How often do you think about SEO when you’re making regular updates to your website? If the answer is “not often”, you may need some help. The best known WordPress plugin for SEO is called Yoast SEO and it’s truly the industry standard when it comes to having an easy-to-use but also very effective SEO plugin.
Here are just a few of the features that make Yoast SEO the one plugin to get for all things WordPress SEO:
1. Check your pages for the relevant keywords
Keywords are the way search engines determine what your website is about and how to rank it. That makes them incredibly important. If you’re trying to write a page about “lawn tools for summer gardening”, for example, it may not be good enough to simply write down the content as you want it. Your content should have certain keywords to help your page rank higher for that topic. These keywords need to be in the right place (such as the opening paragraph) and also need to not be mentioned too often, lest the search engine decide you’re trying to game the system.
Yoast lets you do all that. The plugin adds a Yoast SEO metabox on the post edit screen. This metabox allows you to add meta title and description for your blog post, which in and of itself helps search engines digest and rank your page. But the plugin also allows you to choose a focus keyword for your post. You plug in your relevant keyword, and it checks the rest of the content, giving you suggestions on what to change, add, or remove to improve the SEO of your page.
2. Add schema.org code to your pages
This code helps search engines know more about your website, and it also makes it easier for them to pull out key content from your site in case they want to feature it, as with Google’s Featured Snippets at the top of search results. As of now, Yoast is the only plugin with this functionality.
3. Preview your search result listing
This feature helps you see exactly how your webpage will appear in search listings, in case you want to change the title or meta description of a particular page to make it more compelling.
4. General readability check
No one ever thinks they need an editor, but most of us certainly do. Every webpage could benefit from a quick evaluation for readability — checking for things like run-on sentences, breaking up walls of text with headings and subheadings, and using transitions to lead the reader from point to point. Yoast does this for you, and by making your page more usable to the visitor, helps to further boost your search rankings.
5. Technical stuff related to crawlers
As you probably know, search engines crawl your website every once in a while to catch updates. Your site’s structure can make this easy for them to do, or it can make it difficult. Yoast takes some simple steps to ensure that when search engines come to your site, they have as easy of a time as possible getting the information they need, which again translates into better search result outcomes.
With all these features, you would think that Yoast would charge an arm and a leg for this plugin, but it’s actually offered free of charge. There is a premium version for $89 USD that adds some extra features, but for must users just starting to think about SEO, the free version gets them where they need to be.
One of the best parts of Yoast SEO is that it’s also inadvertently a learning tool—by directing you to take the right steps when it comes to readability and SEO keywords, it teaches you how to think about SEO. After you start using the tool, you may find yourself doing these SEO best practices even before you’re prompted by the tool to do them.