The content analysis tool in the Yoast SEO plugin measures many aspects of the text you’re writing. It consists of two parts: the SEO analysis and the readability analysis. These checks run in real-time, so you’ll receive feedback while writing! The readability analysis helps you to make your text easy to read, while the SEO analysis checks whether your text is SEO-friendly. In this post, I’ll first describe the most essential features of the content analysis tool. After that, I’ll explain how to use and interpret these features.
- Most important features
- A warning upfront: content before SEO!
- 8 simple steps to optimize your text
- Cornerstone analysis
Most important features
The content analysis consists of two tabs. The first tab is the readability analysis. The readability analysis includes several readability checks:
- sentence length
- paragraph length
- use of subheadings
- presence of passive voice
- presence of transition words
- Flesch reading ease
If you write a readable text (based on the aspects mentioned above), the plugin will indicate this with a green bullet.
The Insights tool checks the words you used the most in an article. You can use this to see if your text is actually about the right keyword. It might be weird if your focus keyword doesn’t pop up on this list. You might want to rewrite your article or add a second focus keyword with Yoast SEO Premium, if applicable.
SEO analysis tab
The snippet editor allows you to formulate a meta description. This description has to be a short text describing the main topic of the page. If the meta description contains the search term people use, the exact text will be shown by Google below your URL in the search results. It’s also possible that Google automatically generates a meta description by itself, because, sometimes, Google knows best.
Once you’ve entered your focus keyword, the SEO analysis checks the presence of your focus keyword in:
The plugin also checks the presence of links and images in the article. It calculates the number of words and the density of usage of the focus keyword in the article. Moreover, the plugin checks whether you’re using the same focus keyword on other pages of your website. This should prevent you from competing with yourself.
If you write a relatively SEO-friendly text (based on the aspects mentioned above), the plugin will indicate this with a green bullet. Some people call them green lights, but we prefer bullets. Writing pages that are rewarded with green bullets will help you improve the ranking of those pages. But what about having all green bullets and still no rankings?
A warning upfront: content before SEO!
In the content analysis, content comes before SEO. That means that first and foremost, you have to write an awesome article. You should put effort into writing an attractive, structured and readable text. Use our content checks to make sure your text is nice and easy to read.
Once you finished optimizing your text for readability, you can look at the checks on the SEO analysis tab. If you’ve done your keyword research properly and you’ve written your post or your article with a focus keyword in mind, don’t change your focus keyword now! Read The temptation of the green bullet for more in-depth information about that.
8 simple steps to optimize your text
Step 1: Put your text in the WordPress backend
Distraction free writing
WordPress has a distraction-free writing mode that enables you to write in the WordPress backend without being distracted by the menu, the toolbar, the categories box, etc.
You’ve written your article or your blog post. You can write directly in the backend of WordPress or write in any text editor and copy your text into the WordPress backend. Do whatever you like!
If you choose to copy your text in the WordPress backend, copy without the layout. You should adapt the layout in the backend; otherwise, you might run into some layout problems. Make sure to set subheadings into heading 2, sub-subheadings to heading 3 and so on. Then put the title of your post in the title box.
Step 2: Check your readability scores
Clicking on the readability analysis tab will allow you to see your scores on the readability checks. The green bullets show which aspects are fine. Orange and red bullets indicate where you can improve your readability. Clicking on the little eye will highlight sentences in which the analysis encountered a problem. The content checks will help you to make your article easy to read. Make sure that the overall bullet (the one on the upper right in the backend of your post) is green. The overall bullet will become green if the majority of the readability aspects are covered.
Step 3: Make some content adjustments
The checks of the readability analysis will show you what aspects of readability need improvement. Some of the readability issues are easy to fix. If you tend to write long sentences, our analysis will show you which sentences you have to rewrite. You should divide long sentences into multiple shorter sentences. If your paragraphs are too lengthy, you should divide them into smaller bits. If you use passive voice too often, try to rephrase some of these sentences. Add extra subheadings if your subheading distribution isn’t optimal.
If your text scores red bullets on transition words or Flesch Reading Ease, it will be harder to make improvements. Your Flesch Reading Ease score will benefit from shorter sentences. Check whether you use many difficult words (containing more than three syllables). Could you perhaps rewrite these?
A text low on transition words can be improved by adding some transition words. You cannot add these words randomly, though. Analyze the structure of your text and decide which transition words are appropriate. Which words would make the relation between paragraphs and between sentences more clear to your readers. Does the text perhaps contain an enumeration in your text? In that case, you could add transition words like firstly, secondly and finally. And maybe you could add transition words in your conclusion as well. Do words like summarizing, thus or therefore fit in your concluding paragraph?
Step 4: Enter your focus keyword
After you finished optimizing the readability of your article, you should start the SEO analysis. Click on the SEO tab and enter your focus keyword in the appropriate field of the Yoast SEO Metabox. Your focus keyword is the keyword you would like your post to rank for. Ideally, this should be a keyword which emerged from your keyword research and which you have kept in mind during the entire writing process. Read why you shouldn’t use your focus keyword more than once. If you optimize two different articles for the same focus keyword, you could have both posts turn up on Google.
Yoast SEO Premium offers the possibility to optimize an article for more than one focus keyword. Optimizing your post for multiple keywords allows you to rank for more keywords and to gain traffic to your site through more keywords.
Step 5: Write a meta description
Enter the meta description of your post. Describe clearly what your post or article is about. And make sure you use the exact phrase of your focus keyword. The meta description will be shown by Google below the URL if people search for your focus keyword.
It’s important that the meta description contains the focus keyword. Not because it will improve your rankings, but because otherwise Google usually won’t show your meta description in the search results. Google will try to match the search query with the description. If the focus keyword isn’t mentioned in the meta description, Google will just grab a random piece of content from your page containing the keyword.
The meta description shouldn’t be too long. On the other hand, there’s no ‘penalty’ for having too long meta descriptions either. What you should pay attention to is: 1. the logical bits of it are of the right length and, 2. when it’s cut in half, it still makes sense and still entices people to click.
Step 6: Check your SEO bullets!
Check out those SEO bullets! The green lights again show you which aspects of your SEO are good. Orange and red bullets indicate where you can improve your SEO strategy. You don’t have to keep on optimizing until all of the bullets are green. Posts on Yoast.com, often have a few orange bullets and sometimes even one or two red bullets. The important thing is that the overall bullet (the one on the upper right in the backend of your post) should be green. The overall bullet will become green if the majority of your SEO aspects are covered.
Step 7: Make some SEO adjustments
The checks of the SEO analysis will indicate on what aspects you could improve your SEO. Make sure to look critically at your title, the headings, and subheadings of your article. Do these contain your focus keyword? If not, can you alter them (without changing the structure or content of your article) in such a way that they will contain your focus keyword? Don’t put your focus keyword in all of your headings, though! That is too much. Using your focus keyword in one heading and your title should be enough. You can read more about headings in one of Michiel’s posts.
You should also mention the focus keyword in your text a couple of times. If you didn’t mention your focus keyword in the first paragraph, alter that. Throughout the text, you should mention it again. As a general rule of thumb: try to use your search terms in about 1 to 2 percent of your text. Say your article has 300 words, that means you should mention your search terms 3 to 6 times. 300 words aren’t the exact goal, nor is the number of keyword mentions. However, 300 is a decent number of words of an article that needs to show authority.
Step 8: Fill out the social data
The final step to take in the Yoast SEO meta box is filling the social data. If you fill out a description or title for a social network on this tab, it’s shown in the metadata for the page. This means this description, title or image will be shown when the page is shared on the respective social network. These descriptions have the same requirement as the meta description (which is what they fall back to), but usually, can be longer. They should tell people what to expect and why they should click.
The preview screenshots on the left are taken from Yoast SEO Premium, in free, you won’t see those previews, just the fields!
Yoast SEO offers a specific cornerstone analysis. Because your cornerstone articles should be the best articles on your site, and you want these articles to rank high in the search engines. If you mark an article in Yoast SEO as a cornerstone content, the content analysis will be a bit stricter – your article needs to be longer, for instance. In addition to that, you can check if these articles are linked to often enough with the text link counter in Yoast SEO.
SEO copywriting remains hard work. Make sure to read SEO copywriting: the Ultimate Guide for more practical tips. The content analysis of Yoast SEO makes the process of writing awesome and SEO-friendly articles much easier. We are currently working on more checks to add to our content analysis. So stay tuned!