On Yoast's SEO plugin @ Wordpress, I can provide one search term per post, which is the key term, the focus term (don't know the English word for it). I am wondering what this keyword does...

I don't see, if I fill it in, a thing related on it on my page source and I don't know what it does or what it should do.

For example, I have a post called "Hello World" and I put in the key term: hello... What should Google do with this? Does it give priority? Does it do a thing or solely nothing? Can someone explain this to me? Because right now I have not filled in these fields, because I thought that it was unnecessary...

2 Answers 2


The focus term (or phrase) is used by the Yoast plugin to check the page/post content for SEO against that specific search term. So using your example of "Hello World" with "hello" as the term, the Yoast plugin will check to see if and how many times the word "hello" appears in the

  • Article Heading (any H tag in the body)
  • Page or Post Title
  • URL slug
  • Content
  • Meta description

and based on those results plus an analysis of other factors (found under the Page Analysis table in the meta box on the post edit screen) the plugin will assign a red, yellow, or green light to the post where red is not well-optimized and green is well-optimized.

It does absolutely nothing to Google. It is purely for your own quick testing to see if the page or post might do well against a hypothetical search.

  • 1
    Personally I would ignore that feature of Yoast. It's bad SEO to have exact Titles, Metas and H1. Google wants people writing these elements for the audience, not the search engines - so having those 3 elements match as stated is not good. Try to write your title's, H1, and metas for your audience, don't be scared using board matches on the keywords either, these are still good. Aug 8, 2013 at 7:33
  • @bybe For experienced SEO users, it has little value. But it does have value if you are delegating content creation on the site to the untrained masses. You don't use it for exact match purposes, more as a quick sanity check to make sure the item will come up in a search on a term or short phrase. I can't tell you how many times people complain to me that there content is coming up on a specific word search when the word appears absolutely nowhere in the content :)
    – JCL1178
    Aug 8, 2013 at 16:27

There is a YouTube video (several) of Matt Cutts, the head of Google's web spam team, speaking a few years back at a webmaster's conference about WordPress and SEO (his blog is on WordPress).

It's perhaps 45 minutes long and worth a watch. As @JCL1178 noted, it is generally better to have some variety if everything matches up perfectly it may seem (to search engines) as "too good to be true".

This site generates everything programmatically but if I were manually optimizing, I'd make the URL (i.e. slug) /seo-wp-yoast-focus-term-necessary.

While I'd make the <h1> something like: WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast, is the focus term required?

That way, I rank for different variations of the same query but there is enough alignment that it is clear what my page is about.

Granted this isn't always an option but natural variation is good, at least, as per Matt Cutts.


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