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From Typo to Top Spot, Why Yoast Rules SEO

Is “Yoast” a typo? Are we raising a “toast” and just missed the “t” and hit the “y” key? Or is there a deeper meaning behind the name of the SEO superstar?

Yoast SEO

WordPress users love WordPress. It’s an incredibly straightforward platform with a simple user interface, which makes sense given its humble beginnings as a blogging application. Bloggers have used the free solution since 2003, enjoying the flexible and friendly features. Though it did begin as a blogging platform, its evolution into a content management system (CMS) was a natural progression. It’s estimated that as much as half of major global brands have websites run on WordPress. If you’re keeping count, that’s a staggering number of websites.

WordPress offers a plugin architecture for users that encourage plugins to extend features and functionalities of WordPress, catering to the needs of the user. At last estimate – though still in 2018 – there are over 50,000 plugins available for WordPress users, each offering customized functions and features to enable tailored experiences for specific needs. In fact, WordPress highlights available plugins for users, complete with a rating system and biographical details – similar to a product offering on Amazon!

Available plugins range from contact forms to an importer that allows users to bring in blog content from other blogs. Others include a WooCommerce plugin for e-commerce sites, and an on-page Google Analytics plugin for users to track site metrics. The second most popular plugin on the WordPress plugin dashboard is Yoast SEO, with more than 5 million active installations and a 5-star user rating by nearly 20,000 users. We were curious about the most popular plugin and had to know. Yoast SEO falls just behind a plugin called Contact Form 7, with the same number of active installations (but a lower rating by only 1,500 users in comparison).

What is Yoast SEO? Was someone thinking of toast and made a typographical error? The keys are right next to each other on the keyboard – is that what happened? Nope! The founder of Yoast SEO, Joost de Valk, pronounces his first name “Yoast” – it’s as simple as that! The firm that developed Yoast SEO is based in the Netherlands, by a team that is dedicated to its users and the community at large. Yoast SEO creators believe in open source software, where the code is readily available to anyone that wants to modify the code for customization.

Yoast SEO is an amazing tool that WordPress users add as a plugin to optimize their content for better search engine rankings. The Yoast SEO plugin helps users by making sure the right keywords are included in their content if they want to tag that content with those keywords, as well as reviewing word count and other elements that are important to better search ranking. The results of a search are based on Google’s infamous algorithm that determines the position a page ranks in search results returned in Google. The Googlebot crawls billions (and billions!) of pages across the Internet to index and adds to its search results. What are some of the factors that Google takes into account for ranking web content in search results?

Word Count

Word count is one of the most important content factors since Google – the king of search engines – takes length into consideration when the Googlebot crawls pages to index. The number of words in a page is a good indicator of the quality of content – sometimes. A thousand words of gibberish or just words strung together with zero relativity are always possible, which is why this isn’t the only factor Google relies on for a page’s search position.

Keywords

Keywords are equally important for more reasons than just Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising. When the Googlebot is crawling through those billions of web pages, the byproduct is the indexing of the words it finds and their locations on a web page. This process also reviews all the “hidden” words in content, like the tags used and various content attributes within the code, like alt text and title tags, and all of these are used to relate the keywords to the content, a stronger indication of content quality than word count, but together with word count keywords boost a search engine result position.

Title and URL

A web page’s title is the first thing a user sees when looking at search results in a browser. This is not necessarily the title that is shown on a web page as the headline announcing the page content. This title is what is in the code of the page and shows on the browser tab. This title should relate to page keywords and content to help boost a search position. If your primary keyword is in your title, it adds credibility to – or, optimizes – your content and boosts your search position and ranking. The title is sometimes also in the URL of a web page, but it can be slightly different. So long as the primary keyword is still present, any slight alteration won’t negatively impact your position.

Description Snippets

Why do snippets matter? Snippets show the description of your page content in search results, which Google shortens as it needs to based on screen space or other factors. The bottom line with descriptions and snippets is to include critical keywords, place them early in the descriptions.

Traffic volume

Google works very hard to ensure the user’s search experience and maintain impeccable quality standards. This much is clear given Google’s position as King of Search. When Google serves search results, all of the above factors work to improve the overall search experience. The cogs in the machine are always turning and working to make sure that not only the user gets the best search results based on its determination that the content is relevant to the user’s search query, but also that when users click links to pages, Google is driving quality traffic to sites.

Now you’re thinking, how does Yoast SEO use all of this information and help me with my content? Yoast SEO has a plethora of built-in features that optimize your content:

  • Snippet Preview
    • This handy little feature shows users how their snippet will look in search results in desktop, mobile, and even social media.
  • Integration with Google Search Console
    • Users can see exactly how to expect site and pages to perform in search engines, presenting the opportunity to fix errors before they affect search traffic
  • Readability
    • This is a great feature that scores your content based on readability factors. Users create the content and tend to have difficulty seeing an outsider’s perspective. This score helps users better understand if sentences are too long, or if too many sentences start with the same word or phrases.
  • Frequent Updates
    • The Yoast SEO plugin is often updated to keep up with Google’s algorithmic updates, to help users keep content optimized using current requirements and best practices.

Do you have the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress? There are paid and free versions, and it’s absolutely worth it to get the free version! Instructions are simple:

  • Within WordPress, visit “Plugins” and “Add New”
  • Search for “Yoast SEO”
  • Activate Yoast from your Plugins page
  • A prompt will ask you to start the configuration wizard
  • Follow the wizard, and you’re done!

Familiarizing yourself with the Yoast SEO plugin will be even more simple after reading this, and you’ll start to notice your search rankings improve quickly, within 30 days of starting this process. Maintaining quality content will automatically help boost ranking, but Yoast SEO is the go-to tool for further optimizing and reviewing the factors that will impact search results most.

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