WordPress is very famous for its easy SEO configuration when compared to other blogging platforms. There are many SEO plugins for WordPress, but the one which is very common among WordPress users is the Yoast SEO plugin. In this post, I will explain you the features of the Yoast SEO plugin and how to configure it for better SEO.
What is the Yoast SEO plugin?
Yoast SEO ( formerly known as WordPress SEO by Yoast) is a complete WordPress SEO plugin. This plugin is updated every time to match Google’s SEO updates.
What are the features of Yoast SEO plugin?
Some features of the Yoast SEO plugin are:
- Easy webmaster tools verification for Google, Bing, and Yandex.
- Allows you to choose title format for each post types, taxonomies, archives etc
- You can easily connect your social media pages to your website.
- Setup default social media images for posts.
- Helps you to complete Pinterest website verification.
- Gives you the complete control of sitemaps on your website.
- Helps to set up breadcrumbs
- Allows you to create a default header/footer before RSS feeds
- Helps you add Google Analytics code to AMP using Glue for Yoast SEO and AMP plugin.
How to install & Configure the Yoast SEO plugin?
Once installed Activate the plugin.
In your WordPress dashboard sidebar, you could notice SEO menu. Under the SEO menu opens Dashboard -> General.
Then Click “Open the Configuration Wizard“.
Now, you are taken to the Yoast SEO Configuration wizard. Yoast will show you newsletter subscription form. If you are interested in receiving SEO updates from Yoast, fill the form. Else, you can skip it.
Click Next in Yoast SEO configuration wizard.
Now you are brought to the Environment page. Here, you need to choose the current stage of your website.
- If your website is live and you are getting traffic, Choose Production.
- There are certain hosting companies which offer you a blog testing platform. The test carried out will not impact the website. If you are using one such test platform, choose Staging.
- If you are building the website right now, or if your website is under maintenance, choose Development.
Click Next once you have chosen the environment.
Now, you need to choose your site type. It can be :
- News site
- Small business site
- Other corporate site
- Other personal site
Now, in this screen, you need to choose whether you are a company or a person.
If you choose “Company”, you need to enter the name of your company and your company logo.
If you choose “Person“, you just need to enter your Name.
Click Next to progress to the next screen.
It’s not necessary that you need to enter all those details. If you don’t have an account on a particular social media platform, just skip that one and proceed further.
Once, you finish them all, click Next.
Now, you have come to an important page. Here, you can choose which post types Google should index and which types you shouldn’t.
Once, you finished the selection for the Post type visibility section move on to multiple authors section.
If you are planning to allow guest bloggers to blog on your website, you need to choose Yes. If you are going to be the only blogger on your website, just choose No.
Once, you finished these settings, click Next to proceed further.
Google Search Console:
Next, is the most important step, where you are going to link your website with Google Search Console.
You need to click “Get Google Authorization Code“. As, soon as you click the button, you will notice a dialog box opens up.
Here you will have to log in to your Google account.
Once, you log in to Google account, Yoast SEO plugin will request for permission to use your Google Search Console data.
Just click Allow.
Now, in the Yoast SEO wizard, you will have to choose a profile and then click “ReAuthenticate with Google button“.
You will be shown a code in the dialog box that opens. Copy this code and paste it.
Once you finished this, Click Next.
The next page deals with Title Settings.
Here you will have to enter your Website Name. Also, you could see a list of title separator. By default, the hyphen is chosen. If you wish, you can change it.
Once, it is over, click Next.
As soon as you click the Next button, you will notice a Success message. Now, you have completed the basic settings for your website.
Wait a minute!
I just said basic settings.
Yoast SEO is a lot more powerful. It has a lot of advanced settings.
Now, we will move on to the advanced settings.
Play with Advanced settings on Yoast:
Sometimes, Yoast will have its advanced settings hidden from users. So, that newbie will not have the fear of seeing the advanced features.
So, if you want to perform advanced operations, you need to enable “ Advanced Settings Pages” under General Yoast SEO page. This is available in your WordPress dashboard sidebar.
Once you enabled the options, click Save changes.
Next, move on to the Titles and Metas section.
Titles & Metas – Yoast SEO:
Yoast SEO has a lot of features. If you try to discover and use all features, you will end up with wasting your time.
So, I will discuss only those important and necessary features.
In this page, you notice tabs like General, Homepage, Post Types, Taxonomies, Archives and Other.
What’s the use of options in these tabs?
Under each tab, you can configure the general syntax for SEO Title and Meta Description for the mentioned pages.
Now, move on to another tab.
In this tab, under Subpages of Archives, choose noindex.
Why should I choose noindex?
If you choose to index, all your subpages will get indexed. But, we don’t need to index subpages. We need to index only the main page. So, to avoid low-quality pages getting indexed, we choose noindex for this option.
You have few more options in this page, but that’s not necessary.
Click “Save Changes”
Next, we will look at the social page at Yoast.
Under Accounts tab, you can enter all your social media profile links. If you have already entered these details in the Yoast SEO wizard, they would be filled already.
As you move on to the Facebook tab, you will have to upload a default Facebook image. This image will be used when you share a post without an image on facebook.
You could see a section called Facebook Insights and Admins. If you already have a facebook account with domain insights click ” Add Facebook Admin“.
And those who don’t have access to domain insights (including me), we cannot use this feature, because Facebook domain insights are no longer accepting new domains. Here is a message from Yoast website regarding Facebook Domain Insights.
Next, let’s move on to the Twitter tab.
Here, you can choose your default twitter card type:
- Summary with large image.
If your blog posts have an attractive featured image, choose Summary with the large image. Else choose Summary. Don’t forget to click “Save Changes”
Next, let’s check the Pinterest settings.
In your Pinterest account, you would have come across website verification, where you would have been provided with a meta tag and asked to place it on your website.
Yoast has just made this work so simple. Just copy and paste the confirmation code and click ” Save Changes”
And the last tab in the Social page is Google+.
If you create a Google+ page for your website, you will have to add it to your website. So that, search engines and other bots will understand that the Google+ page is linked with this website.
Just enter your Google+ page URL and then click “Save Changes“.
XML Sitemaps settings:
Now, let’s explore the XML Sitemaps page.
XML sitemaps are important for every website. They will let the search engines know the various links present on the website so that these search engines will crawl them.
Yoast makes the work of creating XML sitemaps pretty easy.
You can enable this XML sitemaps functionality on this page.
The advantage of using the Yoast SEO plugin is that the recommended settings are prefilled. So, you need not waste your time with that.
Under User sitemap, you can enable or disable user sitemaps. I have disabled it for my website. Because I write the majority of posts published at OnlineRockersHub. So, I don’t have the need to enable it right now.
You could notice a tab called, ” Post Types“. Under this tab, you have the options to select if a particular post type should be available in XML sitemap.
Don’t forget to click “Save Changes“, when you made all these changes.
Also, you have features to exclude particular posts from sitemap under “Exclude Posts” tab.
You can find your website’s sitemap using this link structure:
Here replace onlinerockershub.com with your domain name.
The ultimate aim of creating a sitemap is to let the search engine know your links. Only, if you submit your sitemap to search engine, it will be aware of your links. So you need to submit this sitemap to Search Engine.
Advanced settings in Yoast SEO plugin:
Now, let’s move on to the Advanced menu. Under the Breadcrumbs tab, you could notice that Breadcrumbs is disabled by default.
If you are unaware what are breadcrumbs, take a look at this article to get to know more about breadcrumbs. To use this breadcrumbs feature, check a look at this article:
Next, move on to the permalinks tab.
- Strip the category base: By choosing Keep or Remove, you can decide whether you want to have the word category in the category URLs. I have set the option to keep them, as they will help in better site structuring.
- Redirect Attachment URLs to parent post URL: This one is little important. Whenever you upload an attachment to your website, it will have its own URL. However, when someone uses this URL, they will visit the attachment opened in a new tab. But, this will reduce the possibility of conversions. So, you will have to redirect the attachment URLs to the post, where the image has been attached.
Next, move on the RSS feed tab.
When you publish the post, you have a lot of possibilities that your content can be stolen by someone and post it on their website. Content can also be stolen through RSS feeds.
That’s why you need to protect your RSS feeds. So, by adding your website link and blog post link, it becomes tough for others to steal your content. Even if someone steals your content, you website link and blog post link will help everyone know that your website has the original content.
Under this RSS feeds tab, just enter the content you wanted to appear before and at the end of the blog post.
And don’t forget to click “Save Changes“.
Tools available at Yoast SEO:
Now, under the tools menu, you could notice Yoast has few tools:
- Bulk Editor: Suppose, if you plan to update the SEO titles and meta descriptions for multiple posts on your website, it will be difficult to open each and every article and edit the meta data. By using bulk editor tool, you can edit SEO title and meta descriptions of all your blog posts on a single page.
- File Editor: This tool will help you edit the robots.txt file and .htaccess file of your website
- Import and Export: There are so many SEO plugins at WordPress. You might have previously been using different SEO plugin. When you move to Yoast SEO plugin, you can import all those settings easily using this tool. Also, this plugin will help you export your SEO settings to use on another blog.
Search Console Menu:
Now, let’s move on to the Search Console menu.
Since we have already linked our site to search console to Search Engine, this menu will display all SEO problems on your website, that are mentioned in Google Search Console.
So, you need not visit Google Search Console every time for looking at SEO issues of your site.
That’s it. You have now learned to configure Yoast SEO plugin completely. I hope, you would have found this tutorial useful. If you want me to post more tutorials like this, let me know in the comments section.
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- Ultimate WordPress SEO Guide 2018 for boosting your Organic Traffic
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