How to use the Yoast SEO Plugin

How to set up and use Yoast SEO effectively

Anytime you install a new plugin it needs proper set up to work effectively. This is no different with the Yoast plugin. Many people will just install the plugin and use the inpost features without setting up any of the other features it has. In this article we will walk you through the set up process step by step.

1) Install

  1. Install the Yoast plugin from the WordPress plugin directory. This will be the free version, however, to get the most features I would suggest upgrading to the premium version.

2) Activate

  1. Once the plugin is installed, activate it. The plugin is now turned on.

3) Configuration

  1. After activation it will need to be configured. Go to the Yoast SEO Dashboard.
  2. Click on the general tab.
  3. Click on open the configuration button.
Configuration walk through
  1. The first screen is a newsletter sign up. If you do not want their newsletter delete your email and simply press the next button.
  2. Select your website Environment and click next.
    1. Producition (Select this if your site is live with real traffic)
    2. Staging (Select this if you are working with a copy of a live site for testing purposes only)
    3. Development (Select this if you are running your website locally with no live traffic)
  3. Select your Site type and click next. (This is important as it will change the way Yoast works).
    1. Blog (If you plan on writing articles with no store attached)
    2. Webshop (If you plan on having an online store, even if you have a blog attached)
    3. News site (For websites that plan on writing about current events and posting regularly)
    4. Small business site (Select this if you have a store front and setting up a website for it)
    5. Other corporate site (This option is for businesses that have grew larger than a single store front)
    6. Other personal Site (If you do not fit any of the above selections check this one)
  4. Select whether you are a Company or Person and click next.
    1. Company (If you plan on selling items through a web store or store front, select this).
      1. Enter the name of the Company.
      2. Select a photo for your homepage meta og:image. (This is what will show in social media when you share your homepage)
    2. Person (If you are only planning on writing a blog without an e-store select this option. You will not be able to set a homepage image.)
      1. Enter the name of the person. (This can be any name such as a pen name).
  5. Add your social media accounts and click enter
    1. Facebook url
    2. Twitter username
    3. Instagram url
    4. Linkedin url
    5. Myspace url
    6. Pinterest url
    7. Youtube url
    8. Google + url
  6. Set post type visibility (Search engine indexing). Then click next.
    1. Set Posts to visible.
    2. Set pages to visible.
    3. Set media to hidden. (This only hides media that hasn’t been added to post. Any image that is inside a post or page can still be indexed).
    4. You may have more options depending on your site, these are just the main ones.
  7.  Select if your site has multiple authors and click next.
    1. Yes (This is the best option even if you do not have multiple authors currently. It gives you the option for guest posting).
    2. No (If you plan on being the only author on your blog, with no guest blogging opportunities).
  8. Add your Google Search Console profile and click next.
    1. Click Get Google Authorization code
    2. In the pop up make sure your Google account is correct and click allow.
    3. Copy the code and paste it in the text box in the configuration wizard.
    4. Click authenticate and it will load your profiles.
    5. Use the drop down box to select the correct website profile.
  9. Set your title Settings and click next.
    1. Website name
      1. Type in the text box what you want your title to show for search engines and social media.
    2. Title Seperator
      1. Select which icon you want to place between the post/page title and your website name.
        1. Example ( How to use the Yoast plugin ~ Build the Best Blog )
  10. Success
    1. You’ve done it! You’ve set up Yoast SEO, and Yoast SEO will now take care of all the needed technical optimization of your site. To really improve your site’s performance in the search results, it’s important to start creating content that ranks well for keywords you care about.

4) Dashboard

  1. Features Tab
    1. Enable Advanced Settings Page. This adds an extra page for more optimization.
    2. Enable Onpage.org. This function checks daily to see if your site is indexable by search engines, and notifies you when it is not.
    3. Enable admin bar menu. This option display a menu drop down on the admin bar which links to tools for analyzing pages.
    4. Enable Metabox Insights. You will use this while writing your post. It shows your SEO score, and prominent keywords inside your post.
    5. Enable Link Suggestions. (only available in premium) This option will display a list of internal links that relate to your content. Great for inline linking.
    6. Once you have set everything click the save button.
  2. Company Info/ Your Info Tab
    1. Depending on which option you selected in configuration will change these settings. The information here should already be filled out. If you decide to switch from a person to a company or vise a versa, you can do that here.
  3. Webmaster Tools Tab
    1. Bing Webmaster tools
      1. Click the hyper link that says Bing.
      2. Sign in with a Microsoft account.
      3. Add your site to Bing Webmaster tools.
      4. Click verify site.
      5. Copy the meta tag code and paste it in the provided text box in Yoast.
    2. Google Webmaster Tools
      1. Click the hyper link that says Google.
      2. Sign in with a Google Account.
      3. Add your site if you haven’t already done so.
      4. Click the html tag option.
      5. Copy the meta tag and paste it in the Google text box inside Yoast.
  4. Security Tab
    1. Only enable this if you trust all authors on your site.
    2. The advanced section of the Yoast SEO meta box allows a user to noindex posts or change the canonical. These are things you might not want if you don’t trust your authors, so by default, only administrators can do this. Enabling the advanced box allows all users to change these settings.
  5. Site wide Analysis Tab
    1. The Site wide analysis can help you get the most out of the internal linking tool and calculate the most prominent words for your site.
    2. To see your site wide analysis click calculate. (you must stay on the page for it to process).

5) Titles & Metas

  1. General Tab
    1. Title separator
      1. The Title separator allows you to change the symbol between the page title and the site title.
    2. Enabled analysis
      1. Enabled analysis is what shows up in the analysis box while writing your post/page.
        1. Readability analysis should be enabled.
        2. Keyword analysis should be enabled.
  2. Homepage Tab
    1. If your homepage is your most recent blog post you can set your title and description for it here.
    2. If you have a homepage that is not your most recent blog post. You will need to go to that page to change titles and descriptions.

6) Social

  1. Accounts Tab
    1. If you haven’t done so already you can set all of your social media accounts here. Works the same as it does in configuration.
  2. Facebook Tab
    1. Facebook settings
      1. Add opengraph meta tags to your site
    2. Default Settings
      1. Select a default image to show when no featured image is selected.
    3. Facebook Insights and Admins
      1. Add your Facebook admins and your Facebook app id to get Insights.
  3. Twitter Tab
    1. Twitter settings
      1. Add Twitter meta tags to your sites head tag.
      2. Choose the default card type to use (summary, or summary with large card).
  4. Pinterest Tab
    1. If you haven’t verified your site through Pinterest, paste the meta tag here.
  5. Google + Tab
    1. Enter your Google + profile url here to link it to your site.

7) XML Sitemaps

  1. General Tab
    1. Your XML Sitemap is the link to your sitemap.
    2. Entries per sitemap allows you to set how many post you want to be in the sitemap.
  2. User Sitemap
    1. If you have multiple authors with biography pages you can enable this to show their bio in the sitemap.
  3. Post Types
    1. Here you can select what post types you want inside your sitemap. This will differ for each site.
  4. Excluded Post
    1. This is a useful tool if you have a certain post you don’t want to be in your sitemap. Simply insert the post Id number followed by a comma for multiple post.
  5. Taxonomies
    1. This tab allows you to set which taxonomies you want in your sitemap. (Categories, Tags, etc. may vary from site to site).

8) Advanced

  1. Breadcrumbs Tab
    1. Breadcrumbs are the you are here links at the top of a page such as home>seo>post name. Enable this option to insert the breadcrumbs on your site.
    2. Once enabled you can change the styling of the breadcrumbs to suit your needs.
  2. Permalinks Tab
    1. Change Urls
      1. You can select to keep or remove the category inside the URL. I prefer to keep it as it helps readers understand the link.
      2. You can also redirect images to the attachment page automatically by selecting redirect here.
    2. Clean Up Permalinks
      1. Keep or remove stop words in your slug. I prefer to keep stop words. If you remove them it may change the way your post title reads in the url.
  3. RSS Tab
    1. RSS Feed Settings
      1. This feature is used to automatically add content to your RSS, more specifically, it’s meant to add links back to your blog and your blog posts, so scrapers will automatically add these links too, helping search engines identify you as the original source of the content.

9) Tools

  1. Bulk Editor
    1. This feature allows you too see a list of all pages and post. Here you can edit the titles and descriptions without having to go to individual post. Useful when editing a lot of post or pages at once.
  2. File editor
    1. This function allows you to edit your .htaccess folder without going to your host. Warning do not change this file unless you know what you are doing. You can crash your site.
  3. Import Export
    1. The import export feature allows you to import your settings from other SEO plugins. It also allows you to import redirects as well.

10) Search Console

  1. The search console shows you any 404 errors Google has received while crawling your site.

11) In Post Analysis

  1. Readability
    1. This is the analysis that lets you know how easy your post are to read. If your readers are having a hard time following your post or reading it they will not stay long.
    2. Follow the analysis guide to correct issues with readability. Click on the eye icon to highlight all areas that need help in a topic.
    3. Some key areas are:
      1. Transition words: Use words such as also, first of all, hence, as a result, in conclusion etc..
        1. Enumerate: and, first of all, also, another, furthermore, finally, in addition
        2. Cause: because, so, due to, while, since, therefore
        3. Comparison/contrast: same, less, rather, while, yet, opposite, much as, either
        4. Conclusion: as a result, hence, consequently, therefore, in conclusion
        5. Fuzzy signals: seems like, maybe, probably, almost
        6. Emphasis: most of all, most noteworthy, especially relevant
      2. Flesch Reading Scale: Adjust this to our audience.
        1. 90 – 100 easily understood by an average 11-year old student
        2. 60 – 70 easily understood by 13-15 year old students
        3. 0 – 30 best understood by university graduates
      3. Passive Voice: This is a hard one to overcome. You want to sound confident in what your are saying.
        1. Passive voice occurs if the noun or noun phrase that would be the object of an active sentence appears as the subject of a sentence.
      4. Words per sentence: Optimal sentence is 20 or less words. Yoast allows 25% of your setences to contain more than 20 words.
  2. Keyword
    1. Snippet preview: This is how your site will is search.
    2. Edit Snippet: Clicking this button will open the options for editing your snippet.
    3. SEO Title: This will change the title that is shown in the snippet. (can be different than post title)
    4. Slug: Editing this will change the url of your post. (caution* If you edit this, you will need a redirect)
    5. Meta Description: Insert a short description containing your keyword. This will show for search engines.
    6. Focus Keyword: Add your keywords here. If you do not have a lot of traffic, focus on long-tail keywords.
    7. Analysis: A full analysis of the SEO for your post. Focus on the red lights. Try to get the overall light to green.
    8. Insights: Here you will see a list of prominent keywords in your post. This is useful if you haven’t decided on a keyword yet.
  3. Social Share (the 3 dot icon)
    1. You can switch between Facebook and Twitter using the top icon tabs.
    2. If you are using the Premium version of Yoast you will see a full preview of the share snippet.
    3. Select the image you want to show for Facebook and Twitter. ( I use a different image for each.)
    4. Facbook/ Twitter can be set individually or set to default.
    5. You can set Facebook and Twitter descriptions separate as well. Twitter only accepts 150 characters, where Facebook accepts a lot more.
  4. Settings
    1. Here is where you can set advanced settings such as meta robots, breadcrumb titles, and canonical urls.
    2. Meta robot index: Allows this post to be indexed or not. Set to no index for private content.
    3. Meta robots follow: Turns all links either dofollow or nofollow.
    4. Meta robots advances: Multiple selector settings.
      1. Use site wide default settings.
      2. No ODP: Forces Google to not use the open directory project descriptions.
      3. No Image index: Tells Google not to index any images in this post.
      4. No Archive: This forces Google to not Cache your site in search results.
      5. No Snippet: This will cancel out your snippet for search. I do not recommend using this.
    5. Breadcrumbs Title: Changes what is displayed in the breadcrumb for this post. Helpful if you have a long title.
    6. Canonical URL:  Set this if you have pages with duplicate content.

12) Time to get busy

If you have made it this far, congratulations. Your Yoast SEO plugin is all set up. Now it is time to get busy and start writing. When creating a post be sure to follow the in page analysis. Doing so will help your SEO standings and get you that much closer to ranking on page in Google search.

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