How to Setup WordPress Yoast SEO Plugin (A Photo Tutorial)
WordPress is SEO friendly, but not by default.
Having WordPress installed is half of the battle. You have to optimize WordPress for SEO.
The main thing you have to do is, install & configure a WordPress SEO plugin.
There are a lot of SEO plugins out there, but Yoast SEO is the best of all of them. With over 1 million installs, it has become the best SEO solution for WordPress.
WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast has everything to make your WordPress blog SEO friendly. In this post, I will show you how to install and configure Yoast SEO. Even if you are using Yoast plugin for a while, this tutorial will help you to get the full benefit of the plugin.
Before going further, let’s take a look of some of the SEO features offered by Yoast.
- Setting Meta Title and Description for Posts/Pages including Homepage.
- Verifying sites on webmaster tools.
- Meta Robots for Different Post Types.
- Integrating Social Profiles with Your Site.
- Creating & Configuring XML Sitemaps.
- Configuring Breadcrumbs, Permalinks, and RSS.
- Editing Robots.txt and .htaccess file.
- Connecting WordPress site with Google Search Console and many more.
Installing WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
Getting started with Yoast is very easy. At first, you have to install and active Yoast SEO plugin from WordPress dashboard. You can follow our guide on How to Install WordPress Plugin.
Once you’ve activated the plugin, you will notice a new tab named “SEO” in your WordPress Admin panel.
Having this tab in the admin panel means you’ve installed Yoast SEO successfully.
Transferring Data from Other SEO Plugins
If you are using any other plugins like HeadSPace2, All-in-One SEO, WooThemes SEO framework or wpSEO, you can import data to Yoast SEO. Just go to “Tools” under “SEO” tab and click on “Import from other SEO plugins”. Then select the plugin you are using and click on “Import”.
Make sure all the data has been transferred successfully and deactivate the old plugin.
If you’ve used your theme’s SEO setting, you need to use SEO Data Transporter plugin to move your data to Yoast plugin.
Setting Up WordPress SEO Plugin By Yoast
Setting up Yoast SEO plugin is extremely easy. But it will take some times to configure the plugin to get maximum benefits. Here I will show the step by step process to setup Yoast SEO. You will see images for every step. It’s a photo tutorial. Most of the settings I will be selected are based on my personal recommendation. You can ignore anything that you don’t like. Every time you make a change, click on “Save Changes” button to save the setting. Now let’s get started.
1. General Setting
Once you’ve clicked on the “SEO” tab, you’ll be landed to the “Yoast SEO: General Settings” page. You can take a tour here to learn about the plugin. But you don’t need to do that as I am going to share it with you. You can also restore default setting from here.
If it’s your first time with the plugin, you don’t need to do anything here.
Then move to “Your Info” tab. Here you need to provide your website name and the company or person behind it.
Your website name is generally your site’s title. If you don’t provide any name, Yoast SEO will automatically use your site’s title as the name. You can also provide an alternative name. If you’ve just changed brand name, you can use this.
Then you need to choose whether the website is run by a company or a person. If you choose ‘Company’, it will ask you to provide company name and logo. If you choose “Person”, just enter your name.
The next tab is “Webmaster Tools”. You can verify different webmaster tools like Google, Bing, Alexa, Yandex from here. Webmaster tools provide detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on different search engines.
Verifying your site on webmaster tools is a bit difficult. If you want to do it manually, you have to add a meta tag or upload a file to your site. But Yoast plugin makes it insanely easy. All you have to do is, enter the meta code provided by search engines.
Read: How to Verify WordPress Blog on Google Webmaster Tools
The next tab is “Security”. There is only one option which is disabling the advanced part of the Yoast SEO meta box. Checking the box will prevent your authors and editors to redirect posts and noindex them. It’s important to check the box if you are running a multi-author blog.
The last tab of General Setting is “Onpage.org”. Checking this box will enable OnPage.org indexability check. You can sign up for OnPage.org for free.
2. Titles & Metas
“Titles and Metas” section is the most important part of this plugin. It has several tabs under in it. I will cover all of them one by one.
The first tab is “General”. Yoast SEO can auto-detect whether it needs to rewrite the titles of your pages. By default it is unchecked. I’d suggest to go with the default setting. You can also choose separator between post title and site name from here.
The next tab is “Homepage”. From here, you can configure the Meta title and meta description that will be shown on search engines. Google shows up 70 characters in title and 156 character on meta description. So it’s recommended to keep your title and description within these characters.
Here’s the screenshot of meta title and description of RoadToBlogging.com.
Then move to “Post Types” tab. By default, WordPress has several post types like post, page, attachment etc. Yoast SEO allows you to set meta titles for these post types. I’d suggest you not to change anything here. Just keep this as it is.
Yoast SEO also allows you to set title and meta for each post/page separately. It will add a Yoast SEO Meta Box under post editor. It is recommended for SEO to set meta title and description manually for each post/page. I will discuss it later.
If you are using more custom types in WordPress, you will see the section here. For example, I am using Thirsty Affiliate plugin to manage affiliate links. This plugin adds a custom post types named “Affiliate Links”. Yoast SEO makes it easy to handle these post types. I don’t want search engines bots to follow affiliate links and index them. So I will check the “Meta Robots” box to prevent bots to index/follow the links.
The next tab is “Taxonomies”. You can set meta titles for categories, tags, format etc from here. I prefer going with the default setting. But it depends on your SEO plan. It’s a good practice for SEO to keep tags and categories as noindex and dofollow.
On the next tab “Archives” you can set meta titles for author archives, date archives, search pages and 404 pages. If you are running a multi-author blog, you can set a meta title for Author archives. Otherwise, don’t change anything here.
If you are running a single author blog, you should check disable author archive as it will be same as your homepage. It will prevent duplicate content problems.
The last tab on “Titles & Metas” section is “Other”. The most important thing of this tab is checking the box “Noindex subpages of archives”. By default, the box is checked. So just go with the default setting.
Yoast SEO has added this feature recently. This allows you to integrate your site with your social profiles.
The first tab under social setting is “Accounts”. You need to provide your available social profiles’ URLs to inform Google about your social profiles.
The next tab is “Facebook”. The first thing you need to do on this tab is checking the box “Add Open Graph meta data”. It will add a metadata on your site’s <head> section. Facebook will use this data when a page of your site is shared on Facebook.
You can add title, description, and image for Facebook open graph meta tags from here. You can also add an image for the post/page being shared on Facebook but does not contain any images. To have access on Facebook Insights, you need to specify a Facebook admin. It could be a user or a Facebook app.
On “Twitter” tab, you can add Twitter card on your head section. You can also choose the card type to use. I prefer using summary with large image.
The next tab is “Pinterest”. You need to confirm your website ownership to verify your Pinterest account.
The last tab is “Google+”. Check the box to Add Google+ specific post meta data. If you have Google+ page for your site, enter the URL here and link it on your Google+ page’s about page.
4. XML Sitemaps
An XML sitemap contains all URLs of pages/posts in your site. It helps search engine bots to crawl your URLs and index them quickly. There used to be a time when we need to use a several plugin to create XML sitemap in WordPress. But Yoast SEO makes it super easy.
All you have to do is, make sure that “Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality” is checked. Then it will automatically generate a sitemap for your site.
The first tab on this section is “General”. You don’t need to change anything here. You can check your sitemap from here by click on “XML Sitemap” button.
On the next tab “User sitemap”, check the box to disable author/user sitemap.
The next tab is “Post Types”. From here you can disable post types that you don’t want to add on your sitemap. By default, Yoast SEO disables Media (attachment) from sitemaps. You can also disable custom post types. For example, I have tw0 custom post types (Affiliate links & Thrive Lightboxes) that I don’t want to add on sitemaps.
From the next tab “Excluded Posts”, you can exclude posts from the sitemap. Just enter the Post IDs that you don’t want to show on the sitemap. Here’s how to find Post IDs in WordPress.
The last tab of this section is “Taxonomies”. I prefer not to include taxonomies like tags, categories etc on the sitemap. But it totally depends on your SEO plan.
The “Advanced” section allows you to configure breadcrumbs, permalinks, and RSS.
The first tab is “Breadcrumbs”. A breadcrumb is a series of connected links based on navigation of a website. If you enable breadcrumbs, it will be shown on your site as well as Google search results. Having breadcrumbs is very important for eCommerce site. Here’s the screenshot of breadcrumbs of Yoast.com in Google.
I personally don’t use breadcrumbs for my blog. If you want to use, just check the box “Enable Breadcrumbs” and setting will be display. You can go with default setting.
The next tab is “Permalinks”. It’s not the default permalink setting of WordPress. From here you can redirect attachment URL’s to parent post URL, remove stop words and ?replytocom veriables etc. I prefer going with default setting.
The last tab is “RSS”. It automatically adds links of your blog in your feed content. If someone steals your content from feed, you will get a backlink and Google will know that you are the original source of the content. The default setting is quite ok. But you can modify it if you want.
Yoast SEO has 4 built-in tools – Bulk editor, File editor, Import and Export and Recalculate SEO Scores. All of these tools are for advanced users. Only use these tools if you know what your are doing. Here are some details of these tools.
- Bulk editor: This editor allows you change the titles and descriptions of your posts in bulk. I don’t suggest this because it will create a lot of duplicate titles and descriptions.
- File editor: This tool allows you to change files like Robots.txt and .htaccess file. Always take a backup of your WordPress blog before editing these files. Don’t do anything here if you aren’t sure what you are doing.
- Import and Export: This tool helps you import SEO settings from other plugins and export SEO setting for re-use on other blogs.
- Recalculate SEO scores: This tool allow you to recalculate your SEO scores for all pieces of content with a focus keyword.
7. Search Console
Search Console connects your WordPress site with Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster tools).
Once you’ve added your WordPress site to Google Webmaster tools, you can verify it from Yoast SEO Search Console. Just click on “Get Google Authorization Code” and a box will be popped up. Copy and Paste the code on the box and click on “Authenticate”.
Then you will be asked to select a profile. Select the proper website and click on “Save Profile”.
Yoast SEO will fetch Google Search Console data into WordPress.
Using Yoast SEO for Individual Pages and Posts
The best thing about the plugin is, it allows you to configure SEO setting for every post/page. You have to use this feature to get the maximum SEO benefits from the plugin.
You will see “Yoast SEO” box under your page/post editor with fields like Snippet Editor and Focus Keyword.
Snippet Editor shows how your post will be shown on search engines like Google. It has 3 parts – Meta Title, Permalink and Meta Description. You can edit each of them by just clicking on it.
- How to Add Meta Title and Description in WordPress
- How to Write a Good Meta Description That Increases CTR
You can also set a focus keyword to see how if your content is optimized for the keyword properly. You will see recommendations on “Content Analysis”.
It has advanced option that allows you to configure Meta Robots. You can use this option if you need to nofollow/noindex a post/page. Normally you don’t need to use this.
You can also set custome Title, Description, and Image for Social Networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Google+.
That’s it. You are done.
I hope this post helps you to set up Yoast SEO right way. If you have any questions regarding Yoast SEO, feel free to ask me via comment. And if you find this post useful, help me by sharing this post on Facebook, Twitter or Google+.