A Beginners Guide to Yoast
What is SEO?
Before we delve into exactly what Yoast is, let’s first explain was SEO is. SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimisation’. Put simply, it’s the science behind getting your website ranked higher on search engines such as Google and Bing. It’s a complex art that is ever changing due to Google, for example, changing their algorithms multiple times each year. Mastering SEO can be firstly very complicated and very frustrating. However, companies have gone out of their way to come up with ways of helping you create SEO friendly content without overloading you with jargon left right and centre.
There are different parts of SEO that you’ll need to get your head around. If you use WordPress, which is one of the most popular web development tools on the web, you’re in luck. WordPress accounts for around a third of all websites currently on the internet. And there is a plugin you can download for free called Yoast. The team there at Yoast have mastered explaining how to make your content SEO effective without adding the slightest bit of confusion. First, you’re going to want to install Yoast by going to Plugins and then to Add New. It should come up as one of the recommended, but if not, go ahead and search for it.
Once you’ve installed Yoast you can change your settings by navigating to SEO on the left-hand menu of your WordPress dashboard. This is where you’re going to want to go ahead and run the first-time configuration. There will be a total of 10 steps you’re going to run through now.
Setting it up for the first time
The first is ‘Environment’. Go for Option ‘A’ if your website is live and ready to go. If you’re still working on your website, opt for ‘B’.
Secondly, it’s going to know what type of website you’re running. This is so it can further suggest tips more relevant to your business. Go ahead and choose whether your website is a blog, a news channel, a shop, or even something else.
The third step is to tell Yoast whether your website is a personal website for yourself or whether it’s for a company. If it is indeed for a company, you’re going to need the company name and the company logo. If the website is just for you, it will only need your name.
For ‘Search Engine Visibility’ keep both of the boxes ticked as ‘Yes’ and click next. Now it’s going to want to know whether your site is going to have multiple authors. In essence, is it going to be just you writing for your website, or someone else as well? The reason it’s asking this is so that it can stop someone else posting something you already have.
Now we’re going to move on to something called ‘Google Search Console’. This is a tool from the Search Engine Giant that allows it to understand the layout of your website and how your website works. This is not something you have to do right now however, but going forward it’s crucial that this is set up. However for now let’s just focus on Yoast.
The last steps
Right, the next step is to choose a title for your website. This is going to be the main strap of the search result that people are going to see when your website appears in Google. Here you can choose the title of your website, for example do you want it ‘Website Name – #1 In Our Industry’ or something different?
The last two steps of the wizard are simply asking if you want to sign up for the newsletter, which is advised as Yoast is constantly changing and adding new features. And whether you want to purchase Yoast Premium, which of course is up to you. Once you’ve clicked next, you’re all done. Yoast is now set up. Now let’s have a look at how it helps you optimise your content.
Getting to grips with Yoast
Now, the first thing we’re going to look at is called the ‘Meta Box’. You’ll find this underneath the text editor for when you’re creating content for a page. On the left hand side of it you’ll see three icons, the first should be a set of traffic lights, which is where you can see a preview of the search result. The second allows you to tailor options for sharing on social media, and the third is the advanced options.
The first tab on the left, the traffic lights, is what we’re focusing on. You’ll see a button here called ‘Edit Snippet. If you go ahead and click this, you’ll be able to customise your title. The SEO title is the main title strap that people are going to see when they search in for your website. After that is a Meta Description. This is where, in a few lines, you’re going to want to tell the audience a bit more about your offerings in the hope they click through. These must be the two most focused parts of your Search Engine Optimisation strategy.
Another important part of Search Engine Optimisation is called ‘Readability’. This part of the plugin basically assesses how readable your content is. After all you don’t want to be confusing the reader with long sentences or with a lack of transition words. Here it will provide you pointers for improvement. You’ll be given a score also which is out of 100. This reflects the level of reading ease of your content. The higher your score is, the easier the content will be to understand.
How have I done so far?
The team at Yoast have made it super-simple to understand how well you’ve done in terms of your Search Engine Optimisation. It operates by a traffic light system. Both SEO and Readability will both show a red, orange or green smiley face. The red means that there are heavy areas for improvement, orange, a few areas, and green means you’re doing well. You will be able to see the status of your smiley faces by navigating to the Meta box which we visited before: –
A final few tips
Now you’ve got yourself to grips with Yoast. We’re going to leave you with a final few tips to help you optimise your content as much as possible. The first tip is to always consider your keyword. Typically you’re going to want your keyword to appear 2 or 3 times in a 500 word blog. This keyword is also going to be key (pardon the pun) to where you’ll appear on Google. If you’re a business, do some research, find out what keywords competitors already on the first page are using. In addition to this, make sure any images you put onto your page are linked to this keyword, after all, they’re just as effective as the content you’re writing.
Also, always use subheadings. Nothing will put off a reader more than coming across a huge big block of text. It confuses them and will put them off wanting to begin reading. Using headings and subheadings breaks down the text, and allows for your reader to see what each part of the text is about. And finally, always check on the Yoast website. They’re constantly adding new features in every few months in an effort to keep up with the ever-changing algorithms of Google, Bing and the rest.