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 for it. 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 wizard helps you take care of a lot of these settings, you can read about what it does in this post.

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 are searching 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 getting inside the heads of your audience. It also means knowing your competition and estimating 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 you should use this feature and make sure your text is 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. 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.


SEO is a lot of work. Yoast SEO magically 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. 

Keep reading: What does Yoast SEO do? »

Become a Yoast SEO pro series

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

  1. Christine Davidson
    Christine Davidson  • 1 year ago

    Hi Marieke, I have learned a lot from Yoast in recent weeks, but so much to learn as I build my new website. Thank you for your helpful articles. Before I get the plugin, still building my cornerstone documents. I have a question about longtail keywords. When I enter a keyword, then follow the suggestions, then reach a keyword where there are no more suggestions, is that good, or does it mean the word is too specific, or does that mean I can get a corner on that word? Should I use more general keywords for my cornerstone documents, then get more specific on my blog posts, or the other way around? Sorry, have written for many years, but content seo is all really new to me. Thank you for your help.

    • Willemien Hallebeek
      Willemien Hallebeek  • 1 year ago

      Hi Christine, Thanks for your questions! You should use more general keywords for your cornerstone articles, and then get more specific in your blog posts. Do you mean following suggestions with our suggest tool? Then probably, if you reach a keyword for which there are no more suggestions, your keyword is long tail enough! You can check with Google Trends to find out if the keyword still gets any traffic, to be sure. Good luck!

  2. Neha Shah
    Neha Shah  • 1 year ago

    SEO is definitely a lot term process which requires a lot of patience and hard work. I like the fact that you mentioned the importance of internal linking and social network.

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 1 year ago

      You’re absolutely right, Neha, working on your SEO takes a lot of effort, and you have to keep all aspects in mind!

  3. nexvan
    nexvan  • 1 year ago

    Do I need to index images in the site map?
    Assuming at least one image in any content

  4. kenny
    kenny  • 1 year ago

    Just upgraded on another site… breadcrumbs disabled… (after using using7.1)… and cloudflare not showing live site.

  5. kenny
    kenny  • 1 year ago

    Love that “some of the things Yoast SEO does are pure magic”… especially since I am using it on a magic site!

  6. Jaap
    Jaap  • 1 year ago

    Internal links are difficult as i have no blog but just products. Does Google see related products as links on product pages?

  7. Jaya Pant
    Jaya Pant  • 1 year ago

    Well mentioned about the long tail keyword ranking strategy for new websites. It is a great tip which everyone can use and rank better in SERPs. Great post!

  8. Adi
    Adi  • 1 year ago

    Can’t agree more.
    If we don’t have yoast seo installed, then after creating a content, we have to do all the technical stuff.

    Creating a good content clearly require more effort and leg work, and once we published the content and then what?

    We have to do the technical stuff, that’s why yoast seo come in handy, and that’s why yoast seo is “seo for everyone”.

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 1 year ago

      Great to hear the plugin is helpful to you, Adi! Our mission ‘SEO for everyone’ is very important to us!

  9. Vamshi TECH10MENT
    Vamshi TECH10MENT  • 1 year ago

    One of the biggest myth which was “interlinking for SEO”, it actually have a lot of value. thank you for mentioning in this post.

    • Melina Reintjens
      Melina Reintjens  • 1 year ago

      You’re absolutely right, Samshi, the importance of a great internal linking structure for SEO shouldn’t be underestimated! :-)

  10. Freddy G. Cabrera
    Freddy G. Cabrera  • 1 year ago

    Hey Marieke!

    You’re right, SEO is a lot of work. A lot of constant work.

    But, we are lucky to have tools and plugins like the Yoast SEO that will take care of a lot of this work. It really really helps.

    You can’t just set it and forget – that is a great tip. With SEO you have to be constantly learning the changes in the search engine game and keep tweaking and testing until you get your desired results. That’s just the way the cookie crumbles!

    Thank you for sharing this!

    Best regards! :D

    • Aletur SEO
      Aletur SEO  • 1 year ago

      Thank you for your work, just a question:
      When will it be possible to change the priority in the XML sitemap via yoast SEO?