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How Yoast Actually Handles Keywords

If you’ve decided to market your law firm online, the first thing you’ll do in the execution stage is to create a website. Unless you’re investing heavily in the venture and contracting with a full-service website provider, you’ll probably put together a WordPress site (even if you do pay someone else to build your site, you might still end up with WordPress).

WordPress has a strong following in large part because it’s user-friendly and performs a lot of basic search engine optimization (SEO) tasks automatically. However, there are also a lot of SEO techniques that WordPress can’t do, which is why one of the most popular WordPress plugins is the Yoast SEO Review. Unfortunately, while Yoast is a great tool for amateur webmasters, including partners in small law firms, it’s easy to forget what it does and, more importantly, does not do.

What Yoast Is

Yoast SEO and Keywords

Pronounced like “toast,” Yoast is a WordPress plugin that focuses on SEO that you can download and add to your law firm’s website, making it similar to a smartphone app. Millions have used it to boost their site’s SEO score and show them how to write content that appeals to both live readers and to search engines, as well.

What Yoast Does

Yoast automatically handles a lot of the backend logistics that non-professionals either don’t think about or aren’t aware of. For example, Yoast adds computer code to blog posts to combat “content scraping websites” and prevent them from sapping your blog’s viewership and SEO benefits. It also helps set up redirects from pages that you move, reducing potentially costly clutter from your site.

However, the features that are most prominent have to do with grading the SEO benefits of the content that you write on your site. These are the features that create the most problems for attorneys who take the reins of their own online marketing.

What Yoast Doesn’t Do

If you’ve activated Yoast on your WordPress website and go to add a new page or blog post, you’ll see the Yoast box at the bottom of the page. As of December, 2017, this box has three parts:

  1. A “metabox” that lets you alter the meta description of the new page or post,
  2. A field that lets you add a keyword for your post, and
  3. A series of bullet points that analyze how well your post scores for that keyword.

The metabox is a solid tool: It provides quick and easy access to the meta description of your post, allowing you to write it the way you want, rather than leave it up to Google.

The keyword field and following analysis, however, is where attorneys and those outside the realm of online marketing tend to fail, because it’s easy to assume that the keyword you use is going to be the post’s “targeted keyword.”

It isn’t.

While it might appear otherwise, Yoast doesn’t let you set a keyword for each post you write. Keywords don’t work like that. You can’t write a post and then decide what the post’s keywords will be. Instead, keywords are merely goals, created by the person writing the post or the owner of the website. A keyword is a target that you want the post to hit. How well it lands is up to the algorithms of the search engine that a potential client uses when they’re looking for a lawyer that can help them.

Yoast’s keyword field seems to let you set that target after the fact, declaring that this post detailing the science of breathalyzers is about “Orlando DUI-defense attorneys,” after you’ve written the post. However, it’s more accurate to think of this feature as a checklist, something that grades you on how well you’ve executed, assuming that the keyword you’ve given is really what you’re after.