So you’ve been listening to all these bloggers and entrepreneurs harping on about SEO and getting noticed in search results, they chat on about keywords, links and all of that complicated stuff. There are hundreds, if not thousands of people offering tips and advice on SEO that never fail to flood your feeds, but none of it makes any sense!
Then, there’s a shining glimmery light at the end of the confusing SEO tunnel, Yoast SEO! A tool WordPress users love to use and something that apparently makes you an SEO wizard overnight.
But it doesn’t actually work like that.
What is Yoast SEO?
Yoast is a plugin that you can download and add to your WordPress website, to help you get on top of the basics of SEO. A lot of content creators use it to help them get the right amount of keywords, internal links and headings in their website’s content. Whether it’s blog posts or landing pages, the tool uses a traffic light system to help you know when your content is perfectly optimised.
I want to make one thing very clear though… IT IS NOT A MAGIC SEO TOOL THAT MAKES YOUR WEBSITE FULLY OPTIMISED FOR SEO AT THE TOUCH OF A BUTTON!
Many site owners seem to have it in their head that as soon as they download the plugin, and once they’ve reached ‘green‘ status, that their website is at the top of its SEO game, this is not the case.
What does Yoast SEO do?
The Yoast SEO plugin works as a guide to give you some sort of inclination as to whether your website is optimised correctly. It looks at the changes you’ve made to the content on your blog/website and offers suggestions as to how you can improve your SEO further.
The Yoast SEO panel
This is your Yoast panel, it appears underneath your main content box when you start to edit a post or a page. Let’s take a look at some of the features, shall we?
This is the default panel you’ll see when you go into edit mode, it is marked by the little traffic light over on the left-hand side. This icon changes from red, amber to green the more you optimise your content for your chosen keyword (we’ll get to that in a second).
The readability tab tells you how easy your content is to read. It looks at things like how many words are in a sentence, tone of voice, subheadings and paragraphs. Yoast wants to make your content as amazing as possible, as it has been suggested that Google takes this into consideration when it comes to SEO.
The keyword helps you to optimise your page or post for a specific keyword. It will also tell you if you’ve already specified the same keyword for a different piece of content on your website. This is extremely helpful, as if you try and rank 2 blogs or pages for the same keyword, you may get Google a little confused as to which one is the most relevant, which will actually hurt your chances of ranking!
Once you’ve put your keyword in here, you’ll notice that the little traffic light system kicks into action. It will take a look at your content and let you know how well it is optimised for that focus keyword.
You’ll also notice underneath the keyword section that it says ‘analysis‘ and then has a few subheadings, starting with ‘problems‘. This list is to give you suggestions what you can fix in order to better optimise your content for your keyword. The more of these ‘problems‘ you fix, the closer you will be to that green light!
The snippet preview shows you what your post or page will look like in search results. This includes the meta title (most WordPress sites use the title of the page or post automatically), the URL and the meta description.
You can edit all of this information by clicking on the ‘edit snippet‘ section, which will allow you to edit the meta title and description. You can then start to optimise both of these for your keyword if they aren’t already.
Yoast also tells you if your meta description is an optimal length by using a coloured bar underneath the edit box. Once it turns green, you’ve got an optimal length meta description on your hands.
You know when you share your blog post or page on social media and it automatically comes up with that little thumbnail and snippet box? Well, this is where you sort all that jazz out!
— Cat Crawford (@CatCrawf) April 13, 2018
Through Yoast, you can determine what the title and description of your post will be when it pops up and what image is used. All you have to do is fill it out, choosing a title and description that makes people want to click!
The advanced tab is not really something you’ll want to mess about with too much, especially if you’re not overly tech savvy.
In this tab, you can decide whether Google’s little robots pay attention to your content. Sometimes we’ll make a post or page that we want on our website, but we don’t really want it to rank. This can be things like members-only content or sensitive information.
You can then change the meta robots to no follow, or follow, depending on your preference. It also comes in handy if you have a hefty e-commerce website and need to delve into the world of canonical tags, but we won’t go into that just yet!
Should I be using Yoast SEO?
The truth is, it’s not an absolute necessity, but if you’re just starting out or like to be as thorough as possible, then it definitely comes in handy.
With its analysis and tips, it will make things a lot easier when it comes to targeting certain keywords. Getting that green traffic light can ease our minds and ensure that we are at least on the right track when it comes to SEO.
Remember: SEO is NOT just about shoving a load of keywords into your content and expecting to appear at number 1 in a week. It also includes the tech side of your website, site speed, backlinks and quality of content, something that Yoast doesn’t have the power to inform you on!
If you have any questions about SEO or just want to know a little more about Yoast, leave me a comment below, or better yet, get in touch!