The Yoast SEO plugin is for many bloggers using WordPress a valuable help in terms of SEO. But it also raises a lot of questions about how to use the so-called “Focus Keyphrase“; (formerly “main keyword”) on Yoast SEO.
How to define it and where to use this term? This is what we will see in this article!
I have been using the Yoast SEO plugin since a couple of years now, after switching over from the “All-in-One SEO” plugin. I find it much more user friendly, very helpful, and it has an enormous library of tutorials.
It has also recently been updated to make it even easier to use. But not everyone is of the same opinion as I am when it comes to selecting the “Focus Keyphrase” … And we are going to see why in just a moment.
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Done it? Okay, let’s begin then …
The Yoast SEO plugin and the Focus Keyphrase
You probably already know that when you want to optimize an article for referencing, the simplest strategy is often to identify a main keyword, or Focus Keyphrase.
It is THE essential term on which your article relates … then to enrich this main term by secondary terms that bring complementary and different angles to it.
For example, if you are writing an article about the most beautiful beaches in Florida, your main keyword could be “beaches of Florida” … and your secondary keywords “Where can we swim in Florida” “sandy island of Florida”,”swimming in Florida”.
Your aim is to choose the Focus Keyphrase
This is a great way to write articles that meet the real expectations of Internet users, by providing useful information. I already explained to you in a previous article how to choose these keywords, on which criteria …
The important thing to remember is that the choice of the Focus Keyphrase and the secondary keywords belong to you. It’s your vision, your approach, your strategy.
Some keyword research tools can give you an idea, but the final decision is up to you.
To make it clear and simple: This Focus Keyword is the term that you think the Internet user will type in that will get him or her to land on your article.
The role of Yoast SEO: to understand this Focus Keyphrase
Yoast SEO is a WordPress plugin. It is not able to analyze the meaning of your writings,; their relevance to the expectations of users or their added value compared to the competition.
On the other hand, it can help you determine whether your Focus Keyphrase comes out clearly from your content or not.
Here below is a short video that explains very well what is a Focus Keyphrase; and why you should use it …
To establish this analysis, it relies on a checklist, which is as follows:
- The uniqueness of the keyword: when we create content, in principle we never have two optimized articles exactly on the same keyword. Yoast SEO checks that your Focus Keyphrase is unique or not.
- The SEO title of the page (title): Yoast SEO considers that the Focus Keyphrase should appear there, preferably at the beginning. This title must have the right length, which should not exceed approximately 12 words (or 50 to 60 characters).
- The meta description of the page: the Focus Keyphrase can appear in it; and this description must be in the “range” of recommended length for a good display on Google. I previously gave lots of tips on how to write a title and a meta description for your articles.
- The URL of the page: ideally, the Focus Keyphrase should appear in the URL (In my FREE Internet Marketing course I give you lots of tips for creating good URLs).
- The introduction: Yoast SEO’s Focus Keyphrase should appear in the first paragraph of the introduction of your article; so that the subject is clear from the start.
- The density of Yoast SEO’s Focus Keyphrase: the Focus Keyphrase you chose must appear in at least 0.5% of the text. For example, if you are writing an article of 1000 words, Yoast SEO expects to find the term “beaches of Florida” in my example at least 5 times.
- Headings: If your text has multiple parts with “subtitles”, Yoast SEO also looks at whether the main keyword is in some of them.
The plugin also analyses the internal and external links in your article and the length of the text, recommending a minimum of 300 words.
Should we respect the entire Yoast SEO checklist?
Yoast SEO is your optimization partner but the strategist is you! You do not need to fill all the boxes of this checklist to produce a quality article, optimized for SEO.
To start with, I must distinguish between the “essential” and the more optional elements. The Focus Keyword of Yoast SEO that you have defined must appear in …
- Your title tag (the “SEO title” of Yoast). This title will appear on Google when a user makes a search, so it is important that it is clear and explicit about the content of the article, it makes you want to click to see your page because it is expected to find what we are looking for.
- The introduction: once again, as it makes sense, it is better to know from the beginning of an article what it is going to talk about!
- The content itself: naturally, if you write on a subject like “the beaches of Florida”, it is likely that you will use this term several times over the article, in the content and in the subtitles, if there are some. What is important … is that everything is in good dosing! If you write in a way that seems unnatural to you, it should be a warning sign in your mind. Simple, okay?
Using the keyword in the URL of the page and in the meta description is a plus, but it will not prevent your article from being ranked correctly on Google if you do not do it.
The limits of Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO analyzes your article in a rather “mechanical” way: are the sought-after elements present … and in what proportions? On this basis, the plugin assigns you a color bullet: red if the optimization is insufficient, orange if it is “good but not top” and green if it is satisfactory.
Always keep a critical eye on this color bullets. Indeed, SEO is not limited to choosing a keyword and placing it in strategic places of the content.
There are many other dimensions that Yoast SEO does not evaluate through these color bullets. For example, the technical quality of the page (if your content is very well written but it takes 30 seconds to load, it may be problematic !) ; the interest and editorial quality of the content in relation to the subject, to what already exists on the subject; the dissemination of your content through the links it receives from third party sites … But these elements affect your SEO.
Also, keep in mind that SEO is not as binary as a checklist:
- you do everything … you are # 1 of Google on your Focus Yoast Keyword or Keyphrase;
- you do not do everything … you are relegated to the depths of Google.
Around you, there are other people who write about the same topics, there are articles more or less complete and interesting, more or less in line with the demand of the Internet users … and this environment has a great influence on your content and its ranking.
And then …
There is more than SEO in life! There are sometimes articles whose presence on a site is fully justified but not written for SEO: a testimony, an interview, a story “that comes from the heart” without the purpose of answering a problem or providing information, a literary creation (poem, novel online) …
It really feels like there is a human being at Google who is going through each and everyone of the articles uploaded every seconds to decide which one is to rank number one, and which is not worth being ranked at all. But obviously, this would not be possible even if Google employed billions of people to do just that job. Agree?
When you want to learn how to boost the traffic of your site, you will also learn the art of nuance!
I hope, through this article, to have helped you to see more clearly how to use Yoast SEO’s Focus Keyword or Keyphrase! If you still have questions, you can ask them in the comments.
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Thanks for reading
I hope that you now understand what the Yoast SEO plugin is about. If you have any other tips on the subject we would love to hear from you.
And, if you have any questions, please use the box below and I will respond as soon as possible. If you enjoyed this article please share it socially and leave a comment below, I will highly appreciate it!
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