What is YOAST SEO and why should I use it?

Without patronizing those of you who are familiar with SEO… it stands for search engine optimization and if you’re putting things on the net with the hope of gaining some exposure then it’s a big deal.

FOAR has a plug-in called YOAST attached to the page where you construct and post your articles, and it’s here where you can arrange all of that lovely search engine stuff. Some of you will use this already, but for many it will be a new concept entirely, as it was for me. So I’ve made a quick guide to try and simplify the process so you can enjoy more engagement with your pieces (insert masturbation joke here) and the site will gain more traffic.

If you go to the “posts” tab on your dashboard you’ll see the coloured circles to the right of your articles, these are the SEO and Readability scores. As you can gather, green is good, orange is ok, red is bad. We want to aim for as many greens as possible.

I‘ll begin with the Readabilty section,

I think this is less important but it’s worth paying attention to as it relates the how easy to read, or user-friendly, the article is for the reader. This is represented by the second circle, and as you can see from my FOAR articles, I’m not great at this one.

The only time I really nailed readability is in a piss-take article I wrote when King Raggy left in the summer. You can see from the list that most of this is based on the use of sub-headings (important, always use these), short paragraphs/sentences, and ample use of transition words (because, therefore, this explains etc.)

As I’ve said, this is not as important as the SEO score because we’ve already got the ‘click, the person is already on the article. But if you want people to enjoy your work, or to be more willing to follow your future stuff, try to aim for a green, Good rating here.

Next is the SEO score, this is important

FOAR is in the fortunate position of actually featuring on search engines due to our audience (thanks to the tireless work of Joe, Vesko and a few others). In order to maintain this exposure, and build on it, we need to ensure that our articles contain everything that will prolong their online shelf-lives.

Another article from August had a bad readability score and a good SEO score.

This is fine, as long as the article is written the way you intended. Because this one was more of an essay than a typical football article (short, simple sentences broken into many small paragraphs – read any BBC sport article to see what I mean), the readability was scored as Red and I wasn’t arsed about it.

The SEO score is all I cared about for this one, and ideally all of your articles will have a green rating here. It’s really not that hard to achieve and it will do wonders for your reader numbers, engagement, ego and our traffic at FOAR.

‘meta description’ –

You can input this in the section here:

This is how the link/result will appear on google or other search engines that people (wierdos) might use to find your article. If this is empty, it not only looks unprofessional, it does nothing to persuase the reader that this article is worth their time. I usually take a nice looking sentence from my introduction and copy this, but you can write whatever you like here – just make it applicable to the piece and interesting.

Ignore the recommended text bit unless you are the kind of person to write articles with less than 300 words.

Next is the outbound and internal links – these are important.

Outbound links are the hyperlinks that take you away from FOARsite, I love love love these and recommend using them as much as possible. They add credibility to your piece without cluttering it with excessive quotes, and they offer countless opportunities for poor-taste jokes and youtube clips. Using these is good for the article, but doesn’t do much for the site. It’s up to you.

The internal links are what we need to use more often. These are hyperlinks that direct the user to other parts of FOARsite. For example, you can hyperlink the words “jurgen klopp” and direct people to an article that you or someone else has written about how boss Klopp is. It’s pretty self explanatory but try to get in the habit of using these at least twice per article.

I managed to plug two of my previous articles by simply adding hyperlinks and trying to make it relevant. It’s really easy and really really really effective.

Finally, I’ll talk about the Focus Keyword

This might be the most important aspect. You can find it here:

This is the word or words that relate your article to the search engine input. It’s how google knows that your article is the one that the reader is looking for. Please please GET THIS RIGHT.

I used “football twitter” as it is a recognisable term and was relevant to the article’s subject. If you’re writing about Milner use “James Milner” etc. It’s simple but so often overlooked.

Try to use a keyword that appears in the title of your article as this is also what makes up the URL.

With the SEO scores, you will get Red warnings regardless of how hard you try, and don’t worry about this. The only way to have a perfect SEO score is to have a shithouse article full of hashtags, links, key words and click bait. We don’t want that.

My best advice is to look at the main issues that the YOAST plug-in has highlighted and try to resolve 4 or 5 of them.

Here are the bad scores I received for the same article, and honestly, it doesn’t matter, although you can see the importance and their obsession with the focus keyword. If you get an overall green score, then that’s good enough.

The importance of SEO is something I’ve only recently come to appreciate and I have seen a big difference in the engagement and viewing figures on my articles since taking it seriously.

The way I look at it, by not optimising how easily found your article are through search engines, you are only selling yourself short on all of the hard work and effort you made in writing the piece.

This is in no way a total or comprehensive guide. SEO is a huge thing and I only know what I have used since writing on the internet, but it’s worth knowing and will only improve your experience writing for us.

So please, before you click ‘publish’ on your article, have a look at the YOAST section and try to make sure everything is as it should be before it goes live.

M Wolf

I write words about important things like football. Find me on twitter - @LFCowl