How To Use Yoast for SEO And Why Double Green Lights Matter

Yoast is an SEO plugin that lets the user know if they’re on the right track to optimal SEO. So how do you use Yoast, and what are the double green lights?
yoast for SEO and how to use it and get double green lights

You’ve written your blog post and the publish button has been pressed. You’ve cross-posted the new article on all of your social media and your recap newsletter is being sent tomorrow. However, your post’s search engine optimization, or SEO, might mean that the world at large may never know about it.

The above is the best possible thing you can do to market to your niche on social media. Getting good SEO for your post is the above and beyond step that you need to impact the internet.

Yoast is an SEO plugin for WordPress. Let’s learn how it works and why its extremely useful for SEO.

Why You Should Use Yoast

Yoast will optimize your SEO by letting you choose a focused keyphrase for your post. It also provides readability analysis, SEO analysis, and other insights related to your keyphrase. Additionally, it provides basic social media management and Google metadata editing is also included.

This will allow internet searching algorithms to favour your posts when they sort through similar keyphrases in their database. In short, it’ll make your posts easier to find and rank higher on the internet’s search lists.

Yoast shows you’ve done a good job by showing a green light next to its analysis headings. This means you get the double green lights (one next to Readability Analysis and one next to SEO analysis), then you have great SEO for your post.

Now, let’s get into what you need to do to get those green lights. We will look at this in the order they show up under the Yoast toolbar.

SEO Focus Keyphrase

This is the crux of using Yoast and SEO in general. This is the key phrase that your post focuses on. It will allow your article to be associated with other similar posts on the internet.

The focus keyphrase should be used frequently throughout your post. It should be between one to three words to keep it concise and have relevant related keyphrases available for use. For example, if your key phrase is “SEO,” a related keyphrase could be “Google search optimization” or “Web search optimization.”

Google Preview

This will show you what your post will look like when it shows up on a Google search. You can view it as if this preview were on a phone or on a computer screen. It indicates optimization by a colour bar beneath each field. Green is good and yellow or red is poor.

There are three fields that you can change on this screen: SEO title, slug, and meta description.

SEO title likely won’t need changing – it will default to the title of your post and the name of your website, which is all you should need. If you prefer to leave the name of your website out of the title, that’s okay as well.

Likewise with the slug, which is what comes after your web address in the search bar. Unless you want to condense it, then this can stay the same and has no relevant effect on SEO.

The meta description, however, does have an impact on the reader. A well-optimized description won’t get cut off on the Google search page and a prospective reader should be able to read it in its entirety. As mentioned before, a green bar below the meta description means that it fits in its entirety and you’re good to go.

Readability Analysis

There are seven elements that Yoast analyses when it scores your post’s readability for SEO:

Sentence Length: This will tell you if you have too many long sentences in your post. A green score for sentence length means that less than 25% of sentences in your post are less than 20 words.

Flesch Reading Ease: The Flesch – Kincaid readability test measures the readability of your post. This is calculated by checking the average length of sentences in your post and the average number of syllables in your post’s words.

Yoast looks at the number of words compared to the number of sentences, and the number of syllables compared to the number of words. A green light in this category means a score of 60 or higher, or around a Grade 7 reading level.

Passive Voice Use: This measures the frequency that the writer uses the passive voice in their post. The active voice is better for your post as it is a more engaging and persuasive voice for your writing. If you use enough active voice in your post, you get the green light.

Consecutive Sentences: In summary, don’t start sentences with the same word in a row. It looks bad to the reader and can ruin the cadence of your writing.

Subheading Distribution: This checks to see if your subheadings are too close together and if your keyphrase is present in enough of your subheadings. It’s a good guide to formatting your blog as well and can drastically improve the readability of your writing.

Paragraph Length: Another easy explanation: Keep your paragraphs at or below 150 words. Separate similar ideas into different paragraphs under your headings and don’t let them get too clumped together.

Transition Words: When you’re using enough words and phrases like “and so…” or “therefore” to segue into different parts of your writing, this makes your writing sound less abrupt and helps the reader move between your thoughts more easily.

SEO Analysis

This is the bread and butter of using Yoast. In this analysis, you list your keyphrase’s synonyms and Yoast reviews your post’s optimization based on your keyphrase. In summary, it looks at four major things across 15 categories:

Keyphrase Use: This is Yoast’s final score on how well you’ve picked and used your keyphrase, focusing on frequency, length, and location. If your keyphrase is used frequently, is within that one-to-three-word length, and is found in subheadings, your slug, and in your introduction, you get the green light.

Link Use: If you have internal links to other elements of your website or other posts you’ve written, you get a green light. Likewise, if you have linked to an external website that’s relevant to your post.

Body And Meta Text: Yoast will grade your post based on how long your post is itself, as well as how long its meta description is (as mentioned above). Typically, your blog post should be greater than 300 words for a green light, but if it’s a major piece of content for your blog, aim for greater than 900 words.

Image Attributes: You’ve given the images in your blog post alternate descriptions that relate to your SEO keyphrase.

Related SEO Keyphrase

In terms of Yoast’s grading, this completely overlaps with the SEO analysis described above. However, this section allows you to add multiple related keyphrases that will serve as a low-power keyphrase in addition to your main one. This also includes adding keyphrase synonyms that will help search algorithms find your post online.

Cornerstone Content, Linking And Insights

These sections are largely for blogs with lots of established content. Marking a post as cornerstone content means that it’s one of the most relevant and important posts on your blog or website. It should be frequently updated and referred to in future content.

Internal linking will generate ideas for internal links in your post based on other copy that you’ve written for your website. Don’t worry if you’re just starting out and nothing shows up, you can manually link other posts in the body of your blog.

Insights will list the most prominent words and phrases in your blog post. If you’re stuck on what to use as a keyphrase after you’ve written your post, check here for ideas.


Yoast is a very powerful SEO plugin for WordPress that lets writers fine-tune the SEO of all of their blog posts. It also provides basic social media management and allows the writer to customize the appearance of their post on the internet.

Yoast focuses on the following elements to grade the SEO of your writing:

  • Focus keyphrase
  • Google Preview
  • Readability Analysis
  • SEO Analysis
  • Related keyphrase
  • Cornerstone content, linking and insights

A writer will know that they have achieved great SEO when they get double green lights in Readability Analysis and SEO Analysis. This means that their post will have a good chance of being ranked highly in search algorithms and will be easily readable when found. An ideal but optional third green light can be achieved in Related keyphrase, but it’s largely linked to the SEO analysis.

What plugin do you use for your blog’s SEO? Would you consider using Yoast? Or maybe you’re just starting out with your own blogging experience.

If you’ve been inspired by our blog posting series, we suggest you read our newsletter series where you’ll learn How Can A Newsletter Help Your Business?

How to use Yoast for SEO and why you should care to get double green lights
Picture of Michael Reitmeier

Michael Reitmeier

Michael is a Journalism student at Conestoga College with experience in technical and content writing. He prides himself on writing clear and informative copy that meets both client needs and wants.

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