WordPress is a great blog platform and comes to you as-is with some pretty good built-in SEO features, but for people who want just a little bit more, there are several SEO plugins you can try out. We like the free WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast, and use it on our blogs.
Designed by WP developer and SEO consultant Joost de Valk, the plugin was specifically designed to help improve your site’s SEO across the board, from better content to technical optimization.
There are a lot of really great features with this plugin and the two that catch the eye are: it is reliable and it’s free.
One of the major functions of the program is that it allows you to select a focus keyword for each article/post, and then ensures that you include that keyword throughout the article. Use the plugin to improve your rankings and to attract more readers, all at the same time.
But there are many more functionalities to this plugin.
Here are a few of the features WP SEO Plugin offers:
- Meta description and taxonomy title support
- Meta description and post title meta box
- focus keyword testing
- XML sitemaps
- cleans up your permalinks
- Breadcrumbs support
- RSS header and footer configuration
It is compatible with many different themes, including StudioPress, Woothemes, and SoloStream themes. It is not compatible with DIY, because DIY has its own SEO solutions.
Search Engine Optimization
When you first install the plugin, it will guide you through the settings you need for the best possible SEO. It also automatically optimizes and inserts the link elements and Meta tags that the search engines prefer.
Meta Titles and Descriptions
You can set templates for your Meta descriptions and titles if you prefer, or simply use the Meta box to optimize your Meta description and post title. When you do this, you get to see a snippet of what they would look like in Google search, and this can help improve the click-throughs because you can tell what your listing will look like. This works best when you use a focus keyword. We always fill in a keyword, page title, and description for each of the posts and pages we publish on our blogs. Check out our article on the use of Meta Tags for more information.
For themes that enjoy Breadcrumbs compatibility, you can use this functionality to create navigation for both search engines and your users. For those of you who are unfamiliar with breadcrumbs, you will see them at the top of the page above the post, just below the navigation bar that is under the header. At the top of this page you will see:
Import and Export
If you have more than one blog, you can set it up once and just export your settings to all your other blogs without taking the time to have to do it all again! Now that’s functional, right?
Make Your Posts SEO Optimized
After you’ve installed and set up the plugin, it’s time to write a post!
Now you’ve got it all installed, you’ll notice that each post and page editor page has a box called WordPress SEO that wasn’t there before you installed the plugin. It has a bunch of fields in it like Meta Description, SEO Title, and more. Your title and SEO title do not have to match! You should always write a Meta description instead of allowing the default one, because the plugin always uses the first sentences of your post, which isn’t always the most important one. If you don’t have this plugin, Google and the other search engines will also take a snippet of text from your post, usually the first sentence or two just like the plugin default setting.
Choose a focus keyword so that you can see how strong your page is. Write your post, then click Save. Next, you’ll get to see a Page Analysis tab. This can tell you more in-depth info about your post/page. Colors are used to indicate whether your post is good, bad or in the middle for SEO. Use the information provided to improve your post, click Save As Draft or Update, and then click the Page Analysis tab again to check your improvements. We don’t always have all of the suggestions in the ‘green’ range, but we do make sure the magic circle is green.
The Magic Circle
This plugin has a little circle that appears in the Publish box on the page editor.
We make sure that this circle is green for almost every post. Once in a while, especially if you have a guest author whose article you shouldn’t edit, it may be possible only to get a yellow circle.
If you put up a page and click on the no index setting under Advanced, the circle is blue. If you fill in nothing, it is gray.
Basically, this plugin works like a charm to make scrapers actually point the search engines back to you! This works like a charm, by adding backlinks to your site in your feed content. This means you get backlinks from the scrapers if and when they steal your content from your RSS feed. You do need to consider, of course, whether you want backlinks from websites that may wind up on Google’s bad boy list.
You can create sitemaps. By default, the XML Sitemap box is unchecked, so make sure you check it to take full advantage of the plugin’s functionality. You can create sitemaps for:
- Landing pages
It allows you to make sure Bing, Google, Yahoo! And Ask.com get pinged every time you publish new content and they have a list of all of the pages and posts you want indexed. Make sure you click on the “Save” button! You can read more about sitemaps here.
The WordPress SEO Plugin is really a great tool to use if you want to optimize your site. What is especially amazing is that it is free, and it is fairly straightforward and simple to use once you take the time to do it. It can be a little time consuming to get your settings all done the first time, but it is really worth it.