Last week, we looked at the basics of using WordPress SEO by Yoast to optimize your posts for search engine rankings. But we barely scratched the surface! In today’s post, we look under the hood, diving deeper into Yoast’s full range of features.
Page analysis is one of the most useful tools provided by Yoast. Basically, it judges your post according to about a dozen SEO-friendly metrics. On the right, you can see the page analysis for my post on WordPress captions, which used “WordPress captions” as its focus keyword. As you can see, I got some things right, while other aspects of the post could be improved for SEO purposes. Overall, however, I got a green “Good” score.
What are some of the things that Yoast looks for in a good post? Ideally, your keyword should be used in…
- the page title (especially at the beginning of the title)
- the opening paragraph
- a subheading
- the post at least a couple of times (although the orthodoxy of keyword density has been on the decline – few SEO specialists still take it seriously – it’s still a good pointer when developing content relevant to your audience)
- alt tags in the images on the page
- the meta-description
WordPress SEO by Yoast also looks for:
- an effective page slug (not too long, not too short)
- outbound links
- a decent word count (at the very least, more than 300 words)
- a good score on the Flesch reading ease test, which measures how easily your post can be read
The first few options under the advanced tab relate to how robots – basically algorithms used by search engines – should index your page. Yoast also allows you to customize whether or not the page should appear in your website’s site map, and what priority it should be given in the sitemap.
Canonical URL: Basically, this refers to your preferred URL, when there may be several options. For example, as Matt Cutts points out, most people would regard these as being the same URLs:
However, these are actually different, and the Web server can return different content for all of these URLs. This allows you to set a single, consistent URL that everyone sees.
301 Redirect: This allows you to redirect users to another page if they access this page. A great tool if your website has content that is continually being phased out, or if your site undergoes reorganization!
Finally, this handy little tool allows you to set customized descriptions for Facebook and Google+. If someone shares your page on their social media feeds, this customized description will appear, instead of the default meta-description.