions under the SEO section
  • Generate XML sitemaps
  • Use the social tab to customize each social platform such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Instagram

and much more!

Whether you’re running a small business site or managing one for a large corporation, Yoast SEO provides the essential tools to optimize any self-hosted WordPress site for maximum searchability. With options for editing and managing features ranging from URLs and links to your site’s current content and archives, the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin makes SEO easy for your WordPress site, even if you don’t know a thing about code.

It is always important to follow SEO best practices. Don’t forget to set up Google Analytics and be aware of duplicate content.

To discover the best WordPress plugins or for further assistance on setting up Yoast, feel free to review our website or talk to one of our helpful representatives today.

Machielle Thomas
Machielle Thomas | Content Manager
Machielle Thomas writes and curates web and email content for marketing professionals, small business owners, bloggers, and more.

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