Optimise your website for better search placement with WordPress SEO by Yoast
The aim of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is to boost your websites position in search engine result pages. Coming up before the competition increases the chance of a visitor choosing you over a competitor. Directly effecting how many people get the opportunity to complete your sites chosen conversion goal, such as making a sale.
In a lot of cases search engines such as Google deliver a large part of the traffic a site receives. Organic search traffic can be an excellent source of visitors, especially for those just starting out. Without a large budget for paid search placement, its tough to compete for search engine position.
The art/science of SEO often seems like an ever changing game. Industry blogs cover new techniques and best practices at a dizzying pace. Its a job in itself to keep up and I think this is likely one of the reasons SEO isn’t tackled by the core WordPress project.
One of the advantages of using the popular open source WordPress platform is the vast number of plugins available. The developer community around the project put out a vast number of plugins which serve all kinds of purposes.
When it comes to SEO, there are many popular plugins to choose from. Here at iWeb, we’re big fans of WordPress SEO by Yoast and have it configured on most of our WordPress sites. It’s a popular, well maintained plugin with close to 14 million downloads and a 4.7 out of 5 rating.
WordPress SEO by Yoast lets you take complete control of your sites SEO management. Let’s take a look at what this plugin can do to help optimise your website for better search placement.
Traditional meta data
WordPress SEO by Yoast adds a box to the post edit screen where you can add the basic meta data for each post. You can enter an optimised title and description. Filling out these boxes overrides the default page title and description search engines pick up. As you type, a little preview updates in real time, giving you an idea of what a search engine will display to users.
WordPress SEO by Yoast also lets you specify a “Focus Keyword”. But don’t confuse this with the old school keywords meta tag! Here you can enter a keyword or keyphrase which best represents the page. The field autocompletes with data from Google Suggest, just like when entering a search query into Google. This can help you find and choose an optimised keyphrase.
WordPress SEO by Yoast uses the focus keyword to give you some handy feedback. It checks for its usage within the URL slug, meta title and description as well as withing the content, including any headings. Using this feedback, you can optimise your page to best target your chosen keyword/keyphrase.
Content is king
The old adage holds true, content is king. High quality content is the key to attracting organic search traffic. One of the best features of WordPress SEO by Yoast is it’s Page Analysis tool. It helps you produce better content by providing in-depth feedback across a spectrum of metrics.
The plugin checks the page against a list of criteria and gives you quick, actionable feedback. Presented as a list of points with a simple indicator light. You get a green light if you’ve done well and a red light if improvement is possible.
Behind the scenes
Beyond basic on-page optimisation, WordPress SEO by Yoast provides a wealth of extra functionality:
- Breadcrumb trails to help users navigate larger, multi-level websites
- 301 redirects to route users and search engines when a document’s location is changed
- Generating XML sitemaps to help search engines spider your site
- Verifying your site with Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools
- Editing your .htaccess file
The plugin is well maintained and updated often. These updates can both introduce new features and in some cases, remove depreciated functionality. One such example is Google’s recently binned authorship markup experiment.
Google introduced the authorship concept around 2011. It allowed you to associate your content with a Google+ profile. Google would use this information to display the author’s name and photo next to search results.
Implementing authorship markup across a bespoke CMS would likely have been a time consuming task. Requiring time to research correct usage as well as developing suitable code. WordPress SEO by Yoast built-in support for authorship markup and delivered the feature via an update.
SEO techniques come and go. A well maintained, feature rich plugin such as WordPress SEO by Yoast can help keep you on top of the fast moving SEO landscape.
It’s easy-to-use interface guides you all the way. From the initial configuration to helping you consistently publish optimised content. It’s a solid solution that’s both completely free and open-source.
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