Yoast is one of the most popular SEO plugins for WordPress which have the potential to sky rocket your blog traffic. Not only it will configure your blog for SEO but also guide you to write SEO friendly posts and pages.
In this tutorial, we will learn how to install and configure Yoast SEO with proper settings to get the most out of it.
The guide below has been written for absolute beginners to provide basic understanding of the plugin settings and how to use Yoast SEO according to your WordPress blog configuration.
What is Yoast SEO?
Yoast SEO will enable two functions on your blog:
Site-wide SEO settings
These settings will let you configure your site for search engines visibility. The steps generally include setting up titles, your blog’s social profiles, XML sitemap and related settings.
These settings usually set for once and then forget about it.
On-Page SEO settings
The second function includes optimizing your posts and pages for search engines. Yoast will help you in writing SEO friendly posts by guiding you good SEO practices which may include choosing the right keywords, title suggestions, post readability and other related suggestions.
These settings will appear on your posts page while writing new posts.
Here is a list which we will discuss thoroughly.
- Features Settings
- Titles & Metas
- Setting up Social Profiles
- Setting up XML Sitemap
- Yoast SEO Advance Settings
It’s always a good idea to take a complete backup of your blog and database before making site-level changes.Woopoo's Caution
See our article Simple and easy WordPress Backup Guide for more details.
How to install Yoast SEO plugin?
From your admin panel, go to Plugins > Add New.
- The plugin settings will be available under SEO menu item on the main dashboard.
Yoast SEO Dashboard
Although Yoast Dashboard doesn’t have any settings to configure but it will list any serious SEO problems found on your blog. It will also show you important notifications from time to time. Give this place a visit once a week otherwise you are good to go.
Let’s proceed to General tab now. Yoast SEO recently added a Configuration wizard which will help you to configure most of the settings step-by-step all in one place.
- Press Open the configuration wizard button.
- On the first setup screen, you have the option to either do it yourself or use Yoast configuration service. Obviously we will go for the first option Configure Yoast SEO in few steps.
- Under Environment, choose the appropriate option. If you are installing Yoast SEO on a live site, choose Production otherwise choose Staging or Development.
- Define your site type in the next screen.
- Next, you have to configure your website if it is representing a person or a company. It will be registered as metadata in your website to appear in Google.
- Fill in all social profiles representing you or your company.
Here is an example of how Google shows social profiles in search results:
- In the Post type visibility settings, leave all options as it is. The posts and pages options should be visible so search engines can crawl and index your website content.
- If your website has multiple authors, set the options here.
- Yoast SEO has a feature to fetch useful information from Google Search Console, the step is optional and depends upon user discretion. It doesn’t bring any SEO value whatsoever.
- In the Title settings, write your website name and choose a separator. It will show up in search results accordingly.
Here is an example how the title will look like in search engines:
- You can either skip or fill in rest of the steps as they are related to sign up for Yoast SEO newsletter and other information.
You are done with most of the plugin settings but still, some more options need to be reviewed so let’s move on.
Yoast SEO Features page displays the options which can be switched on or off for your whole WordPress site.
Let’s review each option quickly.
Yoast plugin has its own metabox to show readability suggestions while writing a post.
There is no reason to disable it but if you still want to disable this feature, do it here.
Keyword analysis is another great feature from Yoast and needs to be enabled. It will analyze keywords while writing a post and give you suggestions accordingly. It will appear in the same metabox as of readability analysis.
Advanced settings pages
Enabling advanced settings will reveal more features under SEO main menu. These are mostly related to site-wide settings to configure titles, meta descriptions, sitemaps and related info. We will discuss most of the stuff later in this tutorial. Keep it enabled.
The service will let you know if there are any search engines related indexing issues on your website. Leave it enabled.
Admin bar menu
Yoast plugin installation comes with a tiny button appeared on your admin bar. The button can be useful to quickly jump to Yoast menu items.
See our article what is WordPress admin bar for more info.
Cornerstone content is basically those articles which you really want to rank in search engines like Google because these articles accurately represent you or your company.
If this option is enabled, you can set cornerstone content option from Yoast SEO metabox while writing your post.
Once you enable cornerstone content checkbox option, Yoast will let you further improve your post by checking internal linking, keywords etc, however, most of the features will only come with Yoast Premium version.
Here is a more detailed guide on cornerstone content: https://yoast.com/what-is-cornerstone-content/
Text link counter
This feature will let you improve interlinking within your posts.
Interlinking is a practice to insert text links in your posts referring to other articles of your blog.Woopoo's Tip
Company info page will let you define your website as a person or a company. If you have already set these options in configuration wizard then you don’t need to touch anything here otherwise fill in the details accordingly.
Webmaster tools like Bing, Google Search Console, and Yandex need to verify your website first before gathering and showing useful analytics reports.
If your website is already verified with all of the above tools, you can skip this step otherwise fill in the respective ids to let webmaster tools verify your site. You need to make an account for each of these services to get your id.
The most important is Google Search console. See our article Google Search Console Ultimate Guide for more information.
You will only need to configure this section if you have multiple authors on your website. Enabling this option will let your authors to noindex their articles or redirect them to some other URL.
Keep it disabled if you think your authors may accidentally noindex the post or if they are not very technical.
Titles & Metas
Titles and Metas menu item will only be visible if you have enabled Advanced settings pages under Features tab in Yoast dashboard.
As the name suggests, the options will let you configure your posts titles and meta descriptions for better search engine optimization.
In the General tab, choose a title separator if you haven’t done it already in the configuration wizard. Separators are used to separate your post title from your blog name in search results.
Under Homepage, set your Title template and write a Meta description template for your blog.
sitename, page, sep, sitedesc are all title tags which you can delete if you don’t want. For example, if your site description is very long, you can take out %%sitedesc%% tag.
Do the same for Post Types, Taxonomies and Archives according to your blog criteria.
Some bloggers prefer to noindex Taxonomies and Archives to prevent duplicate content problem.Woopoo's Caution
Setting up Social Profiles
Social menu item will let you fill your blog’s social profiles to be displayed in search results directly.
Again if you have already set up your social profiles with configuration wizard then skip this step otherwise fill in all the fields accordingly.
XML Sitemap is a great way to let search bots crawl and index your website fast and easily.
- To generate a sitemap for your site, click XML Sitemaps menu item and enable the functionality if it is disabled. Tha’t it. Yoast will create the sitemap for you on runtime.
- Lower the number under Maximum entries per sitemap if you are running a small website. The default value is 1000.
- The sitemap default URL will be available at yourwebsite.com/sitemap_index.xml
- Visit the above URL to see your website sitemap page.
- Don’t forget to submit your sitemap to Google Search Console. Very important!
See our article WordPress sitemap tutorial for a complete guide.
Yoast SEO Advanced Settings
Advanced menu item deals with breadcrumbs, permalinks, and RSS.
Although breadcrumbs is a great feature to have on your blog but it can break your website look if there will be a conflict with your theme settings. It is better to check for the compatibility first or leave it disabled.
First of all, don’t confuse Yoast permalinks with WordPress permalinks.
WordPress permalinks define your blog’s URL structure while Yoast permalinks settings will merely try to improve them by cleaning up stopwords from the slug or redirecting URLs under certain conditions.
See our article Easy guide to WordPress permalinks settings for more details.
Under Clean up permalinks, the default setting is set to Remove stop words in slugs which you can set to Keep if you don’t want Yoast to touch your slugs.
It is better to set it to Keep and manually remove stop words as it will give you more control.
In a URL like Best settings in Yoast SEO, “in” is a stop word which can be taken out to shorten the slug.Woopoo's Good Practice
Yoast SEO Useful Tools
Yoast SEO tools is a collection of utilities to help you configure SEO settings faster. It includes a bulk editor, file editor, and import/export settings.
Bulk editor will really help you out when you have a lot of posts and pages and you want to set their tiles and meta descriptions. Instead of manually going inside each post and set it there, this option will let you bulk change titles and meta descriptions for all of your posts and pages.
File editor will let you add or delete any values from robots.txt or .htaccess file. If you don’t know what you are doing, it’s better not to make any changes in these files because it could break your site.
see our article how to find and use .htaccess file in WordPress for more details
Import and Export
Options under Import and export will let you download Yoast settings as a zip file and apply the settings on another blog so you don’t have to do everything all over again.
One noticeable option here is to import settings from other SEO plugins. The option is really helpful to seamlessly migrating to Yoast from another SEO plugin.
Yoast SEO Official Help and Support
Although one-to-one official help and support are only available for premium members but still there is a great help feature integrated right inside the plugin.
Each and every setting in Yoast comes with a Help center at the top which can be dropped down to see further help.
For more information, see https://yoast.com/help-center-yoast-seo/
- Google Search Console Ultimate Guide
- WordPress robots.txt explained
- Absolutely IMPORTANT settings to do after installing WordPress
- How to find best WordPress plugins for your blog?
We hope you will be able to configure and use Yoast SEO WordPress plugin after following this tutorial. If you still need any help, do let us know and we will love to answer.