When you first begin blogging, learning about SEO can be filled with an abundance of “what da hecks” and sighs galore. In this post, I wanted to debunk the confusion and work together at the beginner’s level in WordPress, through a plugin called Yoast SEO. (Lucky us, it’s free!) This plugin allows you to input different keywords within your blog posts and your website, without overwhelming you. Think of it as a gentle welcoming into the world of optimization.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the act of increasing the amount of traffic you receive to your website, through different optimization techniques. These techniques range from implementing terms and phrases throughout your website, to improving user experience, to increasing the amount of internal links you have within your content (and more!).
As mentioned, today we’ll be focusing in on keywords.
Why is SEO necessary?
To put it simply, search engine optimization is necessary because it helps you get seen. Showing up in a search engine’s results (especially at a high ranking) will increase the quality and quantity of traffic you receive to your blog.
Step 1 — Install the Yoast SEO plugin
Head on over to “Plugins” in your WordPress navigation menu. Click “Add New”. Type in “Yoast SEO” in the search field and proceed to install and activate the plugin. The plugin will now appear in the navigation menu.
Step 2 — Set up your info
Once you’ve installed and activated Yoast, it’s now time to input all of your information into the plugin. Let’s go over what each submenu contains.
Dashboard tab: lets you know if there are any SEO issues going on with your website and if any updates have been made to the plugin.
General tab: has a configuration tutorial if you need help setting up.
Features tab: allows you to enable and disable different features.
Your Info tab: is where you’ll input your website’s name and your own name.
Webmaster Tools tab: allows you to verify your website with a search engine. (Google ftw.) To do so, simply click on the blue link and follow through with the instructions.
Security tab: gives you the ability to enable or disable other authors on your website to make changes to Yoast SEO boxes.
Titles & Metas —
General tab: is where you can select the symbol you’d like to use as your title separator.
Homepage tab: is where you’ll set up what you’d like your homepage’s title to be, alongside your homepage’s description.
Post Types tab: is where you’ll input the template you’d like to use for your different types of posts. This is only necessary to change if you don’t like the default Yoast SEO settings.
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%% means: title of the page > page name > chosen title separator > name of your website.
Taxonomies tab: lets you organize how your categories and tags are displayed in search engine results. If you wouldn’t like your category or tag pages to appear in the search engine, select ‘noindex’.
Archives tab: allows you to arrange your content based on the author or the date. If you happen to be the only one running the show on your website, select ‘noindex’ under Meta Robots. This will prevent your content from showing up as duplicates in the search engine.
Other tab: gives you the option to implement more settings throughout your website. I however, recommend just leaving these fellas alone.
Accounts tab: is where you’ll input your URL’s for all of your social media profiles. This lets search engines know that those accounts are affiliated with your website.
Facebook tab: grants you the ability to enable or disable open graph meta data. I recommend leaving it as enabled, as this will allow you to tailor your Facebook sharing info. You can also select a backup photo in this tab. This essentially means that if your page doesn’t have an image, the photo you uploaded here will be applied. Sign up for Facebook Insights & Admin by clicking the button (if it tickles your fancy).
Twitter tab: grants you the ability to enable or disable open graph meta data. Again, I recommend leaving it enabled. For the ‘summary’ and ‘summary with large image’ section, the choice is up to you, however, I prefer selecting the ‘summary with large image’, as large images are a lot more eye-catching than plain text.
Pinterest tab: is where you’ll get all signed up for Pinterest Rich Pins. This one’s hella important, so just make are to follow through with the instructions listed.
Google+ tab: lets you input your Google+ URL to add metadata into your WordPress editor.
XML Sitemaps —
In this submenu, Yoast generates a sitemap for you to submit to search engines. What’s a sitemap, you ask? Well, it’s pretty much just how search engines check out (aka crawl) your website. It also lets them know of any changes you may have made to your blog.
The only “must do” for this section is to ensure that the XML Sitemap functionality is enabled. Other than that, there isn’t much to do in this section of the plugin, but here are a few suggestions:
Post Types tab: is where you can exclude different types of content from the search engine. If you’ve set something to ‘noindex’ in a previous submenu, you can disable them here as well.
Excluded Posts tab: allows you to enter in a string of post ID’s to exclude from the search engine.
I recommend leaving these settings as is. However, if you’re looking to get a better grasp of their functions, they are as follows:
Breadcrumbs tab: assists a website visitor to keep track of where they are on a website.
Permalinks tab: lets you change how the URL will look in your browser’s address bar.
RSS tab: is used to automatically add content to your RSS. This is particularly useful for bloggers who use websites like Bloglovin’, as it’ll help search engines identify you as the original source of the content.
Step 3 – Determine your Keywords
Use a tool like the Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to analyze your keyword competition.
Step 4 — Input the Keywords
Throughout Your Post —
With the keywords or phrase you found from the Google Adwords Tool, strategically place them throughout your post to amplify your SEO. Of course, don’t just place them in random spots; make ’em flow naturally.
Post Title —
In the Yoast SEO box at the bottom of your post, you’ll see that it gives you the option to input a different post title, than the one you initially chose. This means that you can input a cool, eye-catching blog post title in WordPress, and then scroll down to your Yoast SEO plugin box, and input a keyword rich blog post title. Win-win.
Meta Description —
This is the summary of what your blog post is about. It’s not any regular old summary though — This is the summary you detail with the intention of ranking high in a search engine. Make sure to include those keywords!
Step 5 — Fine-tune your Permalink
A permalink is the URL of your blog post or page. If you click on your address bar right now, you’ll see that my permalink for this page is http://nialogique.com/seo-beginner/. The ‘seo-beginner‘ is what I chose for this page to be permanently named.
Once you’ve named and saved your permalink, don’t alter it going into the future, as it will lead your visitors to a 404 error page.
And there you have it folks! Let me know if you have any questions in the comment section below. 🙂