Don’t worry, this post does not involve any algebra or calculus variables 🙂
We all want to rank better on Google and other search engines, and doing so involves 10’s or hundreds of small steps starting with content creation, backlinks, domain authority and much much more. YOAST’s free seo plugin, is a set of tools which helps us in various seo tasks on our website.
One of the most important SEO parameters on your site will be the Page Title. That is the actual title of your blog post or page. It the the first thing that a user sees when they visit your page, and a key performance indicator for search engines. That’s why it is so important to have a title for each page and also make it unique.
Most of the time, we would like to have a template for our page titles, for example, it can consist of the actual page name and after that a separator (like a dash or hyphen) and then our site’s name or blog category. It’s good to keep it consistent for visitors and search engines, and having your site’s name attached to all your posts and pages can also help with branding and SEO.
YOAST Snippet Variables
So what are these variables?
These are little snippets of text that can look like this: %%title%% – two percent symbols, the name of the snippet and a closing two percent symbols. entering this snippet into the Title meta box of YOAST will automatically take the post’s title and insert it into the title meta tag of our post / page.
Why should I use it?
Well, that’s a great question. Think about a scenario where you added all your title meta tags manually which for example can be: “My very first blog post – ABC ACME products”. This is all nice and good, but what happens if you would like to change the name of the site to “ABC Products” – then you will need to go to all pages and manually change the meta title. It’s ok if your site has 10-20 pages but what happens if you have 100-200 pages? or even more?
The use of the seo variables allows us to centrally change the title without the need to manually update the post. For example:
%%title%% – will take the title of the post / page
%%sitename%% – our website’s title – which is taken from the name we gave our site under Settings > General > Site Name
%%sitedesc%% – our site’s description also taken from: Settings > General > Tag line
So you see, once you need to make a change for your site’s name, even if it’s a minor change, if you have the variables set up, you will need to change it only in one place and not manually edit all your pages/posts.
YOAST’s SEO plugin has a pretty comprehensive set of variables which you can use – they are listed here.
As a rule of thumb, I would suggest using this snippet variation for most posts and pages on your site:
%%title%% %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%% – This will display the Title of your post/page, followed by a number (if it’s a multi page post), followed by a seperator (dash, hyphhen, dot etc…) and ending with the site’s name.
So for this page the meta title would be:
“The power of YOAST’s SEO variables – Dmdesign Canada – Dan Stramer“
How do I use it?
First of all we should check that we have set our site’s Title and Tag line, which can be set up from: Settings > General in your WordPress Dashboard:
Then, we create the snippet template in YOAST’s plugin page. Make sure you have the plugin installed, then go to Yoast seo > Search Appearance > Content Types > Posts.
See screenshot below:
This can be configured to other posts types as well such as pages or custom post types and other taxonomies such as categories and tags.
Overriding the snippets
Sometimes we may need to ovveride the snippets we set in our template. This could be a case when we want a very specific title which isn’t inline with our template – maybe for a landing page for example.
We can access the single post’s or page’s meta title with YOAST’s settings box.
As you can see the post inherited our snippet template setting. But we can change that, removing it an either inserting a custom title or using other snippets. But keep in mind that once you override the snippet setting and you change your site’s title or description it will no longer show up there and you will need to manually edit the page if you would want to bring it back.
My suggestion is to keep the changes to a minimum, and if you must add or change the title for just a specific page, try adding text to the existing snippets, not removing them alltogether.
Have you used your SEO snippets creatively? Share in your comments below!