Quick start with Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress and SEO best practices

by Chris

Yoast offers a very powerful free SEO management plugin for WordPress. The Premium version offers many features, but the free version is more than adequate with a bit of SEO best practice knowledge.

  1. Install Yoast SEO and activate the plugin: https://en-gb.wordpress.org/plugins/wordpress-seo/
  2. Quick setup: Go to SEO dashboard from the menu, click on the General tab and click Open the configuration wizard.
  3. Choose Configure Yoast SEO.
  4. Follow the steps choosing the appropriate options for your site.
  5. Once you’re done you’re ready to go.

SEO best practices

When creating content, a page or post, for your site you’d need to consider how your audience will find your content. Yoast helps you manage the technical optimisation.

Yoast will automatically add meta data based on the content of your page or post. With some tweaking, you can strategically tailor your SEO.

Edit your page or post and scroll down till you see the Yoast SEO panel. Here you will find a preview snippet of how the page would look like in a search engine results page.

You can also edit this meta data by following SEO best practice guidelines:

Meta titles

1. Use no more than 65 characters including spaces
Keep all titles to 65 characters or less (including spaces). This is because search engines truncate (cut off) titles in Google search results over that number.

2. Unique
Make sure your title is unique. It’s not helpful for people if search results show a list of pages with the exact same title.

3. Clear and descriptive
Titles should be clear and descriptive. The title should provide full context so that people can easily see if they’ve found what they’re looking for.

4. Front-load with the most important keywords
Front-load your titles. The most important information and keywords the user is mostly likely to have searched should be at the beginning.

5. Be clever, but not too clever
Avoid puns or wordplay since these can make the content difficult to find.

Meta descriptions

1. 160 characters including spaces
Keep all descriptions to 160 characters (including spaces). Make sure you cover the main point of the page or post within the summary.

2. Keeping it accessible
Summaries should end with a full stop. It can help people who use assistive technology like screen readers.

3. Compelling meta descriptions
Write compelling and unique meta descriptions and use plain English (don’t use words like ‘require’ or ‘obtain’). Avoid duplicate meta descriptions. Keep summaries active and include a verb.

4. Keywords
Include keywords – especially ones you haven’t included in the page title.

5. Avoid less known acronyms
Only use acronyms if they are very common, such as EU and NATO. SA (South Australia) is not a commonly understood acronym. It can be confused with South Africa or South America.

6. Non-alpha characters
Do not use quotes or any non-alpha characters (Google, cuts them out of the meta description).

Image credit: https://www.sandcrestseo.com