There are other several WordPress SEO Plugin out there but from a personal point of view and if you start using this plugin or if you are already using it, you will agree with me that Yoast SEO WordPress plugin is one of the best SEO plugins out there considering the fact that you can get it for free and the features it came with.
WordPress Yoast SEO plugin is the best alternative to All in one SEO Pack, this amazing plugin is packed with all features every blogger need. Some of the features found in WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast can only be found in premium SEO plugins.
The Yoast SEO WordPress plugin comes in both free and premium version. The free version of Yoast SEO WordPress plugin comes with most of the recommended features but the premium version comes with more features which I will be stating in this very post.
In this post I will be teaching you how to set up Yoast SEO WordPress plugin on your blog (step by step with screenshots). But before we get started I will like to let you in on what the features of this amazing plugin are and why you should consider using it.
Why WordPress Yoast SEO Plugin?
- XML Sitemaps
- XML News Sitemaps
- Verify site in Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, Alexa and Yahoo Site Explorer
- Title Meta Settings
- Files Editor: htaccess and robots. Txt
- Advance Permalink control: Permalink clean up
- RSS Footer/Header
- Add Google authorship for single author
- Focus Keyword Testing
- Post title and Meta description: can be changed per post
- Hide dates from search engine snippets
- BreadCrumbs Support
- Meta Robots Configuration: Add noodp, noydir meta tags and noindex or nofollow
- Canonical Support
- Import settings from other SEO plugins
- Hide RSD, WLW, Shortlinks from head
- Advance permalink control
- Support facebook open graph
Considering the above stated features I would like to believe you agree with me that WordPress Yoast SEO plugin is one SEO plugin every blogger should have in their blogging arsenal.
If you are running a tight budget, I will suggest you download the free version of Yoast SEO WordPress plugin which also offer most of its cool features (except for about two).
Step by Step Guide on How to Setup WordPress Yoast SEO Plugin
At this point I will assume you must have downloaded, installed and activated the plugin.
Setting up Yoast WordPress plugin is not at all an easy task because any slight mistake in the configuration might lead to decrease in your WordPress blog ranking and reduction in traffic and may also stop search engines bots from indexing your blog.
So I strongly recommend you follow this step by step guide carefully to avoid making any mistakes while setting up your Yoast WordPress SEO plugin.
After installing Yoast SEO plugin, the first thing to do is to go to Dashboard>> Features>> Advanced setting pages to enable this feature.
Step 1 (Import and Export)
Note: If you are running a new blog and you want to setup Yoast WordPress SEO plugin for the first time on your new blog or if you haven’t installed any SEO plugin on your blog before, please skip this step.
The import and export feature in Yoast WordPress SEO plugin allows you to import all the settings in your other WordPress SEO plugins like All in One SEO, Old All In One SEO, Headspace2 or any other plugin by Yoast such as RSS footer, Robots meta or Yoast Breadcrumbs installed on your blog, you should import all the settings into this plugin after activating the advanced settings.
I suggest you make backup of your database first before you start importing your settings.
To start importing settings Go to SEO in the left panel and then Tools> import and export and then select the plugin from which you would like to import your settings from and mark the option “Delete the old data after import? (Recommended)”. And click on “import”
Step 2 (General)
Tracking: Under the tracking option, uncheck the box that says “Allow tracking of this WordPress install’s anonymous data”. Unchecking it will prevent sending anonymous usage data to the plugin author.
Security: Under security option, Check the box that says “Disable the advance part of the WordPress SEO meta box”. If you are running multi blogs, I will recommend you keep this option checked. Checking it will prevent authors to redirect posts and noindex them. This particular feature in Yoast WordPress SEO plugin is good especially if you don’t trust your authors.
Your Info: The data you are going to fill in this tab will be shown as a meta data in your site. So choose whether you are an organization or an individual and enter your name and click on save changes.
Webmaster Tools: You will use this option to verify your site on Google, Bing, Pinterest, Yandex. From a blogger point of view this is good for business cos you need it for your site SEO. By using this option, you don’t need to add meta tags to your site or upload a file in order to verify your site. This automatically takes care of it, just add meta codes that you received from Google, Bing, Pinterest, Yandex in their respective fields.
Step 3 (Title and Metas)
Title and Metas section has several tabs in it. It is very important to get this part of Yoast WordPress SEO plugin configuration correctly because it is very sensitive and any minor mistake on your part can greatly affect your site performance, resulting to less traffic to your site etc. But not to worry, I will take you through the setup process step by step with screenshots to guide you.
First Tab (General)
This is the tab where you can configure the Title separator of you blog and Title settings.
Force rewrite titles: WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast has the ability to automatically detect whether it need to rewrite titles or not. You can leave this option as it is. Force rewrite titles option is usually unchecked.
And that is it for the General tab. Make sure you click on save changes and move over to the next tab.
Second tab (Homepage)
The next tab in this section is the “Homepage tab” (click on it) and you will see something like the screenshot bellow:
Title template: This is where you put in the title of your homepage you would like to appear on search engines.
Meta Description Template: Homepage meta description for search engines
Under this tab you can define the SEO for your post, page and media section of your blog. By default, you will have Post, Pages & Media types. If you are using more custom types in WordPress, you will see it in this section.
By default, Yoast WordPress SEO plugin automatically hides the dates from search engine snippets which is very useful if your blog is the type that writes evergreen contents.
If you want to show the date for your posts in search engines probably because of the kind of blog you are running, you can check the “Date in Snippet Preview” box.
the screen shot bellow is how I configured mine:
In this tab I will recommend you keep categories and tags as noindex and follow. I will recommend you Check “noindex, follow “and “hide” boxes. But this section depends on your SEO plan.
You can use this in the Title templates: %%term_title%% Archives %%page%% %%sep%% %%sitename%%
In this section you can set indexing for your author and date-based archives. You can also disable and enable the author and date archives. I recommend you select the “noindex” and “follow” boxes and leave the rest as it is.
This is the final setup in this section.
Sitewide Meta settings
Subpages of achieves: make sure you select “noindex”
Use Meta Keywords tag?: this option doesn’t really contribute to your SEO, so you can either check or uncheck it. Google has made it clear that they don’t consider keywords meta tags.
Force “noodp” meta robots tag sitewide: if you want to prevent search engines from using DMOZ description for pages from this site in search results then you should use this option. I will recommend you disable this option because that is what I did. If you have DMOZ listing for your site then it is good you should know that DMOZ description usually get outdated, inaccurate or may not have written well. If you are still unsure about this meta tags I suggest you should leave it unchecked.
The last option will be to keep your WordPress blog head section clean
Clean Up the <head>:
Hide Rsd links: check this option
Hide WLW Manifest Links: check this option too
Hide shortlink For posts: and don’t forget to check this option
Hide RSS Links: check this option
Step 4 Social Settings:
In Yoast WordPress SEO plugin you can integrate your site with Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest and Google knowledge Graph feature. This will show your social media profile in the search engine whenever people search for your brand name. Here you can configure Twitter Meta card, Facebook open graph meta tags, default image for facebook. I recommend you add a default image, this will allow facebook to show an image when your posts have no image and are shared or liked on facebook.
Step 5 XML Sitemaps:
wordPress SEO by Yoast allows you to add XML Sitemaps in WordPress. Sitemaps are very essential for your WordPress site SEO. You can get your site indexed by major search engines with the help of sitemaps. To enable XML Sitemap functionality of your WordPress SEO by Yoast, all you have to do is to select the box that says “Enabled” from the top left corner of your screen.
User Sitemap: in this section, select “Disabled“ under the author/user sitemap, if you are running a single author blog.
Post Types: you can select whether or not you want to show for example your post, pages, or media.
Exclude post: You can exclude posts from the site map by entering a comma separated string with the post ID’s.
Exclude Taxonomies: You can disable and enable any taxonomy you do not want to be included in the sitemaps.
Entries Per sitemap: This is the section you enter the maximum number of entries per sitemap page. By default, the value is 1000 but you can decide to reduce the figure if you are facing memory problem.
Step 6 Permalinks
Don’t confuse this with the WordPress default Permalink settings. You can configure advance permalink settings here. It is easier to get rid of the replytocom parameter with this plugin. You can check out my own settings for this section in the screenshot bellow:
Step 7 Breadcrumbs – Internal Link:
You can enable breadcrumbs by checking the box. Breadcrumbs help users to navigate your site and also useful for getting search engines to understand your site structure.
Once you are done with this section, go to Google rich snippet testing tool to check how Google will display your blog post in search result.
Step 8 RSS:
This part of the plugin adds the feature of the RSS footer plugin. When using it you can add a link back to the original article in RSS feeds or you can also use it to add advertisement to your RSS feeds. It allows search engines identify you as the original source of an article in case when scrappers copy your article because it is meant to add links back to your blog and your blog post.
I simply add the following line: “The post %%POSTLINK%% appeared first on %%BLOGLINK%%” in the section that says “content to put after each post in the feed”.
Step 9 Edit Files:
With this option, you can edit the WordPress .htaccess and robots.txt file from the dashboard. Always keep FTP access of your .htaccess files whenever you are editing your .htaccess files from your dashboard as misconfiguration may stop your site from working.
Step 10 Redirect:
This feature is only available in the premium version of this plugin. Whenever you are getting errors such as 404 you can direct that URL to any other URL of your choice to save your link juice.
Step 11 Webmaster tools:
This feature can also be found only in the premium version of WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast. This feature of the WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast allows you to monitor your blog from your WordPress dashboard for errors like crawl errors.
The first time you will have to add the authentication code and after that you can see all errors from within your WordPress dashboard.
The WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast is one of the best SEO plugin out there. Any mistake in the configuration of this plugin may have a negative impact on your site SEO. So my advice is that you take your time when configuring this plugin.
Installing and configuring yoast SEO plugin on your WordPress blog is one major step towards optimizing your blog for search engines, but it doesn’t end there. You still need to learn how to write killer SEO friendly contents and other onpage and off page SEO practices.
You can also read this article by Tereza Litsa about five quick tips to boost your SEO in 2017
Don’t forget to share with us the SEO plugin you are using or if you are using WordPress SEO plugin by Yoast don’t forget to share your experience with us, we would like to hear about it.
if you find this article helpful, share with your friends so they can also benefit from it.