Here’s a walkthrough of how to install Yoast SEO to improve your WordPress site’s search traffic. There is also a short video walkthrough of me performing the installation and initial configuration linked lower in the post.
What is SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization.
Working on SEO for your site is the process of optimizing the content to help search engines better understand what you are writing about. When the search engines better understand, it’s more likely that they’ll present your pages in search results that make sense.
Why bother with SEO?
Why should you care about SEO? Because search engines drive a TON of traffic to websites.
Chances are when someone is looking for information on a specific topic, they’re going to search for the topic. There’s also a good chance that they’re going to use Google specifically to perform the search. Regardless of what search engine used, you want your site to be recognized and understood so those people can find you.
Search engine OPTIMIZATION
Not only do you want to be found in search engines, you want good placement. So you want to optimize your site toward that goal.
But think about it. Does placement matter? Yes, yes it does. But what really matters is clicks. If you are in the top three results listing but no one clicks on your link, then you’ve wasted a huge opportunity.
If you want to learn more about the nitty gritty details of SEO, I recommend checking out the blog over at backlino.com. Brian is a rockstar in the SEO world and there is a bunch of great information there – available for free.
There is a lot to SEO though. I enjoy the topic and it is still exhausting trying to do it well!
Thankfully there is a great free plugin for WordPress available that can make huge improvement to your site’s SEO optimization.
That plugin is called Yoast SEO.
There is also a paid version with enhanced features, but for sure – immediately – go grab the free version, get it installed, and starting making progress on your search placements.
Does it help? Is it worth it?
Only 5% of overall Internet traffic is driven by paid ads – all the rest is from “organic” traffic. That means traffic from search engines, links from other places, or people directly typing in a URL.
So yeah, showing up in search matters. It matters a lot.
Where you place in the search results matters quite a bit too!
56% of the time the top search result gets clicked by the person searching. The second result gets clicked 13% of the time – less than 1/4 as much as the top result! The third result gets about 10% of the clicks, the fourth about 4% and the rest of the page all less than 4% get clicked.
For maximize traffic you really want to be in at least the top three – if not first place!
What does Yoast SEO do?
After you install Yoast SEO, and of course activate it, Yoast SEO will start analyzing your site and posts for you. It’s also going to provide real-time feedback to you on ways to improve your search results potential.
Just a few of the obvious areas it helps with:
The page or post title tag
Yoast is going to tell you how good your title tag is for a specific keyword or phrase. Cute titles are, well, they’re cute – but they aren’t always considered good by search engines. Yoast SEO will help keep you on track with your post and page titles.
The page or post content
Yoast will also analyze the content of your page or post. It is going to count the number of times and ways you use the target search word(s) and let you know if you’ve under or over-used them.
It’a also going to remind you if you forgot to include the target phrase near the top of the post – where a search engine would expect it.
Additionally it is going to consider the readability of the post. Why? Because Google knows if people spend a lot of time reading your post or if they immediately click the back button. You want a good user experience and time-on-site, which is improved with good readability.
Yoast SEO is going to recommend use of header tags reasonably placed through the post. It will also let you know if you have a lot of really long sentences – which tend to be harder to read. Yoast SEO also doesn’t like it when you start multiple sentences in a row with the same word. I’m not sure why. I do know that I tend to do this a lot though – and Yoast SEO suggests I go make changes.
The page or post meta data
What is it? Meta data is code in your page that doesn’t actually show up for the user. It’s there though so search engines see it.
For example, the title that shows up in Google search results doesn’t have to be the same as the title of the post. That is controlled by the meta data.
Another example is the page description. If this isn’t specifically defined in your meta data, the search results are going to show the first sentence or two (or sentence and a half, which looks strange) as the description. That may or may not be a good description of what the page is about though. And it may or may not entice people to click. The goal is to get people to click (then enjoy the post)!
Go install Yoast SEO
The plugin is named Yoast SEO. Install that and activate it. Easy enough.
Configure the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress
When you first install Yoast SEO there will be a configuration wizard that steps you through some basic information that Yoast wants… or “needs” to help optimize the site.
Is this a live (production) or test site
Most of us will likely be installing this on a live site, so click the top option that says “Production”. (That’s technical speak for “live”.)
What type of site is it?
Next Yoast SEO wants to know what type of site you are installing this to. There are six options for you to choose from. The very top one is Blog, which of course I chose for this site.
Is this a company or a person?
I’m not sure what difference this makes, but Yoast SEO asks – so it must matter. If this is a blog for your personal brand, you can pick Person. If you’re building a business or working for a company, then of course select Company as the answer.
Link social profiles
Yoast SEO then lets you enter the links to your social media profiles. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. Yoast SEO can then make some optimization and recommendations later to help you benefit from those channels – specifically gaining site traffic from them.
Visibility of post types
There are three types of “posts” that Yoast SEO will ask about. There are WordPress Pages, WordPress Blog Posts, and WordPress Media. Personally I do want pages and posts to show up in search engines, but I don’t want someone to link directly to any of the images on my site. So I leave Post and Pages “visible” and set Media to “hidden”.
This is totally up to you though.
One author or more than one?
Yoast SEO wants to know if this is a single-author site or if there will be multiple authors contributing content to the site. I suspect this will impact how Yoast SEO uses author meta data in identifying who writes what.
Link Google Search Console
If you’ve already set up the Google Search Console, go ahead and link it next to Yoast SEO. Yoast SEO will then be able to look at the data that people are entering to currently find your site and it can help further optimize settings toward your goals.
A lot of people like to have their page titles be something like >Post Title – Site Name<. For some sites I think that works great, but for others it seems awkward. You need to decide for yourself.
Regardless, Yoast SEO does ask what separator symbol you want to use if you choose this option. There are a few to select from and these really don’t impact SEO – just visual impression.
Sign up for the Yoast SEO newsletter (or not)
Finally they give you an option to sign up for their newsletter, just skip it. They do have a lot of great content – I’m a subscriber and think many of the posts are useful. Yoast SEO will also give you a quick option to upgrade to Premium if you want – but I recommend playing around with the free version a bit first.
Done with basic settings
That’s it for the initial configuration. I walk through all of this in the video below. Additionally I show you some of the changes that Yoast SEO makes to your WordPress interface and how to use the new settings to improve your site visibility and traffic.
Video walkthrough on how to install Yoast and use it
Here’s my short walkthrough video on how to install Yoast SEO and configure the basics to get started:
search engine optimization is very important Google and other search engines need to be able to find your site and once they do find your site they need to know what your site is about they need to be able to parse the text on the site properly and get an idea of what it pertains to so that they can show it in search results and there are some things that you can do to optimize your site to make sure that the search engines are getting the right information and showing your site’s results in the manner that you want them to if your targeted toward a specific topic like this site we talked about WordPress WordPress blogging specifically how to optimize it configure it etc so we want to make sure that our web pages are optimized to be able to show up well in the search engines it takes time and it depends on the competition with different search phrases depends on the search phrases you pick there’s a lot of science to it and there’s a little bit of art to it but for some basics one thing that is a good idea to do is to install a plug-in that’s going to help you with search engine optimization on your WordPress website my favorite plug-in for that purpose is called Yoast so we’re going to install that today as you can see we’re still fairly early in building out this website so let’s go ahead and install Yoast so we’re going to add a new plug-in search for just used SEO and we’re going to go ahead and install that now you can see as more than a million active installs almost , reviews and has five stars we’re going to activate the plug-in okay now if you just saw that little warning but it said I had two active issues with my SEO and there’s a two up here in the Yoast so let’s go ahead and see what it’s talking about all right no problems at the moment but it does want us to do the configuration wizard and it’s talking about crawl errors so let’s go ahead and do the configuration wizard just to get the basics done and get this started all right so this is a production environment that we’re going to be working with it’s mostly a blog a company company WP blog okay don’t have an image logo right now it’s actually something that we should work on and additionally probably create a little fav icon so it shows up in the browser properly but we’ll deal with that later I’m not going to mess with these social profiles right now but if you already have social profiles created for your your company your site yourself whatever you’re going to use there go ahead and enter those in Yoast is going to help you optimize the ability to be able to get some traffic to those with some nice little icons there click next for now post types of posts so when we post something blog post specifically we want them visible so we want Google to be able to see these things you want pages to be visible media we don’t necessarily want Google to crawl our website and have links directly to images we drop images into the web pages we want Google to find the web pages and show those to visitors but we don’t want them to just link directly to the images so we’re going to leave the images as hidden you can see that’s actually default so it’s recommended by Yoast for most people next No right now we do not have multiple authors so not going to worry about that possible in the future that we could have multiple authors but we’ll deal with that later all right Google search console we want to go ahead and authenticate with the Google search console I already talked about the search console and the values there as far as being able to get your site indexed quickly being able to search for error messages your search queries different things like that it’s nice so let’s go ahead and get that authorization going alright so we’ve got a code here we’re going to paste it in and authenticate choose a profile I’m going to choose this blogs name next okay so the website name WordPress blogging today title separator so as you can see here between the post title and the site name so it will have if we want it to it will have the name of the post on our blog post and then a separator and then it’s going to have the website name so I’m going to pick that as a separator just kind of mix things up a little bit it doesn’t really matter for SEO purposes just a personal preference here next don’t really want the newsletter don’t want to upgrade to premium and we are done that all right so you can see on the Yoast settings the admin panel we’ve got a couple of different tabs so you can restart the configuration wizard if you want to and look at some of the features you can go ahead and scroll through some of these things you really don’t change a lot of these here’s one thing that I probably will enable is the Advanced Settings page I’m not sure why that’s disabled by default but I do want to turn that on cornerstone content is a fairly new feature there’s I actually haven’t used it yet but you can mark certain content as very important to your website and then Yoast will help SEO optimized toward that content save the changes because of that one setting that I changed you can change your company information webmaster search console etc all right so now let’s go look at blog post so now that we have the Yoast SEO installed we’ll scroll down to the bottom of this blog post we’ve got a new section that Yoast has added in here so this is going to allow you to help with the optimization of your website by default it’s looking at the the actual SEO so we can enter a focus keyword so let’s pick inscribed YouTube so focus keyword is actually if somebody types a certain phrase into the search engine that’s what you hope your site is going to be recognized for and then show up in the rankings I really haven’t done a research for this post specifically I just want to show you the features but once you enter in a focus keyword Yoast is going to make some suggestions here so no custom meta description has been specified so we want to do that focus keyword doesn’t appear in the first paragraph for the copy so to increase your chances of rankings you should have that keyword in the first paragraph internal linking within the page linking to other pages within the site hasn’t happened in this page here yet and again that’s why I want to install use right now so I can go back and optimize some of these existing blog posts and also take advantage of these optimization tips for future blog post keyword density so it’s going to tell you how many times the keyword was used within there are you going to use it within any headers you know it recommends that you have some images in the page and when you have images you want to have the alt text on the images help with the keyword optimization and outbound links so these are just some key tips right off the bat that are going to be presented here and once you go through and fix some of these you’ll change from red to orange or red directly to green and ultimately you want that to be green you’ll notice up here SEO is currently okay because we have done a couple of the recommended things but a lot of we have so we really want to try to have that be green when we’re all done something else interesting here is it actually shows readability a lot of studies have showed that if your posts and your pages are they rank high in readability so they don’t have super long sentences you have some headers that are breaking up the text you know you’ve got proper paragraphs broken up into different things like that you know the types of words the passive voice you’re using et cetera can all impact the readability of your webpage and if it’s a really good readable webpage once somebody does land on the site they’re more likely to actually stay there for a while and to click to other places on the web site so readability while that’s not the absolute focus of this plugin which is search engine optimization can have a pretty good impact Google knows how long people are staying on your website they know if people go to one web page and click to another or if they hit the back button you know if they have all of that information they actually use that information to hell with your rankings something else that happened once us was installed you’ll notice over here this blog post is in multiple categories but ideally you want this one post to have a single URL so we don’t necessarily want the post to show up slash a CEO slash post title and / videos / post title we want just one of those to show up so I’m going to make SEO the primary category for this post right here so that’s the category that’s going to be chosen people are presented with this blog post there are some other settings we can do here and these are the advanced settings that we talked about earlier so we can do specific Facebook information you can put in a title an image so that way if somebody posts this to Facebook it will have the title that you want the description you want and it should override any other settings to have a specific image presented in facebook once you post that link very important information if you have a good shareable image and description you’re more like you’ll get people to click on it you know – like the post to love oppose to share the post whatever and then you’ve got some default settings or this is a blog post and right now I want it to be indexed if I was doing a contact page though for example I would possibly want to go down into these Advanced Settings and I want to say no index because I don’t want my contact page necessarily to show up in Google’s index for any reason that’s really not a valuable page that we want them to go to maybe you would want them to and that’s fine but there’s likely some pages on your website that you just don’t necessarily want to show up in the index so if you set that to no index it’ll set a tag within that page to tell Google if Google lands on that page don’t index that page and put it in their search engine follow versus nofollow so that’s basically telling the bots if you will that if they land on this page you know whether or not to follow links from this page again this page we want it to be fine it’s follow we want it indexed you know everything kind of default right there back this readability now let’s look at something else here let’s go back to the SEO so this shows you a preview of what this page will show up then look like in the search engine results so somebody actually does find this that’s exactly what they’re going to see so the question you have to think about and ask yourself is does this text that’s shown right here encourage somebody to want to click on that URL maybe it does maybe it doesn’t by default it’s just grabbing the first little bit of text that’s written into your blog post but we can change that so let’s go ahead and think for a minute here here’s a – what did I pick as focus keyword transcribed YouTube so and do you transcribe you to video to your blog posts all these steps went a little bit too far alright so you can see I have too many characters they’re not all going to show up it’s really that period at the end there so question is do I just leave the period off and that’s what it’s going to look like or do I look at this and see if there’s another place actually I can see right there that I spelled YouTube wrong so I can shorten it somewhere else put the period in so now when this shows up in search engine here’s a quick and easy way to add transcribed YouTube video text to your WordPress blog post include is a short video walkthrough showing all the steps that is probably going to encourage people to click on the link more than what was there previously you can also notice that the SEO has actually jumped to good because now we have defined Meta Description text additionally that meta description text we use the focus keywords so this is again this is going to help out with the search engine optimization if we wanted to we can change the title you can put in a custom title and I think the title is actually fun so I’m just going to leave that alone for right now and I’m going to here let’s look at one more thing so this is desktop preview mobile preview so you can see on the desktop preview that actually goes off the screen a little bit the name of the site but you can still see the full title of the blog post and I think that’s what people are going to care about the most there so I’m going to go ahead and click update and that post has been updated that specific post is now search engine optimized for the phrase that we put in there you don’t notice anything different here on the post now you can see that the category that I chose is showing up in the URL SEO if you want to get fancy let’s go ahead and just look at the page source you’ll notice that Yoast is actually added a number of things here for for this post so Yoast added a bunch of information right here so it’s defined the type it’s an article here’s the title of it there’s a description in there [Music] some keywords that we’ve got going on here so again just added this information it’s got you know links to the images to make it easier for social media sites to find it if we wanted to get into it and we did at this point you can do to find a twitter card again it just prevents you from having to understand all of the stuff yourself but it’s really very beneficial in optimizing your site overall and your individual posts and pages for search engines to be able to find them as shown show them up there so there’s a lot to search engine optimization but hopefully this is enough information to just kind of get you started I would go ahead and install the Yoast SEO plugin and start paying attention to that go back and look at some of your existing posts I’m going to be doing the same thing here I’ve got a lot of room for optimization here and then as you create new posts moving forward pay attention to those Yoast scores and tips and make sure that you change them and follow the suggestions that they make it’s going to help gain more traffic to your website and gain better visibility so that the peach people that you want to reach we’ll get reached hope this helps happy blogging