It is important to have tools to take control of your site’s SEO.
Yoast SEO makes it easy to start doing just that. Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is the process of trying to improve or optimize your website to make it easy for search engines such as Google to find and understand your content. By doing so, you have the opportunity to increase traffic to your website through improved rankings and appearance in organic search results. While SEO is a large and complex process, there are some simple “best practice” things that every website owner can do to help improve their organic performance. The Yoast SEO plugin is a helpful tool we recommend when working on optimizing your WordPress website. Although there is also a Premium version, we find the standard version is sufficient for most websites. (If you’re looking to do advanced SEO work, talk to your Account Director about upgrading to the Premium version of Yoast.)
Setup and Connection
If we’ve installed Yoast on your site, we have also completed all of the setup steps such as configuration settings and connection to your Google Search Console. Nothing more is needed—you’re ready to go!
To improve your performance in search engines, on-page improvements are a great place to start your SEO efforts and the place where you’re likely to make the most impact. Yoast’s tools help make it easy to do this work. You will find the “Yoast SEO” tools in a section below the content editing area of any page or post on your site. When you locate that section, click on the arrow to the right of “Yoast SEO” to expand the section and make your edits.
Yoast can help you evaluate various SEO elements on your page, but only if it knows what keyword you’re trying to rank well for. Use the “Focus keyphrase” box to tell Yoast the 1 keyword you’d like to focus on for that particular page or post.
Snippet Preview/Edit Snippet
The “Snippet Preview” feature will show you what you might expect search engines to show when your page shows up in search results based on the current content and settings of your page. To change what displays and optimize for your keyword, click “Edit snippet“.
The “SEO Title” is the main title or topic of your page. Typically this will be your page name or post title, followed by your site’s name. (This will automatically be generated if you don’t set something separately.) This is also the blue linked text that will appear in search engine results such as Google, so be sure that your title tells users what your page is about. Including your focus keyword in the title is a good step.
The “Slug” is the URL of the page (the part that follows “yoursite.com/”). You may make changes to this slug before publishing a page or post. However, avoid making any changes to this once the site is published. Your page may already be indexed by search engines, and making a change after that will result in people going to a 404 error page unless a proper 301 redirect is set up. (If you need to make a change to a URL, we suggest talking to your Account Director first.) Again, your slug will be auto generated based on your page or post title, and should contain your focus keyword.
The “Meta description” is a short paragraph of text (1-2 sentences max is a good rule of thumb) that is used to help tell search engines and people viewing search engine results what your page is all about by providing additional context. If you don’t set a meta description, search engines such as Google will pull content at will from your page to display in search results. Google also reserves the right to show whatever content on the page they think is best to display based on what the user searched for, so you aren’t guaranteed that your chosen meta description will display. However, best practice is to create a dedicated meta description using your focus keyword and providing compelling information about the page’s content.
One very helpful feature of Yoast is that it generates XML sitemaps, which can be used to submit to search engines to assist in quick indexing of your website. The link to your sitemap will be your domain name followed by sitemap_index.xml, (yoursite.com/sitemap_index.xml). You can take this URL and submit it within your Google Search Console profile if necessary.