Yoast SEO – optimise your WordPress content for SEO

Yoast SEO is a tool you can use with WordPress to optimise your content for SEO. Search engine optimisation (SEO) is an important factor in any digital marketing strategy, which is key to attracting targeted traffic to your site. Following SEO best practices, including optimising your content and design, can help to increase the visibility of your website in the search engine results pages (SERPs). It can also help to provide a better user experience and improve the usability of your website. So, let’s look at how Yoast can help optimise your content for SEO.

Yoast SEO

Optimising for SEO

The ranking of content in the SERPs is determined by a variety of different factors, including page speed, domain authority, mobile experience, keywords, meta-tags, relevancy, and inbound (and outbound) links. No matter how brilliant your content could be, if you are not implementing SEO best practices, nobody will be able to find your content from their search queries.

There’s no point sugar coating it. SEO is a long-term game. Something that you regularly need to stay on top of. When used correctly, SEO can be effective at helping to attract potential leads to your site. Some Content Management Systems (CMS), such as WordPress, provide a good starting point in helping you to optimise your content and pages for SEO. But there are also tools and plugins available to help you get even more out of your WordPress site. After all, you do want to increase the number of leads to your site, right?

Yoast SEO

One of the tools you can add to your WordPress CMS to help you optimise your content for SEO is Yoast. Yoast SEO is a plug-in that provides a wealth of tips and advice for your site to make sure it meets the highest technical SEO standards. Yoast SEO can also be used to optimise your content, including blog posts, for readability and SEO. Straight out of the box, the free version of Yoast SEO provides you with everything you need to begin ranking in the SERPs as well as automatically covering all your SEO best practices. Upgrading to the premium version provides a wealth of extra features, including:

  • Keyword optimisation
  • Avoiding deadlinks
  • Link suggestions
  • Check quality of the content

Once the plugin has been added to your WordPress CMS, you can start to see Yoast SEO at work within your editor. If Yoast SEO is already installed, you will then see the traffic light system within the content editor (more on that later). However, remember that you should still implement a comprehensive SEO strategy that is suited to your needs. Using Yoast SEO does not act as a replacement for your SEO strategy, but rather helps you to get the most out of your content to help achieve your SEO strategy.

Now we’ve covered what Yoast SEO is and how it can benefit you, let’s go through how the plug-in can help optimise your website content, by looking at an example for a blog article.

Using Yoast SEO to Help Optimise Your Website Content

Before we continue any further, the guide for using Yoast will only cover the SEO segment of the plugin and not the readability or social segments. Find out more about the readability analysis and how you can optimise your content for improved readability.

Installing Yoast SEO

The first thing you need to do is install the plug-in. This can either be found on the Yoast website or through WordPress Plugin section.

If you choose the install through WordPress, hover over plugins down the left-hand side of the Dashboard, and then choose “add new”.

The add new plugin option on WordPress

From there, you will be taken to the add plugins page. Using the search bar towards the top right, you can search for the Yoast plugin.

Yoast SEO plugin shown on the add plugin page of WordPress

Click “install now” and you should be ready to rock.

You should see the traffic light system straight away on the posts section of WordPress to indicate how optimised your content is for SEO and readability.

Yoast SEO traffic lights displayed on the WordPress posts page

Next, start a new post and you should see the Yoast editor just underneath the content editor. Here’s what it should look like before any content has been added:

The Yoast editor displayed underneath the content editor

Once you begin adding content to the editor, Yoast will start working at giving you tips and recommendations on how to further optimise your content. Let’s look at these in more depth.

Choosing your keyword

First is your keyword. If you have identified the keyword you want to rank for, add it into the focus keyphrase box as seen in the screenshot above. The importance of keywords cannot be understated. Your keyword should always be the first consideration for SEO. The keyword you choose should be what you want to rank for in the SERPs for and should be included throughout your content, including in the title and headings.

Find ways to conduct quick and easy keyword research

Once you have established your keyword (or keyphrase) and added it into the Yoast plugin, you can tailor your content based on the suggestions it will provide:

The Yoast SEO focus keyphrase field

Fortunately, Yoast also provides you with tips for specific areas of your content to help optimise your content and keyword usage for SEO.

Optimising your titles for SEO

To begin, let’s take at the first thing most people will see – the title. When using Yoast, you have the option to choose 2 different titles; the main title that appears at the top of your blog post or page on your website and your meta title (this displays at the top of your browser and in the SERPs).

Your page or blog title is the title you add at the top of WordPress content editor. The meta title is added in the Yoast editor. Yoast recommends using your keyword in both titles, ideally at (or near) the start. Also try to slightly vary your main title and SEO title, so they are not exact replicas.

The green bar underneath the SEO title field gives you an indication of the title length. Green means it will not get cut off in the search engines results page. Yellow or red means it may get cut off after 60 characters (this can vary but 60 characters is a good rule of thumb). The preview allows you to see how it will look on search engines.

Preview of your search engine result

Make sure the title you choose is reflective of the content within the blog or page. Not only does it tell the search engines what your content is about from a ranking perspective, but it also informs searchers whether your content will answer their search query.

Optimising your slug

Next up is the slug. No, not the things you find in the garden! A slug here is the last section of a URL signifying the page on a website. It is useful for both navigation and informing what the content is about to search engines and users. Therefore, the slug is something you should also optimise for SEO.

Again, your keyword needs to be within the slug to better optimise your SEO. Usually, Yoast will provide a suggested slug after inputting the SEO title. Whether you choose to go for the Yoast slug or your own is entirely your choice. When deciding your slug, remember to:

  • Make sure it is concise and not too long
  • Clearly identifies the content of the blog or page
  • Does not contain any special characters
  • Includes your keyword at (or near) the start
  • Remove or keep function words to a minimum
  • Use lower case
  • The shorter your slug is, the better

Here’s an example to give you an idea:

Yoast SEO slug field

Keyword usage

Your keyword needs to appear within the body of your content as well. To make your content optimised for SEO, you should consider the following:

  • Include the keyword in the introduction
  • Consider using a longtail keywords (and variations of your target keyword)
  • Include a keyword in the meta-description (we’ll come to this shortly)
  • Consider keyword density depending on the length of content
  • A keyword you’ve not previously used before
  • Using keywords in 30-75% of H2 and H3 subheadings

Yoast will provide you with a traffic light checklist depending on how well optimised your content is. It will let you know if your keyword has been used too much or not enough.

Optimising the meta description

A meta description is the short description of a web page shown underneath the title in the SERPs. If the title is used to grab attention, the meta description needs to encourage the user to click-through onto your site. The meta description needs to be concise and clear about the content of your page. A good meta description can make all the difference between someone clicking through to your site or someone else’s.

The keyword you have used for your content needs to also be used within the meta description. Search engines do not pay much attention to the keyword usage in your meta descriptions for ranking. Users, however, will use it to decide if the content found on a page will address their search query. You may have noticed that the keyword is highlighted in bold when performing a search query using a keyword. That’s why it’s important to include it here.

If you do not set your own meta description, search engines will do it for you. It is recommended not to do this as a search engine will pluck any random piece of text from your page and use it as your meta-description. That could spell bad news if a random piece of content is used that doesn’t help draw a searcher in.

Meta description length

Another factor to consider with your meta description is the length. Search engines will cut them off it they are too long. Fortunately, Yoast is here to help again. As we saw with the SEO title earlier, Yoast also provides an indicator bar underneath showing a colour depending on the length. Green and you have a decent sized meta description that won’t get awkwardly cut off. Amber and red and you may need to consider shortening your meta description.

To optimise your meta descriptions for the search engines, try to make sure it is between 50 and 160 characters. Find out the importance of meta descriptions and why you should create one.

Here’s one we made earlier to give you an idea:

Setting a meta description in Yoast

Tidying up loose ends

Now, you’ve optimised your content using your keyword, including the SEO title. You’ve created a compelling meta description. What’s next? You’ll probably notice a couple more recommendations by Yoast for better optimising your content. Next up, tie up any loose ends and make sure your content is truly optimised for SEO.

Text length

Text length is one of the suggestions that shouldn’t be focused on too much. Providing your content is not less than 300 words, you will get a green light. There is no set rule for how long a piece of content should be, although a typical blog article tends to be anywhere between 1000-2000 words. How long the content of your page is will depend on how much relevant content you include. Just don’t make a piece of content too short or ridiculously long, as you can guarantee nobody will read it.

Image ALT text

Good content will find a balance between words, images, and whitespace. Therefore, you should include images in your content providing they are relevant and enhance the written material. Adding images for the sake of it is a bad design mistake that could be hindering your website performance. Adding images, I am sure, is something you are already familiar with. But do you always remember to include the image alt text? No? Maybe it is time to start thinking about it as Google favours websites that provide alt attributes. Alt text does not have to be long or complicated. Just give a simple description what is in the picture. Yoast also recommends adding your keyword to a few where relevant too.


Including links in your content is extremely important from an SEO perspective. Links, whether they be internal or outbound, really help to boost your authority. Authority and relevance are two factors that can affect your ranking.

Links come in three sizes: inbound, outbound, and internal. Inbound links are not measured by Yoast SEO so won’t be covered here (although their importance cannot be understated for boosting your SEO authority). Inbound and outbound links are measured by Yoast.

Internal links are those that link to another page on your own website. Sounds simple enough, but internal links are so much more. It tells search engine crawlers about other content on your website that is relevant to the page being crawled. It also provides a handy link to other content that will keep users on your website for longer. Why would you want to pass on that?

Outbound links are also important. You could argue they are not as important as internal links due to them not directly impacting your SEO. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t include any. Linking to relevant outbound content improve your credibility by both search engines and users. It shows you’ve done homework and you can back up your facts.

In the end…

That should cover it. Using Yoast can really help to benefit your content in the long-term if you’re aiming to improve your rankings in the SERPs. Use the recommendations provided by Yoast every time you create a new piece of content to help make sure your content stands out to those search engine crawlers and users. Don’t worry if you’re new to SEO as it can take a little while before you start to see the results. Don’t give up though. Believe us, when you do start to see the results, it’ll be worth it.