When it comes to WordPress SEO, the only name comes in forth in my mind is Yoast SEO WordPress plugin. This plugin is by far the most attractive solution for WordPress SEO. It has fantastic documentation, and it is simple to use, plus it delivers reliable results.
With tons of options and features, this plugin provides an alternate to the users of famous All in One SEO Pack. This plugin has incorporated with many known features of other plugins by Joost de Valk. Since this plugin provides tons of features, it is a bit of complicated to setting up the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.
Thus, in this article, I will show you how to install and configure Yoast SEO and utilize all the impressive features that come built-in with this WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast.
But before we take a look at the installation and setting up process first we take a look at the features that this plugin has to offer.
Page & Post title and meta description meta box to modify meta details.
Taxonomy title such as tag, category & custom taxonomy and meta description support.
Google search result sniped previews.
Focus keyword testing.
Meta robots configuration.
Quickly include noodp, noydir meta tags
Quickly noindex, or nofollow pages, taxonomies or overall archives
Enhanced canonical support, including canonical to taxonomy archives, single posts and pages and the front page.
RSS footer/header configuration.
Permalink clean ups, while still permitting for Google Custom Search.
Breadcrumbs support, along with configurable breadcrumbs titles.
Configurable removal of post types and taxonomies
Posts or pages that have been noindexed won’t show in XML sitemap
XML News Sitemaps.
Capability to verify Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Yahoo Site Explorer.
Primary import functionality for HeadSpace2 and All in One SEO Pack.
However, the premium version of this plugin comes with even more features.
A redirect manager that offers you to quickly and easily set up redirects
Video tutorials to help you recognize each feature of this plugin
Premium support provided by the individuals at Yoast to help you make the most out of your blog’s SEO.
So these are best of the features that this plugin offers to its users. Now, this is the time to dive right into the definitive guide.
How to Install Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin
The first thing that you need to do is install and activate WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast. For that go to your WordPress admin area and click on Plugin → Add New.
Here look for Yoast SEO, click on Install Now button and WordPress will now download and install the plugin for you. Once the plugin is installed, activate it. Upon activation, you will see a new tab added to your WordPress admin panel called SEO with Yoast’s logo on it.
Now, you have installed and activated Yoast SEO, let’s take a look at setting up this plugin.
How to Setting up WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast
You should note that the settings that I select are the once that I recommend. Other experts may have their preferences, so advanced users can ignore anything that they do not like. However, if you are a beginner and want to use Yoast SEO plugin like I do, then I recommend you to follow the steps carefully for setting up Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.
Step #1. Data Transfer
The very first thing you should do upon activation of this plugin is, go to Yoast SEO Dashboard Features Advanced setting pages and enable this feature.
However, if you are installing this plugin on a WordPress blog where you are already using few other SEO plugin or theme SEO settings, then upon activation of advanced settings you should visit SEO Tools Import & Export Import from other SEO Plugins in the left side panel. Choose the plugin from which you would like to import your settings.
At this level, I recommend you to take a backup of your database, and then using the option to “Delete old data after import?”
Step #2. General Settings
Clicking on the SEO icon will take you to the WordPress SEO by Yoast’s General settings page. You can take a tour to learn more about Yoast SEO plugin. You can also reset your plugin to default settings from this general settings page.
Step #3. Company Info
Switching to the info tab, this is where you will provide information about your blog and the person or organization behind it.
First off, you need to provide site or blog name and an alternate name for search engines to consider. Your blog’s name could be your blog’s title. If you don’t add anything there, then Yoast SEO will automatically use your blog’s title as your site name. Search engines like Google can show this information in the search result.
The very next option is to select whether this blog or website is run by an organization/company or any individual. If you choose a company, then you will be asked to enter your company name, and you can also upload your company logo.
On the other hand, if you choose any individuals, then you can include the name of the individual behind the site or blog.
Step #4. Webmaster Tools
If you know a bit off about SEO plugin, then you have probably know that each of the popular search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yandex allow site owners to include their sites using webmaster tools area.
Webmaster tools allow you see insights and other relates data about your blog or site from the particular search engines. To examine your blog and see those specific data, you have to include a meta tag to your blog or upload a file.
Most of the beginners are afraid to add meta tags, so Joost added this solution to ease the process. Just add your meta code that you received from the search engines in the particular fields.
Step #5. Security
The last tab in general settings is Security. This has only one option which disables advanced section of the WordPress SEO meta box. I recommend you to leave it enabled. Checking it will help you prevent your authors from making modifications such as redirects and noindex could create a problem for you later on.
Step #6. Titles & Metas
Titles and Metas section under Yoast SEO have certain tabs in it. I will cover each one of them in the rest of this article.
Clicking on this section will land you on the General settings tab. Here you can configure some site wide general settings. WordPress SEO by Yoast can auto-detect whether it requires to re-write or not. You can even leave this as it is. Usually, it is unchecked.
You can also select the separator used between post title and site title.
#2. Homepage Title
The very next setting on we will work is defining the title for the homepage. Automatically you will see these fields pre-filled with title-template. You may ask, what is the difference between a title and a title template?
For example, on your homepage, you may want to build a static title, description, and keywords. However, for the posts, the title will vary from one post to another. Title templates enable you to outline a way that the title and other meta information is taken and structured.
Automatically the template variables in the title field work excellent for most of the site however you are welcome to change it. The next option is to include your site’s description. Once you are done with the changes, click on Save Changes button.
But if you are using a static home page in WordPress, then you would have to modify the settings from the page edit screen.
#3. Post Types Titles & Metas
By default, WordPress comes with certain post types like the post, revisions, page, navigation menus, and attachments. Users can also determine their own custom post types. Yoast SEO enables you to set titles and meta for pages, posts, media, and other custom post types.
Yoast SEO by default enters title template variables for all of your post types and leaves your information and other fields blank. I recommend that you modify the title templates where you only maintain the actual title element and delete the site name.
Note one thing that Yoast SEO also includes an SEO meta box in your post edit area. For maximum SEO benefits, I highly recommend you to include title and information for each post manually. Otherwise, Yoast SEO will use the title as defined here and by default include information for your posts and pages.
In Taxonomies tab, you are able to configure title and meta for tags, categories, post format archives, and custom taxonomies. Default template variables should work for most blogs or sites. As for information, please do remember that Yoast SEO picks up information from your tags and categories.
If you don’t have any information for terms in your tags, categories or custom taxonomies, then Yoast SEO doesn’t include information in archives for these terms.
In this tab, you have meta and title settings for date archive, author archives, and special pages like search and 404 pages. I recommend you to check disable author archives for one single author sites or blogs. If you are running a blog on your own I mean you are running a single author blog then, and the author archives include exactly the same content. The setting is there to avoid duplicate content.
In the other settings tab has few of the additional settings. Here you can disable picking up information from Dmoz or Yahoo directories for your site’s pages. If you are not sure what to do here, just leave all of them unchecked.
Step #7. Social
As I have mentioned earlier, that his plugin is a powerhouse which is packed with tons of features to offer the complete SEO package. One great feature that this plugin offer to its user is that it integrates your blog with leading social networks such as Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and Pinterest.
Clicking on the social link under this setting page will take you to setup these platforms. I will show you how to configure each of these settings.
The first tab in the social setting is for all your social accounts. This enables Yoast SEO to tell Google about your social profiles. All you need to do is just include the URLs and Twitter username for the main social profiles of your blog.
On the next tab of Facebook, you need to do is check the box which says include open graph metadata. Checking this will enable Yoast SEO to include Facebook open graph meta data in your site’s section. This will help Facebook platform to pick up the exact thumbnail and page description when a post from your blog is shared in social media like Facebook.
As for Twitter, you can include Twitter cards to your blog’s head section. You can even select the card type to use. I recommend you to use summary with the large image.
Similar to the Facebook, Pinterest also uses Open Graph metadata. Ensure that you have open graph meta data box checked into the settings of Facebook. After that, all you need to do is enter your blog verification code which is provided by Pinterest. Then just visit your Pinterest account settings to include and verify your blog. You will be provided with a meta tag that you need to include here.
On the Google+ Page settings tab, check the box to allow Google+ related data for posts. The next option for this page is to add your Google+ Publisher page. If you have built a Google+ page for your business, then add its URL, and then visit your Google+ business page and add your blog’s URL in about section.
Also Read: Hidden Secretes of Google Plus Marketing
Step #8. XML Sitemaps
We all know the importance of sitemaps for the WordPress site. It is easiest and quickest way to get indexed and alert search engines about existing and new published content. Sitemaps also provide you to tell search engines how to focus on your content.
Yoast SEO makes this task super easy for you to include XML sitemaps into your WordPress based blog or website. The XML sitemaps settings are split into different tabs. I will walk you through each of them.
First, you need to ensure that the box that says “Check this box to enable XML sitemap functionality is checked.
Now, click on Post Type tab, here disable any post type that you don’t want to be added into sitemaps. Automatically Yoast SEO disables Media Attachments from sitemaps. If you are using custom post type which you don’t want to be added, then you can disable it here.
Repeat the same procedure for the Taxonomies. If there is taxonomy that you don’t want to be added into sitemaps, then you can leave out it here.
In the excluded posts you are able to remove particular posts, pages or custom post types from XML sitemap. Just add the post IDs in the field and tap on Save Changes button.
Step #9. Advanced
The advanced settings allow you to configure breadcrumbs, permalinks, and RSS feed related settings. So let see how you can configure each of the settings.
Breadcrumbs are best for internal linking because it identifies a clear trail or path to the page you are on. These breadcrumbs also show up in search results giving your blog additional advantage in the search.
Just check the Enable Breadcrumbs box and remaining all the settings will be displayed. The default settings should work for most of the sites, but if you want to modify something then go ahead. Once you are done then tap on the Save Changes button.
WordPress by default includes a category base in each URL i.e /category/. By only checking the first box, you can remove that section from your category URLs. This is something that lots of people want. However, you can leave it unchecked if you don’t want your category URLs to struggle if they are the same name.
The next option is to eliminate stop words from permalinks. Stop words are common words used in simple language. This plugin believes that by reducing these, you can build cleaner URLs. While it doesn’t make the URLs smaller, I disagree with Yoast. So if you like, you can leave it unchecked.
Next option is helpful to redirect attachment URLs to the parent post. WordPress enables you to attach images and other media to your blog posts. However, all of those attachments have their own URLs that in most cases are unnecessary. Therefore by checking this box, you will redirect all of your attachment page URL to the original post URL.
The redirect ugly URLs option is useful to clean permalinks. But is most cases this option is not needed. So I advise you to ignore this option unless you know what you are doing.
The last option is to configure on Permalinks pages is canonical URL settings. I would recommend that you leave them as they are.
Into the clean up the head section, you can properly check hide short link for posts. If you are not using an app or client to update your blog, then you can also examine hide RSD links and WLW Manifest Links.
Yoast SEO plugin has an RSS Feeds section that enables you to include backlinks to yourself in your feed content because most of the content scrapers are utilizing your feeds to gain access to your content. This way, you will gain backlinks from their site, and Google will know that you are the primary source.
These are options to include your Post link, author link, Blog description, and Blog link. Thus, get creative. You can even use this setting to include an advertisement to your RSS feed.
Step #10. Tools
As you can see that together we have spent an enormous amount of time to getting all these settings just right, so you probably want to export these settings as a backup. You can also export all of these settings to use it as a preliminary guideline for all your future sites that you are going to use this plugin on.
The bulk editor enables you to modify post titles and information in bulk. I do recommend you not to use this. Because duplicate information and titles can cause damage to your SEO.
The other tool is file editor; I strongly encourage beginners and even the intermediate level users to stay away from these settings. One tiny mistake there can make your site inaccessible for search engines or make it useless.
Step #11. Search Console
In this setting section, WordPress SEO plugin enables you to connect your WordPress blog to Google Search Console tools.
You can include your WordPress blog to Google webmaster tools and then verify it by making use of Yoast SEO plugin.
Here in this setting section, just click on get Google Authorization Code and you will be redirected to Search Console site where you will be presented with a code. Copy that code and add this code in the plugin settings to finish the verification.
Upon the verification, you will be asked to choose a profile. You will require choosing your site from a drop-down menu.
Here this plugin will fetch your Search Console data into WordPress. You will be able to see the Mobile, Desktop, Feature Phone tabs on the screen.
This is where you can see crawl issues related to your blog and mark them as fixed after setting up redirects.
#Yoast SEO Premium Plugins Settings
The free version of Yoast SEO plugin works really well for millions of WordPress sites around the world. However, it comes with even more powerful features with its premium version.
Step #12. Redirects
Yoast SEO Premium includes a great redirect manager. This permits you to set up redirects on your WordPress site quickly. You can quickly fix 404 errors in your Google Search Console by setting up redirect a marking them as fixed in Search Console.
Step #13. Personalizing & Improving the Benefit
Only installing and setting up Yoast SEO plugin is not enough. To maximize the benefit of Yoast SEO, you require personalizing the settings on per post basis.
Now, this wouldn’t be a task if you do it every time you write a post. Let’s take a look at how you improve the benefits by personalizing.
#WordPress SEO for Individual Pages and Posts
On each page and post editor page, you will see that the new box called WordPress SEO has lots of field like SEO title, Meta description, etc. Here you should write a custom title and meta description instead of letting it auto-generate.
Few times your post title, and your SEO title might not be similar. Each time, you should write a custom meta description, because the excerpt generator only picks up the first paragraph that might not be an essential one.
Ensure you choose a focus keyword so you can gain the analysis on how strong your page is for that focus keyword. Once you tap on Save the Post, there is a tab called Page Analysis. This will provide you even further insights about your particular post or page.
#WordPress SEO for Archives (Author / Category / Tags)
You can override the Title Templates which we have created in Step 5 to optimize the benefits. Just edit any author, category, or tags to see the WordPress SEO settings added.
This is one of the best free SEO plugins. However, you can even purchase its premium version for your WordPress blog. I highly recommend that you ensure you know what you are doing before making any changes. One wrong configuration might bring negative SEO effects to your blog. But by following this guide, you will be OK.
Hope that I covered everything in this definitive guide to WordPress SEO by Yoast, and I hope that it help you install and set it up the right way.