How To Use SEO by Yoast To Optimize Your Website Pages
There are a lot of SEO plugins out there, but few of them can really match the power of SEO by Yoast. It's powerful, deceptively simple to use, and it has just about everything you need for optimization of posts and pages. You don't have to monkey with a lot of settings, and the optimization is done right under the text editor (which is good, since you don't have to leave your post or page to optimize it). If that weren't enough, it's available for free from the Wordpress plugin directory. But it's surprising to see so few people making full use of it. Here's how to get more out of this great plugin:
Choose Your Focus Keywords
Yoast doesn't choose your keywords for you. You do have to put in the wrench time on that one to figure out what you should be targeting. However, once that's done, Yoast will keep you focused. It does this using an input box aptly named "Focus Keyword" under the "general" tab (which is where you end up by default when you're composing a post).
Set Up Your Title
Next, enter your title. The "SEO Title" is what will appear in search engines. While Google doesn't factor meta tags into it's algorithm for ranking purposes (not really), it does use meta descriptions to display what the page is about. The title is what users will see in the SERPs, and this can be different from what you use as the post title. Obviously this is a good thing, since you may want (and often do want) your "SEO title" to be different from the post title. Make sure your focus keyword comes near the beginning of the SEO title.
Write a Damn Good Description
Your meta description should contain your focus keyword at least once, but it has to be compelling. Remember, this is what users see. Make them want to click on your link. Ask a compelling question in the description. Make a controversial statement. Take an assumption in your industry (or that your target market makes), and question that assumption.
The SERPs only display 156 characters. If you go over that 156 characters, Google displays a "...". What if you use that to your advantage? For example, you might say "Can you literally die from making the wrong financial moves? Most people believe that mistakes are just a fact of life. However..."
Do you see how that "However" just leaves you hanging? If the title is catchy and grabs your attention, you'll want to click through to find out more - it calls out to you. You have to know what that "However" is.
Do Page Analysis
There are four tabs on Yoast. The first is the "general" tab. The second is the "Page Analysis" tab. This tab tells you pretty much everything you need to know about your page. It measures things like keyword density, your copy score - measured by the Flesch Reading Ease test, your meta description (how long/short it is), where your keywords appear, whether your images have alt tags in them, and even the total number of words in your post (hint: you should have at least 300 - which isn't that difficult to do).
Don't Forget The Advanced Tab
The "Advanced" tab is where you can specify how various pages will be displayed. Using meta robots, you can have the page indexed, not indexed, followed, or not followed. You can monkey with the sitemap, set a canonical URL for the page, and set a 301 redirect.
Set Up Social Descriptions
Social networking sites have their own language, and people there are attracted to content presented in a very specific way. Under the "social" tab, you can specify the description that gets shown to Google+ and Facebook. Helpful if you market on these sites.
Go Redo All Your Pages
It's time to fix all of your pages. If you're not ranking where you want to be, part of your problem might be on-page optimization. Yoast makes that deadly simple. Now, go do it. What other tools do you use to help with optimization both on-page and off-page?