Yoast SEO Plugin for WordPress: What You Need to Know

Yoast Seo Plugin

If you’re starting a new business or you’re gearing up for a big 2021 for your existing business, you’re probably wondering how Google or Bing are going to find your site. You might want to make the Yoast SEO Plugin part of your plan.

When Google does find your website, you’ll want to be in control of what content shows up on the search engine results page. Add-on WordPress tools, like the Yoast SEO Plugin, are one of the easiest ways to tackle these challenges and help you win the SEO game.

The Yoast SEO Plugin strengthens your search engine optimization efforts by adding an easy-to-use guide directly into your WordPress website. Yoast can then help you write quality content and much more.

Once the Yoast is installed on your site, you can enter focus keywords or phrases for each webpage and blog post. Yoast will analyze your text as you go, providing SEO recommendations and ensuring you’re following best practices.

The Yoast SEO Plugin boasts a number of additional benefits which include:

  • teaching you how to optimize pages and posts for SEO,
  • providing internal linking suggestions,
  • checking for audience readability,
  • boosting your technical SEO,
  • providing insights, and so much more.

You can get a lot out of this plugin whether you opt to use the free or premium version of the plugin.

So what does the Yoast SEO Plugin offer?

Included in the Free Version of the Yoast SEO Plugin:

Keyword Optimization

Once you know what keyword or phrase you want your site to rank for on search engines, the Yoast SEO Plugin will check that the selected keyword appears frequently enough in your written content.

It also checks that you are not “keyword stuffing” which is when you’re using a keyword too often. Not only does this make content less readable but Google sees it as an attempt to manipulate the search rankings. Additionally, the plugin is built to analyze your content for similar variations of the chosen keyword. That’s a huge win!

Google Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Previews

How does Google know what to show in the preview snippet? With the Yoast SEO Plugin, you have total control over what appears in the search results.

Does your SEO title get cut off because it’s too long? Does your meta description show compelling and relevant content to entice users to click your link over others?

The snippet editor feature takes the guesswork by showing you what a Google user sees and allowing you to edit the meta description and meta titles on the spot.

Informing Google what your page is about

This plugin has a user-friendly Schema feature. If you’re new to SEO, you may not be familiar with “schema markups.” In short, schema.org code describes what type of content you have on your webpage and communicates that information to search engines like Google. In turn, this helps Google rank your page or post to the most relevant audience.

According to Yoast.com, their plugin is the only product offering the most convenient way to add schema.org code to your pages. “Others just tell Google it’s a webpage, an article, and that there’s a brand, without connecting it all together. This leaves a lot for Google to figure out itself. Only we tell the full story.”

I think Rank Math does a great job with Schema Markup as well, but we’ll leave that debate for another post. 😉

Audience Readability Checks

Have you ever noticed what happens when you search for something and click on the most relevant article? Chances are you aren’t actually reading it word-for-word. Most users will scan a web page for the information most applicable to them at any given time.

You can help your website visitors find information quickly by using short paragraphs and sentences, adding subheadings, or connecting words.

The Yoast plugin team has done the scientific research for you to ensure your content accounts for this reality. The plugin will tell you which sentences and paragraphs are too long and points out words that may be too complex.

Full Control of Your Breadcrumb Trail

In the well-known children’s fairytale, Hansel and Gretel leave a trail of breadcrumbs behind them in order to find their way back home. This is exactly what website breadcrumbs help your site visitors do!

But it doesn’t always work out perfectly. The breadcrumb can get messy if a blog post has multiple categories, pages, or other attributions.

With the Yoast SEO Plugin, you can assign a Primary Category for each post. It also gives you the ability to determine the taxonomy (related to URL structure) for each page. This keeps your breadcrumb clear and simple while helping your visitors (and Google) navigate the site more easily.

Resolving Duplicate Content Issues

The Google algorithm tries to crawl for distinct content. If it crawls your website and finds big blocks of repetitive information, it’ll get marked as a “duplicate content issue,” which can potentially lower your rankings.

The Yoast SEO Plugin resolves this issue by letting you indicate which URL is the preferred to direct users to. This is otherwise known as a “canonical URL.”

In my experience, this is one of the biggest issues we need to resolve when we bring on a new SEO client. Yoast makes it much easier to resolve this issue.

Boosts Technical SEO

When Google’s robots crawl websites for content, an index is created in Google Search Console to keep information organized. The Yoast SEO Plugin makes it easy for these robots by updating URLs and creating xml sitemaps automatically. But if you’re a techie who wants to tweak some of that information, the plugin gives you easy access to do so.

Gets along with Google Algorithms

According to Search Engine Land, Google updates its search algorithm with minor adjustments 500-600 times a year! It sounds virtually impossible to keep up with such frequent changes.

Thankfully, the Yoast team takes care of everything for you. With plugin updates every two weeks, this webmaster tool ensures your website is optimized for the latest version of the elusive Google algorithm.

WordPress Editing Made Easy

When you install Yoast on your WordPress site, the plugin gives you recommendations right in the editor interface. The built-in guide makes content creation and SEO optimization a smooth, integrated process. So whether you want to write your blog post all at once and optimize it later, or optimize as you are writing, Yoast will be there for you.

Additional Benefits with the Yoast Premium Version:

Optimize Related Keywords also

Optimizing related keywords can help you reach a wider audience with your content. For example, if you have a cooking blog and want to optimize for “best pans,” the plugin allows you to optimize for “best pots” in the same article.

Note: The free version will only let you optimize for one focus keyword.

Internal Linking Suggestions

Simply put, internal linking is adding links on your page or post to other sections of your website. This strategy is important because it helps search engines like Google understand the structure of your website.

Not only that, but it will keep visitors engaged with your website by helping them

to discover relative content. In other words, they’ll stay on your website longer, rather than finding that information on a completely different website.

Page Previews in Social Media

You’ve probably seen it before: You tried to share a link to your website on

Facebook or Twitter but the preview doesn’t look quite right. The thumbnail image is wrong or completely missing and the specific description doesn’t show up.

The Yoast SEO Plugin Premium version provides an easy fix for this by giving you an option to create a template for your posts. In the Yoast settings, you tell the plugin what the title should be and the image to use when shared on social media and it’ll be applied to each post or page.

Providing Content Insights

Since the plugin is constantly scanning your website, it can offer you insights

and suggestions for compelling content. For each page, the plugin will list the five most common words or phrases. You can check if the words you actually want to rank for in search results aligns with your content and adjust as needed.

This is a highly valuable feature of the Yoast SEO Plugin and is only available with a Premium upgrade.

Redirect Manager — No More 404s!

Imagine the search result description is exactly what you’re looking for, but the content can’t be found. This is why landing on a 404 page is frustrating for your website visitors! They’ll leave your site instantly, which increases your bounce and exit rate, and look for something else that works.

At some point you will need to delete content from your site — either to update or consolidate content, or remove irrelevant content. When you need to delete a page or blog post from your site, the Redirect Manager in the Yoast SEO Plugin will ask where to redirect people trying to access that URL.

If you need to delete a series of pages that contain a certain word or expression in the URL, a “REGEX Redirect” can be added to the Redirect Manager to direct them to the same page.

Reports for Focus Keywords

A new adage heard in digital marketing circles is, “Content is King, Data is Queen.” In SEO terms, this means the more quality content you generate, the more analysis is done on your site, and the more SEO data you’ll have to direct your next steps. Together, the king and queen make a formidable team!

With the Premium version of the Yoast SEO Plugin, you can download a report showing keywords you’ve used and which pages can improve with more SEO work. The data variables you can choose to include are keywords, URL, and readability score.

BONUS: Yoast SEO Academy

Yoast provides Free and Premium SEO courses through their Yoast SEO Academy. Depending on your subscription, you’ll get access to online classes to improve your SEO skills. While the plugin acts as your guide, the academy turns that theory into practical improvements you can implement on your website.

That’s a Wrap

The Yoast SEO Plugin is one of the best tools you can have in your SEO toolbox so the natural question is, “Is Yoast the best SEO plugin to add to your site?” I’ll try to answer that and more in our other posts so be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates.

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