Looking for a way to properly install and configure Yoast SEO plugin? In this article, HackerThons is going to be sharing with you a detailed procedure of integrating this plugin into your WordPress website. Since it is a complete SEO solution for WordPress websites, it will help you utilize all the awesome features that it comes packed with.
Characteristics Of Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is the most comprehensive WordPress SEO plugin that boasts many built-in tools and features. Below is a quick look into some of the features you have to enjoy from this plugin.
- Focus keyword testing.
- Google search results snippets preview
- Change post SEO title and meta description on every post
- RSS footer/header configurations
- Meta robots configurations
- Improved canonical support
- permalink cleanup
- Breadcrumbs support
- XML sitemap creation
- .htaccess and robot.txt editor
- Verify Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, and Yahoo Site Explorer
- Redirect Manager- easily set up redirects
- premium support from the support team
- Video tutorials to walk you through every detail
First, you have to install and activate the Yoast SEO plugin from your WordPress dashboard. For a step by step tutorial on how to install a WordPress plugin, please head to this guide.
After activation, please notice a new menu item that appears in the WordPress admin dashboard as shown below;
Having successfully installed and activated the plugin, it is time to look at how to properly configure the plugin.
How to Configure WordPress SEO Pugin by Yoast
NOTE: The settings selected in this article are the ones that we recommend. Differents experts have their preferences and so, advanced users are free to ignore whatever they don’t like.
For a beginner, the following setups will be super fine for your website. So, just follow along with me.
If by any chance you’ve been using All in One SEO pack, then make sure that all the previous data has been transferred to this plugin before you deactivate the other one. To seamlessly accomplish this, we recommend you use SEO Data Transporter by StudioPress.
For a completely new blog, skip this step and head to step two.
Click the SEO icon like in the image above. This will take you to the general settings page. Now, hit on the “General” tab and you will see a button to”Open the configuration wizard”. Please ignore the wizard button for now because the purpose of this article is to show you a step by step through each option.
Now switch to the Features tab and enable the advance button.
Please remember to hit the save button to effect your changes.
You should now be able to see additional items under the SEO option on your WordPress menu.
The additional items are Titles and Metas, Social, XML Sitemaps, Advanced, and Tools. Later on, we will be showing you how to configure each of these.
4. Your Info
Let’s switch to the “Your Info” tab. Here, you will have to provide the information about the concerned website and the person/company that is behind it.
As far as the image above is concerned, you have to provide your website’s name and an alternate name that you would like the search engines to consider. Under site name, we recommend you use your website’s title.
NOTE: If you don’t enter anything here, then Yoast SEO will automatically enter your site’s title as your website name.
Here’s an example of what search engines like Google displays in search results:
Popular search engines like Google, Bing, Yandex, and Alexa allow site owners to add their websites to webmaster tools. These tools let you see insights and other relevant data about your website from a particular search engine.
For verification of your site, you have to provide a meta tag to your site or upload a file. Since most beginners shy off from this, Yoast SEO puts this process easy for you. You simply have to add the meta code you receive from search engines in the respective fields.
The last tab in the general settings is “Security”. This tab has only one option which disables advanced YoastSeo meta box. It’s recommended you leave this disabled. This is to prevent your website authors from making advanced changes i.e noindex and canonical settings.
7. Titles and Metas
This section has several tabs in it. Let’s cover each;
Here, choose the symbol to use as a separator for your titles.
We recommend you leave the Readability and Keyword analysis enabled.
b. Homepage Title
Title template variables in the title field by default work fine with most websites. However, you can still change it to your preference. Next step is to insert your site’s description. Hit save changes button once done.
Important: Suppose you’re using a static homepage, then you should see links to edit your homepage and blog page to add the site title and meta descriptions.
c. Post Type Titles and Metas
You are recommended to use only the post title as the title template. You’re also recommended to leave the description field blank for individual posts.
For maximum SEO benefits, manually enter the titles and descriptions for each post, page, and custom post type on your website.
The default template variables work for most sites. Yoast SEO automatically picks up descriptions from your categories and tags.
Please check disable author archives for single author blog. This setting prevents duplicate contents. Just leave everything else as they are and save your changes.
If unsure of what to do here, just leave everything unchecked.
Yoast SEO integrates your website with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ social platforms.
Clicking on the social link, we’re going to set up these social accounts. This will tell Google of social network accounts that are connected to your website.
This is your first tab under the social link. Here, you are required to enter the URLs and Twitter username for social accounts meant for your website.
Make sure the open graph meta data option is enabled. This will allow Yoast SEO to add Facebook open graph meta data to your website’s <head> section.
This helps Facebook choose the right thumbnail and page info when a post from your site is shared on Facebook.
Provide a thumbnail for your homepage with SEO title and description. This information is what Facebook will use when your homepage has been shared to the network.
Next, provide a default thumbnail image URL that will be used for all articles that will be having no thumbnail or image in them.
You can add Twitter cards into your site’s head section. It’s recommended to use summary with a large image.
It uses Open Graph meta data just like Facebook does. Please make sure the open graph meta data box is enabled.
Now, enter site verification code provided by Pinterest. Visit Pinterest account settings to add and verify your site. You will be provided with the meta data that you will be required to enter.
If you have already created a Google+ page for your website, just enter its URL and then go to the page and add your website’s URL in the about section.
9. XML Sitemaps
XML sitemaps are the quickest ways to get your websites indexed and notify search engines about your contents. They also tell search engines how to prioritize your content.
Make sure the XML sitemap functionality is enabled
Click on User Sitemap tab and disable author/user sitemap options.
On post type tab, disable all post types that you want to be excluded from sitemaps.
Meta Attachments are by default disabled in Yoast SEO.
The same process should be followed for the taxonomies. The excluded post tab allows you to exclude some pages, posts and custom posts from XML Sitemaps. Just enter the post IDs in the field and save the changes. If you are not sure how to get the post IDs please see a tutorial on how to find post IDs in WordPress.
This is where you can configure RSS, permalinks and breadcrumbs related settings.
These are great for internal linking as they provide a clean path to the page you are browsing through. These appear in the search results posing advantages to your site.
Click on Enabled to reveal more breadcrumb settings.
Default settings will work well but if you want to change anything, then go ahead. Click save changes once done.
Here you can customize the way you want your URLs to appear. Like in the example above you can have the category URL removed. This is something that a lot of people love doing. Even HackerThons does just that. The settings here are a matter of choice. Just customize to your liking.
Feeds are used by content scrapers to copy content from websites. Yoast SEO adds backlinks to your contents so Google learns that you are the original source.
It’s not recommended to use the bulk editor. Duplicate descriptions and titles can hurt your SEO score.
Stay away from file editor too because a small mistake here can cause your site serious problems with the search engines unless you want to make your site useless.
The import and export option is important. After configuring your settings you can export them and apply the settings to another website without hassles.
12. Search Console
This section allows you to add your website to Google Search Console. You can verify your site through Yoast SEO plugin.
Click on Get Google Authorization Code button to proceed. You will be redirected to a page where you will be provided with a verification code. Enter the code in the required field.
Lastly, select your website from a drop-down menu. This where you’ll be seeing crawl errors and mark them as fixed after setting up redirects.
This is for the Premium version of Yoast SEO. The manager allows you to quickly fix redirects on your site. Quickly fix your 404 errors in Google search console be setting up redirects and marking them as fixed in the Console.