Quick and Easy Best Practices for Yoast

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Most WordPress users know that there are thousands of plugins available to improve your website, and if you’re like everyone else on the web, you’re always looking for new ways to optimize your website for SEO. Of the thousands of SEO plugins available, Yoast SEO is one of the most used.

Below is a guide we’ve created full of the best practices for Yoast and utilizing this SEO plugin to the fullest for SEO advancement and results:

XML Sitemaps

Search engines like Google use crawlers to index your site and place it in search engines. The easier it is for search engines to crawl your website, the higher you’ll rank. To best optimize your website with the use of Yoast SEO, you should create a sitemap. This makes it easy for search engine crawlers to index your pages.

Yoast is perfect for SEO beginners and pros alike because it does all the hard work for you. Creating a sitemap is simple, but Yoast doesn’t automatically do so. On the left-hand side of your WordPress dashboard, click on “SEO” to access Yoast. You’ll choose the option for XML sitemaps and check the box to “Enable Sitemap Functionality.”

 

Once you’ve enabled the sitemap, take the sitemap URL and plug it into Google Search Console (found here if you’re unfamiliar). Log in to your Google Search Console and click the red button “Add a Property.” You can then type in your website and will be asked to verify by logging in to your hosting account:

Type in your complete website and you’ll be provided the code, as shown below when you choose “HTML tag.” Note: Only copy the code that comes after “content,” not the entire code, as circled below.

xml-sitemap

Copy the code and switch back to your WordPress dashboard. Choose the SEO option and then the “Webmaster Tools” tab. From here you’ll enter the code into the option for Google Search Console. You’ll need to go back to Google and verify your site. If you’ve followed the steps correctly, Google will let you know with a green checkmark. Once you’ve verified your site, give it a few minutes to be fully completed and you’re set!

Targeted Keywords

We all know the key to effective SEO is utilizing high ranking keywords into content and websites. The first step in targeting keywords is creating high-quality content that Google and other search engines look for, and Yoast makes it easy to take your keyword and optimize it by targeting one specific keyword for each piece of content. If you’re using the premium version of Yoast, you’re able to optimize for two keywords.

Once you’ve created your content, run a Page Analysis through the plugin. This handy tool lets you know whether or not you’re using your keywords effectively. You’ll know you’re good to go if you have a green light next to each line. Of course, these should be used as a guideline for incorporating keywords into your content. The analysis lets you know:

  • If you’re using your keywords the correct number of times.
  • If your keyword shows up in the right places (for example, your title, the description, the URL).
  • If other related keywords may work better.
  • Whether or not your content is easy to read based on the Flesch Reading Ease test.

Both the screenshot above and below will show you your analysis:

Social Media

You’ve worked hard to create great content, so chances are it will be shared across social media platforms (hopefully!). To have your content show up properly on all social media platforms, you’ll need to take a look at the Social tab option in your dashboard. Your images and content titles will still show up in feeds even if you leave this part blank; however this way you’ll have more control over the images and text that show up once your content’s been shared.

Head over to the Social option and you’ll see this:

 

Here you can rewrite your description and title (otherwise, it will automatically show up as the original description and content title) and upload an image. Images don’t need to be uploaded necessarily, but you never know which image will show up if you leave this spot blank. Plus, choosing an exciting image will generate more clicks and shares.

Other Things to Consider

Yoast has plenty of options to optimize your website for search engines. But not all will apply to your situation. And some features, while helpful, may not help your SEO in the long run.

Here are some things to remember when you’re using this helpful tool:

Don’t get caught up with the green lights

One of the coolest features of Yoast is the green, red, and yellow lights that detect how well your content is doing. But people can (and do) become obsessed with getting all of their lights to go green. The lights aren’t as important as you may think. While they do help as a guide to control how well your keywords, etc. perform, you shouldn’t focus all your content based on the green lights. Simply create engaging content that people will want to read, and don’t focus so highly on whether or not Yoast thinks it’s great.

This is specifically true when it comes to the Readability scores. It can be very difficult to turn all of these lights green, and by the time your finished it may not even sound like you anymore. While SEO you can be a little bit stricter, our advice is to craft an article that is easy to read and not worry about these scores.

Yoast only knows exact keyword matches

Sometimes you may switch up your keyword to make the content flow. That’s perfectly fine and it’s often encouraged as not to stuff your posts with keywords. For example, if your keyword is “nanny” you may occasionally use the phrase “babysitter.” However, Yoast won’t pick up on this, and you may not get the coveted green light for your keyword usage.

Some tools aren’t that helpful

Yoast has some awesome tools that streamline the SEO process. One of these tools is the Bulk Editor. While it’s a great concept, it may negatively affect all your hard work. Basically, this tool allows you to edit titles and meta descriptions in bulk. This way you won’t need to go into each post’s editor and update titles. The only downfall? This may create duplicate content that can seriously harm your SEO.

The Takeaway

SEO is daunting for some, especially if you’re just setting up your website or blog on WordPress, but Yoast is jam packed with helpful tools that make optimizing your page a cinch. The easy user interface and helpful video tutorials make it perfect for those who aren’t SEO pros. It’s a lot to take in at first, but once you’ve gotten the hang of it, you’ll be seeing instant results!

What is your favorite part about the Yoast plugin? Is there anything you would add to the list? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.

Dialing in WordPress for a Company Blog

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Did you know that companies who have blogs receive 55% more visits to their website than those without blogs? Blogging is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your company’s website because it’s free marketing that doesn’t require much more than consistent blog posting. This is, of course, time consuming, but the benefits far outweigh the time-spent writing. This is where WordPress comes into play as a place to not only house your company website but also your company blog. Below provides a foundation for starting a company blog with WordPress from how to incorporate images into your posts to how long your posts should be and everything in between.

First: Creating Content 101

Before we even get into WordPress, in order to have a successful blog for your company, your blog posts need to be valuable to your audience. Your blog posts will be used to show that you’re an authoritative source in your industry, so you should avoid crafting blog posts that have zero relevance to your product or service. It seems obvious, but so many business blogs today worry about keyword rankings and where they’ll get the most eyes that they forget the importance of writing what you know and what makes sense to the business. This will get you the eyes you want.

As you begin to focus on creating great content and using WordPress to market and highlight that content, consider the tips below.

Start with a Great Headline

Think of some of the most recent articles you’ve read. What about them caught your attention? Chances are the catchy headline made you want to click on the article or post. Crafting a good blog post for your company should start with an eye-catching headline. You should consider the following things when crafting the perfect headline:

  • Urgency. Craft a headline that creates some type of call to action. For example, an article listing the ways a customer can use today or for a limited time.

“Use THIS Tip to Create Excellent Blog Posts”

  • Try to incorporate blog headings that touch on something none of your competitors have written about before. Use words or phrases that will grab the reader’s attention. This sets you apart from the crowd and keeps your readers interested in what you have to say.

“5 Supercharged Ways to Boost Your Blog Traffic”

  • Remember, you’re trying to create valuable, informational posts for your customers. Tips, tricks, and how-to guides are just a few types of headlines you should create so that people know you are offering actionable tips they can take with them.

“10 Examples of Excellent Blog Posts”

If you’re having trouble coming up with useful, engaging headlines, WordPress has tons of plugins you can use to create the best headline for your post including plugins specifically created for law, sports, and news blogs.

Extra Tip: Having trouble figuring out the topics you’d like to touch on? Look to your customers! You may have received reviews or emails addressing topics or questions your customers may have. Take a look at this data and use it to power your next blog post.

Choose the Ideal Length for Your Post

The “ideal” length of your post is changing as quickly as the digital marketing industry. The magic number used to be around the 500-600-word mark; however, long blog posts are being seen as better for search engine optimization (SEO) as well as for your readers’ attention spans. According to several studies, the length of your blog posts should be between 1000 and 1500 words per post.

The takeaway? While longer blog posts are ideal for generating traffic, you should also remember that quality posts, no matter the length of words, will always generate a better response than poor quality posts regardless of length.

Incorporate Images into Your Blog Posts

Blog posts that contain images receive 94% more views than articles that do not. Adding images, graphs, and charts within your content make it easier for your visitors to read, but there is a science behind it. Having too many large image files in your WordPress blog post can make your site run slower, and the quality of the image can be ruined.

There are a few factors to consider when you determine the ideal size for your images. You need to consider the file dimensions, width and height in pixels, and file size in kilobytes (KB) or megabytes (MB).

In order to optimize your images properly, make sure that the width (dimension) of your image is not wider than your web page. WordPress gives you three default options to resize your images:

  • Large – 600 pixels
  • Medium – 300 pixels
  • Small (Thumbnail) – 150 pixels

You also want to make sure that your file size is not too large. The larger your file size, the longer it takes to download to your page; however, you don’t want to lower image quality as you lower the size. In other words:

  • If an image takes up the full page, the best size would be between 80 and 100KB. A half page image would ideally be between 20 and 30KB.

This may take a couple tries to ensure you’re not affecting quality. To make sure you haven’t over optimized your image, compare the original image to the optimized image. If you notice any significant pixelation, you may have lowered the quality too much. You can learn more about images for your WordPress blog post here.

Second: Dialing Into WordPress Features for Your Company Blog

Now that you know how you craft the perfect blog post, let’s take a look at how WordPress can help you craft your company blog. WordPress offers tons of features, including their many plugins available. We’ll take a look at how you can optimize your blog just by using the WordPress features.

Use SEO Plugins like Yoast to Optimize Your Posts

One of the most beneficial plugins you can use within WordPress is the WordPress SEO by Yoast. If you’re struggling with the science that is SEO, this is handy plugin takes all the pressure off you. Below are some of the most helpful parts of this plugin.

Open Graph Tags

Chances are you’re going to share your blog posts on social media. But have you ever scrolled through your Twitter or Facebook feed and seen a poorly optimized link? When you share a post on social media, you should see a custom thumbnail, title, and a description. That’s where an open graph tag comes into play.

However, using open graph tags can be a pain to get right. Unless you’re an HTML pro (and if you are, more power to you!) you probably don’t want to mess with adding graph tags into your posts. That’s the great thing about the Yoast plugin – it automatically adds in these tags for you.

Once you’ve installed the plugin, head over to SEO > Social. Make sure the “Add open graph media data” feature is checked. The plugin will automatically add graph tags to all social media outlets including Facebook and Twitter.

Keyword Focus

Even an SEO novice knows that keywords are one of the most important factors in an SEO strategy. If you have some keywords in mind for your company blog, do you know whether or not you’re using them enough?

Yoast SEO helps with that. Simply set a focus keyword (the keyword you’d most like to be searched for) and Yoast runs a check throughout your content. It will pick up things like:

  • You use the keyword too often
  • You used the keyword in the URL
  • You used the keyword in a blog post title
  • You have links in your keyword

The plugin then takes this feedback and ranks it with a green, orange, or red bullet. Ultimately, you want to have a green bullet next to your focus keyword. Below is a screenshot that shows how it works:

Readability Check

You’ve created content for your blog, but how do you know it’s easy for users to read? Among other features, Yoast has a readability check that tells you just how easy it is to read your blog posts. Some things it will consider:

  • Length of sentences and paragraphs
  • Use of transition words
  • Excess use of passive voice versus active voice
  • Calculates the Flesch Reading Ease score

You can see how this works below. It shows you what you need to improve upon if you want it to be easier to read:

Commenting Systems

Allowing comments on your blog posts promotes engagement. But it’s not enough to simply allow blog comments. You need to utilize the best commenting system available. And while WordPress has an excellent commenting system in place, there are other options available that will make engaging on your blog posts more enticing for your readers. We’ll run through some of the best commenting plugins available to implement into your WordPress company blog.

Disqus

Disqus is one of the more popular WordPress plugins for commenting. While one of the downsides is the requirement to sign in (users can create their own Disqus account, or they can login via their social media accounts, such as Facebook). This prevents many users from commenting. However, there are impressive qualities of this platform that also encourages users to comment. Here are a few positive qualities of this platform:

  • Users are able to leave media, such as images or videos, in their comments
  • Disqus users can follow each other and view their comment history
  • You’re able to moderate comments from your end
  • Email notifications so users can reply immediately to other users

Jetpack

Yet another popular commenting system plugin available through WordPress, Jetpack takes the native WordPress commenting system and elaborates on it. One of the great features of Jetpack is that users aren’t required to sign in to comment. They are, however, required to leave their name and email address (which makes it easy for you to use these email addresses as future leads).

Users are given the option to receive email notifications. So if they decide they’re done with the conversation, they won’t continue to receive notifications of a reply.

wpDiscuz

This is a newer commenting plugin that you may not have heard about. Some of its key functions include:

  • Anonymous comments or the option to sign into favorite social media networks to leave a comment
  • The ability to comment directly from the user’s email notifications
  • Comments are loaded on an as needed basis – for example, comments are loaded once the user has made it to the bottom of the post
  • Additional add-on options including emoticons, the ability to tag other users, and the ability for users to flag the least helpful comments

Other WordPress Plugins to Boost Your Company Blog

There are literally thousands of plugins available in the expansive WordPress directory. There are so many that you could spend days looking through them. We’re looking at some of the must-have plugins that will help advance your company’s blog.

OptinMonster

Possibly one of the coolest plugins available in the WordPress directory, OptinMonster allows you to turn your blog’s abandoning website visitors into leads. As soon as your visitors try to leave your blog OptinMonster targets them with a campaign right before they leave. This plugin uses technology to determine when a visitor is about to leave. This is one plugin your blog definitely needs.

MaxCDN

Chances are your blog posts will incorporate images and videos within them. However, these types of media can slow down your blog quickly. And everyone knows that the slower your website loads, the quicker visitors will opt out. MaxCDN works to cache your content so images, videos, and downloads on servers that are located closer to your visitors.

MonsterInsights

If you’re already using Google Analytics, you need a great plugin to incorporate the data from your company’s blog. One of the coolest things you’ll get from this plugin is the ability to see where your visitors are coming from, and where they’re headed to next. There’s also a link tracking feature that helps you keep tabs on your outbound links. You also get a clear view as to how your users are interacting on your website. You can take this information and make changes to your blog or keep things exactly the same.

Your Turn

You may have thought that WordPress was only for the personal blogger, but it is growing into one of the most popular tools for companies to use for their business blogs. Having total control of your company’s blog is one of the many perks of using WordPress.

How do you use WordPress for your company blog? Are there any tools you would add to the list? Let us know in the comment section below.

Feature Image Credit: ElegantThemes.com

Is Visual Composer the Best WordPress Plugin? 6 Reasons Why

Visual Composer is a relatively new WordPress plugin that is taking the blogging world by storm and makes designing your dream website a breeze. Serious bloggers know how important it is to have a visually pleasing, yet functional, site on which to display their content. Consumers need to be engaged when they visit your website in order to stick around long enough to discover all the valuable content you’ve presented on your blog, and Visual Composer makes it easy to do just that.

Before you read, know that this isn’t a review I was asked to write. I just love, really love, Visual Composer and want to share the wealth.

What is Visual Composer?

Right now, Visual Composer is the best selling WordPress Plugin from Code Canyon. Over 1 million users have downloaded it to help run their websites, and more are discovering it every day. It’s a page builder plugin, which basically means it’s a one-stop shop for web designers looking to make their lives easier. Instead of downloading and learning how to use a ton of single-feature plugins, Visual Composer does it all, making it easy to build custom website layouts. The plugin makes it possible to build a responsive website within minutes, and it requires very little knowledge of the web design industry. It also contains many more helpful features that simplify web design—perfect for bloggers, start-ups, and small businesses.

Visual Composer isn’t the only page builder plugin available to bloggers and business owners, so why is it the most popular? Here are some of its best features:

1. It’s Affordable

You would think that a plugin that does so much would come with a large price tag, but one of the best features of Visual Composer is that this isn’t the case. It’s only $34, and it doesn’t come with any yearly renewal fees. Once you’ve made the purchase you’re automatically entitled to any updates or support for the lifetime of its use. You do need to enter your license key whenever you want to make an update or receive support, but if you’re not interested in either of those things there’s nothing really stopping you from using Visual Composer on multiple devices and websites.

2. You Don’t Have to Spend a Ton of Time Learning How to Use It

A wizard is provided, so all you have to do is click on a “plus” button and the wizard will give you a variety of options for new “elements” to add to your page. Elements include things like a text box, image box, buttons, titles, and more. It requires the user to have zero knowledge of code. Instead, you utilize a “drag and drop” system when adding or resizing new attributes to your site. It also comes with a variety of video tutorials for anyone looking to learn a little more about how to use the variety of features.

Below are the elements, or options, you see when you click the plus icon above:

3. It’s Compatible with All Your Current WordPress Pages, Templates, Posts, and Themes

Themes are extremely important for business owners looking to build a brand, and Visual Composer recognizes this by making sure it integrates well with all your existing WordPress features. The Skin Builder element allows you to perfectly match your current designs and color schemes so that your website stays true to your style and brand.

4. It Works Well for Creative Designers and for Those Who are Lacking in the Creativity Department

Some people can close their eyes and imagine their dream website, but they just lack the knowledge to put it into action. Visual Composer is great in that it can provide you with a blank template that is customizable for your every desire. You don’t have to be an expert in web design, all you have to do is have a general idea of what you want, and the plugin will make it simple to turn your dreams into a reality. But it also works well for those who aren’t as creatively inclined and who might not know exactly how they want their site to look. These people have the option to choose from a huge selection of pre-made templates that are just as visually pleasing as those that are created from scratch. These templates can also be customized if all you need is a starting-off point.

Step 1:

Step 2:

Step 3:

5. Visual Composer Automatically Implements Responsive Design

In a world where mobile dominates, responsive design is key for businesses and blogs that want to succeed. No one is going to waste their time waiting forever for a page to load on their smartphone, and if they pull it up on their tablet and the features are unclear or dysfunctional, they’re probably going to quickly move on. This isn’t a problem for users who use to incorporate Visual Composer into their website or blog, however, because the plug in makes sure that your site works no matter what kind of device it’s viewed, automatically, without any extra effort on the part of the designer.

6. It Utilizes Both Front-End and Back-End Editing

Front-end editing makes it possible for you to see what your content is going to look like on your website. Some people prefer this type of editing so that they can make small changes and adjustments as necessary while still moving forward. But if you’re more of a traditional editor, Visual Composer also offers back-end editing through the standard WordPress editing screen. Using this approach keeps all your content in one place while you’re trying to design your site. Both of these options make it easy for others to jump in and help edit and make changes to your site as well if you have employees or other writers collaborating.

The Takeaway

Visual Composer may have some drawbacks with design if you are, in fact, a professional web designer, but overall, it’s a great plugin that makes it easy for bloggers and business owners design their dream website and drive more traffic to what truly matters; their brand and the content that goes with it.

Do you use Visual Composer for your website or blog? What do you feel are its pros or cons? Comment in the section below!

All screenshots taken by author March, 2017