WordPress SEO by Yoast is one of the most useful WordPress plugins available. It’s been downloaded by millions of WordPress users. At the WordPress plugin review page, there are almost 1000 reviews, with a rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars. If you are like me and always check reviews before you download a plugin, you will agree that those are some impressive stats.
WordPress SEO by Yoast does several things that make it so helpful.
- It analyzes your post based on a focus keyword of your choice. It checks on your use of the focus keyword in the title, headings, and text.
- It looks at your title and lets you write a meta description of the post that appears on sites where you might promote your post such as Google+.
- It comes with Twitter card implementation, which means when you post to Twitter a description of the post appears in the tweet.
- It gives your post a rating of good, okay, or bad and teaches you how to improve your score if it isn’t as good as you want.
Let’s look at how it does the things I mentioned in more detail.
WordPress SEO by Yoast Analyzes Your Post with a Focus on Your Keywords
When the plugin is installed, a panel appears directly under your post. This is where you enter focus keywords and meta descriptions as well as learn how to improve your post and create meta descriptions targeted for particular social media if desired.
The snippet preview shows you how the post will look to the search engines. You enter the focus keyword and the meta description. As you enter the meta description, it tracks your characters and tells you how many are left. Save the draft of your post to see how SEO Yoast graded what you’ve done.
Your rating appears in the Publish panel.
The green disc next to SEO in the publish panel indicates that I’m doing pretty well with things. Yellow indicates okay and red is bad. If you click the “Check” link next to the colored disc, you are returned to the WordPress SEO by Yoast control panel, where the second tab gives you Page Analysis. You see the same info by selecting the Page Analysis tab.
By looking at the page analysis, I can see what I need to change. I changed one of my H2 headings after checking this. I appreciate getting the reading level analyzed, because I tend to write long convoluted sentences, rather like this one, that decrease readability.
Customize the Meta Description for Different Sites
If you select the Social tab in the control panel, you can customize the meta description for specific sites.
Twitter Card Implementation with WordPress SEO by Yoast
Using Twitter cards makes a big difference in how your tweets display. The heading, the description, and a photo all show up on Twitter if you use a Twitter card. Here’s an example of how a tweet with a Twitter card looks:
With the plugin installed, an SEO category appears in your WordPress Dashboard menu sidebar. Clicking anything in this menu takes you to the Yoast WordPress SEO dashboard, so I always make sure I’ve saved my draft before I use this menu.
Select Social and then select the tab for Twitter.
Select the Twitter card meta data checkbox and supply your Twitter Username. Save. Follow the link to the Twitter Card Validator, where you’ll pick a card type, grab some embed code to add to the document HEAD of your page, and apply for Twitter card approval.
A Few Final Options
The screen shots above show a number of options and settings I didn’t have the space to get into in this post. On the Advanced tab, there are options for redirects, Canonical URLs and more. Options in the sidebar SEO category will take you to the Yoast WordPress SEO dashboard where you can set up your site with Google and Bing webmaster tools, make choices about titles and meta settings, enable an XML sitemap, make choices about permalinks, internal links, breadcrumb settings, RSS feeds, import settings from other plugins, and edit your robots.txt and .htaccess files.
I’m not a heavy user of plugins, but this one provides a lot of benefits. I think you’ll find it helpful. You can download the plugin from the developer’s site at yoast.com or from the WordPress plugin directory.
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