Become a Yoast SEO pro:

Yoast SEO Don't just set it and forget it!

Some of the things Yoast SEO does are pure magic. Lots of things are just taken care of after you’ve installed the plugin. You don’t have to do anything about that. Simply installing Yoast SEO will fix a lot of important technical SEO things for you. The content side of SEO, though, is something you should always do yourself. Yoast SEO will help you, but you’ll need to make an effort. So there’s a lot of work in it for you. In this post, I’m going to tell you about the things you need to do yourself, in order to make your SEO strategy successful.

Configure Yoast SEO properly

First of all, you need to configure Yoast SEO correctly. You should be aware that the plugin can’t perform to its full potential if the settings of Yoast SEO aren’t optimal for your specific website. So, make sure that the configuration of Yoast SEO is, in fact, in line with your website. The configuration workout helps you take care of a lot of these settings.

Keyword research – always

The second thing you need to make sure of is doing your keyword research right. You need to know that you’re focusing on the words that people actually search for. If you’re optimizing for a term nobody uses, you can rank number one, but you still won’t have any traffic. And, if you’re optimizing for a term that’s so competitive that you won’t ever be able to rank for it, then you won’t get any traffic as well.

Doing your keyword research means that you need to get inside the heads of your audience. It also means that you should know your competition and estimate your chances to rank for a certain keyword. Yoast SEO will help you optimize your content for your keywords, but figuring out what the right keywords are, is your job.

Read more: How to choose keywords that’ll attract traffic »

Write awesome content

The third thing you need to do yourself is to write awesome content. And that’s something you have to do manually. Of course, you can outsource this, but it’s something somebody has to do. Yoast SEO actually helps you to write both SEO-friendly, as well as readable texts with the content and SEO analysis. So, make sure you use this feature in order to make your text well-optimized for the search engines. But adding great content is still something you need to do yourself; it won’t happen magically.

Internal linking

Another thing you’ll need to do yourself is to take care of your internal linking structure. This is very important because a proper internal linking structure will make sure that Google understands your website. And, you want Google to understand your website. Otherwise, you will be competing with your own content for a place in the search results.

Yoast SEO (Premium) will help you to do that, with our internal linking feature. But it’s still something you need to be actually doing yourself. Yoast SEO will make suggestions for articles you could link to, but you still have to put them in your article.

Social previews and redirects

Social previews and redirects are features in Yoast SEO that’ll help you improve your SEO. Your effort is needed in order to gain an SEO advantage from these features. Part of your SEO strategy will be a strategy on social media, so Facebook and Twitter. And Yoast SEO can help you make those posts on Facebook, but you still have to hit that button and write the content. The same goes for the redirects. If a page is outdated, you want to redirect it to another page. But it won’t happen just magically; you have to create those redirects yourself.

Don’t forget your competition

Even if they’ve done all the things I talked about, some people are unable to rank for a specific term. Why is that? Well, I think a lot of it has to do with competition. Some search terms are so competitive and dominated by high-authority brands that it’s terribly hard for a starting out blog to rank between them. If you want to rank for ‘holiday home Florida’ and you’re just starting out as a blog, you’re probably not going to rank right away. You need to have a whole strategy, in which you focus on long-tail search terms first. So, part of why you’re not ranking has to do with the competition.

On top of that, SEO sometimes takes a long time. Don’t despair if you’re not ranking overnight. It can take a little while before you start ranking for specific search terms. It’s a process that requires a strategy, and it takes some time before you see the results.

Keep reading: Does Yoast SEO really work? »


SEO is a lot of work. Yoast SEO takes care of most of the technical SEO stuff. The content side of SEO is a different story, though. You’ll need to make an effort to set up a successful content SEO strategy. There are a lot of things you should work on, in which Yoast SEO can actually help you and take you by the hand. And don’t forget: whether or not you rank for specific terms also depends on your competition in your specific niche. 

Read on: What does Yoast SEO do? »

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10 Responses to Yoast SEO: don’t just set it and forget it!

  1. Muva
    Muva  • 5 years ago

    Yoast SEO has been very helpful and as you say, it works pure magic. I have learnt to include other white-hat SEO techniques to supplement the benefits of the plugins.
    You always keep us on toes with SEO tips, thank you!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      You’re very welcome, Muva!

  2. Onedot
    Onedot  • 5 years ago

    Thankyou so much!! It really helpful for me and personally I have been a strong proponent of having a strong and white hat organic and local SEO techniques!!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      We are too! Thanks :-)

  3. Jane Littlewood
    Jane Littlewood  • 5 years ago

    Very true article, there is no shortcut. Eighteen months ago we changed our php website to WordPress with Yoast installed. I have spent the last eighteen months systematically working through all the many thousands of pages of content, rewriting them, optimising them and overhauling everything. My traffic started to go up quite soon after the swap – now it’s easily double what it was and rising rapidly now that I’ve done the majority of the content. I’ve read Yoast email most days and kept learning little bits at a time. Not only has the result been amazing, I’m really pleased with myself for learning so much. Thank you Yoast!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      Hi Jane, Thank you so much for these nice words! So friendly of you to share your results with us. We’re glad to help and we love to hear you’ve learned so much. Thank you!!!

  4. Karen Lanzetta
    Karen Lanzetta  • 5 years ago

    Thanks! I have been using yoast for almost a year now and very happy with it. When I look back on my old posts I cringe and realise I clearly had no idea what I was doing. So I am slowly rewriting my old posts and improving their SEO and doing more internal linking.

    So yes, revisit old posts and improve!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      Hi Karen, Thank you! About the cringing: I think we’ve all been there ;-) Keep up the good work, updating and internal linking is key to SEO. Good luck!

  5. Marcus Ford
    Marcus Ford  • 5 years ago

    Shall I change the Anchor Text of my post during internal linking it to different posts? Or can I repeat one Anchor text more than once? Please help!

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 5 years ago

      Hi Marcus, you can use your anchor text to let the user know what to expect, and, fortunately, it usually makes sense to use the keyphrase of the post you’re linking to in it. Here you’ll find detailed instructions for anchor text: