Search Engine Optimization is a complicated thing. I understand a certain amount. But also know that sometimes no matter how good we are with our content and SEO our work will never feature at the top of a google search. In this post I am going to look at the Yoast plugin and how to make sense of the dashboard and readability criteria to help with your SEO.
There are many reasons why our work may not come up on the first page of a google search.
- Subject matter.
- The size of the blog.
- Back links.
- Moz rank.
- Not paying for a google advert.
- The ever changing google algorithm
Too many things to worry about to be honest. Although, here on Blogable we will be coming back to address a few of those topics.
All we can do is our best. Which means writing great content and downloading the Yoast SEO plugin.
Yoast Plugin ~ Dashboard and Readability.
They themselves say,
Since 2008, Yoast SEO has helped millions of websites worldwide to rank higher in search engines. This WordPress SEO plugin helps you with your search engine optimisation.
And you know what? I believe them. Well, to a certain extent. So, let’s take a closer look at how we can utilize this plugin.
Once you have downloaded (add new plugin) and activated you will find the word “SEO” in your side dashboard. Click on it – this is what you should see.
Let’s go through the settings you need to pay attention to.
Click on General in the left bar and then on the Features tab. Most of these can be set to ON. The only one I have as OFF is ‘cornerstone content.’ Check what they all mean by clicking on the little ? next to each option.
The next tab is Webmaster tools. Google Verification is the most important. However, this is tied up with Google Search Console. Which needs to be another post. Coming soon… You can still get started on SEO without these codes.
Once you click on search appearance – under general in the sidebar dash – a whole load of tabs open up. Fill out the first one – homepage – as this will be the information people see if they search for your blog on google. Here is how mine is filled in…
And here is what you see on google search…
Also add you are a person and your name. Plus an avatar if you want one.
For the next tab – content type – there are two sections, posts and pages. Be sure to open each one. Make sure the settings are set to YES and SHOW in both. With regards to the title and meta description, fill in if you want or come back later. It is not vital.
Media tab should be set to YES.
Taxonomies has 3 sections. Make sure they are set to YES, SHOW or ENABLED. Again the meta bits can wait.
Archives – Author and date. This is down to personal preference. I don’t show date archives in search.
Breadcrumbs – this need to discussed in another post. So for now don’t worry about addressing it.
RSS ~ Web feed. I have mine as
%%AUTHORLINK%% %%BLOGLINK%% ~ in the first box.
%%POSTLINK%% appeared first on %%BLOGLINK%%. ~ in the second box.
Within a post ~ Yoast Readability
Now you have set up the general dashboard options there are other things to do for the individual SEO of your posts.
Once you have written a post you can find the options for the SEO at the bottom of the editing page or in the right side bar if you click on the Y at the top. I tend to use the box at the bottom.
The plugin concentrates on two things. The readability of the post and general SEO points.
Reading age of audience
Before we look at readability in detail let’s remember we are told that in the UK the average person is thought to have achieved the reading ability normally expected of an 11 year old. This is a sweeping statement. Having researched this a little online I am slightly skeptical as to how this statistic was calculated. But what I do know is that many newspapers are now written to cater for the reading age of a 12 year old. I also suspect that the way reading age is measured has negatively changed over the years.
Let’s bare this in mind when we try and understand yoast’s readability criteria. They are well aware of the above and want to assist us in providing text that apparently most people will be able to comprehend. They say…
readable content is incredibly important if you want your site to do well in the search results.
Keep the audience you are writing for in your mind before you get bogged down with this criteria. After all, if you are writing adult content you are probably not too worried about insuring an actual 10 year old can understand it.
Yoast Readability Criteria
Yoast Readability Criteria
Click on the “eyes” on the right to have the areas highlighted in your text if you need to. But this does not work if you are editing using Gutenberg classic.
The above is the final yoast readability score of one of my most popular stories. I will use it to take you through the options.
SEO is keen on headings. I hardly ever use them in my fiction posts as I think they hinder the flow of the story. However, I do use them all the time in personal tales or posts like this. After all, headings are needed to separate different topics.
This is an area where I have difficulty turning the lights to green. Mainly with my fiction writing. That is because of the style of my work. My stories tend to be sparse and punchy so I don’t over use words such as, because or therefore. If you have an individual style of writing that works for you and your readers then why change it. There will be other criteria you can score higher on. Posts such as this one usually manage to turn the light to green.
When I first started writing articles and personal posts the reading score would usually be orange. I felt a little proud of that thinking I was composing intelligent articles. Then, I started to write fiction. I immediately noticed that simply by shortening a sentence the reading score would get higher and head into the green. I certainly wouldn’t obsess about this criteria. Yoast seem happy with anything between 65 and 100(very easy to read).
This is another area where it may depend on what you are writing as to how much passive voice you include. If I offer you this description you will understand why…
Passive voice produces a sentence in which the subject receives an action. In contrast, active voice produces a sentence in which the subject performs an action.
Active ~ He grabbed me by the hair. Passive ~ My hair was grabbed by him.
Sentences in the active voice have a strong, direct, and clear tone. But it is easy to see that on occasions the passive voice is preferable. It is useful for those instances when you want to emphasize the fact of an action having taken place rather than who performed the action. Perhaps when writing personal pieces. Indeed, I often find passive voice in my personal, reflective work. But hardly ever in my fiction.
Yoast try and steer you away from starting more than 2 sentences in a row with the same word. If you are writing poetry or patterned prose it sometimes can’t be helped. But in other ways this is an easy light to turn green. Avoid repetition.
I think paragraph length is particularly important if your readers use their phone to access your site. Long paragraphs can seem endless and maybe daunting when being viewed on a mobile.
I must say this one annoys me. The reason we have punctuation is so we can construct longer sentences and still covey meaning to the reader. However, let’s remember Yoast only want a percentage of your post’s sentences less than 25 words, not all of them.
Concluding part one
Just remember where the Yoast readability criteria is concerned keep your audience in mind and with each piece of work make your own executive decision.
And just in case you wondering what the readability analysis is for this post – here you go.