If you have a WordPress site and would like to work on search engine optimization (SEO), then you might want to check out the Yoast SEO plugin. While there are a number of SEO plugins for WordPress, Yoast SEO is used by over 5 million websites. I find that it’s a good way to become better acquainted with SEO practices and make sure your site’s content is working for you. I’ve installed Yoast SEO on clients’ sites, as well as my own, because it’s pretty easy to use and it keeps you focused on SEO whenever a new post or page is added.

Because I’ve had folks ask me about how to use Yoast SEO, I’m going to go over it a bit here.

First time SEO configuration | ginny rogers | mohawk valley web design

1. Go through Yoast’s configuration wizard.

Yoast SEO’s configuration wizard goes through the basic settings for your website.

  1. Welcome Screen. On the first welcome screen, click the “CONFIGURE YOAST SEO” button to start the wizard.
  2. Environment. Choose Option A if your site is live. If your site is under construction, choose Option B.
  3. Site type. Select your site type from the options available.
  4. Company or person. Choose whether your site represents a company or person.
  5. Social Profiles. Add all of the social media profile URLs you want to include at this stage. The format needs to include http:// or https:// (if your site has an SSL security certificate). For example, it should look like
  6. Search engine visibility. The defaults on this page should work well for you. You will be able to check and change these options under the FEATURES tab.
  7. Multiple Authors. Choose whether your site will have a number of authors or just one to prevent duplicate content.
  8. Google Search Console. You can integrate google webmaster tools by getting a Google authorization code and entering in the field available. If you don’t want do this step now, hit the Next button, and you can go back to this in the WEBMASTER TOOLS tab.
  9. Title settings. You can change or specify your site’s title here. You can choose whatever title separator you want. This will be used to separate the site title from page, posts, and category titles.
  10. Newsletter. You can add your name and email address if you want to get a newsletter featuring the Yoast SEO plugin. If you don’t want to do this, just hit next without entering anything.
  11. Premium upgrade. If you want to upgrade, you can do that here. You might want to first get familiar with the plugin before upgrading. It’s completely up to you. If you’re not ready to upgrade, just click the next button at the bottom.
  12. Success! Now that you’ve finished the basic setup, you can get started with using Yoast SEO on your pages and posts.

Once you go through the configuration wizard, you’ll return to your main Yoast SEO Dashboard. Whenever you click General under the SEO menu on the left admin navigation menu (#4 SEO settings in image screenshot), you’ll return to your main Dashboard.

2. Features.

As mentioned during the configuration wizard, the features tab has several options that you can switch on or off. If you have questions on any of the features, you can click on the “?” in the circle next to the feature’s title for some explanation on the feature. All of the featured options should be on.

A word about XML sitemaps. XML sitemap generators create a list of your website’s pages, posts, categories, etc., for search engines to use to index your website. Search engines need to index your site for your site to come up in their results. Sitemap generators are beneficial because not only do they index you site, but they also notify Google when your site has been updated.

If you have multiple sitemap generators in different plugins, they will most likely conflict with one another. Either use the one in Yoast, or your preferred XML sitemap generator, but not both at the same time.

3. Webmaster Tools.

The Webmaster Tools allows you to integrate analytics from various sites in Yoast SEO. I use Bing and Google webmaster tools to submit and update sitemaps regularly and view traffic, analytics and stats associated with my websites. Verifying your webmaster tools associated with search engines like Google and Bing will add meta tags to your website allowing you to connect your site to these search engines webmaster tools.

Find out more about Google webmaster tools on and Bing webmaster tools on

4. Yoast SEO Settings

Just to become a bit more familiar with Yoast, click through the different admin menu items in the left column under SEO.  While under tools there is the ability to do bulk edits, it’s better from an SEO perspective to do this per page. Check out how to make Yoast work for youon all of your website’s posts or pages.

Five Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Questions Answered

As part of an ongoing conversation about websites and web design, I was asked some questions about search engine optimization (SEO) and have done my best to give some straightforward answers. Here we go!

What is SEO?

SEO is the process of working on web pages and websites in such a way so that without paid ads, they come up in search engines, like Google and Bing. SEO is also referred to as organic or natural optimization because it’s seen as a natural way to increase visibility in search engines by using the content that’s on web pages throughout a website.

How does it help?

Generally speaking, SEO helps websites get seen by coming up in search engine results. Sometimes, people I work with want their websites built and then kind of stop there. Often, they wonder why they’re not getting leads from their website. In order to get leads from your website, it has to come up in search engine results, like Google. The thing of it is that SEO is an ongoing process; it’s more than putting a few words on a page. SEO work is just as important as adding new content. Whenever new content is added, SEO should be part of the page or post work. SEO incorporates quality content and page optimization to help websites appear in search engine results.

What is a keyword?

Keywords, or keyword terms, are an essential part of the SEO process. Keywords are terms that people might google to find your website. In fact, SEO work should focus on keyword terms that describes the content on each page. For example, if you’re a building contractor that specializes in metal building construction and you just created a page featuring your most recently completed project, you may want to include content that details or expands on “metal building construction” in addition to the location of the construction project in your content.

What makes a good keyword?

Effective keywords are often a combination of commonly used words used to search for something along with additional context to narrow down the results.

From a search perspective, let’s say you’re looking to find a manual for your computer. You wouldn’t just search for computers. You’d probably include your computer’s model and the year you purchased it. This would give you more accurate results. So, you’d probably search using a keyword term something like “MacBook Pro 2017 manual”.

Similarly, when you’re implementing keywords or keyword terms on your website, you want to include as much additional context as possible. For example, if you’re a photographer based in a specific location and focus on documentary photography, you may want to consider a keyword term like “Clovis documentary photography”.

How do I optimize my site to rank higher in Google searches?

There’s so much to consider with this question.

The first step is keyword term research

The first step is to do keyword term research to determine what keywords will be the most productive for your website. Keyword terms should not be too broad and too competitive; they need to have context. Also, depending on your target audience, keyword terms should be easy enough for people to google keeping in mind they may not be as knowledgeable as you are in what you do. I’ve known folks who use industry-specific terms that people in their target market would not know or understand.

Once you have your keyword terms sorted out for each page, then it’s time to include them in your pages’ content.

A word of caution here: the content needs to be quality content, not just stuffed with a lot of keyword terms, or your website may be dinged by search engines like Google. Quality content doesn’t employ “SEO tricks” to trick site visitors just to increase ranking. Google doesn’t like this. And if Google doesn’t like it, you’re less likely to come up in Google’s results. Quality content is informational with a clear understanding of what the page is about, what it offers, and how it can help site visitors.

One thing that’s often overlooked when it comes to ranking in Google searches is page loading or page speed optimization.

This is really very important, especially to Google, because the majority of access on the web is with mobile devices. Google even created it’s own code AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to highlight how important it is. If a page takes to long to load, it can mean that the page’s images may be too large, there are too many scripts on a page, or there’s a lot of code to process. You can test your website’s page speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights. This will give you a breakdown of what you need to address on your web pages to ensure the pages are optimized.

Web pages should be mobile friendly and optimized for mobile devices in order to rank well. WordPress is great on mobile devices, just make sure the theme used on your website works well on mobile devices.

Finally, SEO work should be considered for the site as a whole, as well as each page. Pages and posts should always point to the website’s overall focus and message. A website’s overall message should be given additional context throughout pages and posts.