How to Use Yoast SEO
Digital marketers, website administrators and business owners know that to successfully manage a website, it’s important to find efficient methods of monitoring, and updating, your website. If your site is already managed in a Content Management System, or CMS, like WordPress, then you probably already see the benefit of having quick and easy ways of working on your website.
One of the most exciting benefits of utilizing a CMS like WordPress is having the ability to download, and integrate, plugins. WordPress plugins provide extra functionality that you can add to your existing website, and plugins encompass a wide variety of features and opportunities to help your site perform more efficiently.
One of the most popular plugins, Yoast SEO, helps websites in an important way: focusing on SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, initiatives. As website owners continue to see the value of improving SEO for higher ranking in search engine result pages, there’s never been a better time to evaluate what an SEO-focused plugin like Yoast can add to your website.
Let’s explore where you can find the Yoast SEO plugin, and how you can start using it for your website.
Where to get the Yoast plugin
The Yoast SEO plugin is available to any websites that are built in WordPress, one of the most popular CMS’s available to website administrators today. If you already do currently own a WordPress site, then you can activate Yoast SEO in the same process you use for all plugins.
If this is your first time adding a plugin, then you’re in luck, because it is quite a simple process! Once you log in to your WordPress dashboard, find the “Plugins” option in the left-hand side. Here, you have the ability to view your existing plugins, or search for a new one.
A quick search for Yoast should turn up a result for the Yoast SEO plugin, and at this point, you can download it to your WordPress site. It’s important to remember that plugins still need to be activated after they are downloaded, so you will not be able to begin using Yoast SEO until the plugin has completed its download, and you click “Activate”.
Navigating the Yoast SEO plugin features
The Yoast SEO plugin is currently available in both a free, and premium, version. In this article, we’ll be focusing on five popular features that are included in both versions, and how each feature can be utilized to improve your website’s SEO performance.
- Page analysis
Unlike many plugins, Yoast SEO provides options to utilize its tools on a page-by-page level. Once the Yoast plugin is activated in WordPress, you will notice a Yoast SEO meta box that populates underneath the content of your pages and posts within WordPress admin. In this box, you can add a “target keyword” or the primary focus of the content that you are hoping to rank for.
The Yoast SEO plugin will then analyze your content, title tag, url, meta description and more to provide feedback on how well your page is optimized for that keyword. For digital marketers or website owners who value SEO, this analysis is a quick, convenient way to identify any prominent issues with the existing content, as well as identify opportunities for improvement prior to publishing the page or post.
- Title tags and meta descriptions
Within the Yoast SEO meta box, you will also find a snippet editor. By clicking “edit snippet” you have the ability to edit the title, slug and meta description of your post or page.
The value of using the snippet editor for updating titles and meta descriptions is two-fold. First, it’s extremely convenient to edit the title and meta as you publish content. This is often an overlooked, or time-consuming step of manually adding a new page to a site, yet neglecting to optimize your titles and meta descriptions can have a serious impact on your SEO performance.
The other key benefit of utilizing Yoast SEO for titles and metas is that the editor provides a visual representation of how your chosen title tag and meta description will appear in search engine results. When your title tag or meta description is too long or short, the snippet editor will also indicate that there’s an issue with length by turning the text red.
XML sitemaps, a type of sitemap designed to help search engines effectively crawl your website, is another advantage of utilizing the Yoast SEO plugin. Within the General section of this plugin, you have the option to enable an XML sitemap by simply toggling the XML sitemap section to “On”. A benefit of using this plugin for XML sitemaps is that it updates automatically when pages are added, saving you time and eliminating another step of adding new pages.
- Search Console
If you already have a Google Search Console account – the tool that allows you to carefully manage crawl errors, sitemaps and more – you can quickly link it up to your Yoast SEO plugin. Once you connect your Search Console account, and provide necessary verification information, you will be able to view crawl errors and URL issues within WordPress.
- Advanced Settings
For experienced marketers and tech-savvy website owners, it’s a good idea to check out the Advanced section of Yoast SEO for additional features and tools. Within the advanced configuration options, you can adjust items such as permalinks, redirect attachments and URL slugs.
Why websites should consider trying out Yoast SEO
If you have a site that’s built in WordPress, you already have everything you need to test Yoast SEO and see if the options and functionality makes the management of your site easier, and more effective. More importantly, as SEO continues to have a significant impact on the digital success of businesses around the world, the utilization of time-saving tools that provide SEO benefits can make all the difference.
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