In 2 previous parts, we showed you how to set up the Yoast SEO plugin on your website. However, they are just general settings. Part 3 is the most important part actually. In this part, we will optimize the website content to meet SEO standards. And you can do it easily with Yoast SEO by following its suggestions and evaluations. Let’s learn about the Yoast evaluating process to modify your content accordingly.
Firstly, click Post and edit a post on your site. In the editing section, scroll down to the bottom. You will find a Yoast SEO box with 3 tabs: SEO, Readability, Social. In each tab, Yoast will give you suggestions to edit and optimize your post accordingly.
Now, let’s optimize your content with the above tabs.
Optimize Content with SEO Standards
In tab Yoast gives you 4 sections to optimize, they are:
- Google Preview: Preview your post on Google’s SERP.
- SEO analysis: analyze SEO elements in your post.
- Cornerstone content: mark this post important on your site.
Firstly, click on the Google Preview section, Yoast will show you how your post is displayed on Google’s search results page, including link, image, title, description for both Mobile and Desktop versions.
Of course, this preview is based on the settings in part 2 of this series.
If you want the preview of this post to be different from others, click the Edit snippet button to change your settings. Otherwise, you can skip this step.
The Edit snippet section allows you to edit SEO title, Slug, and Meta description.
There are green bars under the SEO title and the Meta description sections. This is the grading scale that Yoast provides you to evaluate your content. Green means that your content is good, yellow means that it’s acceptable, and red means it’s bad.
Note: These color grades are applied to all the Yoast’s reviews, so you should remember them.
In addition, there is a picture in the preview section of the mobile version. If you haven’t had it yet, go to the Featured Image section and then upload one for your post.
Every post should have its own featured image, it is not only for SEO but also for beautifully displaying posts on archive pages.
This is the most important section and it has the most suggestions to optimize your post’s SEO score. Yoast gives you reviews and suggestions about keywords, links, photos, length of important contents here.
First, you need to identify the primary keyword of your post. Enter your keyword into the Focus keyphrase box. Yoast relies on these keywords to analyze and suggest correspondingly. Of course, you can add more keywords to make the plugin analyze more in a holistic and detailed way, but this feature is available in the premium version only.
For example, I entered a keyword as “event” and Yoast gave me some suggestions below:
In the Problems section, there are weaknesses that you need to improve. The Improvements section includes things you should improve a bit more and the Good Results section includes what you did well.
Now I will explain in more detail.
Your post should be longer than 300 words. Otherwise, Yoast will suggest you improve the length of your post.
But actually, according to SEO experts, your post should be at least 500 words to be good content, and 1000 – 1500 words is the best. The long-form post should be at least 2000 words.
Besides, some other components in your post should also be length-limited, such as:
- Title: It should not be too long. Yoast does not give a specific number, but in my opinion, the title should be around 11 – 15 words or within a line. When your title is too long, Yoast will alert you immediately.
- Meta description: On the search results page, Google just displays about 150 – 160 characters in the Meta Description section. Recently, some websites are displaying about 230 – 350 characters, but it is not certain. Yoast still alerts when your Meta description part is more than 150 characters. Therefore, you need to write less than 150 characters to ensure your content is displayed fully. However, you should not write too short, Yoast also alerts you if your Meta description part is less than 120 characters.
Yoast will check and evaluate the density of your keyword’s appearance and locations in your post, including:
- The text in your post (including headings and image captions, excluding Alt text): the keyword density should be about 0.5 – 3% according to Yoast suggestion. It’s equivalent to 5 – 30 keywords per 1000 words. If your keyword is too little, they will not be considered as the main content. If your keyword is too many, they will be spam. Actually, according to SEO experts, the density of the primary keyword should be about 2 – 3% and it is about 1 – 1.5% with secondary keywords.
- In title: the title is short, so you just show your keyword once, and you must do it. The first word in a sentence should be the keyword.
- In the opening of the post: the opening should have keywords (unlimited) and it should be located at the beginning of the paragraph.
- In the headings: your headings should include keywords in the most natural way if possible. It’s okay if you can’t do it. However, if you have keywords in headings, your post will be recognized that it focuses on a topic that those keywords refer to.
- In the slug: slug should include keywords, it is similar to the title.
- In the Meta description: this is an important part so it must have keywords, both primary and secondary keywords. If your Meta description doesn’t have any keywords, Yoast will alert you immediately.
Pictures in the Post
You should have at least one picture in your post. The picture needs this information:
- Alt text (Alternative text)
These boxes should be filled in and included keywords if possible. Yoast will notice if the Alt text box is blank or doesn’t contain keywords. Besides, if all your pictures have the same Alt text, Yoast also notices you because it is considered as spam.
Therefore, you need to write the Alt text separately for the images, remember that they should include keywords.
This principle applies to all the images on the website including posts and others.
Links in a Post
There are 2 types of links in a post: internal link and outbound link. Internal links are links to your pages or posts on your site. Outbound links are links to other websites.
According to Yoast, you should have at least an internal link and an outbound one in your post because:
- Having an internal link implies that your post refers to other contents on the website, it shows the consistency and concentration about the topic of your website.
- Having an outbound link (especially to reputable websites with large traffic) implies that the information in your post is verified because it’s referenced or cited from reputable sources. Therefore, Google will highly appreciate your content.
You can have more than one link for each type, especially with internal links, as long as it’s not too dense and makes your post messy. If your website has a lot of internal links, it will be appreciated better and graded with a higher SEO score.
You can submit to Yoast that this is an important post on your site by clicking the ON/OFF button in this section.
However, it’s just submitting to Yoast, not to search engines. If you choose this post as cornerstone content, Yoast will review your post with stricter standards in the SEO analysis section.
In this section, there are two basic parts that you need to care about:
- Allow search engines to show this Post in search results?: If this post is a minor content, for SEO only and you don’t want users to see it, you can choose to hide it then Google doesn’t show it on SERP. Of course, despite choosing to hide it here, Google still indexes this post and uses it to score the SEO quality of your website
- Should search engines follow links on this Post: If you embed a lot of outbound links in your post but you are not sure about the quality of these websites (their reputation, their relevance to your content, their usefulness) then you should choose No. With this option, Google will not evaluate those links and affect the SEO score of your website. However, if these links are high-quality, you should choose Yes to increase the credibility of your post.
Optimize the Readability of the Post
Switch to the Readability tab, Yoast will evaluate your and give you some suggestions to make your post more “readable”.
Readability means that your post has popular and understandable words, simple sentence structures to help users easily understand exactly what your post expresses.
You may think that readability is not related to SEO, but actually it has some impacts. If your content is difficult to understand or misunderstand, they may doubt the quality of your post or just stop reading. This time, indicators about time on site, page per visit, even the return rate of users will be worse.
Therefore, you should note the following points:
- Use common words, not too scientific or difficult to understand (excluding research posts);
- Regularly using transition words to make your post coherent;
- Avoid using complex sentences frequently. Try to make each sentence less than 20 words;
- Avoid using passive sentences frequently;
- The text between two headings should be no longer than 300 words to ensure they are always concise. Otherwise, Yoast will alert and offer you to break the paragraph or add more headings.
In the last tab, Social, you can edit and optimize the content shown in the preview when you share a post on Facebook or Twitter.
In Part 2 of this series, you set up the Yoast SEO to make Facebook and Twitter automatically get information about your post through the Open Graph to display a preview. If you turn it on, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you need to fill in 3 content boxes below to have a beautiful display on these social channels.
The basic contents you need to fill in are still the title, description, displayed image:
Note that Facebook and Twitter have their own regulations and instructions about the size of displayed images when you share a link. Therefore, you should follow those regulations to display your featured image more beautiful on these social networking sites. If you need more information about it, you can refer to this tutorial.
Now, we finished optimizing the content of your post according to the suggestions and reviews of Yoast.
Look at the results after optimization, Yoast will evaluate SEO and Readability partly. If you did it well, the parts will be all green like this picture below.
In this series, I gave you some basic guidelines when using Yoast SEO to optimize your website following Google’s criteria, such as setting up Yoast SEO and editing the content of your post to increase the SEO score of your website.
However, Yoast SEO can’t analyze content in custom fields so you need to use the free Meta Box Yoast SEO extension to do it.
Let’s follow these instructions exactly to bring your post and website to the top. Good luck!