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Using The Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin for On-Page SEO

We’re taking a look at using the Yoast SEO plugin in your everyday blog use to optimize your content for search engines.

On every post type, Yoast SEO will place a “meta box” below the Visual Editor in WordPress. Go to Posts –> Add New and you’ll see what I mean.


This meta box is the bread and butter of Yoast SEO. Here’s what it all means.


Snippet Preview – this takes your meta data (ie, the page title and description) and shows you what it will look like in Google search results.

Focus Keyword – “what is focus keyword yoast seo” is a very common question about using Yoast SEO. It is the keyword you most expect your post to rank for, and best describes your post. In other words, if someone searched for your focus keyword, you would want (and expect) your post to show up in Google.

Filling out the Focus Keyword field in Yoast is not necessary, but can generally help you align your language with the language you expect people searching to use. Yoast will take your focus keyword and run a check to make sure you’ve used it appropriately throughout your post so that it will be obvious to search engines what your post is about. Additionally, even though Yoast SEO allows 1 field, you should be targeting a “theme” of keywords with your post so you don’t start stuffing the same keyword over and over.

SEO Title – often the title you want to use on your blog is not the most descriptive title for visitors coming through search engines (additionally, your page title is the #1 on-page factor search engines use to evaluate the relevance of your post). Filling out this field will replace your post title in the <title> tag while leaving the main title or headline intact.

Note – if you want to write a title tag that is longer that 512 pixels, you can. You’ll have to paste it into Yoast since the meta box won’t show it (though your website will).

Meta Description – this field allows you to customize the 2 lines of description that appear in the search results (and many social shares). It’s a great way to have a descriptive “advertisement” to potential visitors to click through. It’s not a ranking factor, but any keywords that appear in it will be bolded to stand out a bit more.  In many cases, you can simply copy/paste the excerpt into this section.

If you look at Content Analysis, Yoast SEO runs a quick check of your post for SEO best practices based on your focus keyword. Take all these recommendations as a very rough guide, and keep in mind that you should always write for the end user, not specifically for search engines. That said, usually these are best practices for SEO particularly because they also help the user. Look at the page analysis for ideas, but also look at your post with a critical eye towards what a user searching would be looking for and how you can answer their question.

Try your best to make the analysis turn green as in your post is good to go.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Guide


And you’re done! Publish or submit your post for review, and now the only bit remaining for your SEO is to promote your post and get people to share it & link to it…which is one thing Yoast SEO can’t help with.  🙂

Last Update: August 3, 2016  

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