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Back to SEO School Through Yoast Academy Training

Every major vendor for WordPress had Black Friday specials. Since there can be dramatic savings on Black Friday, it is when I prefer to invest in more costly website development products. Given I make a living at WordPress web design, I like tools that help me build better websites.  On Black Friday 2019 Yoast offered substantial discounts across their full catalog of products and training.  Included was a discount on all a bundle of Yoast products and learning tools, the Yoast Academy. It seemed a pretty good time to dive into more continuing SEO education, so I bought full access to Yoast Academy and all Yoast plug-ins.

Yoast – Extremely Popular SEO Tool For WordPress Websites

image Yoast Academy Training For Better WordPress Website Design SEO SacramentoYoast is by far the most popular SEO plug-in available for WordPress. I work with the free and premium versions of Yoast every day. The free version of Yoast offers a basic analysis and tools to improve on-page SEO performance. I have used that with great success to improve individual page performance as measured by tools like Google Search Engine Console. Client sites I work with also use Yoast for WooCommerce, and Yoast Local SEO plug-in. Another reason for using Yoast today is that a recent update now allows the entering of scheme, also known as “structured data”.

Search Engine Indexing Algorithm Changes Demand Continuing Education

I have been through years of SEO training in classrooms and various online courses. Due to the challenges of SEO, client work with Yoast has dramatically increased. As Yoast is heavily involved with the WordPress development community, there is no shortage of online training resources. In the past, my ongoing Yoast education relied on their documentation, search engine research, and fellow SEO professionals. Staying up to date with new shifts in SEO strategies is an everyday part of my business. The major search engines are constantly updating how they index websites. Changes in search engine algorithms and how they index websites force constant attention to a website’s content, structure, and speed.

Yoast & Schema – A Slightly Easier Path To Featured Snippets

Yoast is one tool that helps manage website on-page and post. A recent update of Yoast now makes managing schema markup easier. Schema, i.e. structured data, is the information that can help a website make the top of a search engine page in a Featured Snippet. Up until Yoast’s recent update, you had to manually markup schema into a web page, post, or product listing. Featured Snippets are what Google thinks is the best answer to questions submitted into their search box. Featured Snippets share a snippet of the answer, include a link to the website and are positioned above all other results!

Continuing Education and Deeper Insights to Updated Tools

A week into the Yoast Academy courses has reminded me of those Saturday morning sales meetings when I worked in consumer electronics retail sales. Saturday morning sales meetings generally focused on promotions, price changes, product information, and also “Sales 101”. It was proven over and over, a short chat on sales fundamentals lead to an increase in sales over the next few days. This is attributed to reminding professionals of the basic steps in closing a sale. Something as simple as reminding sales staff to ask for the sale at least three times, could lead to a bump is sales. Well the same thing and more is happening for me at Yoast Academy. Re-absorbing basic SEO principals, (updated to Google’s shifting applications of their indexing algorithms) has been in some cases tedious. In other cases has flipped on old light bulbs that still work.

Yoast Can’t Do Everything

Of course a lot of the Yoast Academy training focuses on how to configure Yoast plug-ins. It isn’t as straight forward as you might think. For example, before you do any SEO, you have to do some homework on the keywords you want to rank for, your competition, and of course, your target audience. Yoast cannot build your links, which are important SEO ranking factors either. You also have to be sure your website’s technical performance is fast enough not to bounce traffic. Yoast is only part of the answer to attaining better search engine optimization. Attaining good, organic SEO results that are sustainable, demands attention to detail on technical levels Yoast can’t fix. On the other hand, Yoast forces you to pay attention to several key aspects of a website necessary for good search engine performance..

Yoast Simple Rating System Has An Issue

Yoast displays a very simple, “red, orange, and green” rating system to indicate where improvement is needed. Every rating has a link that offers clues how to improve results and get a green indicator. However, just because a page is optimized to show all green indicators, doesn’t mean it is properly optimized for your need. You could spend hours optimizing one page or post in a way that won’t help your traffic. There are even ways to optimize a page in a way that could hurt your traffic! Also, proper search engine optimization includes technical aspects of a website’s design. Page speed, site structure, image optimization, and other factors contribute to search engine performance.

I recently re-optimized a dozen posts and six pages of a solar installation company who had a previous firm use the free Yoast plug-in. Every single page showed the two green indicators, but the keyword phrases were not ideal for the ideal client of the customer. Furthermore, the website was so slow that the bounce rate of the website actually increased!

Search Engines Are Constantly Raising The Bar For Ranking

Today, websites need to be designed for mobile first, have an SSL (secure socket layer) URL, be fast and have awesome content. These four fundamentals are absolute and beyond debate because Google says so. What got a website highly ranked on a search engine page a few years ago has drastically changed. Even the results page has changed!  As of this week, another Google update is focusing on mobile search engine results. Speculation is that Google is pushing to flush websites that are not mobile responsive from all search engine responses.

In the meantime, watch for more Yoast certificates to show up on this website’s Home Page. I have completed two of the 9 modules, but some of the modules are too basic to flag as an “experience”. While “Beginner SEO” may offer a non-professional, a basic SEO foundation, a professional will likely find the course information boring. I took the course anyways. (After passing the tests first!). The next Yoast Academy SEO training module up is on “Structured Data”. Yoast Academy training will enhance my SEO abilities, but it won’t replace the long list of resources I keep in my bookmarks!