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How To Do SEO

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  1. SEO Basics

    What Is SEO? A Brief Introduction
    3 Topics
  2. The Best SEO Tools I Can't Live Without
    5 Topics
  3. Building An SEO Foundation
    How To Develop An SEO Strategy
    4 Topics
  4. How To Look Up Domain Ownership History [Avoid Red Flags]
  5. Search Indexing: Getting Your Website Seen & Ranked
    3 Topics
  6. Content Production
    The Basics Of Keyword Research
    2 Topics
  7. How To Create Content SEO-Friendly Content
    2 Topics
  8. On-Page SEO
    On-Page SEO
    7 Topics
  9. How To Use Rank Math For SEO
    2 Topics
  10. How To Use Yoast For SEO [Step-By-Step]
    2 Topics
  11. Off-Page SEO
    Off-Page SEO
    2 Topics
  12. How To Get Backlinks In 2024 [Methods Proven To Work]
    4 Topics
  13. Technical SEO
    Technical SEO
    1 Topic
  14. Other
    SEO Best Practices
    3 Topics
  15. Summary Of How To Do SEO
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When it comes to search engine optimization (SEO), Yoast SEO is your most beneficial friend. It is one of the most popular optimization tools for WordPress website owners. From keyword analysis to meta description and readability score, it offers comprehensive features for all your SEO needs.

In this module, let’s learn how to use the Yoast SEO plugin. I will cover the following:

  • How to install and configure the Yoast SEO plugin.
  • What you can do in the Yoast SEO dashboard and settings.
  • What are the Yoast SEO meta box features, and how do you use them?
  • Yoast SEO Premium features and if it’s worth it.

At the end of this module, you can optimize your website for search engines like Google, Bing, or Yandex, even if you are a beginner in the SEO universe.

Install the Yoast SEO Plugin

Installing the Yoast SEO plugin works the same way as any WordPress plugin. Start by logging in to your WordPress website, which will take you to the Dashboard. From there, navigate to “Plugins>Add New Plugin.”

Type ‘Yoast SEO’ in the search bar and hit the “Enter” key. Look for the plugin in the search results and click “Install Now” next to its name. Your plugin should now be installed in a few seconds. Once installed, click “Activate” to finish the process.

Configure the Yoast SEO Plugin

Return to your Dashboard and hit “Plugins” once more to configure the Yoast SEO plugin. Look for the text “Finish your first-time configuration” below the plugin’s name. You should click on that.

However, if you do it for the first time on your website, you may see a notification in Plugins (as shown below) saying that you must uncheck the box next to search engine visibility.

If so, go ahead and do that by clicking the link for your Reading settings, unchecking the specified box, and hitting “Save Changes.” After that, return to the plugins page and start configuring your Yoast SEO.

Hitting ‘First-time configuration’ will open a new tab with detailed on-screen instructions. The first step is “SEO Data Optimization,” an automated process to optimize your site’s content. To begin, click the eponymous button and wait for the process to finish. Then, hit “Continue.”

In the second step, provide some information about your site. This includes your site’s name, organization name, type of website, logo, etc.

The third step concerns your social media profiles. You can add your Facebook, X (previously Twitter), and other social media pages here.

In the personal preference section, you can add your email address to receive weekly SEO tips and give permission to share your website data. None of these are necessary for your site’s optimization, so you can skip them if you want by leaving the boxes empty and pressing “Continue.” 

That’s it! Your Yoast SEO plugin is now configured. You can head to your SEO Dashboard by hitting the hyperlink “Or got to your SEO dashboard.”

Yoast SEO Dashboard, Settings, and Other Features

The “General” section of the Yoast SEO plugin includes a dashboard. You can access it by clicking the Yoast SEO menu on your WordPress dashboard.

The primary purpose of the Yoast SEO Dashboard is to inform you about any SEO problems your site may have. It also offers solutions to those problems with specific action buttons so you can apply them quickly. The hub also provides other notifications about any SEO changes you make on your site.

As you can see above, the creators of Yoast SEO also use this space to upsell their premium packages. It is also where you receive updates regarding their latest feature releases, SEO events, or seminars. Depending on your plugin version, it can also have separate tabs for settings, other tools, software integration, etc.

Yoast SEO Settings

The settings page of the Yoast SEO plugin combines a few basic and advanced features under multiple tabs, which you need to get right to maximize the benefit of using this powerful tool. However, most of the essential features are configured by default. So, if you don’t know something, you had better leave the settings as they are.

Considering you might be a beginner in search engine optimization, I will add a short detail for the most important tabs. First, access the Settings page by navigating to “Yoast SEO>Settings.” You can then switch to any tab by clicking on it from the left-side menu bar.

1. Site Features

The first page of the Yoast SEO settings displays the “Site Features” tab. This tab provides an overview of your site’s different active (or not active) features and a brief description. Some features like “Internal linking suggestions” are only available for premium users. The rest are enabled by default.

You can disable or re-enable them by toggling the switch underneath each card and then hitting “Save Changes” from the bottom of the screen. For instance, I don’t need Slack sharing for my website’s content, so I will switch it off using the method described (see below).

2. Site Basics

This tab is pretty self-explanatory. Here, you can give your site a name, an alternate name, a tagline, an image, etc. Most WordPress users do this while setting up and designing the website; if you still need to, you can do it here. The site image is vital, as it will work as a thumbnail for your site when shared on social media (not any specific post, but the site itself).

You can also add a title separator. All the available options are fine, but the most popular ones are the dash, colon, and the pipe symbol (|).

3. Site Connection

Although it’s the 4th and final tab under the General settings, “Site connection” is a critical section. This is where you put all the necessary information to verify your website with the top search engines. Without verification, your site won’t be ranked among the search results.

Yoast SEO makes it straightforward to verify your website with the five most popular search engines, including Google, Bing, Baidu, etc. You must register with each or any of these engines’ webmaster tools to collect the meta tags. After that, enter them in the box by navigating to “Yoast SEO>Settings>Site connections” and hit “Save changes.”

4. Content Types

Under the “Content types” category in Yoast SEO settings, you will find the options to set SEO titles and meta descriptions for your Homepage, Posts, and Pages.

If you use a custom homepage, Yoast SEO will use the title and meta description created while editing the page. The same applies to Posts and Pages, where you can set separate SEO titles and meta descriptions using the on-page meta boxes attached to the editors.

Nevertheless, if you want your post or page excerpt to be used as the meta description in search results, you can use the settings section to set it up. To do that, navigate to “Yoast SEO>Settings>Posts/Pages.” After that, hit the “Insert variable” button under the Meta description and enter “%excerpt.” While typing, two excerpt options should appear for you to choose the appropriate one, then hit “Save changes.”

While at it, make sure to turn on the toggle next to “Show Posts/ Pages in search results” if it’s not already on. The same should be done for the Categories and Tags settings.

5. Advanced Settings

As the title suggests, these are Yoast SEO settings for advanced users. To effectively change them, you need to have an in-depth understanding of search engine crawling, the effects of breadcrumbs, duplicate content problems, RSS feeds, and so on.

If you don’t know what you are doing, simply leave them as they are. Yoast SEO’s default settings are optimized well enough for most websites’ needs. So, your site should work fine, and if not, the plugin will inform you in the problems section of your Yoast SEO dashboard.

Integration and Tools

By default, Yoast SEO comes with two third-party tools: SEMRUSH and Wincher. SEMRUSH makes conducting keyword research effortless, while Wincher displays your post ranking right in the editor. You can access this tab via “Yoast SEO>Integration.”

However, you must have accounts with both to enjoy these features. Both tools also have limited features for the free account holders, so you may want to consider if it’s really worth it for your website’s needs.

Under the integration tab in the Yoast SEO menu, you will find a section called “Tools.” This is pretty handy for importing or exporting your SEO settings. If you have multiple sites, you can export and import the current site’s settings to others.

The most helpful tool here is the Bulk editor. Once you click on it, you will find all your posts and pages in one place, so you can change the SEO title and meta description for each without opening them separately.

Under the “Title” tab, simply fill in the “New Yoast SEO Title” box, type in your title, and hit the “Save” button next to each (or the ones you want to change). You can do the same for meta descriptions by hitting the “Description” tab from the top bar. Pretty neat, eh?

Use the Yoast SEO in the WordPress Editor

Now that you have set up the Yoast SEO plugin in the best possible way, you can confidently use the meta boxes in the WordPress editor.

When you edit a page, post, or create a new one, you will find a specific Yoast SEO section at the bottom. You can also click on the Yoast SEO icon at the top right corner of the block editor to expand the sidebar with all the options.

The Yoast SEO section at the bottom has four tabs with different features for various purposes. I will discuss the most essential features of each tab in the WordPress editor so you can use them like a pro. Let’s keep reading!

1. SEO

Focus keyphrase is the most essential feature under the SEO tab. This is where you put the primary keyword you want to rank for in the search engines. Using tools like the Google Keyword Planner, you should research the most popular keyphrases related to your topic. You can also conduct research from your WordPress editor by hitting “Get related keyphrases,” but this will require a SEMRUSH account.

SEO Analysis

Once you enter the key phrase, Yoast SEO will analyze your post in real-time and give feedback regarding the state of your optimization under “SEO analysis.” You may have to click on it to expand.

The plugin does the analyses using its famous traffic light circles:

  • Red: Indicates problems that require immediate attention.
  • Orange: A warning sign indicating where you can optimize further.
  • Green: Indicates perfection of meeting the optimization criteria set by Yoast SEO.

Each of these indications comes with a suggested solution, so just read what you are missing or can improve upon. Then, fix your content until the lights turn green. You shouldn’t over-optimize, though, especially if it hurts the readability of your content.

Search Appearance

After optimizing your content, check how it would appear in the search result by clicking “Search appearance.” Yoast SEO enables you to check the search appearance for both mobile and desktop.

Here, you can set the SEO title for your page or post and create a short meta description. You can also make the URL slug for your post. The traffic lights system will still be in action under each box, showcasing whether it is well-optimized.

Cornerstone Content

This section of SEO optimization enables you to make a page or post your most important content on the site. You can use multiple pages or posts (by toggling the bar under each separately) as the cornerstone of your website.

Toggling this on will tell Yoast SEO which pages or posts you want to rank for the most, enabling you to suggest recommendations based on their importance. Ideally, your cornerstone content should be the best in terms of readability, findability, richness of information, and such.

2. Readability

Clicking on the “Readability” tab of Yoast SEO will give you another set of analyses with its traffic lights. This is where you get suggestions for improving your texts and making them more enjoyable to read by your average website visitor.

While fixing these parameters may or may not improve your chances of higher rankings, it will certainly help to give your readers a pleasant experience.

3. Schema

The Schema tab next to Readability lets you define your page or post for search engines. Here, you can customize the settings to tell search engine crawlers about the type of content they are dealing with. This helps to rank your content more accurately based on your audience’s search intent.

You can click the boxes under page and article types to choose from various options. For instance, your page type can be a profile, FAQ, contact page, etc. Whereas, your article type can be a blog, news, tech article, etc.

If you don’t change these, Yoast SEO will use the default web page and article settings. As discussed earlier, you can customize the default settings for posts and pages.

4. Social

The Social tab in the Yoast SEO section of the WordPress editor is pretty self-explanatory. This is where you set the look and feel of your continent for social sharing.

You can set an image, create a different title from the SEO title, and include a specific description to be displayed on social media like Facebook, Instagram, Slack, etc. X (previously Twitter) has a standalone tab at the bottom titled “X appearance.”

Remember that you need a premium subscription to see a social preview on your WordPress editor.

Is Yoast SEO Premium Worth It?

Whether in the Yoast SEO Dashboard, settings, or meta boxes, you will surely come across some features locked in the free version. This is a classic example of a freemium product whereby some critical or advanced features are locked for paid customers.

Despite that, you may not need the premium features as a beginner. The Yoast SEO plugin’s free features are sufficient to start populating and optimizing your content. Some locked features are also accessible via other free SEO plugins available for WordPress.

Once the site grows, along with your understanding and knowledge of search engine optimization, you can upgrade to the Yoast SEO Premium packages.