Optimizing Your Posts & Pages with Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress

Written by: Peter Meinertzhagen


I love Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress. I have used many plugins, modules and extensions for a number of CMS’s (content management systems) that aim to assist in optimizing your website for search engines, but nothing beats Yoast’s offering for usability and functionality.

It is straightforward enough that even those without specialist SEO knowledge will find it useful, and powerful enough that it will become a go-to plugin for those who have worked in SEO for years. Want to know one of the reasons why WordPress is so popular? It is plugins like these – and the fact that WordPress makes them possible.

But, despite its relative simplicity, it can be confusing and even over-whelming to the initiated. I hope to break down those barriers to entry and show you the best of what this plugin has to offer.

We’re going to begin by looking at the options available to you within the Post/Page editing window in WordPress.

The Snippet Preview shows you what your SERP (search engine results page) entry will look like, using your specified Title and Meta Description. This is fantastic for immediately seeing how your result will look, as well as whether your chosen title and description will fit – even if you’ve kept within the recommended character count. I should point out that the snippet preview above is showing my own sites URL, not the URL for Eileen’s!

Focus Keyword is a wonderful feature for those unfamiliar or newer with SEO. If there is a particular keyword you wish to target with your page or post then enter it into the box and click the “Save Draft” button in the top right of the edit post/page window – if you don’t save a draft first, it won’t provide you with the detailed analysis later.

I don’t use this feature all that much myself, as I work in SEO on a daily basis, but I recommend it regardless – perhaps I should use it more often as it can provide insights which can be easily missed! Again, the example shown in the above image is just for illustrative purposes. You will be told underneath whether your focus keyword appears in the:

  • Article Heading
  • Page Title
  • Page URL
  • Content
  • Meta description

Did you miss placing your focus keyword in one of these? Perhaps you should revise your post or page and see if you can do so in a natural way.

Finally, you can specify a unique SEO Title and Meta Description. If you leave these boxes blank, the plugin will use the default template specified in the plugins options (which I will discuss in a future post). It is well worth spending the time to write a title and meta description that are unique and specialized for your page. In case you’re unsure, the title is what is displayed as blue text on the snippet preview, and the meta description is what is displayed under the URL (again on the snippet preview).

This article doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on what this plugin can offer. Next time you’ll be learning some more advanced options of Yoast’s SEO for WordPress.

Do you have any specific questions regarding the plugin? If so, let me know in the comments or via social media, and I’d be happy to give you an answer next time.

Peter Meinertzhagen | SEO | YoastThis is a guest post by: Peter Meinertzhagen is a SEO and Digital Marketing Consultant based in Oxfordshire, UK. Having transitioned into the world of SEO from teaching, he loves getting the opportunity to share what he’s learned and show people that SEO is not a dark art but something which every webmaster and blogger can get to grips with. You can find him on Google+ and Twitter.

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4 Responses to “Optimizing Your Posts & Pages with Yoast’s SEO Plugin for WordPress”

  1. Eileen Lonergan Says:

    Thank you for this post Peter. Very thoughtful and easy to understand!

  2. Peter Meinertzhagen Says:

    Thanks Eileen! I hope this shows people the basics of using this plugin on their pages and posts – it can also provide a more advanced analysis that we can look at in more detail next time.

  3. Julie Larson Says:

    Excellent post, Peter! I’m a big fan of the Yoast SEO plugin, too. One of the nice features is that when you click to see all of your pages or posts in your dashboard, you can tell at a glance which ones are green and which ones still need better optimization.

  4. Peter Meinertzhagen Says:

    Thanks Julie. Yes, that can be a useful feature, being able to see at a glance which pages/posts might need a bit of work (so long as you’ve set a focus keyword). However, as I hope to explain next time, the recommendations the plugin gives need to do be considered – for example, you may have set a focus keyword, and having optimized it the way you want the light is still orange, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.