Once you’ve gone through the Yoast configuration wizard on your website, it’s time to get familiar with how to use Yoast for effective WordPress SEO.
First, open a new post or page. Yoast SEO should be the same regardless of the theme being used on your WordPress website. In my screenshots, I’m just using the standard WordPress editor to add content to my post.
1. Make sure you see the Yoast SEO section where you add a new post, or edit an existing post or page.
It should be below the area where you add and edit content. If you see Yoast SEO but don’t see the form, just click the small arrow to the right of the Yoast SEO title to expand the box.
2. If you don’t see the Yoast SEO section on your post’s admin area, check your Screen Options tab in the upper right corner.
If you click the Screen options tab in the upper right, you should see some checkboxes. These checkboxes toggle your viewing options on the page.
3. If you see a Yoast SEO checkbox, make sure it is checked to have the Yoast features viewable on your page.
Once you’ve checked the box, then scroll down to see it on your editing page.
***IMPORTANT: Since Yoast evaluates the content on your page and scores for SEO best practices, you need to add content to your page to make Yoast work for you.
WordPress SEO and Yoast
Sample Yoast Window
In this image, you can see what the Yoast SEO window looks. Yoast popped in the information from my content into the SEO title and description. What you can see, though, is that there’s a character limit, so the description just trails off.
Also in the snippet preview window, you can see a mobile phone icon along with a desktop icon right next to the [ Edit Snippet ] button. When clicked, each of these icons show you what your post or page will look like in search engine results, like Google. I prefer to preview the snippet using the desktop icon because there’s a shorter character limit for the title in desktop mode. What this means is, if I’m not too long in desktop preview, it will work for both desktop and mobile results.
You’ll also see the Focus keyword field at this point even before you edit the snippet. You can certainly add a focus keyword at this point, although you may want to wait until you’ve added the content on the page. By waiting until after you’ve added content, you can ensure the Focus Keyword used is appropriate for your content. Also, the focus keyword is not limited to just one word and several words can be used in this spot. The most important thing to consider is that the focus keyword reflects the content on the page.
Again, after you’ve added the content to your page, click the [ Edit Snippet ] button to see the entire form and get started.
Update the Yoast SEO form
Update the SEO title
As the image shows, the SEO title is what is displayed as your page or post title in search engine results. Yoast SEO automatically adds your posts’ information according to how you set up Yoast during the configuration process. By default, what you see in the SEO title field is the code that represents your posts’ information. In my case, it’s the title, page, separator, and then site name. Even though I set up preferences in the configuration wizard, I always tweak the title so it’s not too long, or too short, but instead, just right.
Check your Slug
The Slug is used to link to your post or page. This is automatically set based on your WordPress website’s permalink settings. Generally speaking it’s best to keep these short and omit words like the, a, an, etc.
CAUTION: Be careful about changing the slug on posts or pages that are already live. If you change the slug on pages that are live, it could result in “page not found” errors. To avoid errors, the paid version of yoast offers page redirection or you can use another redirection method or plugin. To be safe, simply tweak the slug on newly created pages rather than already established pages.
Enter your Meta description
The Meta description is what search engines display just below your SEO title. Making changes to the Meta description is a good idea because you want your pages’ descriptions to accurately reflect what’s on the page. There’s a character limit to the meta description, so make sure you’re description is concise and accurate.
The focus keyword or keyword term should be just a couple of words that cover what the post or page is about. Keywords are what people type into search engines to find what they’re looking for. So, when choosing your focus keyword, think about how people will find your page or post. In the case of this page I’m working on, I chose “wordpress seo” for my focus keyword. This is because my focus is using the Yoast plugin to help with WordPress SEO.
Here’s what my completed Yoast SEO form looks like:
After you’ve added your content, updated your form with the focus keyword, SEO title and meta description, save your post (either click Save draft draft or Publish if your post is live or ready to be live).
Once you do, you’ll see “Readability” and “SEO” toward the bottom of the Publish box. Take a look at the Yoast icons to the left of “Readability” and “SEO” to see what color they are. Here, the Yoast icon acts as a score indicator for your content’s readability and SEO.
Green indicates that you’re good to go.
Orange indicates that your post is okay, although you can improve it, if you want.
Red indicates that your scores are low and should be improved so your post is effective in terms of SEO.
We’ve talked a lot about SEO, but what about readability?
The content on posts and pages should be clear, well formatted, and easy to read. Click on the Readability tab in Yoast, to get a breakdown of your content’s readability. Take a look at how things like the sentence and paragraph lengths, use of headings, and passive voice figures into the score.
Here are a couple of screenshots of the readability and focus keyword analysis from another post I wrote. As you can see, I’m okay with a few issues if my overall score is good while maintaining a voice that’s authentic for me.