If you have a blog, you want it to show up in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when someone goes to big daddy Google and searches for a topic that you cover.
The idea is this – the higher you are in the SERPs, the more likely it will be that the searcher will actually click over to your blog.
Makes sense – right?
Well, the natural result of people being human beings is that we try to find a way to “work the system” and have gotten into all kinds of sneaky tactics to trick the search engines to rank us higher.
This is called Black Hat SEO (Search Engine Optimization).
No, no, this is not one of those articles, giving you all those strategies. This is NOT something I would EVER recommend for you to look into, because it’s a short term “solution” that can end up hurting your rankings in the long run. Or as I like to say – when Google has a mood swing 😉
The truth is – the principles of SEO are pretty simple .
Create good content, make sure the structure of your blog is optimized for the search engine to know it exists, and get people to like, share, link to and recommend your content. There you go – SEO in one sentence. What? You thought it was more difficult? Nahhh.
What I want to do in this article is talk to you about a plugin that helps with the second point – making sure the structure of your blog is optimized for the search engines.
The “WordPress SEO by Yoast” Plugin.
I’ve tested a number of SEO plugins in the past and none of them compare to the WordPress SEO plugin. It really is a pretty comprehensive plugin that does all of the following:
- Optimizes your blog for ranking in Search Engines
- Analyzes your pages and posts for how well they are optimized for specific keyword phrases
- Generates an XML sitemap of your blog. This basically creates an “index” of all of the URLs that are on your site, updates itself as URLs are added (posts and pages) and notifies Search engines whenever there’s something new. Sidenote: You need to submit your sitemap to Google and Bing webmaster tools webmaster to be most effective.
- Optimizes your content for social sharing – it gives you the ability to determine exactly what your post will look like when shared on social media, including the post image.
- A whole bunch of other technical stuff that’s not really important for you to know. Just know that where basic SEO is concerned, Yoast has your back 🙂
The ability to have all of this stuff taken care of by one plugin is just awesome (in my opinion). Let me show you how some of these features work.
Once you’ve written an article, it’s a good idea to see if you’ve structured the article in a way that it will be more likely to rank for the Keyword Phrase you may be targeting.
Now, this is not something I spend more than five minutes on and I don’t recommend for you to stress out about doing it. This plugin really makes it simple.
Having your focus keyword in a few basic places (like the title of the article, the URL, inside the body of the post and in the description) lets Google (and other search engines) know that your content is about that topic.
When you’re in the post editor, there’s a section below the post content area that allows you to set those basic details and it gives you a report letting you know if you’ve used the Keyword in those basic places.
It also gives you a green, yellow or red light as an indicator as to whether you did a good job with those basic things.
If you feel the need to do a little more keyword analysis and drill down even deeper as to how you can optimize your post, you can go to the “Page Analysis” tab and get some additional tips on how to make your post even more optimized.
Please note – if you took a look at the suggestions made above, you will see that there are things I could do to possibly improve my post optimization. I usually don’t go into it that deeply. I write for my audience first and the search engines second. So if how I layout my post seems to make sense to me for my audience, I ignore the suggestions made by this automated system. Don’t let trying to optimize your post for Yoast (hey that rhymes) consume a bunch of your time.
The last thing I pay attention to is the Social tab. In this tab, I’m able to have a different Title and Description on Social Media sites like Facebook and Google. I generally don’t touch that as I want it to be the same ones I use in the post.
However, I do upload a nice Facebook image so that when it’s shared on Facebook (and even on Google+), the image looks nice and purty 😉
So there you have it. That’s pretty much why and how I use the “WordPress SEO by Yoast” plugin. If you don’t have an SEO plugin installed, I recommend for you to install it today. If you think that the features of Yoast are so good that you want to switch from what you’re currently using, they make it pretty easy to import settings from other plugins. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free?
Questions for you
Do you use the “WordPress SEO by Yoast” plugin? If so, how do you like it? If you are using something else, what is it? Let us know in the comments area below.