Using the WordPress SEO Plugin to Analyze and Optimize Your Website

The WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin helps you write better and it simplifies on-page search engine optimization (SEO). It can also help you avoid getting blacklisted. Let’s learn how to use the heart of this free, WordPress-only plugin— its “Page Analysis” feature.

Using the WordPress SEO Plugin to Analyze and Optimize Your Website

WordPress SEO plugin: Not a Silver Bullet, But Close.

In my last post “Getting Started with Search Engine Optimization (SEO)”, I mentioned the importance of designing and writing for human beings first, and search engines second. I also reminded you that the largest search engine in the U.S., Google, does whatever is necessary to deliver a good experience to its end users… which may not necessarily be aligned with your business objectives.

Still, there are a lot of things you can (and should) do to be competitive.

Forget Everything You Know About On-Page SEO

One of the things I like about this plugin, is that I don’t have to remember that my Title tag, for example, should be no longer than 70 characters, or that my Meta Description is limited to 156 characters, and so on…

WordPress SEO by Yoast Screenshot

Getting Started: Define Your “Focus Keyword”

Another thing I like is that the WordPress SEO plugin helps a writer focus on a keyword phrase for each page. That alone is a very big first step for someone who is just getting started with SEO. And actually, unless you define the “Focus Keyword” for the page you are writing (or have written), the plugin won’t be able to analyze your page.

So, the first step for optimizing your web page is to define the “Focus Keyword” (or phrase) in the text field, so that the WordPress SEO plugin can analyze your page.

WordPress SEO by Yoast Screenshot

As you type the focus keyword/phrase you will see suggestions that are based on Google’s Autocomplete feature, however, it’s best to do some keyword research outside of this plugin to help you find keywords that are both popular and less competitive. Moz.com’s SEO Guide does a great job of explaining keyword research.

Getting the Green Light

After defining your keyword phrase, your goal is to get a “green light”, indicated by the colored sphere in between the “SEO:” text and “Check” link…

WordPress SEO by Yoast Screenshot

The way to “green light happiness” is to follow the advice under the “Page Analysis” tab, after you define your “Focus Keyword(s)”.

And that’s pretty much it! Just keep following the advice until you have a green light (overall)… or, take it even further by eliminating any trace of an orange or yellow light.

WordPress SEO by Yoast Screenshot

How cool is that?

But Wait, There’s More

In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been referring to all of this as “on-page” optimization.

Another big part of SEO is “off-page” optimization, which is basically about getting as many inbound links from high-quality and highly-trafficked web pages as possible.

How do you recognize such a web page/site? First of all, the web pages that link back to your web page will generally have a high “PageRank” (i.e., a number assigned by Google to measure the importance of a web page); and, these “backlinks” that point to your web page should not have rel="nofollow" attributes. More on that in another post.

Other Resources:

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