WordPress SEO by Yoast
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or unpaid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users.
WordPress does a great job of SEO straight out of the box but that doesn’t mean that you should take it for granted that it’s perfect from the get go. Spending a little time to understand SEO best practises and making a few simple tweaks could work wonders to improve your rankings.
There are a few SEO plugins out there that can help with this but the one we have chosen to install as standard on all helpfulwebhosting websites is WordPress SEO by Yoast. Here are some of our favourite features and why we chose this plugin over its competitors.
Optimisation Templates and Individual Overrides
You can set up templates in the general settings to optimise your website’s titles, but the plugin also allows you to override these for each an every post and page before you publish. It inserts a section underneath the text editor where you can preview how your post or page will appear in Google’s search engine results and tweak it accordingly.
Google only shows a limited number of characters in its results:
- Title – 70 characters (including spaces)
- Description – 156 characters (including spaces)
Where the number of characters exceeds these limits, Google shows as many whole words as possible and then truncates the rest. In order to maximise your chances of people choosing to click on one of your links over those of your competitors, you want to make your titles and descriptive and enticing as possible. WordPress SEO by Yoast helps you to do this by providing a handy word counter in the title and description editor.
WordPress SEO by Yoast provides another great helping hand with its content analysis. This gives you an overview of what your post is currently doing well and what you can change to further optimise your entry. Although you shouldn’t change your content to the detriment of its readability, entertainment value and usefulness to your reader, these are helpful pointers for things to consider and a great checklist to go through before you hit publish.
Search engines are programmed to ignore commonly used words (“the”, “of”, “or”, “and”) so in terms of SEO they are irrelevant and a waste of your precious, limited characters. WordPress SEO by Yoast automatically strips out these words from the URLs WordPress generates so that you can turn your attention to crafting enticing titles using the fewest number of stop words possible.
When Google says that submitting a sitemap helps search engines to find pages on your site that they might not otherwise fine, it is clearly an essential part of your strategy. Put simply, if Google’s web crawlers can’t find your pages then they can’t index them and they won’t be included in the search results when people come looking for content like yours. WordPress SEO by Yoast makes life simple for you by generating an XML sitemap and automatically pinging the search engines whenever its updated.
To find out all about SEO on Wordpress you can probably do little better than referring to the Definitive Guide to Higher Rankings For WordPress Sites, written by Yoast’s author, Joost de Valk. What this regularly updated article doesn’t tell you probably isn’t worth knowing.
If you prefer to learn using video, there are WordPress SEO by Yoast videos for helpfulwebhosting customers in the video user manuals section of your dashboard. You can also check out this 43 minute long tutorial that goes through all the ins and outs of setting the plug in up and what all of the different options mean.
If you’d like to find out more about SEO in general, it is worth going straight to the source. Google publishes extensive guidance on SEO, including their Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide (PDF) which is available as a PDF download.