When it comes to optimising your WordPress website for search engines, Yoast SEO is one of the first plugins people will try. Yoast comes with a traffic light scoring system, red being bad, green being good.
However, green dots don’t necessarily mean your website is going to rank, and sometimes its just not worth the time and effort trying to get green dots on all pages, products and posts.
Here we’re going to look at why!
1. Your users are not searching for the keywords you have chosen
Research, research, research! Knowing what your users are searching for and the reasons why is very important. What currently ranks for the keywords you’re targeting? Blog posts? Videos? What questions are actually being answered?
There are four main types of searches and each will have different results:
Informative searches: When, why, where, how to
Investigation searches: Services, reviews
Transaction searches: Sales, cheap, discounts
Direct searches: Company, name, pages
These are the four main reasons why users are searching, but they do also make broader searches with less specific terms. These terms are less likely to convert.
For example, if we search for ‘Technical SEO’ Google shows a description telling us what Technical SEO is and why it’s important. But if we search for something along the lines of ‘How to technically optimise a website for SEO’ Google will return a list of factors you need to know in order to optimise a website.
To get results and good rankings, you need to understand your users’ reasoning behind searching and understand what kind of content Google will most likely show.
So you’ve probably made sure the keywords you’ve chosen are in the header, metadata, alt tag, within the content and you finally have that green dot, which is awesome. But the keywords you’ve chosen are less likely to convert without thinking about your users’ intent, so make sure you have given that good consideration too.
2. You don’t have to optimise every page
Contact pages, about us, catalogue pages and privacy policies are not pages we’d typically want ranking, so you really don’t have to force keywords into those pages just for the sake of the green dot.
Before you start making changes to get the green dot, always ask yourself if this page needs to rank. Will your users interact with that page? Will it lead to a conversion?
Doing this could even be detrimental as it could increase your bounce rate if the page isn’t relevant for the keywords you have optimised it for. Your users are wanting out as soon as possible because it’s not what they’re wanting to see. They could be on another website that does show them what they want to see in just a few seconds.
3. Related terms are very important and should not be overlooked
Even though these days Yoast is more sophisticated in terms of closely related terms and keywords, the premise is still to make sure your main keyword is in all of the main page factors.
Google uses related terms to better understand how relevant your page is and the types of searches that it should be ranking for. Only focusing on one term means you’re missing out on rankings elsewhere and that you’re making it difficult for Google to understand how to present your content.
Google now views a page the same as a human would and tries to understand the overall topic. It no longer looks for just the repetition of the focus term.
4. Your image alt text should be descriptive
An alt tag allows screen readers and search engines to understand more about the image you’re using.
Forcing your keyword into the alt tag of every image on every page of your website is unnatural, but if your keyword fits naturally then go for it!
The alt text should always be a description of the image itself, not just forced, hidden keywords repeated.
Yoast suggests that we use our keyword in the alt tags of images but this isn’t what alt tags are for and it could cause more harm than good with your SEO strategy.
From an accessibility point of view, it’s also bad for any users that can’t actually see the image. The image is described to them using your alt tag, so a random keyword or term is not helpful.
5. Write for humans, not software
Having quality content that always answers the question the user is asking is the best way forward.
Making sure your keyword is in the URL, content and metadata is good, but it doesn’t actually answer the questions your user is asking.
Focusing on getting that green dot shouldn’t be top of your priority list when creating content; we need to focus on the content we’re writing and making sure it’s informative and what your users are looking for.
As Google is now becoming more and more sophisticated and is able to understand the topic of your page, adding single key terms no longer means good rankings.
Basically, Yoast to SEO is like spellcheck to regular language. It can be helpful and it’s a great place to start as there are loads of suggestions and corrections along the way, but it does use a keyword density algorithm that is outdated.
Optimisation needs much more than just keyword placement. So don’t focus all your time on getting those green dots!