Using On-Site SEO/Yoast

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Using On-Site SEO/Yoast

As a small business owner, you may not always have the budget to put towards a large SEO package and you may be considering doing your own on-site SEO.  SEO can be complicated, and you may not feel like you understand it well enough to do a good job.

However, there are some tools you can use to still get your site optimized without stretching your budget. One tool is the Yoast plugin, which provides you will easy-to-follow signals to improve your site content.  Watch a video demonstration of how the plugin works or scroll down to read about how to use Yoast to optimize your WordPress website pages. 

Where to Find the Yoast Plugin Signals

Once you have the Yoast plugin installed, its details will show up at the bottom of each page and post, as you’re creating them. Yoast provides a really simple and user-friendly way for you to assess your on-site SEO, as well as to help you figure out what to do when a page you’ve created is less than optimal.

Yoast Signals for SEO and Readability

In the video, we go into the back end of last week’s post, and we can show you how you would use Yoast to optimize it. 

The red/yellow/green signals will show up once you have the plugin installed. You’ll see in the video that Yoast says our readability and SEO are “good” for this post because they’re green. 

So, the post in our example is already fairly optimized, but we walk through the steps to using Yoast so you can see what you would need to do to revise your content from red to yellow and yellow to green.

Start by looking at the signals. Green means you get an “A,” and you don’t really need to make any changes. Yellow means your content is acceptable, but you could change a few things to make it better. Red indicates that you have some bigger issues to tackle in order to make it a high-quality page or post.

I See the Yoast Signal, but How Do I Know How to Improve?

Our signals are green in the example, but we can still walk you through the steps you should perform for every page or post you create. 

Edit the Snippet

The first thing to do – for every page or post – is to click “edit snippet.” When that section opens up, you will see what your SEO title is going to be. It’s automatically prefilled for you, but you can change it. If you delete the prefilled text, there’s a line underneath the text field that will turn red. It’s red because the snippet is too short. You know…because you just eighty-sixed 100% of it. 

But as you enter your new snippet, the line will grow with your text and slowly turn from red to orange and finally to green. But if you keep entering text for your snippet, you’ll go back to red again because then it’s too long and search engines will simply truncate it in the search results. 

Play with the snippet until you come up with something that is relevant, intriguing, and around 155 characters long. 

The snippet – the meta description – is included when people get your page or post in search engine results. It gives users a little bit of extra information about what the page is about, so try to make it enticing but not misleading.

Check the Readability

Next, look at your “traffic light” for the readability analysis. When you click around in the specifics in the analysis, Yoast will tell you the key things that could be making your content less readable. Specifically, it looks at things like sentence length, paragraph length, and the distribution of headings on the page. Basically, it’s making sure you’re not making readers work too hard to understand what you’re saying or overwhelming them with a wall of text that they can’t scan to find what they need.  

Where any of these things are out of whack on your page, Yoast will point to those sentences, paragraphs, and sections that could use some adjusting. In other words, if you have too many long sentences, Yoast will highlight those for you so that you can easily find them and break them up into more consumable bites. 

Set Up and Analyze for SEO

In order for Yoast to “grade” you for SEO, it needs to know what this page is about, first. Once you give it the key phrase, Yoast will tell you how well you’ll do when people are searching for that key phrase and similar key phrases. 

So, you click in the field for “focus key phrase” and enter the main thing about your page. In our example, the blog post was about the power of landing pages. Therefore, we’re setting “landing pages” as the key phrase. 

Once you’ve set up your key phrase, then Yoast has what it needs to give you your red/yellow/green signal for SEO. And if you’re in red or yellow, Yoast will point you to exactly what’s keeping you out of green territory so you can fix it.

Pro Tip: Signals within Signals

Yoast will give you an overall red/yellow/green signal for SEO, and assign a red/yellow/green rating to each of the factors that impact the page’s SEO. To get the biggest bang for your buck, first address the factors Yoast scored in the red.

In our example, Yoast is telling us the key phrase doesn’t appear in the meta description. Easy-peasy – we edit the snippet so that it includes the key phrase and click the “Update” button to refresh the page. When we do that – as you can see in the video – that issue will disappear from your SEO list, and you can move on to the next thing. 

Simply do what Yoast is telling you to do, and the problems will fall off your list and your SEO signal will move closer and closer to the green until you have your page optimized for search engines to find when users search for the topic at hand. 

At the End of the Day: Use the Yoast Plugin

Yoast has both a free and a premium version. For most websites, the free version will deliver everything you need to optimize your WordPress website content for SEO and visitors’ readability. Don’t feel like you have to invest in the paid version – at least not until you’ve really mastered optimizing your pages with the free option first.

And if you’ve already mastered the art of on-page SEO and are looking for additional ways to improve your search engine rankings, schedule a call with us. We can show you how we help our clients improve their rankings.

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