How to Set Up Yoast SEO WordPress Plugin for Best Results
In this era of SEO, it is important to optimize your web pages to rank them high in the search engines. You have to apply some SEO technique to make web pages easily visible in the search result on the top.
To achieve a high ranking position, you need to use some best tools for site optimization. One of the great tools I am going to talk about in detail is WordPress SEO by Yoast Plugin.
WordPress SEO by Yoast is the No#1 SEO plugin available in the WordPress Plugin repository with more than Three Million active installs by the time I am writing this Article.
Yoast SEO plugin will bring amazing results in search engine optimization. But due to its rich features, it is sometimes confusing for bloggers to setup Yoast plugin to get the most from it.
Here in this blog article, I will assume that you know how to install and activate a plugin. I will guide you through this step by step process to get best SEO performance results from the plugin.
Step 1 Dashboard:
By click on the SEO Icon or SEO Dashboard Section, both will take you to the Dashboard Tab.
Here you have no thing to configure. You will only see notifications or problems if Yoast SEO detected on your site which helps you to figure out the problem.
In the Dashboard section, next to Dashboard tab is a General Tab. Here you can see a configuration wizard button. By clicking on the “Open the configuration wizard” button, Yoast SEO plugin will start the setup wizard to do the configuration. We will not click and leave this because we are going to do all the settings manually.
Here in the General Tab, there is not much enough to setup. Just move a head to next tab.
On the Feature tab, the first option is Readability analysis. Enable this option because this is helpful when writing a post, it highlights any issue related to readability and helps you to improve them further until the indicator lights become green.
Enable Keyword analysis option. This will assist you in choosing the target keyword and complete report about it.
Enable Advanced setting pages to explore more features of Yoast SEO plugin.
The onpage.org option is optional, it a paid service that helps you to analyze your site about indexing in search engines. If you can afford it just enable it, otherwise disable this option.
Enable Admin bar menu option because this adds a menu link in the WordPress Dashboard top menu bar. This is helpful; you can see any notification on the fly.
Enable the Cornerstone content option. This is useful to rank for certain articles that you are proud of and want to rank for them. So it is best regarding SEO.
Enable Text link counter option. This can help you to see the number of links blog articles have to one another inside same blog.
After enabling the highlighted options in the screenshot, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
Switching to Your info tab in the SEO Dashboard section will make you enter information regarding the Website.
You have to enter Website name and Alternate name. The website name is your site title in most of the cases.
Next, you have to enter information whether your site is run by a Company or person. Select from the dropdown list. In the case of Company, you have to fill in the company name and company logo. In situations where a person runs your site then enter the name of that person.
Remember to click the Save changes button to save the configurations.
The webmaster tools tab help you to verify your site with the Google, Bing and Yandex webmaster tools. Webmaster tools help you to see the insights of your site and much more.
If you have already verified your site with the webmaster as mentioned above tools, then you can ignore this tab.
If you want to verify your site, then click on the highlighted link for each webmaster option and copy only the meta code from the meta tag and paste it in the respective field and verify for each webmaster tool.
Click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On Security tab, you have to disable the “Advanced part of the Yoast SEO meta box” option. This is helpful to prevent from any accidental changes to noindex or canonical settings on multi author blog.
Step 2 Titles & Metas:
By clicking the Titles & Metas section in the Yoast SEO, you will be taken to the first General tab.
In the General tab, you have to choose a symbol as a separator. The selected symbol will be shown in the browser between site name and post titles. Choose the option that suits you, but I will recommend sticking with the default option.
Remember to save the changes by clicking the Save changes button.
On the Hompage tab, either enter your site title name in “Title template” and site description in the “Meta description template” or leave it as they are by default. The highlighted settings work fine for any site. These both options will be shown in the search engines for a site.
On Post Types tab, you have to set the options for Posts, Pages, and Media as highlighted in the screenshot. Where as “FM Email Verification” is the option that will be available to those who are using Form Maker plugin.
You can even change the “Title template” and “Meta description template” fields while writing or editing posts and pages.
You have to enable “Meta Robots” index option for posts and pages to index them in search engines.
Hide “Date in Snippet Preview” option because it affects CTR if the content is old.
Enable the show option for “Yoast SEO Meta Box“ to view Yoast content analysis for posts and pages.
After setting the options to the highlighted one, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On Taxonomies tab, set the “Title template” option for Categories, Tags, and Format to the highlighted as shown in the screenshot.
Leave the “Meta description template” option as blank because Yoast SEO plugin will automatically fill these fields from the Categories and Tags description.
After Setting all the options to click the Save changes button to save all the configurations.
Here on Archives tab, enable the “Author Archives” option in case if your blog is a multi author blog. In situations where a blog is single author blog, set the option to disabled to prevent from content duplication problem.
Fill the “Title template” and “Meta description template” as highlighted in the screenshot.
Set the option for “Meta Robots” as noindex and disable the Date archives settings to prevent from duplicate content.
Click the Save changes button to save all the settings.
On the Other tab set the option for “Subpages for archives” to noindex to prevent the pagination like /page/2/ in the search engines.
Disable the “Use meta keywords tag?” option because Google doesn’t use meta keywords anymore.
After making the recommended change, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
Step 3 Social:
By clicking on the Social section in the SEO, you have to fill the social profiles to improve your SEO performance.
The first tab in this Section is Accounts.
On Accounts tab fill all necessary information regarding your social network profile. Leave the fields as blank for the profile fields that you don’t have and click the Save changes button for saving the settings.
Here on the Facebook tab, enable the “Add Open Graph meta data” option. This helps when to pick the right thumbnail and page information when some one shares a post on Facebook.
Next, you have to upload an image for “Image URL” under Frontpage settings and Default settings. This will show an image when someone shares your site or a page on Facebook.
Under Frontpage settings, Add put a title for the “Title” field and description for “Description” field. You can even press the highlighted “copy home meta description” button to copy the description from the home page description that we set above on the Homepage earlier.
To get Facebook insights, you have to add Facebook Admin. You have to add Admin name and fill Facebook ID field. You can easily know about your Facebook ID from Find my Facebook ID.
After making all the necessary changes, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On Twitter tab, enable the “Add Twitter card meta data” option and select “Summary with large image” option from the dropdown list for “The default card type to use” field.
After making the changes, save the settings by clicking on the Save changes button.
The Pinterest tab will help you to list your site on the Pinterest social network by verifying the site on Pinterest. By following the steps, highlighted in the screenshot, grab the meta code from the meta tag and place it in the “Pinterest confirmation” field to do the verification.
After completing the verification process, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On the Google+ tab, put the URL for Google+ profile in the “Google Publisher Page” field and click the Save changes button to save the changes.
Step 4 XML Sitemaps:
When using Yoast SEO plugin, it is the best recommendation to use the XML sitemap functionality of the plugin and don’t add an extra plugin for sitemap functionalities.
By clicking on the XML Sitemaps section, you will be able to enable “XML sitemap functionality” option and explore the sitemap settings.
After enabling the XML sitemap features, you have to leave “Max entries per sitemap” as 1000 and save the changes by Clicking the Save changes button. Once you save the settings, then you can view your XML sitemap.
On Post Types tab, set the option for Posts and Pages to “In sitemap” and for Media and FM Email Verification set the option to “Not in sitemap“.
After making the changes, do remember to click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On Excluded Posts tab, you have to fill in the Post IDs for the posts that you don’t want to include in the sitemap. But in most cases, the “Posts to exclude” field will remain blank, unless you know why you want to exclude a post.
If you made any changes on this tab, then remember to save the changes.
On Taxonomies tab, for Categories, set the option to “In sitemap” and for Tags, Format and Link Categories set it to “Not in sitemap”.
After making the changes, click the Save changes button to save the configuration.
Step 5 Advanced:
By clicking on the Advanced section in Yoast SEO plugin, you will be taken to the first tab, i.e Breadcrumbs.
On Breadcrumbs tab, you can set breadcrumbs for your site. Breadcrumbs are really useful for visitors and search engines to locate where an individual piece of information like a blog article is located. e.g Home>>Blog>>Article.
On this tab enable the Breadcrumbs and leave the default settings as they are. Only from the drop-down category under “Taxonomy to show in breadcrumbs for post types”, select Category for Posts field.
After making the necessary changes, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On the Permalinks tab, under Changes URLs, choose the Remove option to remove the word category from the URLs which necessary for SEO performance. But if you have traffic to your sites and backlinks, I will advise not to do any URL structure changes because you will lose lots of traffic due broken links.
Choose the option Redirect for the field “Redirect attachment URLs to parent post URL“. This option redirects attachments to actual posts.
Under the Clean up permalinks, you can keep or remove the stop words from URL. In any case, you have to manually select SEO friendly URL while writing a post.
Choose Remove option for “Remove the ?replytocom variables” field to remove the variable to increase the crawling efficiency.
Also, select No redirect option for “Redirect ugly URLs to clean permalinks” field in most of the cases unless you know what you are doing.
After making the recommended changes, click the Save changes button to save the settings.
On RSS tab, you can set things up for RSS feeds. RSS feed allows other websites to read your content and by making the recommend settings, you will get backlinks from their sites and let Google know, about the source of the articles.
You can make use of the available variable to make necessary changes. My recommendations are highlighted in the screenshot.
After making the changes click the Save changes button to save the settings.
Step 6 Tools:
Yoast SEO Tools section let you use built-in tools like a Bulk editor, File editor and, Import and Export.
Build editor help you to add or edit SEO Titles and Meta description in bulk without going through each post individually.
File editor helps your to edit files like Robots.txt and .htaccess.
Import and Export tool helps you to import or export Yoast SEO settings to other sites and vice versa.
Step 7 Search Console:
This section of Yoast SEO plugin helps you to authenticate your site with Google Search Console.
On the Settings tab, you have to click “Get Google Authorization Code” to get the authorization code to Authenticate with Search Console.
This helps you to check and trace all your crawling errors for Desktop, Smartphone and Feature phone. Go to each tab to check any errors in respective tabs, and if found any, then you can quickly figure out the problem.
After making the recommended changes, you are now ready to go to write you blog post.
When writing a blog article, below the body section you will have Yoast SEO section.
Here you can add or edit SEO Title, Slug and Meta description.
You can add one Focus Keyword in the Free version and up to four Focus Keywords in Yoast SEO Premium version.
You can make the post as Cornerstone content from here as well.
In the Analysis section, you can check your Yoast SEO score by looking at the Red, Orange, and Green indicator lights. You can improve your SEO performance until most of the indicator light become Green.
You can check your readability score from the Readability tab to improve the score and make the content more readable.
Great! You have successfully setup your Yost SEO plugin. If you don’t follow a proper guide to do the configuration, you might mess things up, which at the end can severely affect your SEO performance.
Follow these step and set the settings as highlighted in the screenshot. Making the recommended configuration will significantly improve the SEO of your web pages in search engines.