WordPress SEO – Optimising Pages and Posts with WP SEO by Yoast
The Yoast plugin box will appear below your post text editor and has three tabs along the top – General – Page Analysis – Advanced
General is where you put the info for Google and the fields you have are;
- Snippet Preview
- Focus Keyword:
- SEO Title
- Meta description
So let’s go through these one by one;
Snippet Preview – is described as “This is a rendering of what this post might look like in Google’s search results.” And basically it shows you how your listing will look in the search results as a result of how you fill out the plug-in fields
Focus Keyword – is described as “Pick the main keyword or keyphrase that this post/page is about.” So each page or post should be targeting a specific keyword – if it’s not then you must ask yourself what does the page/post exist for? You should only be creating posts and pages if there is a need for them. And by need I mean that it contains info that your prospects and users are searching for and are interested in.
So when you are creating content first establish what it is that your target market is interested in finding out about and you do that by researching through Google’s keyword tool or another keyword research tool. If people aren’t searching there isn’t a need, if they are searching for it Google will tell you approximately how many searches there are and you can use this info to
choose an appropriate keyword from the list.
SEO Title – this is one of the most powerful features of the Yoast plugin – this is where you can specify a title only for Google, whilst your human readers will be presented with the title that you enter in the title box at the top of the page or post.
The beauty of this is that often your targeted keyword does not read especially well from a grammar point of view, or is not especially compelling.
So what you do is put an attractive and compelling title for human readers in the regular title box and a keyword-rich title in the SEO Title box for search engines.
Meta description – this is one of the most neglected areas of good SEO practice and ironically although it’s not a big SEO ranking factor it can make a big difference to your results.
Why do we do SEO? To be more visible and so to get more visits which will bring in more leads and sales, right?
So the meta-description is the descrition that appears in Google search results page and so if you think about it this description functions like an ad for your listing, for your page. If you write a relevant and compelling description then you have more chance of getting someone to click through to your page.
Many people just leave it blank and in that case Google will populate it with an excerpt that it pulls from the page – this is pot luck.
Others will write one meta-description and use that on every page – the meta description describes the page so should be unique for each page/post. Having a single description and using it on every page is not going to improve your click-through rates!
My system for writing a meta-description is as follows;
Keyword – features and benefits – call to action
The keyword goes at the beginning for consistency and relevance – if you have targeted a keyword or keyword topic then it almost certain that the searcher has entered in that phrase or a related one so having that main phrase there instantly connects your page with the search that has been made.
Features and benefits is really just benefits tbh – what will the searcher get from visiting your page? This should begin with “You will learn/understand/know how to” and then explain what they will gain.
Or start with a question or compelling statement;
- “What do You do when…?”
- “How do You…?”
- “Google will penalise your site if you don’t do this…”
Then finally use a call-to-action – a call-to-action is really just telling people what to do, so in this situation you want them to click through and read your post so your CTA would be –
“click here to read more”
You can boost up your CTA by including a benefit – “Click here to learn how to …”
You only get just over 150 characters so you need to be economical with your wording!
Ok there are two other tabs to consider as well so let’s briefly look at those
Page analysis – you will only get a page analysis breakdown if you set a focus keyword. Once you’ve set a focus keyword you will also get a small checklist on the general tab which tells you if your keyword is contained in
There are a couple of points to note about this – firstly there seems to be a bug in the ‘keyword in heading’ feedback on the general tab – it often claims the keyword is not in a heading tag when it clearly is, however more importantly you need to pick a general keyword for the Focus keyword tab because if you get too specific and then put that phrase everywhere in your meta-tags then that will almost certainly be considered as over-optimised by Google.
Pick a topic keyword and then populate your meta-tags with related and long-tail versions of that.
Now back to the page analysis – this will give you some idea about how Google might see your page and based on the feedback on this tab you may want to make some changes to your page.
Personally I’d ignore any feedback on keyword density – if you follow the advice given here and in other episodes on the subject you will be fine.
Advanced tab – from a personal point of view the only aspect of this tab that I have ever used is the ‘no-index’ option.
By default it is set to index – this refers to Google’s index – it’s search engine – do you want the page to be indexed and therefore searchable in Google. 99% of the time the answer will be ‘Yes’
Why would you want to no-index a page or post?
Well, if it is private and intended only for certain people to read then this would be one reason.
Another would be that it is a thin content page like a thank you page that someone goes to after they have signed up for something on your site. Google’s Panda algorimth that deals with content quality may penalise thank you pages as they have no content so it makes sense to no-index them.
So any pages that you don’t want to be publicly available set to no-index on this tab.
For each page/post you create identify a root keyword – a keyword topic and then select 4 or 5 related phrases. These are what you will ppulate your URL, title, headings with.
Put the root keyword into the focus keyword box and create two titles – a keyword rich one for SEO title and a compelling informative one for the regular title for human readers.
They may not always be different so it is fine if they are both the same.
Write a compelling and relevant meta-descritpion as discussed earlier and finally review the advanced tab to get some feedback on your optimisation. You may want to make some changes based on this feedback.
It’s important to remember that you should not put exactly the same keywords into all meta-tags as you may get penalised by Google.