One of my favorite WordPress plugins that I use almost daily and recommend to all my web design clients is Yoast SEO. Out of the box, WordPress is uniquely well equipped for SEO, or search engine optimization. But with a plugin like Yoast, intentionally ranking your WordPress site is made easy and intuitive. Since I’m all about helping people build intentional businesses with ease, it’s high time I created a Yoast SEO WordPress tutorial.
Before we dive in, here’s a quick refresher on why SEO is so important. SEO is a strategy that every website owner can implement in order to drive more traffic to their site. If the website is optimized for conversion, increased traffic can lead to increased sales and subscribers. I can tell you from personal experience that SEO works–it has helped me grow my email list, book discovery calls, and land new clients. SEO is a long-term strategy, and it can several months of hard work in order to see results. But if done well, it’s worth the effort.
What is Yoast SEO?
Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress, and for good reason. It’s robust, secure, easy to use, and best of all, free. Although Yoast does have a premium version for large, technical sites, the free plugin has all the features you need to start ranking your website through SEO. Personally, I’ve only ever used the free version of Yoast, and I have several blog posts that rank on the first page of Google.
One important caveat to keep in mind: using Yoast SEO does not guarantee that your website will rank in search engines. Likewise, it’s possible to rank your site without using an SEO plugin at all. But if you want an easy way to improve your chances of ranking your WordPress website in search engines, Yoast is for you.
How to install Yoast SEO on WordPress
In this tutorial, I’m breaking down step-by-step how to install Yoast on WordPress and then use it to optimize your content for SEO. Keep reading to learn how to use this amazing plugin to rank your website in search engines and reel in more sales and subscribers, without spending a cent on ads.
1. Install the Yoast plugin
Step one in this Yoast SEO WordPress tutorial is to install the Yoast plugin. To do so, make sure you’re logged into your WordPress dashboard. Then, navigate to the Plugins tab, and click on Add New.
Type “Yoast SEO” into the search bar. When the plugin appears, click on Install, and then Activate.
Now that the plugin is installed, a new tab called “SEO” will appear in your dashboard menu. Voila! You’ve now installed Yoast. But before you start using it, you need to configure a few settings in order to ensure you get the best results.
2. Import data from other SEO plugins
If you were using a different SEO plugin prior to installing Yoast, you’ll need to first import your data. If you weren’t using another SEO plugin, skip this step.
To import your settings from other SEO plugins, navigate to the Tools section of the plugin, and click on “Import and Export”. Then, follow the instructions to complete the importation process.
3. Run the configuration wizard
Now, it’s time to run Yoast’s handy configuration wizard, found under the General settings. Click to run the wizard and follow the prompts.
4. Customize features
Finally, the last step in the installation and setup process is to customize your plugin features. To do so, click on the Features tab in the General settings. Here you’ll see a number of different features that you can toggle on or off. If you don’t know what a particular feature does, you can click on the question mark icon for more info.
Generally, you’ll want most of these features to be on in order to get the most out of Yoast SEO.
How to use Yoast to optimize your content
Now that Yoast is installed and properly configured, we’re ready to move into the exciting part of this SEO WordPress tutorial: using Yoast to optimize your content. You can use Yoast on any of your website pages, as well as on blog posts.
Although it’s possible to rank any of your website pages, for instance your home and services pages, I highly recommend blogging if you’re serious about SEO (read this post to find out why). Each blog post creates an opportunity to rank for a new keyword. The more blog posts you’re able to rank in search engines, the more traffic you’ll get. In contrast, if your website only has five pages, you’re going to have a hard time being visible in search engines–there just isn’t enough content to rank for.
Without further ado, let’s dive into how to use Yoast SEO to optimize your content on WordPress.
Using the Yoast metabox
In order to optimize your content with Yoast, you’ll need to use the Yoast metabox. Once Yoast is installed, this metabox appears underneath your page and post content. If you use the WordPress block editor, you can also access the metabox in your sidebar.
The focus keyphrase
The first field in the Yoast meta box or sidebar is the focus keyphrase. This is where you’ll enter your main keyword for the page. Once you’ve entered your focus keyphrase, Yoast performs an analysis of your content based on that keyphrase.
In order to get the best results out of Yoast SEO, it’s important to choose a long-tail keyword that your ideal customers are searching for. Avoid using generic, single words like “branding” or “photography.” It’s going to be near impossible to rank for those words when you’re just starting out. In the example above, my focus keyphrase was “personal branding tips.” This is a term that I know my ideal clients are searching for, and it’s specific enough that I have a shot at ranking for it.
In order to improve your chances of ranking in search engines, it’s important that you write content that is easy to consume. Overly long sentences and paragraphs, too much passive voice, and lack of subheadings are all red flags that signal to search engines that your content is hard to read. In effect, poor readability damages your SEO score.
Fortunately, Yoast makes it easy to improve your writing with their readability analysis feature. This feature not only assesses your content’s overall readability, but also gives you specific suggestions on how to improve it. Ideally, you’ll want to get a green smiley face for readability.
The SEO analysis tab scores your content based on how well it’s optimized for your focus keyphrase. In addition, it checks for other important SEO factors, such as whether you’ve included internal and outbound links, images with alt attributes, and a meta description. Another handy feature is that it shows the word count of your content.
As with the readability analysis, aim to get a green smiley face for your SEO analysis score. Keep in mind, these smiley faces don’t guarantee that your content will rank; they don’t take into account how strong your keyword is and how optimized your website is for off-page SEO. But a green score does tell you that your on-page SEO is on the right track.
The other feature you’ll see in the Yoast SEO metabox is the Google preview. As the title suggests, this section provides a preview of how your page will look in search engine results. There are three different fields that you can and should customize here:
- SEO title: Write a descriptive title that includes your focus keyphrase.
- Slug: The slug should be as short as possible and includes your focus keyphrase.
- Meta description: Take the time to write a brief meta description that, again, includes your focus keyphrase and entices search engine users to click onto your website.
Once you’ve gotten your readability and SEO analysis scores to green and optimized your Google preview, you’re all done using Yoast to optimize your content!
Related post: 7 easy ways to improve SEO on your website
I hope you found this Yoast SEO WordPress tutorial helpful. SEO is a beast, but with the help of an intuitive plugin like Yoast, you’ll be well on your way to ranking your website and attracting more targeted, organic traffic through search engines.
If you’re interested in learning more about SEO, I’d love to invite you to enroll in my mini course, The SEO Essentials Kit. In this beginner-friendly course, I’m teaching the fundamentals of SEO that you need to know in order to start ranking on Google and steadily grow your website traffic.
In the course, I’ll share the exact strategy I’ve used for the past few years to turn my blog into my #1 source of client inquiries for my design services. No social media necessary. Whether you’re a service provider, blogger, or e-commerce business owner, SEO can help you grow a loyal fan base and increase your revenue sustainably. SEO Essentials Kit will show you how.
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