What is Yoast SEO?

Description Description

This lesson includes an overview of the Yoast SEO plugin and you will learn how to use it to improve your site’s search engine results.


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Prerequisite Skills Prerequisite Skills


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Objectives Objectives

  • Students will be able to name basic meta template variables
  • Students will be able to edit Yoast SEO default meta templates
  • Students will be able to use focus keywords on post content
  • Students will be able to show SEO improvement opportunities

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Assets Assets


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Screening Questions Screening Questions

  • Are you familiar with installing and activating plugins via the WordPress Dashboard?
  • Are you familiar with Google’s basic search features like finding the weather for a specific city?
  • Will you have a locally or remotely hosted sandbox WordPress site to use during class?

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Teacher Notes Teacher Notes

  • Time Estimate: To be determined
  • Yoast offer free tutorial videos for each section of the plugin.
  • It is easiest for students to work on a locally installed copy of WordPress. Set some time aside before class to help students install WordPress locally if they need it. For more information on how to install WordPress locally, please visit our Teacher Resources page.

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Hands-on Walk Through Hands-on Walk Through

Introduction Introduction

Search engine optimization, commonly abbreviated SEO, helps search engines find and list your site in the search engine result page. The Yoast SEO plugin is the most complete search engine optimization plugin that exists today for WordPress.org users.

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Install the Plugin Install the Plugin

  1. Log in to your WordPress admin screen.
  2. On the left-hand side, click on ‘Plugins’.
  3. Click ‘Add New’.
  4. Type ‘Yoast SEO’ in the search field and hit enter on your keyboard.
  5. Click ‘Install Now’ inside the Yoast SEO plugin box.
  6. Click ‘ Activate Plugin’.

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Review Plugin Settings Review Plugin Settings

The Yoast SEO plugin includes a lot of useful features and provides free tutorial videos for every section of their plugin. This lesson will focus on Titles & Metas as they specifically pertain to content posts.

The other sections are:

Dashboard – This section includes things that don’t fit elsewhere like opening the installation wizard and connecting to the various Webmaster Tools.

Social – This section allows you to associate your site with your social media profiles and enable social media metadata.

XML Sitemaps – An XML sitemap provides a list of the available content on your site in a way that search engine robots can process and update their search databases. This section allows you to enable and, optionally, customize the sitemap for your site’s needs.

Advanced – This section offers advanced SEO features for your site including breadcrumbs and permalink customization.

Tools – This section includes a bulk editor, a file editor, and an import/export tool.

Search Console – If you have claimed your site in Google Search Console, you can retrieve the crawl errors for your site.

Premium – This section allows you to buy and activate Yoast premium plugins.

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Customize Post Meta Template Customize Post Meta Template

Upon plugin activation, meta templates are automatically added to all content within a site through the use of template variables.

  1. On the left-hand side, click on ‘SEO’.
  2. Click ‘Titles & Metas’.
  3. Click on the ‘Post Types’ tab.

In the first section, ‘Posts’, you’ll notice the default template is:

%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%

This template outputs the title of the page (%%title%%), the page number (%%page%%), a separator (%%sep%%) and the site title (%%sitename%%). But what if I wanted to add the date of the post article to the title?

  1. Click on ‘Help center’ under the tabs.
  2. Click on ‘Basic Variables’.

These basic variables are available to use but be warned, some variables don’t apply to certain content types. For example, the search phrase variable (%%searchphrase%%) is only available on search pages. You’ll also notice an ‘Advanced Variables’ section to further customize your templates.

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Add SEO Information to a Post Add SEO Information to a Post

Template variables are automatically added to each part of your site. This is great as your site immediately gains a quick SEO boost. For best results, you should customize each part of your site for the most SEO benefit. We will focus on posts today but you can use this technique on each part of your site.

  1. On the left-hand side, click on ‘Posts’
  2. Click on your sample post to edit it.
  3. Scroll down under the content and look for the Yoast SEO box.

Snippet Editor

When you search for something in a search engine, the result you see includes information like a page title, a description, URL, and, sometimes, the date of the post. This is commonly called a snippet. An effective snippet will entice visitors to click on your website.

The snippet preview is a visual representation of the snippet shown by search engines that you can edit to increase the SEO benefit of the post.

Focus Keyword

The focus keyword is a single word or phrase that a potential visitor will enter into a search engine that would lead to the post. For example, if you were to write an article on the Yoast SEO plugin, you might target potential visitors with the focus keyword ‘Yoast SEO’ or ‘WordPress SEO’. Simply put it’s a word or phrase that describes the post content.

Focus Keyword Analysis

The content analysis area provides actionable insight into your content. Did you include the focus keyword in your SEO title and within in content? The plugin analyzes your content giving colored bullets to indicate whether or not the content passed our checks. You will want to aim to have more green bullets than red or orange. Each colored bullet gets processed and converted to an overall post score which is displayed above. A green traffic light means you have passed our SEO keyword analysis.

Readability Analysis

A green traffic light means you have passed our readability analysis.


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Exercises Exercises

Install The Plugin

  • Did the plugin show up under the Plugins dashboard?
  • Did the plugin activate successfully?

Review Plugin Settings

  • Where can you restart the installation wizard?
  • Where can you add your social media profiles?
  • Where can you create a list of available content to submit to search engines?

Customize Post Meta Template

  • Where can you change the meta templates?
  • Which variable outputs the site tagline?
  • Which variable outputs the excerpt?

Add SEO Information to a Post

  • Did you select a focus keyword?
  • What actions can you take to improve SEO?
  • What can you do to improve the readability of your content?

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Quiz Quiz

Quiz Question

  1. Choice 1
  2. Choice 2
  3. Choice 3
  4. Choice 4

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Additional Resources Additional Resources

Yoast WordPress SEO tutorial