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Yoast: A Quick Guide to KIJO’s Favourite Simple SEO Plugin (WordPress)

  • 11 min read
  • April 29, 2024

Improving SEO on WordPress websites is more straightforward than you may think. That’s thanks to plugin tools like Yoast. In our professional opinion, Yoast is one of the tools that provides the best SEO for WordPress. It’s our favourite, simple SEO plugin WordPress offers and we use it for our own content marketing here at KIJO, as well as for our client’s WordPress websites.

So, we thought we’d put together a guide to Yoast for you explaining what it is and how to best utilise it!

What is Yoast?

Yoast homepage

Yoast is a WordPress plugin for SEO, and SEO stands for Search Engine Optimisation. Yoast helps you optimise your WordPress website’s pages so they’re best placed to rank well on Google. It helps you identify technical issues with your page, and gives you feedback on your content so you can tweak it to suit Google’s preferences. 

Is Yoast a Good SEO Tool?

Yoast product page

Yes, Yoast is a good SEO tool. For us here at KIJO, we think it’s a must-have. It makes SEO tasks easy to identify and complete and it does this well. Whilst all SEO tools are limited in some way, we think Yoast is the most straightforward and simple SEO WordPress plugin to use. It’s arguable that every WordPress website needs an SEO plugin if it wants any chance of being competitive. In our professional opinion, Yoast would be the go to for this world-leading content management system.

What is the Difference between Yoast and SEMRush?

Yoast Logo
SEMRush Logo

Both Yoast and SEMRush are excellent SEO tools, but Yoast is more tailored toward on-page content. It helps you make sure that your content is optimised and fulfils Google’s requirements so it has a better chance of ranking highly. 

SEMRush is an all-in-one digital marketing tool that enables you to implement basic and advanced SEO improvements, as well as analyse both yours and competitor sites. It is arguably more comprehensive than Yoast as it helps indicate growth opportunities too. However, when it comes to on-page content optimisation, Yoast is the tool of choice. It provides the best SEO for WordPress in particular.

How to Install Yoast on WordPress

Yoast installation page

Because Yoast is a WordPress specific SEO tool, you simply need to head to your WordPress dashboard

  • Then, go to the Plugins section
  • Select “Add New”
  • Then, type in “Yoast SEO”
  • Now, select “Activate”

Your Yoast SEO plugin should now be installed! Its option menu should appear on the left-hand side menu on your dashboard, and this is where you’ll find the settings of the plugin. 

How to Use Yoast’s Configuration Wizard

Yoast Configurtaion Wizard

Now you’re all installed, it’s time to complete your first-time configuration. This should be noticeably displayed to you when you click the new Yoast SEO tab. Completing this configuration will help Google better understand your content.

 1. SEO Data Optimisation

The first section is Yoast’s data optimisation. If your website is in a production environment, this is where you can use Yoast and its indexables to improve the technical issues on your site. It will analyse your site and find issues immediately. However, if your website is in a non-production environment, you’ll have to move to the next step and complete this stage another time.

2. Site Representation

This is where Yoast understands what your WordPress website is and what it’s doing. If your site represents an individual, you can use the dropdown menu to select this. If it’s an organisation, you can input the company’s name and upload its logo. Ideally, this should be a square-shaped image. Hit “Save”, then “Continue”.

3. Social Profiles

Now you can let Yoast know about your social media profiles like your business’s X (formerly Twitter), Facebook and Instagram pages. Be sure to only let Yoast know about the pages you actively want to promote. 

Have an Instagram account? Give KIJO a follow on Instagram. Our handle is @kijocreative.

4. Personal Preferences

The next step is to select your personal preferences for Yoast and let it know whether you want it to track your WordPress website’s data or not. It will also give you the option to sign up for the Yoast newsletter. 

Then, you’re all done!

The Yoast SEO Meta Box

Yoast SEO Meta box

So, you’re all set up. It’s time to start using Yoast. The Yoast meta box is arguably the most used SEO tool of the Yoast plugin. The meta box can be found underneath the WordPress editor (its exact location will vary depending on your theme and other active plugins). If you use the WordPress block editor, this information can also be found in the sidebar to the right of the page. 

The Yoast SEO meta box will analyse your content for its readability (how easy to read it is), and for how well it’s currently optimised for search engines. It will also let you configure the settings for how your content functions across social media and Google. 

Yoast’s SEO Tab

Yoast's SEO tab

In Yoast’s SEO tab, it will ask you for a ‘focus keyword’. This is the keyword or phrase that you ideally want your content to rank for on Google. You can discover good keywords to use in your content via keyword research. Type your keyword/phrase into the focus keyword input bar and this is what the Yoast SEO tab will analyse your content for. It won’t guarantee ranking, but it will help you identify if the content is working for that opportunity. 

Beneath this, you’ll see the SEO title box, the meta description and the slug box. 

  • The title box is what you want the Google title of the page to be (the title that appears on the search engine results page). 
  • The meta description is the brief piece of writing introducing what the article is about and appears as a line of text on Google under the title. 
  • The slug is the end of the URL. For example, our blog on keyword research, the URL is “https://kijo.co.uk/blog/keyword-research/”. The end of the URL is “keyword-research” and this is considered the slug. 

Yoast operates on a traffic light system. After inputting these sections, you’ll be assigned a colour by the Yoast tool. 

  • Red means that the SEO state is poor
  • Orange means the SEO state of the content is okay
  • Green means it’s working well

Below, the SEO tab will indicate how you can make improvements. These improvement suggestions may be that the meta description needs shortening, or the title page should include the focus keyword at the beginning. 

If you are signed up to Yoast Premium, you can access more advanced SEO analysis, keep track of the SEO performance of the page and include additional target keywords.

Yoast’s Readability Tab

Yoast’s Readability Tab

The ‘Readability’ tab, next to the SEO tab in the Yoast tool, operates the exact same colour system. It will read your inputted content and assess how easy it is to digest your content. Some issues that may be flagged are that there are too many long bodies of uninterrupted paragraph text, and using passive voice instead of active. You can then amend your copy and content in accordance with Yoast’s recommendations.

By selecting the icon of the eye next to each suggestion, it will highlight the exact areas in need of improvement within the content.

Cornerstone Content

The Cornerstone content tab can be found at the base of the Yoast SEO tab. Cornerstone content refers to the core pages of your website; the most important pages and posts on your website that you want to rank well. 

You should only select your best content, posts and pages that are going to be continuously updated as cornerstone content.

Advanced

Beneath the Cornerstone Content drop down is the Advanced drop down. It’s rare you’ll need to use this, as the default settings are usually the most desired ones. However, if you ever need to stop Google from showing a page in its search results, or prohibit it from following links on your pages, this is the section that allows you to do that.

Yoast’s Schema Tab

This tab’s actions help Google and other search better comprehend your content. You can specifically identify what sort of page it is, and then, if it’s an article, quantify it further into sub-categories like “blog post” or “report”. This is very beneficial for Google and other search engines.

Yoast’s Social Tab

This tab is only available with Yoast Premium. This allows you to manage how your content will appear on your Facebook and X (formerly Twitter) social profiles. Most of the time you won’t need to worry about this as Yoast will automatically generate this based on your SEO title and the content’s featured image. However, if you need to override this, this is where you would complete that task.

The Yoast Dashboard

The Yoast Dashboard

Now, we’ve gone through the main compass of Yoast (its meta box), let’s look at Yoast’s main dashboard. Any potential issues on your site regarding SEO will be highlighted here by the Yoast plugin, complete with instructions on how to rectify them. 

Then, you can move through the complementary tabs. 

Features

Yoast hosts several helpful features, but this is the tab where you can enable or disable the elements of the plugin you find most helpful or least helpful. This is also the section that allows you to enable or disable security for your content’s authors. For example, this may be helpful if you have a freelancer on your team who doesn’t have the authority to hide or edit existing content.

Integrations

The integrations tab will take you to a separate page where you can determine if you want your Yoast account to integrate with a third party product like SEMRush or a security plugin like Jetpack. However, you may require Yoast Premium if you use an e-Commerce platform like WooCommerce.

Webmaster Tools

This tab helps you verify your site with search engines. Simply enter your search engine verification code and select ‘Save Changes’.

Crawl Settings

This is a Yoast Premium only feature. This enables you to make your site’s crawling more economical by allowing you to remove post comment feeds, generator tags and more.

First-time Configuration

This is the tab for the activity you already completed when setting up Yoast for your site! You can revisit this tab whenever you need to edit or update this information.

Do I Need Both Yoast SEO and Yoast SEO Premium?

The Yoast Premium logo

Yoast SEO Premium is considered an add-on to Yoast SEO. If you want the premium version of Yoast, you need to install the free-version first and then install its premium companion. 

Yoast Premium certainly has many features that the basic version of Yoast doesn’t have like further integration with other platforms, an automated XML sitemap builder, and access to comprehensive support like its dedicated forum. However, if you’re new to SEO, Yoast’s free version is very sufficient. If you are looking for more comprehensive SEO support, we’d suggest working with website optimisation professionals. 

Yoast – It’s Not The Only Answer to Comprehensive SEO Support

KIJO Optimise branded logo page

Whilst Yoast is the best SEO for WordPress tools, the only way you can ensure comprehensive, continuous and reliable optimisation of your website is by using SEO specialists like us here at KIJO. 

Check out our KIJO Optimise Package. This package offers an in-depth audit of your site’s performance, UX, traffic and conversions. Looking at 113 data points, our expert team will pinpoint exactly how to make your site rank higher on Google, boost traffic, and increase conversion volume and ratio. Depending on the KIJO Optimise package you choose, we can check in on your website’s performance monthly or quarterly.

If that sounds like something for you and your business, contact us today.

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