Think of some of the best WordPress SEO plugins and you are most likely to find one name at the top – WordPress SEO by Yoast. Improving SEO score is the most crucial and most sought after aspect of blogging.
Being the most popular SEO plugin, Yoast SEO gives your blog post just what it needs – a boost to make your post highly optimized for Search Engines. More than a million installs this plugin, I am sure isn’t new to you at all, but is tricky to setup if you are a newbie. If you are a newbie with less or no SEO skills, you are most likely to run into troubles setting up Yoast SEO and that’s where thebogtip.com comes to your rescue.
I’ll be discussing the Yoast SEO settings you’d need to configure for best results and a better Search Engine Optimization of your blog posts.
Let’s start off, glancing at the features that make Yoast SEO the best in business.
Yoast SEO – Features:
- Webmaster tools verification: It lets you verify your site with Bing, Google, Yandex, and Alexa webmaster tools.
- Breadcrumbs configuration support
- XML Sitemap
- Focus keyword analysis: have your focus keyword checked by this plugin, whether your keyword is in the meta description, page URL, title or anywhere in the content, Yoast SEO will have it analyzed.
- Permalinks clean up
- You can also import settings from the previous plugins you relied on for SEO.
- Facebook Open Graph support.
These are some of the features that Yoast SEO offers. I’ll introduce you to more such features and tell you how to utilize them to your benefit in this article.
Installing the Yoast SEO plugin:
Let’s start from the scratch. Search for Yoast SEO and click Install, and once it’s done, Activate the plugin. Or you can go the other way around by downloading the zip file from their website and then uploading the plugin to the server using an FTP client like FileZilla.
Now that you have installed Yoast SEO, you may want to import settings from other plugins that you’ve been using in the past, for instance, All In One SEO.
To do this go to the SEO menu and click Tools. There click on the Import from other SEO plugins tab.
Here you can choose the SEO plugin you wish to import settings from. If you are planning to tick that last option “Delete the old data after import?” I suggest you create a backup before doing so.
In the General settings of the Yoast SEO, first, comes your Yoast SEO Dashboard where you can find any SEO problems that need to be fixed.
And if you want a quick intro about the functioning of the plugin, you can take an Introduction tour under the General tab.
In the General settings, the thing you need to be actually concerned about is the Webmaster Tools.
As a newbie, it is possible that you might be a little confused about verifying your site. Yoast SEO eases your work with this feature.
In the General section of the SEO, click the Webmaster Tools tab and here you will find different verification tools for your site. You can just enter your meta values in the boxes and verify your site with these webmasters.
Titles and Metas:
These are considered as the most crucial among all the settings of the Yoast SEO plugin. Let’s take a look at each aspect of these settings.
As you can see above the general tab of the Titles and Metas settings contains Title Separator, which you can use to separate your post title and site name.
This is an important tab to configure the homepage title and the meta description of the homepage of your site.
Click on the homepage tab of the Title and Metas settings and this what you’ll see-
Title template should basically contain homepage title that you want to be seen in Google search.
In the meta description box write the meta description of your homepage as you expect it to appear in the search results.
Click Save Changes and move on to the next tab.
Here you can configure the SEO settings for all the post types you have for your blog. For example, we have Post, Pages and Media types of posts and if you have any other custom types, you can configure them too under this tab.
Another thing to take into consideration about Yoast SEO plugin is that by default the search engine snippets are kept in the dark when it comes to the dates. I mean, the date is hidden. This keeps your post from becoming old and looking outdated. But if you want the date to be seen in the search engines, you can change that setting here.
You can see I have set the Date in Snippet Preview to hide mode. You’ll find the same options for other post types like Pages and Media. I’ve given you a basic idea about one type and the settings you need to configure. You can use it for other post types that you are using in your blog.
In WordPress, the main taxonomies we mainly deal with are Categories and Tags. Now, post duplication is a problem we all would like to keep at bay and to do so I suggest you to set Categories and Tags as noindex and follow.
This is my Categories configuration. Your blogging needs may differ from mine. So in that scenario, you may configure these taxonomies accordingly.
Now this section can be a little tricky one since there are different types of Archives and are not certainly useful for every other blog. For instance, you are running a single author blog, the Author archive would not be the best of your picks as it makes less or no sense. An Author archive is same as Homepage for your single author blog thus would be your last choice ( or not a choice at all).
Since mine is not a single author blog, I have enabled Author archives, but I suggest you set these archives to noindex, follow mode no matter what archives you have enabled for your blog.
The last but most effective part of the Titles and Metas settings. I’ll show you the most effective settings for best results and high traffic.
Since Google doesn’t care about keyword meta tags any more, you can go around ignoring the Use meta keywords tag.
These configurations in the above snapshot are self-explanatory.
Let’s move on to the next settings in the Yoast SEO plugin.
This feature lets the search engine know about the different social profiles you have associated with your blog. This has become possible with the Google Knowledge Graph feature.
There isn’t much work to do here other than just adding your social profiles in the respective boxes.
You can see there are many profiles you can enter from Facebook to Instagram to YouTube. Just enter the URL here and the search engines will come up with these social media profiles every time someone searches for your site.
You can also configure Facebook Open Graph Meta Tag under the Facebook tab. Add a default image there that would be used in your posts with no image when they are shared or liked on Facebook.
This is an important setting in the indexing aspect of your site. Submitting your site’s XML Sitemap to search engines will boost indexing of your site.
Make sure you enable this feature of the Yoast SEO plugin and then all you need to do is just click one button – XML Sitemap and the plugin will create one for you. You can submit this Sitemap file to search engines like Google, Yahoo, and others.
In the Post Types tab of this setting, you can choose which post type will be present in the sitemap.
Also, you can exclude some posts from the sitemap under the Excluded Posts tab.
The Advanced section of the SEO menu covers the Breadcrumbs, Permalinks, and RSS settings.
These are basically links that help visitors in navigating on your site with ease. These aren’t enabled on my blog. You may enable or disable these settings according to your need.
These permalink settings are not the same as the default WordPress permalinks settings. These advanced permalinks settings can come handy when you look to avoid indexing of parameters in search engine results.
These settings let you remove stop words from slugs for cleaner URLs. Also, you can remove the replytocom variable which would boost the crawl efficiency.
These are the settings I recommend you for best results.
Next is the RSS tab in the Advanced settings of the Yoast SEO plugin. This is a great way of tackling content theft. What this feature does is it helps search engines in identifying the content on your site as original by adding a link back to your blog and posts.
Here is what I am talking about-
These are the tools Yoast SEO offers.
Change your titles and page and posts descriptions as seen in the search results. Not only will this improve the CTR but also drive more traffic to your blog.
Edit your .htaccess files and create or edit robots.txt with this tool.
Recommended reading : Everything About Robots.txt File Explained
Import and Export
I have already given you a working example of this tool at the very beginning of this article. This will let you import settings from other SEO plugins.
This is what you’ll see in the File Editor
The last of the Yoast SEO settings, Search Console can be used rectify crawl errors concerning desktop, smartphone, and feature phone.
In the Settings tab, you can use the Google Authentication Code to let the plugin look for you Google Search Console Information.
Once authenticated, you can select the website profile and proceed to fix any crawl errors present.
Optimizing your blog post with Yoast SEO:
Besides installing and setting the plugin for best results there is one more thing you must consider for best results and that is optimization of your blog posts.
Yoast SEO gives you a great content analysis of your blog post following which you can boost your blog’s SEO.
This screenshot is only to give you a basic idea of how the plugin can be useful for optimizing blog posts. I haven’t added a keyword or a blog post for that matter.
But you can see, you need to add a focus keyword for best results. Make sure to get the points in green in the Analysis part. Use these guidelines for better optimization of your blog posts.
There is no doubt that WordPress SEO by Yoast is the best SEO plugin out there. In this article, you saw the settings and features it offers to help get an SEO boost for your blog. Though it may look tricky and a little complex at first, but after a while, you’ll get used to it and also to the huge traffic that it will help you drive into your blog.
Hope this article helped you understand basic things about Yoast SEO plugin and I wish you good luck with your WordPress blog.