I still blog as a hobby, enjoying it as much as I did when I first started. However, as the blogging environment shifts towards exposure and followers, we can’t help but be swept up in it all. I admit that that isn’t the main aim of my blog as like I said, I do it as a hobby, but factors like SEO do come into play. We all want more people to read our content, so anything that can help make that easier is a bonus. That’s where the Yoast WordPress plugin comes in.
What is Yoast?
Yoast is a plugin that can be installed on any WordPress site. Sadly, you can’t get plugins on blogger, so if you are using them to host your blog you may not find this blog post very helpful – sorry! You might still learn something about SEO though.
If you are on WordPress, then Yoast can be of significant use when it comes to the search engine optimisation of each blog post. Once installed, on the back end of your blog, you will see a little box come up at the bottom of your blog posts. This is known as the ‘Yoast Toolbox’ and will help you optimise each of your blog posts using a traffic light system.
The first thing you need to do is set a focus keyword. This is how Yoast works out how well optimised your blog post already is for your main keyword. It can calculate how many times it has been used in the content, while also checking it has been included in the URL, blog title and meta description. If the keyword has been used too many times or not enough it will inform you through a short checklist. Each point is represented through a traffic light system, with green being good, orange meaning more can be improved and red implies that significant improvement is needed in the blog post.
When you go back to the page displaying all of your blog posts, you will see that an extra column has been included, labelled ‘SEO’. This is the Yoast plugin showing you which blog posts have been optimised. It again uses the same traffic light system as I’ve described above. On the occasion that a grey dot is displayed, this means that a focus keyword has not been specified so Yoast is unable to offer any insights into areas the content can be improved on.
Tips for Using the Yoast Plugin
Although Yoast is a really simple plugin to use, there are a few top tips that I can recommend when using it to make sure that you are making the most of its services.
In the Yoast Toolbox, you have the option to edit the SEO title. This is basically the title that comes up on search engines. It usually automatically pulls in the title of the blog post and your blog name. But there is a way to override this and have it apply this new extension of your title across all blog posts.
Think of the keywords that you want your blog to rank for overall. Obviously, the more niche, the better as you have more chance of ranking. You can then add this to the Yoast plugin so that it applies it across all of my blog posts and pages.
How to edit your Yoast SEO titles
- On the left hand panel you will see where it says ‘SEO’, when that expands it will display ‘Titles & Metas’, which you will need to click on.
- Once on the ‘Titles & Metas’ page, you need to click on the tab ‘Post Types’. On this page you will see all of the variables automatically being pulled together to form your blog post titles and page titles.
- In the box under ‘Posts’ labelled ‘Title Template’, I have changed it to %%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% Mapped Out – Beauty Blog
- I applied the same to ‘Pages’ and ‘Media’.
Please remember that if you do change these, they can always be overwritten on the actual blog post as whatever you type in on the individual blog posts as the SEO title will be the final SEO title for that blog post.
Do-Follow and No-Follow Links
This might not seem like an obvious one, but when looking at the Yoast toolbox checklist, you might notice a point that comes up saying “You’re linking to another page with the focus keyword you want this page to rank for. Consider changing that if you truly want this page to rank”.
For example, you might be writing a review of a product you like and then have a link to it on the Boots website, which will also be looking to rank for the same keywords i.e. the product name. In this case, Yoast would flag this up as they are direct competition. So it would be best to change the link pointing to the Boots website to a nofollow link. This way Google isn’t tracking the link. I know this isn’t the best example but it explains how and why it could be a problem, so hopefully you can understand the sorts of situations it would be best to change the type of link.
Traffic Light System
It is worth keeping in mind that you won’t always hit green for all of the pointers on Yoast, with all your blog posts. I would recommend taking each recommendation with a pinch of salt. Your blog post can still be optimised without all of the points being green.
So those are my top tips for getting the most out of your Yoast plugin. If you have any questions about it, you can contact me on twitter @mappedoutblog or leave a comment below. I will do my best to answer them!