Search engine optimization (SEO) is as important to social media marketing and blogging as creating a website or blog itself. If the search engines can’t find you, there’s no point in having a website/blog. You want your WordPress blog to be one of the top results for your specific keywords and SEO helps you accomplish this. There are a lot of ways to increase your SEO organically (not paid for). For example, you can add your WordPress blog to the search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc. Just look up the protocol for submitting your blog to these search engines. For your convenience, I’ve included the top three search engine submission links: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Ok, now that that’s said and done, guess what? There’s a new guy in town! The WordPress Yoast plugin. Yoast has a free SEO plugin for WordPress that handles the optimization of your WordPress blog. WordPress.org says their Yoast for WordPress SEO plugin can help you “write better content and have a fully optimized WordPress site.” So how does a plugin help you write better content? By forcing you to choose a keyword and then making sure you use that keyword in your writing. What’s more, it also will tell you if your “title is too long or too short and [if] your meta description makes sense in the context of a search result.” It does a lot of other things too, like checking to see if your images have alt tags that contain your keyword and checking if you have a meta description and if it has your keyword. They say that this will ensure your content is the type that search engines will love, helping your blog rank higher. The Yoast plugin doesn’t stop there. It also guides you through your settings to make sure you enable permalinks, and insert meta tags and link elements that the search engines love. These elements “can control which pages Google shows in its search results and which pages it doesn’t show.” Suffice it to say, it’s a very powerful aid in SEO for your WordPress blog. It has so many other functions, it’s surprising it’s a free download. So now that we know that it helps us with SEO, how do we use it?
Joost de Valk, founder and CEO of Yoast, provided a step-by-step account of how to use the Yoast plugin to effectively increase your SEO.
On the Yoast website, de Valk lists the features of this powerful plugin and how it can help your SEO. The following explains how to use Yoast to increase the SEO of your WordPress blog and then gives the reasons why you would want to do that:
- Post titles and meta descriptions (keyword-laden content increases SEO)
- Blocks meta robots setting (removes tag that prevents page indexing)
- Has a canonical link element (prevents duplicate content)
- Uses Breadcrumbs (for page navigation)
- Permalink cleanup (removes unwanted variables at the end of your link that hinders your page being found)
- Includes XML Sitemaps (so search engines can find your blog)
- RSS footer plugin (allows you to add info at beginning or end of posts in your RSS feed)
- Edit your robots.txt and .htaccess files (they tell the search engine spiders how to interact with indexing your content)
- Clean up your Head Section (<head> for better SEO)
- API (Application Programming Interface) Docs (specifies how software components should interact)
With Yoast for WordPress plugin, your blog will be better positioned to rank higher in the search engines. This is essential for getting people to your blog; your job is to create content that they want to read and share with others.
For more information on ways to boost your SEO, see these two previous The Social Observer blog posts by Leslie Lewis: SEO Help for WordPress: Part I and SEO Help for WordPress Part II: Quality Content Matters.