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SEO Workshop: How to Improve Yoast SEO and Readability Scores

Creative designer desktop with table lamp SEO sketch on laptop scree various devices and stickers with rocket icons on wooden wall. SEO and internet concept

Hello there, all my WordPress using friends! Out of all the plugins our team has used on WordPress, Yoast has to be the most helpful in terms of helping improve your site’s SEO. Today, I’m going to be going over a few tips to help get both those lights to green for any page you may want to work on!

First Things First

Before we get into it, I should say that the things we are talking about today may be actually off on Yoast if you only have basic permissions. Some website designers will actually turn certain features of Yoast “off” for some users.  Essentially, they understand that therapists can sometimes get so obsessed about making sure everything is green across the board that they will do things that aren’t in the best interest of their page. Needless to say, it can lead to some unnecessary overcomplications in some areas. If you don’t see any of the colored indicators mentioned in this blog, just send an email to your website designer way asking for them to turn on full access to Yoast. Anyways, let’s talk about the plugin itself!

Yoast: A Brief Overview

This handy little helper creates little colored light indicators towards the bottom of the WordPress editor, and on the side. The color of the light corresponds with the “grade” Yoast gives your big two scores: SEO, and Readability. The gradient starts at red, which indicates that many changes need to be made. It then transitions to orange, yellow, and then green, indicating you have optimized your page well!

When using Yoast, you should notice two lines of text at the bottom of the “Publish” section on the right side of the WP editor. They should say Readability and SEO. The color of that little y symbol is one of the things you’ll want to focus on. The other part of the plugin is sitting under the main content of your page. Here you will find the two results of the analysis Yoast has done on your site, which is readability, and your focus keyphrase.

First, Let’s Talk About How to Improve Your Yoast SEO Score

SEO - Search Engine Optimization mind map, technology concept with marker representing how SEO can help mental health therapists

Under you the main content of your page, you should see the Yoast SEO snippet, and a little preview of how your page will appear on Google. Included in this snippet should be different suggestions on how you can improve. It is scored on a color scale of red (needs improvement), orange, yellow, and green (great). Keep in mind the suggestions it gives you are from a robot, so don’t stress too much. Most of the time when we optimize it will end up green. However, sometimes that orange or yellow grade is there for a good reason.

What are some of reasons I might not want my SEO score to be green on Yoast?

Now, there are actually a LOT Of reasons your score might not be green.  But below are a few of the things that might cause your Yoast SEO score to be orange that we’re actually totally ok with.

Reason #1: Using related terms in your meta description.

Yoast suggests that you add your key phrase to your meta description. However, you might already be using your key phrase in your SEO title. This gives you the opportunity to use related terms and use more of those other keywords/terms you’d like to rank for.  For example, I might say “Addiction Recovery” in the SEO title but my meta description refers to “counseling for addiction.”  Ultimately, I want to rank well for both terms so it’s great that I managed to get in both between the title and the meta description.

Reason #2: Your key phrase isn’t in your first paragraph

Sometimes, it just doesn’t make sense to include your key phrase in that first paragraph. In fact, your goal is typically to connect with the audience in your first paragraph. Having good pain points can help out a lot more than making sure you cram the keyphrase in there somewhere. So, it holds you back a little bit on Yoast’s SEO score but can help your blog be much more effective if you’re not overly focused on getting that keyphrase in the first paragraph.

Reason #3: You didn’t include external links

While having external links can help give you credibility, not every page actually needs them. It’s more important to have internal links to other relevant pages or blog posts you’ve created, so potential clients spend more time on your site!

While Yoast isn’t absolutely right about everything when it comes to what is best for your site, a lot of the suggestions it gives can really help you in optimizing pages! If you are optimizing a site on your own, be sure to take a look. This also goes for our second big score, readability.

How Yoast Can Help You Improve Your Readability Score.

Our team has found getting readability to green can be a bit easier than SEO, so we like to get as close to the green light as possible if it isn’t already. Oh also, a quick shoutout to Cory, our readability queen. She has helped us really focus on readability, and making sure clients are getting the best return on investment. We appreciate ya!

On the other hand, readability can also be difficult to change in some situations. Some pages might cover a topic that is so technical, getting that green just might not be possible. Yoast will also provide suggestions to improve readability. You can also read this post on how to improve readability for more ideas!

Here are a couple of suggestions for improving your Yoast readability score:

  • Avoid run-on sentences, keep them shorter if you can.
  • Try and avoid technical jargon.
    • While you may be treating experts and professionals, having more technical language might not be the best thing to include. In the panicked or stressful moments someone may be looking up your services, they just want to know that you understand their pain and can provide help.

We understand and respect that clients may not want the wording of their copy to change too much. In this case, you can help to improve readability by adding subheadings and breaking up paragraphs. However, we have noticed that not working on readability does have a noticeable SEO impact. Having a more readable page will result in more movement on your site. For more support, read this blog post Cory wrote all about improving your readability.

So….do both lights on Yoast need to be green to have good SEO?

So, do both lights NEED to be green? No. It’s totally fine to have one that is orange, instead of green. Just make sure you’re looking through the suggestions Yoast is giving you so you make an educated choice about whether or not to follow each piece of standard Yoast advice. That said, Yoast certainly can make it a lot easier to figure out how to navigate many of the more technical parts of SEO, and for that, we’re thankful!

A lone traffic light stands on the left side of the image, with the green light seen glowing against the sunny sky. Image for Simplified SEO Consulting can help on your SEO journey. Contact us today!

Let Us Handle Yoast! Begin Optimizing Your Website with Simplified SEO Consulting

Improving your SEO by using Yoast doesn’t need to be overcomplicated. In fact, we make it simple! We offer a variety of SEO services and learning opportunities to best suit your needs. To get started optimizing your private practice website, please follow these simple steps:

  1. Book a free 15-minute consultation with Simplified SEO Consulting,
  2. Speak to one of our SEO specialists. During a free consultation call, we will help you determine what service or package is the best fit for your private practice
  3. Rank better on Google and get more clients!

Other SEO Services offered by Simplified SEO Consulting

Simplified SEO Consulting is pleased to offer you a variety of SEO services designed to meet your needs as an owner of a private mental health practice. Every business is unique, so we know there are a wide range of SEO needs.  Our team of SEO Specialists want to meet your needs no matter where you are in this SEO process. Our most popular services are our Done for You SEO Services. With this package, our team of SEO specialists will do in depth, comprehensive optimization on several key pages of your site each month until you have accomplished your SEO goals. However, this is not the only service we provide.  Our founder, Jessica, taught herself SEO and believes every mental health professional has the ability to do their own SEO if you have the time/motivation/energy to learn.  If this is you, we offer DIY online SEO courses or a 12 week 1:1 SEO intensive.

Additionally, we offer an SEO Strategy package. This is great if you are still in the early stages of developing a website or have a really well established website that you need to help figuring out exactly what the next step might be. Lastly, we offer alumni packages for former clients who already rank well and want to maintain those rankings. So…what’s holding you back? Whatever you are looking for, our team is here to help. So, schedule a free consultation. Together, we’ll figure out which SEO service will get your business the best return on investment!

Contact us with specific questions, or book a free SEO Consultation to decide which service is best for your practice.


About The Author

Sterling Humburg-Cage is a member of the 2020 graduating class from the University of Missouri. He is intent on using his B.A. in Psychology to help provide the best results as an SEO specialist

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