How To: WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast

The WordPress blog has been built, or maybe you inherited it. You were told it’s search engine optimized. Great!

Then you’re ready for your first post. You hit Add New post, scroll down and see…

WordPress-SEO

This box is part of the WordPress SEO plugin by a company called Yoast. It tells Google, Bing, and the other search engines what this post is about and how to present it in search results. The search engines can ignore it, but the Yoast team are pretty good staying on top of any search engine changes, and they make changes to the plugin. I find completing the box also helps me focus my writing. If you’re curious, have a look at the Page Analysis tab. We’re not covering it today, but it’s fun to see how you can optimize your post for more search engine love. Just remember, green is good.

If you’re the person installing the plugin, here’s Yoast’s tutorial and another from Shout Me Loud. They both cover the editor-publisher tasks, and also the initial configuration that I’ve skipped.

OK, back to the WordPress SEO plugin General tab.

The first field to complete is the Focus Keyword. What’s the term people are most likely to Google when searching for this specific post? For book reviews, I use the book’s title. This post will most likely be WordPress SEO. It’s an in-demand topic with user-orientate verbiage. You can choose a phrase for the keyword, but succinct is better. For best SEO results, the keyword will be in your post title and used a couple of times in the post, so names and single words are easier to work with. Be careful when typing the keyword. The field has predictive autocomplete, and it’s easy to select the wrong word. Just below the field you’ll see how many times the word has appeared and where in the post.

Next is the SEO Title. This will auto-populate but may need to be shortened. You’ll get an alert if it’s too long, but Moz (SEO superstars) recommend using between 50-60 characters, including the keyword. On this site, I auto-populate with the post title and site title. If the post title is too long, then I delete the site title. As you may have guessed, this is visible as the page title (in your browser tab heading unless, like me you have too many tabs open), and as the headline in search results. So make it descriptive and compelling. Would you click your title and read the post? Perfect!

The third and final field is the Meta Description. This is a 156 character summary of the post. Include the keyword and other pertinent points. The Met Description displays in search results and is part of the call-to-action convincing people to click, so no keyword dumping. Keyword dumping gets you a free ticket back to 2005. Keyword dumping is bad. You’re writing for people, not machines.

Now we have all fields populated, look up at the Snippet Preview. This is where it all comes together. There’s nothing to do here, except admire your handiwork. The snippet is what appears in Google and Bing search results.

wordpress-SEO-populated

Don’t forget to hit Save Draft. Saving also updates the WordPress SEO score. If you have time and are curious, check the Page Analysis tab for optimization tips.

But I’m Not Using the WordPress SEO Plugin

The title, keyword and meta description are standard for all web pages. Poke around your CMS to see if there’s a section to add these. It can also be coded manually, but that’s no fun. I should also point out that no known search engines use meta keywords anymore. It’s useful to have one to help you focus your writing and when in your title and description, and helps tell the search engines what your post is about so they show you to the right people.

How To Blog Post Series

This post is part of the How To series of blog posts. Each month in 2015 there will be a new post explaining a tool or tactic related to marketing or social media. If you want to request a topic, please let me know in the comments.

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