As a blogger, you hear a lot of talk about SEO, sometimes you get it, sometimes you don’t. (If you don’t, it’s Search Engine Optimization – getting the search engine crawlers to see what you want them to see, determine you are an expert in your field and to stick you up there towards the top when someone does a Google search.)
Sometimes you do get it, but you don’t know what to do about it. When it comes to SEO and websites, Meta tags are a thing of the past. Google no longer cares, or looks for them. What you need now is a WordPress plugin.
While there are a few to choose from, the best option out there, that is now fully endorsed and integrated with WordPress itself, is Yoast SEO.
The great thing about WP SEO is, it is basically plug and play. It also eliminates the need for any XML sitemaps, so if you are using a plugin for that, you MUST deactivate it. WP SEO automatically sends out a new sitemap every time you make a change to your blog. Yea!
Now before you think, “Oh NOOOOZZZZ another plugin?! I don’t want to have to figure out another plugin!” I’m gonna make this real easy for you. (sorry, I just heard a banjo twang in the distance, did you hear that?)[bctt tweet=”I’m gonna make installing and setting up WordPress SEO by Yoast, really easy for you. #WordPress #SEO”]
In your dashboard, go to plugins > click on Add New > in the search box type WordPress SEO and install and activate.
Here is your easy WordPress SEO tutorial for blogs!
Since originally publishing this post, I have created a screencast for installing and setting up this plugin. If you love screencasts, here you go!
Otherwise see the directions below.
And here is the video on how to use Yoast in your posts. (that rhymes!)
First! Don’t touch anything!! Ok, you can touch something….. if you are feeling particularly adventurous, and I highly recommend this adventure, go through the tour that WP SEO is going to keep offering you until you say. “Hey! Ok! I get it already!!!”
Either way, you will now notice, there is a new item in your dashboard called SEO, with what looks like a devil in a speech bubble. (I am sure it’s not a devil, but the dude is from the Netherlands, and maybe there the devil looks different.)
Alrighty. If you don’t already have it open, click on SEO and then click on Social. This is the only place you really need to touch anything.
See the little tab that says accounts? Go ahead and enter any of the accounts you actively use and Save Changes.
You may ignore all of the other tabs UNLESS……
- Facebook Tab
- If you use Facebook Insights you will enter all of that information here. If you want to change the default image that shows up on EVERY FACEBOOK POST you will upload one here where it says “Default Image.”
- Twitter Tab
- If you would like to use Twitter Cards, this is where you do that.
- Pinterest Tab
- If your site is not already verified on Pinterest, this is where you would do that.
- Google Tab
- If you have a Google Page for business, not a personal page like most of us do. This is where you would attach that.
Now your WordPress SEO is all set up for your blog! But wait!!!
The amazing thing about WordPress SEO is not that it sends all of your information out to all of the popular search engines, it is not that it generates a new XML sitemap every time you update your blog, it’s this; you get to identify the best SEO for each of your blog posts.
How to make sure the SEO for your blog post rocks!
Here’s a video I made on this part
Now that you’ve installed WP SEO, you will notice that there is something new at the bottom of your post and page drafts:
In order to have EXCELLENT SEO you will need to fill out a few things, but don’t worry! WordPress SEO will tell you if you’re on the right track.
There are two ways you can go.
- Decide what your keyword or keyword phrase will be before you write your title and post.
- I often choose this route because I feel like it’s easier to manipulate the keywords.
- Decide what your keyword or keyword phrase will be after you write your post.
- Sometimes it is easier to write the post first, then figure out what it’s all about, and how you feel someone would search for it. That is what I wound up doing with this post.
For this example, we are going to choose our key phrase first, with the increase of SEO aware websites, it has become best practice to choose a key phrase (not just a key word), and try to make it the least obvious of your obvious choices.
For instance. Setting up WordPress SEO could have been my key phrase, but I thought, “Let’s step one down from totally obvious and go with Setting up WordPress SEO for blogs.”
The first thing you want to do is incorporate your key phrase into your title.
Sometimes, when you’re snarky or poignant or like listicles, it’s not always easy to incorporate your key phrase into your title, in that case, just make sure your key phrase is in your permalink.
To change your permalink, you just need to click the little “edit” button, next to your permalink. The box will open up and allow you to edit. Just make sure your key phrase is in there, with each word separated by a dash.
*Occasionally WordPress will change your permalink and it won’t actually match your title exactly, so always check your permalink to make sure your key phrase is, in actuality, in there.
Now, stick your Key Phrase into the WordPress SEO by Yoast box on the bottom of your post in the section marked “Focus Keyword:” Go back to the top of your post and hit “Save Draft.”
Go back down to your WP SEO box, you will see something like this:
Don’t worry if you still have a red “no” here and there. You’ve only just started, but now you know what you need to work on.
- Article Heading – This is your blog post’s title.
- Page Title – See the box called SEO Title? If your post title does not have your key phrase in it, this will automatically default to the same title (without your key phrase in it). This is the title that will display in the Google feed when someone searches. If you don’t care if the title is the same, and you would rather have a title that incorporates your key phrase show up in the Google feed, feel free to type in a new title. (I never do, it will not make or break your SEO)
- Page URL – This is your permalink. It should be a “Yes” if not, go back up a step and change your permalink.
- Content – This is your blog content, if you haven’t written anything yet it will say “no.” Make sure when you do write your content to use your key phrase at least two times. Then when you save draft it will change to “yes.” (If for some reason it doesn’t, check that your wording is exactly the same.)
- Meta Description – Don’t blow this one off. This is the description of your post that will show up under the Google listing of your headline. It’s got to be short but sweet. It has to use your key phrase and make people want to click. I often find the most impressive sentence in my post that includes the key phrase and copy and paste it into my post. If it’s a little long that’s ok, as long as the key phrase shows up in the beginning part. (word of note, this will become your default Facebook text unless you change it. See the last part of this post for instructions on how to do that.)
Now Go Write Your Post!
When you are finished writing, hit save draft. Assuming 80% of the items from the “General” tab now say yes, hit the “Page Analysis Tab.”
You will see something close to this. Your goal is to have as few red lights as possible.
Aha! We never talked about images!!! Look at that red arrow, up there! “The images on this page do not have alt tags containing your keyword/phrase.”
If you know what an “alt tag” is, then you’re good. If you don’t, no worries!
*Update, using alt tags is no longer a good thing. Google is not reading images anymore because people were using them to increase SEO and Google doesn’t like to be tricked.
They are now only using them to update Google Image Searches, and as bloggers, we all know what people do with Image Searches. They steal your images.
Now, click save draft, and check your page analysis again. Mine looks like this now, I still have a red light. BUT according to WordPress SEO, the big picture is A-OK. I now have a green light for SEO. (I’ll show you where that is in a sec.)
The great thing about Page Analysis is, it tells you what to do. As long as you only have one or two red lights, you are good to go. But if you want to be totally OCD go for it and try to turn all those lights green!
You may have noticed the last time you hit save draft, a green light in your publish box showed up. That green light is your SEO check. As long as it’s green, you’re good to go! Every time you make a change to your SEO, either in the “General Tab” or on your post, hit save draft and check the light. Once the light is green, you can stop trying so hard and get publishing!
Wait! One more thing.
Some of you wish that you could change how your post appears on Facebook. Well, here’s your White Knight!
Click on the “Social” tab of WordPress SEO by Yoast at the bottom of your post.
Yours will be blank. This is the gist. You can change all of these elements for each specific post.
- Facebook Title – Say when this gets posted to Facebook you want the title to be more catchy, or you want it to get straight to the point, change it here. (Leave it blank and it will use your post title.)
- Facebook Description – Yup, just what you think. Right now, WP SEO is going to pick up your Meta Description for Facebook, but if you want it to say something different, more descriptive, stick it in here.
- Facebook Image – Some themes default to a weird image, even if you choose a “Featured Image” for your post. This is where you can stick an image to guarantee you get the image you want attached to your Facebook post.
Rinse and repeat if you want to change the same information for Google+.
One more little tidbit; Search Engines LOVE back links. Back links are links in your post that go back to a previous post about a similar topic. Many of my clients say they don’t like back links because they seem so obvious.
This is my advice, your back links don’t need to look obvious. Here’s an example:
When you are trying to think of blog post titles that incorporate your key phrase, make sure the title still has some pizzazz. A high-ranking post isn’t any good if no one wants to click on your boring words.
Notice how blog post titles is a link? It’s a link back to my post about rocking blog post titles. But is it obvious? No. The words occurred naturally in my post and I chose to link them back. Be creative, fudge it if you have to, let it be loosely associated with the topic. But try to have at least one back link in your post.
How’d I do?
I tried to make this an easy WordPress SEO tutorial for blogs. Before I learned tech and was a blogger myself, so many pieces of the puzzle were, well, puzzling. The tutorials out there in the “real world” were difficult for your average blogger to understand. And when I didn’t understand I was often afraid to ask.
I hope that I have made this easier for you, and please, as always I welcome questions! Please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation, or leave a comment with any question you may have! I also have a Facebook group just for Blog Tech Help. Keep in touch![bctt tweet=”Finally a #WordPress SEO by Yoast tutorial you can understand. “] [contact_button]