How to Use the Yoast SEO Plugin

How to Use the Yoast SEO plugin 

If you’d like to know how to use the Yoast SEO plugin in the best way, use it selectively.

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When I’m writing content, I like to write my content expressive and naturally. Nothing forced, in my own writing style. With a specific and definite purpose in mind.


I then use a plugin like Yoast SEO to find out where I can improve my article in the editing process.

This is why I have found that when using Yoast SEO, selective is best.

Of course, I FIRST select my main keyword (found using my favorite keyword tool Jaaxy) that I will be basing my article around.

 In Yoast SEO, this is called the focus key phrase. However, this is as far as I will go before writing; for further SEO improvements, I will tweak my content later after writing the entire article.

Know how to use the Yoast SEO plugin

Once you learn how to use the Yoast SEO plugin, it will be an indispensable tool in your SEO arsenal.

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Write Content Naturally

Write Natural Content First

For me I prefer this approach, as this accomplishes the most natural and unforced writing style.

However, when taking this approach, you will find conflicts with Yoast – traffic lights that seem to be irreconcilable, or that you may simply decide you want to ignore for the greater good of your content.

know how to use the Yoast SEO plugin, here is a prime example

How to Use the Yoast SEO Plugin:  A Prime Example

Here’s an example of what I mean when I use the Yoast plugin to go back and re-edit my Pages content:

The Example in Yoast

I wrote my Page around a great keyword and Yoast is showing that I have 12 “Green Traffic SEO Lights” which is very good. However, Yoast is still giving me 3 “red lights”, one of which isn’t true:

  • Single Title: As you can see in this screenshot under “Problems” denoted by the “red” traffic light, Yoast is telling me that I have more than one H1 heading which is an SEO “No-No”.

However, in reality I cannot correct this to satisfy the plugin, as this is simply not true; the ONLY HI Heading I do have on my Page (and I’ve rechecked it several times) is in my Main Title.

That should be satisfactory and a “Green Light”. So Yoast is incorrect.

  • Keyphrase in Subheading: It also tells me I should be using my focus key           phrases in more of my higher level sub-headings, but to do this would be to alter the content where it would become disjointed.

So here is a case where I am being selective in not listening to Yoast for the greater good and message of my overall content.

  • Keyword in Introduction: The focus key phrase here is NOT the main directive of this Page, although it is highly relevant to this page; and the main heading (in this case) is not a “low hanging fruit” keyword.

Therefore I cannot in good conscience place it in the Top Headline, as placing it there wouldn’t make sense in terms of compelling the action I want my reader to take.

When knowing how to use the Yoast SEO plugin, intent takes precedence

Intent Still Takes Precedence

So IMO, here “intent” takes precedence over the main keyword placement.

The morale here is to try and optimize your content for SEO as best as possible, but not at the expense to where your focus key phrases are “forced” in the wrong locations causing your content to become “scattered” and to digress from its main message.

Knowing how to use the Yoast SEO plugin is an art and science

Comments on How to Use the Yoast SEO Plugin  

Recently we received some very helpful comments from my wonderful support group of online marketers that provided keen insights on how they are using the Yoast SEO plugin, as well as what they feel are the points that are less important that they are intentionally ignoring:

Here are some of the most interesting ones:

Thanks for a great post Kaju.

I totally agree with your "selective is best" approach to using plugins like Yoast. I find the same is true when using other plugins such as Grammarly (which monitors your writing for typos, plus spelling, grammatical, and sentence structure errors).

These plugins use algorithms that sometimes conflict with common sense plus the overall 'look and flow' of the content.
While I consider them to be useful tools, I don't ever have a problem with overruling their 'suggestions' when it makes sense to do so. Rock on! - Anonymous

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Great post, Kaju!

I noticed the red lights when trying out Yoast, but I didn't freak out as they were in my sand box site. I usually take those with a grain of salt, use them as guidelines, but not regulations.

I think the person behind the content is the key, not the plugin. Most of the time we can use our common sense to make sound judgement, of course based on some research. And I'm sure the data from Google Analytics and Search Console will reflect the effectiveness of the writing over time. Cheers! 🙂 – Anonymous

I agree! Sometimes those red lights aren't even correct. I always get one that says I didn't use my keyword in the first paragraph, but I always do. It's a tool, and a great one, but tools aren't perfect. – Anonymous

Writing natural is the best way to go about it.
I've only recently been using Yoast, and I LOVE it! MUCH better than All In One SEO plugin which gives you very little insights into SEO.

Plus Yoast lets you create a Sitemap, which has allowed me to ditch the XML Sitemap plugin. One less plugin to worry about! As for Yoast features, I don't set the focus keyword, nor do I pay attention to how many times my keyword is in the post or how many links because I like to keep things free flowing.

I'll only use a keyword 4 times at most within my posts and reviews. I use it twice in the content and once or twice in headings. The essential part is ensuring your Meta title, slug and description are on point with the keyword and in the green - not too short and not too long.

SEO really isn't that complex. As long as our content is high quality containing some interlinked content and it is optimized properly with a low competition keyword, Google takes care of the rest. One thing's for sure though, I won't be returning to the AIOS plugin lol. – Anonymous

Very helpful article over Yoast. I loved using Yoast myself, I liked when the lights turned green basically letting me know that I had a good chance of getting ranked. Yoast is a great plugin to use. – Anonymous

I agree! Sometimes those red lights aren't even correct. I always get one that says I didn't use my keyword in the first paragraph, but I always do. – Anonymous

Conclusion: How to use the Yoast SEO plugin

Conclusion: How to Use the Yoast SEO Plugin

These are only few reasons I feel “selective is best” when using the Yoast SEO plugin.

Overall, I would still say I did a good job at SEO for this page. I leveraged how to use the Yoast SEO plugin in the best way. (Oh well, there goes that focus key phrase again…can you guess which one it is?)

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Let’s see, only time and my page rankings will tell!

Please let me know your insights about this topic here through your comments below.

About the Author

KAJU is the band leader and founding member of OFF THE HOOK, one of the premiere dance party bands in the New York Tri-State Area. After contracting a mysterious hand disorder, Kaju now writes to help other musicians and artists deal with disabilities. Currently he is a Full-time Affiliate Marketer and 1-on-1 mentor at Wealthy Affiliate, a community that can help anyone start an online business without prior experience. This is where he teaches others how to make a great passive income. Read more about his story here!