In this tutorial, we are going to discuss the General Tab in Rank Math’s Meta Box. In a previous article, we gave you an overview of the Meta Box and its sections, and here we discuss the General Tab in detail.
The General Tab is selected by default whenever you open a new post or edit an existing post. Here are all the options that you would see in the General Tab.
As you see, there are many other sections inside the General Tab, and an understanding of all of them is necessary to utilize Rank Math’s SEO powerfully. Let us explain each of the sections and what you can do with them.
The Preview Section
The first section in the General Tab is the preview section, which aims to give you an accurate representation of how your post/page will appear in the search results. Here are the things to note about the preview section.
Let us talk about the highlighted sections.
SEO Title, URL, and Description
The Title, URL, and the Description help you visualize how your page will appear in the search results. By looking at a realistic preview, you can optimize your them for better results.
Usually, Rank Math analyzes your post and automatically fills in quite a lot of the information itself. The reason why you see it blank in the screenshot above is that we are using a blank post for this example. Here is an example of how the preview area looks when Rank Math fills in the information.
So what can you do with the preview section?
Here you can write an SEO Title, optimize your URL, and enter a compelling meta-description. All these factors are not only important for higher rankings, but optimized titles and descriptions also attract users and achieve a higher click-through rate in the SERPs, which is essential if you want to beat your competition.
To edit any of the fields, hover your mouse over them. A pen icon will be displayed next to them. Click the pen icon to edit the field.
Clicking the pen icon will let you edit one field at a time; Alternatively, you can click the “Edit Snippet” button which will let you edit all three fields at once.
Let us click the Edit Snippet button and see the actual process of editing and optimizing your post’s metadata.
It might not seem like it, but the editing area has a bunch of helpful tricks that can help you out immensely. Let us explain those first before showing you the actual editing process.
The Length Indicator
You might have noticed a small bar on top of each of the settings.
That is the ideal length indicator which helps you create your title, URL, and description in optimal length. What’s better is that the indicator updates in real-time to give you feedback about the length of the respective field. Here is a visual example.
As you just saw, the length indicator warns us if the length of the field is either too short, or too long, and gives a green signal only when the length is ideal.
It is important to note that different fields have different ideal lengths, and an approximate is given on top of each field alongside the length indicator.
The Dynamic Variables
You might have noticed weird looking code in the title field before you start editing it. Here is a reminder.
No, that’s not an error or a bug! It is the default title format that Rank Math will use, represented by variables.
Before you zone out, let us give you some context.
Whenever you write a post, you have to create a meta-title and a meta-description for it apart from the WordPress Title. Most of the time, your WordPress title is already optimized (thanks to Rank Math’s recommendations) and you just paste the same title to your meta title and make some minor changes. That’s a lot of wasted effort for just a meta-title.
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could tell Rank Math,” Hey Rank Math, take my WordPress title, add my default separator character to it, and then add my site name to it, and make that my meta title?”
That’s exactly what the variables do. In fact, that is the exact thing the default variable configuration accomplishes.
That is the power of variables. Once you start using them, the manual way of writing your meta-titles will feel inefficient. All you have to do is set it up once, and then Rank Math will take care of the field automatically.
There are two important things to know about variables.
First, if you set up a title format using variables in the post, then it will not reflect in other posts. That is because the settings in a post affect the post only. If you’d like to set a permanent template using variables, you’d have to do in Rank Math’s Titles and Meta Settings. Even there, you’d have to set them up for your pages, posts, and other custom posts like your forums, topics, products, etc.
Second, not all fields support variables. Even in the meta box, you’d see that the meta-title and meta-description support variables, but the URL does not.
What Variables are Supported
To make it easy for you to access and preview the variables, we’ve included the variable navigator alongside the field editing area. Click the drop-down button at the end of the text area to see all the variables available to you.
There are plenty of variables available to you, and you can either scroll through to find them all or type in a few characters to filter them. Here is how that works.
Writing the Title, the Permalink, and the Description
Now that you understand all the options associated with the meta title, URL, and the description, it is time to write them. Make sure to write compelling titles and descriptions that users will keep clicking. Once you’re done, click the Close Editor button to save your changes.
Once you do, the edit screen will disappear, and you should see a preview of how your page will appear in the search results.
Previewing Your Post for the Search Results
Once you’ve optimized your Title, URL, and description, the next step is to preview them. Hey, but isn’t there a preview already available? Yes, it is, but there are a few other options in the preview to discuss.
Notice the two icons on the top right of the preview options? These supercharge the preview window even further.
As you probably guessed, the icon that looks like a computer helps you see a desktop preview, while the other icon is for the mobile preview. Let us click the computer icon and see the desktop preview.
Boom! Rank Math simulates the Google Search results to show exactly how your website will appear on desktop searches. Now let us repeat the process for mobile searches.
Rank Math does its magic again and shows you exactly how your website will appear in the mobile search results. It is worthwhile to notice that the title and URL are being clipped in the mobile results as the recommended lengths are different for each. Once we see the preview, we can fix this.
To exit the preview mode, click the preview button (the one you have enabled again), and you’ll be back in edit mode.
The Focus Keyword Section
Focus keyword(s) are words or phrases that your post is about. In essence, they are the core-topic that your post is about.
By adding relevant keywords in the Focus Keyword section, you can unleash Rank Math’s content analysis power. When you do this, Rank Math analyze your post’s content and give you specific, actionable advice on how to optimize your post for search engines.
Rank Math lets you add up to 5 focus keywords per post if you connect with a Rank Math account and activate your copy of Rank Math. Activation is free, just like Rank Math, and it is purely done for analytic purposes and to enable an important feature which we’re going to mention soon. If you haven’t connected your Rank Math account with your website, we highly recommend that you do so.
It’s important to know that the focus keywords that you enter in this section are not communicated to Google or affect your external SEO efforts. Instead, they are used internally and by Rank Math to optimize your on-page SEO for this page.
Picking Good Focus Keywords
Picking out good keywords is an art and a science. It’s an essential process in SEO, that is why we wrote an entire guide about it. We recommend that you read our guide if you’re new to keyword research and then begin the process of adding focus keywords to your posts.
To add focus keywords to your posts, you just have to type the keyword or phrase in the focus keyword section. Press the Enter key to finalize the keyword.
If you connect your Rank Math account as we recommended, you should be able to add more focus keywords the same way, and also see Google suggestions alongside the focus keywords just as you type the focus keywords in. Here is how it looks.
Obviously, the suggestions should only supplement your own keyword research. Always consider the search volume, the competition, and your website’s authority before making a keyword decision.
Choosing a Primary Focus Keyword
As we mentioned, Rank Math lets you use one or more focus keywords (if you connect with a Rank Math account). In the case of multiple focus keywords, you also have the option of choosing a Primary focus keyword. In the example below, you’ll see two keywords in the Focus Keyword section.
The first keyword in the focus keyword section is considered primary, as denoted by the tiny blue star on it. You can always make any keyword primary by dragging it to the front of the line, like this.
If you’d like to learn more about focus keywords and the content optimization process in Rank Math, you should read our guide in how to score 100/100 with Rank Math where we take a deep dive into Rank Math’s content analysis process and how you can optimize your post for up to 5 keywords per post.
“This post is a Pillar Content” Checkbox
This option lets you set your post as a “Pillar Post.” The idea behind pillar posts is that they form the basis of your blog. Just as a building needs pillars to stand on, your blog or website would stand on pillar content?
So what is pillar content?
The closest we can describe pillar content is to call it evergreen content. Once you write it, it should answer a question that your niche will have for years to come, and it should answer it in sufficient detail. For example, if you had a photography blog, a pillar post on your website could be “What is white balance?”. It’s a question most amateur photographers have and definitely search for.
All niches have questions like these, which can be answered once and they (hopefully) bring you traffic for eternity. The best part about a pillar post is that the answer to the question rarely changes. So if you’ve produced a good piece of content, you might never have to update it again.
So, what does the checkbox do? It helps you mark any piece of content on your website as pillar content. And what does that achieve?
When you mark a piece of content as pillar content, Rank Math helps you rank that post in search engines by reminding you to link to it from other posts.
Let us take the photography example again. If you create a pillar post on white balance, then anytime you mention white balance on your website, Rank Math will remind you to link to your original post. The suggestion appears in the Link Suggestion section, which should be present with the document settings in the block editor, and as a floating widget in the classic editor.
You might be thinking, that’s it? Is that all this checkbox does?
You’re right, it doesn’t sound like much but think about the bigger picture. Pointing internal links to your posts is one the easiest ways to increase the ranking of your posts. And while you’re creating internal links, why not do it to pillar posts which are designed to bring you traffic for the foreseeable future?
The next section in the meta box is the content analysis section. As you type in your content and set a couple of focus keywords, Rank Math gets to work and analyzes your content in the background. It then gives you tailor-made recommendations on how to optimize your content based on your focus keywords. The analysis quite extensive and results in quite a few recommendations. To make the recommendations easy to understand and follow, they have been divided into four distinct sections.
Before we jump in and discuss each section, we should tell you that we’ll be giving just a brief overview of the recommendations in this section, and not take a deep dive. That’s because this is more of an introduction post for the Meta Box, rather than a tutorial on optimizing your content. The good news is that we have a separate, complete guide on the very topic of using the Meta Box and optimizing your post. It’s linked right here. We suggest that you check that out as well. Let us now get into each section individually.
The basic SEO section is where you’d get the bread-and-butter SEO recommendations. If you have any experience in SEO, the tips in the basic SEO section might even be obvious. But, we’ve designed Rank Math to be used for everyone, so even if you know these tips, they can be a reminder of what you’re already doing right with your post’s SEO. Here is the list of recommendations you would get in the basic SEO section.
The Additional SEO tips are like the toppings on the pizza. The pizza can be great without them, but toppings make it way better. Similarly, following the Additional SEO tips will make sure your post has the edge when it comes to on-page SEO. Here is the list of recommendations you’ll find in the Additional SEO Section.
The title is the most important part of your article because the most number of people will read it. In the advertising industry, it’s a common thing to say that once you’ve written your headline, you’ve already spent 50 cents. That means publications used to spend as many resources crafting the title as they used for the article itself. That’s insane! But, it’s also a great lesson on how big publications work.
Rank Math analyzes your titles and gives you precise suggestions to improve your title so that it appeals to a majority of your audience. Here is a preview of all the suggestions you’ll see.
After you’ve attracted a visitor with your title, the next step is to engage them with your content. Keeping visitors on your page is as important as getting them there, as Google sees the time spent on-site as a quality signal. If you a user visits your website, reads the content, and then reads a few more, that’s a sign that your website is high quality, and Google will reward you for that. Contrary to that, if a visitor comes to your website and jumps back immediately, that’s a sign that your content is not valuable and Google will punish you for that.
Rank Math analyzes your content and gives you specific suggestions for your content length, readability, and more. Here is a preview of all the recommendations.
We hope that we were able to explain all the options in the General Tab of Rank Math’s Meta Box. There are plenty of options, and we would recommend that you take your time to understand them fully before you decide to use them.
After you’ve mastered the options, the next step is to implement the knowledge you’ve gained to write a fully optimized post on your website. To help you with that, we’ve created a dedicated resource that will take you through each of the content recommendations, and teach you how to optimize your post a 100%, step by step. It is aptly called how to score 100/100 in Rank Math, and we highly recommend that you check it before you write any post.
As always, if you run into problems, then we are here to help. For any issues, small or big, feel free to get in touch with the support staff over at Rank Math’s Forum or ask your questions in the Facebook Group.
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