8 SEO Dilemmas Solved by the Yoast Plugin
Yoast is a popular plugin which is compatible with most free and premium WordPress themes. It is renowned for its simple red-amber-green traffic light system, giving you a visual health check over every aspect of your SEO.
This article looks at eight common SEO dilemmas which can be solved, often with the click of a mouse, by the Yoast plugin. You may watch a YouTube video on how to install the WP SEO by Yoast Plugin.
COMPETING WITH YOURSELF ON KEYWORDS (AKA CANNIBALIZATION)
In order to unlock Yoast's SEO power, you will need to choose a focus keyphrase for each individual post and page. Yoast will then be able to analyze your content and meta fields to ensure you are optimized for that keyphrase. As a reminder, keywords need to be in your title, H1 headings, meta title, meta description and your actual content. If it makes sense, also include it in your permalink URL.
Better still, Yoast will automatically detect if you have already chosen that keyword phrase for another post and page. You can then either re-optimize one of the competing pages for a different keyword or combine them both for an even more valuable page.
META TITLES WHICH ARE TOO LONG, TOO SHORT OR NOT OPTIMIZED
Page titles displayed on Google's search engine results pages (SERPs) should normally be between 50 and 60 characters long. Any longer and they risk being truncated (cut short). However, it can be difficult to judge how long your meta titles are without help.
Yoast helps webmasters write the ideal meta title by providing a colored bar beneath the text box in which you enter the title. When the title is of the ideal length, the bar will turn green. The SEO analysis will also confirm whether your focus keyphrase is in the meta title or not. You should try and include keyphrases near the front of your meta title as they carry greater SEO weight.
Yoast even allows you to set a template meta title structure by arranging custom fields in a specific order. Individual page meta titles you add will override the template.
UNOPTIMIZED META DESCRIPTIONS
As with meta titles, Yoast enables you to type in a meta description for each page and post directly into a text box while monitoring its character length. Again, if the colored bar is green, your meta description is long enough to include all necessary info but not too long that Google truncates it.
Meta descriptions can be thought of as a short advert since, together with the title, it will be the first contact between someone searching for a product, service or information and potentially visiting your landing page. If you don't write one, Google will automatically generate one for you but this is not normally as reader-friendly. In the SEO analysis section, Yoast will alert you if your focus keyword is not included in your meta description.
Both meta titles and meta descriptions can be viewed as they would appear on Google SERPs by viewing the 'snippet preview.'
CONFUSION OVER KEY CONTENT
If your website or blog is well-established, you may have hundreds if not thousands of posts and pages. Some of these will contain your core content and drive most interest and/or sales. However, it is not always easy to keep track of this content.
Yoast terms this content as 'cornerstone content’ as it forms the building blocks of your website. To help you keep track of this vital content, Yoast enables you to mark individual pages or posts as cornerstone content. It will then analyze these pages in more depth while giving you the option of filtering the pages. For example, by only displaying those cornerstone pages which have not been updated in 3 months, you can quickly zone in on and start working on your most valuable content.
CONTENT IS PRODUCING LOW ENGAGEMENT
Is your dilemma more about what happens when people arrive on your landing pages? If you have healthy levels of relevant traffic, the readability of your content may be the problem.
To solve this issue, Yoast provides a readability analysis for each post and page. Perhaps your sentences or paragraphs are too long or too short. Maybe your sub-headings aren't well-distributed. If you are using an overly passive voice, this is another thing Yoast will alert you to. Yoast will also use the Flesch reading test to check whether your text is pitched at the right level.
Writing engaging content is just as important to ranking as its structure. After all, poor user experience will trigger metrics such as high bounce rate and reduced time on site which will negatively affect SEO.
DUPLICATE CONTENT IS AFFECTING RANKINGS
Few website owners choose to copy content deliberately but it is easy to accidentally do so. For example, if you sell houses you will probably choose from one of many high quality real estate WordPress themes which make categorizing properties simple and automatic. However, when Google comes across a main category page with one item and an individual page with the same item, it regards them as duplicate content and reduces the SEO value of both pages. In addition, some multipurpose WordPress themes automatically add parameters and session IDs to URLs after various types of user interaction. This is great for tracking purposes but not so much for SEO as it creates technical duplication. Another common issue is having both a www and non-www version of the same page.
The only option used to be to turn off tracking and to use 301 directs. Yoast solves this dilemma by providing the option to specify the preferred (or canonical URL) for a piece of content.
GOOGLE IS WASTING TIME INDEXING LOW QUALITY PAGES
By default, Google robots don't know which of your posts and pages are important and which are not. The problem is, there is a content and time limit to how much of your site robots will crawl.
GOOGLE IS NOT INDEXING YOUR WEBSITE OFTEN ENOUGH
Yoast also offers XML sitemap support so that whenever you update content on your website, a new XML sitemap will be generated. This will contain all of the pages on your site minus those you have marked as noindex.
This feature can be toggled on and off via the 'XML sitemap' switch on the 'Features' tab of your General-Yoast SEO settings (under the main SEO-General menu of your WordPress dashboard). There is also a link on that page which will display the current sitemap for you.
Advanced users can add code to limit the number of entries on a sitemap.
Good SEO is vital if you want to appear prominently in search engine rankings. The Yoast SEO plugin can solve many common dilemmas from cannibalization, poorly optimized meta descriptions and inefficient indexing to content that doesn't read well to the human visitor.