How to use the Yoast SEO plugin to increase blog traffic

yoast seo

In this post, I'm going to teach you how to use the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin to optimize your blog articles for SEO.

As a matter of fact I'm using the Yoast SEO plugin right now to write this article about Yoast SEO!

Let me break down what exactly you're going to learn in this article:

  • How to download the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin for free!
  • The different features in the Yoast SEO widget!
  • The Readability score and how to get that green light!
  • The Keyword score and how to get that green light!
  • Why you should be using the Yoast SEO plugin for all your posts AND pages!

Let's jump right in!

Here's a video tutorial to watch as well!

How to download the Yoast SEO WordPress plugin for free

There are two ways to download the Yoast plugin in (and this goes for any plugin on WordPress)…

  1. Search for it in WordPress and install – EASY
  2. Search for it on Google and upload the zip file – HARD

I'll show you very quickly how to do both.

Follow these steps below to install the plugin from your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress dashboard install pluginsSearch Yoast SEOActivate plugin

Follow these steps below to download the plugin from Google

Click this link to go to the Yoast SEO plugin on

download Yoast from google upload plugin zip file upload plugin

*Do not unzip the file.  Upload the .zip file exactly as you downloaded it from

That's it!

Now you're ready to start writing SEO optimized blog articles.

Understanding the Yoast SEO widget

Yoast Settings

There are 3 main control options for the plugin that you'll see at the bottom of your new blog post in the Yoast SEO widget box.

  • Content Optimization (traffic light)
  • Social (3 connected dots)
  • Advanced (gear wheel)

In this post we are going to cover the content optimization controls, which are the most important controls for SEO.

Content Optimization

This is the most important tool that you'll use to optimize your post for SEO around a specific keyword and readability.

With this setting selected,  you'll be able to see your Readability score and Keyword score.  Each score gives a red, orange, or green light depending on how well you've optimized your writing.  The goal here is to get green lights, which means your content is well optimized for the search engines!

Readability Score

The readability score will show you how well your content is written according to Yoast's reader rating guidelines.

Yoast readability score

As you begin writing your blog post, this score will update and provide feedback for things you're doing well and things you need to improve.

Yoast reading score updated

If you click the Eye Icon you'll be able to see the highlighted instance in the blog article you're writing so you can make the changes necessary to improve your score!

Keyword Score

The other score you'll want to focus on is the Keyword score.  This score is more important for SEO.  You should always choose a keyword to focus on in each blog post or page.  If you want to get organic traffic via Google Search to your blog, this is one of the most crucial aspects of on-page SEO.

Focus keyword yoast

You should already have your focus keyword in mind before you start writing your blog article.

Type your focus keyword into the box provided in the widget. (You can click on the Readability and Keyword tabs to toogle between the two settings)

After you type in your focus keyword, you'll notice that the plugin will start to show new problems and improvements to optimize your blog post around the keyword you've entered.

Some of the common suggestions for SEO optimization you'll see are:

  • The focus keyword should appear in the first paragraph
  • The keyword density (how many times your keyword appears relative to number of total words)
  • The meta description should contain the focus keyword (click Edit Snippet to change this in the Yoast widget)
  • The focus keyword should appear in a subheading (use H2 heading)
  • An image should contain the focus keyword in the alt attribute
  • The text should contain at least 300 words (we say at least 500)
  • The SEO title length (and it should contain the focus keyword near the beginning)
  • The focus keyword should appear in the URL

These are SEO tactics that will help you get a green light for your keyword score!

In this Keyword section of the Yoast SEO widget, you'll also be able to edit the Title and meta description as it appears on Google search.

Click Edit Snippet to customize the text and keep in mind the green bars that appear when you have a nice title and description length.

title and meta description

Why you should be using the Yoast SEO plugin for all your  posts and pages

SEO is the strategy to get your blog posts to the first page of Google Search.

If your blog article gets to the first page of Google for your optimized keyword, you'll be able to get consistent traffic to your blog – which could mean more money!

You should pick a focus keyword for every post and every cornerstone page on your website!

There is always the possibility of ranking for a keyword in Google, but if you don't optimize your on-page SEO, you may never rank.

Try to get “The Double Green Light” whenever possible!

A green light for readability and a green light for Keyword.  I will add that I personally won't publish an article unless it has a green light for the keyword score, but I will make exceptions for the readability score.

While the readability score doesn't directly affect your SEO, it could indirectly have an effect on SEO if your writing is bad and users have a poor experience and bounce quickly from your page.  I try to avoid red lights for readability, but if I get an orange light on a article and feel that it's still well written, I'll make an exception and post it.

I ALWAYS read through the suggestions of readability and keyword though!

Click here to download

Get in the habit of looking at the suggestions even if you have a green light.  You'll learn why you're getting greens, or oranges, and you will quickly develop a habit of writing blog articles to fit the suggestions without even thinking about it!

For this exact article I've written, I got a green light for the Keyword score: Yoast SEO and a green light for the readability score!

The double green!

Join our Facebook GroupThis blog seo tool is the best free tool to use for your wordpress website. SEO for beginners is made easy with this plugin and you'll get tips and ideas to make your blog post seo friendly. Learn how to optimize your blog post for search engine optimization so you appear in search.

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Daren Hillhouse

Oh my gosh, I love Yoast. That is one of the first plugins installed when I come to a new website. It is such a useful plugin, and all the help it gives you when you are writing an article.