I am sure many of you have heard about SEO but how many of you know about on-site SEO optimization? What exactly is on-site SEO and how will it help your business? Well, there’s no need to look anywhere else for answers because in this article we’ll be talking about on-site SEO and how it works.
What is on-site SEO Optimization?
On-site SEO optimization is the process of making your website search engine-friendly.
In simple words, this means adjusting certain elements on your website so that search engines are able to understand the content and structure of your website.
The more information and data they can get from your site, the greater are your chances of ranking higher in their index.
Working and fixing potential problems related to on-page SEO is the first step you should take when optimizing your website for search engines and in particular Google.
What are the benefits of on-site SEO Optimization?
On-Page SEO is a crucial factor in SEO for your website to rank higher on the search engines. It is a method of optimizing your web pages as per the Google guidelines.
Some of the benefits of on-site SEO optimization are:
- Increased Traffic
Having your website appear on top positions of the search engine result pages receives a high number of clicks and impressions. Therefore ranking in these top positions can result in a significant traffic increase for your website. Hence, it is always recommended to optimize tags and descriptions to increase the click-through rate, which also promotes growth in quality web traffic
- User-friendly site
On-Page SEO consists of rearranging the site’s structure and links to make pages within your site easier to find and navigate. By doing this, not only makes it easier for Google bots to crawl your site and find pages but also makes it easier for the users to find any sort of information on your website too.
SEO is one of the most cost-effective marketing strategies because it targets users who are actively looking for the services and products offered by your business online. With On-Page SEO, you do not need to invest any money, unlike PPC or Social Media Marketing. The traffic resulting from SEO is more organic and of higher quality than many other marketing strategies, resulting in profitability for companies.
What is Yoast?
Now we are going to talk about Yoast. Now I know that a lot of you might be wondering what Yoast is and what does this has to do with on-site SEO optimization.
Yoast SEO, best known as just Yoast, is a WordPress plugin designed to make on-site SEO optimization simple for WordPress users.
The plugin itself really is for everyone, no matter how well they understand SEO.
One of the best things about Yoast is that it makes SEO simple and doesn’t require you to know how to code.
The plugin walks you through every step and uses easy-to-understand color codes to show you where there are issues. Then it tells you how to fix those issues.
There are two versions of Yoast — one is free and one requires payment. For most smaller sites, you can easily get what you need from the free version. Larger or more technical sites will benefit from the pay version.
You can learn more about the differences between the two versions by clicking by reading the details HERE.
In Yoast SEO you can enter the keyword or keyphrase you’d like your post or page to rank for in the search results. We then run a check on your content to check whether you’re using the keywords often enough – but not too often – and in the right spots.
In Yoast SEO Premium, we take this one major step further. We will not only check for the keyword or key phrase you enter, but we will analyze your text on all variations of that word or phrase.
Yoast “free” version setup information
So now that you know a little bit more about Yoast, it’s time to talk about how to set it up.
Please be aware that there are two versions of Yoast: Free and Premium.
You have an option to set up a Free or Premium version. By setting up the Premium version, it will give you more configuration options and will bring in more results. So I recommend you try the premium version.
I’ll guide you through the steps you need to take in order to implement the free version on your website:
- Log in to your WordPress website
- Click on “Plugins”
- Search for “Yoast SEO”
- Install the plugin
- Activate the plugin
- Once you have installed the Yoast SEO plugin, you’ll see “Start the configuration wizard to configure Yoast SEO: notification in Yoast SEO > General > Dashboard section
- Once you’ve opened the wizard, it will guide you through the steps via a few questions. If you answer these, we’ll implement the right settings for your website, based specifically on your answers.
Yoast premium keyword setup guide
Now that we talked about the free version it is time to talk about how to set up the premium version.
But before we do that let’s talk a bit more about it. Yoast SEO Premium is an “add-on” for the free version of the plugin. This means that Yoast SEO Premium is a companion to the free version, and you need both plugins to work. So, before you can install Yoast SEO Premium, you have to make sure that you have installed and activated the free Yoast SEO plugin.
Here are the steps to follow in order to activate it
- Download the file from yoast.com
- Log in to your WordPress website.
- Click on ‘Plugins’.
- Click on ‘Add New’.
- Click the ‘Upload Plugin’ button at the top of the screen.
- Click the ‘Choose File’ button.
- Click ‘Install Now.
- Click ‘Activate Plugin’.
- Connect your subscription by going to the Sites section of MyYoast.
- Click ‘Add site’, enter the URL of the site you would like to add to your account and select the platform that your site is running on. Click ‘Add to confirm.
- Connect your Plugin subscription to your site by switching the toggle to ‘On’,
Yoast SEO Analysis
Here you will see all the suggestions Yoast has for you to improve. It’s in your best interests to make as many of these changes that make sense.
But, above all, think about your readers.
If you make a choice that’s best for the readers, it’s okay to leave a few of those stoplights yellow or even red.
If you put the reader’s needs first, you won’t go wrong.
The content analysis in Yoast SEO assesses crucial aspects of the posts and pages you create. In particular, it checks how SEO-friendly and easy to read your content is.
The things you need to look out for are:
- Keyphrase in the introduction
A focus keyphrase is a phrase that you want your post or page to rank for. To find the optimal keyphrase, you will need to do some research and discover what people are looking for. That will increase your chances to get found. Then, when people search for instructions on how to make it, they might find your post in Google search results.
When writing a post or a page, we advise using your focus keyphrase in your introduction. By doing that, you make it easier for your readers and for search engines to find your content.
- Keyphrase distribution
You write an article thinking of an idea that you want to put into words. Based on that subject, you decide on the focus keyphrase you want the post to rank for. For Google to understand that, you need to use the key phrase throughout the text. Keyphrase distribution is about that: have you used your keyphrase (and/or synonyms and related keyphrases) throughout the whole text, in a balanced way?
- Single H1 title
The title of your post or page usually gets the H1 heading tag. It’s only logical to give your post one title, right? Having more than one H1 is like saying: “Hey, this text is actually about two topics that are of equal importance.” That’s why Yoast SEO warns you with a red feedback bullet if you use more than one H1 heading
- Keyphrase in subheading
Search engines also scan texts. Headings, especially ones that contain keyphrases in them, help search engines figure out the main topic of a post or a page. The better search engines understand your content, the more likely they are to push it higher in the search results! The key phrase in the subheading check is part of the SEO analysis in Yoast SEO
- Outbound links
The outbound links check counts the number of links you’ve added to your post or page. It counts nofollowed and followed links. Followed means that search engines can follow these links, add value to the article, and perhaps rank it higher.
- Internal links
Before your content can rank, it needs links. Google finds your posts and pages best when they’re linked to from somewhere on the web. Internal links also connect your content and give Google an idea of the structure of your website. They can establish a hierarchy on your site, allowing you to give the most important pages and posts more link value than other, less valuable, pages.
- Keyphrase length
Optimizing your posts and pages with a keyphrase makes it easier for people to find your content.
- Keyphrase density
The key phrase density check in the Yoast SEO plugin assesses whether you’ve used the word or words from your focus keyphrase often enough in your copy. It also checks if you use the keyphrase not too often in your text. Your score depends on how long your keyphrase is. If you are trying to rank for a longer phrase, it might be much more difficult to use it a certain number of times in your text, than if you are using a shorter keyphrase.
- Keyphrase in the meta description
This check is all about using the keyphrase in the meta description. A focus keyphrase is the search term you want a page to rank with. When people use that term, you want them to find your page. You base your keyphrase on keyword research. In a nutshell, after you do your research, you should end up with a combination of words that the majority of your audience is most likely to search for. We’ve already discussed that when you use your keyphrase in the meta description, Google will likely highlight it. That makes it easier for people to see that they’ve found what they are looking for.
- Meta description length
The meta description is a snippet of up to about 155 characters – a tag in HTML – which summarizes a page’s content. Search engines show it in search results mostly when the searched-for phrase is within the description. So optimizing it is crucial for on-page SEO.
- Previously used keyphrase
Your focus keyphrase is the keyword(s) you want your post or page to rank for. If you’re particularly eager to rank for a specific keyword, you’ll probably be tempted to optimize many articles on your site for that keyphrase. But, that’s not what a focus keyphrase is for! You should only ever use a focus keyphrase once
- Image alt attributes
Yoast SEO helps you remember to add relevant alt text to your images. The plugin comes with an image alt attributes assessment, which checks if there are images in your post and whether these images have an alt attribute containing the focus keyphrase, to make sure your alt text reflects the topic of your page or post.
The Yoast SEO plugin will then give you feedback: it will tell you whether your images have alt attributes and if the alt text is relevant to the topic of your page or post. The only thing left for you to do is add some relevant alt text. This will not only make your site more accessible; it will also help with your rankings!
- Text length
Yoast SEO’s content analysis checks the text length of your post. For regular posts or pages, we advise writing more than 300 words. Why is that? Well, a higher word count helps Google to better understand what your text is about. And, generally speaking, Google tends to rank longer articles higher. Hold your horses though, we don’t advise just adding content for the sake of it. Nobody wants to read badly written lengthy articles. Quality and user-friendliness still come first!
- Keyphrase in title
Think about it: what is the first thing you see in a search engine? The snippet, right? It is the result that contains three essential elements – a title, a meta description, and a slug. To inspire people to come to your site, you should take advantage of each snippet element and make it count. Your result will pop out in the search results pages if you use your keyphrase in the title, the meta description, and the slug.
- SEO title width
Writing good page titles is an essential skill for anyone doing SEO. Why? Because the title tag is the first thing a user sees in search results, and it’s also one of the most important factors that Google uses to determine the topic of a page. This makes titles essential to SEO
- Keyphrase in slug
In SEO, we often talk about creating the right slug for a page. Of course, we’re not talking about the slimy creature that eats your plants. So, what is this ‘slug’, then? And why should you optimize it?
A slug is the part of a URL that identifies a particular page on a website in an easy-to-read form. In other words, it’s the part of the URL that explains the page’s content. For this article, for example, the URL is https://yoast.com/slug, and the slug simply is ‘slug’.
Yoast Readability Analysis
If you have used Yoast SEO, then you’re probably familiar with the colored bullets (or dots, or even ‘traffic lights’) in our plugin. Two parts of Yoast SEO use this system: content analysis and readability analysis.
The first checks whether your post is SEO-proof, while the latter checks if it’s readable for a general audience.
Of course, these two are interconnected, as readable content is incredibly important if you want your site to do well in the search results.
Let’s dig a little deeper into readability analysis.
The readability analysis in Yoast SEO uses an algorithm to determine how readable your post is. It features several checks that will give you advice when you write your post. In other words, by following this advice, you can make your text easier to read and understand.
By simplifying content, you’re automatically growing your audience, as more people grasp the message of your content. Also, you’re not writing your content just for people anymore. Because virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have to be able to work with it as well. And even Google increasingly uses well-written pieces of content for rich results like featured snippets.
That being said, while the advice in the readability section is not the be-all and end-all advice, it does give you important clues to the perceived difficulty of your text.
Now let’s have a look at the current Readability checks and let’s go through each one of them:
- Transition words
Using transition words like “most importantly’, ‘because’ and ‘therefore’, you improve the flow of your article as they provide hints to the reader about what is coming next.
- Sentence beginnings
If any of your consecutive sentences start with the same word, it would feel repetitive to your reader and this could be annoying
Always keep your sentences varied, so your article is readable and free of obstacles. Unless you want to prove something or use it as a writing style, of course.
- Flesch reading ease
This world-famous test analyzes texts and grades them on a scale from 1-100. The lower the score, the more difficult it is to read the text. Texts with a very high Flesch reading ease score (about 100) are very easy to read. They have short sentences and no words of more than two syllables. Usually, a reading ease score of 60-70 is believed to be acceptable/normal for web copy.
- Paragraph length
A lot of people use extremely long paragraphs and that makes your text daunting as it becomes just one big blob of text. So what you have to do is, break it up, use shorter paragraphs, and don’t forget to give your core sentences some thought.
- Subheading distribution
Similar to long paragraphs, texts without subheadings are difficult to scan, which makes them rather daunting. So, Yoast checks if you use enough subheadings to guide your readers through the text and help them find what they’re looking for.
- Sentence length
Sentence length is one of the core aspects that can make a text hard to read. If most of your sentences are too long – over 20 words – people lose track of your point. Readers often have to jump back a few words to find out what you mean. This is very tiring and inefficient. Try to keep the number of words in a sentence in check. Shorten your sentences. Aim for easy understanding, not a complex literary masterpiece.
- Passive voice
Using a lot of passive voice in your text makes it appear distant, and your message will be less clear. Your sentences become wordy and difficult because the sentence structure is harder to understand. Whenever you use the passive voice, always consider whether a better, active alternative is available.
How to use the readability analysis in Yoast SEO
You can find the readability analysis in your Yoast sidebar and in the Yoast meta box underneath the post or page you’re editing.
It’s very easy to use the analysis to improve your content. You can just start writing the article you want to write. The readability score is calculated in real-time, so you can look at it while you write. However, if you want to stay focused, you can also choose not to look at the score while you’re writing your first draft. That way you can write without being distracted and make the final tweaks afterward.
The readability score helps you by giving you a green, orange or red bullet per check. If you get an orange or red bullet, just click on the eye icon to find out where improvements can be made.
Everyone has their own writing and editing process, and this way isn’t necessarily how you should use it. For instance, you might be targeting a Flesch level of 80. If so, you have to find out what works gradually. When using the readability tool for a while, you’ll notice that you’ll automatically get a feel for the level you are aiming for. Practice makes perfect!
This concludes the on-site SEO optimization. Were you aware of what on-site SEO optimization was and have you ever tried it? I know that for some this might seem like a mountain to climb but once you make the first step, the rest will be easier to understand and implement.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think of this guide on on-site SEO optimization and if there are some things you might want to add.